The Heart of Listening

Podcast Episode 80

I’m always amazed when someone gets up to speak, and begins sharing a story with ease and confidence. Then, to the delight of the audience, they manage to use that story as an illustration for the point of their talk!

What sorcery is this!?!

Well none, actually! This week’s podcast guest, Sophie Wadsworth, helps women uncover their stories, in order to build bridges and connect with their audience or their team.

She’s brought storytelling and a passion for supporting at-risk youth and people with disabilities to the forefront of her career, and now she coaches leaders like women in male dominated fields, to discover their voice, allowing them to grow into the thought leaders they aspire to be. 

Sophie’s passion is working with women who have a strong message, helping them learn to use their own story to lead with authenticity. Our conversation resonated with me in a deep and profound way. Go have a listen, and see if it meets you on your own road to leadership, especially where your story intersects with your “audience,” whether that is from a stage, or in the office or board room. 

Every woman I interview exemplifies (in some way), the tenets of Intentional Optimism. My aim is to show that while what we may DO for a living is different, Intentional Optimism is HOW we do what we do. It’s the attitudes and mindsets we employ and embody to live out our own goals and dreams with excellence.

As a brief refresher, the Six Tenets are:

OPTIMISTIC
PRESENT
ENERGETIC
COURAGEOUS
WISE
INTENTIONAL

Living these tenets creates Unconventional Leaders, who then lead at EVERY level, in ANY area, using their UNIQUE gifts.

You can hear the entire conversation here: Podcast Episode 80

Below are my main takeaways.

Sophie's process of helping a client eager to use her own story to level up her business, involves two general steps. 

Discover your origin story.

This involves more than just an historical narrative, it includes asking yourself these questions

  • What's your main goal?
  • How do you want to evolve? What changes are you looking for?
  • Where does you want to go with her writing or speaking? 

The goal is to understand your story and where it intersects with you audience’s story. What’s the arc? What’s the  moment of crisis? What are you comfortable sharing and bringing into your leadership practices or business. 

Next, it's time to find your Voice.

This has two main components: 

Identify key events. 

She described this process, the excavating and unearthing of your voice as deep listening. Building relationships with others requires good listening skills, but we tend to forget to do that with and for ourselves. Sophie suggests looking back over the big events and circumstances in your life, as a way to determine what was pivotal and how you learned from each.

Investigate the feelings associated with each events. 

We usually have a remembered feeling about whatever happened in our past, but she says we need to dig deeper. She called it time traveling - going back into the experience and describing all the senses - sights, sounds, smells. Pay attention to what was going on around you, and the conversation you were having inside your head. Pick out  pieces of the dialog in your head to identify your feelings, then look at where those two conversations converge (or don't) to create a compelling story.

 

Yes, I know, this absolutely fascinating, but how do you use this information in your life - TODAY?

Use generous curiosity as you work with your team, in your parenting, or community. When someone comes to you for leadership or advice, 

  1. Set aside the part of you that’s a problem solver. You don’t need to solve and tie it up with a bow, sending them off with your wisdom. 
  2. Use generous curiosity to see if you can go a layer deeper and identify how they are experiencing the problem. 
  3. Help them change the conversation in their mind based on that  real challenge. This process will create a collaborator in resolving the issue, giving them ownership in the solution.

Or... 

Adopt some of her practical habits.

You can use them to help you be more present and cognizant of the story you’re living. 

  1. Get outside, in nature, and connect with that story to help you tap into feeling most alive. She mentioned taking walks. I love being at the ocean, you probably have a place like that where you can connect best.
  2. Eating well and cooking when you can - food is both medicine and joy. It’s just part of being human. I love that she and her neighbor are sharing the beauty of their own food, and bringing joy to each other in this simple way.
  3. Reading - one of the best ways to take in information. She shared a few books we’ve put in the show notes, but you can take advantage of the library, audiobook listener. Either way, this habit will keep you expanding your mind.

 

Sophie’s Green Flags:

If you find yourself at a crossroads or are looking at a way to level up into greater leadership, it’s important to know:

  • What are your goals? The highest, most important goal? Where do you want to ultimately be, your point on the horizon. 
  • What are your non-negotiables? She used the words life proportions instead of “balance.”  This helps you to see… 
  • What kind of flexibility you might need, or how the next opportunity might line up with that.

 

Sophie’s Advice:

When you are faced with decisions, or presented with opportunities, self understanding is most important, so she suggested you ask yourself:

  • Do you need a bit of career coaching first? You might need someone else to help ask you the increasingly better questions with generous curiosity. And then when you have those answers, 
  • What is the timing like for you and your career based on your life proportions and your big goals? 

I found it interesting that Sophie managed to pull my story out just a bit, and I was reminded that I’ve helped people figure out, plan, and do their work for over 25 years. 

Now I do it full time, as a leadership and empowerment coach.

I help women build themselves so that they can build their business. I do this inside a community where you can dream, grow, experiment and explore, with group coaching, teaching, encouragement and gentle accountability. 

If you need help discovering and building YOU so that you can build your life or your business…  hop on my calendar for a 30 minute consultation and let’s get you a strategy in place. 

 

Until Next Time!

AJ

Where to find Sophie: Website Sophie Wadsworth

Sophie provides executive coaching and nonprofit consulting with a passion for helping leaders craft compelling, mission-centered stories, and build strategic messaging throughout their organizations.

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There are events in life that define our journey. Once they happen, we begin describing everything else as “before X” or “after X”. For me,it was the day my mother died. Suddenly, I became aware of my own limited timeline. The drive to find my voice, purpose and place became urgent. I dove in, head first, and discovered the desire to help myself fueled a greater desire - to help others. Soon, I stopped defining myself in terms  of roles (wife, mother, manager),  but in terms of qualities: curious, determined, happy, adventurous. I've come to understand, that the qualities that make us who we are, are what we must celebrate. We each have a special purpose, unique perspective, and unlimited potential. Better yet, we can both discover and develop them.   

I do this through speaking, training, coaching and writing -  with a focus on helping women grow into the leaders they truly are. Intentional Optimism is my philosophy of life, and includes these five pillars:

          Optimistic - Hopeful, Positive Proactive

          Present - Seeking Wonder, Generous, Kind

          Courageous – Leading Others, Adventurous, Resilient

          Energetic - Industrious, Excitement, Life-focused

          Wise - In Respect, Words and having Understanding

          Intentional - Purposeful, Planning, Growth Mindset

I'm building a global community of women helping women. A place where we foster leadership from every stage or position in life. A place where we celebrate wonder; move forward with hope and openness; share wisdom and encouragement; offer each other a helping hand; ask freely, and share lavishly; and celebrate our differences as avenues of growth and expansion.

Let’s  change our understanding of what it means to work, provide for our families, have financial stability, and be a leader in the community. Life is an adventure - let's live it to the fullest!  

It’s time to laugh at the days to come! - Prov. 31:25

Won’t you join me on the journey?