The best is yet to be

As the year rolls to end, it presents a timely opportunity for reflection and taking stock. One thing that has stood out is that given that the life expectancy of women in the UK is 82.5 years, I have lived more than half of my life!

And in a couple of years I would have lived half a century. Age brings some benefits and freedom. Permit me to share some with you:

Carefree

Ilkley Moor 3 MayI am less bothered about what other people think or say about me. The accumulation of life experiences grows into a thick skin which gives a certain worldliness and wisdom.

I know ‘me’ best – my values, strengths, talents, shadow side, weaknesses….I have had plenty of time to learn to accept who and what I am – and this is so very liberating.

There is less of having to prove oneself or compare self to others. No longer do I feel guilty if I am out on the moors at 2 pm on a weekday afternoon whilst everyone else is tweeting how busy they are or how wonderful work is.

Learning to life in the moment is more evident. To be blunt, the number of moments (or years) is diminishing, so best to make the most of them!

Family

I have made certain choices – work, lifestyle, financial… to give my children the best childhood they could have. Even though it was a choice, it did not stop me from feeling resentful at times and even frustrated.

On the other hand it has enabled me to develop and extend my portfolio of skills and knowledge which has made me adaptable, flexible and well suited for today’s market place.

Most importantly, I am reaping the rewards of watching my children grow into happy, balanced and responsible young adults.

A life lived

Travel VWSo far, I have survived 2 near death experiences and one life saving surgery. Life is precious, time limited and needs to be lived fully.

When my children started secondary school, holidays became adventure time.

The shared experiences and memories created when experiencing different places, cultures, and people are priceless and imprinted on our souls. They will hold us together.

Nothing can beat being woken by the loud guttural sounds of Howler monkeys in the Rainforest, being 10 m from a brown bear as he enters the water and swims across the lake in British Columbia, witnessing a humpback whale and its calf on its migration in San Francisco or fearing for your life when the only thing between you and the caimans is a dugout canoe in the Amazon.

I hope that my children will cherish these moments and when they leave , I will create some of my own – a gap year for the over 50’s, a world challenge expedition, volunteering overseas….possibilities are endless!

Death

Woody dog 14 In June of this year, I made the hardest decision of my life so far- to have our beloved large Munsterlander, Woody, put to rest. For 10 years, he was my running partner, a listening ear for my troubles, my audience for practicing my presentations, my protector, buddy, gentle giant…

He was highly intelligent, strong willed and I learnt a lot about myself through our interactions. He brought much joy and laughter into our lives, gave us unconditional love and his departure has left an empty space in our hearts and lives.

 Work

Leadership development is big business with US organisations spending an estimated $13.6 billion in 2012. After 18 years in the field of leadership, I am becoming cynical and wondering who is benefiting from all this development?

At the core of effective leadership is personal mastery – self awareness, clarity of purpose, values driven, strengths focused and the desire to serve. Leadership starts with a journey of self discovery.

Most leaders are already competent in what they do. It is often the ‘how’ that needs adjusting …which needs to be practiced and flexed in real time situations.

The behaviours demonstrated by effective leaders are not exclusive to them and can be seen in those who are, humankind ….me, you, him, her…

Be Humankind

 Play

One of my biggest learning this year has come from completing my first marathon. It has tested not only my joints but also my mind! I have learnt much about myself: my resilience, motivation, being in harmony with my body….and the true meaning of the cliché, ‘it’s a marathon, not a sprint’. It really is one step at a time.

Grow old with me. The best is yet to be! (Robert Browning)

Love to hear your reflections and what stood out for you

Wishing you a fabulous 2015

BE BOLD 2015 Twitter header

 Be Bold a 1 day programme for women, equipping you with the skills, techniques to be bold, make changes, set impactful goals…that will help you to get ahead, progress, achieve results, success and fulfilment in 2015. ALL proceeds, my time and delivery to Children with Cancer UK

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About verawoodhead

I'm an executive coach, leadership facilitator and learning & development consultant working with managers and leaders to develop the skills and behaviours to inspire performance and drive results; achieve promotion ; make successful career changes, be resilient and thrive at work. Within organisations, I help to facilitate better conversations, design learning interventions which deliver practical and lasting solutions aligned to business strategy and goals. Connect with me on Twitter @verawoodhead
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