Life. Flow. Balance.

This blog is where I talk to you about my work, client case studies, and issues that are part of my own self-work and development. I Love conversation and feedback so please leave comments, follow me and subscribe. if you like what you read, share the love.


Are you a depleted leader, or bearing witness to one? Does this describe you or someone you know?
You, or your colleague, get to the end of your day, worn out, exhausted and dissatisfied because you, or they, do not feel that anything of significance has been achieved despite all your hard work! Or the things that have been achieved sit uncomfortably with you.
Part one first published on Linkedin 7/11/2017

Sharing my work and the impact for clients is one of the pleasures of this professional activity. So let me introduce Bev ( her name has been changed to protect confidentiality). A teacher, 10 years into her career she is experiencing disturbingly low levels of life satisfaction and needs this to change.

Lifeflowbalance Coaching Philosophy

Humans use metaphors to express deep meaning. Meanings that are compactly expressed in an image. In this series of posts, I call a rich mix of metaphors into my service. Our learning and growth reaches down and stretches upward. Is grounded and ascendant. This blog contains another metaphor as it uses the alphabet as its structure. From individuals letters, we construct a language rich, varied and complex. The A-Z of Lifeflowbalance Coaching is one expression of the accrued wisdom of my life and learning which is given expression through my profession as a coach.

Charmaine's Blog Summer 2017 Non-Fiction
  • Check here for some interesting Leadership reads- Titles 1,2 and 5, are on my list

  • The Sellout, by Paul Beatty
  • Who Leaves and Who Stays, by Elena Farrante
  • My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Farrante
  • The Story of a New Name, by Elena Farrante
  • Pussy, by Howard Jacobson

Three by Elena…well, I am holidaying in Italy, seems appropriate!

Fiction- Classics
  • The Man who was Thursday, by GK Chesterton
  • The Counterfeiters, by Andre Gide
  • Satan in the Suburbs and other short stories, by Bertrand Russell

I would love to know what you are reading. On my return, I will be sharing reviews of my reads using:
#womenedReadingReviews & #RecommendedReads

Follow @lifeflowbalance on Twitter to join in the conversation

Happy Holidays.
Summer 2017 Well-Being Plan
Now is the time to put in place your summer holiday wellbeing plan. I have booked all of August off. For the first four days of the month, we are off to the Edinburgh festival, then back for 5 days to recover from the joyous madness that is the fringe and turn around for a break in Italy for the rest of the month.

There I will sleep, walk, cycle, swim read, and hopefully find the inspiration to complete my idea for my first book.
The extended break is designed to give me the space to fulfil this aspiration and, what has come to feel like a need, to capture and explore the last three years and their impact on my life through the work I have been engaged on in self-development as well as the work I have done serving the developmental needs of those I have coached.

As my business has grown work-life balance has become an increasing challenge for me. I have not yet got to that stage since becoming self-employed. So, another summertime break task will be to give this some thought and reshape my business plan to address the imbalance.

So, what is your wellbeing plan for the summer break?

My No. 1 Tip for a Guilt-Free Break

Freedom from guilt.

Carve out time to just be, as well as time to put some thought into how you can improve your work life balance once you are back into work mode. If you have created a huge to-do list that you will then neglect once the break comes because you need to stop, but with which you will beat yourself up about not doing, burdening yourself with guilt. Just chuck the list in the bin. If you have failed to complete your to-do list in the past and the earth did not stop spinning then you do not need the list at all.

Accept that you need the break and have it free from guilt. Only do what is essential and which will serve to rejuvenate you and create better balance once you are back to work.

Rest, recuperate, rejuvenate and enjoy!

Teacher's CPD Gold #womened
Austerity has meant that CPD budgets for schools have been heavily cut. So, access to free or low cost, good quality professional development is like gold dust. Whether you are a teacher, senior leader, member of a school’s support staff, a consultant or trainer WomenEd events are an excellent source of such gold dust.

Here is a list of events that will be taking place in the East and West Midlands during the Autumn term:
  • October 11th, 2017, International Day of the Girl #LeadMeet at venues to be confirmed
  • October 14th Saturday Regional Unconference, organised by Dr Kay Fuller, Nottingham University, Theme: ‘Pass it On’. I will be leading a workshop on Reflective Leadership as part of the programme of workshops available. You can book your place here.

If you live outside in the West Midlands then these events may be of interest
  • September 30th Womened 3rd Annual Unconference , Sheffield Hallam University. Register for this event here to go on the waiting list as this event is now sold out.
  • November 18th Birmingham Regional Event at which Dame Alison Peacock from the Chartered College of Teachers is confirmed to speak. Register for this event here
SEC Logo

As a member of the Board of Directors for The Society of Education Consultants (SEC) I am proud to announce that we will soon be extending our activities to include regional events.

These events will be organised in partnership with other influential organisations and networks connected to the education sector. This initiative is still in development, however, I can say that our first regional event is most likely to be in Nottingham.

We are looking to partner with the East Midlands Women Leading in Education Network which provides access to the DfE list of coaches who have made the pledge to coach aspirant women leaders for free.
Women Leading in Education
I made this pledge last year. If you are interested in either making the pledge and joining the list of coaches or wish to register for coaching then you can do both of those things by following the links provided.

These regional events will be open members and non-members of SEC, I look forward to seeing you at one of them at some time in the future
From September, I will be promoting the following exciting new additions to my suite of services:

Fledgling online Group Coaching for education professionals looking to make the transition into education consultancy. More This niche business coaching package will give you all you need to develop and launch your consultancy in 6 months. Register your interest here.
Full Flight and Flow One to One Coaching for Education Consultants who want to take a fresh look at their business because you are feeling stuck or need space to develop new possibilities in your life and business.

The programme was inspired by my work with Mal Khrishnasamy, who joined as a client while she was in the early stages of her transition from school senior leader to Education Consultant and coach. I love the logo she created between our first and second session of coaching and the lovely testimonial she wrote.
Lifeflowbalance testimonial

In addition, for clients choosing to work with me from September, I will be able to offer two new services to add another dimension to the self-exploration and transformational process of leadership development coaching.
  • Strengths Profile psychometric that can be used to support career and leadership development coaching. Cognitive, Emotional, Social and Spiritual dimensions are all covered in this comprehensive empowering model. It was developed by positive physiologists and backed by rigorous research.
  • 360 Degree Strengths-based Feedback Questionnaire plus Debrief coaching session.

More news about these in September...
#LeadershipHacks  @lifeflowbalance

The Disruptive Power of HOPE

I do not normally write about politics, but the events of the last 7 or so days demand comment. Nothing has recently exemplified the essence of a ‘determined perseverance’ in the face of seemingly impossible odds, better than the performance of Jeremy Corbyn, during #GE2017.
Preceding this he’d had to hang on to leadership while members of the parliamentary party tried to oust him our refused to work with him fearing that his ‘old fashioned’ socialist policies would mean the end of their careers. What then appeared to be arrogance can now be seen as the exercise of patience based on sound assessment of the possibilities and a principled belief in a cause. that the tide was turning in favour of hope based politics, even if some of us were unable to see it.

He has done this with visible dignity and calm. What has fascinated me throughout the period since he was elected to lead the party is the gap between the vilification he has received from the right-wing press and some in his own party, and the respect and popularity he has generated amongst those who voted for him – three times- to be labour party leader and this was before the seismic events of the general election results still playing themselves out as I write. I was by no means a fan, but having met him, I withheld judgement. Waiting for time to tell. And it has not only told, it has roared.

Hope Not Hate!

Hope not Hate

Following the election of Trump, and the vote for Brexit I nailed my flag firmly to the mast of hope with the blog series, The Habits of Hope Based (Self) Leadership #HopeinAction2017, from which the above quote is taken. So did the Hope not Hate Campaign that helped to create this disruptive result by developing a sophisticated strategy for engaging with people. Speaking directly to the fears of different sectors of society. Inclusive, empathetic and diverse messages were crafted and communicated, under the radar of the certain, the confident, the complacent. Those who seized the opportunity presented by uncertainty turned the tide in their favour.

" Hope combined with intelligent action is a disruptive force and opens the way for change and innovation."

Leadership Lessons from #GE2017
  • Dream big and keep your feet grounded in the realities of what it means to fight for change, it's not easy and never proceeds in a straight line.
  • Embrace uncertainty, work with the possibilities it opens up for dialogue and engagement with the forces over which you have influence and or control.
  • When you have a strong and compelling message in which you believe and which offers hope to others, do not be afraid to speak out, even if you are a lone voice at first, the tide will turn.
  • Be the leader you are looking for, don't wait for a hero to arise. Believe that you can make a difference, and act accordingly.Tell stories of empowerment, make clear your values and sense of purpose; resist the urge to peddle fear and abusive criticism.
  • Lead yourself with integrity and authenticity.
  • Capture all of this in a mantra that becomes a battle cry- Hope Not Hate! The #GE2017 song of hope.

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#LeadershipHacks  @lifeflowbalance Importance of Self-Acceptance

Are you fully aware of the self-narrative you have developed that may be holding you back? If you are aware, do you know how to change it?

Not everyone is able to self-coach. Why? Because we all have blind spots and they are only revealed to us through feedback. The kind of feedback that leads to deep-seated change is often best offered by an impartial partner who is non-judgemental, compassionate and challenging; wholly focused on your growth and development.

* John had spent most of his adult life struggling with traumatic events; the early death of his father being the most life changing. Now in his late 50s and approaching retirement he has come for coaching because he ‘just can’t live with it anymore’. The IT, that John has resolved to finally face is his own internal self-critic. The one that has developed a narrative telling him that he is undeserving of his success and that he is a fraud.
Now, I am not talking about that inner voice that gives you a mild ticking off when you fall in some way below the internal standards you set for yourself. That inner voice is a healthy sign of self-management and self-regulation. The observer self, the best self that we nurture as responsible adults.
Be the best of you!
John would describe his inner voice as brutal, harsh; if it were a colour that colour would be red; the volume is loud, intrusive and utterly destructive to his sense of self-worth. He is also aware of having chosen to listen to it, even as a child, over the external voice of praise coming from his mother. His mother he remembers as a positive, affirmative influence; but it was not her voice that he internalised. As a team leader while he is caring and nurturing of others he is harsh and unforgiving of himself. It discolours his life and is exhausting him.

When coaching it is not necessary to determine why John chose to listen to his harsh inner critic over the more positive voices around him. What is important is his decision to change that now.

Here are the three key steps John and I worked through to transform his relationship to himself.

Establishing the current reality for John and his motivation toward change:
Break the cycle of negativity.

John feels stifled, withered and stunted by his way of talking to himself. In his eyes, this impairs his performance at work leading to procrastination and indecisiveness. He is not living to his full potential.

Challenging John’s view of his current reality- What in your life is Golden?

Listening to John I hear all the negatives that are his distorted view of himself and his reality. So to challenge this and bring his strengths into the light I asked- What in your life is golden? After a pause, he communicates freely the success he feels he has made of fatherhood, his creativity, and his love of helping others. I feedback to him the total change in demeanour between John when talking about his ‘negatives’ and John when talking about his ‘positives’.

Hearing this he is surprised. He had been blind to the outward manifestations of his internal state and mindset. However, becoming sensitive to these help with the next stage. I ask him to turn his attention to the difference he felt when talking about what was golden. He noticed the change in energy, he felt more engaged and his words flowed with ease. This was the self he wanted to be more often.

Mindful – Awareness and Acceptance
Mindful self-leadership.
During the next few weeks, John agrees to practice catching the negative thoughts as they arise, and instead of holding on to them, to image them as clouds which either pass on by or which dissolve into thin air. The key principle here is to practice acceptance of the thoughts rather than to do battle with them. To say, “This is what I am thinking, but it is only a thought, it is not reality, let it go. Breath into this and let the thought drift away on your out breath.” Being aware that his negative mindset affects the tone and pitch of his voice, his facial expressions and his body language (sitting up straight or slumped in the chair) also helped to alert him to changes in his internal state.


Mindful awareness and acceptance are the foundations for the other key principle of mindfulness which is self-compassion. When you have a harsh inner critic, trying to consciously reframe that voice can be counterproductive. To begin with, John found that in paying more attention to what his inner critic was saying to made him feel even more de-motivated. He was more aware of all the things he had not done and trying to say positive things about himself did not work. He was running away from acceptance by trying to replace the negative with positive thoughts.
But with persistence and over time he found that the negative thoughts dissipated more quickly and then started to come less frequently when he stopped fighting them. He did not have to consciously replace a less negative thought with a more positive thought he just began to notice the positive things that were there before him more. As his holding onto the negative voice decreased, so the space for more positive ways of relating to himself opened up. From never being able to say, ‘I have done this well’ John can now comfortably say’ This is good enough!’ and for him, that is a transformation.


In our last session together John said,” I feel that I have come a long way. There is less negativity in my head and I have got some skills to manage myself better. I feel happy, even though I now there is still stuff to work on I feel that I can do that myself now.”
So I fulfil my purpose. First to be a space of safety, then to be a source of challenge- what does not challenge you will not change you. And then to hand the process of continuing change and growth back over to my client. Ths is success.

*Real names are changed to protect client confidentiality.

If you have considered engaging an Executive Life Coach but something has held you back why not give it a try by booking a no obligation free consultation/coaching session with me?

Take the leap!

Request your session here.