Imagine failing at something so publicly that you were featured on the front page of the national press.
Now imagine if, at the time of failure, you were standing at the front of a hall in which 250 men who had turned up specifically to boo at you and revel in your failure. And imagine a journalist shoves a microphone under your nose and asked you to comment about how you felt.
You would probably feel like crying. And that’s exactly what Baroness Warsi, who experienced all this, felt like doing at that moment.
I attended an International Women’s Day lunch in Leeds last week with Forward Ladies. Baroness Warsi was the keynote and she related this story as part of her talk.
She related stories of canvassing for votes, knocking on doors and being greeted with comment like: “I’m really sorry, I’m not going to vote for a Paki”.She concluded that she was “Too brown for half of them too female for the other half”
And yet despite the story related above, there is no way you’d label this inspirational woman is a “failure”. Here’s a very short introduction to Baroness Sayeeda Warsi:
“A lawyer, a businesswoman, a campaigner and a cabinet minister, Sayeeda Warsi has had many roles, but she is best known for being the first Muslim to serve in a British cabinet and the foremost Muslim politician in the Western world. In August 2014 she resigned from Government citing the Government’s “morally indefensible” policy on Gaza.” (source www.sayeedawarsi.com )
Warsi conveyed two key messages during her talk last Friday:
1. You have to overcome fear of losing or it will hold you back.
2. Don’t let anyone limit your potential.
Baroness Warsi would never have embarked upon a career in politics or made an impact on so many lives had she feared losing or allowed those booing men, the British media or social media trolls to bow her into submission – and limit her potential.
I was curious to know exactly how Warsi bounced back from such defeat and humiliation and how she continued a public career in politics (“The bitchiest women I’ve ever met are men in politics”).
How do you keep going when you get knocked so badly? How do you continue to strive for your goal when there are people who are gunning for you to fail? That’s scary stuff…
At the end of the lunch, we were given the opportunity to ask questions.
I asked the Baroness how she maintained her self-belief and bounced back from public failure and humiliation. I wanted to know the “secret” of staying power, so I could pass it onto you!
But I have bad news for you Amanda! Warsi didn’t have any secret formula for indestructible self-belief and not letting people bother you.
But here is what I did learn from her response to my question:
1. She has a clear motivation for not giving up after failure. She believes strongly enough in her own mission and vision that she keeps trying.
2. She has a strong support network, particularly within her family. They give her a safe refuge of love, no matter what the trolls are saying about her.
3. She believes that it is better to have fought and lost than never to have fought at all.
Warsi said that she has met too many women in their 40s – childhood friends – who admit to feeling regret at what they haven’t done: “If only I had…” In other words, They regret not trying – they regret their fear of failure.
I sat at my table listening, trying to figure out the magical, never-heard-before gems of inspiration in her answer. There weren’t any. It was all common sense.
She confirmed what I already know to be true from coaching many brave women over many years:
1. You have to have a strong vision for what you really want to achieve, because you WILL fail at some point – and your vision is what you hold onto to go beyond those times of failure.
2. Your vision must be underpinned by YOUR most important VALUES. A vision based on values that you don’t truly hold dear will crumble at the first hurdle.
3. When you fail on your journey, you are allowed to crawl into a corner and lick your wounds. You are allowed to lean on those nearest to you, who love you – momentarily. But then you must get up, dust yourself off and get back up again.
1. Not going for your vision is most certainly a safer way to live. You won’t have to face the critics, the trolls or the haters. But is being in fear of other people a good way to spend this one precious life you have? I don’t think so! I think it’s better to face the demons and live your life courageously and purposefully.
2. Seek out like-minded, courageous, positive and sunny people. If you don’t have these people in your life right now, here’s how to attract them: Be courageous, positive and sunny yourself!
Don’t let anybody limit your potential! Be bold, be brave and go for it!