Being editor of Psychologies, I am passionate about championing and encouraging women to be all they can be. That’s why I love Dr Sam Collins – coach, mentor and CEO of leadership company Aspire and author of new book Radio Heaven: One Woman’s Journey to Grace (Motivational Press, £13). She’s a woman who walks her talk and inspires from the front.
At 21, Sam had her world turned upside down when her mother died. Her life spiralled out of control and she was mistaken for being homeless, having passed out on a train station platform. Later, fired from her dream job, she decided to build an award-winning business from scratch – as you do! As well as that, she has been named one of the Top 200 Women to Impact Business and Industry by the Queen and is a global voice on women as leaders in their life and work.
As if that wasn’t enough, she also runs the wonderful Aspire Foundation, her non-profit sister organisation, which has had a positive impact on the lives of one million women and girls since its creation in 2010, with a goal of helping one billion women and girls by 2020. How does she plan to achieve that? By providing manageable, concrete ways for women to make a real difference with mentoring programmes that match women who work in charities, non-profits, social enterprises and entrepreneurial ventures with senior female mentors in the small business and corporate world.
So we decided we’d ask Dr Sam to mentor us this month – and she’s given us seven tips to living our bravest, best life.
It’s OK to be a council-estate kid
Whatever your social background, age or experience, it is essential to celebrate who you are and where you come from. Not recognising your true nature is a recipe for lifelong struggle and disappointment, so stop trying to fit in, give up trying to be someone else and adapting to what other people believe you should be. Design your own destiny rather than waiting for your parents, boss, partner or society to determine it for you.
Stand up to bullies
Bullies come in all shapes and sizes. They seem powerful and insurmountable and fill us with fear, but true friends offer an invincibility that no bully can overcome. Standing up to bullies, whether for yourself or for the rights of others, is fundamental. Sometimes it is necessary to fight for the rights of our children, a friend, a team, an organisation or a community. The world needs people to put their heads above the parapet and say, ‘You are not allowed to do this.’ Find your allies and stand up together.
Be an iron lady (not that one)
Sometimes ‘no’ is the best answer we can hear. Questioning authority is often the key to generating breakthrough ideas, as well as creating fulfilment in both work and life. Many of us get stuck thinking that because someone in authority said no, that we must automatically comply. We need to recognise this game – that it is, in fact, a game – then stop playing. When someone tells you no, or that you can’t do something, look for a creative way around obstacles in front of you, and don’t simply give up. You may be led to new ideas and achieve dreams you never thought possible.
You can do anything
We often make work, love and life choices based on what is expected. Too many of us default to our parents’ dreams for us, or their dreams for themselves, and end up in careers that do not truly play to our strengths and passions. This may lead to many years of unhappiness and an eventual career crisis. If you are not doing what you love right now – even if your dream has been lying dormant since your schooldays – it’s time to rethink who or what has stopped you from doing it and decide today, what you will do about it.
Whatever will be, will be
There is a destiny out there for us all; but that is not to say we don’t have any control over some of it. Many of us lose our way and life feels flat, exhausting or off-purpose. When we find our path, life seems easier – it flows – then help, guidance and protection appear when they are needed. Accepting that everything happens for a good reason is an important part of our growth. The fact that certain events in life are meant to be doesn’t mean simply resigning ourselves to fate; it means that our actions are always important in the moment, but we should feel empowered to live life without fear because we are never truly in control.
Make a difference outside of work
Making a difference outside your regular work is a fundamental element of personal fulfilment and it’s part of our responsibility for future generations. Making a difference has varying definitions for people and too often, we put it off for another time. We can make a difference easily if we take the time to research our options, find the causes we care about and believe that each of us, in our own small way, can have a big effect.
Know when to accelerate and when to brake
Resilience is the ability to keep going and bounce back quickly. There will always be aspects of your life and work where you need to keep your foot on the accelerator, and times when you will need to know when to put the brakes on a losing proposition. The key is to be able to tune into your intuition and stay away from your fears. When you know it is the right decision for you, never, ever give up. Tune in to why it is important to stay motivated and surround yourself with like-minded people who can support you and help pick you up when you fall.
Read You are in charge of your direction by Agatha Penney on LifeLabs