How Inspirational Are You?

If you’ve looked at my Inspirational Women section, or receive my regular newsletter, you will see that I have a series of interviews with women all chosen to inspire YOU! I know from the many emails you send me that they do inspire you, and that you love the series. Thank you!

So I thought it might be fun if I asked you some of the questions. Please choose one or two to answer and share with other readers via the comments section of  the blog. Don’t compare, never compare. You are unique. Something you have to say might just be the magic push someone else needs to make a significant change in their life!

Here are some typical interview questions that I ask of my Inspirational Women. Answer them honestly about yourself, no hiding of lights!

Your Questions

1) What was your very first paid job, and do you use any skills you acquired then in your present role?

2) Which person had had the biggest influence in your life so far?

3) What is the best piece of advice you have been given?

4) What is the best piece of advice you have ever given and to whom?

5) Have you ever encountered sexism in your working or personal life and if so, how did you deal with it?

6) How do you relax?

7) Did you plan your career/life or have events just happened?

8) What has been your best mistake and why?

9) What is the best thing for you when you’re feeling stressed?

10) What is your favourite saying, or piece of poetry, or book?

11) What has been your biggest achievement to date, the thing in your life that you are most proud of?

12) If you could change one thing in your life right now, what would it be?

Even if you don’t want to share any of your answers, do have a go at the questions. And forward this link to anyone you think would enjoy answering them too. I think you’ll end up inspiring yourself! In my experience, most women are very good at underselling themselves and it takes an exercise like this that makes you realise just how WONDERFUL YOU ARE!

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Posted on September 7th, 2010 by

22 Responses to “How Inspirational Are You?”

  1. There are no easy questions on that list for me, Jane. You asked me to stop by and answer a couple…

    How do I relax?
    I basically don’t relax, I tend to push until I can’t go any more and than I either go to bed or take a nap. I zone out with drama shows on the TV but I always have something else with me when I do… the laptop or my Daytimer. Zoning out isn’t necessarily relaxing though. I used to read fiction but I don’t anymore mainly because I don’t have the type of books I like available.

    I am very much planning my career right now. But there was a time when I let it plan me. If I was to think about it more, I would spend more time some years ago saying, what if? and then once I knew the options, I would have done things differently.

    So – client in an hour… enough for now.

    • Jane says:

      I know you are a really hard worker, Julie, but if I were closer I also know I’d be nagging you to ease up now and again and give yourself a break! Bit if it works for you…..
      I think it’s great that you are paying attention to your career and it certainly shows; your clients are certainly reaping the benefits. Thanks Julie!

  2. I figured that out when I wrote it… (that you would nag me) Christine wrote about how we use work to avoid ourselves recently. I think that has been my pattern. Right now, it seems that every turn brings another challenge financially. I’ve developed an attitude of “you can’t push me down” lately…

  3. Shona Easton says:

    1) The first thing I can remember getting paid for was when at age 12(ish) I used to hand make little leather neck purses and sell them to my friends at school. We use to keep our dinner money in them. Now I’ve ended up running my own business and being a handbag & leathergoods designer!

    6) Day to day – at the end of the day, I relax by cooking. I really love inventing new recipes. The only trouble is I never write them down! Even more ideal relaxation would be reading a great book while lying by the sea, somewhere hot!

    OK, one more. This has been the most difficult to admit but:
    8) My best mistake was probably to marry my (long time now: ex) French husband. At least I can now speak French and have great friends over the channel!

    Phew, I’ve done it, because you asked so nicely Jane!

    • Jane says:

      Shona, lovely replies, thank you! And how amazing that your first job has led to your current one. You were a child entrepreneur! And I now know where to come when my French lets me down!! Brilliant. Jane

  4. 1) What was your very first paid job, and do you use any skills you acquired then in your present role?

    My first permanent and paid job was as a nurse. Part of that saw me, almost by design rather than default, support some of the psychiatric patients in an art and music therapy/appreciation environment, where we would discuss music and art, often sharing our own creations and favourite works/albums/songs over copious amounts of hot tea. I think I carry the skills from this in my current capacity as an IT Support Specialist, especially in the Assistive Technology field – an important element of my role here at the London School of Economics. It’s a useful icebreaker for nervous and stressed IT users, panicking about potentially lost work and looming deadlines – and certainly beats talking about the bloody weather!

    2) Which person had had the biggest influence in your life so far?

    Easy – my girlfriend, Margret – who quickly challenged my less-appropriate and unhealthy perceptions of who I am and what makes me the man I am today, and nurtured me with love and affection so strong, I can now look in the mirror – an activity I avoided at all costs previously – and feel okay with what I see.

    3) What is the best piece of advice you have been given?

    Stick to what you know, and don’t deviate. Your friends don’t need it and your adversaries wouldn’t appreciate it anyway.

    4) What is the best piece of advice you have ever given and to whom?

    To whom must remain private – but the advice involved acting with caution around a notorious emotional vampire. It paid off.

    5) Have you ever encountered sexism in your working or personal life and if so, how did you deal with it?

    Far too often. This sickens and saddens me enormously, the progressive meritocrat that I am.

    6) How do you relax?

    Long walks, long rides on horseback, preferably on a beach somewhere, and painting – canvas, not walls.

    7) Did you plan your career/life or have events just happened?

    Events just happened, definitely. Whilst I never knew what I really wanted to do with my career, I knew for certain what I did not wish to do, and that was anything my parents had in mind. Life, on the other hand – I take each day as it comes….

    8) What has been your best mistake and why?

    I endeavour to learn from all my mistakes. Getting married for several reasons, most of them not the right ones, challenged me enormously, but left me a lot wiser later – after the necessary divorce, that is.

    9) What is the best thing for you when you’re feeling stressed?

    Long walks alone, most definitely alone, and anything involving horses. Sadly, I am unable to paint or be creative when stressed, even though I suspect this would be a very useful and cathartic outlet for me.

    10) What is your favourite saying, or piece of poetry, or book?

    In Memorium by Alfred Lord tennyson – ’tis held that sorrow makes us wise. That, and anything by Sylvia Plath. yes, really.

    11) What has been your biggest achievement to date, the thing in your life that you are most proud of?

    Surviving childhood and adolescence is one area of my past I never thought I’d manage, but here I am, nonetheless. Getting my job at the LSE is a more recent achievement I feel pleased about. Long term – and quite superficial, really – competing against some of the more established equestrians in show jumping often makes me feel happier.

    12) If you could change one thing in your life right now, what would it be?

    My postcode.

    • Jane says:

      Sebastian, thanks! A good mix of daft and sensible stuff here – like life really! If you need any coaching about that vampire phase though…..

  5. 1) What was your very first paid job, and do you use any skills you acquired then in your present role?

    My first job was working at a retail clothing store. I learned a lot there but the one thing I’ll always take with me is that details matter. Doing anything halfway is time wasted.

    2) Which person had had the biggest influence in your life so far?

    My boss at my last job had a huge impact on my life. In fact, she changed my career path altogether to help me find something I absolutely adore doing (social media). While at the time it was an enormous challenge and one I didn’t believe I could accomplish, it has turned out to be the best thing that ever happened in my career to date.

    3) What is the best piece of advice you have been given?

    Have your resume up to date and your head on straight.

    • Jane says:

      Many thanks Katrina, fascinating stuff. You sound like you had a ‘gardener’ manager, one who helped you grow and thrive, which is brilliant. And Monster.com is a great place to be for social media!! Jane 🙂

  6. Here are some answers to a few of the questions, I’ll have to think about the others.

    1) What was your very first paid job, and do you use any skills you acquired then in your present role?
    My first paying job was helping around the house, I used to work for my pocket money and this set the tone that money doesn’t appear out of no where, you have to work for it.

    2) Which person had had the biggest influence in your life so far?
    Definitely my Dad, he is an amazing man and through his encouragement and guidance has helped me through most of the big decisions in my life.

    3) What is the best piece of advice you have been given?
    From my great aunt and uncle on marriage: learn to live your married life always investing and loving into your spouse, try to make them the best man, father, friend, lover, person that they can be. When you show this kind of love you stop looking at yourself but build up your partner to be everything that he can be. And in the right union, your spouse will be doing the same. Imagine the possibilities with that kind of love and energy flowing into two people willingly.

    11) What has been your biggest achievement to date, the thing in your life that you are most proud of?
    Graduating from college and growing in my career. I never imagined I would be where I am today.

  7. Anelia Wirtz says:

    What was your very first paid job? I started waitressing at age 13 (the rules back in sunny South Africa were a bit lax in those days!) I continued through to my 20’s – it was always a 2nd or 3rd job for me. It taught me that customer service is key at all times & that the little things you do don’t go unnoticed.
    Did you plan your career/life or have events just happened? I have always been a dreamer / planner and tried to pursue them as much as I could. At times the plans have altered or evolved, but I don’t believe I would have ended up where I am if I didn’t have clear goals set out and knew in what direction I wanted to go. Life is very much what you make of it – I believe you need to take charge of your destiny, otherwise you could end up anywere (or nowhere!)

    That’s probably it for today – thanks for the opportunity to share!

  8. Karen says:

    Thanks for this Jane! I’ll answer 2 but you can be sure you have made me think about all 10!
    7) Did you plan your career/life or have events just happened? It just happened. My career path is more like crazy paving but each step made perfect sense at the time. It is about taking opportunities and being unafraid to take the road less travelled and I know regularly asked to speak to women to inspire them to do the same!
    10) What is your favourite saying, or piece of poetry, or book? “Just because you can doesn’t mean you should” Sometimes we take the easy path, sticking with what we know we can do and miss opportunities for change. This phrase reminds me to assess every opportunity and decide where I want to go next and not just do something coz you can. It also applies to bagpipe playing – Just because you can doesn’t mean you should :0)

    • Jane says:

      Your answers made me smile! I think we’ll all understand ‘crazy paving’ career planning! But, in all honestly, got to say I LOVE the bagpipes! They are a love/hate instrument though…
      Thanks for dropping in Karen, lovely to hear your thoughts. Jane

  9. I must say, Karen – the bagpipe reference is a great one – thank you!

  10. 1) What was your very first paid job, and do you use any skills you acquired then in your present role?
    My very first paid job was as a pony trek leader on the Isle of Arran from the age of 14. Interestingly, yes I do use the very same skills, patience, communication, humour, perseverance, and a lot of leg ups!!

    7. Did I plan my career – No I’m firmly in the events just happened category. Although, when I knew how to plan and why, I started planning to make up for the lost time between the age of 18 and 46! I’m still planning and things change, but essentially having a map now helps enormously to know when I’m out of kilter!

    • Jane says:

      I can just visualise you on those ponies! Thanks for stopping by the blog, Jackie, always nice to hear from you. 🙂

  11. jfb57 says:

    My first job at 15 was as a ‘seater’ in a restaurant. Really old fashioned idea now but I had to place customers at tables but making sure the waitresses all got a fair share!
    My last paid job was as a head teacher & so many of the things I learnt when I was 15 were appropriate! how to deal with people generally especially when they are ‘the customer’. How to work with teams who may have completely different agendas to you & each other. How to maintain the best possible ‘front’ at all times to give confidence to customers & staff. How to be flexible so that now matter what is happening ‘in thwe kitchen’ the meal is on time & delicious!

  12. Vikki says:

    Great questions!

    My 1st job was counter help in a fast food resturant. And the thing I learned from being there is that when people are being nasty it’s not usually anything that you have done to create that. But you have the opportunity to crate something new for them just by smiling and wishing them a good day and being sincere about it. I have kept that with me since.
    Did I plan my career or did it just happen? Well I planned the field I wanted to go in but did not plan all the opportunities that were presented to me along the way. I worked hard and was sincere and worked towards excellence in everything I did and it was noticed.

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