“Be Fearless in the Pursuit of What Sets Your Soul on Fire”.
Naomi Ward has started a new weekly hashtag in conjunction with #WomenEd called #FearlessFriday. She launched it on May 1st, the day I launched my new career as a freelancer, working independently which seems serendipitous.
I woke up at 4.30am on #FearlessFriday so excited. I knew in my gut I was doing the right thing. I am 40. It is 2020. The world is in chaos but my intuition is strong and my inner voice is loud. My parents and my sister who are all self-employed have been extremely supportive in me making this leap of faith – they have actively encouraged me and told me I should have done it years ago. I am surrounded by a strong network of friends and family who will be there for me if I need them.
“But what if I fall? Oh darling, but what if you fly?”
I have always loved this quote which is often tweeted out to encourage others to be #10%braver. As I was growing up I have fallen off of bikes, I have fallen off of skis, I have fallen off of boats, I have fallen out of trees… falling then getting up, brushing myself off and carrying on is how I was brought up. We need to tap into the grit, the resilience and bounce-back-ability of our childhoods more as adults.
Falling can often be confused with failing. I have failed at things too, not often, but I have had not always been successful on the first attempt. We need to be more honest with ourselves and with each other about our journeys, as we often only hear the narrative about the destination or the arrival, not the meandering traverse to get there. The learning is in the struggle, not the celebration.
We learn from falling, we bounce back from failure. In the moment falling or failing at something bruises us and stops us in our tracks, but it makes us go back to our soul. It makes us stronger as we revisit our values, we recalibrate our purpose and we push on in pursuit of our goals and our dreams.
As educators we strive to create classroom and school cultures which are safe environments to enable learners to practise failing and falling, but we often do not create the same growth conditions for our staff. This is where coaching comes in, the conversations to unpick and explore, to recover and navigate out of chaos into clarity. I have benefited from mentoring and coaching throughout my professional journey. I am now in a position to gift my learning as support and advice back to others to learn from.
From the women who I have mentored, coached and supported over the years, I know that fear holds a lot of them back. When Sue Cowley gifted the #WomenEd community the #10%braver mantra, this simple phrase captured the hearts and minds of many. The incremental approach to being courageous aligns with the marginal gains theory of improvement, bit by bit. Leaving Headship was my #10%braver, embracing gardening leave was another 10%, taking a pay cut and a demotion another 10%, throwing caution to the wind, with my salary, security and stability is another 10%. Each step takes me closer to where I am heading, as I approach where I should be.
Fear holds us back, and there is enough holding us back and holding us down as there is. We don’t need to stand in our own way as well.
“Your only limit is you”.
I am fierce, I am fearless and I am free. I will fall, I will make mistakes, I will fail at times, but I know I am doing the right thing. I am empowered to make my own destiny.
My 6 tips for being fearless:
1. Know your values
2. Follow your passion
3. Have a positive self-image
4. Listen to your intuition
5. Speak up and speak out
6. Learn how to fail