Transforming Caregiver Stress into Compassion Resilience

Are You Truly Ready For A Leading Role?

Imagine you are the star of the show.

Your name is called and you take your place in the wings.  You are alone, in the semi-darkness, waiting your entrance.

With dramatic anticipation, the curtain rises and the lights illuminate the space, revealing the stage and your audience.

What happens next?

Do you trust yourself to step into the light, confident you will give a good performance (and equally secure knowing that, should you happen to fall flat on your face, you can smile and carry on)

Or do you hesitate too long, miss your cue, and experience such fright that you give up those dreams of being the star and beat a retreat to the safety of your day job?

I know countless women who have the talent, skills and knowledge to take their business to the next level.

And  too many of those women have sabotaged their success just as they were on the verge of a breakthrough.

Every year in the lead up to International Women’s Day on 8th March, I hear an increasing number of calls for women to take up more visible positions ; in politics, in business, in communities.  (Have you noticed how enlightened women entrepreneurs are being hailed as the next global economy?)

But you know, it’s really not that easy.

What is less frequently spoken about (at least in public), is that many women are simply not practiced at being ‘Visible’ Leaders.  It seems shameful to admit somehow, as if it’s a weakness that we are responsible for.

We are not.

There is no doubt that we are experts at what we do.

But the truth is, a good number of us haven’t been awarded the opportunities or experiences that equip us to face the Leadership challenge in the long-term.  Too many training programmes fail to  provide the resources we need, when they ignore the  sticky issues that exist around attitudes and perspectives on women’s power and leadership, and don’t take account how our histories and experiences shape our performance.   And we were lucky if we grew up with the mentors and role models to show us how to we can take the lead without losing our heads, our integrity and our identities along the way.

The thing is, achieving success inevitably brings demands and complex challenges. You know that, which is why you hesitate.  Even natural born leaders need to build appropriate resilience and reserves before they move out in front and risk being in the line of fire.

That’s why I think it’s crucial that we take care of a few things first, before we cast ourselves into a Leadership role for the first time.

It is, after all, a commitment to a new type of consciousness, a coming into being of a new kind of self, a world beyond the one we have inhabited in the shadows.

So what is the most important thing we need to do to get prepared for success?

When I was a professional performer, I was experienced at stepping into the light, facing the public, delivering a performance, and receiving both critical judgement and applause.

And one thing I learned, was that when I felt under-practiced, or when I ran out in haste just because my name has been called without acclimatising myself, I risked being blinded and thrown off balance.

And in that vulnerable state, it was more of a struggle to find my voice.  I was in danger of losing my place, and my connection with the audience.  And it took a lot more courage to make the move,  the next time I was called.

Conversely, the times I delivered my best performance, I was well prepared. I turned up to class and practiced daily, so I could build a strong body that was suited to the task, and could more easily accept what it was asked to do.

I rehearsed until my movements were embedded in the muscle memory; I could recall them with ease, even when under the pressure of performance.

I took advantage of rituals that I knew got me grounded and centred quickly. I would bring full attention to the task ahead,  tune in to what has come before and what follows, my expectations and vision for the show, and my responsibility to the audience and my fellow performers.

But ultimately I would let all of that go,  and step into the light with a purposeful and intentional presence

secure in the knowledge that the quality of my practice will get me through.

 And there you have it.

In the same way as a performer prepares, I believe that when we make a commitment to be visible leaders for our businesses, our chances for success will be higher if we PRACTICE.

If we practice the skills and actions that are designed for success rather than sabotage, for choice rather than chance.

If we commit to practicing, daily, the kind of leader we need to be for our business, for our lives.

Because, as Bruce Lee (yes, the great philospher) once said,

When problems arise, we do not rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training

Leadership Presence is not awarded to us overnight. It is a way of being that needs to be  cultivated through a lifelong commitment to awareness, discovery and right action.   We need to build a body that is capable of taking the action we are asking it to do. We need to embody those actions so we have them available to us, precisely at the time we need them most, when we are under pressure.

The bottom line is, we simply cannot transform ourselves into successful and resilient leaders, without putting in the Practice.

We expect it of our artists, our singers, our athletes, because it makes for outstanding performance. Don’t we also want to deliver outstanding performance in our business? If so, what would our practice look like?

It’s taken me my lifetime to realise that my daily and business life is not immune to the same need for a deliberate set of practices as my performance life.

I have learned that that we are better prepared for success when we practice cultivating the moods, emotions, thoughts, actions, and behaviours that are designed for success….

  • when we learn how to build the courage and skills to walk onto the stage, should the curtain rise, and to speak when the spotlight finds us
  •  when we learn how to remain balanced, certain and resilient when we stand under the critical gaze,and judgement that the lead role attracts
  •  when we learn how to build the security and support structures that allow us to take off our masks and step out of the false roles we have created in our efforts to survive
  •  when we learn how to be secure in the knowledge that our identities do not , ultimately, depend on the role we play, but on who we are being
  •  when we learn how to walk out of the stories and patterns that our histories and cultures have imprinted on us, and step into a new presence for success.

You are already practicing something. But it is only deliberate, intentional practices that will get you where you want to go, and keep you on target.

Are your current practices taking you further towards, or away from your intentions and goals? 

What practices do you need to let go of, because they are preventing you from giving your best performance?

What do you need to commit to practicing, so you are ready and prepared when your name is called? 

Sometimes the answers are hidden even from our selves, and we need the presence and insight of another to reveal what we are doing that is creating the gap between where we are now and where we want to go, and show us what we can replace it with so we can move closer to achieving the results we want.  If you feel that’s the case for you, then please check out my training programs or get in touch with me to learn more.

And stay tuned…I will get more specific about the meaning and power of practice in future posts.


2 Responses to “Are You Truly Ready For A Leading Role?”

  1. Joolz Lewis says:

    Beautifully written Kirstie, and oh so true. There is a parallel here with having a regular yoga or meditation practice. We can’t expect to demonstrate qualities such as compassion and patience while ‘off the mat’ without having first put in the practice… we take the practice from the mat with us through the day. But the practice comes first.

    Lovely to see how you’re relating it to ‘showing up’ and leadership – thank you.

    • Kirstie says:

      Yes Joolz exactly! Thanks for expressing the essence of it so succinctly and well, and welcome to the conversation.

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