Category Archives: Brené-ism’s

Mind the Gap

Mind the Gap
Mind the Gap








Mind the Gap

A simple statement to help the accident prone? Or a big life question – asking us to pay attention to the space between where we are and where we want to be? Or both? And more?

Yes, my ongoing love affair / deep delve into all things Brené, have had me thinking again – and all week has been placing interesting thought pieces into my view, asking me to think about the gap between the reality of the situation in hand, and where I think I want to be. And there have been some pretty big things to consider.

First up, Brené herself, suggesting that ‘minding the gap’ is a daring strategy – asking us to recognise the difference between what we say, and what we do, the difference between the values we say that matter and the values we actually practice.

For me right now, this is challenging on a personal level, wholeheartedly linked to my big question of ‘who am I now?’ I am aiming to ensure that I practice ‘Being Nicki’ – ie true to myself – but this is a real work in progress, so all I can do is try each day, to do things that ring true to that.


My two big revelations this week, as I work through this? The first one is no real surprise at all, but it was interesting to see it come out so clearly in my ‘new’ world – where I really could be whoever I wanted to ‘play’ at being.

I hate huge social events. I feel awkward and nervous and socially inept when I walk into a room filled with people who all seem to know each other. I’m always underdressed and I never have the right accessories. I sit nervously on the sideline of other conversations, wondering how long I have to stay to appear polite. I hang on to any small group that I know, and I anchor myself with a glass of wine, or a plate of food so that I have something to do.

I’ll still go, I’m sure, to these things, sometimes.  The view from the Hotel ballroom balcony was spectacular – even in the rain – and the small group of people that I have connected with were as gracious and friendly as ever, it really is just a case if it’s me, not them.  I just feel uneasy.  Give me a kitchen table, a mug of tea and three or four other people max, and I’m good, really. I can even hold a sensible, interesting conversation, but more than that.. well, it’s a case of not ‘Being Nicki’.

And this links in to Revelation Number 2.  I don’t actually like drinking that much. I’ve spent far too long, drinking far too much over-priced, sub-standard alcohol – to hide, to give myself something to do with my hands, to take the edge of, and out here, well, it just seems silly.  Even pretty rubbish wine is seriously over-inflated, price wise, and it gives me a headache, and I don’t get enough sleep anyway – to deal with the little monsters when they shout the house down in the middle of the night for the toilet – so… I think I’m pretty much stopping drinking. I don’t think I have a serious ‘problem’ that needs to be managed (feel free to disagree…), I’m not trying to make anyone feel awkward about the fact that they like drinking.  I just think I’m going to save my drinking. For a time, and a place, when it’s really good alcohol. With really good company. And then, well… maybe, just maybe, I’ll enjoy a glass or two.  And this decision – this sits very nicely with the ‘Being Nicki’ plan.

And on a professional level? Well, this whole Mind the Gap plan has had me thinking about the difference between strategy (the game plan – what do we want to achieve, how are we going to get there) and culture (less about what we want to achieve, more about who we are). Answering the question of whether a company is ‘walking the talk’ can be hard, and very uncomfortable – but my feeling is that honest conversations here are what can drive real change. Otherwise, the ‘gap’ between practiced values and aspirational values is where both employees and clients can easily get lost.

So – Where are you right now?

A Huff Post article (To anyone who thinks they’re falling behind in life) feels a bit like a flip side of this Mind the Gap thinking.  (Sometimes, where you are right now, is just where you are meant to be.) Read it.  “Most of our unhappiness stems from the belief that our lives should be different… But sometimes the novel is not ready to be written because you haven’t met the inspiration for your main character yet…”

How’s that Having it All going?

Anne-Marie Slaughter became a media sensation when she wrote this article in The Atlantic about how women can’t have it all. Her husband wrote a great follow up article ‘Why I put my wife’s career first‘ which is both engaging and inspiring.  “A female business executive willing to do what it takes to get to the top – go on every trip, meet every client, accept every promotion, even pick up & move to a new location when asked – needs what male CEO’s have always had: a spouse who bears most of the burden at home…”

I have a personal thank you to add in here – to someone who very eloquently explained her frustration with her old corporate world, and it just rang true with me.   Why did she uproot her family and make a major change in her working life set up?  “I was angry at the working world for not allowing me to be a connected mother and powerful business influencer.” I get that feeling.  And I know that this amazing woman is a huge positive influence on everyone who is lucky enough to cross her path. Ho!

And then there is that whole Parenting thing…

And the Parenting Skills Gap.  The over-arching theme of this Guardian article hit me right between the eyes.  We study, we train, we actively go out and ‘learn’ how to be better at work… yet somehow the idea that we might need to ‘learn’ how to be a better parent is too shameful to admit…  I’m up for whatever help I can get.

And a new gap?

Little man has lost a tooth. Yes, the tooth fairy will be visiting him for the first time, before his big sister (huge social no no me thinks) – courtesy of a small scooter incident. And that gap, in his smile, is one that I would really  rather have been able to avoid for a little while longer!

Phew, enough honesty for the week?

Something lovely

Mind the Gap

I love books. Always have. Always will.  I generally prefer books to people (my best friends and hubby will happily attest to this fact).  And I love hunting out beautiful and interesting children’s books to read to the kids.  Well, Oliver Jeffers is, in my opinion, a genius.  Check out his beautiful books and images.

If this was not lovely enough, the Hubby has excelled himself and has bought me a signed, first edition copy of his new book A Child of Books.  I think this is MY book.  I am SO excited about getting my hands on this come Christmas time (yes, I do have to wait that long… agghhhhh)

And finally – Questions…

I have so many going round i my head right now… so I’m going to post some here.  Fancy answering?

Daring Greatly (v2)

Daring Greatly
Shanghai Evening
Daring Greatly
Pearl Tower, Shanghai


Daring greatly

Daring Greatly

I’ve had an odd kind of week, where the ending made a lot more sense than the beginning or the middle.  But I’m back to the thought that I am in the middle of Daring Greatly (yes, Brené Brown, I’m back with you…)

Hubby was away in the land of the pandas for a couple of days, and so for the first time in a long time, I had some time to sit & think – about where I was, what I was doing… and more frighteningly, who I am… And when I started thinking about that, I had no idea at all.  Without work, which has been my full-time focus for as long as I can remember, I suddenly realised that I wasn’t sure who I was – which as a mother of three small children, is actually a pretty terrifying thought.

Cut to hubby’s return and a great Sherpa’s dinner in,  I tried to explain this week’s mid-life crisis / breakdown issue to him (bless him, he did a great job of patiently listening and nodding thoughtfully in most of the right places) and he said something entirely unexpected.  That we wouldn’t be in Shanghai if it wasn’t for me. This suddenly petrified me.  I didn’t know if this was a good thing or not, or if somehow this meant I was ‘to blame’.  But then thankfully he elaborated… (not always guaranteed, from the man of few words…)

Go back 10 years – and we had a short lived, not entirely successful move to Beijing.  Many a wonderful memory created yes (in hindsight) – but all I knew when we left Beijing was that ‘that was it’. Never again. No.  Asia, and China in particular, was just TOO DAMNED HARD. And so that door shut.  We moved to the States, where everyone spoke English (albeit it with far too many zed’s in their words) and I had some idea of what I was attempting to buy in a supermarket.

And then we returned to good old Blighty (sorry, dear Hubby) and found a nice little village to settle down in.  Great for the kids. Commute really not too bad. Great pubs (some of the very finest!) But then the itchy feet started itching again…

We had both worked (very) hard for as long as we could remember, but I can be honest and say that I had lost a lot of the love and excitement about my day to day work.  There were moments, immense ones, of joy and genuine pride, but… There had been a growing feeling of me desperately wanting ‘something else’ – I just had no idea what that something else was.

And so, at the beginning of the year, courtesy of an intriguing article in The Guardian, I decided to investigate what the something else could be and decided I needed some support – hello my very own Wonder Woman.  A few things clicked into place, from my day to day work and random thoughts I’d been having over the years, and I decided to start retraining as a Co-Active Coach.  Bingo. Lightbulb moments a plenty. Bags of enthusiasm. A genuine feeling of excitement again, as to what might be… But the one thing I knew was that… not China. Never China.

Itchy feet had been troubling the Hubby too, and so conversations had been had at work about what other possibilities might exist for one, or other of us – somewhere else.

My boss had said Shanghai. I had said no.  Other people had said Shanghai – China’s the place to be – and I had said no.

But then one day, after a conversation with my Wonder Woman, or after a reading a chapter from Brené Brown, my no suddenly changed to a ‘well, why not?’

But the funny thing was, I didn’t even remember this turn of events. Hubby really did point it out to me last night.  And then the past week of mid-life crisis / breakdown all came together.

When I worked through what I wanted in my life, when I really sat down and thought about it – I wanted adventure. I wanted fun.  I wanted to put my family first – and I wanted them to be proud of me and what I did.  I wanted to be courageous.  I wanted to develop perseverance and never to think that I had to give up the dream (whatever that dream might be).  I wanted freedom, flexibility and to make positive choices about how I spent my time.  And I wanted to feel grateful and joyful for the life I had created.

And so, this is what Shanghai is to me. It is offering me the chance to try and be & do all of the above. I have no idea what will happen, or how it will turn out.  But I dared greatly 10 years ago – and things turned out ok in the long run. And I am Daring Greatly again now – and I’ll find out who I am along the way. And I think that’s ok.

(& then Hubby nodded and said – shall we just go to sleep now?)

Can I just talk about Dr. Seuss?

Daring greatly

So the kids school has a great library – and I can take books out (hurrah!) And I’m a HUGE fan of Dr. Seuss. But had never read this book. But seriously… The Lorax is probably the book that has had the biggest immediate effect on my children ever, and I just loved it. Everyone should read it. Everyone…

Daring Greatly

Daring Greatly
Daring Greatly

I am just a little bit in love (ok, quite a lot in love, really…) with Brené Brown – having been introduced to her books by the seriously wonderful Electric Woman that is Nikki Armytage.

And so now, I am Daring Greatly – or trying to – on a daily basis.  I have had enough all the ‘all talk but no trousers’ routine that I’ve been playing around with for a while – so here I am – trying to become the best me I can become, because life is just far too short to be mediocre.

Brené is a hard task master, but her books have inspired me – to really take a look at who I am and what I’m doing – as a person, as a partner, as a parent and as a colleague – and so I’m trying to work her process a little more into my day to day life.

I’m reading (even more than before), making notes, smiling – and doing… Including owning up to my own failures – hence the new SFD page on the left hand side.

I think owning my story, writing my own shitty first drafts, and then rumbling with the truth is the very best thing I can do for me right now.

I have no idea what will come of this – but I am super super excited to be Daring Greatly…