Role models – why bother?

For all of my adult life I’ve had role models, although I had no idea I did or the impact they were having!

As a child my role model was Ms Carter. My history teacher, my school mentor (we used to have those and that was awesome!) and introducer to Annie Lennox (which then followed a brief obsession to go with my love of black and mens shirts…

But I digress.

In my twenties I found a brief unsettling time where I looked around a soulless office of 50+ people and few people inspired me, don’t get me wrong there were nice people, but no one I could turn to and ask “how did you do that?” or think “Wow, aren’t they awesome!”

Thankfully I have been in tune with my emotional intelligence and worked on my mindset since my late teens mandie holgate leadership coaching and spotted the damage this environment was doing to me and quickly I was back in the groove and my role models were all men.

While I know many will be disheartened by this, I wasn’t. (Back then.)

It was the early 90’s and I had lived a life where my parents, peers and colleagues just accepted everyone for who they were (lucky right?) So I didn’t really know anything about the ism’s that plague our 21st Century world (and the happiness and success we experience as a result!)

Ultimately it meant that I just saw the ethics, characteristics, communication techniques, attitudes, beliefs, etc of these business men and implanted them and it led to me being one of the youngest female body shop managers in the automotive industry – it had never occurred to me that my body could impact on the way I was viewed in the world or what I could do!

Jump forward to Mummyhood and of course my Mum was my role model as was my Nan, both awesome matriarchs, that cooked everything from scratch, taught us to read long before school, listened to every inane question (no matter how many we asked) and helped us to grow into adults.

When I returned to work as a coach over 14 years ago I decided very consciously that I needed to find someone to look up to.

To inspire me.

To motivate me.

To enable me to challenge my beliefs and perceived limitations.

I knew that if I was going to achieve big, make a success of my own business and achieve some ambitious goals, I’d need that.

But that’s where I realised my role model world was lacking. The ism’s where here and with a young daughter as well as a son I found myself asking “Where are the female role models?” “Is this going to impact on me and the next generation and more importantly what can we do about it?” Okay so you probably know I’m the Founder of the multi award winning The Business Womans Network and Founder of The Business Womans Networkthat made a massive difference to me.

Back then I was petrified of public speaking (I mean so scared I would leave the room rather than talk and I severely lacked confidence – yes my self confident appearance and self belif is self taught and yes it means I feel epicly confident to say I can rocket anyone’s self confidence.)

So my role models were amazing business women like Dinah Liversidge (who is coming back to the BWN this year) who taught me about reputation and credibility. Mary Keightley who taught me about power and the hidden communications that damage so many people’s success and then there are people like Susan Pattrick who I’ve always admired for her tenacity, dedication and determination to change the world for disabled people. (I’ve just thought I wonder if they know how big an impact they’ve had on my career!)

However as my own career soared I found that the people that I still admire weren’t right for me as role models.

How could that be?

Did Susan, Dinah and Mary stop being awesome? Did they stop inspiring me? No of course not. But I wanted more, but what?

I’m someone that wouldn’t be committed to coaching and it’s power if I didn’t have coaching and mentoring too and over the past few years I’ve really struggled to find the right role model for me as I’ve worked on my goals and success.

Yes, there’s Oprah (who doesn’t love Oprah!)

And Yes there’s Michelle Obama, but it wasn’t right for some reason.

I started to get hints of who would motivate inspire me in the most bizarre ways. (I like to put it out there, that I’m looking for something and it usually turns up!) Thanks to Lupus and the need to rest and severe insomnia caused by the medications I get to see some awesome documentaries on BBC1 in the middle of the night. Check out Stacey Cunningham the first female President of the New York Stock Exchange in 226 years!

And what a story about Billy jean king and her world view changing tennis match against Sexist Misogynistic“Women are weaker and not worth the ticket price or prize money in tennis” Bobby Riggs (Interestingly for me the match was four days before I was born!)

But still not quite right. So I kept searching until they magically appeared (don’t you love that?)

Of course it wasn’t magic. It was clear visualisation (and not day dreaming) it was;

  • What do I want my role models to do for me?
  • How will they impact on my personal and professional life?
  • What do I want them to represent?
  • How have they changed the world? (Metaphorically, locally, nationally, internationally, industry wise.)

And they aren’t exactly your standard role models. I realised I was looking for role models in main stream ways. With the media’s take on the world (something I’m never keen to rely on.) And that wasn’t enough. I needed to think more abstract.

Me at the house of lords.

Bring forth my role models!

The Cutty Sark – my family are from Greenwich, my grandfather and my great grandfather where in the merchant navy and I’ve a deep love and fascination with the sea. Hence my love of this stunning ship. Check out this ships history and you will see a stunning state of the art ship, at the forefront of the tea runs, changing history, an entrepreneurial spirit to inspire and yet facing such adversity how the heck did it ever survive and not get scuttled like so many other ships?

(It reminds me of my tenacity and determination to achieve anything I wish to. Fire, murder, Icebergs, innovative ideas to overcome extreme situations, the Cutty Sark went through them all! Yep she does it for me.)

Then there’s Leonardo Da Vinci – This man was a master of so many things and yet experienced a plethora of failures, criticism, harsh opinion, even forced to leave his home country but yet he is remembered (and with due cause) as someone that has changed the world. Do you know there are many inventions to this day that have not been bettered from Da Vinci’s original designs? Now that’s awesome!

And lastly my final role models are private to me. They are some of the women that I spend my life working with. I think I dedicate this article to them, because we rarely appreciate the power we have to influence positively those around us. As such they will remain private to ensure they continue to work so powerfully for me.

ACTION; Take just 5 minutes today to ask yourself;

  • Who are my role models?
  • Why are they my role models?
  • How do they positively influence, empower, impact and inspire my life?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Thanks for reading. I’m over on social media a lot and love to talk and hear your thoughts, problems and stories, so do feel free to connect.

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