Episode 10- Conversation With IWEE Sheroe Madeleine Black

Madeleine Black has experienced more in her life than most ever will — or would ever want to. Most people who have gone down a similar road have ended up either dead, in mental wards, homeless, addicted to drugs, or in jail. Few have walked away from such carnage with her quiet dignity and led a life that is, by many standards, enviable.
Madeleine was gang raped when she was 13 years old. She was consequently raped 3 more times before the age of 18. One might wonder how such things could happen and potentially make judgements about such people and what they must have done to bring on such events. In a matter of a few, short chapters, the reader will see how a slippery slope can be created from the horrible actions of just one night.
The events of that first rape were so traumatic, it took Madeleine many years and a lot of hard work to uncover the memories of that attack. She, like so many others who have been raped or violently attacked, suffered from PTSD and numerous phobias and at times debilitating psychological challenges. As those memories bubbled up, she questioned their veracity, questioned her own mind. Could she believe such things? Would she make up such things? All the while, she was doing her best to exact what she called her “best revenge” plan on those who attacked her: leading a good, productive, happy life. But the road to living such a life was long and painful.
So how does one emerge from such depths? And can others do it as well? Madeleine tells her story in vivid, candid detail. Her words are simple and straight. Her story is accessible and relatable, even to those who have not suffered such hardships. That’s because her message is about how a person chooses to recover from adversity. It’s not about what knocks a person down, it’s how they get back up.
Forgiveness was the key for Madeleine. That may sound simple or trite, but true forgiveness is neither of those. True forgiveness takes genuine effort. It takes a real desire to understand those who may have done us harm. It takes caring enough about one’s self to take the necessary steps. It’s not about God or religion or faith or prayer. It’s about understanding the human predicament and coming to terms with that. It may take effort, but Madeleine shows us that it’s worth the effort. And really, if we’ve already suffered hardship, what do we have to lose?

In this podcast, Madeleine shares her amazing story of courage and resilience and determination.

We also share some of the ways in which rape victims and other victims of abuse can be helped. It is shocking to see how many violent criminals including rapists are walking free from court after lenient sentences. Britain has the lowest rape conviction rate in Europe. On top of that, there is no proper support system to help or counsel these victims. Counselling is often very expensive and cannot be afforded by most victims. We also discussed if how each coach and mentor out there took it upon themselves to take on board even one victim and help the latter in getting back to life, the world will be a much better place to live in.

Madeleine’s message to everyone is that it’s never too late to find your voice and that you can learn to be okay. She says that it’s not about what knocks a person down but it’s how they get back up. It’s not really what happened to us that’s important. It’s what we do with what happened to us that really matters.
Madeleine can be followed on her various social media accounts
LinkedIn: Madeleine Black
Facebook: MadeleineBlackUnbroken
Twitter: @madblack65
Instagram: @madblack65
Website: http://www.madeleineblack.co.uk

You Can Listen To This Inspiring Episode On

SoundCloud

iTUNES

 

Episode 7- Conversation with R&R Shero Cherron Inko- Tariah

Our next guest is a power house! From working as a well reputed civil servant and receiving the prestigious MBE rank to writing an incredible book and founding The Power Of Staff Networks, Cherron Inko- Tariah is truly an R&R Shero!
The Power of Staff Networks was founded by her. She is former civil servant and has undertaken leadership roles in various policy and strategic positions across Whitehall, including working with Ministers and Permanent Secretaries.

Cherron is passionate about staff networks and the positive impact these can have on the individual and the organization. An accomplished Chair of a number of staff networks (one to award-winning status), Cherron has facilitated bespoke training to educate employees on the benefits of proactive development. During her career, she has achieved a Post Graduate Diploma in Human Resource Management, and a Masters in Employment Studies and Human Resource Management. She qualified in HR with the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and is also a qualified career coach with the Institute of Leadership and Management.
In 2011, Cherron received an MBE for her services to HM Government and, also for her work in the faith community with young people.In this episode, Cheron talks about the importance and impact of Staff Networks also popularly known as ERG in US.

You can listen to the episode on Sound Cloud and iTunes

Cheron can be found/ contacted on the following social media platforms
http://www.thepowerofstaffnetworks.co.uk
Twitter: @POSNetworks #power
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/powerofstaffnetworks

 

 

 

 

 

Be Bold for Change

The month of March has been a very special time of the year for me since many years. Apart from my late father’s birthday, this month also marks the arrival of International women’s day & Mother’s Day. For me it’s a very exciting time, almost as celebratory & festive as Christmas, Eid, New Year or any other festival for that matter. Almost a decade ago, I started marking this occasion by celebrating special events for women at the company I worked for. I organized these events as I felt the need to do something exclusively for women as- at that point in time, most of our company initiatives; sports tournaments or concerts were more male dominated or let’s just say less inclusive for women. The first year’s theme was Stress Management and I called the program De-Stress & Revitalize. It became a popular annual program for working women at our company and we continued to run it year after year. When I moved to Dubai and started my own training & consultancy practice, I carried forward the tradition of women’s day celebrations and held annual events at many companies, sometimes even at beaches and parks. Each year we followed different theme and taglines. Apart from stress Management, we covered topics like Emotional Intelligence, Women in Leadership & Women Empowerment. As a trainer and coach, I loved providing value by facilitating the growth of the participants and helping these women overcome personal & professional challenges.

When I moved to London, I was aware that apart from setting up my business from scratch, another challenge that I may have to face will be regarding my religion and background. Being an Asian Muslim woman, working as an immigrant on a foreign land would not be easy and expose me to many limitations and prejudices. To my surprise I found out, that it’s not just me or in London alone. Women worldwide are facing a plethora of prejudices, limitations, and stereotypes. In my Interview for Women Killing It I discuss this in more detail. Yes, being an Asian Muslim woman, I have to face more stereotypes and biases as compared to women belonging to other ethnicities; biases that are attached to women from my faith and background alone; wherein many people unknowingly hold the common misconception that we are are backward, degraded and suppressed. (When in reality, innumerable examples can be quoted of women from my faith and background doing brilliantly both as entrepreneurs and as working professionals.) However, on the whole, the rest of the challenges for all of us across the globe remain universal. Having trained and coached women from three different countries, I realized that no matter who we are and from where we belong, women inclusiveness is a goal even the most progressive countries are still struggling with.  And that’s when I pledged to play my part. I along with a group of coaches from Dubai, Pakistan, and London launched a global training & mentoring network called Revitalize and Rise which aims to provide voluntary help and support to women that seek help in advancing their careers, resuming work or starting their own businesses.

According to a report published by Ernst & Young, gender parity (meaning an equal number of men and women) at work will take another 170 years, 5 months and 2 weeks. Whether that goal is even realistic is another question. Though I am a feminist who strongly advocates the idea of women inclusiveness and equality, I feel the latter goal also needs to take into account that no matter what,  many women will always put family ahead of career and choose to opt out of  the stressful life that usually comes with being on the top. And these preferences might make achieving the gender parity goal more tricky than it seems. On the other hand, the 21st century has witnessed an explosive growth in women owned businesses and research has evidenced staggering results of how these businesses have contributed to the economy in many countries. So perhaps, instead of achieving gender parity in top positions, the goal should then be to achieve parity in number of men and women contributing in a given economy be it via working for self or working for others?  Having said that, whether women pursue top positions or opt to run their own show they must be supported in all ways and that means not only providing women equal opportunities in terms of advancement and remuneration but also providing a conducive and flexible environment especially to those that that  are juggling home and work life simultaneously. And I did that by supporting this year’s theme for International Women’s Day which was #Beboldforchange. The website encourages men, women and non-binary people to take bold and pragmatic action to accelerate gender parity. To support the above themes and play my part in Taking Back Feminism I supported many initiatives  which included the following

  • Offered complimentary coaching & mentoring sessions to women desirous of professional guidance in their lives.
  • Supported a Teens Girl Empowerment Conference in London
  • This month, I also released my Stress Management Video filmed by Enterprise Tap and based on my article published earlier in the Huffington Post and Ellevate Network called 11 Revitalizing Stress-Busters for Working Women
  • Attended the Women of the World Conference where I volunteered to support several non profit organizations that are working towards the betterment and advancement of less privileged women out there especially the refugees.
  • Wrote several blogs to support and empower women better
  • Plan to organize an event in April for over  100 women called Revitalize and Rise IWD’s Special with the objective of helping women make positive and bold changes in their lives through de-stressing, revitalizing and reenergizing.

My call to action is based on an article I wrote earlier for Women Marches. Dear Girls, We Have Your Back and which was originally published by Ellevate Network as well.

I urge all those who are genuinely interested in being bold for change and in taking back feminism to pledge to support and inspire women world over just the way they are; Feminism is not only about equality between men and women but also equality amongst women themselves. It’s about looking at ALL women in the same way and not treating some more specially and favorably or otherwise on the basis of what they look or believe in. Whether they cover their head or not, whether they belong to this side of the wall or the other, whether they are born in your country or have immigrated, whether their skin color is different from yours or not, it shouldn’t matter. Believe and champion the rights of every girl irrespective of where she is from, what she wears and what she looks like. After all, we are in this together!

My own #boldforchange actions entail ensuring equal opportunity of advancement for all women, irrespective of who they are, where they come from, what they look like, what they wear or what they believe in. I am a Muslim. I am an Asian with brown skin. I am an immigrant working in a foreign land. I am a woman. I am a mom. And, I am proud to be all of these. I wouldn’t let any of these be a cause of prejudice or racism.  Being these will not stop me from realizing my dreams. I believe we must rise above ethnicities, backgrounds, and beliefs and promote advancement for all women. Read How (you can overcome feelings of self-doubt or lack of confidence in this regard) I will not allow myself to be labelled or treated differently. March is long gone but let’s continue being bold for change for ourselves and for others, shall we?

 

7 Coping Strategies to Overcome Imposter Syndrome

This article was originally published in the Huffington Post

We all experience a feeling of inadequacy regarding our self-worth and whether or not, we are qualified enough to achieve something, especially when we are pushed outside our comfort zone or doing something for the first time. Some people feel the same, despite repeated, external evidence of competence. This fear or feeling is called Impostor Syndrome. This term was coined in 1978 by clinical psychologists Pauline and Suzanne and is marked by a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud” and an inability to internalize accomplishments. According to HBR, common thoughts and feelings associated with this syndrome include; ‘I must not fail, ‘,’I feel like a fake’, ‘It’s all down to luck’, ‘Success is no big deal’

I had these feelings too, every time I delivered training to Senior Managers. When my target audience changed from being local to global, despite having international accreditations, I still thought, I needed to add more credentials to my name until I felt qualified enough to cater to the latter.

And, I am not the only one.

Millions of people including celebrities, sportsmen and CEO’s have been plagued by constant self-doubt and feeling of unworthiness. Hollywood star, Meryl Streep, Dr. Chan, Chief of the World Health Organization and Nobel Laureate Maya Angelou are all examples of famous people who have expressed inadequacy in their work, and hinted the fear of being found out. Emma Watson, Sheryl Sandberg, Michelle Pfeifer, Kate Winslet, Sonia Sotomayor and countless others have admitted to similar sentiments. High achieving people particularly, often doubt themselves and feel undeserving of the recognition they receive. While both men and women experience the impostor syndrome, studies show that women are more often affected and more likely to suffer the consequences. Valerie Young, author of The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women says; “Being female means you and your work automatically stand a greater chance of being ignored, discounted, trivialized, devalued or otherwise taken less seriously than a man’s.” It is hence no surprise, why women tend to question their abilities and feel inferior, all the more.

So what can you do to limit the negative impact of Impostor Syndrome?

  1. Identify the feelings: The first important step is to recognize that you are experiencing these feelings. Awareness is the key to bringing about a change in the way you think and act. The moment you know and say what it is, you are opening yourself to different possibilities of handling it.
  2. Let it out: There may be many others, who share the same fears as you. By sharing your concerns you may find out that you are not in this alone which makes the fear far more bearable. Seek support from those who identify with your belief and have effectively conquered it.
  3. Reconsider your perception of failure: It is okay, to be wrong, to fail or to not know everything: Occasionally being wrong or not knowing everything doesn’t make you fake or non-deserving. Remind yourself that you will learn more as you progress. Top notch teams sometimes lose, the best players often miss the goal, and there are many million dollar businesses that sometimes fail as well. Evaluate the impact of what could go wrong by asking yourself; ‘what’s the worst that can happen?’ This will help mitigate the fear. Most importantly, reframe the failure as an opportunity to learn. Always remember, no one really knows the outcome. The fact that you are trying even when you are unsure makes you admirable and not fake.
  4. Reaffirm your self-worth: Accept your success and be kind to yourself. Don’t shy away or dismiss compliments by attributing your success to external factors. Own it! When you feel undeserving, go back and review previous accomplishments or positive feedbacks. Recount the people whom you made a difference to. This will help assure you that nobody belongs here more than you do. No one is telling you to be ostentatious, but downplaying your success will help no one.
  5. Refrain from comparison: Comparison can be lethal. There are many famous people out there who are doing similar to what you do and even better so why bother; you might as well not do anything at all. But this is not a justified comparison. If you don’t measure up against successful people around you, that doesn’t mean you are any less. Never compares other people’s highs to your lows Remember, these very successful people were in your place once. It may even seem that some people achieve success effortlessly but the reality everyone is facing a unique set of challenges and struggles, known only to them. Learn to value your own strengths and once you start respecting your own potential, you will soon realize that you have a lot to offer.
  6. Re-evaluate the context of the situation: Often situations exist in which you many not feel 100% confident but ask yourself; ‘Do you always feel this insecure and uncertain?’ ‘Has there been a time when you felt on the contrary?’ These questions will help you identify the circumstances in which you did feel in control and what steps you took to ensure the same. Perhaps, the same tools and strategies could be applied in a less confident scenario?
  7. Pursue your goal relentlessly regardless of what you feel: The best way to beat impostor syndrome is to continue taking action, irrespective of how you feel. It is said that if you take the risk and do what you fear the most, then you can do anything. It takes a lot of courage to pursue challenges even when you doubtful. After all, you can never really know how much you can accomplish if you don’t try.

You achieved because you did something different, something extra, something which you believed in, something which others didn’t do, others didn’t try. And trust me, the world’s needs believers, innovators and doers, someone they can look up to, someone who can inspire them to try, even when they are unsure!

Hira Ali is Founder of Advancing Your Potential & Revitalize and Rise She is a Leadership Trainer, Motivational Speaker, Writer, Professional Coach & NLP Practitioner.

 

5 Life Lessons on being a Female Entrepreneur in the East

As a Female Entrepreneur and Professional from South Asia, I get asked this question multiple times. How did you do it? Did you not face resistance? Do you not feel threatened? When people from Western Societies ask me this question, I understand where they are coming from because they only have access to the limited biased information they receive from media outlets. So I suppose they are surprised I am not at home breeding and cooking.

But when people from the sub-continent ask me this. I have two reactions; one for women and one for men. Men ask because almost always they are mocking me (Yes, not all men are like that). Some are genuinely interested in how I did it. I give them the same response as I give to my ladies. Women ask because they want to know what I did differently from them or what opportunities did I have access to that they didn’t. I understand where they are coming from. I hug them or smile and give them these tricks I have learnt over the years as a Female Entrepreneur in an Eastern Society.

So here’s what I have learnt over the years and am still learning each and every day as it comes.

1. I am important

When you are handling multiple threads in your life such as: your family (Parents and siblings), Your Education and personal Development, Your Career, Your Romantic Life (With a Spouse or otherwise), Being Married, Having Children and Dealing with In Laws. It is important to understand one more being that you are forgetting about and that is you, yourself.

I tell this to myself over and over again when I am trying to be super human. I am important. My health, mental, emotional and physical is also important. I am important. Over the years now I know, if I am not okay, no one else can be okay. If I cannot take up my these battles everyday because if I am not me, everything will fall apart.

So it is extremely important that you take out time for yourself. You evaluate every decision in your life first thinking how do you feel about it and how does it affect you in the long run. Saying yes to things that make you feel uncomfortable will in the long distance not only damage you but your relationships and responsibilities in the long run.

2. I am not apologetic

This is perhaps the most important lesson I’ve learnt and the one I share first with everyone.

Something I learnt not just when I became an entrepreneur but also when I was working in a top-notch company in a high paying position. I am no longer apologetic for anything I do and who I am.

It does not mean I have pride and no empathy. I just refuse to be boggled down by what people think of me or what they think I should do. I am always open to good advice and even criticism but I now also know when someone means to help me when someone just wants to inject negativity in my life.

I have finally become comfortable in my own skin and I own it. I own my mistakes, I own my victories and I own myself.

3. I am not Weak and its okay to not be 100% at everything every time.

Just because I cant be a super human and be a perfectionist at everything does not mean I am weak. No Sir. I am yet to see someone man or woman who cooked, cleaned, raised babies with morals and ethics, educated themselves, had a fulltime career, Was an entrepreneur and had a happy successful marriage. I am not saying you cannot have all of this – I am just saying you cannot have all of this happening simultaneously every hour of the day.

As Shonda Rhimes put it ‘Shonda, how do you do it all?’ The answer is this: I don’t. If I am at home sewing my kids’ Halloween costumes, I am probably blowing off a script I was supposed to rewrite. If I’m accepting a prestigious award, I’m missing my baby’s first swim lesson. If I am at my daughter’s debut in her school musical, I am missing Sandra Oh’s last scene ever being filmed at Grey’s Anatomy. If I am succeeding at one, I am inevitably failing at the other. That is the trade-off.’

4. Honesty always

I learnt it when I was a child being raised in a relatively liberal but most importantly unbiased family. I learnt to not judge people, to not backbite and then to be honest. No matter what we did, we were just honest. It made us confident. It made life simpler. It’s not always easy to be honest, but it’s so much better than to lie. Because whenever I find myself lying, I have to keep lying later to cover up that lie and sometimes you just lose count and the context of what you lied about.

I don’t lie when I give advice. I don’t lie when i tell people how it is. It sometimes at first instance may not be the popular vote, but it has helped people to understand me and what to expect from me.

5. I lead a purpose-filled life

I have stopped being raised and treated as a cattle or a commodity. I had the opportunity of not being treated as a commodity or as a non-personal with feelings and a brain when I was being raised in my family. My parents had always had a mind of their own and so did i.

When you have a purpose defined for yourself, goals to lead your life. Small things don’t affect you. Small distractions, quarrels that belittle your purpose and waste your time, irrelevant issues that can be very well ignored; All of this falls in place ONLY when you have a purpose lead life.

So find your purpose, believe in it and plan it. Don’t give up when plans don’t go your way. Nothing ever turns out the way you want it to be. But that’s the beauty of life to do well with what you get. Make Lemonade out of the lemons that life gives you!

I am doing a Facebook Live Session on my Facebook page Maheen Noor Soomro on Saturday, April 1, 2017 from 5:00 PM to 6:00 PM. Follow me there to stay updated with the latest trends in the job market and personal development.

Maheen Noor Soomro, HR Super Heroine. 10 Years of HR & People Management. Talent Acquisition Ninja Style. A Career & Life Coach. Co-founder & partner at my Entrepreneurial Venture Called Mushawar Consulting, a Business, Technology & HR Consulting Firm. A Staunch Supporter of Women & Youth Development and Empowerment Initiatives. Counseling Students & Professionals. I believe in Helping others Help themselves. You can read more from me at http://www.maheensoomro.com and Mushawar Consulting or follow me on Facebook & Linkedin to stay updated with the latest trends!