A few months back , I gave you the option to 'ask me anything' as I was pulling together some explainer videos about what I do. Amongst the many questions about empathy, coaching and relationships were some personal questions as well! So I thought I'd dust them off and answer a few for you (plus a couple I've added in, as is my right!) - so here it is - an interview with The Empathy Coach!
What’s been your biggest life lesson?
Obstacles are detours in the right direction. It’s so easy to get pulled in to the negativity when things don’t go as we’d hoped or expected - and believe me, at times I really have! But what if those challenges were put in front of us for reason? Even if that reason was nothing more than giving us a chance to develop or demonstrate our own resilience? It’s also a much calmer space from which to operate - after all, what’s the point of being attached to something you never had? What’s for you won’t pass you by.
Best leadership experience?
The best leaders have been the ones that have trusted and empowered me to be the best I can. These have been the leaders that I feel have got the best out of me and also given me the chance to be my best. They’ve taken the time to coach me and helped me to understand what my passions are. Because they know that if a person is empowered in a space of passion and enthusiasm, the sky’s the limit.
Worst leadership experience?
I had a leader once that was an NLP Master Practitioner - unfortunately, they were very good at using language, thought and pre-suppositions to manipulate. It was such a shame because their ambivalent attitude made them very hard to trust in the end. Give me authenticity any day.
What are you most proud of?
3 things! My relationship with my husband. We’ve been together for 15 years, married for 12. Marriage is easy in some ways and not in others. Knowing that everything you do has a profound impact on another human being is like a great power that comes with a great responsibility. Remaining equal, respectful and loving is a delicate balance. We fall off kilter from time to time, but the important thing is we always bring back the balance.
Secondly, my charity The Adam Lewis Effect Foundation. We set up the charity in the wake of losing my younger brother to Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome in 2014. The absolute worst thing that I’ve ever experienced. Since then we’ve raised over £100k and tested over 2000 young hearts for hidden defects. It’s the least we can do to create a legacy for my amazing brother. I miss him every day.
And finally, qualifying as a Yoga Instructor! I’ve never been particularly athletic, and the two-year, 200 hour course was one of the hardest and steepest learning curves. I’m not skinny or bendy, but I can do Yoga and I get Yoga. I truly believe in the physical and mental benefits for everyone.
How do you like your bacon buttie?
White oven bottom muffin, un-toasted, thick proper butter, smoked back bacon (5 rashers), crispy (but not well done) and.... ketchup! Although, I have also been known to veer into Branston Small Chunk before now. If you know, you know.
Best advice you’ve ever been given?
Manage your expectations! Every disappointment we experience can be boiled down to our expectations not being met. If I think of any time I feel pissed off, you can guarantee it’s because something hasn’t gone the way I wanted it to. Managing expectations is the way to manage those negative reactions. And if we must have expectations, make them safe bets i.e. things that are mostly within our control. Otherwise, go into every situation with your eyes wide open and expect nothing. Be present and enjoy the ride you’re on right now. Losing my little brother has taught me that nothing is certain.
Who inspires you?
Brene Brown. Her attitude, her humility, the fact that she just gets it, her enthusiasm, her unapologetically emotional soul. She’s overcome adversity, and yet still has a relentless thirst for learning and knowledge. Also a big fan of Gabrielle Bernstein.
On a personal note, my oldest friend and her family have a beautiful little girl that was born very prem and has the most complex health issues I’ve ever seen. This family have nothing but gratitude for their miracle child, and even though life is incredibly challenging, on a scale I could never possibly understand, they face every day with such love and positivity. There’s new challenges all the time, it’s a constant learning curve, and they face it head on, always with a smile, and as the tightest family unit I know. They’re role models in the power of love and resilience.
How do you de-stress?
Yoga and meditation are a big part of my life. As an extrovert, writing and journaling helps me to process. I’ve had coaching and counselling in the past and would advocate them all the live long day. Always been a music lover, and anything by Hans Zimmer soothes and uplifts me. I can get lost in the kitchen, cooking and creating with food, although I’m at best a decent home cook, nothing cheffy. And I love a good movie or box set. Something in the Marvel or Harry Potter Universe, or Schitt’s Creek. Food Network is the channel that the TV always switches on to as well.
And travel! Holidays are so important to me. Favourite destinations - I haven’t found a part of Italy I don’t like yet. And I love Orlando. Walt Disney World is definitely one of my happy places.
What’s your big scary goal?
Right now it’s to finish and publish my book and take it on the road, maybe do a TedTalk! And I WILL be a guest on Brene Brown’s podcast one day. That cosmic order was sent long ago.
Whose poster was on your teenage wall?
Madonna. In fact, she’s still on my wall now, albeit a bit more “arty” than the centrefold pullout of Smash Hits! Not only did I love her music, I loved her drive and determination, her work ethic and everything she did to support HIV and AIDS awareness and the gay community in general throughout the 80s and 90s, when things were tough and we didn’t embrace diversity the way we do now. People like her were embracing diversity way before it was fashionable - in fact, she was doing it when it was distinctly ‘uncool’. We are where we are today because of people like her. I haven’t always agreed with the way she’s done things, but I’ve always believed in her intention.
What movie changed your life?
Eat, Pray, Love. So I know I’m a philistine for mentioning the movie and not the book. But I loved the story-telling, the visuals, the characters and the performances. I’d already done India, but it introduced me to Italy, and a love affair that grows and grows each year. I’m obsessed with the place - the language, the culture, the food... I will live there one day. And I’ll have Eat, Pray, Love to thank for that.
Recommend a book to us...
Non-fiction - 'The Universe Has Your Back' by Gabrielle Bernstein. Changed my life, and right at a time when I needed it to.
Fiction - 'Call Me By Your Name' by Andre Aciman. I’m a sucker for a good romance, especially love against adversity. Throw in an Italian summer and what’s not to get lost in?
What are you grateful for right now?
My cat, Mia. She has such a loving personality, loves attention and affection and never leaves my side. She’s just my little best mate, snuggled right up next to me. Has been for 17 years.
What would you tell your younger self?
Everything works out. I wouldn’t want to tell my younger self anything that might change his course, because I really wouldn’t change anything about my life.
Well, maybe one thing - I would tell him to get his little brothers heart tested. And to take nothing for granted.