Today is a day of celebration across the world. As a world, every one of us is better off when we value everyone’s contribution and successes when acknowledging the strength in using our power for good and lifting others as we rise ourselves.
In preparation for today, I reflected on my own journey, which I know is made possible by those who have come before me.
So, I ventured into history, a space that many of you know is not my area of expertise. Yet, the more I learn about history, the more I discredit my GCSE history teacher who, although I’m sure he had good intentions, simply asked us to open a dusty, old textbook and read for each lesson. Had I have learnt through modern learning techniques, take, for example, the popular TV series, The Crown, I would have been immersed in my learning, and this from a self-proclaimed non-tv addict!
Isn’t the Queen an inspirational female leader? I have the utmost respect for her as a woman and the power she has brought forth in modernising yet maintaining an effective constitution in the Royal Family. Don’t get me wrong, as all women who are successful, she’s made mistakes along the way – if I hold my own mirror up, so have I!
Well, that’s my first International Women's Day acknowledgement, The Queen. But I can’t stop there, especially if we are on the topic of the Royal family. On 6th September 1997, as I prepared for my 21st Birthday party (yes, it was a bad day for a party), I sat crying as I watched the most heart-wrenching scene as the two young Princes said goodbye to their mother; the fabulous Princess Diana. She was such an inspiration to me and still inspires me now. She had such a strong mind and a willing heart. I loved how she would cross the royal lines of duty and regularly bring her compassionate, wholehearted human self to the work that she did.
"These women have broken barriers, bias and bones to give women like us opportunities that were not afforded to them..."
I digressed, back to the history lesson. I’d pencilled an hour in my diary for this blog – I’m currently into about 4 hours of research, and I have loved every minute of exploring many amazing women who have broken barriers, bias and bones to give women like us opportunities that were not afforded to them.
International Women's Day - Women In History
Here is just a small snippet of some of the stories I found about a few of the less well-known women of history who have helped shape the world around us today.
Just take a look at these women and their achievements, a 15-year-old standing up against racism and sexism, child brides who made the courts of Zimbabwe amend the marriage act so that children under 18 could not be forced into marriage.
A Current Inspirational Woman: Hibo Wardere, Leading The Fight Against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)
Next, I’d like to bring us to our present time and draw your attention to a current inspirational woman, Hibo Wardere, who is leading the fight against FGM. Please don’t stop; read on.
I’d like to urge you to read her painful personal account of her experience of being forced into Female Genital Mutilation. Did you read that line and think – “no, I can’t read about her personal experience. It’ll be a hard read”? I must admit the first time I saw the post I thought “Oh, that’s going to be hard to read and too emotional”, but I’m glad I did, and regardless of your gender, I strongly urge you to do so too. FGM is still happening today.
So on International Women’s Day, why not take a step and make a difference? If you’d like to support the change against this barbaric and inhumane practice, here’s a great place to start The Orchid Project. It could be a donation, supporting education or even bringing it into discussions at work or at home. Hibo has also written an eye-opening book: CUT: One woman's fight against FGM in Britain today.
With this in mind, I thought I’d share a story about how we can all impact any inspired, challenging change by creating a ripple effect.
Save One Starfish (S.O.S.)
Adapted from “The Star Thrower”, an essay by Loren Eiseley.
Whilst walking along the beach, which was covered with hundreds of starfish, a man saw a young boy gently throwing starfish back into the ocean, one by one.
The man stood and watched, wondering what the boy was thinking. There was no way that this young boy would have the time and energy to throw each of the starfish into the ocean to save them all. So, he asked the boy what he was doing. “Why sir, I’m saving these starfish”, he smiled as he replied.
The man said, “But there are hundreds of them. There’s no way you’ll be able to save them!”
The boy threw another one into the sea, turned and said, “I saved that one!” he picked up another and did the same “, and that one too, sir!” and he continued.
The man thought for a moment, picked up a starfish and began to throw them back into the sea.
A couple walking nearby came over and asked the man what he was doing, the ripple had started, and so it continued as more people joined to ‘save one starfish’.
What action will you take today to save one starfish and create a positive ripple effect?
What I was supposed to write about today…!
Well, it seems I’ve taken today’s topic in a completely different direction than the one I’d promised to our PR & Marketing Manager, which was supposed to be an article on women in leadership, my personal leadership journey and referencing some of my inspirators, such as:
Brené Brown and her awesome work on shame, vulnerability, and ‘Dare to Lead’ and how this led to me ‘being in the arena’ even though at times, it’s hard and sweaty and sometimes I just want to (and do) curl up in a ball and cry.
Michelle Obama and her brilliant book titled Becoming, which was so powerful, the sincere human messages and humble background resonated with me, neither my brother nor I went to University. In contrast, many of our peers’ parents were first-generation University students.
Be Bold, Be Brave, Be Brazen
This part is just for you. I want you to be selfish for a moment and think of where you are, your personal goals and ambitions, the hidden aspirations, you know, the ones that you want to achieve but are a little bit afraid of telling anyone about?
I have the pleasure of coaching an exceptional female leader, she has achieved tremendous things for herself, her role as a leader, her husband and children, and she repeatedly states that she can’t believe how she’s doing this. We talk a lot about people’s perception of their comfort zone (below).
In this case, much of the comfort zone expansion is down to the challenge of limiting beliefs – typically referred to as – Imposter Syndrome – for a fun take on this. However, it does contain a few swear words (you’ve been warned!). Check out my video on Imposter Syndrome (Title: A poem about coaching through leadership imposter syndrome).
At The Leadership Coaches, we help leaders make the leap from comfort to stretch and then, with time, the new patterns of thinking and behaving become the new comfort zone, and we are then ready to stretch again!
Ready to start unleashing your leadership potential or supporting those who lead to stretch to their next best?
All of our chemistry sessions are entirely free of charge, giving you the chance to try out a couple of our leadership coaches before your next step of maximising your potential.
Remember, our coaches come with a wealth of credible experience at working at leadership level, so an hour with them is a transformational experience in itself.
Give me a call for an informal chat on 0800 345 7727 or pop me a note on LinkedIn, Twitter or direct email@example.com where we can discuss how to move your leadership talent to the next level.
Brené Brown resources: https://brenebrown.com/downloads/
The Leadership Coaches resources: https://www.theleadershipcoaches.co.uk/resources