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  • Amina Aitsi-Selmi

Slow down to leap and live your [Wise Wednesdays]

Slow down.

It's the essence of Zen, apparently. And a foundational principle in coaching conversations.

In fact, what usually happens when someone starts coaching with me is that they slow down.




If the pareto principle is correct, 80% of what we’re doing is unnecessary or needs to be deprioritised…The 20% that really makes a difference is buried in there. Interestingly, it’s also been estimated that 95% of thoughts are repetitive, and that 80% of those are negative!

When you slow down, the gold can filter through.

Slowing down distils the 5% of thoughts that are true sparks of inspiration and the 20% of actions that create the future you truly want.

But it’s scary. A part of you may wonder what will happen if you slow down? What will you do with your time instead? Will you miss out or fall behind? Will your negative thoughts overwhelm you if you’re not busy? What will it mean about you? And who are you to do this anyway?

These are the ‘barrier thoughts’. The closer you get to slowing down and having a healthy shift, the more intense they become.

But limiting thoughts can’t hold you back forever.

Legends in the making:

This month, I want to celebrate three women among my clients who had the courage to slow down and take a leap of faith in their careers and lives, and had a breakthrough in the past two weeks, each in their own way.

Y signed her first consulting client, laying the foundation for her dream business and inching her forward beyond the 9-to-5. She cross-pollinated her legal and financial expertise with her visionary genius and clear pragmatism and we re-created her professional identity as a Chief Strategy Officer. A few months later, she's sought after to help develop solar power in Africa and will be advising an African company. Her new client didn’t even bat an eyelid when she asked for a 4-figure day-rate. They just knew they wanted to work with her and that it would be an investment for their company. One of her secrets: she slowed them down throughout the exploratory process. She made sure they got to the core of their issue before she offered ideas or solutions. This was on a background of slowing down in her own work and life and saying ‘no’ to environments that don’t honour her values while flowing with opportunities that do, even if scary at times! Congratulations, Y!

E is a talented operations director in tech but she’s also a gifted writer – a gift which had fallen by the wayside in recent years. She knew this moratorium on her creativity couldn’t last…When we had an exploratory conversation she said: I’m ready! She’s started writing beautiful stories of childlike innocence and haunting beauty for adults (they’ve brought me to tears and I have no doubt will find their way into the world…). Last month, for fun and inspiration she applied for a passion role volunteering at a well-known national museum’s rare exhibition for kids! The opening sentence to her application was: “To whom it may concern, I left my IT job to become a storyteller”. She received a response saying: “the application process is closed and we’re oversubscribed. But your application made me giggle. Welcome to the team.” She’s taken a leap by resigning from her job and enjoying time to slow down, reconnect with her creativity, have fun and drink coffee on mountain sides with her husband while exploring new avenues that integrate her gifts. You might also find her helping to make a super-fun day for kids at a museum near you! Congratulations, E!

M – one of the founding members of the programme Presence Power Possibility - took a career leap at the start of the pandemic. Some people in her environment thought it was madness, but she committed to her decision and we witnessed her in the coaching group. She resigned from her corporate job and started exploring new avenues. She wanted to do something aligned with her values for service and compassion and developed an interest in healthcare, palliative care and disability care. We identified her way of being as: a compassionate leader and a leader in compassion. After a few months of sitting in the unknown, and some hardcore exams she found out she’s been accepted to medical school – her new path. Medicine has gained a big and wise heart. Congratulations, M!

There are many more celebrations and I hope to share more of them with my clients’ permission soon.

(Please, bear in mind that it can take 1 to 2 years to make a full career leap from the moment you sense that you want to do something different to the moment you’re actually doing it - and that’s OK. It’s better than never doing it, right?)

I love supporting women and men to take leaps in the direction of their inspiration. I help them build and cross (and sometimes burn) a bridge from their old career to a new world.

And it starts with slowing down to hear your own inspiration and gather your energies. The process also often involves releasing the shackles of internalised limiting beliefs. These can be revealed and worked with much more effectively when slowing down and letting go of excess activity that no longer serves you.

We live in a culture where being quiet, resting and slowing down has often been perceived as weakness.

But the quiet is the ground of your inspired actions.

It’s from the silence that your most brilliant ideas emerge.

And in which your courage rises to aid your next steps, and help you break free of anything holding you back.

To your slow, quiet, powerful peace.


p.s. If you’re looking for some inspiration and confidence around work, take a look at the RESET festival. You can choose your sessions over two weeks. I’ll be part of a panel called I WANT TO BREAK FREE next Monday lunchtime. In this session the Q&A will be on helping you work out if you’re in the wrong job/career, figuring out what it is you really want to do, and giving you the confidence and a few tools to take a leap if you want to. Full programme and tickets here.

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