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

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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
Twitter: @POSNetworks #power
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/powerofstaffnetworks






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.


11 Revitalizing Stress-Busters for Working Women

This post of mine was originally published in The Huffington Post

Stress has been dubbed as the “Health Epidemic of the 21st Century” by the World Health Organization. Being a Leadership Trainer at a multinational pharmaceutical, I first developed a program to address this epidemic, eight years ago. I called it ‘De-stress & Revitalize Your Soul’ and exclusively dedicated it to women in my company. The program went on to become an annual flagship program and to date remains one of my most popular training sessions amongst clients. However, I was asked the question then and am still asked the same many question years later; ‘Why only women?’ Well firstly, being a woman myself, I relate more. And secondly, I firmly believe that women juggle multiple responsibilities in hand, much more than men do and are hence more susceptible to stress. It’s not only about multi- tasking; in any given day working women are required to run a ‘multi-track mind’ as well, rapidly switching between tasks that are often varied and quite different from each other. Managing both work and home is a responsibility traditionally passed on to us and there is usually an unsaid expectation to flex our schedule and realign commitments more than our partner needs to or is required to do. According to HBR, women experience more stress at work because, on top of domestic responsibilities, we must also contend with stereotype threat at work-a phenomenon unknown to men.

The right kind of stress also known as positive stress/ eustress can be beneficial as it can challenge and motivate us. However, it is usually bad stress/ distress that we fall victim to. As debilitating as it may sound, the good news is that there are many simple ways through which we can minimize the negative impact of stress. Listened below are 11 revitalizing, stress-busters which, if practiced regularly can make bad stress, a thing of the past! Here they go:

  1. Train your brain to think ‘I CAN’: The brain will always do as it’s told. If you keep telling yourself that you can achieve something, you will be amazed to see how well your brain cooperates in reaching that goal.
  2. Stay positive: Negative feelings sap energy and set up a self-perpetuating cycle of disappointment, worry, and regret. Enhance your self-worth by affirming your positive characteristics and repeating positive statements about yourself.
  3. Set attainable life goals: Break long-term goals into small attainable sub-goals or steps. Reward yourself after each step to stay motivated and on track. Breaking down your journey into smaller milestones and celebrating them will give you a sense of purpose too and, who doesn’t like celebrating, every now and then anyway!
  4. Laugh heartily, very often: Laughter is the best therapy out there! Moreover, it’s free! It gives your heart and lungs a good workout and research indicates that laughter releases feel-good brain chemicals which in turn lower the blood pressure, relax the muscles as well as reduce pain and stress hormones.
  5. Start a gratitude journal. Remember the deprived ones and wake up each day thanking God for even the less obvious blessings. Pain easily overshadows joy; we are quick to point out what didn’t work. What went good, however, takes time, because most likely it is something we commonly take for granted.
  6. Spend time with loved ones. Spending time with loved ones and bonding with them over coffee/ dinner or even a Skype call gives you emotional support and distracts the mind from the daily grind. Take time to enjoy with children, play with them, and act silly; their enthusiasm and vitality will rub off on you. Plan nights out with your spouse/ friends or order in, snuggle and watch a movie. You will never feel more relaxed!
  7. Nurture a hobby: Invest time in doing something you enjoy such as painting, cooking or anything that excites you. When you spend some time of the day or even week, doing something you are passionate about, your soul is invigorated and you feel an inner sense of satisfaction and contentment which no other therapy can substitute.
  8. Meditate and/ or practice Mindfulness: Take 10 to 15 minutes each day to just sit by yourself and let your mind float. Meditation de-clutters the mind, helps you unwind & boosts mood and immunity. Mindfulness helps you focus on the present moment rather than worrying about the past or dwelling on regrets. Indulge yourself with a luxurious warm bath or light up some scented candles, close your eyes and allow your mind and body to drift.
  9. Treat yourself once in a while: Retail therapy is overrated. I would opt for the spa therapy any day. Go to the salon and pamper yourself with a good massage, or even a makeover. If the spa doesn’t fancy you much, treat yourself to anything else that stimulates you. It doesn’t have to be expensive. Travelling & going to new places is another great option which promotes self-awareness and personal development and overall, makes you a happier person.
  10. Exercise: Any form of exercise, be it, dancing, yoga, walking or even daily stretches at work will certainly make you healthier. It doesn’t have to be an hour or forty-five minutes. Even twenty minutes of being active and following a fun exercise regimen are enough to improve circulation and kick start your metabolism in the right direction.
  11. Just feel good; Anytime, Anywhere, ALWAYS: Do not let the weather or anything else, influence your mood. Be in charge of your own happiness & always look forward to the good, which is yet to come.

It’s important to understand that it’s okay to fret and panic. It’s okay to vent out too. It’s also okay to sometimes get your super-heroic cape tangled in the stress trap but when it does, just take a break to untangle and step back. Breathe in deeply, lift your chin and continue marching forward with your cape flying nice and high. PS: don’t forget to breathe out! 😉

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

Twitter: Coaching & Mentoring @ advancing you