INTERVIEW // TAMSIN ACHESON "INTUITION + PURPOSE: MAKING SENSE OF IT ALL"
When I first met Tamsin Acheson, in all honestly, her reputation had preceded her, I was expecting miracles and that is exactly what I got. Her ability to 'tune into' your aspirations and potential are second to none and I was blown away with her insight which was delivered with an un-quivering confidence and yet as I have learned more about her I have found a endearing gentleness that you do not often find within the business circuit or in life. So, I did not hesitate in asking her to join me in conversation so you could meet her too.
Interview By Sam Osbiston
WHAT DID YOU DO BEFORE THE BUSINESS HAVEN CAME INTO BEING?
Where would you like me to start?
I was a secondary school teacher in Surrey; I qualified as a game ranger and lived in the middle of the Okavango Delta managing safari lodges; I set up a localisation management training programme and had my own little training camp through Wilderness Safaris to help up-skill local citizens to management positions to assist in ensuring tourism sustainability.
I wrote numerous hospitality training courses for top training providers and then got involved in hotel opening teams, quality assurance and training for 5* Hotels, Lodges and Wine Estates; I started my own management consultancy offering structures, strategies and systems, as well as SMT coaching, management training, employee training, performance, engagement and human resources support, coaching and counselling; and now I am back in the UK building The Business Haven around the principles of connection, collaboration and community, and thrilled to be doing so!
YOU HAVE CREATED AN INCREDIBLE COMMUNITY, WHICH IS ENGAGED AND SPIRITED - WHAT DO YOU FEEL/ THINK IS THE KEY TO CREATING THIS KIND OF COMMUNITY IS?
Listening and showing up every single day to share from experience with an authentic desire to contribute value to the lives of others. I try as far as possible to ensure that when my path crosses with another they benefit from the interaction in some way, shape or form – this isn’t always possible as we cannot control how others interpret or feel but my intention is always to be a catalyst for growth, positive change, thought expansion and life success.
WHAT IS THE BIGGEST ISSUE YOU SEE PRESENTED TO TODAY’S ENTREPRENEURS AND SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS WHICH PREVENTS THEM FROM NOT ONLY REACHING THEIR GOALS BUT THEIR DESIRED SUCCESSES?
I believe the issue I see most often is that the initial approach is focused on working from the outside-in as opposed to from the inside outwards. There is a big difference between having an idea and having a vision, plus we are constantly evolving and therefore our identity shifts regularly as we learn and grow. Life vision and purpose doesn’t really change, although the way it is expressed might – exploring and getting absolute clarity is often overlooked and the “identity” piece of the business is focused on finding the right name, logo and creating a website before really knowing what these elements represent. If the time has not been spent defining self and what subjective success looks like, how is it ever achieved? Of course, there needs to be a balance and “doing” is important – I just think that “being” needs to come first and needs regular attention.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE WHO IS FEELING FRUSTRATED, EMPTY AND EXHAUSTED IN THEIR CURRENT CAREER AND EVERYDAY LIFE?
These feelings act as “red flags” – my advice would be to feel them and explore them. Unfortunately most of the time our instinct is to suppress them, up to the point where they literally pop up and hit us in the face and then we react to them. Our emotions are wonderful signposts that flag up when we are off track, where boundaries have been crossed, where we are not living in alignment with our values, where we need to be firmer with our boundaries and where we are not being true to ourselves. They are to be curiously investigated not fearfully ignored.
WHAT HELPS TAMSIN ‘RISE AND SHINE’ EACH DAY - DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL ROUTINE SPECIFIC MOTIVATION?
Errrr, no to the routine, although on occasions where it has been brought to my attention that I need to focus more on my inner world (like when I am tired or feel disconnected) I do initiate a morning routine that includes meditation. Otherwise, my rise and shine is caffeine induced – I do love a cup of coffee accompanied by the silence of the morning. When you are working in alignment with your purpose, I think the “rise and shine” becomes easier - in a state of flow motivation becomes natural and there is no need to summon up the “energy” to do things, you actually just want to get them done as you know how every action fits into moving you closer to your vision of the life you want to live and the person you aspire to be.
I LOVE THAT YOU WORK INTUITIVELY WITH YOUR CLIENTS TOGETHER WITH YOUR IMMENSE KNOWLEDGE BASE IT’S A POWERFUL TOOL FOR THEM TO TAP INTO - WHEN DID YOU FIRST RECOGNISE AND USE YOUR INTUITION, WHAT WAS THE RESULT AND HOW DID IT FEEL?
I first became conscious of the natural sense that I now refer to as intuition when I lived on an island in the Okavango Delta, unfenced amongst the African wildlife. It was a very remote and simple way of living and being in the wild brings all of your senses into acute focus. I started by listening to “my gut”. Most people are aware that they have a “gut instinct” that has kept them out of danger or has alerted them to something that is at odds in their environment. My instinct saved me from life-threatening situations on numerous occasions, my eye-sight was not particularly good then (I have since had eye surgery). Each time “my gut” saved me, I trusted it more; the more I trusted it, the more I used it and the stronger it grew. Then I realised that it wasn’t just about “saving” me or helping me avoid harmful situations, it could be used consciously to receive all sorts of information about people and my environment. I actively started using it all the time alongside my other senses and my reasoning mind, and thus developed conscious control over it. When I returned to “civilisation” I started to learn with curiosity about my intuition, this initiated my interest in self-development and I started what was to become over a decade of different courses, modalities, therapies, studies – as you say I now use it not only for myself but to help others trust their own inner resourcefulness and guidance. I could not imagine a life without it – it is such a powerful way of just knowing!
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY WAS AT THE CORE OF KNOWING YOU ARE HAPPY AND FREE?
They are related. Happiness comes from a sense of freedom which can only be achieved by relinquishing control, surrendering to life and accepting our own fallibility and vulnerability. Letting go, trusting and allowing life to unfold, accepting what arises in every moment and being present and responsive to it – these are at the heart of evolved and enlightened behaviour. We can only experience a life of real freedom when we get out of our own way and start living from the inside-outwards, addressing our limiting beliefs, emotional blocks, negative self-talk and all the other internal challenges that prevent real growth and transformation. Happiness and freedom are individually experienced so there is no singular approach – there is, however, a process and it starts by seeing possibility beyond self-imposed limitation. Acceptance of life’s uncertainties and trust in our own wisdom and resourcefulness is where everything starts to shift. Surrender allows us to step into a space where we are ready to receive, able to create and willing to embrace what emerges with an open heart. This in-the-moment freedom of being is at the core of knowing happiness.
YOU HELP CLIENTS GET FROM A PLACE OF SURVIVAL TO A PLACE OF FEELING MOTIVATED BY INSPIRATION - CAN YOU SHARE A PERIOD IN YOUR LIFE WHEN YOU HAVE MADE THIS TRANSITION?
Not really. I do not fear change and therefore rarely get myself to the point where I feel like I am just surviving. I have usually shifted at the first sense of discomfort as opposed to sticking around in a static state until the circumstance becomes unbearable. I learned very quickly to heed the signs and act before you are “forced” to react! My “survival” experiences have actually been an avoidance of clear and present danger and the real possibility of death, so I have a slightly different perspective on the survival of everyday mundanities, self-created imprisonment and cognitively perceived limitations. I have a very healthy respect for life, its brevity and living your best possible version beyond the fear of the unknown and the need for relatedness and understanding. There is no shortage of courage and resourcefulness in my world, I genuinely believe that if it can be conceived in the mind it can be created in reality. I help my clients to help themselves. Help themselves, through self-belief, trust, hope and embracing change – in both their personal and professional worlds – to gain greater life satisfaction, fulfilment and meaning, through the expression of their own unique contribution.
HAS THERE BEEN A PIVOTAL MOMENT IN YOUR LIFE WHEN YOU DECIDED THIS IS WHY AND HOW I WANT TO SUPPORT PEOPLE?
I have always been involved in learning and sharing knowledge in some way, even when I tried to escape teaching I ended up right back in the classroom but on the other side of the world and this time the classroom was a canvas tent and there was lots of drawing in the sand! There is no escaping your purpose it just keeps popping up until you wholeheartedly embrace it, or at least that has been my experience. It concerns me that “purpose” and “living your purpose” have now become fashionable phrases used to convey another dimension of doing rather than an expression of being. Although I consider myself to be an educator I know that my purpose is actually to create connections through learning and sharing with, for and between others – the vehicle I have used to express my purpose has changed over the years as I have “career hopped” but learning and development, my own and other people’s, has always been a common thread. I believe that knowledge, understanding, finding similarity in difference, kindness and acceptance are key to alleviating the pain, suffering and confusion often associated with the human condition.
WHAT EFFECT HAS YOUR EXPERIENCES IN AFRICA HAD ON YOU AND HOW YOU LIVE YOUR LIFE NOW?
Living in both remote and urban Africa was grounding, astonishing and breathtaking in so many different ways. I find it hard to talk about as I never feel as though I do it justice - if you have not experienced Africa it is very hard to convey the depth of its impact (at a soul level), in words. Africa changed everything for me - my whole worldview. It turned everything I thought I knew and understood on its head and then rolled it through sand and mud until it was unrecognisable; it made me question my belief and value systems repeatedly; it invited me to see life through a multitude of different lens’; it asked me the tough questions, existential questions, and taught me lesson after lesson after lesson. Africa took me so far out of my own comfort zone, it pushed every button and every boundary; it took me into the darkest of places within myself whilst offering a sense of freedom that I never thought existed. It was a life lived in extremes but with so many grey areas that there was never a seemingly simple answer – it also showed me the power of simplicity! Africa gave a whole new meaning to life or death situations and asked me time and again, does your life have value, if so why? Africa asked me to dig deep and find all of the resources and wisdom within myself. Sometimes we don't realise that we have all the answers within us, or we doubt ourselves looking to others who "must know better" for our solutions. Africa taught me to live from the inside outwards, showed me how to find my best inner guidance, rely on my own resourcefulness and connect to what is right for me and in the highest good of all those around me. It is only when we put ourselves in extreme circumstances that we have the opportunity to explore our true nature and the extent of our potential, both from a coping perspective and in recognizing that actually there are no limits to what can be solved or achieved – Africa showed me that anything is possible and there is a solution to every problem if you open your mind.
WHAT CAN PEOPLE ATTENDING A WORKSHOP WITH YOU EXPECT FROM YOU AND THE EXPERIENCE?
In all of my work I invite people to think differently, curiously and creatively, integrating all of their intelligence, aligning “I think” with “I feel”, paving the way for “I know” and then the natural progression to inspired action. Identity, integrity, individuality and intentionality are always at the forefront of my insights. Most of my workshops have a business theme, but my upcoming retreat is focused on self-development and becoming more internally referenced, embracing inner resourcefulness, wisdom and guidance. This improves our in-moment judgement and decision-making, allowing us to become more responsive and less reactive. It is my desire to leave my retreat participants with a clear sense of self and purpose, with answers to the questions – who am I, who do I aspire to be, what is my life purpose, what is my unique contribution, how do I show up and express myself authentically, and how do I integrate these revelations to best effect in my everyday life. So, answers to some big questions that are not often articulated and considered out loud, although they often occupy our minds, and a toolbox of processes and practices that support this learning.
WHAT DOES 2018 HOLD FOR TAMSIN AND THE BUSINESS HAVEN?
Now that is a BIG question.
If the first 12 weeks are anything to go by it is going to be a tumultuous, yet amazing, year of growth, learning, expression, truth and “stepping up” in every conceivable way. It has been tough moving back to the UK – no network, no reputation, and the reintegration into a culture and system that I have been absent from through some pretty significant years of change – I really do feel sometimes like I have just fallen off another planet into this one!
So far this year I have changed the way I work one-to-one so that it is in alignment with my value system and my motivation to help others create sustainable and supported change if that is their desire, so now I work only with those seeking a longer coaching relationship of 12 weeks or 12 months. I have also created three coaching and peer accountability groups to support business owners in the start-up, scale-up and team-up space for the whole of 2018 – two of these filled within 14 days of launching and the third is looking very promising. My third goal for this first quarter is, of course, the delivery of my first retreat which will be the first in a series of four – purpose, power, presence and patterns - that all form part of a self-discovery adventure, either to be experienced individually or sequentially. I am very excited about sharing these retreats, I can’t tell you how beneficial this work has been to my own personal and professional development and success, and I feel absolutely privileged to be able to share this work with others so they may too experience life from a whole new dimension.
WHAT DO YOU THINK THE WORLD WOULD BE LIKE IF WE ALL SPOKE THE TRUTH?
Haha – my honest answer right now is “absolute chaos”!
Truth is a loaded word – everyone seems to think they know what the truth is but have you ever noticed how many versions of the truth exist! With truth comes great responsibility, I have seen people speak their truth in the most hurtful and harmful of ways and others who have used the truth sparingly with the best of intentions. The intention behind truth-telling is as important as the truth itself – I would love to live in a world where open honesty was commonplace, how blissful, but we would also have had to learn how to leave our egos at the door, accept perceived judgement and criticism without being reactive and how to phrase the truth in a ways that would cause the least offence!
When I talk about “living in your own truth” and “speaking your truth” what I mean is being brave enough to look at the layers of filters and fictional stories we have built up over the years about who we are, what is available to us, what we deserve, even what we believe and value. I mean developing the self-awareness to start to bridge the gap between the person we show to the world and the one that we only catch glimpses of in the privacy of our own company. I am talking about raising our levels of consciousness so that we get to know our true selves a little better, accepting the extreme duality of our existence, the light and the dark, the positive and the negative, the labelled good and bad and finding balance in all of them. There is nothing to fix but everything to free – taking steps towards your authentic self-liberates the confident, powerful, resilient and competent person you were meant to be, embodying your truth through your actions and interactions with both yourself and others.
Life is all about change and evolution, the stronger your sense of self, the greater your knowing that “in spite of it all you will be okay”. When you are anchored in truth you have a compass for decision making, clear personal boundaries and a guilt-free respect and love for yourself.
I believe that identifying, understanding and defining your personal truth is one of the most meaningful things you’ll ever do in this lifetime – so what are you waiting for?
WHERE TO FIND TAMSIN
I try to infuse everything I do with honesty, respect, authenticity, openness, kindness and fun. I do my best. These are my values - you can hold me to them! My style is pragmatic and solution focused. I see potential in every person and every situation. I believe that every person is unique and should be valued as such. I build all my relationships on a foundation of trust, positive regard and understanding.
Business Owners learning, growing and achieving together in small mentorship groups that encourage both skills development, goal setting, accountability and support; a place to build business relationships in a social setting.
Group Coaching: https://www.thebusinesshaven.com/groups
You are always the expert. It is your focus, your passion, your motivation and ultimately your hard work and determined action that drives your desire to make a real difference and transforms it into a reality. I support your progress, helping you to access and trust your inner resourcefulness, believe in your own wisdom and create the road map that plans and inspires definite and confident action.
One-to-one Coaching: https://www.thebusinesshaven.com/coaching
Tamsin also facilitates workshops throughout the year you can find these on her website, https://www.thebusinesshaven.com/the-leadership-series and on her Facebook Business page https://www.facebook.com/thebusinesshaven/