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7 Habits to cultivate confidence in 2021

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Confidence is often viewed as the holy grail of success and happiness but what if we feel we don’t have enough of it? Moreover, to what degree must we ‘fake it to make it’ or is confidence a skill we can learn and if so, how?

Our belief in our own capacity to ‘push through’ has never been as important; perhaps you

  • have been furloughed due to the pandemic and are feeling shaky and uncertain or
  • yearn for a change of direction but don’t know where to start or
  • are returning to work after extended leave and find yourself in a role that appears barely recognisable

It is your belief and confidence in yourself that will be the key catalyst in instigating and accomplishing positive changes.

As a psychology student 15 years ago, I first came across the term ‘Self- efficacy’ coined by Canadian Albert Bandura. Fundamental to this concept is the notion of ‘trial’, of giving something a go – to try something even if you don’t know what you are doing. It is from this point that confidence can be cultivated. Confidence is a skill that can be learned, as long as you are willing to give it a go.

At Change Grow Succeed, we believe that learning and doing are key cornerstones in building confidence and we advocate the following 7 Habits to cultivate or strengthen yours:

  1. Numb the Negative Narrative – Do you tell yourself that you need more confidence? Maybe you spend more time talking about the negative aspects of yourself? Pay attention to the impact of your personal narrative. Some beliefs can be expired or self- sabotaging and certainly keep you stuck. Try telling yourself a different story. Become intentional about sharing what went well or progress that you made.
  2. LifeLong Learning – Regardless of what you want to become more confident at, any learning has a spin – off effect. Instead of dwelling on a lack of confidence, take a course on something that interests you. The combination of pursing a passion and engaging your brain will shift your energy and your confidence will spill over and be noticed by you and those around you!
  3. What’s your why? If you are not connecting with what is important to you and why – how will you know if you’re on the right track? Our ability to pause and evaluate is an essential activity to engage with, particularly, if you need to rebuild yourself after a knock- back. Your ability to focus on your ‘why’ is your motivation for accomplishing whatever it is that you yearn for, as well as ensuring focus and discipline and pursuing what you believe in will give you confidence. If you’re at a loss as to where or how to start this process, reach out to a coach for industry – led tools and tips to support you.
  4. Pause perfectionism – do you find yourself thinking about ‘worse case scenarios’? To what degree does this habit foster self- doubt or caution and reduces your capacity for self- belief? Often, the focus of perfectionists is ‘what could go wrong’ which fosters a negative mindset . When actively seeking to improve your confidence, seek to reframe risk with opportunity and pursue the bigger picture!
  5. Tribe therapy – In the last year, my observation through my work is that some individuals have lost confidence as they have lost connection with themselves and with each other.Our relationships have the ability to lift us up, they can also tear us apart. Evaluate who is in your network. Cherish those connections who support and empower you and consider disengaging from those who bring you down. Seek out those role- models who embody the confidence that you respect and identify what is it about them that resonates with you. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable!
  6. Ditch thinking for Doing Our brain is hard wired to protect us. It responds well to comfort zones. Research shows that people who perceive their confidence as ‘low’ are plagued by rumination or ‘analysis -paralysis’. Getting out of our own head is a must here. Stop thinking and start doing. Remember, confidence is an active process. Small acts of bravery can shift your energy. Trial something new today!
  7. Power Pose – In her excellent TedTalk,Amy Cuddy shares that power posing (embracing more expansive body language) ignites physiological changes in our bodies. She tells us that two minutes of opening up and stretching our arms out fires us up with testosterone, boosting our confidence. If you think about it, most of us spend our days hunched over a laptop or phone (making ourselves small) so if you were to be intentional about opening up your posture on a daily basis -to what degree would this shift you into a more positive mindset? Try it and see!

Which new habit would make the most difference to your confidence? Trial something new today – get comfortable being uncomfortable and note the shift in your own energy and confidence!

Gillian McGrath is a Cork based life coach and experienced speaker and facilitator. For more information, go to http://www.changegrowsucceed.com

Hope and Everyday Courage (IWD 2021)

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Being invited to share my thoughts by several clients to mark IWD over the past number of weeks has been a privilege. There’s no doubt that the pandemic has intensified the challenges faced by women, and I firmly believe that the pandemic has also thrown opportunities up for all of us. Leaning into the moral message of inclusivity, owning our roles in enabling diversity and equity as well as empathetic leadership, we can all play a part in mitigating the risk of losing women in leadership roles and future female leaders.

We know that there have been countless studies carried out that advocate the business case for increased diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace. In fact, benefits regularly cited include innovation, creativity, inclusivity, performance and financial results. We also know that pandemic has intensified the challenges that women already face (as highlighted by Deloitte in the image above). In fact, the initial research indicates that the pandemic could set women in the workplace back by a decade.  This situation is now an emergency for employers globally as companies risk losing women in leadership and future female leaders as well as unwinding years of painstaking progress.

This years’ theme tells us that “an alert world is a challenged world” and with this awareness there is opportunity to address and tackle these challenges. In my talks, I shared 5 themes that I believe will be the difference for teams and businesses placing diversity, equity, inclusion, and empathetic leadership at the centre. Also, I have been heartened by the encouraging responses and feedback to my tips aimed at how we, as individuals, can lean into the moral message of #choosetochallenge by channelling acts of every day #courage.

Leadership is not about titles but rather a series of behaviours. How can you be the difference while accepting full responsibility for your thoughts and behaviours?

Gillian McGrath is a Cork based facilitator and leadership coach. For more information, go to http://www.changegrowsucceed.com

Feeling Grateful

Gratitude is part of my well-being toolkit and I’m feeling very grateful to have received this lovely card and humbling testimonial following a coaching engagement with a client recently. I took time to re- read the lovely words this morning as I settle myself into a busy week. It re- focuses my ‘why’ and I consider myself very fortunate to work in an area that I am passionate about.

The personal touch of a ‘thank you’ card reminds me of our capacity to positively impact the days of those people whom we interact with. The message inside was lovely and the clients’ more ‘formal’ testimonial reads as follows:

“Gillian is a fantastic coach. While the process is challenging and can be uncomfortable, the benefits I have observed from our short time together include:

  • A greater level of self awareness
  • A greater focus on meaningful work;
  • I feel empowered and enthusiastic about my contribution to supporting both my own personal and organisational goals

The first step (and the step after that!) can be daunting but I’m so glad that I pushed myself and that Gillian was there to support me every step of the way. A heartfelt Thank You Gillian.” – J.C. Engineering Manager (Science & Tech)

Gillian McGrath is a Cork based master trainer, public speaker and life and leadership coach. For more information, contact her on gillian@changegrowsucceed.com

5 Questions to help you reclaim your mojo in this disruptive year

“We should just put up our Christmas Trees’ and be done with 2020!”

I must admit, I have heard this more than once over the past few weeks. 2020 has been beyond tough; the collective ungrounding ‘gifted’ to us by the Covid-19 pandemic was unlike anything we have ever (and continue to) live through. Routines that gave our days and weeks’ meaning and structure have grinded to a halt and we are forced to pause, stay apart and watch the maelstrom that is unfolding. It doesn’t surprise me that people want out and want out now.

However, we are not yet at the end of the year- there are 3 months left! While we can’t control the outside world, we can seek to examine the path we are on and evaluate if our energies and activities are supporting us. Autumn is a season of transition, a “second spring” and therefore an opportune time to reflect, reset and course correct (if necessary).

Great results start with great questions and often the most challenging questions are the ones we ask of ourselves. At Change Grow Succeed we have devised 5 Killer Coaching questions to provoke your thoughts and help you to reclaim your ‘mojo’ for the remainder of 2020!

Question 1: What gives your life meaning?

This may sound like an obvious question but bringing conscious awareness to what puts meaning into our lives is crucial in determining our priorities. If this year has taught us anything, it’s that our priorities can change quickly. Indeed, the impact of the global pandemic on our own lives and the lives of others can alter our view of the world (as does the arrival of children, a bereavement or general life experience). Taking time to understand what’s important to us ‘in this moment’ helps us to gauge whether we are on the right path or not and prioritise our energies appropriately.

Question 2: Review the year so far, what has gone well?

Before you baulk at this question, take stock. Autumn is traditionally associated with harvest so take the time to evaluate and appreciate your achievements in 2020 noting that survival is every bit as valid as achievement for the year that’s in it! Perhaps you adapted well to remote working or did some voluntary work or. Maybe you survived the home- schooling or were able to blend work and life. Recognise your achievements. Thank Yourself.

Question 3: What are you like when you’re at your best? What are you doing?

How often do you engage with activities that you love doing?  How could you access these more often? In coaching, I often task clients in transition to “reflect on the last time they had fire in their belly” and invite them to note what they were doing. This process prompts us to identify and label those activities that bring us joy. You will have greater clarity and feel more energised and confident as a result.

Question 4: What’s the best thing that could happen to you next year?

This question invites us to think about 2021 and encourages us to engage in some ‘blue sky thinking’ to consider what we might want to achieve or complete. In her excellent TedTalk, Laura Vanderkam invites us to complete this retrospectively; she directs us to place ourselves at the end of 2021 and to imagine that it has been a fantastic year both personally and professionally. She encourages us to note the reasons why and then explore how we might set about achieve them. This is another great approach to considering possibilities for the future, possibilities that we could be proud of and get excited about!

Question 5: How will you champion yourself?

There’s no denying the disruption that impacted all of our lives in 2020, but how do we speak to ourselves when things don’t go our way or when we feel afraid? Are you kind to yourself or do you criticize yourself harshly? Do you hear from your inner coach or inner critic? Self kindness is life changing and science backs this up. We are often told to “Be kind to yourself” yet so many of us are resistant or don’t know how. We are stuck in old habits. From her research, Kirsten Neff (author of “Self- Compassion” and Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Texas) shares that self – compassion makes you “more likely to take responsibility for yourself, trial new things and dare to fail”. So, locate your inner coach, back yourself and show gratitude to yourself!

At Change Grow Succeed, these are the 5 killer coaching questions we have identified to help re-wire your thinking and reclaim your mojo this Autumn. No longer distracted by the summers’ long evenings we can actually commit to a chosen path and go for it. Good Luck!

Gillian McGrath is a Cork based Life and Business Coach, Public Speaker and Facilitator. For more information, or to reach out to Gillian directly, go to www.changegrowsucceed.com

Thank You

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At Change Grow Succeed we also support clients privately in crafting a vision for what’s next in their lives both personally and professionally. As a coach, meeting my clients where they’re at and seeing the world through their eyes is a prerequisite in enabling objective support. It was a privilege to work with Emma and I am so grateful for the thought and effort she put into describing her experience of our time together:

“I wanted to make a change and to do work that made me jump out of bed everyday. Gillian motivated me to pivot my career. She listened to my worries, my fears, and my self confessed “imposter syndrome” and let me re-frame it as excitement and an opportunity to work on how I communicate about what I do. After taking Gillian’s advice and doing some research, I am about to relaunch myself, identify my brand and work in a niche area I enjoy working in. I am excited to be proactive about my career rather than reactive. Gillian has been the plot twist in my career story. ”

Emma, August 2020

Positive customer experience!

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Supporting our clients in achieving results that are meaningful and of value to them is at the core of our Change Grow Succeed and we were delighted to receive the following testimonial from our clients at CoreHR:

“CoreHR has engaged Gillian McGrath from Change Grow Succeed for the past three years to bring our leaders through a year-long Leadership Development Program. We would highly recommend Gillian to any organisation looking to develop and transform their management teams at all levels, into high-performing, effective and responsible leaders.

When Covid-19 struck we were halfway through the delivery of the program and faced with postponing our classroom-based delivery. Gillian pivoted from classroom facilitation and coaching and meticulously planned the remaining modules to a virtual offering, utilizing a broad range of online tools and applications to ensure high interaction and participation. Times of crisis and rapid change require strong leaders who can set direction, drive business continuity and motivate their teams. A true test of any leadership development program is the leaders ability to put theory into action!”

#leadershipDevelopment #agility #businesstransformation

How Women Rise: 3 Tips to leverage your relationships in a virtual world

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“How Women Rise” is an incredible book that is co- written by acclaimed authors and executive coaches Sally Helgesen and Marshall Goldsmith. It sets about identifying and bringing awareness to ‘12 Habits’ that are most likely to get in the way of successful women.

This (excellent) book is central to the ‘Empowering Women’ workshops and webinars at Change Grow Succeed. Throughout these workshops, we seek to support these women in becoming ‘unstuck’ by finding their authentic voice to articulate their greatest strengths and attributes. This process also offers great insight into what holds these talented ladies back in the workplace. Awareness brings choice and due to its’ pragmatic nature, these women leave our sessions with an identifiable set of task or behaviors that they need to stop or start doing to support their own growth.

Supporting women in transforming their lives through behavioral change has long been a passion of mine so when I had the opportunity to pose a question to Sally Helgesen at last nights’ @NetworkCork webinar, I jumped at it.

Here is what I asked:

“Sally, I would love to hear your thoughts on how women can continue to build and leverage their relationships in our new world that has become almost 100% virtual.”

Her response focused on the following three key areas:

  • Build your Brand – Start thinking about our reputation and get comfortable talking about what we contribute or what we would like to contribute. Women often say they lack confidence in this area but is it confidence or merely lacking practise in labeling and communicating what we want?
  • Stay Connected – Use this time as an opportunity to build and deepen your network. Use the platforms that are available to intentionally generate connections that are authentic.
  • Be Real – Be You and connect on a human level. Share your vulnerabilities and you will engage on a more meaningful level.

What can we learn from this? Let’s be intentional about using this time as an opportunity to connect, firstly with ourselves, to anchor and label our contributions (or course correct if necessary!) Let’s get comfortable with being uncomfortable and start communicating more authentically with our peers and colleagues. Let’s take responsibility for this and unlock the door to our path forward!

If you want to kick – start this process for you, or find out more about Gillian McGrath, you can reach her here.

 

Gillian McGrath is a Cork based Life and Business Coach and Master Trainer. Check out http://www.changegrowsucceed.com for more information.

5 Tips to Survive this ‘State of Stuck’

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These are unprecedented and uncertain times; the COVID- 19 global pandemic has us bombarded daily with Armageddon type updates and seen our children and pets become our co – workers. Our power and freedom  to steer our day by  getting out and about and making plans has been removed  and we are advised to stay indoors or at best, practise ‘social distancing’. For many of us, we feel as though we are living in a state of stuck.

How do we survive this state of stuck? As 40% of our well-being can be attributed to intentional activity, there is a both an opportunity and responsibility on us to focus on how we can survive and thrive in these uncertain times. Here are our tips at Change Grow Succeed to help you achieve just that:

  1. Deal in FACTS and not FEAR

They say that the anxiety surrounding the virus can be as bad as the virus itself. Ekhart Tolle, who wrote “The Power of Now” tells us that fears are stories we tell ourselves. It stems from our mind creating an anxiety gap around something that MIGHT happen, as distinct from something that is happening right now. In effect, fear feeds off our mind living in the future.  With this in mind, stick to trusted news and media sources and aim to limit this to once or twice daily. Aim to reduce your social media/ phone scrolling activities to minimise your exposure. Our minds can cope with the present moment, mind projections cause anxiety and this certainly doesn’t serve us at this time.

  1. Schedule your time

Our routines have gone out the window and working from home (WFH) has become the new ‘norm’. For a lot of people, WFH may have been a ‘nice to have’, whereas now, it’s imperative and requires a whole new mind set (and patience as you navigate your new working rhythm). Having a designated office ‘space’ is imperative and not blurring the lines between work and home life are critical in setting you up for success (i.e. if your designated space is the kitchen table, ensure to put everything away when you’re finished!) Research also suggests that our output is greater when we work in 45- 50 minute sprints taking a bio break in between. This is something that I have certainly found to be true.

In my view, another critical factor is to schedule your down time. For me that includes activities such as reading, walking and listening to music. We don’t usually give ourselves ‘permission’ during the day, but let’s be intentional about nourishing ourselves at the moment.

  1. Connect with Your People

In an era of imposed ‘social distancing’ and ‘isolation’ it has never been as important to reach out and connect with our tribe. What’s a tribe? A modern take on the term ‘tribe’ is accessing and connecting with those people in your life who nurture you, who make you laugh, who inspire you and who accept you, warts and all! It provides us with a sense of belonging which is critical to basic human functioning.

We are all driving in our own lanes, this is the time to come out of these lanes and connect with each other as we used to; aim to call instead of texting your friends. Face time, Skype and Microsoft teams are platforms that I have found helpful for face to face connections and of course Zoom or Google Hangouts are great for multi- party connections!

  1. Give Back

Connection is ingrained in us but it also works the other way; studies have shown that volunteering makes people feel physically healthier and reduces stress. As human beings, we have the innate need to contribute to those around us. Whether it’s something small like being there for a friend or something bigger, giving back to society, it makes us feel alive. Never has there been more an important time to align and give back than now. There are many options available to us regardless of our age or ability. Initiatives to support front line workers, checking in on the elderly or vulnerable in our communities as well as checking in on friends all has a big impact. What can you do to give back today?

  1. Find Joy

Many of us are over- loading on thinking with negativity flooding our brains from the outside world. To counter that, I’m suggesting ‘Finding joy’ in simpler moments; be intentional about enjoying a walk or a book. Pause to a play board game with the children or volunteer your time or effort to a cause in need. Remember all those things you have on your to- do list that you never have time for? Or what about those other projects you wanted to research but never had the time? Now is your opportunity to catch up on your reading, your research or pause to spend time thinking about yourself, your vision, your goals. Practise gratitude to help you re- boot and re- focus if you’re feeling frazzled or stressed.

 

We may be forced to think outside the box or re-invent old ways in these uncertain times but the sense of community and ‘togetherness’ is palpable. Be mindful of where are how you are spending your energy. Find the joy in your day. Know your purpose and Have Hope! It will help to cultivate a more balanced outlook and reminds us that all will (once again) be well in our world.

 

Gillian MCGrath is a Cork based Life and Business Coach, Master Trainer and Public  Speaker. For more information, you can contact her on http://www.changegrowsucceed.com

EchoLive Feature

It was an honor to feature in the Evening Echo recently. In this article I share my personal experience and link my interests and passions with what I do for a living. (Interview script beneath pic.)

Enjoy the read!

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Tell us a little bit about yourself :

My childhood was an interesting one as we moved around quite a bit. I am the oldest of three, I was born in Limerick and moved to Cork as a young girl. From there we went to Sligo and then back to Cork. I studied at the University of Limerick which is where I met Con (my hubby and fellow Limerick man) and we are living in Cork for the last 17 years so I like to think that I came full circle!

Going from place to place definitely sparked a ‘wanderlust’ in me which was further enabled in U.L. where I studied languages and was excited to spend extended periods studying and working in both Berlin and Paris. After college, I was lucky enough to spend time in the U.S. and together with Con, we travelled via South East Asia to Australia. Returning to Cork 17 years ago, I was happy to hang up my ‘travelling boots’ and put down roots in Carrigaline. and I am proud to say that we haven’t moved since! We are parents to three wonderful children; Eoin is 13, Katie is 9 and Fionn is 7.

All this moving around not only boosted my communication skills but definitely fostered a curiosity in me about people and returning to college to study Psychology and Life and subsequently Life and Business Coaching proved to be transformative for my career.

Leveraging over 18 years’ experience in training, coaching and people development across multinationals, SMB’s and the public sector, I launched my business “Change Grow Succeed” in 2015. What started as a side hustle is now a fully operational business. I am in a good position to support my clients in becoming ‘unstuck’ in their thought patterns or behaviours and thus unlocking their potential and helping them achieve results. We offer bespoke, client- centric leadership programs and workshops ranging from SME to large multinationals and we also cater for individual clients through coaching. We have an impressive client base and I consider myself hugely fortunate to engage my passion through my work.

*What is your ideal way to spend a Friday night? (out on the town/ feet up at home/ taking in a show/ entertaining…)

I love a Friday night in, it’s quite grounding after a busy week. You’ll find me chilling out, taking the time to make a nice dinner (usually with a glass of something nice in hand!)

*Lie ins or up with the lark.. which is it for you? 

My preference is definitely to get up early to make the most of the day.

*Does work creep into your weekend at all? 

I never meet clients at the weekend but on occasion if I have an important presentation or public speaking event, I will take 2-3 hours at the weekend to make progress.

*If money was no object where would you head to on a weekend city break? And who would you bring with you? 

Although I was blown away by Lisbon when I visited there in October, I love Paris. I was lucky enough to live there and have fantastic memories of the place. I’ve been fortunate to return there on a few occasions and there’s always something new to discover!

*Closer to home, is there some place you like to head to recharge the batteries? (particular beauty spot, walk, beach etc) 

Garrettstown beach is definitely one of my ‘happy places’. I love to walk the beach and pick up a coffee at Diva Café in Ballinspittle on the way home. In terms of our family, we started going to Inis Beg Estate (between Skibbereen and Baltimore) about 5 years ago. It’s magnificent. Lots of walks and cosy fires. The children love the familiarity of the place and the space to run around!

*Do you like to catch up with family/friends at the weekend? 

One of the perks of being self- employed is that I get to schedule my time around my priorities. Weekends are hectic as we are managing and supporting the schedules for three children so I try and catch up with friends’ midweek, usually for a walk or some lunch.

*Do you get to indulge any hobbies? Even as a spectator? 

Yes – I love to tap dance and attend a weekly evening class. I am also an avid Yogi and practise at least once, sometimes twice weekly. Otherwise, I love to read- it’s a complete indulgence and utter escape! I frequently read books that keep me up to date with trends for work but at the moment, I’m reading ‘Milkman’ by Anna Burns.

*Entertain or be entertained? If it’s the latter do you have a signature dish? 

I do love to entertain – there’s nothing like having friends around and I have enjoyed reasonable success with some of Rachel Allen’s recipes. Lamb tagine is probably one of my favourites. I think if you were to ask my friends however, they would say that I’m a good baker. I definitely enjoy the creative process of baking (and the end result is nice too!)

*We have so many places to eat out in Cork – where are your go to spots for coffee/ lunch/ special meal? 

If we are out for dinner, it has to be Orso, on Pembroke Street. Otherwise, I love Café Idaho for coffee and treats.

Sunday night comes around too fast.. how  do you normally spend it? 

For the most part, Sunday evening’s are spent prepping for the week ahead.
*What time does your alarm clock go off on Monday morning? 

No need for an alarm clock with 3 children!

Book Review: “Emotional Agility – Get Unstuck, Embrace Change and thrive in Work and Life”

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In her fantastic and relevant book ‘Emotional Agility -Get unstuck, Embrace Change and Thrive in Work and Life” Dr. Susan David reminds us of the importance of pausing to connect with ourselves.

We are on this planet for a short time and study after study shows that having a strong sense of what matter to us leads to greater happiness. By knowing who you are and what you stand for, you come to lifes’ choices with the most powerful tool of all; our full selves.

When we connect with our real selves and what we believe to be important, the gulf between how we feel and how we behave closes up.

Enter Emotional Agility. This is a process that allows us to be in the moment, changing or maintaining our behaviours that are aligned with our intentions and values. The goal of Emotional Agility is to keep our sense of growth and challenge alive and is built around a 4 step process. These are:

  • Step 1: Showing Up: Becoming curious about our thoughts and emotions and facing them with kindness. Asking ourselves who’s in charge the thinker or the thought?
  • Step 2: Stepping out: Detaching ourselves from our emotion. As coaches we are skilled at supporting our clients in intentionally creating a space between stimulus and response as therein lies our power of choice. Paying attention to what we are thinking or how we are feeling is paramount in helping us to create that space e.g. I’m noticing that I’m feeling …
  • Step 3: Walking Your Why: In a world where we are expected to approach our day to day tasks like an endless ironman competition, it’s necessary to take the time to evaluate what truly matters to us, otherwise we leave ourselves victim to circumstance. Identifying and acting on the values that are your own is crucial to E.A.
  • Step 4: Moving On: The ability to make small but intentional changes in our motivation, our mindset and our behaviours that are aligned with our values can make for transformational change in how we navigate our world.

Our ability to be nimble to meet lifes’ every changing demands is important, however, if we are not taking time to intentionally connect with our priorities or even observe our own narrative, we leave ourselves victims of circumstance or more tragically, randomness!

I absolutely loved this book, being emotionally agile in our lives empowers us to be adaptable, to face our emotions with courage, curiosity and compassion and move on from them!