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  1. Welcome to the Abundant Thinking Coaching blog. In this instalment I'm going to be showing how coaching really uses the same sustainable principles as circularity. By this I mean The Circular Economy.

    The Circular Economy is based on 3 Main Principles:

    1. Minimise waste and pollution
    2. Keep products and materials in use
    3. Regenerate natural systems

    The circular economy is different from the more ubiquitous linear economy as that tends to be based on 'Take, Make and Waste' principles - where businesses take a natural resource and turn it into a product which is destined, at some point, to be discarded.

    So what's my explanation as to why circularity works really well as a way of explaining how coaching works? I'm really glad you asked!!

    Let's look at that first principle of circularity - minimise waste and pollution. Most people who engage the services of a coach are looking to sort out some kind of issue in their lives - this could be unhappiness in their job or personal relationships; it could be frustration with how they think others perceive them; it could be a feeling that they are not being listened to or valued. There are diverse reasons but when you boil it down you could say that people feel they are wasting time or their own resources. The feelings that this provokes are often unpleasant - rumination, sadness, bitterness, anger - which are all polluting for yourself and others. Coaching focuses on helping people to understand their strengths. It also focuses on how to utilise these amazing resources that we all have, so that we can live our values and create meaning for ourselves. When we create happiness and positivity I see that as fertilizer for ourselves and those around us, as opposed to the pollution we create when we are unhappy and negative.

    There's also a dietary angle to this - around waste and pollution that we introduce to our lives via the food and drink we consume. I've made a lot of changes to what I physically ingest, based on whether the substances are going to do me any good or ill. Honestly I wish I'd been this forensic years ago, but it was symptoms of perimenopause which made me focus on my diet. I have lots of information I can share in workshops about healthy eating. After all, what's the sense polluting our own internal ecosystem with toxins?!

    The second principle is keeping products and materials in use. In coaching terms I would apply this to building on the strengths that we discussed in relation to the first principle. Having skills that give you a sense of meaning and purpose is really life-affirming. Usually these skills can be used to 'pay it forward' by helping other people to build their skills, which spreads the good feeling even wider. We are social animals and when we are recognised by other people, or when we make other people feel good by supporting them then we help to generate the happy hormones that give us energy and a sense of wellbeing. I've been reading and thinking a lot about what some refer to as 'Radical Individualism' - the modern phenomenon of living in our own lonely bubbles, not really socialising, often spending our days at work glued to a computer and our evenings watching the TV or doomscrolling through social media.

    There are lots of opportunities for us all to keep our valuable personal products and materials (our skills and strengths) in use by sharing expertise with friends, charities, neighbours and co-workers. I know covid has made close-contact difficult, but as the world opens up have a think about what you could do to pay it forward by sharing what you know.

    Again there's a healthy lifestyle angle to this principle too - partly diet and partly activity. One of the things that got me really laser focused about my diet was advice from my Integrative Health Practitioner Andy Johnson (@andyjohnsonihp on Instagram) about seeing your body as a rain barrel which over time fills up with all manner of things that are not good for you. Through a process of elimination over several months I have revamped my diet and I can see and feel the impact of those changes - I have more energy, am happier, sleep better and have lost weight. In terms of activity I have started to pay attention to my body in choosing the activities that I do. I used to lift weights and do high intensity interval training, and honestly I think this was harming me rather than helping me. I have found equilibrium, increased flexibility and less pain by doing low impact exercise like yoga, pilates and walking. This combination of diet and exercise changes seems to be helping to keep my mind and body in use in my early 50s! Different strokes for different folks of course, so my advice here is to try things out, listen to your body and do what works for you.

    The third and final principle is regenerate natural systems. I see coaching as a maintenance for the mind. In the natural world there are cycles essential to every process - growing seasons, inputs leading to outputs, delicate feedback loops that preserve ecosystems. In the human world some of these processes seem to be being ignored or compromised. For example we ignore feedback loops in our own lives at our peril. If you experience upset you need to give the impact of that event time to register in order for your system to cope with it. If you ignore the event or try to pretend it never happened you are not closing the natural feedback loop, and that will cause the upset to fester somewhere in you. Give yourself time to grieve, to consider the actions that led to the event and to assess how you will move on from it with grace and strength. This is just one example, but it's one where coaching can absolutely help you to regenerate your own natural system.

    I hope you've enjoyed this post on how the principles of circularity weave well with those of coaching. I'd be interested to talk more to you if the concepts here have sparked your interest in working with me. Please do drop me an email to [email protected] if you'd like to find out more.

  2. Thanks for investigating the Abundant Thinking website. I'm Lucy and in this blog I'd like to explain a bit about what Sustainable Coaching means to me, and therefore what it offers my clients.

     My coaching focuses a lot on sustainability - two useful definitions of sustainability are:

    'the quality of being able to continue over a period of time'


    'the quality of causing little or no damage to the environment and therefore being able to continue for a long time'.

    My coaching practice grows out of both of these approaches - I see the first as personal sustainability: being able to live a life of meaning and purpose that is healthy and happy;

    I see the second to be about living within the resources that the earth can provide to us, whilst preserving resources to enable future generations to survive and thrive on the planet.

    Personal Sustainability

    So let's dig a bit deeper into the fertile soil of personal sustainability. Living a life of meaning and purpose is all about understanding your own values, motivations and needs. These sound pretty straightforward right? The kind of stuff we just all know about ourselves. Unfortunately that's not always the case. Our values can get buried under other people's - be that family, company, friends or educational establishment values. To fit in and get by we sometimes lose our own compass settings. Motivations and needs can change because of factors like life stage, health conditions, financial situation, family situation, confidence levels…you name it! Getting the balance right for you and the ecosystems you inhabit are really the bedrock of living a life of meaning and purpose. I've seen some real a-ha moments leading to recognition, change and increased fulfilment in my work with individuals and teams. If you want to try a quick, fun activity to assess your values (on your own or with other people close to you) then please do look on Brene Brown's website at Downloads | Brené Brown ( - click on 06. Dare to Lead downloads and scroll down to the List of Values PDF there. Pick 2 - ONLY TWO!!! Really think through why these matter to you, and check in that they are your true bedrock values. It'll be eye opening for you and others, I promise!

    I do a lot more work on finding meaning, purpose, health and happiness - so if you'd like to dive a bit deeper then please do get in touch with me via the contact form on my homepage and we can get some time booked in to chat.

     Environmental Sustainability

    Let's look at that second definition of sustainability - living within the resources that the earth can provide to us, and helping to preserve resources for future generations of humans and the more-than-human world. We're all concerned one way or another by global issues such as extreme weather events like droughts, heatwaves, wildfires and floods and the relationship these can have to political instability, mass migration of humans and increasing wildlife species extinction. I won't depress you with statistics on here. Some people's coping mechanism for these events is to focus inward on their own lives, even to deny that some of these issues are as a result of human behaviour. In a way that reaction is understandable, because these things may appear way outside of our circle of control. But by focusing on the small things we can all do in our daily lives, we can reassure ourselves that we are contributing to improving the longer term situation.

    What do I mean by this? Here are a few examples: next time you make a cuppa just boil the water you need for your cup - that uses less energy and less clean water. If you want to go further with energy efficiency then turn off any electrical items with a standby button when you're not using them, and switch to a renewable-only energy supplier. People power is a huge factor when it comes to where we spend our money, and you can see this by the rise in businesses who are focusing on reducing their carbon footprints - please support them. Then recognise yourself for the positive impact you are making - gratitude and appreciation are sadly underused resources, and they are really good for you! Start by appreciating yourself and spread the love from there. You'll make yourself and those around you feel much happier if you practice regular gratitude for all the small things.

    In fact let's end this post on gratitude - here's one of my favourite ways to start the day with gratitude. Find a spot outdoors, preferably really close to your home (on a seat outside the back door is my go-to 'sit spot'). If you don't have easy access to outside space then even just opening your window wide should give you access to fresh air and the sounds of nature. Take in everything you can see, hear, feel and smell. What sounds do you notice? What changes do you notice day by day in the wildlife around you - different birds visiting, changes in the colours of leaves on the trees, the smell of the air after the rain? Spend some time feeling grateful for what's outside of our front doors, and give yourself a few minutes of mindful contemplation as you start your day.

    Thanks for reading this blog post on sustainability in coaching. If you'd like to work with me on any of the topics I've raised here then please do drop me a message via the contact form on my homepage. It would be great to get to know you better.