Positive Outcomes of a Global Pandemic from a Neurodiverse perspective!

I established Think Musique as a business consultancy in 2018 and have supported many clients and colleagues with essential skills and practices for their businesses ever since; with all of my clients originating from a wide variety of backgrounds, both neurotypical and neurodiverse. This changed in 2020, just before the pandemic closed everything down, and as a result of my membership of Greater Manchester Autism Consortium, when I was asked to take part in a series of videos about positive stories of employment for people who are autistic in and around Greater Manchester. You can see my interview here, which incidentally was recorded remotely on my own phone (!) with the interview being carried out by Seamus Mannion, the Founder of SENDCode CIC.

As a result of the profound effect these conversations had, Seamus and I decided to do two things:

  • apply for Access to Work support from the Department for Work and Pensions in order to help me manage the areas of business ownership I find most difficult.
  • to focus part of my time on supporting other people with autism who are experiencing difficulties in their roles as employees or employers.

 

Since being diagnosed with autism in 2018 I have become able to understand some of the challenges I faced throughout my life, which at the time did not make sense. The rate of diagnoses for autism in women is low and so many women go through life without understanding why certain things can be so challenging for them, whilst other women seem better able to deal with them. Relationships during teenage years can be complex for neurotypical people to understand and for autistic girls this can be a huge barrier to positive mental health. The BBC animation below (opens in new window) helps to explain how many autistic women feel when growing up.

Ironically, despite the challenges of the pandemic for many people, the national lockdowns have had a positive impact on my daily routine, and reduced my anxieties related to work arrangements and travel plans, with me now in the comfort zone of my own home. The Access to Work coaching is now provided by Seamus, who has supported me in several areas, such as adjusting work practises and business finances, both of which increased my anxiety and reduced my confidence in communicating with clients. This has allowed me to focus more on the things I am best at in running the business – providing coaching and mentoring support.

The pandemic has directly and indirectly resulted in a much better working environment for me, with remote work now a norm rather than an exception, which has in turn allowed me to feel safe in my workspace, whilst still delivering the same service to my clients. Working from home has allowed me to expand my client base, as I no longer need to factor in travel time, and that time gained, combined with the Access to Work sessions with Seamus have helped me to focus on what is important to me in growing my business. As a result of this increased focus I have now diversified into coaching other neurodiverse people through the Access to Work scheme and as a mentor for Autism Forward.

If you are interested in finding out more about any of the things mentioned in the post please get in touch.

Sarah Musique

Conflict – should it be avoided?

There are so many examples of people avoiding conflict and the reasons for these are many and often deep rooted.

The first few months following the Brexit vote was a classic case. I remember the word Brexit itself becoming the Voldemort (thank you JK Rowling, such a great name!) of the work place because it brought out drastically opposing opinion.

Then what happened?

Divided opinion led to the potential for people to actually and seriously fall out. The option for debate soon went out of the window, it seemed a more prudent option to avoid dialogue altogether as the ensuing conflict too easily morphed into a relationship destroyer.

We might say to ourselves Well, it’s OK to avoid conflict if it might lead to this kind of outcome…? Surely though, before we decide to put a blanket over expressing different opinions due to the risk it might pose to relationships, perhaps we should first at least identify the positives.

The space in which opinions on a subject differ is where room exists to grow a solution.

It certainly is in business where space exists to become a differentiator.

That’s the place where we can explore previous experience and look to learn from it, or where we can prospect for innovative ideas.

Expressing differing opinions allows the possibility of a different outcome

We are more likely to try and avoid potentially destroying relationships than expressing differing ideas which can be built upon, because it’s too easy for defensiveness and negativity to get in the way.  We’ve all been in those workplace situations where a corrosive atmosphere has dissolved the trust between it’s members and stopped a team moving forward,

If we consider that all of that is likely to be coming from a place of judgement, could we find a way to remove that?

The answer is yes.

Is it important that we remove it?

In business and in this current economical environment, I’d argue that now, more than ever, it’s imperative that within our leadership teams we do so.

How else will we move forward?

Rather than waiting, holding off just in case, we should be embracing the creative edge that healthy conflict, the ability to safely express differing opinions without judgement, enables.

We can show you a new way to get fit for healthy conflict, meaning you have the potential to get more than you’ve ever gotten.

 

 

 

What are you looking forward to this week?

What do you think when you see this question?

Do you want to turn it into,

“What fires do I need to fight this week?”

Or is your answer, “Friday evening when I can relax and enjoy the weekend.”

I’d like to hold this moment in time with you and share the difference that creating space to be present in your work and your life can make.

Last week, I pondered this question. I had a busy week ahead, feelings of nervousness were abound and so I took a few minutes to focus my thinking specifically on looking forward.

Nerves became excitement, worry turned into opportunity, statements into questions and I have to say, looking back now, last week was absolutely amazing for Think Musique!

In honour of that, today I am appreciating those experiences.

By being present in the experiences of last week I was privileged in bearing witness to the beauty and elegance borne of collective thinking with my clients at Embryo Digital. I worked with and collaborated on new ventures with Company DNA where connections were sparked that hold so much possibility for the future.

More than anything, with worry and concern held to one side, space existed in my mind to be both open to, and present in each moment. I now know that last week, I REALLY lived and I want to help more people feel that way at the end of each week.

Thank you – to each and every person who was part of my life last week, and thank you to each of you who now get in touch with me so that I can share how mindset can be shifted and fulfilment can be ignited.