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Publish With Pride
The Vulnerable Leader

Dis-entangling Our Creative Confidence (a Powerful Reframe and a Potent Practice)

At some point we have to start dis-entangling our creative confidence again. Otherwise, we’ll all end up with all of our genius, our stories and our wisdom locked up and hidden from a world in desperate need of just that.

In these last few days, and through my writing practice, I’ve been reflecting on the ways in which my creativity and confidence in my voice has become a little more guarded (to put it lightly) than when it was, say, in my teenage years.

I’ve always been slightly more introverted and shy in social situations. One-on-one conversation with someone and I love it, room of over 20 or so, and I love it. If I can’t see the people I’m sharing with though, or if it is between 3-16 people, I feel the trembles and end up fumbling from one word to the next carefully choosing my way through my thoughts.

However, I was flung into my public speaking career at the age of 14. You know the high-school ‘motivational speakers’ that give usually overly zealous pep-talks to high-school students about the future, dreaming and following them? That was me. By the time I was 19 I’d done two TEDx talks, and not on ‘motivation’ or  even ‘inspiration,’ but on topics that were close to my heart, they were slightly vulnerable.

My first TEDx, in Boulder, was on designing eco-systems for collaboration and modeling our systems of nature’s brilliance and intelligence. Jason, the curator and I had connected 5 weeks prior to the event and he’d asked if I wanted to be a speaker, if I was ok with only have 5 weeks to prepare. Of course, I said yes!

Every Monday, we’d get on our coaching call to refine and rehearse my talk. Every Monday, I’d let Jason know that I would prefer to only “plan a little structure, and allow the rest to unfold on stage,” much to Jason’s dismay. I had such confidence, such self-belief, ungirded!

On the day, I stood up there, I delivered. Afterwards, I recall going back to the green room and feeling completely surprised, by breath felt steady the whole time, my words clear, my pace even.

Now though – and you may relate to this – even posting this, sharing a Facebook story or speaking into a circle of 30 people and I feel a much greater sense of judgement or expectation right before the words leave my mouth. It feels as though with age, comes the expectation for complexity and for the profound.

“Why are you allowed to be here?”

I love complexity, I appreciate it and appreciate the appreciation of it. Yes, as we age, we do have almost an obligation to refine our worldview, build more robust and wholesome foundations for our opinions, but wow is it paralyzing sometimes.

It’s not surprising to me how confident I was back then. It’s surprising and confronting to me, how quickly this confidence get zapped right from underneath us. I feel it in my naval, my gut, my pelvis.

This is a practice of courage, right? To meet the fear of being seen as we are – human, messy and always changing – and in this still practice telling the story on our hearts. Telling that which needs to be told, in order for us to feel truly in our integrity, and to honour that which is inside us. 

It’s a muscle, it can be trained in the same way we isolate the bicep and do those curls. Although, I do prefer whole-body, body-weight training 😉 

In a world in a complex, ambiguous, volatile and uncertain state, we need complex solutions. The solutions to today’s challenges need to be networked, systemic and integrated across social, political, psychological, ecological and economical. Complexity is required, so too is collaboration and diversity – this is what makes ideas complex. 

We need to return to the playground!

For collaboration and diversity to occur and be practiced, we need to start to bring play and experimentalism to our work and lives. We need to start to learn to face the rumble, notice it and choose to create or share despite it. We need to build a resilience to the rumble. This way we start to unfurl our own ideas and creative genius, and in doing so create spaces for others to do the same.

So, let’s bring it home for you! What is a context or environment that you feel yourself contract and creative confidence a little stifled in? Is it at work, specific friendship circles, a specific person. Choose one context.

Let’s make it a little play-work to bring these practices and reframes to that context for you 😉 

A reframe to help shift the narrative:

When it comes to sharing something vulnerable or creative yourself, you might hear this little birdy, “if I share this, will they still like me?”

When you hear someone else sharing something vulnerable or creative, you might think to yourself, “wow, that was courageous, good on them!”

What does that tell you? We are of course, our worst critic! That swarm of mosquitoes that comes around with us nit-picking and correcting, trying to protect its identity.

So here’s the real reframe:

For most of us, we carry an identity that we’ve crafted to belong, to fit into the culture in which we live. For me, this identity is, “I’m someone who has everything together, has my answers all clear and no real challenges of unknowns.”

So how do you think this makes me feel when I stand at the edge deciding whether to share something or not? My whole identity is at risk. 

What if instead of setting myself up with this large, slightly-unrealistic, and very de-humanising vision of myself, I held myself in this way: “I am a human. I have my flaws, I have my imperfections. I have valuable perspectives, real experiences, and value to add.”

Wouldn’t it be a little lighter to hold ourselves like this? Wouldn’t it make leaning into the unknown a little more human and acceptable?

A whole-body, body-weight practice to help grow that courage muscle:

Ask yourself, where in your body do you feel the nervousness, the contraction, the fear?

Now ask yourself, where in your body do you feel the reframe above, the openness, compassion and playfulness? 

For me, I feel the rumbling in my gut and my mind. I feel confidence and playfulness in my naval and my hips. 

Playtime! So let’s try it out. Next time you are in the context you reflected on and identified above, checkin with yourself. Where am I feeling this contraction? Am I telling a story that doesn’t serve? 

Can I breathe and feel into the part of my body I feel confidence, strong and playful in? Can I reframe this narrative and arrive in a sense of ease and compassion for my very human-nature?

Not only does feeling confident and lively in your creativity feel freeing, liberating and strengthening it will actually make you more lethal, valuable and irreplaceable in the workforce (secret!). It will also bring a greater sense of meaning and fulfillment to your work by being more able to contribute to meaningful challenges and feel a part of solving them. 

Here’s to reframing our creative blocks and rumbles, to strengthening our courage-muscle and bring that playground to back to our work and lives. 

What spoke to you loudest in this piece? Did something resonate strongly or feel most relevant for you? I’d love to hear – leave a comment below, or email me at

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Community Circle Ritual

A Simple and Profound Ritual To Build Community Around You (and feel deeply supported)

When was the last time you had someone over for dinner at your house? Not at a restaurant, but your house. How about the last time you were invited over to someone else’s house for a meal?

Whether it wasn’t too long ago for you, or it was a long time ago, it has become a not-so-often event, hasn’t it? Time is speeding up, we have perceivably less and less of it, plus there are so many lovely restaurants popping up almost every other weekend, it’d be a real shame not to try them all. (“Go-go-poke-bowl”)

Yet, there is something incredibly special about being invited into someone’s home. We get a glimpse into their daily lives, a deeper understanding as to who they are in the ways they organise their books, arrange their furniture or leave the blinds closed all day for some odd reason. It’s intimate.

In our fragmented world, maybe there is something in this as a practice of literally ‘coming home’ to each other in a new way. In the mid 1980’s the average Australian knew 7.1 people in their local area whom they could ask for small favours and share their lives with. In the mid 2000’s, this number has dropped to 5.7 people. Out of a matter of time and living increasingly insular lives, are we coming to depend on our system for the types of emotional and social support we would originally get form our communities?

“How can we restore the fabric of our communities to being foundations of support for the wellbeing and resilience of those within them?”

I ponder this question a lot. It’s time to take the reins back from a culture that – in its current state – seems to not be able to provide the level of social intimacy and cohesion that one requires to feel supported, held and understood by their community. It seems that we have to be the ones who create this intimacy ourselves, and in fact, maybe we have become a little complacent and need to hold a little more responsibility around this. Not just for ourselves and our own feeling of social connection and cohesion, but for those whom maybe aren’t equipped with the confidence, social skills or home to be able to invite others into – those who maybe need it the most.

I’ve become somewhat of an extraverted-introvert in the last 6 years (someone who is naturally introverted but has characteristics of an extravert, in my case learned), and found it challenging not only to arrange to see friends or to be the host, but to even see them in the first place. My favourite moments used to be when I’d have social arrangements for this evening and just beforehand as I’m starting to question whether I’d go or not, someone would call and cancel. I’d be able to simply continue enjoy my own company.

This was until I fell into a depression as a culmination of a number of changes in my life and had to learn to depend on others. It was confronting to recognize that I couldn’t hold myself entirely, that I needed to let myself fall and be held by those around me. Lucky I had people around me who could catch me, many don’t! This was a big lesson in ’softening,’ in allowing myself to recognize in a very embodied way that I do need others in order to be well, and that this was ok.

It doesn’t mean you are any lesser, because you require community to feel well and flourishing. In fact, it is the recognition that this is ok, and in fact natural that will bring one of the biggest washes of connection over you.

During this time, when I was going through my depressive months, questioning my identity as an entrepreneur and wondering who I was without that identity (if anything, it felt at the time), I started gathering my closest friends in my living room. Whilst I did this because I, myself was seeking support and holding, I knew many others would benefit from this space also. 

Here’s what we did:

Six to eight of us gathered at my house for a potluck dinner at 6pm. 

We shared stories, and connected over the events and challenges in our lives since we’d last met. 

At 7pm, we sat in a circle (pictured in this article). 

We meditated together and arrived in our space with a sense of deliberation and intention. 

One person at a time shared something into the circle. Something they are excited by at the moment, and something they are challenged by in their own lives. 

Everyone listened. No comments, no thanking, no problem-solving. 

After that person’s sharing, everyone took a pen and paper and wrote a very quick honoring for this person. We wrote what we saw in them, what qualities we admire in them, the ways we’ve seen them grow. 

Then it was the next person. 

Once everyone had shared, we danced!

You don’t need to go to the depths we do, but here is a more open-format ritual I would recommend.

Every month. 

Invite 4 friends over to your house for a potluck dinner. 

Invite them to also bring one friend who they adore. 

At dinner, invite everyone to share a quick story about themselves and the questions they currently hold for themselves and their life.

Afterwards, take it in turns of sharing something that is exciting you at the moment, and something that is challenging you at the moment. 

Feel, witness and breathe in the magic that takes place.

So here’s a ritual you can organise around. Start with just one. Believe me, people will ask for more. Believe me twice, you’ll want to do it again. Within no time, you’ll firstly have an incredible community of friend whom you feel intimately connected with than ever before and able to share your inner-life with. You’ll also have facilitated something beautiful, a space for people to remember what it feels like to truly be acknowledged and to rest into the holding of community.

I’d love to hear what felt most resonant, exciting and hope-giving from this piece. Do you already do something similar? Will you try it out? Share in the comments or email me at

Towards greater connectedness,


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3 Types of Listening

3 Types of Listening Likely Stopping You From Connecting (and what to do about them)

We have a kind of listening-deficit. Of course more-broadly, a connection-deficit.

Each of us carry a deep yearning to be heard, to be understood. We hold what to us are unique perspectives, insight and experiences that bolster our identity, our worth in the world and if not shared, heard and affirmed in some way have us feel alone, not-enough or simply not-valued.

The problem? Many of us (including myself at the best of times) are challenged with the practice of listening deeply. Even if we are the ones seeking such connection, even we struggle to move beyond reactive listening, to full acknowledgement and understanding.

It seems like a rather simple practice, one that we’re taught in 2nd grade. So even writing about it, feels like such a rudimentary topic. But, often times, the things that are perceivably the easiest to do, are also the easiest to forget to do.

Let’s explore that together in this piece, outlining some common models of listening we are all guilty of, and some practical tools for moving beyond mechanical listening to authentic relating.

Firstly, the let’s remember the difference between simply hearing and listening.

DefinitionThe process, function or power of perceiving sound. One’s ability to receive sound.Verb, to pay attention to sound, to attend closely with the ear, and the mind.
What is it?It’s an ability.It’s a skill.
ActIt’s physiological, one of the 5 senses.It’s psychological.
ProcessIt’s a passive bodily process.It’s an active psychological process.
Occurs atSubconscious levelConscious level
ConcentrationNot requiredRequired

So it is clear that we want to move beyond simply hearing what people are saying, and making a conscious effort to receive, make-meaning and connect with what is being said.

Having said that though, here is a list of the 3 most-prominent types of listening today. I fall into them, you’ll very likely notice one or two, or three that you fall into sometimes too. The purpose of this list is building awareness. When we have awareness around our common behaviours, when we make them conscious, we open up the possibility to laugh at them and replace them with new ones!

So let’s have compassion for the fact that our habits are coping mechanisms for the environments and systems we exist within. We’re all simply doing the best we can with what we’ve got 😉

Here it goes.

1. Surf listening

What: Studies have shown that within the first 7 seconds of a conversation, majority of our mental activity is only concerned with how we are going to respond.

Why: Silence is uncomfortable, and of course we want to make sure our response is sensible, makes sense and has us seen in the way we’d like to be seen.

We have an uneasiness about the dreaded “awkward silence” in between our conversation partner finishing their utterance and when it is our turn to respond. So, we spend the whole time coming up with our response, so that as soon as they’ve finished we can launch into it. Also, so that our response is well thought out and is something we’re confident in delivering.

Often, this means we come up with something in the first half of their utterance, and simply repeat this through our minds refining it until they’re done so we can launch in. Are we listening at all? We run the risk of then responding with something that isn’t really related to where they have ended up in their utterance, we’re only responding to the keywords we heard in the beginning. Mis-match.

An alternative: Embracing the silence, fully receiving their sharing. What if we noticed our own response formulate naturally as it will, but choose instead to listen fully to our partner. Then, once they’ve come to the end of their sharing, acknowledge what they’ve said and take just 2-3 seconds to consider what was shared and then formulate and share your response.

2. Busy listening

What: “Yeah I’m listening, I’m just doing the dishes at the same time.” Maybe, just maybe you in the 2% of people on the planet that studies show can actually multi-task effectively.  But, if you’re in the other 98% of us, multi-tasking actually does more harm than good.

A Harvard Business Review study found thatmultitasking leads to as much as a 40% drop in productivity, increased stress, and a 10% drop in our IQ (Bergman, 2010). So what you’re busily doing (unless it is a mundane task that required very little cognitive attention) and who you’re ‘listening’ to both have only part of your genius.

Why: We’ve all done it! It’s hard not to with the deadlines, pressures and the lists that sit on our desks. Amidst all these pressures it can be hard to even get a moment to gauge whether this conversation or the task at hand will require more of your cognitive ability and to either continue with both, or prioritise one over the other, and communicate openly.

An alternative: If you notice that you are splitting your attentional-focus, take a moment to checkin. Can I effectively give this person the attention this conversation requires, or is this task drawing me away.

Decide, whether to continue with the call or if you do need to prioritise one over the other.

Choose which to prioritise. On the quadrant of importance vs urgency, which is more important to give yourself to right now?

Communicate openly. Let the other person know that ‘I can sense this is an important conversation, and I’d love to make sure I can be fully present with it. I do just need to get these emails out now, but is it ok if I give you a call back in 15 minutes so we can have this conversation then?”

Give it a go!

3. Auto-pilot listening

What: “Yep, cool, uh huh, oh nice, mm hmmm.” How obvious is it when someone is doing this to you? I mean, it can be nice sometimes if you just want a wall to talk to, to bounce ideas off, but it is also nice when ideas come back.

Why: Most likely because we are busy-listening 😉 Our attentional-focus is prioritising our task at hand, over this conversation.

An alternative: What a perfect opportunity to notice we’re in auto-pilot mode, and to checkin with what is a priority and communicate openly.

Moving beyond hearing, to listening and eventually to connecting is a full-bodied practice infused with awareness, an understanding of values and compassionate communication.

What stood out to you most in this piece? What is something that you would like to practice a little more consciously in the way you navigate conversations and the beautiful spaces-between?

I’d love to hear what resonated and felt most useful for you. Leave a comment, or email me at

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