Stepping Into the Unknown Can Be Worthwhile – Sue Stockdale – UK
As a young girl, growing up in Scotland, I used to love reading adventure stories about ordinary people who had achieved extraordinary things. Some were fictional, like Enid Blyton’s Famous Five, and others were real-life adventurers like Edmund Hillary, and Ernest Shackleton. Reading these stories made me want to become an adventurer – but I began to believe that to do so, you had to be a man, or have a lot of money. It was not until many years later, that these limiting beliefs were challenged, and in 1996, I became the first British woman to reach the Magnetic North Pole. I realised that we can all achieve amazing things, but often the only person stopping you…..is you.
Taking a risk
My career began at 16 years old, and like many people it was in an office role in British Gas. Whilst in the company, I was keen to progress, and during my 11-year career I held various roles including within the Corporate Training function, and became one of the youngest employees to reach a Senior Management role. However, I still had an adventurous mindset, so eventually decided to leave that cosy corporate lifestyle behind, and embark on a 1-year contract in a war zone working for the United Nations! That seemed like a big risk to me, but a great opportunity at the same time, to work in an international setting, and learn how the culture and politics operate within large governmental organisations. It was a huge change and it took me some time to adapt, but what I learned that was most useful was about risk taking. When you are prepared to step into the unknown, it can be scary, but you can learn a
lot. It means when the next big risk comes along you are much better prepared for it.
The big opportunity
One year later I was back home reading the newspaper, when an advert got my attention. It said “wanted 10 novice arctic explorers to trek to the Magnetic North Pole”. I did not even know where that was, but it sounded cold! Over 500 people applied for the expedition, and eventually I was selected to join the team, led by David Hempleman-Adams. And, after a 30-day journey in temperatures cold enough to freeze your flesh in seconds, we achieved our goal – it was a great feeling of
achievement! This experience then inspired me to go on more adventures and I went on to Antarctica,
Greenland, and the Geographical North Pole. All of these expeditions taught me the realities of risk-taking, leadership, managing change and maintaining motivation, which I help business leaders put into practice today.
The adventure of building a business
I decided to use these lessons, plus my business and training experience and in 1997 I founded a company that helped women to start up and grow businesses. By building a strong brand reputation, we grew the business and in 2007 I faced a tough decision. Do I grow the business, find a Managing Director to run it, sell it, or close it? I realised that my passion lay in working directly with clients and inspiring them, rather than being a business leader, so I decided to sell the company to focus on utilising my core strengths of inspiring others.
Today I integrate my unique combination of business acumen, adventure experience and leadership capabilities in my work. Sometimes its individual coaching, delivering a motivational presentation to a team, or a leadership programme for an organisation. My clients are varied, from corporate leaders to people in elite sport as well as not for profit organisations and small businesses. They are based around the world, but all want to be able to achieve exceptional performance. I don’t think the journey of growth ever ends, we all need to keep on stepping into the unknown to explore what we are capable of.
About the Author
Sue Stockdale – Wiltshire, UK
Sue Stockdale is a sought-after motivational speaker who inspires business leaders around the world to achieve exceptional performance. She is a compelling speaker with an understanding of motivation and leadership, gleaned from her experience in business, adventure and sport. Sue has worked with some of the world’s top companies, as well as public sector and not for profit organisations.
Using powerful images and thought provoking messages, Sue inspires people to take action by drawing analogies between her experience and their situations. Her presentations are delivered with passion and energy, so that delegates leave feeling they can achieve things they did not imagine were possible.
Inspiring Story – Sue Stockdale – UK
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