A photo of Sam Foreman

Ivy House alumni interview

Sam Foreman

Prevention Lead at Aviva

What did you think of the IH programme?

It was unlike anything that I have taken part in before. They managed to create this inspiring environment where you’re able to learn an amazing amount about yourself and how you can fulfil your potential. The team on the Ivy House programme are some of the most knowledgeable and inspiring people that I have ever met. 

How different is it from other courses that you have attended?

On other courses, you might have one or two days out of the office and then you go back into your day job and nothing changes. The thing about Ivy House is that it comes at you in a number of different ways. You’ve got four two-day masterclasses. It’s fully immersive and you feel safe to make mistakes. You’re challenged but there are high levels of support.

What were your main takeaways from the workshops?

From the start, I realised how much I was undermining myself with negative thoughts. I learnt how to simply flip that on its head in terms of my internal dialogue around how I approach situations in a different way. I now use the technique every day. For example, I’d go into a meeting thinking ‘I’m not sure I know what I’m doing here’. Now I step back and think ‘why are you having these thoughts? Is that thought helpful? Is that completely true?’ and then ‘What might be a different way of looking at this that will have a better outcome?’ 

I also recognise that vulnerability can be a strength. I grew up in New Zealand, playing rugby. You don’t really show weakness. I’ve gone through life thinking that ‘I’ve got to be really good at this’ and if I’m not, then I’ve failed.  But being able to say “this is something I’m struggling with” can be empowering and that has opened my eyes to certain things both inside and outside of work. 

How have you used them in your work environment? 

I’m a lot more open to feedback and see mistakes as an opportunity to learn from and grow. I approach different situations at work, whether good or bad, focusing on what I can control. That has allowed me to be a lot more effective and adaptive. 

How has the experience affected your relationships with your team/department?

After Ivy House, I took the opportunity to join the Aviva Coaching Programme and become an accredited coach. I am now  coaching a couple of colleagues across my wider team. I was keen to share my experience, some of the techniques that I had learnt to help them with situations they were struggling with. I would also say I’m much more willing to be vulnerable with members of my team and I think that’s reciprocated and leads to building trust. 

How have you used the core principles in your personal life? 

I use the Ivy House ‘Thoughts + Feelings = Behaviour’ model on a daily basis, both inside and outside of work. I am really conscious of the thoughts that I am having and say ‘do I want to choose that thought or is there another thought that would serve me better?’ and that will probably lead to a better result and impact the way I am feeling. It has had a great impact on my relationships inside and outside of work and how I have approached challenging situations. 

How would you describe yourself as a leader before the course? And then afterwards?

Before, I would say I was lacking a bit of direction. I wasn’t aware of what my strengths were. I wasn’t really willing to show up and be vulnerable or share certain things about me.

Now I’m much more proactive about learning. I’m much more willing to be open to feedback and how I can learn from different situations.

I think that I’m calmer and recognise there isn’t much point in worrying about things that you can’t control.

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