Karen Darke – Inspired women

Life is an Adventure – Karen Darke – UK

karen darke Empowered Womens stories

Life is an Adventure – Karen Darke – UK

Becoming paralysed in a rock-climbing accident at age 21 left me facing a choice. I, as an active soul and a lover of the outdoors, I could sit around and feel miserable about my new situation, or I could face up to it. I could try and make the most of my new circumstances, and focus on what I could do instead of what I couldn’t.

Since then, I have pursued alternative ways to access the outdoors – canoeing, sit-skiing and hand-cycling. I have been lucky to hand-cycle in various corners of the world, including Central Asia and the Himalaya, the Karakoram and the length of the Japanese archipelago, New Zealand, parts of Europe and shortly, the length of Chile’s Patagonian wilderness. Thanks to many good friends and acquaintances, life has become one giant adventure; from sea kayaking along the coastlines of British Columbia and Alaska, skiing across the Greenland icecap, climbing the kilometre-high vertical rock-face of El Capitan, and kayaking through the fjords of Patagonia. I have adopted the philosophy that to learn the most from life we should challenge our constraints, adopt a positive mindset and support each other to be the best we can be.

The night before I was paralysed, I commented to a friend “I would rather be dead than paralysed. I can’t imagine anything worse”. How wrong could I have been? We are all stronger than we might think, braver than we might believe, more able than we might feel. It is only when life forces us to have to find those inner resources that they have the chance to appear.

More recently, life has led me to a Paralympic journey with the British Cycling Team, a silver medal in the London Paralympics 2012 and a gold in Rio 2016. I fit other wilderness adventures in when I can – the healing power of nature is something that feels important to me, especially to rebalance after hard or stressful times in life.

What is life if it isn’t an adventure? I’m constantly amazed by what can be achieved if we set our heart and mind to it. It’s all about finding belief, confidence, motivation and commitment. And of course, friends. Then there are perhaps no limits.

About the Author:

Karen Darke is a British Paralympic cyclist, Paratriathlete, adventurer, author and motivational speaker. She is a full-time athlete with the British Para-Cycling Team and squeezes adventures in where possible between training and other work.

To contact Karen:


Her first book “If You Fall” tells the story of her accident, adapting to being paralysed, and some early adventures. The second, “Boundless” is about her adventures in Greenland and climbing El Capitan. Both are available at

Nikki Taylor personally thanks Karen Darke for sharing her inspiring story today with us on Inspiring Women Today by Nikki Taylor.  Should you too wish to share your very own inspirational journey/story please email and our editorial guidelines will be sent to you.


Stepping Into the Unknown Can Be Worthwhile -Inspired women

Stepping Into the Unknown Can Be Worthwhile – Sue Stockdale – UK

Stepping Into the Unknown Can Be Worthwhile -Inspired women

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… 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

To contact Sue:


Twitter: @suestockdale

Nikki Taylor personally thanks Sue Stockdale for sharing her inspiring story today with us on Inspiring Women Today by Nikki Taylor. Should you too wish to share your very own inspirational journey/story please email and our editorial guidelines will be sent to you.