At SCD, we strongly believe in women empowering and supporting other women in business and in life. Follow our monthly blog series where we interview inspirational women about their work, passions and motivation.
This month, we feature Fenella Hemus, founder of AboveBeyond Coaching, for our Empowering Women Series. Fenella supports women to their optimal health and wellness, both in mind and body. She specialises in working with high-achieving professionals who are tired and wired, helping them to regain their spark and find their own balance, have more energy and strength to be the best they can be. Fenella achieves this through a combination of tools, including mindset, nutrition, fitness and movement coaching and therapy, NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) and hypnosis, tailored to each individual.
- What motivated you and inspired you to start your own business?
I’ve always been passionate about challenging norms and supporting people to be empowered, thrive and fly. I wanted to do something that would enable me to utilise all my skills and knowledge together, and so starting my own business seemed the logical next step.
- What challenges have you faced during your career?
I’ve worked primarily in the voluntary sector where funding and job security was often a concern. I think this taught me resilience, flexibility and adaptability. I used to run an adventure playground, working with many children (and their parents) from difficult backgrounds. I learned to deal with very challenging behaviour and how to support people in crisis. Another challenge was seeing and experiencing the same prejudice from boys against girls and women that I had experienced when I was young. Consequently, advocating for and promoting equality for all is a thread that is woven throughout my career.
- What is one tip or technique that we can implement every day to look after our body?
Move more. If you have a sedentary job then fidget, jiggle and wriggle at your desk, get up every hour, walk and talk, stand and meet, run up and down the stairs and, if possible, get out of breath every day. Movement positively affects our mood by releasing different feel good hormones. It helps our immune and digestive system to work effectively and maintains our balance and coordination as we age, so guarding against injury from falls.
- What is one tip or technique that we can implement every day to have a positive effect on our mind and thought process?
Focus on what you want, not on what you don’t want. If something isn’t working, take action step by step to change it.
- What is the best advice you could give to someone who struggles to cope with stress?
Become conscious of your stress patterns. Keep a notebook and write down when, where and how you feel stressed. Give each episode a rating of 1-10. This will enable you to be more aware of what causes you stress. Then you can take steps to avoid such situations, change them or develop coping strategies.
Learn to belly breathe. Put your hand on your belly and focus on breathing from there. Take some long, deep breathes and watch your belly rise as you breathe in and fall as you breathe out. Feel your ribs broaden. This activates the parasympathetic nervous system and calms us down. Most people tend to chest breathe and this in itself is more stressful on the body.
- How do we self-sabotage with our negative thoughts?
Our negative thoughts send messages to our unconscious mind, which then believes them to be true because it takes everything literally. Each time we think these negative thoughts, they feed into and reinforce any limiting beliefs we have about ourselves. Examples of these might be ‘I’m not good enough’, ‘I can’t be, do or have…because…’, ‘I don’t deserve to be, do or have…because…’. As a result of these thoughts, we pass up opportunities and effectively limit what we will actually try. In addition, we often find reasons to excuse our self-imposed limitations to let ourselves off the hook.
- How can we overcome this?
We start by giving attention to our thoughts and noticing what we say to ourselves and when. Write them down as it helps to identify patterns. We may find our thoughts group into themes like ‘I’m not good enough’, ‘I’ll never…’, ‘I should/n’t…’, which leads us to identify our limiting beliefs, which leads to self-sabotage.
Taking one limiting belief at a time, we write down any evidence we have to support it (e.g. past experience of failure, rejection or ridicule) and then any evidence to contradict it. We then identify how the limiting belief is sabotaging our life, what the consequences of continuing with this belief are and then what we would like instead. Decide on what empowering belief will enable us to achieve what we want. Now we need to condition our thinking. So we decide on and take steps to act ‘as if’ according to the enabling belief. Visualisation of doing this also helps as the brain can’t tell the difference between reality and something strongly imagined. Then practice, practice and practice.
- What’s one lesson you’ve learned in your career?
Better ideas and better solutions come from working together.
- What are the best ways to empower women?
For women to both believe in and support each other to achieve and succeed. For all of us to recognise that society still applies different value judgements on the behaviour and appearance of women to that of men, and to challenge these. To check our own beliefs and attitudes, recognise where we might apply unconscious bias to other groups of people and take positive steps to address this.
- Who is your female inspiration?
There are many women I find really inspiring because of their strength, resilience, ability, commitment and kindness. However, my mother is the woman who inspires me the most because she’s all of the above, plus she’s always kept a positive outlook even in the face of massive personal and health challenges.
- What advice would you give to your 18-year-old self?
Don’t be so tough on yourself. Believe in yourself.
- One goal you hope to achieve in 2018?
To build my profile in the corporate world through speaking and delivering training.
- How do you ensure you switch off from work mode in your spare time?
I’m passionate about human development and potential so I read to keep abreast of research. I spend time with my partner and friends. I love bouldering, climbing and yoga when I can fit them in and I always ensure I go all-night dancing once a month!