Have Courage, Be Kind

Words of Wisdom

I was asked to do a short talk last week at a Business Networking Group I go to called Scottish Women into Business or SWIB for short.

Usually something like this has me quaking in my boots but I figured that it was time to feel the fear and do it anyway.

I’d been asked to talk about my business and decided instead of talking directly about my business that a story might work better. People definitely remember stories for a long time afterwards. And so I shared a story about something that happened to me recently.

Firstly, I needed to set the scene and asked everybody to imagine this past Easter break where my family and I had gathered together through in the east coast of Scotland in Fife for the holiday weekend.

Elie Beach at sunset

There were 5 of us in total and we were looking for a plan. The plan turned out to be an early evening adult outing to see Cinderella at the new picture house in St. Andrews, the home of golf! I do love movies but have to confess without children, but plenty of god children, I’ve missed out on many of the animated disney movies. So it had been a while since I’d seen or read the story of Cinderella. But of course I know the premise. The latest adaptation has been directed by Kenneth Branagh and features a couple of the actresses I recognised from Downtown Abbey.

In it, we see Cinderella receiving some very pertinent advice from her dying mother. Advice that she reminds herself of before she meets her new stepmother and ugly sisters.

What her mum said to her was have courage and be kind. She wanted her daughter to understand and live out these principles. Her Mum says to her that these words are a A secret for all the trials that life will offer.

Personally, I’d had a busy few months since the start of the year working and launching a new programme, called INSIDE + OUTSIDE = UPSIDE, for women business owners and hadn’t had much time off. So being transported to the world of Disney with a glass of cold, white, wine in my hand and sitting in a comfy, reclining seat I suppose I was receptive to hear those few words. It also made me think if I were to hear those words what would they mean to me? How do they relate to me, my business and to the majority of clients I work with who are female?

I started to think about the word courage which for me comes from the heart – confirmed by the fact that I’m no Latin scholar but a French graduate who knows the meaning of coeur.

heart pdf

And as you know we think of our heart as being the centre of our emotions, our feelings. So we need to be balanced emotionally in order to feel safe to overcome the challenges in front of us.

I checked out some other definitions of courage from some other teachings.

In ancient Greek courage was one of the four cardinal virtues – the others being prudence justice and temperance.

In the Tao Te Ching, which comes from Eastern philosophies, they say courage is derived from love.

I also discovered that Ernest Hemingway wrote saying courage is grace under pressure, which I really love.

The dictionary definition says that courage is about confronting fear, danger, uncertainty, pain or intimidation.

The symbol of courage is the lion, which is very masculine. In fact, courage is often associated with having balls.

As women both in business and in our personal lives there are many instances where we have to overcome our own inner critic. You know that voice inside that wants us to stay small, makes us still feel like a little girl inside and doesn’t want us to show off.

Some recent and pertinent examples of some women who are showing their courage are Hillary Roderick Clinton who announced on social media that she’ll run for the Presidency in 2016. Then there’s the Oxford and Cambridge women rowers who, in April this year, made history by finally being allowed to row on the same day as the men.

The River Thames at Putney Bridge.

As for the second part of Cinderella’s Mum’s advise – be kind. I hear this as not just being kind to other people, which is an honourable attribute, but firstly to be kind to ourselves. This is about taking care of ourselves physically in terms of the practical things like sleep, rest, exercise and good food as well as being responsible for our own mental and emotional well being. When we are kind to ourselves we give ourselves courage to do and achieve the unimaginable. It can be infectious and we can share and spread that kindness to others.

In business and personally, Cinderella’s Mum’s word have courage and be kind seem to be particularly relevant. There are times in your life when you will breeze along and others where you have to dig in deep to find the inner resources to cope.

I’m no fairy godmother but my work with women like you is often about helping you to feel empowered and to develop strategies that enable you to be all that you can be.

Coming from your heart, coming from love, coming from self love.