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Leadership Workshop with Ella Simms: How not to give a f**k!

What do you give a f**k about? Richard Allestree, in 1673, wrote that 'There is no sound more odious to the ears of God than an oath in the mouth of a woman'. He would not have liked this leadership workshop, since it involved lots of women and lots of swearing. He probably would not have enjoyed the workshop per se, since it was all about empowering women - and empower it did! Ella took the group through a series of exercises designed to help us recognise what we cared about, what we wanted, and how to go about achieving those things.

What do you care about? It's quite a stark question. Do you care about looking good? Looking like you know what you're doing? Being considered a nice person? Being liked? The answers presented themselves in a series of votes by feet, where the room split according to how much people cared. Everyone had different reasoning for why they voted the way they did: for some, wearing makeup was about self-care, whereas others thought a bare face showed more self-love.

What do you feel comfortable doing? For many, it was being curled up in bed watching Netflix, reading a book, or being around friends. Our comfort zones make us feel good, but they can be too comfortable, and restrict our ability to make brave, and uncomfortable, decisions. This is when you need to find your stretch zone, which takes you a little bit outside of comfort, but helps you lesson future discomfort. One person wanted to become a lawyer, so her stretch zone was doing a practice interview with a student lawyer.

We are so often limited by our fear of failure. We become embarrassed when we cannot do things perfectly, and so we never try. Ella asked everyone in the group to write down an embarrassing task on a post-it note, ostensibly for someone else in the room. Once the task was completed, she announced that instead, everyone had to complete their own embarrassing task. Ranging from pretending to be a hen laying an egg, to singing, to interpretive dance, each task was embarrassing, and funny, and ultimately freeing: they were difficult to do, but in the context of the group had no repercussions, embodying the 'stretch zone'. Indeed, the best chickens or dances or tricks were the ones which involved the most commitment - it is not the antidote to failure, but it is part of the solution. And this led to the best task of the evening, where everyone had to eat a banana as quickly as possible. It was hilarious, and demonstrated that commitment really is everything…

The workshop succeeded in bringing us all together, in helping us shake off our embarrassment, and in making us more confident women. We learned to give a f**ck about ourselves.

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