Last week, I said goodbye to two things I really care about and had put a lot of effort into over the past two years. One of them was the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) Coaching Network, which has grown to over 200 members since I founded it in 2016 and is currently run by a pro-active committee of seven fantastic coaches.
The RSA means a lot to me because it offered a landing pad when I flew out of the nest of my 13 year career in the UK National Health Service.
It felt good to join an organisation whose flagship programme was the Reinvention of Work, not to mention its commitment to and track record in driving social progress forward in the UK.
From transforming education and public services to sustainability and international development, thought leaders like Simon Sinek and ordinary folk who want to change the world have a platform and incubator in the RSA.
It was quite a journey from humble beginnings as solo founding Fellow to building a steering group of highly committed coaches as brilliant as they are diverse. Tough decisions had to be made in the process to get there, like excluding anyone who wasn't actively engaging…
These were real life lessons in leadership and grew my appreciation of the value of coaching even more. Having a friendly but honest sounding board to decipher situations and distil the wisdom from them was vital to my leadership journey. Self-awareness, to me, is the core of 21st century leadership in the complex, uncertain and fast paced world we live in.
We've led several well-attended, participatory events for social entrepreneurs and other game changers, engaging hundreds of people from the RSA Fellowship itself as well as beyond. I'm so pleased that our Coaching Network's impact rippled beyond the RSA itself.
We got to work with leaders in the industry including Supercoach Michael Neill and the inimitable Rich Litvin, who contributed their coaching magic to the Network.
We also set up a pro bono one-to-one coaching service, free of any commercial interests offering the best coaching from established leadership, executive and personal coaches to any Fellow working on a project, initiative, charity or business aligned with the RSA's value of social progress.
The positive feedback from the Fellows who received coaching and were able to realise the value of their work and take it forward moved everyone on the Steering Group enormously. It was collated and published by the RSA.
I leave the Network with the knowledge that for its level of network maturity (in RSA speak), we have achieved a lot, and that it is in very skilful hands.
Of course, times of change like these can evoke mixed emotions. There’s the anticipation of having more space and time and of something new that will eventually come along but there’s also the sadness of the goodbye and the uncertainty of “what next?” We can fill the gap prematurely or worse fail to let go.
Culturally, we accept that death and relationship break ups warrant grieving but not necessarily other life events. Whether it’s something big like moving into a new stage of life or job; or something smaller like the end of a holiday or losing an object of sentimental value, we’re not always given the time and space we need to feel the emotions of loss, let alone appreciate their role in the perpetual renewal and change of life. So it’s important to give yourself space if you’re moving on from a job, career or phase in your work life.
You may have heard of the Kübler-Ross stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance). They’re such a helpful reference in knowing that the rollercoaster of emotions is just part of the process of letting go and saying goodbye. Feeling uncomfortable or sad doesn’t mean you should hang on for longer. On the contrary, being able to let go gracefully means your life can flow more easily and get you to the next part of your story with more peace and less anxiety.
These stages are related to the broader emotional cycle of change we experience whenever something is modified in our lives. See below for a past Wise Wednesdays video on this cycle and how not to panic and derail the process of change, prematurely.
One thing I noticed about saying goodbye is that the process begins in the heart. There's a sense that it's time for change. A sense of loss followed by grieving comes after and the strategic actions and communication unfold naturally next. Being sensitive to these rhythms in life means we’re less likely to be blindsided by life taking over to push us into the next phase of our lives whilst we kick and scream!
Of course part of us wants to hold onto the old and will be afraid of stepping into the great unknown where answers aren’t available yet. But it’s the only way to write the next chapter can be written with our full willingness to participate.
About 50% of the people I coach are in a phase of transition, in the space between chapters. They benefit from developing an entrepreneurial mindset – becoming more comfortable with uncertainty and dancing in the moment – to spread their wings and fly into a new, more deeply fulfilling and authentic phase of their careers and lives. It’s not uncommon in the new age of work we’re entering and it’s doable.
I personally gained a broader insight from this episode: leadership (of self and other) begins in the heart and teams up with the head - so it's important to pay attention to the whisperings in your heart. They will guide you on your journey.
Amina | Be the change
Coming up next:
27th September at 6.30pm. Leaders Circle at Harley Street (2 hour small group coaching intensive) on “How to take an entrepreneurial approach to your career”. We’ll discuss:
Why you must abandon the employee mindset
How to break out of imposter syndrome thought patterns
The building blocks of a strategy for operating as an independent professional collaborating with selected organisations and partners that you choose
The key to getting paid for creating socially valuable service propositions (whether within or without a bigger organisation)
More information and registration here: