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Posts from the ‘Business & Transitions Coaching’ Category

Using a GPS mindset to navigate transitions and change

August 19th, 2019

Heather Johnston


Great article focused on how to help yourself to develop a change resilient mindset

G- adopt a growth mindset eg this may feel uncomfortable for a while but I will learn and grow through making this change

P- link the change or transition to something purposeful or has meaning to you eg by sticking this out it helps me to build the lifestyle I want to live, help others or wider Society 

S- Make it social or get support from others to help you navigate change eg work with a coach, a mentor or others that may have experienced or are going through similar changes


Help Students Navigate Life’s Transitions With a Mindset GPS

What is important to you?

July 26th, 2019

Heather Johnston


In our lives and work we are driven innately by what we value and the social context of what is around us. We may also be being influenced by our bodies’ and minds’ automatic wiring, pushing us towards and away from things and people that we desire and avoid. We react, make decisions and lead our lives by these implicit rules and behaviours. This is us on automatic pilot- our own personal intelligence that helps and guides us through life, so that we don’t have to stop and think every second to appraise what might be best. 

It is a complex web and who you talk to will focus on a different element of that web- driven by what is important or makes sense to them. Very simply, social psychologists and behavioural scientists may tell you that actually you have little agency and that your behaviour is determined by the context that you work and live within- social comparison and a desire to belong within groups being at play. Other specialisms of psychology will focus perhaps more on the individual level, your own personality perhaps, or common themes among people seeking out life satisfaction. Philosophers will come again at another angle exploring how do we know what is important to us? Challenging us to think about what matters and what doesn’t and why. 

Working as an executive coach and an organisational development consultant these questions come up again and again. What do we value? What does success look like? How come what I used to love I don’t anymore- what next? What type of success drives me and why…Where should we be as a business? Why? How can we stop falling out as a team? How can I raise staff wellbeing? 

So I invite you to consider a couple of things:

You may in fact be being driven by your social context and not actually what makes you happy…do your really want that degree, get married, promotion etc For a challenging look at these social memes that may be guiding you I invite you to read Paul Dolan’s latest book and have a look at this MOOC

Have you stopped to consider what really matters to you? What are your personal indicators for a good life?  The fields of positive psychology  and wellbeing try and measure this area using indicators such as satisfaction with life and psychological wellbeing. Looking at your own personal balance between eudaimonia (flourishing/fulfilling our potential) or what is purposeful to us and what makes us feel happy in the moment -our own personal pleasure (with thanks to Paul Dolan).

For some of us that are in the lucky position to have moved beyond pure survival, pleasure may be our key driver for others success and a good life is more about realising our potential, learning, growing and challenging ourselves. What is your balance? To explore this further I invite you to start being your own personal investigator- noticing in the moment when you feel good and not so good- is it when your ‘think’ you ‘should’ feel good, perhaps having a go at this self test for a few days. If you are struggling with a lack or purpose or meaning have a go at the test above and reflect on what is really important to you in your life? What challenge, change, learning or area of growth would bring you more fulfilment and/or what contexts (hobbies, workplace, communities) would support and enable this?

Interested in exploring this further both individually or as an organisation? Drop me a line 








What have you done to help others lately?

November 4th, 2013

Heather Johnston

Why do I ask? Because it may just help you too…At the end of October, I attended the empathy and compassion conference in society and was transported into a truly inspiring atmosphere of the latest research and thinking around ways to help improve our individual and collective resilience, so as to build a more compassionate society.

We as human beings are naturally programmed to help others, you only need to look at acts of bravery and courage (both big and small) to see how much they are rooted in putting other people before ourselves.

Taking a secular view on thinking from Buddhist meditation practices, researchers have found that those that meditate regularly develop an ability to self soothe themselves when times get tough, maintain perspective and once they get themselves balanced have a greater ability to act compassionately towards others without getting burnout.

The key? Is self compassion. When things gets tough in our ‘threat and drive’ based work organisations we all have a tendency to be our biggest internal critic and this then leeches out into a wider culture of the survival of the strongest with potentially devastating impact on people’s wellbeing, cooperation, productivity and society as a whole.

Through starting to be kinder to ourselves and being a bit more self compassionate, we naturally will start to act more compassionately towards others and this can impact up to 3 degrees of separation from ourselves, as well as increase our own wellbeing and happiness. Benefits to work organisations? Researchers have shown this is good for business too..those that start to develop more balanced work cultures that value acts of giving towards others see increased staff loyalty, increased customer service and reduced turnover as well as a reduced health bill from the impact of stress.

Want to find out where to start? Have a look at the links through this article and all it takes to get going is just 7 minutes meditation a day to take a deep breath, stop and be still. Spending time becoming aware of our own mind is a first step towards helping yourself and helping others.


Career conversations and motivation at work

May 7th, 2013

Heather Johnston


In my workshops and coaching a common question I get asked is how to motivate people that are either a) not motivated b) coming up to retirement c) not in the top 10-20% or considered to be the backbone of the organisation with few vertical career opportunities.

In essence, I feel that one way to tackle this challenge is through the types of conversations that managers are having with their employees on a daily basis and at key review points. While competency systems are helpful in creating focus on what a role needs,  I think managers could benefit with coaching and training on how to have a really good career conversation with their employees. Why? Because the answers to the questions they ask will lead to a greater awareness of what inspires people, what makes them want to get out of the bed in the morning and hence give both the employee and the manager more of an idea about what really motivates them. This motivation drives personal development, performance and productivity.

Through exploring the types of questions to ask, really good listening,  taking a focus on strengths and an exploration of what makes work meaningful for people both the manager and the employee can build up a picture of what an employees’ ‘ideal’ looks like. The conversations are then looking at the alignment of people’s skills with an organisation’s needs, while at the same time addressing an individual’s intrinsic motivation rather than relying on typical extrinsic motivations of pay and promotion. While status, promotion and money are important most psychological research points to people being more fulfilled and flourishing by considering what drives them so that work moves from being just a ‘job’ through to a career or even for some a vocation.

..and what about those coasting towards retirement? Boredom can cause huge problems for those that that are understimulated or underchallenged-they rust out rather than burn out. Key here is exploring new challenges for the employee focused on serving others in the organisation, creating legacy and helping them start to manage the transition on to different things. We all liked to feel needed and appreciated..

If you would like to find out more about making the most out of career conversations workshops and skills boosters for managers and employees please do give me a ring or drop me a mail.



Introversion and Leadership

April 13th, 2012

Heather Johnston

This is a topic close to my heart and also that of Susan Cain who has just been in the UK doing a book tour of her new book: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. As a coach, I coach a large number of clients who are Introverts in the increasingly more Extroverted world of work. The book talks about what Introverts can bring to the party, how introverts can help themselves and how they and Extroverts can capitalise on their strengths.

To find out more about what she has to say have a look at the following TED talk:

or have a listen to an audience interactive talk a few weeks ago at the RSA Susan Cain at the RSA

or have a look at the book which just launched in the UK.