When offered a box of chocolates and invited to choose one, so many thoughts and sensations may govern your eventual choice. You may need to look at the selection description, you may be considering how you feel, your favourites, or one may catch your eye. Or you may refuse one. Right now, you may be considering the why behind this refusal. There is a range of possible reasons; allergies, distaste, diet, time of day, etc.

The decisions we make are clearly impacted on by levels of complex feeling and needs that are influenced by our thoughts and perceptions, our own internal voices. Layer in external stories and our voices can be quietened, or questioned.  When I reflect on this in terms  of the RLE WarL survey and the recognition of  the barriers that prevent women achieving their potential, and consider Resilient Decision Making from this perspective, the internal barrier of lack of confidence, intrinsically linked to being heard resonate with me. In order to have a positive sense of self, and build confidence, we need to feel valued,  listened to , not merely to be answered or influenced, but to hear our story, and be appreciated within a wider  leadership, free from unconscious or conscious bias.

As an educator and coach with a clear sense of purpose  to enable and empower growth in others, to help them realise their story and give it a voice, I am a huge fan of stories, so I make no apology in exploring Resilient Decision Making using women’s stories, or for my taste in films, plays, songs and literature! To build our confidence, and find our voice, we need a clear sense of who we are and what we do, and be confident in our knowledge and expertise.

In the film The Runaway Bride, the title character played by Julia Roberts, chooses how her eggs are cooked based on the choices her various potential grooms make. It is only when she starts to recognise her own preferences that she develops independence in her own right. This may be a simplistic  example, but clear in the sense that we need to appreciate our own knowledge, experience and intuition when making decisions .Having a clear sense of our identity and strength empowers our capacity for versatility in the face of pressure. We can bring our knowledge and intuition to make robust decisions, exploring any areas of challenge creatively to enable us to build on strong foundations.

In times of pressure we often discover new and creative solutions. Consider the creativity that emerged during Covid lockdown. Who knew we’d all find online past times, and children would be dialling into school from home? I might gloss over the prevalence of banana bread production, but we certainly found ways to socialise when apart. We even experienced Virtual Pubs, comedy shows, music gigs, and drive in concerts.

We were forced to explore solutions that didn’t run with the norm,  what everyone expected or the generally accepted view. Considering our decisions in terms of our authenticity, and creatively, can offer a world of perspectives and opportunities.  We should also consider how our awareness of  our interaction with “the norm” can affect our decision making. Are we deciding something because we truly believe it’s the best option, it supports our purpose and direction, or because we feel we feel we should, or because we’re in a place of fear-of judgement or perceived failure? In this sense, we  need to  own our own narrative, or at least be aware of how other people’s narratives affect our stories. How far have years of a patriarchal dominant ideology influenced and shaped our perception of the norm? Is this the answer for what we value and envisage for our future?

When we consider the facets within  the Resilient Leaders Element of Resilient Decision Making, we recognise the importance of creative decision making, exploring the ability to work outside the usual frame of reference. We’ve only to consider how any new learning comes to fruition when we push beyond the boundaries of the known. There is always another way of looking at something, then we can draw on our robust consideration of these options to evaluate our decisions and be confident in them.

Finding the voice to articulate the possibilities, to even create a clear narrative for ourselves and our team or organisation can enable us to negotiate with  the prevailing views. I was acutely aware of this than when I explored the teaching of Shakespeare in my Associate Schools Network. Yes, I’m referencing an established male writer who could be viewed as the prevailing norm, however I’ m also acknowledging Shakespeare found a voice to negotiate with the prevailing views of his time , including the role of women, and I’m considering the options of reading with fresh eyes. Directorial stance, or  individual interpretation can yield a multiplicity of views from a line, or a speech.

We explored Taming of the Shrew’, a play whose themes are massively complex in terms of the exploration of women’s voice in society. In my discussions with the director, we considered the problematic message conveyed in Kate’s final monologue. Kate is self- assured, makes her own decisions and has a clear voice throughout the play, then her final voice appears to flip to subservience – or does it? Shakespeare gives her the final word, leaving the audience wanting more, wondering, uncertain, implying the power of the play rests with her. In our negotiation of ideas we came to a fresh perspective that informed our options for portrayal and in consideration of the themes we wanted to convey.

Owning our decisions with a robust understanding of our rationale, developing creative ways of using our voice and actions to communicate our decisions are key to developing  confidence. Being prepared to adapt and respond in our actions, being flexible, yet have a clear sense of our Yes & No, as well as recognising when ‘no action‘ might be the right option, or adapting the pace are key factors in ensuring we navigate success, or respond to pitfalls. In doing so, we can support our own confidence and capacity to persevere, and ensure we adapt to the situation we face.

Maya Angelou’s words, ‘Still I rise‘ immediately spring to mind. We may be beset by challenge, bias, being heard but not listened to or  judged, but we can draw on our versatile and creative approaches to strengthen our voice, and silence the imposter syndrome.  Look at Elphaba in the musical Wicked,  She’s ‘through with playing by the rules of someone else’s game‘. She trusts her instincts, defies gravity, or the prevailing voice, and finds her own way to fly, based on her own visions and experiences.

Maybe it’s time  to share your song, rewrite the lyrics in your own voice, or turn the pages in your story and nurture what you know to extend beyond your known boundaries.

Who knows what’s possible if we believe in ourselves and find our voices.

In the words of Mary Poppins, ‘A cover is not the book. So open it up a take a look‘.

We have volumes to write, new stages to dance on and kites to fly!

When have you stepped out and considered decisions outside of the prevailing norm? How confident are you to rely on you intuition and experience? When has creative thinking enabled you?

Feel free to share your reflections.

Join our Resilient Leaders Elements taster session

Wednesday 23rd March @ 7.30 – 8.30pm


#IWD2022 @ResilientLeadersElements #RLE #WomenLeaders #LeanIn #TheFemaleLead #ResilientWomenLeaders #ResilientLeadership #Resilience #DiverseEd #WomenEd #WomenEmpowerment #WomenEmpoweringWomen #WomenHelpingWomen #WomeninBusiness #BreaktheBias #IamRemarkable

I work with individuals, teams and organisations to enable positive climates for learning and development. With significant leadership experience across corporate and educational settings, an accredited Resilient Leaders Elements Consultant, as well as a range of specialisms in learning,  leadership and wellbeing development, I offer bespoke development programmes , consultancy support for schools, Coaching and Supervision.  You can find me @BoundlessLtd or email Julia@boundlesslearning.org.uk . I’d love to empower  your story.

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