Is your story one of triumph or tragedy?

imageThe value of ‘story’ seems to have increased ten-fold in recent years.  It’s become a useful marketing tool and a great way of identifying with a wider audience and demonstrating how lives can be enhanced through use of a product or service.  I have long promoted that ‘the greatest tool is self’ and that reflection and personal development are key to ensuring that ‘the greatest tool’ is it’s most effective.  In fact, my doctoral research study was narrative based and it was there where I really got to grips with the power of story.  The focus of the study was on how entrepreneurs and leaders of charitable organisations, experienced climates  of financial austerity and continual contextual change.  A recurring theme was that of resilience…the seeds planted – sometimes many years before – were often grounded in a bed of pain, hurt, rejection, abuse or some other potentially traumatic event.  Yet, somehow these seeds grew through the challenge and were transformed to become useful in negotiating the sometimes rocky terrain of personal and professional life.  What could have been woeful tales of tragedy, became inspirational and triumphant stories that enabled the development of fantastic coping mechanisms.  The story tellers had used their stories to propel themselves towards betterment…with an awareness that things could have been so very different, if they’d have ‘followed the script’.  Resilience, flexibility, courage and self awareness were the gifts that came through like one of the contributors stated:  ‘the Phoenix that rises up from the flames’.   Acknowledging story is part of the success…that everything that went before is what brings depth and colour to the present day….not as a tragic mishap but as a route to triumph, to be shared and celebrated.

Will the real chameleon please stand up…(please stand up….)

ConsultAChameleon is so much a reflection of me that I assumed that it was obvious to everyone that it IS me…that it was plain for all to see that I AM the chameleon.  My illusion was challenged the other night when a friend and colleague texted me to say how much she liked the blog post I’d recently shared: blog: and she’d been trying to locate the author. I coyly texted back: “It’s me…” And of course, she then went on to question why I wasn’t putting my name to my work. I thought I had been…I thought everyone knew I was the chameleon…so I’ve spent a couple of days reflecting…have I been hiding behind the chameleon brand? Have I been trying to play it safe? So….as much as I have a queue of blogs backing up in my head, just itching to pour out onto the page, I figure this blog needs to air first. The real chameleon – Joanna Oliver – is pleased to stand up.image

Thanks JR for your real talk.

Three ways to be a purposeful professional

image About twelve years ago, I tentatively stood up in front of my doctoral colleagues and gave a presentation about the role of spirituality in career trajectory.  I remember that one of my ‘peers’ recoiled at my drawing a relationship between spirituality and business, beginning her challenge with “how dare you”.  I was less articulate then and perhaps more importantly, lacked the confidence and resolve to persist with my opinion.  More than a decade later, I have much greater clarity and much more maturity and have developed skills as an independent thinker and for the second time, I publicly share my thoughts on the role of spirituality in career.  I recognise myself as an Altrepreneur, one who is not merely wanting to make money but is working to reflect a change of lifestyle…or in my case, to reflect a lifestyle that is spirituality synchronised.   Synchronising spirit enables me to be a purposeful professional and there are three behaviours that align with this:

1) Seeking guidance…whether through prayer, meditation or introspection, or whatever it is that reveals to you a sense of purpose, a sense of direction.  This activates senses that offer a ‘red light/green light’ satnav and right action becomes clear.  For me, it’s prayer…asking for guidance and then most importantly, hearing it and acting upon it.

2) Taking right action…hearing and responding.  For some, a sense of calling is louder than for others BUT point one can help to increase it’s volume.  Right action may not be a grand gesture, such as immediately handing in your notice and booking the next ticket to some remote geographical area!  Right action for a purposeful professional may mean starting a course of research to understand how to deepen knowledge of the next necessary step.  It may mean putting it ‘out there’ by sharing your vision.  It may mean writing it up in a blog!

3) Gain a sense of a bigger picture….details can confuse, can deceive and can convince us that what we are doing is somehow wrong.  At some point, the purposeful professional will make bold moves that may attract the doubters and it’s crucial to remain focussed on the bigger picture.  There will be many distractions and some may be useful learning points – for instance, my learned friend from twelve years ago has actually informed my thinking periodically over the years and even made a mention in this blog. This time I am not tentative.  I know the bigger picture.  I seek guidance, I take right action and I remain reflexively attuned to the purpose of actions I matter how grand they are. image

The importance of not letting our’self’ get in the way

imageA recurring theme just lately, has been how easy it is to get in one’s own way….and for me, a mini-mantra when faced with a situation where ego is clouding spirit, is ‘get over yourself’.  I say it to myself…sometimes out loud…and I move on.  I was reminded of this in a text conversation this evening with a very dear friend of mine, who is pushing her own boundaries to put herself ‘out there’.  It doesn’t matter how far along we are in our personal and professional journey, there is always the potential to get in our own way.  The anxieties of change and growth and the fear of what could go wrong do not magically disappear…every time we shift gear, we change…we open ourselves to unchartered territory.  I have spoken at conferences in England, Italy, Spain and Greece but this does not mean that an invitation to give a low-key speech somewhere tomorrow will be a walk in the park.  Each time, I’ve had to ‘get over myself’…release the flow and go with it.  Spiritual flow is not concerned with the detail….of whether things go wrong…or what people may think or say about how things go.  That’s the job of our ego.  So when ego brings her concerns, it’s important to hear them, to acknowledge them.. even to know where they are grounded.  Mostly though, we need to ensure we  (and they) know their place…and that place isn’t centre stage where they can get in the way of progress.  Make them small, rise up and most of all get over your’self’.  ConsultAChameleon offers real talk, coaching and the necessary space to do this.


NIKE Power: Take off your lab coat and take action

imageThis week has been a week of ‘just do(ing) it’ and boy, does it feel good.  For some, this may be no big deal but for someone like me, who can think themselves out of many situations, it’s nothing short of a triumph.  It all started at the end of 2014, when a group I belonged to was encouraged to ‘finish strong, to start strong’ and I found myself planting seeds left, right and centre.  As a growth and development specialist, this is bliss….waiting and watching as things and people unfold, knowing that some will surface much later than others and that this is all part of the adventure.  What I have referred to as taking the scenic route.  But I suddenly got……bored.  This time, something clicked.  I felt the urge to take off my lab coat and DO… It was a compulsion that kicked in and gave me courage.  The courage to do what I need to do to make things happen.  And so much has ‘happened’ since.  Yes, the universe is wondrous and putting things ‘out there’ via prayer, meditation and vision boards is important but also, the power of NIKE cannot be denied.  Reflect, learn, grow, reflect, learn, grow, reflect, learn, GO.  GO. GO.  Act now.  So in the matter of a week, I’ve secured work outside of my comfort zone but well within my capabilities and am drawing people to me in a fantastic way.  So yes, goal setting, goal mapping, action planning and target setting are necessary and can help us to chrystalise our vision but the real magic ‘happens’ when we trust….and just do it……


Why the ‘what’ needs the ‘how’ – offering more than a textbook response

imageThe Universe is a wondrous place.  The way that we – and everything – are connected into one beautifully orchestrated synchrony never, ever ceases to amaze me. The ‘random’ connection between a Facebook message exchange I had with someone in the Caribbean and the heartfelt conversation I had with a friend at a children’s party, fills me with excitement about things unknown, until they unfold. I did not instigate either conversation but the topic does resonate with me. As a trainer, lecturer, coach and supervisor, I am all too familiar with the process of exploring ‘why’ and ‘what’ and in how elusive the ‘how’ can be. Moving beyond the textbook response requires taking the why and the what and going that little bit deeper, to discover the befitting ‘how’. It is this awareness and this desire to move beyond the text book response, that underpins ConsultAChameleon. The chameleon cannot be restricted by monochrome responses…the chameleon knows that there are are many colours of each unique individual, situation and in how the why and the what can take on variable significance accordingly. Therefore, the concept of ConsultAChameleon is to utilise it’s own ability to respond to diversity and work with individuals to develop their how. This way, people aren’t left hanging, thinking ‘yes, that’s great…but HOW do I do this?’….after all, if we want a text book response, we could have stayed at home…with the textbook.  ConsultAChameleon to find out how…..image