Being bullied because you’re different

I’m not sure there’s anyone who hasn’t been bullied at some time in their life. It’s horrid. Many of us have been the bully who’s been unkind to others because we didn’t understand that being different is part of being human. Yet the bullying cycle continues.being bullied for being unique

Where do bullies hang out?

Bullies are part of our everyday existence unfortunately. They are everywhere. For some people they don’t feel able to get away from them.

They’re at school, at home, in the workplace, in the sports team, in the parents group, in the social group, in the religious community. They are everywhere, even where we least expect it. But they are part of our lives so we need to learn that being different is actually what we’re meant to be. It’s those who try to mould us into their image who are different from the rest of us.

I was bullied for being different

At primary school I was bullied for being different. In my village I was bullied for being different.

I lived in a village 3 miles from school and I was driven there every day. There were only two families who travelled from my village, (in fact we lived in the same road), to this school. Everyone else got the bus from the top of the road to the other local primary school. So I was different in every place I wanted to fit in.

My parents chose the primary school for all the right reasons. They loved me and wanted the best for me and my brother. Yet their choice made us stick out like a sore thumb. I didn’t fit in anywhere.

We went to church 7 miles away. Our lives were connected from my young childhood with communities further away from my local community. I felt different everywhere, yet I knew I was loved.

Trying to fit in

When all you want to do is fit in and be the same as everyone else, as a young child you do everything you can to make yourself the same. Yet you never can. You’ll always be different. You’ll always be unique.

When I went to secondary school it was easier as I was with a group of girls who I think all felt different in their own way. We had all passed the 11+ and all travelled miles to go to school each day. We were together in our uniqueness and own brilliance. Yet we still all tried to fit in with “the crowd” we most identified with.

When you try and fit in with a crowd you often try and hide part of your unique self. You may start listening to music that those in the group you want to be with listen to, even though it’s not your favourite. You may start watching a particular TV programme or youtube channel because others in that group do and you want to be able to talk about with them. Or, you may stop doing something you love because you believe this is what’s stopping you from fitting in.

Growing up is unique to each of us

Whilst we all develop through the same stages of life, with body changes, hormone changes and learning life skills and social skills, we’ll all do this at different times. When I had my children I was given a “red book” to chart their development, mainly their weight to start with, and I was led to believe they had to follow a particular curve or they’d be classed as freaks.

Needless to say, as a breastfeeding mother, when I learnt that the tables used were based on formula fed babies I stopped attending baby clinic as my babies would never follow the ‘pattern’ as set out in the book. They were unique and I knew and understood their health and development better than anyone. [I’m sure someone will take me to task on this as I know not everyone is aware of their baby’s or child’s health or development. That may be a conversation for another day.]

So now as a mother of two healthy, happy teenage sons, having watched them discover their uniqueness and watching them trying to fit in to all sorts of groups, I understand even more that growing up is totally unique for each and every one of us.

Each of us have different parents, with different values, come from different cultures with different family traditions, and are all told different things by those closest to us. If our parents have different values to each other that can cause difficulties within the home environment. We may feel drawn to one perspective more than the other, or spend more time and be influenced by one carer in our life more than others. That will shape us.

Yet we’re still unique and different.

Being listened to helps you be yourself

If you are in an environment where you’re listened to, and allowed to be yourself and share your ideas, you’ll become more comfortable with your uniqueness at an early age. That doesn’t mean you’ll not try and fit in with those you want to hang out with! It usually means you’re happier in your own skin than some you spend time with.

Yet what can you do if you’re not being listened to? If you’re not valued at home or in the place where you spend a lot of time? It can be hard, especially as a child or teenager who feels like this. Yet you deserve to be listened to. You need to be listened to, so that you can discover who you really are without judgement. You can decide who you want to hang out with and what your own values are.

Many schools now have pastoral teams who you can talk to and share what’s on your mind. It doesn’t mean you’ve got a mental health issue. It just means you need a place to talk and allow yourself to hear your own words. You don’t have to be bullied to use this service.

You may have friends or a grandparent or aunt/uncle who you trust and respect who you can talk to, without them judging you and what you have to say. They love you and care for you for who you are. Your unique self.

If neither of these are an option for you, there may be a listening service in your area. Some schools are setting up listening services so you can simply talk about whatever you want, in confidence. They aren’t for fixing you, as you don’t need fixing, you’re perfect as you are. But these services recognise that not everyone has a trusted person to share things with.

If there’s no listening service in your area, we recommend Young Minds or Kooth.

You are wonderful as your unique self. You are different, but that’s what makes you so amazing. I hope it doesn’t take you as long to realise that it’s OK to be you and not hide any aspect of your brilliance.

If you want to rediscover your brilliance that you’ve been hiding from, book an explore call & let’s forget the bullies. They’re not worth our energy anymore.

 

 

Dreams are free

Dreams are free. Goals have a cost. While you can daydream for free, goals don’t come without a price. Time, Effort, Sacrifice, and Sweat. How will you pay for your goals?

dreams are free usain bolt

Photo from Wikipedia

Usain Bolt

What did you dream of as a child? Was it to follow a particular career? Live in a particular place? Visit a certain country?

I remember at one point wanting to be a teacher. I used to set my teddies up in rows and read to them, pretending to teach them to read. At another stage I wanted to be a police officer. I don’t remember playing this one out, although when I was really little I did play ‘cops & robbers’ with friends who lived nearby, mimicking some of the TV shows of the time.

As I got older I think I dreamt less. I’ve no idea if this was drilled out of me, or whether the education pattern at the time was to move you from one stage to the next, without room for dreams. I did go to school with some people who were very clear about their passion for medicine, or music, and they followed their dreams after school.

I do remember the computer print out from the careers service though. Did you have that too? My top job (matching my interests and other information which was entered into the basic system), was a Prison Officer. The funny thing was though, that most of the class had this in their top 5 careers! I’m not sure any of us felt this was our calling! 😉

It’s only now age 48, that I tell my teenage sons that I’m now doing what feels right for me. It’s taken a long time to get here, but it feels like home. I am teaching people, but not through the formal education system. I also help people and support people to be themselves and follow their dreams. My focus is on teaching people to listen better – to themselves, to their family and friends, to work colleagues and team members and the environment in which they live.

How do you dream?

Some people dream in their sleep and remember the vivid pictures of the stories their brain was telling them. Others don’t see anything in their sleep, or remember the story. Some people spend time meditating each day, and in the stillness allow their minds to wander and this brings up pictures and ideas for them.

I believe allowing yourself to dream is the first step to a happy fulfilled life. Dreaming is a “window into our unconscious” [Sigmund Freud]. And what is our unconscious mind but the very core of ourself? Some people say this is the “true self” or your soul talking to you.

When you listen to yourself you hear the dreams which may have been hiding, or been squashed by circumstances.

  1. Ensure you have technology free time each day and allow yourself time by yourself.

We all know that it’s important to have time away from screens, whatever age we are. It’s even more important for children and young people as they need time to allow their brains to develop their own ideas and dreams.

If we don’t allow young people the space to dream, how will they learn what’s right for them?

2. Don’t be distracted by other people and their dreams and goals.

It’s lovely to hear about your friends dreams and goals for their life. However it’s just that – their life. You can still be friends and support each other even if you have very different dreams and goals. You may be interested in their ideas and explore some of the journey with them. Just remember, they are not you. Don’t get distracted from being you and listening to your own dreams.

If you’re always following someone else’s path, how will you find your own?

3. Use a journal to make a note of your thoughts and experiences.

Writing in a journal – regularly, or when you feel like you’ve something you want to capture – can be helpful to find the recurring themes in your life. As a child I liked to write my thoughts in a diary, but I stopped. I’ve no idea why. It was only when I started writing again that I found I was allowing myself to be me.

If you don’t express your thoughts and feelings to yourself, how will you discover what you love and what makes you sad?

Dreams v Vision

I’m not sure what you think the difference is between a dream for your future and your vision for the future, but I think it’s to do with what Usain Bolt is saying in his quote, “Dreams are free. Goals have a cost. While you can daydream for free, goals don’t come without a price. Time, Effort, Sacrifice, and Sweat. How will you pay for your goals?”.

You may dream of a way of life, but a vision for your future is something which you’re aiming for – a goal to achieve. In the sporting example, you may dream of being Olympic Champion one day, but unless you commit to the vision of this and put in the effort to achieve your dream it’s never going to happen.

You may work very visually, so having pictures of your dreams will actually create a vision board. By committing your dreams to a piece of paper, or an image on your phone, or a poster on your wall you’re committing to your vision for your future. If you don’t commit in some way, your dreams will always be dreams.

Whatever you dream, only you can achieve it

We all dream different things. We’re all created with different skills and talents. But only you can bring your skill to life in the way that you dream of. No-one knows what you’re dreaming so you’re always right. Don’t let anyone squash your dreams. They are yours and only you can achieve them with your skills and talents.

You may come across other people with similar dreams, or similar skills and talents to you. However the combination of you being you with your dreams will be different from the other person. You’re both unique. What if you both worked together on your project? Would you achieve more? (When writing this sentence I’m thinking of those with scientific brains who dream of curing disease).

Yes you need support, and the right type of support to nurture your skills, talents and progress through life. But only you can dream your dreams. Only you can listen to yourself and know what’s right for you.

You are good enough. Just as you are. Keep dreaming and being you.

What are your dreams? Please do let me know, below or by email. If you’d like help exploring your dreams, book a complimentary Explore Call.

Education can change the world

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.

Nelson Mandela

I’ve just returned from two weeks in a rural part of southern Malawi. I went with a friend who is doing some amazingeducation change world voluntary work for the small charity Network for a Better World. They aim to support people in this area who have limited support from other charities and NGOs, and even government support.

The quote above is in the training room of the volunteer house where I stayed. I’ve heard it before, but until I saw and experienced what I did, I didn’t understand how true this is.

Before I travelled my husband read up about the work of the charity and commented, “what they do is really simple isn’t it?”. Yes, it is. And what my friend had asked me to prepare was simple too – prepare some sewing projects to share with locals.

Me being me of course thought I needed to fundraise to buy the women’s group sewing machines as they only have one available to them, which isn’t well used. I now know that being even more simple is what’s needed in this community.

Education is simple.

The community I stayed in, at Sitima near Zomba live simple lives. Their focus is on surviving day to day, and very much at the base of Maslow’s hierachy of needs – food, shelter, warmth and rest. They wake with sunrise and start their fires to cook their simple porridge breakfast. Children go to school (free for the eight stages of primary education) whilst parents work on their small plots of land where they grow food for themselves or to sell.

There’s few jobs in this area. There is a tobacco farm which employs workers. A local man I got to know who works for the charity said, “it’s slave labour”, yet they do earn and some education is provided for the children of workers. Everything they do in their day is to help them buy their next meal or wood to burn to cook the meal, or provide some basics for family needs.

Question: Once your basic needs are met for food, shelter, warmth and rest, what’s important to you?

Education is key to change

As children and teenagers in the UK we’re told, encouraged and cajoled into learning, passing exams and preparing ourselves for the next stage in life. Whatever your belief about tests and exams, we are all very aware that education is a key factor in our development, and opportunities for the future.

As children and young people we may also learn lots of skills which we either continue to use or put to one side. For example, music, sport and crafts are all skills and part of our overall education and life skills. Do we value them in our society as much as we should? Maybe that’s a topic for another day.

Back to education as it’s generally considered.

education can change the worldIn Malawi the government aims to have a 1:60 teacher:pupil ratio . In the area I visited, it’s more like 1:100. I’m no teacher or education specialist, but that’s quite a challenge teachers and pupils alike have got to learn in that environment. Yet children are learning. There is a test at the end of each year and pupils need to pass this to move onto the next stage.

Primary education is free to all, so class sizes doubled I’m told, once this happened. There’s not enough teachers and in the area I was in a lot of schools didn’t have houses for the teachers, so they wouldn’t be able to recruit them to their school.

Question: What if we thought about education as more basic than going to school?

In my short time, (and my two weeks really did feel very short), I ran some sewing classes for children in the local villages. Sewing is not a skill that’s taught in schools as it’s one small part of the Expressive Arts curriculum. Schools don’t have the resources to teach all parts of the curriculum and certainly don’t have money to buy fabric, needles and thread.

My memories of sewing at primary school, developing my skills with my Mum and Grandmothers were of simple joyous times creating things with my own hands. Yes, sewing may be a basic skill to you and me, but to this group of people it’s not basic at all. Yet, sewing could be a skill which these young people could develop to make their own clothes, or make things to sell to others that diversifies the income of their family unit.

Whilst some of our young people dream of being professional sportsmen and women and developing their talents to earn an exceptional income, in some cases, the group I worked with wanted to learn how to make a t-shirt. It sounds so simple doesn’t it? It is achievable.

Question: What’s the one skill you’ve learnt in life that you would feel lost without?

Going back to Maslow, and basic needs, some of the work my friend Marian and her volunteer team have done is on cooking and nutrition. There is a need in the area to diversify crops grown, methods of cooking, and ensure nutrition is maintained for all family members. Each part of this is about education.

Whilst many in the western world are looking at the “best way to lose weight”, or “what supplement should I take for x”, this community, and others like it, need help with “how to maintain good nutrition when my harvest fails”. What if we started our questions in our lives the other way round, starting from our basic needs first? Instead of “what do I need to do to lose weight”, ask, “what food do I need today to keep me healthy and energised to do the activities I’m choosing to participate in”? Would we learn more if we started with basic questions and built up our blocks of knowledge again?

Education can change the world

You don’t have to think in terms of SATs, GCSEs, IBs, A Levels or degrees to help those around you change their world. I want to start thinking in more simple terms about education and what we can learn from those who are living at the very bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy for our western lifestyles. What if we responded to the requests of our children to explore something new. That’s education. What if we all took responsibility for educating ourselves and others rather than assuming it’s someone else’s job? That’s education.

Showing someone how to cook a simple meal, or clean the bathroom, or mow the lawn – that’s education. Sharing sewing school education in practiceyour skill or talent with someone else, that’s education. Taking an interest in someone else’s life, that’s education. We can all learn from others, and we can all teach and encourage others. I don’t believe it’s about kindness or mindset, it’s simply something we can all do in our daily lives wherever we live. The ripple effect will happen from one shared skill.

When I learnt to sew as a child, I’m sure my Mum and Grandmothers didn’t consider what ripple effect it would cause around the world. Yet it has. I’ve started something simple in a small community with 19 children who are craving to learn more, yet can already make changes in their own lives with the needle and thread I left them.

What can you do this week to help others become more educated in one small part of their life?

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I will be continuing to support the work of Sewing in Sitima. Volunteers from N4BW will run sewing schools when they visit, and we’re running teacher training sessions as well. If you’d like to contribute to this work, £20 will provide materials for one class of 60 to make a simple school bag, please get in touch.

Are you missing opportunities because of your plan

“Until you cross the bridge of your insecurities, you can’t begin to explore your possibilities.” Tim Fargo

are you seeing new possibiliitesA friend asked me six weeks ago if I’d like to accompany her to a small village in Malawi. Going to Africa wasn’t on my list of things to do this year. Volunteering for two weeks in a small village in the southern part of the country wasn’t even on my goals list for the next five years. But I said yes anyway. I don’t believe I’m “off track”, I think I’m exploring possibilities and taking opportunities when they arise.

My family are as excited as I am about my trip, and while I could have said I couldn’t go because it’s term time, they know as well as I do that they’ll make things work for them in a different way with Mum away. I won’t even start to think about what the house and garden will be like when I get home in two weeks time! 😉

A lot of my clients have felt like they’ve been walking through treacle the last couple of months. Yet, in the Business Cheerleading Club action spotlight coaching session last night, two members found that they’re at a similar stage of refining their goals. Both have had new clients this year and have been working consistently towards their goals. It’s only now though, half way through the year, that they’re getting really clear on what they want to achieve for the rest of their year and in their business as it grows.

Has your vision changed? Or just the route to achieve it?

I liken business and life to a certain extent, to a journey. You know where you’re aiming for, but there’s many different paths to get to that one point. If your journeys are anything like mine, once you get to the top of one hill, you see another summit further along. My boys would call that a stretch target from their school achievement goals.

I’ve realised that I needed a shift in focus in my business to achieve my bold vision. Some conversations I’ve had with people recently have found that being open about this shift has been uncomfortable for them. What about you? Do you feel that being honest that you need to take a different path to reach your goal is scary? I do. But it doesn’t make it impossible. The shift helps the new path become clearer and instead of seeming to fight with the overgrown twisty path, I’ve found that with clarity the shift has opened up new possibilities and opportunities.

Part of my shift is that I’m no longer focusing on sending weekly business tips to one of my email lists. Have those people wandered off? Not yet – although this email to them may cause a raft of unsubscribes! What I’ve found is the broader focus of my work is allowing those I work with the opportunity to think openly about their possibilities and not be limited by weekly tips to follow.

I will continue to share interviews with experts, but not at the expense of developing new projects with schools to help young people become more resilient by listening to themselves. I will continue to grow the Bra Lady network as more women struggle to find the right bras for them and need help. I will continue to support small businesses and social enterprises through my Passion is not Enough book series and workbook, and the Business Cheerleading Club.

Does it feel much different to you? No, I didn’t think so. For me, this shift has been more about the long term vision coming into focus, and opening my eyes to new possibilities. Some may say there’s been a mindset shift. I don’t think that term sums it up correctly for me though. I prefer the fact that I’ve truly listened to myself and believe in my own abilities to achieve my vision. There’s so many ways I can achieve it, I just happen to have noticed a few more which will allow me to help more people than I thought possible a few months ago.

Business Summer School


One of the possibilities I’ve been working on is an online Summer School for Business. Summer can be a time when attention is taken away from the business due to school holidays, when customers are less consistent and staff take time off.

I’ve always found the summer to be a great time of year to re-focus, review and re-plan the rest of year. We always need to be flexible and open to what’s going on in our industry or in the economy. The state of flux in the UK with the Brexit conversation is continuing to stop some business owners make decisions. However, I believe that not doing something is actually not taking control of your business to create what you want for you.

The Business Summer School will be an 8 week online programme using what clients love best – one to one sessions, short tutorials, group learning and group action learning. You set the agenda to work on your business opportunities and all learners will spend time focusing on their business.

There’s no expert workshops June, July and August so I can focus my attention on those who’re ready to grow their business. Any participant who wants a previous expert workshop will get this as part of their support package.

For just under £50 a week financial investment, and an hour a week minimum time investment, what better way to get yourself ready for the possibilities which are just over the crest of the hill. You may want to get started thinking about the opportunities for your business using the free Passion into Profit workshop series – 9 days of short tutorials to help you look at your business with fresh eyes.

This focused approach isn’t for everyone, and if you’re not sure what would work best for the stage you’re at, book an Explore Call with me.

 

“I’m so pleased I took the opportunity to invest in ME, because if I hadn’t, I would still be in a job I knew was wrong for me and would undoubtedly have made me ill by now. ” Karen Peddie Holistics

Shifting focus is only natural

There’s a lot of change going on at the moment all around me. Other people are shifting focus in their lives or businesses. People are standing up for what they believe in.

There may well be “something in the air” with planets aligning, but in some ways that’s not the important point. Allbe in control even if it means a shift in focus change is natural. Our world has seasons, and yes the moon cycles do affect us. So why do we spend so long trying not to shift focus off the plan we created at the start of the year, just because that’s what we said we were going to do?

Life moves on with or without us

Some of my clients struggle to plan, and we seem to talk about their diary as a recurring item when we meet. I always, I hope, allow them the space to work out what’s important to them, and that’s where the focus of time would be in their diaries. There’s some fixed things, and i always encourage clients to eat and sleep and exercise which all take time. They may not be fixed times each day, but you need to make time each day to make it happen.

I have some people I work with who love freedom and don’t want to be boxed in with a fixed agenda. Yet they know that they’re wasting time going round in circles with their thoughts, and not always getting things done they’d like.

Sound familiar?

So what happens when you make plans and then you realise that you need to shift the focus as you no longer enjoy that thing, or your customers would love you to focus on something else?

I wrote an article about organisational listening which explored how it’s so easy not to listen to what’s going on around you. Organisations are made up of individuals. What if all the individuals in an organisation realised they needed to shift their focus slightly. Would businesses be more productive? More efficient? Would people live happier more fulfilling lives?

Just like our High Streets have changed over time, and we all use more technology now than we ever dreamed about when we were younger, so our lives shift and move with time. We can’t always affect what happens in our life. We can though take control of our own life and what we want to do with our skills and talents.

My friend and book coach Dale Darley talks about using writing a book as a pivot for your business. I’ve realised that I need to shift my focus, not just pivot to tweak what I’m doing.

As a multi-business owner, Mum of two teenage boys, wife, friend, volunteer and all those other roles I have, life is always a juggle. It’s fun and I love what I do. Yet, having published my first book, Passion is not Enough and starting writing the promised follow up book, I felt something wasn’t quite right.

I’ve been developing a social enterprise Listen2Me, which will be delivering training, workshops and supporting the development of listening services and schemes in schools, and I know I want to spend more time doing that. Which means that something else has to give way to make time for this tweak in my schedule.

I kept thinking was it that I needed to change my target audience? No, again I love working with micro and small businesses and charities through Business Cheerleading Club, and that’s where the book is focused. I know that some of these will become our larger companies or enterprises in the future.

So, I want to keep doing what I’m doing, but I also want to spend more time on developing something new. Mmm. The math just doesn’t add up! And there was something which wasn’t quite feeling right either. Do you get that sometimes? A feeling that something needs to change, but you’re not sure what?

Listen to everything you’re telling yourself

If you’re noticing that something isn’t quite right listen to it. You know yourself better than anyone, even if you don’t always listen well or believe what you’re hearing. The nuggets of truth your sub conscious mind shares with your conscious mind is all part of you. If you’re not listening to it then something is likely to be slightly out of balance.

I was working with one of my coaches, Deborah Marie Isis, this week, and it became clear that some of the stories I’ve been ignoring were trying harder and harder to make their voices heard. When I allowed myself to believe they were my voices I realised that I didn’t need to pivot as Dale had talked about but shift my focus into a new area of work with a new group of people.

Now I’ve made that decision and created some plans, I feel back in balance. I’m not letting anyone down with this new focus. In fact, I’ll be working with more people which was always what I wanted to do.

Going back to the diary situation, if you’re flexible with your time and focused on your vision and end results, everything else will fall into place. Don’t believe me? Book some time for yourself to just listen to what’s going on in your mind. Spend time writing things down to get things out of your head, or share with your coach. Ask them to help you really listen clearly. Then work out your next steps together.

Whether you’re due a pivot or a shift, what will happen if you don’t do it? I imagine it will be uncomfortable and you’ll be thinking “I wonder if”. So stop wondering, start listening and then shift your focus. And don’t tell me that it’s not the right time. It’s always the right time to listen to yourself and act on what you hear.

If you’d like help with this, book a complimentary Explore Call and let’s see if we’re a good fit to work together.