By Mary-Louise Clews on 25 July 2018
“Courage can become habitual”: FoundHer event at the AllBright
Mary-Louise with Gina Miller
What do an Olympic Gold Medal winning hockey player and a woman who took the Government to court over Parliament’s right to vote on a Brexit deal have in common?
A drive to win, clearly. But what lies behind their ability to continue against often extraordinary odds and achieve those victories?
Journalista CEO, Holly Sutton, and I were pleased to discover that the attributes they singled out align neatly with those that underpin our cutting-edge flexible, remote and flat-structured agency.
Here are the five top tips that stood out for us from talks by Olympic gold medal-winning Hockey player Crista Cullen and remain campaigner and successful business woman Gina Miller at the Allbright Club’s recent FoundHer festival – and how they apply to the values we live by at Journalista.
Cullen told us that the very first step on her team’s journey to the Rio Olympics was each athlete developing self-awareness, and accepting that improvement is always possible. Nothing is the finished article.
We might not be Olympians…but similarly, at Journalista we have taken time to develop an in-depth understanding of our personal motivations so we can emphasise our strengths and – crucially – recognise our blind spots.
Leverage your strengths
Cullen talked about identifying and focusing on your ‘super-strengths, and ‘understanding the personalities you work with.’’ Miller also talked about the importance of focus: “Choose what life you want to lead and make a plan”, she advised.
Our team have all taken time to formally identify our strengths and carried out training around how we can build on those. It means we bring a constructive focus to our collaborative teamwork for clients and have an in-depth understanding of the range of strengths we can bring to different aspects of our work.
We have also chosen what type of agency we want to be – open, modern, flexible, creative – and the sort of work we want to do: making complex issues clear for clients in key verticals of health, research and tech. This is all underpinned by a written plan – dynamically shared on cloud-based tech, as is our style.
Learn from mistakes
Cullen and fellow sportswoman Catherine Baker talked about learning from mistakes on a deeper level to build resilience. “Take the time to really understand where you went wrong and work out how to improve on that in future,” she said.
At the risk of sounding like I’m just apeing Gareth Southgate…all of our team take time to discuss what went well and – crucially – what hasn’t worked so well so we can help each other to learn where pitfalls might occur and how we can find ways to avoid them in future. It’s about recognising we all make mistakes but they can be a source of learning and growth.
Use positive motivation
Miller was at one point possibly the recipient of the largest amount of hatred and abuse online and offline as she mounted her case for parliamentary oversight of the Brexit deal. To cope with this she says she channels Bruce Lee, which means all negativity makes her stronger. “I realised that as long as I am here those voices will stay on the margins,” she said. However, she also warned against developing a thick skin because it could start to mask your authentic voice.
Cullen and Baker also talked about being inspired by growth theory which encourages us to spend 80% of our time focusing on our achievements. This is a learning point for us at Journalista. Reflecting the world we live in, we have maybe focused on the negative ‘burning platform’ trigger point too much in the past. Happily, we can recognise where we can improve.
And identifying where our clients can take on powerful leadership positions to change the world – rather than merely drawing attention to its problems – is a powerful strategy in 2018 and beyond.
Courage can become habitual
This was one of a string of inspiring suggestions from surely one of the bravest women alive in the UK today, Miller. The woman who, as a 13-year-old girl stranded without parental support got a job in an Eastbourne hotel support herself and her brother and avoid social care involvement, says be brave until it becomes a habit. She went on to have the courage to literally take on the entire British establishment and win so it must be true.
If ever I feel my courage waver when doing what I know is right – at work for clients and in life – I’m going to remember her words and what she has achieved and flex my bravery biceps.