Can You Truly Know What Others Are Thinking?

Someone once said to me, that although you can walk with someone on their journey, you can never truly understand what someone else is thinking or feeling because unless you are them, you are not actually wearing their shoes.

I have taken this quite to heart over the last few years and always carry the thought with me when I am coaching, it’s very easy to think that we know what others are feeling.  However it is only when we create some detachment from our emotions to their situation that we can truly help them by giving them time and space to resolve their own issues.

I have just got back from an amazing weekend of personal development at the Calvert Trust in Cumbria.  The Calvert Trust are set up to support and encourage people with disabilities to tackle outdoor activities.  I tried lots of activities I wouldn’t normally consider such as ghyll scrambling and kayaking, despite being physically able to do them.  Most importantly I spent half a day in a wheel chair.  It was great fun, wheeling around the Calvert Trust after all they are set up for wheel chair users, with lifts wherever you need one and ramps.

Of course, I knew that at any point I could get out of my chair and walk if I couldn’t get where I needed to be and what’s more when I get home to my house with its narrow front door and porch step, or need to nip down the road to the shop that is on a 15% hill, things wouldn’t be quite so easy.

Yes, I believe its given me a greater insight into the difficulties a wheelchair user might experience.  Do I fully understand what it feel like? How could I?

So next time that you have to deal with someone in distress do ask yourself if you fully understand what they’re going through.  The likelihood is that whilst you do have empathy you don’t know for sure.

If you’re facing life’s challenges, coaching can give you the time and space you need to find solutions.  If you want to know if this could help YOU, give Carolyn a call today on 07714 216388 for your free consultation to see what you could achieve.

 Brett Trafford Photography-4copyright brett trafford photography


Comfort Zone Leap Part I – The OMG State

How often do you step out of your comfort zone?  What motivates you to do it?

You may already have read Snowballing – a blog post a few weeks ago which favours taking a small action, a small step in the right direction to help you step outside your comfort zone.

Snowballing was written in response to me saying “Yes” which at the time was a very small step in the direction of a huge stretch of my own comfort zone.  I said “Yes” to doing stand up comedy for charity.

As I write this, its a whole month to the comedy event and I want to share with you my comedy journey and how I face my fears leading up to the event……..


It started a few weeks ago.  When The Gingerbread Charity asked for volunteers.  Saying “Yes” was the easy part.  I was motivated more about proving to myself that I could step outside of my comfort zone than anything else, so the fundraising part was just a bonus.

Yes, I get nervous about public speaking.  Its those butterflies that keep me on my toes, give me an edge when I’m presenting.  Comedy on the other hand is something else.  How can the person that can’t even remember a joke stand up on stage and perform stand up comedy to an audience of 300 folks.  Is it going to be a step too far for me?  Let’s face it BBC Radio Stoke christened me Staffordshire and Cheshire’s least funny person.

My emotions vary considerably.  I go from super-confident, its just another skill to learn, practice and put into action to the “OMG” state.  What if I forget my lines?  What if my timing is off?  What if no one laughs? or worse still, I’m boo’d off stage.

Like everything we deal with in life – its simply a matter of learning to tune out of the negative voices.  That’ll be Frankie. Frankie is the voice of my negative self belief.  Frankie is the enemy in my head, the one who is always telling me that I can’t do something, or I’ll be no good at it.  When I listen to him he’s right and I often fail in my achievements.  I need to listen to Carolyn – my true voice.  Carolyn is logical, intuitive and confident.  It is my true voice that knows I can do this.


Corporate comedy club


“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.”
Henry Ford


The good news is that I’ve been to my first meeting about the comedy evening and met with 9 other equally nervous individuals.  When tackling goals having the right support is important.  We’ve started to talk about material and how to create it.  One of my fears was where would my material come from and already I think I have about 50% of it.

So right now my logical, intuitive and confident voice is on top and taking some very practical steps in writing some material.  Knowing that I have this will be one huge confident leap into my ‘stretch zone’.

Anyone wishing to support the cause can do so via my Just Giving Page every pound donated not only goes directly to the charity but also spurs me on and provides motivation – another critical aspect of working with goals.

My next step is to get my material into a usable format and start to think about my delivery. Focusing on these small steps keeps me moving in the right direction.

What’s your next step?  What takes you our of your comfort zone? What will you do to help you get there?

Improving your self belief is an empowering process.  Call Carolyn today on 07714 216388 for a free 45 minute chat to see what you can do to tackle your comfort zone.






Style and Substance – Are Both Critical To Make An Impression?

Week after week Francis was critically  given feedback in the Great British Bake Off for putting style over substance.  And Paul Hollywood was right, substance is important in a bakery competition, first impressions do count but if the cake doesn’t back it up then its all going to fall a bit flat isn’t it?

Working life isn’t quite like that, nor is promoting a business.  In both case style is important.  You need to make an impression and stand out from the crowd.  Take a look at these cakes:

If you had to choose one, you’d choose the nicest looking because you have nothing else to factor in.  That may be the way your potential clients choose their next service provider.

However if someone recommended you to them they may be more inclined to try your services.  Just as you’d choose a different cake if someone told you the slightly collapsible one would taste better, you’d probably give it a go.

However if that slice of cake didn’t taste so great, you’d not go back for a second slice would you? And what if your cake wasn’t there at all?

So yes, its critical you make a first impression.  Make sure your LinkedIn profile has a decent picture, your website and business cards look professional and that you turn up for meetings/interviews looking great, clean, tidy and professional.

And do back that up with substance, make sure that you are prepared and know what you’re talking about.  Be credible, have integrity,  be congruent in all that you do.

You may be familiar with the following impact statistics.  They are used frequently in personal development workshops and books.  Does it surprise you that performance only accounts for 10% of your personal impact?  Yet at work we so often spend so much time being diligent and hoping we’ll get noticed.  Yes it matters, but what matters more is getting yourself out there and getting noticed.  Volunteer to attend and speak up in meetings, attend networking events, make an online presence, use social media positively.

Remember your pie and make sure your cake is out there and on show – metaphorically of course.

Reflections coaching are experts in helping you make an impact, speak confidently, congruently and with integrity.  If you need help with your credibility at work or in businesses, then call Carolyn today on 07714 216388 to book your free consultation.

Reach For The Stars – What Could You Achieve With Some Creative Time?

I love stories.  They are a creative way of learning.  I don’t know where I first heard this story – it makes a great tale and a fantastic reminder that sometimes we should rely more on our creative elements.

Many years ago, a man who had not learned to read or write, left school and wanted to apply for a job as a dustman.  His application was refused when he was unable to complete the application form and he left dejected.

He was desperate to earn money and set up a small market stall selling plants and flowers as he loved gardening.  His market stall was a success and he soon had a second, then a third and a fourth.  Over the years he achieved business success, becoming well known for his drive, energy and enthusiasm.

One day, one of his employees suggested he write a book about his business experiences and the employee was rather shocked to find that he couldn’t read or write.

“Just think! _ What you could have achieved if you’d been able to read!”

“That’s easy” he replied “I would have become a dustman”.

Of course, in modern business, learning to read and write is useful, however its important to recognise that its very easy to stifle the creative side of our personalities.

Think for a moment.  What could you really achieve if you allowed yourself the creative space to do so?

P1060180Creating creative space is something that I focus on with my clients.  If you wish explore or develop your creative side – then take a peek at Reflections Coaching.  Who knows where it could lead…….

What A Window, A Shovel & A Bear Have To Do With Making Goals A Reality

I hadn’t realised until now, however this is my 100th post.  I blog weekly so it must be almost 2 years.  Normally I’d rack my brains trying to think of something particularly outstanding to write about.  I don’t need to this week I knew what it was going to be all week.

Last week I went on holiday.  We don’t tend to have 2 weeks in the sun like everyone else, we tend to have a week walking in the lakes regardless of the weather.  We’ve walked in mist, rain, thunder, ice, snow, hail, wind and glorious sunshine on the odd occasion.

But last week was different.  Last week wasn’t about having a walking holiday, it was about making someone’s dream a reality.

So if you wish to know more about why I set out with 7 volunteers, spent 3 x 12hr days on a mountain, and we took with us 4 tents, 2 pairs of crutches, 1 teddy bear, 1 bathroom window, 1 shovel, a Chevron (all terrain wheelchair) and a mountain of chocolate then please read on……….

My client has always been fit and active.  She’s been a fitness instructor and a keen hill walker.  Sadly a little while back she started to suffer when walking.  Since then she has been diagnosed with a progressive debilitating condition that means she suffers with painful spasms in her leg.  The condition now means that she has to resort to crutches or a wheelchair to get to the shops.

But Sandra, who can sometimes be a little crazy and more frequently a little stubborn was determined to climb a 3000ft mountain.  No one would have thought less of her if she had decided to sit in front of the TV, maybe a walk in the park, but no all 3000ft of the mountain.  Rather than deciding it wasn’t possible, she sat down and figured out what she needed to do to get up there.  The result was a very clear goal, a strategy which involved a support team and a shovel load of motivation.


What Sandra did was rather clever and this is where the lesson lies:

  • She set herself a clearly defined goal – she would climb Great End in Cumbria and give herself 3 days to do it in.
  • She considered what would stop her achieving that goal.  This included needing help over difficult bits, not being able to carry her own rucksack, needing plenty of rest and found solutions to these challenges.
  • She provided herself with motivation to achieve her goal.  How?  Telling everyone she was going to do it and getting sponsorship for a charity meant there was no backing out, particularly when we were offered a substantial amount of sponsorship to carry the window up as well.

We can apply these lessons to any goal.

  • Set a clearly defined goal
  • Know what your stumbling blocks will be and plan for them
  • Ensure your motivation is strong

If you have any top tips for achieving a goal please share with my readers.

What were you born to do?

When was the last time you asked yourself what you were born to do?

Its that time of the week when I sit down and write my blog post, sometimes the inspiration flows and others I just get stuck.  This week, is damp outside, the light is starting to go and I’ve a stack of emails having taken a week off.  Inspiration was alluding me and I fell into the procrastination trap.

I write a lot about how we should avoid procrastination and I hope I don’t have to eat my words but rather than open up my blog to write I procrastinated – checked my emails and there it was – inspiration -via a weekly LinkedIn email and someone had posted a forum “What were you born to do”

I confess, I haven’t read the forum – the words were enough.  Its my favourite topic.  Its why I coach.  My job is about helping square pegs find square holes not force them into round ones as so many employers choose to do.

In short, I coach people who really aren’t happy in work, to help them to resolve their situation.  It isn’t necessarily about finding them a new job, sometimes its about making the round hole that they’re trying to fit into a bit more square.

And its a very good question.  I believe I was born to help people so, what were you born to do and what are you doing about it?

Reflections Coaching supports people in their roles with stress, work/life balance, career change, new business start ups so if you feel like a square peg in a round hole, please get in touch for a no obligation chat to see how we can help get in better fit in your working life.




Change One Small Thing

Why for me its much better to make several small steps than attempt one large one.


I love my job.  I am very fortunate.  My role as a coach is to help to inspire and motivate others, yet it never ceases to amaze me how much inspiration I draw from my clients.  Because coaching works on the principle that the client holds the answer within them, each of my clients is a constant source of new ideas and concepts to me.


Working with a client recently, I could see that the task of setting a goal and going all out to achieve it could potentially result in overwhelm.   The challenge that they were facing was that in order to achieve their goal there were so many things that needed changing.  Far too much.  The solution that came out of the session to just choose one small thing that takes them in the right direction was much more manageable.


So many of us never achieve our goals because they are too big, too daunting or quite simply, we get too bored along the way.  Imagine for example your goal is to get healthy.  Giving up cigarettes, alcohol and going on a diet whilst taking up jogging could be a step too far.  My suggestion is choose one small thing to change.  Really focus on that one small thing.  In this case, walking to work everyday for a week could be that one step.  Achieving it will give great satisfaction and provide the motivation to take the next small step.  Before you know it ten small steps will have taken you to your bigger goal.


So my “Change One Small Thing” campaign is underway and to kick start it I’d love to hear from you what your BIG goal is together with your first “one small thing”.  Either comment here, or email me at  Anyone achieving their goal following a series of small changes will have their names put into a hat to win a free “change one small thing” coaching session.



Making The Most Out Of Your 1-2-1s – 5 Top Networking Tips

I’ve been busy networking this week and have taken some time out to observe others at work.  The 1-2-1s I’ve had have varied enormously.  So what does make a great networker?

Here are my top five tips:

Remember the age old statement – you have 2 ears and one mouth – use them in proportion.  I read somewhere that the most interesting people in the room – are those who are more interested in you then themselves.

Build Rapport Using Words – There are 3 main communication types in NLP, (Visual, kinesthetic and auditory) – listen to the words the other person is using and try and use similiar ones back – they’ll understand where you’re coming from much better.

E.g. If someone says “I view it like this” you might respond with “it can be seen here” or if someone says “it sounds to me as if” you could say “what I’m hearing is”.

Think about what you put into your pitch, is it memorable?, is it clear in what you’re asking for? does it really tell people what you do?

E.g. I could introduce myself as Carolyn Trafford, a coach, but does this really tell you what I do.  Perhaps telling them that I help people people work out what they want to do with their lives and help them get there would be much better.

Share the time – have you ever been in a 1-2-1 where the other person has done a great sales pitch but taken all the time?  Frustrating for both of you.  Its really simple to set the ground rules early on.

Follow UP – so few of us do this, but a simple email or twitter message thanking the other person for their time or what you have learned is a great way to keep the conversation going beyond the meeting.

These really simple tips are my top 5, but I’d love to hear your tips or networking stories – please feel free to share them here.

Redundancy – 2 common responses and how to deal with them.

“I’m sorry but your team is being relocated!” – these were the words I heard – and I knew then that meant for me leaving the organisation I‘d worked for for 20+ years.

I’ve heard different expressions “your role is being deleted”, “you’re redundant” being amongst the worst.  It’s a fact of life.  With a struggling economy and worse happening in Europe, companies are being forced to make cutbacks and there is rarely anything personal when managers make such decisions as to who stays and who goes.

Its very easy to sit here writing a blog post and making that statement. Its quite different when you find yourself in that situation.

Two common responses are:

“Why Me?”.  This is a natural response to any kind of change.  The Reflections Coaching Change Curve © demonstrates the responses we go through when we face a change and is useful in understanding the range of emotions that go with it.

 “I’m redundant”.  Frankly this statement stems from what we choose to say, or what others have wrongly phrased it.  Redundancy is not about you or me its about a financial decision being made about the role that you currently do.  The individual (you) are not redundant – in fact quite the opposite.  You have a huge range of transferable skills and knowledge .

But here’s the real conundrum – right at the very moment you need every ounce of confidence, someone has possibly dealt you one of the biggest confidence knocks of your life.  And right at the time when you should be investing in YOU – someone has removed your financial safety net.


Coinage (Photo credit: Simon Greig (xrrr))

If you’re looking for another job, getting some help with CV writing and interview skills is a must.  Times have changed and as I’ve discovered recently CVs need to be much better and good networking skills a real must in finding work.

Whether you’re looking for work or thinking of starting a business then networking and confidence skills are paramount too.

I’ll be covering more of both networking and interview stuff in  future blog posts, however if this has sparked your interest then coaching could help too.  Why not visit Reflections for more information.


Being a coach & the nature/ nurture debate

Today is a really big day for me.  I left my full time job after 23 years in financial services.  I was happy to go and I never thought I would be, but sometimes good things must come to an end so that they make space for better ones.

I often talk about my journey.  I believe that all good coaches have had a journey of their own.  Its the life experience that makes them more grounded and more understanding.  I don’t think that a coach is something that you are naturally born as.  Its something that life makes you and the more of life you experience the stronger and more understanding you become.

copyright Brett Trafford Photography

So yesterday and today I have added two more experiences to my skill set as a coach.  One is about leaving a long term employer as a result of redundancy and the other is about looking forward to the future, embracing it and dealing with the uncertainty that lies ahead.  Both would have been much harder to deal with, had I never have experienced coaching.

I know both experiences will make me a better coach and mentor

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