Appreciate today

Sitting on the doorstep of my small patio garden, pen in hand, notebook gaping. Birds squeaking. The sun though bright is chilled by a noisy rush of windy air.

Aware my heart is beating carefully in my chest. As it should. That my brain is sending signals to my hand gripping this pen, so it can glide free fall across the lines of the paper.

I don’t stop to think what to write. I just write. On Spotify sounds are singing quietly in the background – “I be thinking about you”. Everyone is thinking about someone they can’t be with at this time of crisis across the globe.

Private thoughts sometimes shared. Sometimes silenced, as the fear behind them is too much to verbalise.

Crises unite, but also reinforce anxieties and fears. Those with less resilience – mentally, emotionally and/or physically – suffer more harshly in times of catastrophic change.

It is human and comforting to reach for the silver lining, the positive amidst the panic and facts about how damaging the virus is.

We must nonetheless also be allowed – or allow ourselves – to ponder and feel the excruciating power of sadness, anxiety and fear this situation brings.

To fight our genuine feelings is also to bury them, disregard them, pay them no respect.

We must respect ALL our feelings and emotions in response to this global wrecking ball.

Though we can of course choose to err on the side of acceptance and quiet. Choosing thoughts that encourage hope, calm, sensitivity, awareness and absolute certainty that – as with all crises and horrors that have blighted humanity – this one will pass in its current form.

We may resurface changed forever. We may just be thankful lives at a very basic level can resume. In any case we will all have learned something new about ourselves. How we respond in a crisis – in this particular crisis. How we choose to react and abide; how we face the fears, anxieties and invasive clutching at worry, and the what-ifs.

We are learning something new about ourselves, every minute that passes as we stay at home. We find resources we never knew we had. We slide into dark places we didn’t know existed. We perhaps hope no-one notices, and that we are not defined by this fleeting or lasting slippage into darkness.

We wonder what hopelessness might feel like, look like if confinement endures. We reflect on how being completely safe and saved from the pandemic might affect us, short term and long.

What I know from experience first hand in a long line of crises that have affected me personally, as well in some instances the world, is that we do recover.

We rebuild, reshape, resume and relearn how to feel free, and safe, and wonder-filled with how generous life can be.

We remember how precious life is. We appreciate the gift of a healthy life is really the only one that matters.

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We are London-based, working with clients in London, Dorset, Hampshire and internationally.

 © Amanda Yensa Manor 2020

“Dépaysement”

Sometimes a word in French fits better than an English one. Dépaysement has several meanings, but in this instance, I use it to describe ‘an agreeable change of surroundings/habits’. The translation feels less powerful than the single word. My knowledge and practice of the French language is abundant. This is due to a former 18 year chapter in my life. I use French irregularly these days, however this word captures the experience of my two short summer holidays this August. Timely “dépaysement” I find is absolutely essential to our wellbeing and personal growth.

Living in London, I find it actually quite easy to change surroundings or habits. The city is sprawling, and offers a multitude of agreeable cultural, artistic, geographical, and even natural surroundings to dip into outside our routine.

However much I love my work, and life in London, which includes yoga, meditation and quiet, I leave the city a few times a year. This is to reconnect with Nature and relinquish others’ needs to serve my own completely . My perfect “dépaysement” is where there is zero accountability to anyone other than myself. In a place where Mother Nature expands and breathes without restraint. So I can join in, unfettered.

On retreat for a few days in Hampshire, where like-minded people interested in self-enquiry, and a more harmonious world also go, I relax into the safe, and spacious arms of its natural surroundings.

Three vegetarian meals a day allow for human connections and conversations to flow amongst other guests while we eat. I always sense a particular energy of a table, or individual, that draws me in. I choose my seat wisely, as even on retreat there are people who are too much like hard work, or too full of ego. These I adeptly avoid with equanimity. I have mastered the skill of feeling no guilt, pressure or responsibility to people please, or pander to any character who expresses a need or entitlement to be heard.

The freedom to be myself, and freely roam the beautiful countryside and sacred-like woods – as well as practice yoga in solitude with birds warbling, and leaves rustling – is true “dépaysement”.

Another few days later in the month took me to the Dorset coast. A charming BandB in Bournemouth, close to the Boscombe Overcliff Beach was my base.

The sea air is simply a tonic to the soul. The sea, the water, sweeping over my feet paddling, or bathing my whole body has healing powers so far reaching, I was often moved to tears. Standing on the shore, feet massaged by the lapping waves, I felt absorbed into Nature. Her expansion, her connectedness to other humans standing in water perhaps the other side of the world felt seamless. These sensations are only possible without distraction of others vying for attention, or pressure we must be in the doing, rather than the being.

Breathing in the sea air, wind in my hair, feeling the sea water on my feet, and whole body under sunny blue skies, was pure “dépaysement”. It is so important to notice the feeling, the being, to appreciate it, in the here and now.

These two short “dépaysements” have left their imprint on all my senses, and I feel vitality still coursing through my veins. Thank you Mother Nature.

 yensamentors@gmail.com

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We are London-based.

East London. North London. Central London. West London. South London. Hampshire.

 © Amanda Yensa Manor 2019

The elevator pitch

The elevator pitch is a tried and tested tool for every networking opportunity. It features as part of a three and a half hour MAKE THE MOST OF NETWORKING WORKSHOP I run.

Architects Ayre Chamberlain Gaunt made the most of their workshop in the lead up to MIPIM 2019.

Their feedback on our session together:

1. What 3 adjectives would you use to describe the workshop? Fun, educational, inspiring

Fun, insightful, reassuring

2. What was your favourite aspect/activity of the workshop? 

And why?

The elevator pitch, as it was difficult and thought provoking.

Role play at the end – how to extract yourself from a conversation

3. What top 3 tools or techniques covered in the workshop are the most useful to you going forward? Elevator pitch

Networking (role play tasks)

The brainstorming

Helping to the ‘hook’ was super useful

If you’d like to book a workshop to help with your networking skills, do get in touch at yensamentors@gmail.com

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We are London-based.

East London. North London. Central London. West London. South London.

 © Amanda Yensa Manor 2019

 

 

Public speaking from a personal place

For years I have spoken in public. Given an endless number of presentations to often tough crowds. Sometimes a bearer of unexpected insight into what an organisation’s audiences really think of them. Other times an advocate for ideas that are likely to change the status quo in much needed ways. Or simply a sharer of wisdom and experience to inspire the less experienced.

It is nerve wracking for most of us to stand in the limelight and speak to an audience – small or large. We hope to come across as confident and interesting at the very least. At best we wish our message be received with open arms and as little resistance as possible. Resistance comes in many forms. People yawning. Chatting amongst themselves. Scrolling on smartphones. Asking blatantly challenging questions to derail the narrative. Disagreeing completely with what is recommended or shared. Or walking out of the room.

I have experienced most forms of resistance in my public speaking/presenting days. In the beginning caught on the back foot, I relied on survivor instinct and quick thinking to handle derailments. Over time I refined the techniques required to prevent derailments or at least minimise their desired effect.

In 2004 I began mentoring teams and individuals on how to present with confidence. I designed and delivered personable, challenging and practical workshops based on my vast experience and success presenting.

Architects, creative teams, designers, marketing teams, fundraising teams to name a few, have stepped up and into my workshops.

They learn, practice, practice, practice the art of public speaking with candid and immediate feedback. They all seem to leave feeling more confident, armed with a bagful of tools and techniques to help the next time they are in the limelight, presenting.

When my daughter asked me to speak at her wedding as part of the ceremony itself, I said yes! It was my utmost pleasure and privilege to contribute on such a special occasion. I was given a ‘very clear brief’, with timings (which made me smile) – and the added challenge of saying my words in French as well. Her husband to be was French, over 60% of the guests were non-English speaking. The fact I am bilingual meant this was feasible, though still a tricky variable to accommodate.

The pressure was on. This was the one event to captivate the audience with my finest public speaking abilities. Equally important was to retain a demure tone worthy of the mother of the bride.

As with the people I mentor in public speaking, and any presentation I have ever given, I applied the same approach to prepare – 1. Know your purpose. 2. Know your audience. 3. Know your story.

The whole process authoring these important words was extremely emotional. I was nonetheless clear on the purpose – to honour my daughter and her chosen partner; the audience – my daughter, future son-in-law and all their beloved eclectic friends and family present from cities, the countryside and the mountains;  and story – well, this was a powerful and delicate narrative combining a light touch and serious depth. My daughter’s father died when she was a baby. Finding a joyous way of bring him to the ceremony without bringing us all down took thought.

When I was happy and certain of my prose, all remained to do was rehearse. I did. Until I was ready, and sure enough I would make it through without tears brimming.

The wedding was outdoors, by the ocean. We did a microphone test. The sound was phenomenal. My voice was everywhere.

Even though I was word perfect during rehearsal, I decided to write down the words on a few parchment paper cards. In case I was thrown. By emotion. Or the setting. Or any number of distractions. No matter how experienced we are, we can always falter last minute. Mind goes blank. We lose our thread. Best to be prepared.

It was time and I rose to take centre stage.

My voice filled the big sun-drenched outdoors. The words came alive and out naturally. I soared without ever having to look at my notes.

It was by far the most exhilarating, complete and meaningful experience I’ve ever had speaking in public. Guests were enthralled, moved and compelled to tell me, and thank me afterwards. My daughter and son-in-law were profoundly touched. Hearts love-filled. Eyes blinking back tears. Poignant feelings all round.

What a day. My small part speaking was the most special gift I could give my daughter and son-in-law. Only made possible because of the hard earned experience and practice presenting in my work world.

We often keep the personal separate from the professional because we feel we have to. In this instance I’m very glad the two worked hand in hand.

If you would like to learn how to overcome nerves, and present with confidence, please get in touch to book your workshop.

yensamentors@gmail.com

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We are London-based.

© Amanda Yensa Manor 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Positive impact of small changes

I would like to share this wonderful feedback from one of my women mentoring clients. We have been working together for 10 months.

1. What three adjectives would you use to describe your mentoring experience with me?

Compassionate, energising, insightful

2. What three things did you value/enjoy most about 10 month mentoring programme we’ve just completed?

The sessions taught me to better understand the positive impact of small changes, making me realise how much I needed to work on my inner strength, both physicial strength and mindfulness (and how these are all interconnected) before tackling changes at work.

I really enjoyed the sessions: it’s been so good to have time to reflect with someone who lightens the load and helps bring clarity by turning ideas into achievable steps.

Having regular contact with someone who is genuinely with you every step of the way, applauding you for overcoming challenges.

3. What did you find the most challenging aspects of our mentoring during the programme?

MentoringFeedback_Mar2018.002

It’s an emotional journey but Amanda has been enormously supportive through the tough moments: she is insightful, inquisitive, eternally wise with great experience to draw on and has a greater sense of humour. The time flew by and I still have targets to meet but she has equipped me with a clear plan so that I have a clear milestones in sight.

Whilst I am still unclear of the next big move, Amanda has helped me to better understand my own core values and create a framework for making changes to reach fulfilment in my work/life.

4. What aspects of the mentoring might be improved, from your perspective?

I can’t really fault anything about the sessions. Perhaps longer intervals between sessions so that there is more time to reach the goals so as to focus less on the minutiae of life’s distractions and keep focused on longterm goals.

yensamentors@gmail.com

 twitter / @yensamentors

instagram / yensamentors

We are London-based.

© Amanda Yensa Manor 2018

When mentoring works

Sometimes I look back at the accumulated experiences of my colourful career in the creative industries, to pinpoint a peak moment when I knew for sure where I was headed.

Though historically pleasing to review my hard earned professional accomplishments, there was only ever a collection of circumstances that I responded to in the moment that led me to the next stage in my work life. We might describe this as ‘responding to market forces’ and ‘opportunity’ rather than following a clear path or plan.

Recently reading about the origins of humanism – what it is to be human; valuing human capacities for art, reason, science; a focus on human beings as the most important feature of the universe – I was intrigued to read more about Stoicism. This school of thought of accepting what happens to you, and “going with the flow” within a “divinely ordered cosmos” has definitely accounted for many of my career choices. The reference to “divinely ordered cosmos” might loosely translate to the structures within society, politics and business today – much of which we have no control over.

I know from the feedback I get from my mentoring clients, my specific and varied career experiences have greatly helped them to understand that we do have choices in the way we work, how we work, and who with.

As a mentor, I need to have had some experience in the appropriate field if I am to convey my knowing, wisdom, learnings. Thinking laterally, and using examples of similar scenarios I have encountered can be a source of both reassurance and inspiration.

Mentoring works when people want to change something for the better. They need someone to encourage them, support them, and recognise them, and in most cases liberate them from the status quo that no longer serves them.

Recently invited to run a few ‘Mentor the mentors’ sessions for an in-house mentoring scheme at a London based architectural practice, TateHindle, I have been thrilled to see a group of on-the-job mentors take to their newly allocated responsibilities with much consideration and caring. I am glad to see organisations like these embedding mentoring into their work culture.

Mentor the Mentors Session_TateHindle_Feb2018.009

in 2017, I led a business support programme, ArtsForward, on behalf of Business in the Community. It was essentially a way for small to medium sized arts and cultural organisations to benefit from business mentoring with top notch brains from a leading financial firm. For many of the mentors (all volunteers), it was their first time mentoring people outside the sector. It was a pleasure training them up to understand what qualities were needed, and challenges they may face.

Mentoring works when both parties are willing, available, committed, can demonstrate a clear understanding of needs and issues as they arise, and are able to communicate in an open positive way.

Mentor the Mentors Session_TateHindle_Feb2018.013

Perhaps my ‘going with the flow’ approach to my career has enabled me to have very rich and diverse professional experiences that today serve others in multiple ways. My numerous specialisms are such that they allow me to plunge with confidence and competence into often very different worlds. Always knowing instantly what needs to be done, and how.

From working with architects and designers, to marketing communications professionals, wellness entrepreneurs and fundraisers in the arts, I arrive with ease ‘on scene’ as if I had been there before, already.  Thanks to the preparation undertaken, a seamless work approach ensues, and things get done, with care, consideration and always to the highest standards within nonetheless a realistic framework.

Pretty useful skills to have! Happy to share with anyone interested in individual or group mentoring programmes.

yensamentors@gmail.com

 twitter / @yensamentors

instagram / yensamentors

We are London-based.

© Amanda Yensa Manor 2018