Trust, disappointment, and boundaries; in a workplace setting.

At the beginning of last week, I started a retreat for both self (my own) and business development. This post is a story about one thread that has come up a lot, that has affected my leadership, the contracts we write, and also my personal relationships outside of work. It is a story of trust, loyalty, disappointment, and hope.

Daring to dream

I started AWA with a dream. I am a dreamer. I like to frame this in a positive business vocabulary, in that I am a thinker, a visionary, or a ‘ideas man’, but ultimately, I am a dreamer. The dream I conceived back in 2013 was a world where business was better.

Where I could bring my whole self to work. Where I wouldn’t have to go from one ‘gig’ (I so hate that word), or contract opportunity to another, but instead could work long term with a company or companies that valued me, and I contributed to it and others. I wanted to work somewhere where I felt connect to a higher purpose and that I was nurtured to be the best I could be to achieve it.

I had been contracting long enough to know that this place doesn’t exist and so I knew I would need to bring about a huge shift in business to make places like this available to everyone. The current state of business, management and leadership is unacceptable to me. It doesn’t provide the results we need.

I started AWA with this dream at its centre. To make working life better.

I started looking for others who also dreamed this, and who could help make this dream a concrete reality. I was extremely lucky to attract a core team who have worked tirelessly as a family, embodying the dream whilst at the same time taking our message to others.


I am delighted to say that at 6 years after I founded AWA, we can look back and say we have made a difference. It is good to celebrate our successes and take joy in the wins we make.


The strain of change

In February / March this year, we all had a rude awakening to the fragility of our social, financial, and business systems (and in the US political). The world literally changed over a few weeks into unrecognisable territory. This has had an impact on everyone mentally and emotionally, as well as with what we do with our day to day and who we see physically.

Some people have coped better than others. It is in this coping or not coping, we see relationships start to strain, collapse, or thrive and become stronger.

Some of my relationships have collapsed, and some are in the process of collapsing. Some of them are thriving and becoming stronger.

I am amazed with some of the people I work with and how they have pulled together to continue working even harder on the dream we share now that times are difficult. I am also disappointed in many others who have turned their back on me, AWA, and the dream. These are difficult times.

Trust and loyalty

Some of the behaviour I have witnessed from those closest to me, has left me wondering on the meaning of trust and loyalty. What part do I play in this? and how can I become better and also protect myself more?

The retreat has given me a great place to explore my leadership that includes my relationship to trust and loyalty, and how I react to perceived breaches of these.

I have realised I have a weakness in articulating my needs and boundaries. I don’t ask for what I want or need. I create a vision and then expect people to self-organise around it, if they believe in it. Self-organisation requires boundaries to work.


I have spent a lot of my time coaching leaders and senior management this subject. I have even created protocols myself that hundreds of others use (via my training and coaching) around articulating needs and getting what you want. I have just not been following my own instructions!

I once heard a saying that goes ‘You teach best, what you most need to learn’. In this case, that has been true.

To this end, and to create a better AWA, better results, and a safer space, I have started creating a set of boundaries and well-articulated needs, using the protocols I designed, around how people can work with AWA to create the dream we have all believed in for so long.

This gives me great hope that I will create a mechanism for people to cope better with their relationships with AWA and their wider world, and that this will lead to less disappointment for me and most importantly more effective business for everyone.

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