Whilst out walking in the sunshine one day, I received the news that I am a finalist for an Mpower National Business Award in the category of ‘vision’.
Mpower celebrate women who have decided to create businesses which are ‘changing the future, whilst raising the generations of the future’. They celebrate mums in business and the unique challenges this brings our way.
When I discovered I was a finalist I was excited, but very quickly a different feeling settled in. A feeling of being an imposter; surely all the other women are doing something more special than me! I felt a little embarrassed and went into an internal hide out, not really thinking about it. But then I revisited my mission and my vision. I thought about why I am doing what I do and why I know that it matters. I thought about the people I have made a difference to and the people I am yet to make a difference to. And so I decided to step into it, to own my place and be proud that I have this vision and that other people can see its worth too.
So I thought I would share a little of my story and my vision with you…
For years, I have sat in my therapy room, quietly making a difference to peoples lives, 1 at a time. As I began to specialise in sleep problems and insomnia, on a daily basis I was watching people transform. I was watching the colour come back into their face, I was watching them start to laugh and joke, I watched them develop into a characterful person where before they were like a shadow of their true selves. I watched people with short term, anxiety filled sleep troubles find ease and peace at bedtime again. I watched people who had struggled with insomnia for 20 years go from hopelessness and resignation to total disbelief as they were woken by their alarm after a full nights sleep.
Every night driving home from work I felt this tap on the shoulder telling me I was onto something, that what I was doing could help more people, that I could make more impact – If i am completely honest, I wanted that tap to go away. It felt scary, it felt unknown and I knew it would mean I had to get a long way out of my comfort zone and make changes that I didn’t yet understand. I craved to be ‘normal’ and just got to work and come home without any push to do anything greater.
But I would catch myself over and over again saying things like
– ‘this should be taught in schools’
– ‘a huge amount of sleep problems are preventable with a small amount of the right education’
– ‘I wish more people knew that. So much more can be done to help someone struggling with sleep than just the generic low level advice that a doctor has available in a short appointment or that you get from a google search’
Every time I said something like this I felt another tap…’who is in a better place to do it than you? ‘Why don’t you be the one to stand up and advocate, to make changes, to raise awareness, to help more people get their sleep back’.
Again, fear…uncertainty…it’s so much easier to stay small with what I know.
So what changed? Honestly? My children. After having my daughter my time became precious. I couldn’t give so many hours to my work anymore but yet demand for my service was rising. I hated that I didn’t have the capacity to see everyone who had made the huge step to reach out and ask for help. The ideas for making a big impact in helping people to sleep kept coming but I barely had time to register them. People were contacting me from different parts of the world and I had no means to help them outside of my little therapy room in Sheffield.
Then, along came my second baby and time to reflect.
Here is what I knew:
– I knew that I wanted to help more people get the sleep they need
– I knew that I wanted to educate and empower people to know they had choices beyond sleeping tablets and low level sleep hygiene advice
– I knew that I wanted to be a mum to my two children and be around for mealtimes and bedtimes and to do school runs when my daughter starts school next year. Simply extending my hours in my therapy room to see more clients was not going to work for me.
But the deciding factor was knowing that I now have 2 pairs of eyes watching me and learning about the world. Do I want to show them that you can believe in something and have something really special that can make a difference to peoples lives but you should do nothing with it because it’s scary and unknown?
Not a chance! I want my children to grow up looking at me and seeing me follow my dreams, getting out of my comfort zone and taking one step at a time towards big things. So, without knowing it, they have given me the push I needed to go bigger. To take the great work I quietly do in my therapy room…global!
So, Sleep Seekers has been birthed into the world…my 3rd child! And my vision is BIG!
My main aims for my work through Sleep Seekers is to:
- Rid the world of unnecessary insomnia. I do not believe it is necessary for the majority of people with sleep troubles to continue suffering. They just need the right support and strategies appropriate to the level of their problems
- To provide treatment opportunities through my programme for those who can’t ‘switch off’ at night, struggle with sleep anxiety or have suffered long term insomnia
- To talk about sleep issues openly to encourage others to do the same
- To bring the hidden problem of chronic sleep deprivation into the mainstream consciousness
- To create more basic education around sleep and insomnia – I believe knowledge really is power with this subject
- To work on insomnia prevention by providing education to reach people at ‘risky’ stages of life – I want to have sleep included in anti natal classes, in schools, around exam times in colleges, universities and schools and of course in GP surgeries
- To support companies and organisations to support their staff
That’s big stuff right? I know that these things together could really make a huge difference to the sufferers of this miserable condition, to the wellbeing of millions, to business and the economy and to reduce the number of people who will ever experience insomnia in the first place.
This will not happen all at once, this is a vision and mission that will take some time. That’s fine by me. Currently it involves doing sleep assessment calls to help those suffering with their sleep finding clarity and understanding, supporting people through my programme to get their sleep back to where it needs to be, some intensive 1-1 work and educating through collaborations with other professionals and business owners.
Whenever it feels too big, too overwhelming or like I just want to play small I remember:
– The man who told me he was considering crashing his car on purpose so he could have some time off work, no questions asked (he did not feel able to ask for support because he was not sleeping)
– The woman who emailed me just last week and said ‘thank you for breaking the shame and stigma around insomnia, as it really does feel like it’s my own fault’
– The woman who described the colour coming back into her world when she started getting the sleep she needed.
I remember that I am doing it for them And the millions of other people like them. Then I just get round to helping and serving people to the best of my ability.
So whether I win this MPower National Business Award for vision or not, my vision is my guiding light every day, and that is something I am proud of.
‘A vision is like a dream – it will disappear unless we do something with it. Do something big or do something small. But stop wondering and go on an adventure’ – Simon Sinek
I am on my adventure. I hope I can positively impact you or someone you care about along the way.