How to Bounce Back From Public Failure and Humiliation

By amandaalexander | Confidence

250 Men Turned up Specifically to Boo at Her…

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 )

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!

Tips for Negotiating Life as a Grown Up

By amandaalexander | Raising Kids

My eldest son Max celebrated a very special birthday 2 weeks ago. He officially become a “teenager” and at this gateway to adulthood, I decided not to buy a card but to write him a letter instead. So this week, I have created a (less personal) version of this letter for you with 7 minus 1 tips for negotiating life.

Why 7 minus 1? Well, there was a 7th tip for Max – but that one was all about how his mum will always love him, no matter what. And I figured this is less useful for you!

I hope that that my 7-1 tips for negotiating your life as a grown-up inspires you this sunny Friday!

1. Smiles

Take your smile with you wherever you go. Bestow it generously. You will never run out of smiles – they last a lifetime. Use a great big smile when you least feel like smiling. You’ll be amazed at what a difference a smile can make to you and to others. When you smile at someone, you cast a little magic spell. And your smile will have a ripple effect. So Use your smile to cast a ray of sunshine on someone’s day.
(Just be careful about who you smile at in dodgy pubs or night clubs!)
There are many people suffering in this World, in many different ways. We can all make a difference and the difference starts with your smile.

2. Kindness

The next difference you can make is to be kind and you can do that in so many different ways. You can be kind to the World by picking up litter, even though you didn’t drop it; you can be kind to yourself by accepting yourself as you are and not saying mean things to yourself in your head. You can be kind to other people by listening to them with all your heart, by not judging them and by avoiding gossip (unless it’s REALLY juicy!)

3. Being your own man (woman!!)

Remember that none of us knows what is going on in someone else’s life or someone else’s mind. So even though you will judge others, try to also be curious, open-minded and to give people the benefit of the doubt. It’s a much nicer way of living when you expect the best of people rather than expecting the worst.

Each of us has our strengths and weaknesses. I read a quote by Arnold Schwarzenegger: “The only person you need to be better than is the person you were yesterday”.

Don’t compare yourself to others. Every human being is unique and every single person has something special. Of course, I agree that it can be difficult to find the “nice” and “special” in some human beings, but it is there somewhere!

Practise not worrying about what other people think at every opportunity.This is easier said than done and I’m still working on it myself! But I know that the little inner voice that whispers fearfully in the middle of the night, “But what will they think of me?” holds people back from living full out. Tell that voice to shut the f* up! Yes really – swear at it. Don’t feel sorry for it, just because it’s a scaredy cat. It’s a wimp and you are not a wimp!

The fact is, people will think what people will think and there’s nothing you can do to stop them. You can’t stop people from thinking good or bad about you. Don’t be a people pleaser as you’ll end up resenting it. If you’re going to live your life full out, if you’re going to make a difference to this World in your own little way, not everyone will agree with you.

4. Doing the right thing

Always try to do the right thing. And if you don’t do the right thing, THEN do the right thing to balance out not doing the right thing in the first place! Be honest, apologise and make amends in some way. It’s all about the karma!

5. Confidence

I heard Vin Diesel being interviewed before the premier of “Fast and Furious 7”. I caught the end of the interview when he said that his one piece of advice to young people who have big dreams was this:

“Be confident and the rest will follow”

For the past 13 years, the one thing that I have wanted for my children most of all is confidence.

But there will be times when we don’t feel confident and sometimes life bashes us around a bit. When those times come, I have 2 pieces of advice:

1. Don’t give up, even though you may feel like it
2. Reach out and get support from the right people, so that when you waver, they can remind you that you DO have what it takes. And you do!

6. People in your life

Which brings me to the next thing… people. You WILL get hurt by people – men and women. We all do, us humans! Friends you thought were lifelong friends will let you down, partners you thought were soulmates may well turn out to drain you. This is all part of living and learning. Of course you will experience pain – and the pain you experience from other people can feel as if it is incurable. But it isn’t. Time does heal.

Every single person who touches your life will add to its richness.Connecting with people is one of my big things – talking to other people, learning from them, laughing with them – so spend your life marvelling at human beings. We are hard-wired to seek out and connect with other people. The more you open yourself to connecting with as many people as you can, the more successful you will be. I absolutely promise you, this is true!

An Easy Way to Increase Your Own Self Worth TODAY

By amandaalexander | Confidence

I was in Ireland on Mothers’ Day a few weeks ago; the boys were with their Dad back here in England.The trip to Ireland had been booked months before and I realised I’d be away from my boys for “the big day” only when I noticed the ubiquitous Mothers’ Day marketing messages everywhere a few weeks earlier.

Unfortunately, neither boys nor Dad are very good at remembering things like Mothers’ Day! And I forgot to remind their dad to remind them (anyone else do that?!) I didn’t even receive a text until I sent a snotty missive at midday to their Dad: “It’s Mothers’ Day you know! Not even a text!!!”

However, other than a bit of irritation, it didn’t consume much of my thoughts on the day or afterwards.

Let me tell you why it didn’t matter

I realised that I don’t measure my worth as a Mother or as a Woman based on how well I’m treated on that one day of the year.

Of course it would have been nice to find a card surreptitiously hidden in my suitcase, but that was never going to happen!! ☺

The reason why? I know how to cherish myself. And knowing how to do that helps me to have a high self worth.

Let me expand on that

On my self-belief masterclasses, one of the strategies that I share is this:

“Treat yourself as you would like to be treated by others”

What this means is that YOU have to learn to be kind to yourself. You have to identify your own needs and if necessary, meet those needs yourself first, rather than hoping others will do so for you. It’s wonderful when other people (especially partners or kids) make us “feel special”, but I want you to feel special whether you have those people in your life or not!

I teach this in the context of helping women to boost their self-belief. But it goes WAY beyond that. I believe that it is a key ingredient in being a resilient, happy and successful woman.

I was running my self-belief masterclass last Friday at The Cooperative Bank for their Aspire Career Network. I asked a question:

“Who has _never_ bought themselves a bunch of flowers?”

In this particular workshop, only a few hands went up, but usually there are a fair number of hands that rise in admission of never having bought themselves flowers.


Have you ever bought yourself flowers?

**I have spoken to a number of women over the past few weeks who are living through very challenging transitions** – serious illness, separation, divorce, bereavement.

**It’s at these times when our self-worth – and therefore our self-belief, takes a knocking**. And it’s at these times where looking after yourself in the way you’d LIKE someone else to look after you is a good habit to have got into beforehand.

One of the many things I’ve learnt since I separated is that it is essential that I cherish myself. When you’re alone in the house with 2 kids, you simply HAVE to because nobody else is going to!!

Some Ideas for Cherishing Yourself – and Increasing Your Own Self Worth

Here are the things that I do to met my own needs and remind me that I matter, that I’m worth the effort!

  1. I cook a decent meal for myself when the boys aren’t with me, rather than just throwing something together “because it’s only me”
    Tonight is one of those evenings.. home made burgers, sweet potato wedges, baked tomatoes and avocado. I even garnished the tomato with a basil leaf! ☺
  2. Dressing to feel good, with my make-up on, even if I’m working from home all day and not seeing anyone apart from the boys. I don’t do this every day, only when I feel the need – if I’m feeling a bit “frumpy”. When the boys see me “dressed for the office” they ask me “Where are you going?” and look at me strangely when I say “Nowhere!”
  3. Going to bed early with a book when I’m tired and I just want to hide away from the World. This means resisting the urge to re-commence work after the boys are in bed as well as resisting the urge to look at fascinating things on Facebook!
  4. Building a fire each evening and often lighting tea lights in the living room. Like most women, calm surroundings soothe me and the fire burning away helps me wind down in the evenings. Our wood burner is roaring every single night unless it’s summertime and the boys are expert fire starters! 🙂
  5. And of course.. buying myself flowers.I haven’t done this for a while, but today, I was at the greengrocers and noticed some beautiful gerberas. I love bright colours and I remembered the question I had asked at the workshop on Friday.

YOU matter – YOU are worth the effort

The more you cherish yourself, the more you will increase your own self-worth.

So, what are you going to do for yourself?

Will you buy yourself a bunch of flowers? Get to bed early? Take yourself to a museum? Put your make-up on, even when you’re not going anywhere?

Start treating yourself as you’d like others to treat you!

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