Amara Associate, Annette Hennessy used to be the CEO of a UK public service organisation which was subject to intense government scrutiny, criticism and major change, for years. In this Story Annette tells from her own experience how a thinking and holding buddy helped her to stay hopeful and find the strength to hold on.
There were many times during my career I wondered how I would have the courage to come back the next day. I didn’t want to reveal my fears, or how little I felt, to my colleagues, or my family. Where was the place for my heart and soul to be held so I could carry on?
I was a CEO for 8 years of a UK public service, responsible for the supervision and rehabilitation of offenders. For eight of those years the work and the organisation were subject to intense government scrutiny, criticism and major change, leading eventually to some parts being sold to the private sector. This was my life’s work, over thirty years altogether, and it felt really personal. I had to face my fears because it mattered.
My colleagues and those receiving the service needed me to hopeful, positive and continue to believe in the power and the value of our work. If I wanted them to resist despair and paralysis and remain hopefull – I had to find the way to do this first. I had to find the wisdom and strength to hold on, I wanted to be a passionate, pragmatic, authentic, and action focussed leader. For me, for them and for our work.
I found a coach, the best days work I ever did, who offered me great questions, great challenge and most importantly a great thinking space. My coach became my thinking, and holding buddy, – holding on means being held too. There were times when I cried, when I said I can’t do this, when I said I don’t know how to do this, and when I was able to say I just want to sound this out with you. I had a loving space in which to be vulnerable, let my inner worries, and fears be seen, and receive deep attention.
I had found a safe space, where I was held by deep listening, compassion and companionship. I could find my wisdom, my hope, and courage to come back the next day. These are testing, uncharted times and leaders need to think feel and act with courage and wisdom. The gift of thinking space and a thinking buddy with someone who has walked in your shoes, is one that that keeps you gifting, to others, and to your work in the world.
Thinking Space is to help to keep balance for leaders carrying responsibility to make the right decision to look after the business and its people. If a crisis is to be of any value it offers the possibility to redefine how we work, think, manage relationships and do business.
Jane Allen a Co-founder of Amara Collaboration tells how the book Street Smart Awareness and Inquiry-In-Action was brought alive and why. Learn more about the Book or Buy the book at Amazon.
In the book we present practices that are simple and manageable, underpinned by sophisticated techniques that will open up your thinking and acting, and develop and enrich your everyday life both at work and beyond.