• The Centre for Inclusive Leadership

TCfIL celebrates International Women Day 2022

We will be sharing stories from women of all generations and backgrounds about life in and out of the workplace. 20 women – 9 decades - 4 questions


When you are faced with a major crisis in your life and things are not going so well, how do keep yourself going? Do you have an affirmation or mantra or ritual which you use to motivate yourself? How do you bounce back?

  • I tell myself ‘Everything always works out in the end, just be patient’.


  • I say ‘Come on Shirley, get up, shoes on, get moving’ I Sleep, take a nap, knowing that my body mends itself.


  • I remind myself of who is in my life, I have to get better for them, it’s all about my boys.


  • I say to myself – ‘Keep on Swimming, Keep on Swimming" from Finding Dory


  • I remind myself that someone somewhere will be having a worse day than me


  • I watched motivational videos and I pray.


  • First, I crumble then I focus past these things, I ride the wave


  • I tune into my emotions and release them whichever way I can be it crying, screaming, or shouting. I pull on my support network, family friends and people that I can trust and that support me. I tune into motivational videos, and I have a playlist to tune into specific emotions.


  • I have a cry, I assess the situation, I call on support where I need it, I pray. I tell myself ‘This too shall pass; tomorrow is another day with no mistakes in it’.


  • Firstly, I go into automation mode, I think about the consequences and possible solutions, I know I become indignant. I think on my feet. I stay calm in a situation. Fight or flight. Once it’s over my emotions catch up and I cry.


  • I bounce back with the support of my family especially my husband and my kids


  • I say to myself 'this too shall pass, I got through last time so I can do this.


  • I tap my thumb and middle finger a lot as it centres and grounds me.


  • I set myself little milestone to get back on track.


  • I go and do sewing or knitting and remove myself from the situation for a while.


  • I go somewhere and be quiet and speak to God. After that I'd read a psalm, ring a friend, and then do something positive for someone else. I have to keep active.


  • I just get on with it, I maintain a positive attitude with a steely determination


  • I take inspiration from the word, why worry if you can pray. I personally pray so that I don't get into a state that I can't get out.


  • Usually, I reach out to my tribe and ask for prayer and support. I speak to my therapist, and I stick posts around the flat as visual reminders.


Can you think of a time when you were excluded? Do you know why you were excluded? What did it feel like?
  • Recently a company picture was circulated no-one in that picture looked like me, I felt excluded in that moment.


  • During my first year in student halls. I lived with a group that was already very close friends. And were also fundamentally very different to me, in terms of their backgrounds. I felt excluded as I couldn’t find any common ground with them and because they were also quite hostile and disrespectful. They would group together for no apparent reason. It felt awful to walk into a room and just feel immediately unwelcome and alienated.


  • We moved from Blackburn to a very small village in Somerset I had a very northern accent. I remember thinking, I don't understand what the butcher is saying, and he doesn't understand me. It made us laugh afterwards, but at the time I felt very isolated, lost and removed from everything.


  • Whilst working in Bucharest, opening a small new office. During a meeting they spoke the entire time in Hungarian, even though this was an English company. I felt very isolated and started to feel paranoid and self-conscious about what they could be saying. A horrible experience!


  • I have nasty acne which many girls at school didn’t. I was bullied and called hurtful names by boys and girls. That feeling of not being the same is horrible.


  • I felt excluded during the choosing a university process at school. I had decided not to go to university as I am a creative, and there were no suitable courses. The school had no process for the creative children, so I was just excluded from the process. I’ve had to find likeminded people.


  • Maybe I have been excluded in the past but never noticed!


  • When I was part of a team, and we were all asked to be my authentic self. I felt excluded when my suggestions were not implemented or explored.


  • In the playground at school for not being a fast enough runner. In the workplace for not being part of the clique.


  • I missed out on family outings as I was too young, I was excluded from friendship circles when my husband became ill.


  • I applied to be a midwife and I was the only one in my cohort to not get an interview. I think this is because I am epileptic. If that is the case that shouldn’t have stopped an interview as reasonable adjustments could have been taken as it is in my current job role.


  • I felt excluded when I moved from infants to senior school, I was put into the B stream whilst my friends were placed in the A stream.


  • I felt excluded when I joined a new church. I wasn't part of the inner circle. I felt like I wasn’t good enough, nobody loves me and worthless.


  • At my retirement home we have coffee morning, other residents talk around me and not to me, because of my nationality. I feel rejected and want to remove myself.


  • As a teenager I definitely felt excluded because I had nobody of my age. And because of my mother’s grief (my dad and brother died when I was 13). I was never allowed to show my grief, it was centred on her. Nobody ever helped me. I had no sense of who I was and where I fitted in.


  • At school when kids would bully or snipe at me


  • In the workplace, where people dismiss what I said because I was different. I have an open mind, so it didn't bother me, I used it as fuel.


  • When I was younger, I was much taller than everyone else and didn’t have a lot of curves. I was also excluded because I spoke ‘posh’!


What is the best piece of advice or catchphrase that your mum or role model shared with you?

  • "It’s nice to be nice" - people are nice on the whole, and if you treat people with kindness and respect they will treat you the same way.


  • There is a difference between scratching yourself and tearing yourself to pieces.


  • What doesn’t kill you will make you stronger!


  • Nothing good happens after midnight


  • When I am unable to speak to my mother when I had done something wrong, she would say ‘Nobody has been murdered’ Works a treat on my boys.


  • Everything has a way of working out


  • There’s no time like the present.


  • My grandmother always said – ‘Be kind to babies and fools because they don’t know any better.


  • Feminine strength, the world sees us soft and fragile, we need to show the world our strength.


  • You are neither inferior or superior to anyone, we are all human with something to offer.


  • Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today. Make sure you wear your best knickers just in case you get in an accident.


  • If you don't dream you can’t achieve, if you have a target, you will get there.


  • Bring them into your frequency and don't go into theirs. Don't let other people’s opinion drive you. No one can make you feel anything only you can.


  • Always be brave, don't let people put you down.


  • Just be brave and do as much as you can with what you have.


  • If you can't say anything nice don't say anything at all


  • If you can’t say anything good don't say anything bad. There’s so much good in the worst of us, and so much bad in the best of us, that it little behoves any of us to talk about the rest of us.


What do you know now that you wished you were told earlier in life?
  • In the overall scheme of things, nothing is as bad as it seems at the time. What I am stressing about now won’t even matter in five years’ time. When people are looking at me/judging you, they are probably too caught up in how they look, so just wear the outfit that your nervous to wear!


  • To focus on my training and get more qualifications, learn more.


  • Study more. Focus on learning as much as you can.


  • Just be you. You are enough.


  • Breath and don’t overthink


  • The importance of managing my finances.


  • That I am very capable, more capable, and stronger than I knew myself, I can anything.


  • Just be your beautiful self – Be authentic and don’t let the label define you. Take the lead that’s what we do.


  • Not everyone will like you and you will not like everyone, that’s OK even if they are family. Don't give up good friends for anyone or anything.


  • That I should stand up for myself


  • To not try and please everyone because you can't. You can't control everything


  • Not to take things so personally and not to overanalyse everything.


  • To take each day as it comes and live in the moment.


  • All about the facts of life.


  • Pay much more attention at school.


  • To listen more. There were things that I was told earlier in life that I ignored! As life has gone on, I recall these things which maybe could have altered my destination.


  • That I am enough and that it is OK to be exactly where I am in life.