Today my blog guest is Sue Ritchie. Here’s the story of her business in her own words:
I started my business three and a half years ago when I moved back to the UK after living in South East Asia and Central America. I’d moved to Borneo with my young son when I was a single mum in 2002 and it was the best – and scariest – thing I ever did. I’d gone to work as a teacher out there, and had to settle into a new culture, make new friends and build a new life from scratch. I learned a lot about being visible, making myself heard, how to manage my impact in new situations and harness an inner strength and resilience, both personally and professionally.
Both my son and I flourished in those eight years overseas, and I knew when we moved back to the UK that I wanted to work with women to help them step up and make the most of themselves. The time was right for a career change, and building on my twenty years’ experience in education, both as a classroom practitioner and team leader, I retrained and set up my Executive Coaching and Training business as well as writing my first book, published last year.
I was shocked when I began to meet so many women who were living with a sense of regret. What they really wanted to achieve was something they saw as being unreachable, because they were scared of taking risks and didn’t understand how to feel more powerful and get themselves noticed. They felt sidelined and ignored, powerless and as though they were underachieving. I met women who wanted to shout ‘What about me?!’ from the rooftops when it came to promotions or new opportunities at work, but felt unable to do so. Women who felt like a frauds at work, or who were intimidated by people they perceived to be more powerful than them. Or women who had taken the step to get that promotion but then became crippled with self doubt and a sense of overwhelm – they didn’t know how to ‘be’ the leader they now were, losing confidence in themselves very quickly and shrinking into the background instead of striding out and taking their new position with pride.
I knew that they didn’t have to move to the other side of the world to change the way they felt – the answers were much closer to home. And this became my mission – to help these wonderful women achieve more than they thought possible, by helping them to understand their strengths, learn to assert themselves more, worry less about the effect that being assertive would have on relationships and understand that being good at what they do isn’t enough.
Managing your presence and personal impact are key to success at work, as is being visible and learning how to build a network that works for you. I’ve learned these things over the last ten years or so, both in my move overseas, but also in my journey as a businesswoman, establishing myself here in Lincoln where I knew two people when we moved. I now have a thriving business and a personal and professional network that I have consciously built up over the last four years.
My next move, and the thing I am getting very excited about is establishing my coaching practice in Central London, where I’ll be working with women on a 1:1 basis as well as running workshops. A Woman of Power is a workshop for women who want more voice and visibility at work and I’ll be running this in London in late September. Past delegates have got promotions as a direct result of attending the workshop so I’m very excited about the possibilities this next one holds for the women who will attend.
I was 36 when I made the move that changed my life; I want to tell women that change is possible whatever your age or circumstances. It’s not always easy to start, but once you do, you’ll see the difference a few small changes can make, and you’ll be on your way. Life is a constant cycle of change, reflection, planning and change…we never stand still. I’m 48 now and still thinking about what I want to achieve and making plans to change the bits of my life that will enable that to happen. I make mistakes and get it wrong sometimes, but I know that nothing needs to be forever and changing our minds is allowed.
And so is changing our perception of who we are, allowing that strong, powerful woman to shine through and take her rightful place at the table. It’s never too late, Ladies!
Follow Sue on Twitter: @SusanJRitchie
Like Sue on Facebook: Facebook.com/YouTimeCoaching
Sue is a member of my Coaching Club 100. Join during August and save 50%. Swell the ranks of our fabulous group of women for a very affordable £100 a month. Prices rise on 1st September 2014 so now’s the time to join.