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Interview with Joy Burnford
Lise-Ann McLaughlin worked as a successful Irish TV and stage actress for many years. She stepped back from her acting career to raise her children. Once they were old enough she found herself unsure what to do next. In the last few years Lise-Ann has overcome a surprising lack of confidence and is now embracing her true calling as an activist, speaker, motivator and life coach.
You may think, as an actress, one would be naturally confident. Well, no! The two do not always go hand in hand. Acting is scripted, directed, rehearsed and very much a team exercise. Opening oneself up to speak is very different. Over the past three years, Lise-Ann’s personal journey has taken her on a path to authenticity and true self-confidence. Step by step, she faced her fears and insecurities to become a leader in her community and a coach to other women.
Here Lise-Ann shares her journey and her five steps to personal growth, leadership and self-confidence.
Step 1. If you feel stuck, take action. Embrace the uncomfortable.
“What got me ‘back in action’ as it were, was doing something new. I took a chance to spend two days in London at a business event; it gave me a way back in.
As a creative artist, business was not something I had been part of before. Being at a business event was challenging but so stimulating! It made me think differently, see new possibilities. Hearing other people’s stories inspired me. I realised just how many women must be in the same position as me, stuck! That changed my thinking…
This was the first step to rebuilding my confidence - doing something outside my comfort zone. Challenging yourself is so important, even if you’re nervous! Learn something new, explore new ways of thinking.”
Step 2: Look at what you bring to the world. Think outside the box…
“When I looked at what I could bring to the world it seemed so limited. I knew I had an innate understanding of women through years of playing them and from screenwriting and creating characters and I also knew I could throw a good party and bring people together! And that was what inspired me to put on events for women… It was thinking outside the normal box of ‘qualifications and work experience’.
We’re all unique. We have our own special blend of insecurities — but we also have our very own special blend of brilliance.
Most people don’t realise what brilliant extra skills they have. From that starting point of putting on events for women I created my coaching business. You may never realise your potential unless you truly explore yourself.”
Step 3: Embrace your vulnerability. Reach out.
“A recurring theme from women who have stepped into greater confidence is that they learned to embrace and harness their vulnerability. Inspired with the idea to host my first women’s coaching event, I approached a couple of friends whom I trusted and respected. I shared my idea and sought out their help, their advice and their contacts. Family, friends, word-of-mouth contacts, people stepped up to fill each niche. My idea very quickly became a reality.
Every bit of strength comes from vulnerability. If you can share your vulnerability, say ‘I don’t know the answers’ you’ll be amazed at how much support and advice you will get.
People are really generous with their knowledge and always respond to genuine requests.”
Step 4: Get the help you need.
“Looking for help is the biggest thing for your confidence. It is not a weakness. It’s the biggest strength. The confidence that we need comes from inside, the best way to harness this is by getting help and support.
When I was starting out I wasn’t even aware that there was such a thing as a coach who could help you with life choices or to get unstuck or to change your life. I wish I had known.
Far from being indulgent, a coach will sort you out really quickly. Coaches bring support, clarity and a fresh perspective. Successful people all have coaches — successful people always have somebody behind them."
Step 5: Be Genuine. Be Passionate. Keep Growing.
“If you are genuine and authentic, others will believe in you, you’ll be credible and convincing. People are fine-tuned to detect authenticity; they instinctively hold back from artifice and pretence.
We come alive when genuine, caring and heart-centred people reach out and connect with each other.
True confidence comes from authenticity and a willingness to continue to grow. My leadership and confidence has come from learning, learning and learning. The more I’ve learnt and taken on board, the more my confidence and self-belief has grown.
A willingness to explore something new, to reach out and ask for support really does bring change. It has been a remarkable journey.”
So where are you on your confidence journey? Join our mission to inspire one million women to take one step closer to confidence. Just look up and choose your next step. Like Lise-Ann, keep expanding your comfort zone, one small step at a time.
Adapted by Christopher Hampton
James Fox, Samuel West and David Threlfall