The Bittersweet Moments of Life

amazing life Apr 05, 2019

This photo is of our last night in Hermanus, we had just shared our 'last supper' with my mum and dad, it's a firm family tradition and is a bittersweet evening spent with them. 

We head back to South Africa every year it is quality time we look forward to with our extended family, time away in the sun on holiday together gives us a chance to catch up on everything that has happened in everyone's lives over the course of the year and to make some new memories together. 

This time away restores our family ties with our parents and siblings and gives the boys a chance to experience life in Africa with their extended family which is an incredibly valuable time for them, we see the boys grow and develop as a result of this and I know our parents love the chance to get to know them better.

Our last evening out is at our favourite pizza restaurant called Rossi's and we share that evening knowing we are flying home the next day, bittersweet because we say goodbye to our...

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But I've done everything asked of me, I don't get it

How do I do this? is the question I was asking myself while I looked into my eyes in the mirror of the ladies. I had escaped for a few minutes just to regain my composure, to take a deep breath and gather my thoughts.

I had just left another meeting and was feeling very confused.

But I've done everything asked of me, I don't get it.

My team are pushing ahead and yet I feel like we are failing to deliver. 

Have I misunderstood the brief?

But I have checked this again and again and clarified the scope of the project.

This has been agreed and signed off ...  

I felt like the situation I was in was sapping the life out of me ... eating me alive! 

Add to this the conversation I had earlier with a member of my team who had once again been berated, she put on a brave face and got out of the meeting without an emotional outburst but by the time I caught up with her she was a nervous wreck, while telling me the story she was reduced to tears. I don't understand, she said,...

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Have you ever been in a situation where you feel stuck?

A friend was telling me about her recent holiday in Canada and how falling in very soft and deep snow with a snowboard attached (while pretending to be a werewolf running in the trees) was amusing for her in this instance, getting up and back on track was simply exhausting. 

Patting down the snow to create a firm base to press against, getting back up onto her feet and then creating enough momentum to get going again, drained her energy. She said there were moments she nearly gave up.

This is exactly how it feels to be stuck in a work environment that sucks you in, offers little support and expects the most of you. Not only are we willing to take on more, but we also tolerate more than we think we can. 

I was thinking about this the other day and thought I would write down a list of reasons why we do this.

  1. We need the money
  2. We are loyal to our team
  3. We enjoy the lifestyle our salary enables

Yes to all three, been there ... it was only through my experience of a very...

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Tempted to hide but hey, this time I may be surprised ...

Yes, I had just been called into another meeting where I knew my integrity would be questioned. My team were working at maximum capacity, yes we were facing a few challenges but it was all under control.

Why is this so difficult to understand! We've been through this once already this week so I had a pretty good idea of how the dialogue would probably go ...

So tempted to hide ... but hey, this time I may be surprised ... here goes

Been there? 

On the receiving end of constant berating and just expected to suck it up, my experience has shown me that this behaviour is damaging and can cause relationship breakdown at work. Rather than helping to build an environment of collaboration and trust it tears down those bridges instantly. 

I could see the effect it was having on those around me and how they were not willing to challenge the situation and be counted for fear of not being heard or being ignored altogether.

We all respond differently.

I would love to hear...

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Desperate to prove myself

It was Monday morning, I remember heading to the office, sitting in the traffic, I could feel my anxiety starting to build, I was tapping my hands on the steering wheel waiting for the lights to change.

I was torn. 

Desperate to prove myself and bring all the best I had to offer to my role, to keep my team motivated and focused on the task in hand. My mission was to deliver and deliver well! 

I had so many conflicting thoughts and emotions about heading to the office. I sat there planning my day and deciding how I was going to avoid any difficult situations and remain positive and in good spirits, for the whole time I was there. I was psyching myself up so that I was ready and focused and yet on the inside, I was in turmoil.

Surely all these feelings are just because I am new to this environment after all my boss is the expert here and on my side, successful, driven and a good example to all of us of how to do things. Right ...

I took it upon myself to be a...

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Why I didn't leave sooner: Reason #1

**Call for help** I have a favour to ask at the end of this blog please. Could you take 10-20 minutes to complete my global survey on workplace bullying? Your support will mean the world to me.

Reason #1: I didn't realise I was being bullied

Over recent months, I’ve been doing research on personality disorders in the context of workplace bullying (narcissism in particular). It’s for my book, “Roar! How to tame the bully”, where one of my main objectives is for people to recognise workplace bullying and challenge it (hence the title Roar!) early on. 

But before I go any further, I'll explain my use of the term 'bully'. I know this may not sit well with some people, so if this is the case, please hop over to my introductory blog Why I didn't leave sooner where I explain my use of this dirty word. If you missed this blog, I suggest you read it anyway, as it provides useful context and background...

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Why I didn't leave sooner

Shortly after I left, a woman (who I didn’t know very well at the time), asked me why I allowed my narcissistic boss to bully me for so long. Why didn’t you leave sooner?  

To say the least, her question caught me completely off-guard. Red-faced, and with an undertone of irritation in my voice (I mean, how dare she, does she have no idea what I've been going through?), I said: “It’s complex.” I continued with some lengthy rationale of why I did what I did, or in fact, didn’t do.  

It honestly felt like the toughest question to answer at the time, and I wasn’t ready to answer it honestly.

Fast forward a few years (yes, that’s how long it took me!), I feel ready to attempt an answer to this question again. At least I was right about one thing: It’s complex. At the time, I just didn’t realise quite ‘how’ complex.

Before I share my five reasons why I didn't leave sooner, I need to address my use of the...

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Mind over matter

mind over matter Oct 29, 2018

On the 26th of June this year, I did a TED-style talk at PwC’s inaugural Alumni Live event. My talk was titled: “Completing the human firewall”. This was the toughest public speech I’ve done to date. To have 10 minutes to get your key idea(s) across, ideally with no notes and minimal slides, while being live streamed, is no small feat.

[See YouTube link to my talk further below] 

Minutes before my talk I panicked and had to leave the room to get some fresh air, at which point the organisers also panicked. Andy Woodfield, the PwC partner sponsor, told me afterwards that when I left the room, he thought I wasn’t going to come back. And I very almost didn’t. I was seconds away from allowing my emotions to get the better of me. Fortunately, I managed to replace the emotions of fear and anxiety with feeling calm and excited to share my story.  

[During the early mornings of the weeks running up to the event, I visualised myself on...

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Two BS beliefs I had about food and exercise

Uncategorized Oct 14, 2018

This morning I woke up feeling overwhelmed, as I am struggling to get to grips with my new training programme and food protocol, so I checked in with my coach. She reminded me that I am trying to do too many things at once. She told me to breathe, to relax, and to just focus on one thing for my business and one thing for me. And she also reminded me that if I had a clear vision of where I want to be and I keep taking small steps towards it, I am doing brilliantly. Great. Panic over.

Little did I know when I spoke to my coach this morning that a couple of hours later I would be inspired to write this blog and share my personal 'body transformation' story.

At this point I would just like to say that I am not sharing this to tell you "look at me, look at how amazing I am", in fact quite the opposite. I am doing this in the hope that I will inspire you and to share two BS beliefs I had about food and exercise.

In the gym this morning, I noticed a guy staring. I vaguely recognised...

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What a difference 6 months can make...

human firewall Jul 05, 2018

Last week I celebrated 6 months of being an entrepreneur. I had to pinch myself... but more about this another day.

I also celebrated - yes, lots of champagne was involved - my new healthy lifestyle. Never in a million years did I expect to do so much weight training and drink so little alcohol... but more about this another day as well.

My biggest celebration last week was my 'TED-style talk' at PwC's inaugural Alumni Live event. It was held at Sea Containers on the South Bank - a simply stunning venue - and I had the honour of sharing the stage with six other amazing speakers. 

This talk was a big deal for me, and I had to dig deep to stay calm and composed - hence the breathing exercises at the beginning. I had an important message to share, and the title of my talk was: "Completing the human firewall". I explained why a failure to attract and retain women in the Cyber Security industry is making us all less safe. That we need people from all...

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