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Walk away from that phone...

Rebecca Morley

6 GREAT THINGS THAT HAPPENED WHEN I UNPLUGGED FOR 3 WEEKS

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Overall, the best thing about unplugging for three weeks was the sense of freedom and time back. A life unplugged is one without wormholes or competition you didn't plan to engage in and without opinions you didn't seek and it's delightful. As the curious soul that I am though, I really put some effort into observing what I was getting out of being unplugged - I had the time after all! Here are the best things about it...

NB: although I unplugged for almost three weeks, I did still drop in once a day to check emails and so on. I run my own business, unplugging completely for three weeks would have been irresponsible and stupid! I also checked social media notifications every couple of days to make sure I hadn't missed a question or a significant mention.

I didn't miss it

Not one bit! I really thought I would, but I found plenty of things to do instead. I found myself reaching for my phone repeatedly, but more out of habit than will and I soon found ways to get over that. I left my phone at home when we went out or kept it in my handbag.

I felt happier and more content

The online world, and by that I probably mean social media to a large extent, can be completely exhausting. I'm convinced that largely that's because it often feels like one huge competition. Whether it's business results or babies we're all in competition to portray the happiest, most successful, most beautiful version of ourselves. Even when we're complaining, we have to be the funniest or angriest! When I sat and looked around the pool on holiday at all the real, non airbrushed people, I couldn't see a single one that made me feel bad to the extent that a single post on instagram can.

When I sat and looked around the pool on holiday....I couldn’t see a single person that made me feel bad to the extent that a single post on instagram can.

I was also able to reach a certain sort of stability and inner peace that I haven't felt for a long time. I think when you're getting constant, and hugely varied input, it's difficult, and tiring, to maintain a stable mindset.

I didn't miss anything important

The addictive nature of digital is in the psychology of random rewards. It's what keeps compulsive gamblers coming back for more. That same compulsion has us checking our phones 20 times an hour to see if it's provided anything juicy! And when we're in that mental state, even auntie Joan's new puppy can give us a little bit of what we need.

The beauty of checking in every day or couple of days, and on my own terms was that I was able to override the 'random' part of the equation and take control. I could also see, real time, that I wasn't actually missing anything. I didn't look at any feeds on social media, just the notifications. And almost all of them were things I could choose not to engage with. 

People understood

I've spent a great deal of this morning writing emails to apologise for the delay in replying or for my radio silence. Not a single person has questioned me or taken it as a negative. In a world where we know that people are constantly online, it's easy to have unreasonable expectations of ourselves and others in terms of how quickly we should expect a response. As I said earlier, I didn't let anyone know I was going off grid, I just disappeared!

I learned a lot about boundaries

I've had some time to think about what could have brought on that sense of burnout that I felt three weeks ago and I've realised it has a lot to do with boundaries, or more accurately the blurring of them. When I worked for someone else, I could do all the obvious things like arrange cover and let my contacts know I was going to be away but I also had permission to actively choose the life side of the work life equation for a fixed period of time. That came with it's own burdens... such as 'the fear', but it was nice to feel I could walk away for a while.

When you run a business, especially one that largely exists online, there's nowhere to hide. You can't shut your doors and go home. The only personal/work boundaries are the ones we set ourselves, and when we're encouraged to bring ourselves into the equation as much as possible, there really isn't much latitude. I've decided to keep my social media notifications switched off for now!

I hope I've inspired you to try and give yourself some mental space away from the online world. It really is a great thing to do to regain perspective and feel, well, better really! Normal service will be resumed next week!

Get in touch - let me know how you feel about being online and on social media. I'd love to hear from you - hello@rebeccamorley.co.uk. And if you'd like to chat, how about booking a 30 minute call using the button below:

Time to ditch the excuses... 3 reasons you're not enjoying being a working mother.

Rebecca Morley

I wrote a post last week asking working mothers what they struggle with most. It got nearly 200 responses, I couldn't keep up. As the responses started to roll in and I got chance to read them all, I noticed they fell into three main themes: mum guilt, time and focus, finances and childcare. It's time to drop the excuses ladies, if you want to take control of your career, you need to FIND A WAY.

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Patience is a virtue....

Rebecca Morley

Impatience, that familiar mix of slight excitement tinged with frustration. It creates an energy that has nowhere to go, and if you don’t learn to recognise it and manage it, it can be pretty damaging to your success.

 

It’s definitely my Achilles heel and it has led to several changes in direction for my business as, when things don’t work straight away, I have a tendency to want to move straight on to the next big idea. It's also led to blogs, web copy and Facebook posts being published with glaring typos even though I'm the worlds biggest spelling and grammar pedant - all because I'm too impatient to properly proof read things. For me, broadly, I think my impatience is driven by a need for recognition and results. I’m not very good at plugging away and sticking at things for the long term if I’m not 100% sure they’re going to work out.....

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Thinking about hiring a coach? Read this first...

Rebecca Morley

If you're thinking about hiring a coach but don't know where to start, then you're not alone. The coaching landscape is incredibly confusing and extremely competitive. I posted on Facebook this week to do a bit of research on how people choose coaches and it garnered nearly 40 comments, many of which had various different descriptions of what coaching even is. It also attracted several other coaches trying to sell their services!

One of the main issues is that coaching seems to be a bit of a buzz word at the moment. The problem with that is, when people realise that they can add credibility to their offering by adding a word like coach, it becomes misappropriated time and time again. When everyone’s a coach, no one is a coach. I imagine it won’t be long before McDonalds rename their servers food selection coaches. 

So if you think you might benefit from the help of a coach, but you don't know where to start, let me help you to cut through some of the crap!

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How to deal with summer overwhelm...

Rebecca Morley

July and August are difficult months from the point of view of how we feel about work. They're months of closing things down. Working in specific chunks of time before holidays, yours or other people's, or before the schools break up. This sort of mood tends to bleed into our own thinking whether we're constricted by holiday dates or not. There's a general feeling of waiting until everything gets going again in September.  The sense of urgency that working in specific chunks of time can, at times, be hugely helpful, but there's something about this time of year specifically that just doesn't have that vibe.

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Morning Metaphor - The Volcano of Self Doubt

Rebecca Morley

This week, I wanted to write in a bit more detail about an area that I really struggled with in particular on this holiday, and that's self doubt. It’s something I help people with every day but that doesn’t mean I’m immune to it myself and when it gets me, it really does it’s worst. I've questioned whether I should even write this post but I see so many women struggling with this every day that I really wanted to share my thoughts.

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Holiday… Celebrate? How to manage holiday stress and actually relax!

Rebecca Morley

Holiday… Celebrate? How to manage holiday stress and actually relax!

I’ve just got back from a 10 day break in Majorca. Big picture, it was bliss. 10 days of late starts, long breakfasts, sunny, breezy boat watching from the balcony and afternoons spent by the pool. What could be better? Well to start off with, my head could have been in a much better place. If you, like me, feel as though holiday stress, and the pressure to have an instahappy time makes it feel far from relaxing at times then at least take comfort in the fact that we are not alone – a quick google search on vacation stress returned 179 million results!

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Into the lions den? 5 mindset strategies that will have you walking into conferences feeling like you can take on the world!

Rebecca Morley

Next week, I’m attending a PR event called Soulful PR Live with around 50 other small business owners and entrepreneurs. Run by the UK’s leading PR expert Jan Murray we will get the chance to hear from, and speak to, 8 national journalists from a spectrum that takes in The Sunday Mirror right through to Women’s Hour to find out exactly what sparks their interest.

 

I should be looking forward to it right?  want to create as much buzz around my coaching business as I can and this is a massive opportunity. I know my business has serious potential, I’m a good coach, my clients and testimonials tell me so. I also feel as though there’s still a huge amount we need to do to change the conversation about how women can build stellar careers alongside motherhood and other priorities. 

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What is the ONE thing that's standing between you and your dreams?

Rebecca Morley

Quite often I get half way through writing a blog post and realise I’m writing it as much to myself as anyone else. This week is no different, and you’re getting this late for precisely that reason! This week I’m writing about fear. It’s the ONE thing that stops you getting what you want. This week it was the one thing that stopped me writing this sooner, I was scared of getting it wrong, scared of not hitting the high standards I set for myself and scared that I wouldn’t be able to tackle this huge subject in few enough words to keep you interested. But here goes...
 
Think about what you most want in life, or for your career? Why don’t you have it yet?
 
These are questions I ask a lot. They kick off the coaching relationship. The responses I get are diverse and varied. Financial constraints, concern over what other people might think, a lack of experience or skills, low confidence, a feeling of trepidation, self doubt... no crystal ball!
 

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5 secrets of the most successful women

Rebecca Morley

I don’t know many people who love their job quite as much as I do. I come away from coaching sessions literally buzzing from head to toe. I know, I sound like a maniac, but honestly, there is nothing greater than seeing potential unlocked and dreams being allowed a chance to come true. It really can happen. With the right framework and mindset in place, it is possible to achieve whatever you want.

On the mindset point particularly, in my time as a coach I’ve noticed some recurring themes. To support my clients, I’ve also put many hours into finding out what the most successful women out there have in common. I wanted to share with you the top 5 habits shared by the women who really stand out:

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Some words are louder than others

Rebecca Morley

If you’ve ever done any work on personal development, you know the statistic that only a very tiny amount of how you communicate is verbal.  In fact only 9% of communication is in the words we actually use.  In saying that however, for anyone that’s trying to convince people of something, whether that’s as a leader, manager or seller of products or ideas the language you use is phenomenally important too. 

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The Happy Birth Book

Rebecca Morley

I wanted to share my original submission for the Happy Birth Book as I'm thrilled it made the cut! It's quite long so there's quite a lot that ended up getting cut out in the final published version but the full version is below:

You, and your identity now that you're a mum

Your sense of identity is a very complex thing, and never more so than during huge times of change.  It doesn’t get much bigger than the momentous shift to motherhood. In theory, you’ve had nine months to get your head round it, but really nothing can prepare you for the complete and total reimagination of everything you thought you knew about yourself.

Identity, in coaching terms, is buried deep below the four other levels of our psyche, which are environment, behaviour, capabilities and beliefs. When you think about the transition to motherhood in these terms it’s no wonder that new mums struggle with what exactly this huge change means for them. Literally all of these 4 things change with the birth of a baby – many in ways you couldn’t have ever imagined they would. 

As not just a coach, but also a recent new mum myself, I’ve spent a lot of time understanding these changes.  Below are my coach/mum thoughts in the hope that they might help you through:

No idea what to wear? 

Clothes, bags, shoes, car – literally everything you owned, wore, used before you were pregnant and created your little bundle of joy must now be reassessed in terms of whether or not it fits with your new way of life.  For me for example, anything low cut is now a bra flash waiting to happen as my little man clings off my top at every given opportunity.  High heels and skinny jeans prevent me from racing after him at speed and my mulberry has been consigned to the back of the wardrobe as I’ve realised that two bags is both impractical and pointless – I’m fooling no one.

Accept and embrace the new normal: My advice on this is to try and live in the moment as much as possible – acknowledge it, accept it and move on.  Honestly, there are a million and one people waiting to sell you beautiful, practical new mum gear – have fun exploring and experimenting!

Shocked by the chaos?

Chances are, you’re horrified by your washing pile, out of control fridge or beautiful interior design choices that are now buried under piles of wipes and vests. Where do you put all this stuff?  When will you ever have time to tidy up?

Mum knows best: My mum’s advice on maintaining a house was don’t bother tidying up until they go to school.  I personally think that’s a bit extreme but seriously, next time you have a quiet moment, think properly about whether you really care, or whether you’re simply used to caring.  Give yourself a break, you just made a person.

Conversation? What conversation?

As soon as you are able to come up for air, you will start to crave adult conversation.  This happens on a few fronts: your new social circle will most likely be your antenatal group with whom the only thing you have in common at the moment is babies.  Secondly, you will find yourself unable to ever reach the end of a conversation with anyone as your attention will invariably be swiped by a baby or monitor.  Thirdly, you will go entire days without speaking to anyone but your little bundle of joy.  This, as I’ve found from talking to lots of mums, is one of the most difficult bits to get used to. Why is this?  Because talking is our way of processing things, the way we say things makes us who we are. 

Go with the flow: I’d be a fool to try and give you any other advice on this than just ‘go with it’, get your kicks where you can and make sure your partner knows that you will need to hear about their day, no matter how boring, when they get home.  Your brain will not turn into a ball of mush from misuse, I promise.

Uncertainty is the new normal

You are, on the whole as an adult, pretty used to knowing the answer to most things.  There will be the odd times when you don’t but let’s face it they are rarely life or death. Or at least they WERE. Now, on the other hand, you feel like you don’t know anything, and on top of that, what worked yesterday doesn’t today.  You are not alone!  Every mum has felt this way, even the ones who seem to have it completely sorted. 

Basically, don’t sweat it -

-       accept not knowing

-       no one is expecting you to know everything

-       your baby doesn’t know any other way

-       there is no right way to do things

-       you will get through

The less energy you waste wondering if you’re doing a good job, the more energy you’ll have to actually do it.  And talk, talk, talk to other mums – the best comedy value is definitely not in the success stories, some of my best mum moments so far have been laughing about my worst ones.  Remember that point about talking being our way of processing, it applies here too.

Your idea of a mum VS You as an actual mum –

You will have, from your upbringing, a pretty fixed idea of what being a mum is all about.  Chances are if your friends and family have had kids, you’ve made judgments based on these beliefs about whether or not they’re doing it right.  You will probably also have decided what sort of mum you’re going to be, and who you’re not going to be like as well.  And now, you’re faced with the reality, and finding out that this is different from what you thought it would be can be a huge blow.  Anything that shakes our beliefs is difficult to deal with because they are there for a reason.  They give us a framework within which to operate so that every decision in life doesn’t take forever.  Our beliefs give us psychological breathing space.  For someone who is dealing with everything else that comes with being a new mum this can be one of the most difficult things to deal with.  The way you cope with this will have a huge bearing on how you feel ongoing. 

Seek out and Talk to PLMs (People like me): Focus on the people you identify with most now, seek their advice, talk through what you’ve got going on and ask how they deal with it.  And try to embrace the uncertainty if you can because each time you nail something, your confidence will grow and you’ll feel incredible about it.

Identity Crisis?

All of the above wraps up into your wider identity but what of the more fundamental elements of what it is to be you.  What has become of the person you were before you were ‘expecting’?  One of my best friends said recently that one of her biggest challenges with becoming a new mum was that no one ever called her by her name any more.  She became simply Edward’s mother. And along with this comes the fact that suddenly you are judged on the behaviour of another person, one who despite many people’s assertions to the contrary, you have limited control over, especially in the very early days.  You also start to realise that all the things you thought you couldn’t wait to do again once you’d had the baby suddenly seem a lot less important than they did.  All of these things relate to the simple, but pretty scary question – who am I? It’s not a question we have to ask ourselves very often, and it’s not a question that many new mums even know they’re struggling with.  They just feel a vague but deep seated sense of uncertainty that they’re really not used to.  This can affect their relationship with themselves, and other people as they wrestle with this unknown, unfamiliar person they’ve become. 

Be ready to adapt: As you take time to get to know your baby, you also need to take time to get to know the new you.  Acknowledge that things have changed, but also think about the things that are still really important to you and make time for them.  If it’s exercise for example, get back into it as soon as you possibly can, even if it’s just creating a routine that involves a brisk morning walk.  The key to balance is about constantly reassessing the different variables and shifting things around to accommodate any changes. Spending a bit of time thinking this through will help you to get there quicker.  When it comes to the other stuff, you can try and change the world when you have time again.  In the meantime, my advice is just to accept it.  There’s plenty of time for people to use your name, don’t sweat the small stuff!

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OLYMPIC METAPHORS

Rebecca Morley

The Olympics are well underway and it's not just the sport that I'm interested in...

I love the Olympics.  That well worn sense of team competition that doesn't really feel that far from sports day at school and yet also couldn't be further away.  Years and years of training in most cases with the result decided in a matter of minutes, sometimes seconds. Watching from home it can be emotional but also sometimes also a little bit boring, especially if it's not your sport or you haven't quite worked out how the scoring works! For me, that's when my minds starts to drift, and I always end up consumed with the fascinating psychology of the competition. It's not a secret that many of the most well used coaching techniques originate in sports psychology and when these guys are performing at such an incredibly high level and under such phenomenal pressure, it's not difficult to see why the most ambitious leaders out there would want a piece of the action.

No matter how much training someone does, it's often their mental state on the day that really makes the difference and this is where sports coaches spend a surprising amount of time.  It's absolutely the same with business, your skills and experience should be distant runners up in comparison with your attitude and behaviour.  That is what will create the real competitive edge, and make a difference to every single one of your stakeholders, especially the people you lead.

There’s one story that's caught my attention more than the rest...

Towards or away from?

What do you do if you don't make the Olympics?  In Kendra Harrison's case, she decided to make history elsewhere instead!  Having come sixth in the Olympic qualifiers, she went on to literally smash the world record for the 100m hurdles at the Diamond League Race in July.  This wasn't just any world record though, one that had stood for 28 years - that's longer than she's been alive!  Not hugely surprising to a certain extent - the pressure was off, she was free perform as well as she possibly could.  But this wasn't just a good performance, this made her the BEST IN THE WORLD - even with the olympics going on on the other side of it. Kendra herself said “After not making the Olympic team, I wanted to show these girls what I have,” she said. “You have one bad day but I still knew I had it in me." I think she's being polite - I think she though f**k you!

That's a hugely powerful motivator in some cases and it illustrates a fantastic psychological insight which is that most people either have a 'towards' or 'away from' motivation preference.  Some people will work towards a goal, focus on it, visualise it, be energised by it and ultimately achieve whatever they'd set their mind to.  Others, have more of an away from style - they will work so damn hard to make sure something doesn't happen, or in this athlete's case she's working away from the disappointment of not getting through to Rio.  And just think how powerful that must have had to be to result in such an epic performance.  The problem with away from however, is that it can leave you somewhat adrift.  It's simply not sustainable long term, it is a very short term motivator because you never know whether or not you've achieved your goal.

It's the age old carrot and stick argument - do you offer reward or recognition as an incentive, or do you spell out the dire consequences that will result from failure.  If you think laterally and are smart about how you reframe things as a leader, or a coach, you can pretty much create a carrot or a stick out of every situation.  All it takes is a bit of imagination and a willingness to think about how to get the best out of the person in front of you and you can have a far greater degree of influence over the result. If you need to create short term motivation for either yourself or someone else, think about the motivation style at play and use this to create the a way to frame the outcome in order to get results.

If you think you have a natural tendency to work 'away from' things rather than towards then you might recognise the somewhat negative cycle of putting a lot of energy into achieving things and yet never feeling truly satisfied when you complete them.  Spend time practicing articulating what it is you're really trying to achieve.  What will it feel like, look like, sound like (maybe even smell like or taste like) when you've got what you're working on.  Try not to focus on what you don't want, focus on what you do want.  You'll be surprised by how much better it feels to know that you've done what you've really set your mind to, but also just by spending time really thinking about it, you'll find it easier to get there too.

 

If you've read this far then first of all thank you, please get in touch, I'd love to hear what you think!  If you like what you read please share with someone you think might like it too.  If you were bored senseless the unsubscribe button is below!

 

 

 

 

 

SLOW & STEADY? NO ONE WANTS TO WORK WITH A SLOW COACH.

Rebecca Morley

We all know the one about the hare and the tortoise…if by any chance you have forgotten the story, let’s recap: The hare knows he’s the fastest of the forest animals and is pretty arrogant with it.  So much so that when the reputedly, very slow, tortoise challenges him to a race, he KNOWS, without a shadow of a doubt that he is GOING TO WIN.  And so, he treats himself to a much needed snooze halfway around the course, safe in the knowledge that there’s no way he’ll be beaten by the plodding old slowpoke. But lo and behold, when he wakes up, and races off to see the chequered flag being raised, the lowly tortoise is patiently waiting for him there.  Imagine how he must have felt!

What if he’d had a coach?  Chances are, based on his preferred way of working, he’d get extremely frustrated with the pace that he was made to work at, the endless searching questions and the lack of direction given as to how he could improve. The vast majority of modern businesses are made up of hares.  Hares who run 10 races a day against all sorts of opponents and simply don’t have time to sit and navel gaze about the one race they lost.

And that’s what’s wrong with much of the coaching that goes on in modern business today.  It’s just too slow paced, there are too many slow coaches.

I’ve spent the last 13 years of my career in fast moving consumer goods businesses.  They’re not called fast moving for nothing and I believe I’ve worked for some of the fastest.  I’ve worked in supply chain within those businesses and I have had to discover the root cause and the solutions to issues at lightning speed on a daily basis.  Sometimes I’ve got it wrong, but not often, and I believe there’s a way to apply the same principles to coaching – to create insight at speed.  Applied in a coaching setting, this insight and the resulting awareness can help the client to reach their own solutions far quicker.

My personal belief is that there are a great many coaches out there who simply cannot resist the temptation to prove how good a coach they are by demonstrating again and again just how much they can help the client understand about themselves.  This in itself, though, can be hugely slowing.  The client is flooded with information that, albeit interesting, is simply not helpful to the specific problem they are trying to solve.

Does this mean that I’m advocating a move away from the traditional notion of the client taking responsibility for his own objectives and actions?  Not at all and I am certainly not suggesting a prescriptive action plan either.  I am instead proposing that there is a more efficient way to work.  With a fast thinking, intuitive coach helping you to make links between your goals and reality you are freed up to create options and an action plan that works for the context you operate within.

Let’s get back to the hare for a minute.  The sort of coach I’m talking about would probably have told him not to bother running this race at all to be honest but bear with me.  The hare’s objective is to win, and the reality is that he is somewhat conceited; enough to lose because of it.  A traditional coach may see merit in understanding the influences and circumstance that have led to this high achieving nature – had the hare been casting a nasty shadow over the organisation he worked in then I would see merit in such reflective thinking too, but in this case the objective is to win the race.

A fast thinking coach would take the potentially slightly more polarising route of confronting him with his over-confidence having made his assessment very early on in the conversation, and having heard the nap plan of course.  And assuming a modicum of intelligence, it’s not a huge leap to expect the hare, having been presented with this reality to work out for himself that his nap is probably better off left until after the race.  Seem simple?  It is – but it’s also effective, relevant and most importantly quick.

This first appeared as a guest post for The Caffeine Partnership - July 2016

You'll never succeed without the right support.

Rebecca Morley

I read an article recently in the Harvard Business Review that really struck a chord with me.  It outlined the different support roles you should have in your network to ensure you have the best chance of success.  They made it sound so easy.  Just a list of 6 or so key people, or fewer if some of them could double up, and you were set, ready to take on the world, and with all the confidence you needed.  The roles were as follows  (I paraphrase):

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