Interview with Caroline Pankhurst

In the first of a series of inspirational interviews, Be Braver Caroline Pankhurst discusses why being braver leads to growth in our personal and professional lives. She expands on the thinking that lead to the creation of Be Braver, her hopes and ambitions for the future and the challenges she has and will face in her own braver future.

What does it mean to you to Be Braver?

I believe we have all done brave things in our lives already. Even those of us who don't believe we have at the moment, I know will have done. So Braver is about moving further forwards and growing. Brave is about resilience, it’s about carry on despite a fear, knowing the risks but choosing to act anyway through a strong desire and motivation to achieve a goal or a vision.

For me to be braver is about striving for bigger and better and testing the limits of our own potential. Being Brave is not an end in itself, so for me, to be braver is to draw on the lessons we’ve learned from the times we have been brave and find courage to be braveR. To keep pushing, to keep stretching out of our comfort zone and being curious about our own capabilities. I don't believe most of us have the faintest idea of what we are truly capable of and finding out can be exciting.

Who do you admire for being brave?

I would have to say Emmeline Pankhurst. I remember watching Her Naked Skin by Rebecca Lenkewiez many years ago now at the National Theatre and being truly blown away by the strength, resilience, courage and boldness that the suffragettes had. I was also very shocked I hadn't learned more about it throughout my education.

I’m finding now many women saying the same, with the coverage that the centenary is creating, and the wide recognition that so many women, before and after the suffragettes have done to shape the future. It’s like the disappeared from history.

Emmeline was from Manchester, very close to where I grew up and now live. She was one of 3 daughters, like I am. When I decided I wanted to change my name I wanted to be inspired by the values and the achievements of what my name as a woman represented. I couldn't think of a better person. Her courage and ability to act upon her beliefs against a sea of resistance I still find inspiring. The physical suffering, she and many others tolerated shows the capacity we have to endure the unimaginable when we are driven and committed to our cause.

When was the last time you were brave?

Heading in to work and handing in my notice was my most recent act of bravery. I knew there was no going back from that point and that the financial risk which is my greatest fear would become real. The fear of never giving it a go and regretting not following my dream outweighed it that said and facing my fear was exhilarant at the same time. 

Whats the bravest thing that you have done?

Being in the family courts alone. Also asking for help and being honest with myself and daring to dream.

What lessons has that taught you about yourself?

That being true to yourself, having clarity, vision and purpose will steady you through the greatest of fears and risk if your motivation is right. You can learn to be confident. You can’t learn purpose but you can’t follow it.

It also taught me I am strong, and strong on my own if I need to prove it to myself, but generally, most things in life are better with a friend by your side.

Where next for you to Be Braver?

Lots of things are on the horizon that are going to require me to Be Braver. I want to achieve what I have set out to do, and more. Lots of stretching totally out of my comfort zone. 

I don't think my ambitions will be realised if I'm not putting myself out there and hiding in the shadows. Confidently finding my voice and doing more things like this is VERY exposing for me. I have lists in the recesses of my mind of people I think will be laughing at me, expecting me to fail or hoping that I fail.  But I accept that, I'll choose to focus on the people who are supporting me and the wonderful feedback and difference I know I am making to the Clients that I work with - because that's who this is all really about.

I’m really excited about the women I am interviewing, I’m being challenged to record them, share video content – that horrifies me.

How would you like to inspire women to Be Braver?

I'd like women not to be inspired by me as such, but by the networks, communities, collaborations and contacts that are created via Be Braver. By each other, by a shared ambition to grow and encourage each other to be our very truest and bestest versions of our awesome selves. To find our unique superpower and max it out.

I would hope to find a tone of voice and audience that this blog and future content resonates and inspires. That would make this enterprise a personal success in inspiration. For women to make one small change a day to do something out of their comfort zone that feels braver to them and see what a difference it makes. The high achievers, those lacking in confidence, those hiding in the shadows through fear.