Alison Thorogood

alison thorogood

What a wonderful opportunity it was to speak to Alison Thorogood, Learning and Development Consultant & Lifestyle Coach. Having worked in hospitality for 30+ years; both in operations and learning & development, she is deeply committed to supporting those who work in the industry. She knows first hand what it’s like when you have so many people reliant on you and no energy left for yourself. Recognising there is a direct correlation between wellbeing and performance Alison helps individuals and teams to develop strategies to find that sweet spot – empowering leaders to live purposeful, happy, healthy lifestyles! As a transformational coach, she has helped a number of leaders to; identify the changes they wished to make, highlighted the skills they had at their disposal and supported them to utilise their strengths and get themselves back on a more focused and resilient path. What an inspirational leader.


What is the book (or books) you’ve given most as a gift, and why? Or what are one to three books that have greatly influenced your life?

Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath. In positive psychology, there has been so much research about focusing on people’s strengths and how if we get to play to our strengths every day, not only does it enhance our performance but also our well-being. I love that the book comes with an online code to do the tests so that you can understand your own strengths and also some pointers on how to apply them to play to them more every day. 

I use strength work a lot in what I do and people are amazed by it. It’s natural to talk about our weaknesses, but actually focusing on leveraging strengths will be far more beneficial than talking about the things we’re never going to be great at. 


What purchase of £100 or less has most positively impacted your life in the last six months (or in recent memory)? (Brand and model, where you found it?)

I have joined three business networks on the island. Relationships are far more important to me than brands or models, I’m looking to build friendships as well as contacts on the island so getting into those groups has been the best investment. 


How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success? Do you have a “favourite failure” of yours?

 I believe that failure always brings opportunity so there’s a reason why you failed at something or something hasn’t gone very well. It could be that the universe is trying to tell you something, but also, there is always something you can learn from it.

I suppose the big thing for me would be my first marriage. I don’t view it as a failure but I  learnt a lot from it in terms of relationships and coming out of it I learnt about who I am and what I want in my next relationship and I kissed a few frogs along the way! As a result, I was in a much better position to go into a fresh relationship knowing what was important to me, to be totally honest with how I’m feeling, what I wanted and how to compromise and talk more. That has been my biggest learning and I would take that into other relationships as well, not just a marriage. 

All of my leadership development and coaching that I do is very focused on the individual and helping them unpick what they want, what their goals are, who they are as a person, and what are their principles and values so that they know what’s right for them. You can compromise to a certain extent but then at some point, you realise something is out of sync and doesn’t feel right, whether it’s the values within an organisation that no longer fit or whether it’s relationships. There is a lot of learning from it.


If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it —metaphorically speaking, getting a message out to millions or billions — what would it say and why? It could be a few words or a paragraph. (If helpful, it can be someone else’s quote: Are there any quotes you think of often or live your life by?)

“Be kind and respectful of others and live life for you, not anyone else.”

I naturally trust until something goes wrong and I have a reason not to whereas for other people, trust needs to be built. I do tend to think the best of people and situations and trust people and therefore can be very loyal. Although I still do that, I recognise earlier if I shouldn’t, if it’s misplaced or if things have changed and I should either have a conversation to change things or get out.


What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made? (Could be an investment of money, time, energy, etc.)

Retreats. I’ve been on a couple of mindfulness retreats and yoga retreats. I find it really helpful because it gives you time to centre yourself and to really get back into, not only your mind but also your body and for me to reconnect with what’s going on, what I want and to question if what I’ve got in my life is bringing the happiness that I desire. It makes you very grateful for the things that you do have because you have the time and the headspace to think about those things. 


What is an unusual habit or an absurd thing that you love?

‘Married at First Sight’, ‘The Apprentice’ and all of those reality TV shows where you can observe people and their behaviours. Watching people in a relationship, the way they communicate with each other and how it breaks down. It is trash TV that I find hilarious and interesting. 


In the last five years, what new belief, behaviour, or habit has most improved your life?

I did a course on Positive Intelligence (PQ), which talks about the saboteurs ingrained in you. The suggestion is that at a young age, in order to survive in your environment, you put things in place to feel safe, yet we continue to tell ourselves the same narratives as adults. I find it really interesting to understand what my saboteurs were. I’ve got one called ‘the avoider’ but probably the most prevalent one for me is ‘Pleaser’, which is where you want to keep the peace and put other people first, and I can very much relate this to my childhood. The course has been really helpful for me because if I start to recognise that my ‘Pleaser’ saboteur is playing a part, then I can start to calm that down a little and check back in with what is important for me, and then I can have that conversation. 

Mindfulness certainly helps me to tune into that on a more regular basis. All of the research I’ve done around positive psychology and happiness links back to what is important to you and your values and making sure you stay true to yourself. I hope that I’m sharing some of that and making a difference in other peoples’ lives as well. 


What one thing could you do that you aren’t doing now, that if you did on a regular basis, would make a tremendous positive difference in your personal life?  What one thing in your business or professional life would bring similar results?

Getting out for a walk for an hour a day.  I have learnt that in my professional life, if I’m trying to work on something and I’m not in the right zone, then going out for a walk is far more beneficial than sitting there trying to scribe something that is not flowing. 

Getting out into nature gives me perspective and getting that headspace, with the rhythm of just walking, is when the ideas start flowing. I’ve got into the habit of dictating thoughts that come into my head and that is what builds the content of whatever I’m trying to achieve. I recognise that the things that nourish me, also benefit my friendships, relationships and my work. 


Have you ever engaged with self-help, mentoring or coaching? If so, how?

When I was at Nando’s, I was really fortunate to have a manager at the time who recognised that I wasn’t being my best self and I was also having difficulties with another colleague so she recommended I meet a coach that she knew well. He was fantastic as a coach but also got me into mindfulness. Right from the first session when I arrived stressed, he invited me to do some mindfulness practice and we continued to begin each session with this. It calmed me, it built trust and it absolutely helped me to manage the relationship with that colleague. I will always be eternally grateful to the coach and to my manager who pointed me in the direction to have that coaching. 

Professionally, I did a course with the Mind, Body, Food Institute based in Australia (online) and I chose it because it talks about the connection between brain and body which resonates with me. Therefore when you’re coaching someone and they’re saying certain things, if you get them to tune into their body it gives them a deeper understanding of what it actually means for them, the emotions and then to understand why they’re having those emotions.

I then trained with Animas, which is transformational coaching. It is similar but teaches you to get much deeper. The beauty of pure coaching where you do not have an agenda is that you can question, listen, not offer advice and let the individual go wherever they want to go with it. That’s what I’ve learnt more than anything is that the skill of a coach is helping somebody unpick those answers that are subconscious and you just need to help bring them to the forefront. Bringing body and mindfulness into that, even just a couple of minutes of breathing and relaxing can sometimes give you the headspace to enable the answers to come to you. It’s fascinating where people go and the emotion that can come up with it. Giving someone the space to think is so powerful.


Topic: Tribe Tuesday