My Bravest Year: a lesson in female self-empowerment

My Bravest Year, a programme meant to aid female leaders across the technology industry, is now seeing significant results.

Earlier this month, DiversityQ posted an article highlighting a flagship programme My Bravest Year created by The Bravest Path, a coaching and development consultancy. Below, two women have shared their experience with My Bravest Year and how the programme led to overall self-empowerment.

Dominique Lim

Senior Financial Advisor – Acquisitions Investments & Financial Advisory at ENGIE UK & Ireland

What benefits did you get from the My Bravest Year programme?

Over the course of the programme, I developed greater self-confidence, and felt less stressed, both of which contributed to my just being happier overall. Not to say that I was unhappy before the programme, but the programme did help to enhance my overall sense of well-being. This was primarily down to having taken the time to define my core values and set my boundaries. This helped me focus on what truly mattered to me and to what I wanted to devote my energy. By being clear on my boundaries, I knew which battles I would fight, and which I could let slide, so my overall stress levels came down.

Through having a clearer focus, I found I was more energised and motivated in my daily life. I had a purpose to what I was doing, and what I was doing was in line with my values. I also learned about toxic perfectionism and how it was holding me back in certain parts of my life. I now work on setting more realistic goals for myself and having a healthier relationship with failure.

What set this apart from other developmental opportunities you’ve had?

My Bravest Year differed from other opportunities in duration, size of the group and in challenging us to really put the material we had learnt into practice. The six-month programme is long enough for knowledge to sink in and habits to be developed, but not so long that it would deter someone from committing right from the outset.

Most foundational skills training I have been on are usually between three to five full days and are very intense. While I still gained from these, there just isn’t the time to truly bed in all the lessons learnt. The other developmental courses tended to be run in fairly large groups. As a result, the trainer does not get much chance to spend as much time with each trainee.

With My Bravest Year, there were both one-to-one sessions and group sessions, so all participants received quality time and attention from our coaches. The coaches in the programme were given a blogging challenge to write about our reflections on the one-to-one sessions and group webinars. These were posted on our LinkedIn profiles. To be honest, this was probably the part which scared me the most. It was one thing to discuss and present to the group, and a whole other thing to post something that the general public could read! Still, the act of writing helped me really reflect on what we were learning, and the comments and messages from people who’d read my posts made me glad that I shared.

How important was the mutual support/community of the group?

Having a group of people who were going through the same journey of discovery as I was turned out to be far more important that I would have thought right at the beginning. The group was brilliant and non-judgemental. I could share as little or as much as I wanted and know that they would listen without judging. And, unlike my regular training programme, because these were people I did not work with, I found I could be really open with them.

Another good thing about the group is that it was made up of people from different backgrounds, people I would not normally have had the chance to meet through work. Learning about them and their stories was inspiring. And their shared experiences went a long way towards reassuring me that the feelings and experiences I have had were not unique to me and that I was not alone.

How is the programme still having a positive effect on you and your career one year on?

I am immensely happy – and proud – to say that the effects have lasted a year on. I am still practising being brave and seeking challenges that take me out of my comfort zone. I still find it scary but focusing on the small successes and looking at how far I have come really helps ease the fear. I am still working on tempering my perfectionist tendencies, but I have noticed that now that I am focusing less on my fear and anxiety, I have become a better listener, and this has helped me connect on a deeper level with my colleagues.

Shao-Lan Yuen

Founder, The Powerhouse Playbook
little orchid

Impact of My Bravest Year

My Bravest Year Programme changed me on a cellular level. I didn’t know what to expect before it started. I just knew that something (probably me) was holding me back in pretty much every area of my life and that I needed an approach like the Bravest Path’s, based on courage and compassion, to find the resources to move forward.

The programme empowered me to align my business with my values and personality… something I wanted to do in theory but struggled with because of blocks I wasn’t even aware of, like a serious perfectionist streak, difficulty accepting parts of my identity and a need to please people.

The combination of webinars and one-to-one coaching is incredibly powerful. The group activities (and trust me, I didn’t see myself as a group activity person before) create the special kind of support you need when you’re exploring things like vulnerability.  Going through this very personal discovery with a group of powerful women who are also showing up to the journey is an essential part of the way that I became immersed in the concepts and ideas that I needed to practise to make a real, lasting change. The trust you build in a group like this is unique.  

This programme opened me up to a compassionate way of challenging all the preconceptions and assumptions I had about myself, my relationships, my definition of success and what I really want which has transformed my approach to my career and business and helped me find the integrity that I’d lost when I was trying to tough it out and do everything on my own.  

I’m certain that if I hadn’t been on this programme, the trajectory of my career and life would’ve been incremental at best (and slightly in the wrong direction!) rather than what it’s been in the past year because of the impact of the approach. Now I do work that really matters to me with people who challenge and inspire me, and I relish every opportunity to be brave and step into the arena. I don’t compare myself to others or seek approval or use self-doubt to hold me back, which has enabled me to create stronger relationships and shoot for much more audacious goals.  

Because of the tools I was given and exactly the right environment to practise them in (My Bravest Year Programme is like a lovely warm nest and the encouragement that I hadn’t really felt before to frequently leap right out of it), I see myself differently, approach my business differently and connect on a completely different level.  I feel like myself in every area of my life and see every obstacle and success as an adventure to go on every day.

If you’re lucky enough to work with The Bravest Path and its extraordinary coaches, be ready to step out of feeling small and unseen and into your brave, bold future and wholehearted self.

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