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Doing the inner work, to do the outer work.

In May 2021, I saw a twitter post by Hannah Wilson @Ethical_Leader on twitter. It was a reply to Adrian McClean @Character_guy about the importance of ‘doing the inner work, to do the outer work’. It went on to say ‘We need to get comfortable with the uncomfortable’

This really resonated with me. At the time I did not feel like I was being my authentic self as a leader. I was increasingly aware that I was presenting in a way I was taught to be not the way I wanted to be.

As a leader, it can be really easy to get caught up in trying to please everyone. We often forget that it’s important to stay true to ourselves, leaders don’t often get time for self-care. With the pressures of leadership and constant KPI’s, we often forget who we are.

The post reminded me of a question the ex-paralympian and disabilty rights advocate, Elizabeth Wright asked me when she coached me as part of Diana Osagie’s ‘Academy of Womens Leadership’ programme a few years prior. Her question to me was “How does your inner and outer align?”. At the time I answered, “It doesnt”.

Again, as you do, I thought about it and forgot about it.

Then in April 2022, just over a year later I listened to The SecEd Podcast: Diversity & Equality in schools.

It lead me to write the following tweet-

@SecEd_Education just catching up on your brilliant podcast with

What tips do you have on doing the inner work so that you can do the outer work? Such an important point. #inclusion#diversity#inclusion#equity

Hannah responded-

“Saw this on someone’s feed this morning – stopping, looking in the mirror, reflecting and processing how we are/ have been part of the problem we trying to challenge/change. Constant soul-searching and gap filling!” #DiverseEd

Again, I thought about it but once again, didn’t commit to doing the work.

Little did I know that a month later my whole professional world would change and I was forced on a journey to become more authentically me.

The Start of the Journey

To start being authentic I had to remind myself of my core values, purpose, beliefs and re-evaluate what matters most to me. I wouldn’t recommend doing this without support but as always I started with internet scrolls and connecting with people who did work around this topic.

A few months down the road from truly committing to this journey I wrote the following tweet-

“When people talk to you about their lived experiences believe them, support them and commit to change. There’s nothing wrong with admitting you’ve got inner work to do both as an individual and as an organisation. We all have!

What I’ve Learnt

Now I would recommend to anyone to do the inner work by taking the following steps:

1. Start by questioning, asking yourself whether your inner and outer align.

2.Do some research and buy some books. I started with the aunties, Oprah and Michelle.

I’m a spiritual person so I found ‘The Inner Work’ by Mat & Ash useful.

3.Connect with like minded people. Review/expand your support networks and social media connections. Twitter is a great space for learning and Linkedin is great for connecting.

4. Get support, a therapist if you can. At the time I couldn’t afford one but a good friend of mine gifted me a session with a great therapist called Nike Lawal. She has helped me in more ways than one, she has some very useful connections. ; )

Not Everyone Is Your People

It’s important to remember that not everyone is going to be your people, even if they seem to play an important role in our lives and you will find allies in surprising places.

Learning this has been the most traumatic part for me. I have lost people who were not genuine and some who had been using me for a long time, that’s been hard.

Some people cut off contact with me or instructed others to do so. I’m a sociable person so forced isolation was painful.

Now by being more authentic and lessening people pleasing, I’m learning to be more aware of gaslighting and fake behaviour.

Aligning with Your Values Now I understand what matters to me the most, I’m working on aligning with those values in everything that I do, setting boundaries (particularly professionally) and saying no.

Question Yourself and your Purpose

Affirmations and reconnecting deeper with my faith has reminded me to question myself and the decisions I make. I have to ask myself whether the path I’m choosing to take aligns with my purpose.

Where I am now

Being authentic doesn’t come easily for everyone, especially when you have had sketchy role models or no role models at all. It takes patience and practice and sometimes some painful experiences that we cant avoid, no matter how much we try.

Now I’m learning how to both remember who I am and remain true to who I am. At the same time being kinder to myself.

This appears to be leading me down a path of greater fulfilment and success—both professionally and personally.

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