What a year it has been!

Ka mua, ka muri: Looking back in order to move forward.

And what a year it has been. Reflection on both good times and bad provides great understanding and merit in looking towards the future. As the Maori proverb depicts someone walking backwards into the future, the path may look clear from an outside perspective but is unwritten for the individual. The past will always help curate our future but it will never be identical to what has been. What an exciting time!

2021 highlights

  • Taking a break last summer – spending quality time with my family and not putting pressure on myself to achieve anything (quite a hard thing to ‘do’ when you have high Achiever/Maximizer strengths!). I’ve been trusting the process and learned much about self-belief over that time. This year was a new canvas, awaiting the first brush stroke (how terrifying and exciting at the same time after being an employee for most of my life!).
  • Since January 2021, I’ve helped 250 individuals discover their strengths (using the CliftonStrengths assessment), facilitated lots of team strengths workshops and away days, and dabbled in some work supporting organisations articulating their purpose, mission and vision.
  • Redesigning my website (thanks to the amazing Iona at Grow My Business).
  • Hiring an awesome business manager, Natasha Nihill, who’s been a great help to me with helping me set up newsletters, social media and other tech-whizz things.
  • Being an active participant and mentor in Digby Scott’s Change Makers Amplify programme – every six weeks, a great bunch of people get together to engage and wrestle with the challenges of change – it’s a super supportive environment that’s fuelled me with courage and connection.
  • Qualifying as an Emotional Card Deck Practitioner. Next year, I’m looking forward to trying out ECD games more with clients!
  • Speaking at the Wellington Women in Leadership Summit in November, closing the two-day event with an action-oriented session.
  • Losing weight and joining a nutritional reset programme in April with Julia McHale from Heavenly Fitness and spent an arduous five weeks turning my bad habits into better ones, alongside an incredibly supportive group of online accountability buddies.
  • Learning how to ‘do virtual’ well, making it fun (and rather enjoying it). Figuring out new ways of connecting people, facilitating some great wins and using all sorts of funky tools (my current favourite is Miro).  Although in-person is loved by many, this year has allowed us to explore different ways of working whilst continuing momentum and not letting a global pandemic stop us (let’s just do things differently).  I’ve loved observing the ‘reset’ that has happened in many people’s journeys over these last couple of years – waking up to what’s essential in life (our values, our beliefs, the relationships we have) – and making deliberate choices to nurture those things.
  • Getting a puppy! Skittles (aka my Chief Wellbeing Officer) has brought a lot of joy to the family (as well as a bit of stress with the puppy training fiascos!). Her cuteness, cuddles and loyal nature make her so much fun to be around.
  • Being able to ‘control’ my calendar with more autonomy and making space for the important stuff like going on school trips, daytime adventures and planning my energy to give out the best in the world around me.

2021 lowlights

  • Witnessing tragedies unfold for those close to me – friends losing people to sickness and cancer this year. Life can suck sometimes, and terrible things happen to the best of people.
  • Not being able to visit my mum in the UK, family in Australia and not travelling full-stop (first world problems!)
  • Covid disruptions, lockdowns and cancelled/postponed events – lots of frustrating calendar Jenga!
  • Training a puppy is hard work! She’s eight months old now and, whilst adorable, is quite a mischief and causes a bit of marital tension in the household! There’s nothing quite like leaning into strengths-based philosophies to train a puppy – I should write a blog on this! Dogs are very receptive to positive reinforcement (ha, funny that – we could learn a thing or two as humans!)

My Best Learnings

  • Believe in yourself. There’s only one YOU in the world, and you have a lot to give – so treasure that.
  • Change isn’t always easy, but it sure can be fun if you go along for the ride.
  • Learning how to say ‘no’ to bright, shiny new stuff that’s not your focus.
  • Connecting people with what, or who, they need most.
  • Confidence always comes when you activate courage.
  • Keeping to boundaries that align with your values.
  • It’s ok sometimes to just stop and smell the roses. Cherish the reflection times (and don’t angst about them).
  • Discerning what the best question to ask at the right time is.
  • The art of experiments – plan, do, review, and learn. And keep going.  It’s worth giving things a try and seeing if they go anywhere.
  • The art of listening vs. hearing.
  • Emotions drive behaviour.
  • Life is full of chapters – make the most of the one you’re in!
Becoming a dog mum – certainly a highlight but one with many challenges!

Photo credit:  Paul Mackintosh (a good friend of mine who’s amazing at photography!)

What’s coming up next year

  • 2022 is another ‘blank slate’ for me (with a few scatterings of planned excitement here and there).  My plan is to:
    • Facilitate more team workshops (strengths discovery, ‘walk the talk’ workshops, strategic planning, and team away days).
    • Reach more people to help them discover their strengths – I’ll be offering “Strengths Discovery” virtual workshops throughout the year, focussing on assisting participants find their strengths and providing them with valuable tools to unlock their potential.
    • Deliver more one-on-one coaching for extraordinary individuals seeking to ignite and harness their potential, with a particular focus on managers and leaders in the public sector.
    • Coaching and training support for programme managers, equipping them with support and valuable tools to help them organise and manage the complex programmes they are delivering.


    I’m also keen to experiment with:

    • Strengths-based relationships: several clients I’ve had this year have got their partners/spouses into strengths due to my coaching. I’d love to support couples in building their self-awareness and appreciation of their strengths – their uniqueness, differences, blind spots – and help coach them to find better ways to connect and grow in their relationships.
    • Strengths-based parenting: during the lockdowns last year, I did an online certification with Incredible Parents/Incredible Kids.  There’s a strengths-based assessment tool for both parents and children, which helps identify parents/child strengths and strategies and recommendations for parenting to get the best out of your child/ren.
    • Deliver culture and leadership workshops using the Emotional Card Deck (ECD) game. I’m keen to weave in the language of emotions into my workshops to drive behaviour and get beyond the ‘icebreaker light touch’ to support leaders and their organisations in building the right culture and employee experience.

Here’s to 2022!

If you know of others who may be interested in any of the above, or are excited to start your own strengths-based journey get in touch with me below.

I offer coaching packages for people wanting to discover their strengths and learn how to apply them in their life and work.  You can find out more about my programmes here.  Contact me today to learn how you can make the most of your natural talents.