Friends are the true wealth, and I am privileged to have lots of riches.  This Fabulous Woman interview is with Bev Hancock, a truly wise woman who I have known since I was five years old.  We have shared a journey and she taught me a hugely valuable lesson.  (Well at least one!)

Bev taught me to talk to myself – kindly and wisely – you can read about my aha moment here.

Meet Bev Hancock, International Speaker and Masterclass Facilitator:

Q:  When we decide on something – that is really the first step to being the best version of ourselves and simply fabulous.  What makes you a fabulous woman?

A:  I think it is firstly accepting that you are indeed enough, that you are valuable and that you have a unique magic that would make the world a poorer place without you in it.  My greatest gift I bring to the world is to see the potential in others and to help them see a future they did not even dream of before – and to do this on a global stage.  I am big picture thinker, a starmaker and believe that if we buy into abundance rather than scarcity, we can all be fabulous.

Q:  We are all different and that is what makes the world a wonderful place.  What would you say are the most important values that underpin who you are?

A:  The three values that are core to who I am are those that underpin the work that I do around trust, relationship and conscious leadership – they are character, connection and credibility.  These three values for me integrate the head, the heart and the hands.  They embrace authenticity, love, deep connection and the ability to consistently deliver to a high standard.

Q:  As we go through our adult life we all reinvent ourselves – because of circumstance, and as we grow into ourselves.  How have you reinvented yourself?

A:  There is a beautiful Japanese word Kaizen which means incremental and continuous improvement which describes the journey I have been on for the past 20 years.  Becoming a single mom was the start of a new life and was the driving force for me for many years.  I was a secretary at the time earning a minimal salary with little or no support from my ex-husband.  I took the radical step of jumping with my eyes closed into my own business with no capital, qualifications or experience – just the belief that I needed to do something different if I was going to give my two sons the life I wanted for them – the vision that kept me going was of them crossing the graduation stage at university.  During this time I was able to build a successful business and complete two masters degrees.

They say that you don’t know how strong you are until you have no other choice.  Looking back I honestly cannot tell you how I got through, only that you get through one day at a time.  Fast forward 15 years to the day when my youngest son phoned to tell me he had passed his second board exam making him a qualified CA.  I remember driving home with tears streaming down my face knowing that I had just graduated and then the question – now what.  Since then I have continued on a journey of continuous growth, the latest of which has been to step on to the stage as a professional speaker and masterclass facilitator.  The next reinvention? – the global stage….

Q:  We all hit lows in life – what do you to get yourself moving and motivated again?

A:  If you had asked me this question a couple of years ago, I would have given a very different answer.  I am an avid reader and having as much knowledge as possible was always my defence when things got tough.  Over the last few years, I have learnt to focus on the present moment.  When we hit low times we often allow the past and the future, over which we have no control, to overwhelm us.  Now when I hit a low, I find some quiet time to listen to my inner conversation and to recognise that it is often raising fears and future scenarios that have not happened.  Through mindfulness, I seek stillness and then ask the question, what can I do just now that will make a difference.   I reframe the internal conversation to embrace love and to remind myself that I have been here before and everything worked out just fine.  And then most importantly I reach out to my incredible support group of fabulous friends.  This is the best way to rewire your anxious brain and if you are going to invest time anywhere, it is in these special relationships.

Q:  Circumstances are quite often out of our control, but how we react to them is within our control.  I know that you have had some hard times along the way.  How have you dealt with those curveballs?

A:  Coffee, wine and conversation.  What these things have in common is perhaps what we as fabulous women do best.  We reach out to each other to help us make sense of these curve balls.  With the work I do as a coach, I have learned that we need physical, mental and emotional resilience.  It has taken me 50 years, but I have learned to respond rather than react.  For me this has meant to pause and make sense of what the curve ball means and then to ask, “How do I choose to respond?”.   Instead of focusing on the problem, I first focus on how I am responding by noticing how it is effecting me on a three levels.  The quality of my support group is also hugely important – it is easy to surround yourself with people who will tell you want you want to hear, I am so fortunate to have people who will listen and challenge me to work with the chaos and discomfort – to work through it.  When you take your eyes off the problem and focus on what you can control in the moment you empower yourself to get through anything.

Q:  I know that you have followed my ‘Word of the Year’ programme, where we use a word to anchor our vision for the year ahead.  Can you share how words have changed your life?

A:  As you know my mantra is that words create worlds and that we have the power to speak our future into existence.  The power of your “word of the year” programme has been to distil my focus down to just one word which is an incredible way to get to what our mutual friend refers to as “unusual clarity”.  My first word was “Ascend”  which was just what I needed to take me to a higher level of consciousness.  It elevated both my thinking and my brand and came at a time when I was expanding the geographical reach of my market.    Last year my word was “Focus”.  My problem is that I can do too much and letting go has been an important part of understanding just where I need to focus my effort and attention.  There is something incredibly liberating about cutting the bonds of what no longer serves you.  I was thinking about retaining the word for 2019 as it is a work in progress but over the last few days I have been asking where have I arrived at the end of this year.  So my word for 2019 is GLOBAL – I have had the privilege tasting the global stage three times this year and am ready to take things to a whole new level.  This process has had tangible results and I can only encourage everyone to embrace the concept…

Q:  I have learnt so many lessons from you over the years, but the one that with remain with me forever is about the conversations we have with ourselves.  Tell us a little bit about this concept and how it has changed your own life.

A:  We have conversations all day long, some of them we have with other people.   As you know, I tend to live inside my head a lot of the time and so much of who we are and how we show up is as a result of these internal conversations.  I think my AHA moment was when I discovered “The Beginner’s Mind”.  As a card-carrying member of Overthinker’s Anonymous the pursuit of knowledge was the Holy Grail.  The beginner’s mind says look at everything through the eyes of a child, see the wonder, the magic and the potential of what could be without preconceived ideas.  It was here that I began to see leadership differently.  We need to simplify and go back to basics.  My inner conversations are now more in the present, more heart based and focus on the beauty of THIS moment.  The paradox is that it has made the future clearer and more focused.  I am learning to be kind to myself and by extension kinder and less judgemental of others.  The inner conversation is the place of awareness and awareness takes us to the heart of leadership and the role we have to play in creating a better world for our children.

Q:  Self-care is so important.  What do you do to fill your cup?

A:  As a single parent I learnt a resilience that has allowed me to push myself far beyond the boundaries of good self-care so it is something I have to do very intentionally.  I am by nature a fixer so I have had to learn that I don’t have to fix the worlds’ problems, in fact even more so that I will empower them so much more by allowing them to learn to fix their own.  Now that my kids are older I am making a different set of choices and critically evaluating the traditional roles we as women find ourselves in.  Instead of looking for work-life balance (which I am not convinced actually exists) I rather seek work-life integration.  I have chosen work where I do what I love on a daily basis, and can do it from anywhere in the world. On a day-to-day basis, I actively seek time to be alone, to find thinking time and time to just relax with a good book.  Thai massages, cups of tea, retail therapy and quality time with good friends and family are all opportunities to recharge.  But most importantly, I choose to live and love every day intentionally, to make the most of each moment and in doing so create an energy that keeps me filled.

Q:  Our story is one of friendship across many years and many kilometres.  How important is friendship to you?

A:  Friendship is everything to me and I am blessed with friendships that have lasted a life-time.  I know that everyone is talking about how technology is destroying relationships but for me it has been the most amazing way of connecting with my friends and family all over the world.  Knowing that we can chat for an hour over a cup of tea thousands of miles apart has made all the difference.  Knowing that just one message will have us dropping what we are doing to be there for each other makes anything possible.

Q:  Inspiration and guidance is such an important factor in growth.  Who are the fabulous woman who have inspired your journey?

A:  I have been blessed by having a number of fabulous women who have made such a difference in my life.  Perhaps you and Paula Missing, my lifelong friends who have seen me at my best and worst are first amongst those.  Jacquie Terwin, whose wisdom, love and friendship has been a constant through my life, Jill Hamlyn, who embodies everything that coaching should be and whose generosity and friendship I treasure, Runa Magnus who gave a year of her life to speak into mine and continues to spark the conversations that are changing the world and Jane Stevenson with whom I have had life-changing conversations and who models leadership and resilience are just a few of the women who have touched my life and journey to date.  Can I also say that as a fabulous women I also want to pay tribute to some of the magnificent men who have inspired me.  To Alroy Trout, my friend and business partner, whose wisdom and heart have transformed the way I see the world.  To Guy Thomson, my coach and friend who has allowed me to go to a place of vulnerability and thrive and to Michael Jackson who propelled me onto a bigger stage and the belief that I could do that.

I know that this is a long blog post, but I hope that you are inspired, as I am by meeting fabulous woman around the world who have overcome so much and have so much to share.  I am excited about this series.  Who will be next.

Kerry xx

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