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What Greta Thunberg, Madonna and Tom Cruise and I have in common..

Updated: May 4

I recently realised something about myself, that I have known for a long time, but either ignored or maybe didn’t even want, or need, to face up to, which I know can help you all lead more joyful, rewarding and fulfilling lives. Returning from a cathartic 4 day “funtensive , with my Mentor, Jason, and his team, in Lisbon, in 2019, comprising inner work, heavy coaching, hands on training  and lots of reflection, I had a “moonshot moment” of utter clarity. Prior to attending, Jason asked a really powerful question : “What do you know to be true about yourself that you wish wasn’t?” At first I didn’t really get it, and then, my beloved miniature schnauzer “Charlie” became very ill and I knew he was slipping away from his brother and us, and in those last reflective, days Jason’s question kept taunting me. So, I faced it and found I had 5 answers. I shared these with Jason and most of all began to explore them for myself. It felt like shedding an uncomfortable skin that I’d inhabited for some time. So off I went to Lisbon, with, what felt like, more baggage in my head, than they allow in the aircraft hold. Three years working with Jason, had helped me understand that I am a misfit, and I am pretty comfortable with that – I consider my spiritual home is Portland Oregon! However, as we talked through lots of recent coaching client work and overlaid that with my previous experience in senior leadership roles across the world, something became glaringly obvious. I even mentioned the word in sharing how I got an unexpected promotion in my 20s, when I was made Head Buying for Halfords in the UK, in spite of being a female who knew nothing about the workings of a car or bicycle. Halfords then CEO, encouraged me to apply for this role and I replied with things like : I don’t know about cars, I am not creative, I am not a buyer, I am not corporate, I wear strange clothes, I don’t “do “suits.  Anyway, after arm twisting by CEO ( I realise that this sounds strange but read on and it will become clear) and psychometric testing, (insisted upon by me, to prove I wasn’t a creative or original thinker ) I was proved wrong, as I am on many things. I know now it’s how I learn.  I took the job; it went well and after a few months the CEO came for a chat with me in my office and asked how it was going. By then I was comfortable in the role and the team was getting great results. He then said, “I always knew you could do this, I love Mavericks!”. I thought to myself at the time:  “What is he talking about Mavericks for?” It’s taken a long time for me to recollect that conversation, however when I shared the story with Jason, it suddenly seemed the most obvious word in the world, not just for me, but for the work I do with clients – helping them to think differently and above all, without limits. This is something I have done myself most of my life – as have my 4 younger sisters. I give thanks for this special skill, to my parents and sisters, for an upbringing filled with laughter, things going wrong, chaos as the normal order, having to get part time work from being a teenager as money was tight, and above all learning persistence, determination and how to win at Sport from Dad, and how to perform on stage, enjoy the Arts and embrace other people from Mum. I also realized that I naturally gravitate towards other Mavericks.  I set, what appear to others, ridiculous missions for myself, always focusing on the end goal and not what could happen along the way, in my mind that is just “stuff” and I’ll work it out. I am pretty sure that being described as unconventional, is a “badge of honour” for me, and I feel especially lucky to have been a student when Punk was at its peak. I love lots of genres of music and dancing. Punk and New Wave though, is the music that most speaks to my soul and fires my inner energy. On the plane back from Lisbon, I noticed a music related newspaper headline, and did a double take: “I refuse to be what society expects of a woman, I am unconventional”  It could have been me that said this, however this time it was Madonna. The nickname “Maverick” got a good airing in the movie “Top Gun”, with Tom Cruise’s character, potentially the best pilot, although potentially the most unconventional too. I don’t actually believe that we Mavericks, don't conform, to rules.  In fact I quite like some, as that means I can ignore potentially dynamic aspects of situations as being fixed – however if a rule gets in the way of something that is a "big win”, I will work hard to get the rule changed, replaced, or overturned, or just think differently about it. For me the best part of being a Maverick is being able to “Think Differently” to others, and share this skill, with those who may benefit from a different approach and mindset. I really enjoy this, as often you can help others: out of situations where they have become stuck, invent something new, teach someone new thinking, empower them with the confidence to see things going wrong as an opportunity to learn, or just instil a different perspective on to a situation that has become stuck or unclear. Of course, the downside of us Mavericks, is that, on our day, we can be disruptive, difficult, opinionated, or just plain wrong. However, that is all part of our process – we need to have some pain to make big steps forward and thus giving us our space rather than admonishing, is the best way to achieve ultimate success. We are the people who love to learn and we do that best when things go wrong, so if you are a leader to Mavericks, then you need to be brave and give them the space and support to fail. This has been a big re- discovery for me, and one I’ve really enjoyed. I also believe that this can be a one for you, too. Connecting with your inner Maverick, can reduce stress, feelings of frustration and create optimism for the future. A good place to start, is asking yourself and answering honestly these 3 questions – it won't be easy and don’t rush it: ·      What do you believe to be true about yourself that you wish wasn’t? ·      Is there something that feels completely ridiculous that you want to do, and you are stopping yourself because…………………..(fill the gap)? ·      Is there a scenario in your life where you know you can do or contribute more, yet something is stopping you? Why is that and what can you do about it? Writing these answers down, considering them, reflecting on them and acknowledging them is a big step towards fixing them. And for those who lead “Mavericks”, and want to get the best out of them, if you are struggling to “control” the thinking, behaviour or performance of someone who you feel is disruptive, appears unfocused or difficult, then ask them how they wish to work and be lead, to get the best out of them. This isn’t about preferential treatment, this is about having a potential game changer in your team, who can make everyone’s life easier, if you take the time to get the best out of them.  Throughout my working life, I have been a happy, high achieving Maverick. I jump out of bed in the mornings looking forward to the day’s challenges, problems and obstacles – I see them as the fodder to not only succeed but also to feed my learning. I love challenge, achieving things that others say can’t be done, laughing when things go wrong, voicing a ridiculous goal and then doing it, and most of all these days Coaching and Mentoring others so they can do the same, grow and also jump out of bed every morning, feeling optimistic. The absolute best part, is the joy clients share, when they surprise themselves with their new way of thinking, doing and achieving. I’ve also seen that once people have connected with their “inner Maverick” they don’t go back, as they have elevated their confidence, vision and determination. Greta Thunberg said in New York recently “Being different is a Superpower”. Imagine you own life, and especially work, if you got up every day looking forward to the things that go wrong, that are challenging or need fixing. We all have that within us, we just need to free it. “Because the people crazy enough to think we can change the world, are the ones that do” ( Apple, Think different , 1997) It’s not a false hope. It’s the Maverick Mindset way!

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