Ethical Curriculum Series: A Life on This Planet

Like so many, I was deeply moved by David Attenborough’s A Life on This Planet, and, with my heart and head in #ethicalcurriculum mode, I couldn’t help but wonder how we can use this as a teaching tool to develop more awareness in education around critical environmental issues.

‘The True Tragedy of our Time is still Unfolding. The Natural World is fading.’

Attenborough, who uses this documentary as a powerful witness statement, gravely articulated the decline seen in his lifetime alone. How human error, bad planning and our current indulgent and ignorant lifestyles are leading to a catastrophic global decline, already fully in progress.

I watched this with my daughters, aged 7 and 9, who were moved to tears by watching the film. I was too. I felt frustrated that we have evolved to live our life in such a selfish and consumerist way and this both disgusts and saddens me. Whilst I’m satisfied that the documentary evoked sympathy and empathy, I feel that it has more potential than to just lie dormant in Netflix territory. The issued raised should be interwoven into the curriculum, into an #ethicalcurriculum, to initiate deep and purposeful learning around global awareness. This is a tool with an opportunity for raising awareness, for agency and for changing mindsets.

What we really want to activate, through the education of the moral and ethical issues associated with this incredible documentary, is children and young people’s compassionate empathy. Compassionate empathy is empathy in action, not the tearful emotional empathy that we experienced when we watched the documentary, but the highest level of empathy we can experiences as human beings. The kind of empathy that results in real change and action. The kind of empathy that ignites our eco warriors, our young environmental protagonists, out climate change champions. 

‘We are bound by, and reliant upon the natural world around us.’

Attenborough talked us through the impact of climate change and human intervention on the natural world. The catastrophic species loss due to global warming and deforestation; the decline of pollinating insects, a global food crisis due to over farmed land, unpredictable weather and an almost uninhabitable earth. This impact, Attenborough described, is ‘a blind assault on our planet, fundamentally altering the foundations of our living world.’ I think this is the hook we need to use in educating our future Gretas. This isn’t about saving wildlife, it is about saving OUR lives.

So what is it we need to educate our children on to avoid this one way journey to irreversible change? Some of the issues highlighted in the programme will arise naturally in the National Curriculum, such as learning about habitats in KS1, and eco systems in KS2. BUT we need to make explicit links to the moral consequences of human action on our planet, and we can start this from a young age – after all – children develop the value of empathy as young as 2 years old!

Whilst watching the documentary, my curriculum designer brain went into overdrive! SO MANY ethical themes to explore, so many projects to initiate, so much work to do! During the film, I made a note of all the themes that I think could be interwoven into teaching, based on the information and images in the documentary. There are probably more, but I will list mine here and explore a few of them with you:

Animal welfare and rights




Climate Crisis


Corporate Responsibility






Fair trade




Fossil Fuels

Global citizenship



International Development


Natural resources

Plastic Pollution



Singapore Eco Systems


Sustainable Development Goals



UN & International organisations




Quite a few ideas, right? But each one worthy and each one a potential game changer in educating our future environmentalists. 


Just like teaching any SMSC themes, it’s important to be aware of how emotionally charged these themes are. Climate anxiety is real. Our young people are literally loosing sleep over the future of the planet.


Think about this Attenborough quote in terms of a values based curriculum;


‘Nature is our ally – a species grows when everything around it thrives too.’


So what do we do now? Attenborough spoke of the need to re-wild the earth. To rest and re create the Holocene. We can educate children to be kind to each other and to the environment. To respect it. We can educate children on how to live more sustainable lifestyles. We can educate them about the impact that human behaviour has on the planet, and of the consequences that will affect them and future generations to come. Let’s teach them about the content above – and empower them to be the humans we need them to be. Let’s connect them with global changemakers and explore their emotional responses to climate change. Let’s learn to move from anxiety to empowerment. From sympathy to compassionate empathy. Let’s start having conversations about the issues that really matter and get them into the curriculum!

This is not about saving wild life – it is about saving ourselves.

Aside from incorporating these themes into an ethical curriculum, you can start by educating yourselves. Learn about what Climate action really is, about the Sustainable Development Goals, about what happens when our waste goes into landfill, or which products contain palm oil.

You can sign up to the Eco-Schools programme: as well as linking to the curriculum, this involves the whole school, local community and makeslinks with other schools in the UK and across the globe.

Consider whether your own school is a sustainable school. What can you do to ensure your practice and policy reflects your vision for a sustainable future? Create an Eco Warriors Club, an ethical school council, or a social and environmental action plan with the community.

Will you reduce the amount of plastic you use?

Will you celebrate World Oceans Day?

Will you ensure you have plenty of meat free days on your school menu?

Will you provide a space for teachers to discuss and reflect on these issues?

Life On This Planet has got me thinking. I hope it has got you thinking too. I hope this documentary inspires you to think about how your school curriculum can impact on your children, your community and the future of the planet. And remember:

‘Nature will take care of us is we take care of it. We need to find that balance in order to thrive.’

Ethical Curriculum Series: An introduction to an Ethical Curriculum

Ethical Curriculum: A curriculum that ensures all pupils develop holistically; allows them to deeply understand, celebrate and empathise with others, and empowers them to become global citizens, changing their attitudes and actions to make the world a kinder, more sustainable place to live.

I feel so passionately about all of the above. I want to share a short blog about the importance in schools delivering an #ethicalcurriculum, what this is (and why it’s so relevant now,) and also how it’s linked closely to VbE philosophy which is based on valuing self, others and the environment through a dedication to teaching particular themes within the curriculum.

So firstly, an ethical curriculum is a holistic curriculum, It’s an incredibly altruistic, often charitable curriculum, with exposure to real, authentic and often quite emotionally provocative themes which in turn help to promote the development of collective and core personal values in children, and in staff too.

Why we need to teach an #ethicalcurriculum?

Well, want to ensure that we are teaching a diverse and colourful curriculum that promotes equity and inclusion for all, and by all I’m referring specifically to those within the Protected Characteristics Groups

We want to be educating our young people on issues around sustainable living, and the importance of becoming globally minded citizens in order to make the world sustainable; a kinder and more equitable place.

We want our young people to know and live their core values, to know their purpose in the world, so deeply, that they develop an authentic self esteem with the potential to become future change makers.

As a values based practitioner teaching a curriculum in this way is naturally intrinsic to us, but the challenges lie in implementing it within the constraints of the educational climate and the pressures of the current educational system. Now is such a critical time for reform: we need to rethink our curriculums and ask ourselves;

How well is my curriculum serving my pupils and my community? How will what I teach in my school make the world a better place?

There are certain subjects in the curriculum that are naturally easier to use as a platform for teaching more ethical topics, such as teaching about climate change through geography, or LGBT relationships through RSE or PSHCE, however, we need think carefully about how we interweave relevant themes into the subjects we already teach, to help with usualising these ethical issues

When I refer to themes, I am referring to teaching ethical issues that are relevant, contextual and necessary to teach in schools. Themes which have a moral backbone and help pupils to develop themselves, others and their environment. I’m talking about teaching anti racism, I’m talking about teaching about equity, I’m talking about teaching about poverty, about social justice, about climate change, about sustainable living, about conflict management, about love, about sustainable living…. about all the topics that if we choose to ignore to teach, then we potentially allow our children to grow up with misconceptions, with narrow minds, with ignorant viewpoints by default. We have the responsibility to ensure that that doesn’t happen, that we empower children to want to make the world a better place.

Teaching through values and teaching the inner curriculum is beautifully aligned with an #ethicalcurriculum.

A first step in thinking about an ethical curriculum is to consider how meaningful your content is to your young people. It’s important for children to see the relevance of what they are being taught. So we need to be aware of what’s going on Globally, Nationally and Locally to inspire us to incorporate moral themes into our teaching.

As a quick example, just think specifically about teaching Equity. There are so many themes here to be addressed; gender pay gap, global inequality in education, stereotyping, rights for LGBTQI+, racism, social mobility, the justice system, poverty, ableism, the protected characteristics… There are so many imperative topics to be interwoven in the curriculum in just one area. Learning to focus on themes like this helps develop the values of self respect, involvement, empathy and advocacy to name a few.

Using your values within the curriculum authentically and deeply is the key. Whilst values are completely universal, the values you choose to focus on can still be specifically relevant to your school context too. So take a look at your holistic strengths and areas for developments. You may work in a school with a large refugee community, therefore, you need to nourish the values of empathy and humanity. Perhaps you’re in a school which is lacking in diversity, and consequently, your values need to promote respect and equality. On the contrary, if you are a school which is doing great work on climate change, or celebrating diversity, then you might want to strengthen your #ethicalcurriculum through a focus on the values of Leadership or Service.

Finally, Renaming and reframing the titles and outcomes of your topics or schemes of work can be incredibly powerful in helping you shift your mindset and focus onto the ethical and moral aspects of a topic. As an example, if you’re looking at teaching a unit of work on design in DT in KS2, then why not reframe the focus onto the Effect of Fast Fashion and the impact on child labour, therefore developing the value of empathy and agency. If you are teaching history in KS3 then how are you ensuring you’re teaching black history, and not omitting it from the curriculum, so that you are explicitly focusing on racial and ethnic diversity and promoting values of humanity and collective responsibility.

Curriculum development is a long haul task, but a beautiful one, and an ethically focused curriculum, carefully crafted, will mean the children, and the staff and families and the planet, will reap the benefits for years to come.

The 5 year-olds we teach now are going to be our future activists, our future humanitarians, our future engineers, our future environmentalists, our future policy makers. The curriculum we teach today is about ensuring that our children and young people thrive in five years, in ten years, in 30 years time. That’s why we have to teach children about mental health, about looking after the environment, and we support them in developing values so that they have desire for social change NOW. In doing so, we will all play our part in creating a kinder, more sustainable world.

Wellbeing Series: Boundaries

Boundaries are personal limits that we set around ourselves, the responsibility of enforcing that boundary will fall on us. Boundaries keep us aligned with our core values and our own personal choices around the way we choose to live our lives and conduct ourselves both personally and professionally.

Boundaries help to keep you safe, in control and can empower you to make healthy choices and take personal responsibility.

Consciously appreciating your own personal and professional boundaries can help to support your wellbeing, physically and mentally, from day one. Setting boundaries requires a deep understanding of your personal and professional needs and expectations; knowing what serves you well in order that you can thrive in the role.

Ask yourself:

What are your boundaries when it comes to professional relationships?

To workload?

In responding to the expectations of the professionals that you work with?

In ensuring that your personal life has value equal to (minimum!) or above that of your professional life?

Essentially, setting yourself boundaries is a way of actively respecting your own wellbeing and keeping you safe, so get familiar with them and bring them to life. Consider how you will articulate these to those you work with, and your family and friends too and how you’ll hold yourself accountable. 

It’s important to remember that boundaries can change too, so it’s important to revisit them and make adjustments to ensure they serve you. You can never ‘over’ communicate your boundaries to others either, clear and consistent communication is key.

Wellbeing Series: Balance

Half term should be a time to be able to rest and recover from the challenges of the first term and to rejuvenate ready for the busy autumn term ahead. But for many leaders, it’s not easy to switch off, mentally or emotionally. By the time we’ve wound down, it can feel like it’s time to wind up again, and the events of the term can play on our minds and interfere with the time we’ve put by for ourselves, our families and friends. You know you’ve got work to do, but hold yourself accountable for putting boundaries in place to keep the balance.

Are you aware of what has triggered you this term? 

Talking to someone trusted, who ‘gets it’, or writing down some of the more meaningful and pertinent events of the term can help to process the experiences. Make notes of your feelings and behaviours around each circumstance – you’ll gain insights into your feelings and tendencies. In addition, don’t be afraid to put pen to paper and write a stream of consciousness for 5-10 minutes. No editing and no censoring. Just let it flow. You’ll may be surprised by how cathartic that can be.

Are you aware of what needs to be celebrated and may have gone unnoticed? 

When we’re busy leading in school it’s easy to let the inspirational moments pass us by without the recognition or celebration they deserve. Reflect on all the wonderful things that have happened this term. Let them make you smile! Let them remind you of why you do what you do, and be grateful for them too. 

Balance allows you to lead a fulfilled life, and those already in headship will know that the job can become all-consuming, impacting on other areas of your life such as family, relationships and mental health. Being respectful and grateful for your life beyond headship can help keep things in perspective. Take time during half term to celebrate your life holistically, and gently remind yourself that your identity is more than just your job title.

Wellbeing Series: Imposter Syndrome in Women Leaders

Over the last 12 months, I have led peer coaching sessions for hundreds of Headteachers. The sessions, intended to reconnect school leaders with their core purpose and empower them to be more intentional about their wellbeing, give me an insight into what is not talked about openly in the education profession.

The isolation, the toxic accountability, the competition, the impact on personal relationships. And, you’ve guessed it, Imposter Syndrome.

In a HeadsUp4HTs poll to school leaders in 2021, 98% of Headteachers anonymously told us they have imposter syndrome. So if the majority of us are living with it, why aren’t we talking about, confronting it and owning it!?

Let’s unpick where it stems from, what it feels like, and what we can do to combat it, so that we are not spending our precious energy on convincing ourselves and others that we are worthy and capable! Let’s be intentional about working through it, owning our authenticity and re awakening our leadership presence, whatever the sector we lead in.

What does imposter syndrome feel like to you?

Worried someone is going to call you out on being an incompetent leader?

Convinced yourself that you don’t know enough to do your job?

Overachieving, in case someone thinks you’re incapable?

Trying to be the perfect ‘super woman’ and be the best to everyone else around you?

Where is this coming from?

Why do we find ourselves feeding these narratives? Is it because we believe ourselves to be imposters? Do we really, really think we aren’t good enough to do our jobs?

Women are conditioned to be everything to everyone. We are conditioned to be tethered to the opinions of others through social media, through past experiences, through education, society, our upbringing… all these external factors are influencing our ability to own our authenticity and self efficacy and to keep the imposter saboteurs at bay.

I don’t want you to spend one precious moment diminishing your own feminine power by doubting yourself! We need to stop sabotaging our own authenticity! We need to give ourselves permission TO BE and not wait for ANYONE to do this for us.

We need to start the inner work. Here’s a question for you:

Who are we for others versus who are we for ourselves?

This is the internal conflict. If the opinions of others didn’t impact upon us, would we still suffer with feeling like an imposter?

As part of our work as Resilient Leadership Coaches, we help women reconnect with their authentic leadership presence and give them the tools and support to understand themselves deeply. Through compassionate coaching, we arm leaders with the strategies to challenge their self limiting beliefs, their behaviours, their assumptions and importantly, we start to slay that inner critic that feeds our imposter syndrome.

There is inner work to do here ladies! Strategies to practice, affirmations to reinforce, impact to evaluate and new self-belief systems to create. It takes work to slay an imposter. Intentional work. But it can be done.

Values Series: Adventure

If things were ‘normal’ right now, then today would be the first day of the Easter holidays, and right now, me and my family would be on our way to the airport to take our flight to Singapore and then on to Danang and Hoi An in Vietnam for our long awaited holiday.

Our family adventure. Our chance to relax, to re-bond, to explore a new place together. The planning and the build up of excitement to this was helping me get through a busy term at school.

Anyone who knows me well, will know that I have an insatiable wanderlust; a need to travel, to holiday, to experience new culture, to revisit the places that I visited as a young traveller, and more recently, to give my young children those experiences that helped shape my own character. Many of my values stem from the experiences I had as a traveller. They fuelled my curiosity for diversity, for harmony, for sustainability and respectful relationships. Adventure and travel are in my soul. They are part of my purpose and destiny. The following quote has always resonated with me.

For me, adventure isn’t defined by adrenaline inducing activities, or flirting with danger. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done my fair share of white water rafting, sky diving and partying until sunset. I loved every second (and I’d do it all again in a heart beat!) But now, adventure is the exploration of unknown places, venturing into a new world and immersing myself in a culture that is different and more diverse than my own.

I daydream of revisiting the bustling streets of China Town, Singapore. I pine to feel the warm waves of the South China Sea lap at my feet in Malaysia. I long to sit on the edge of the hot, dusty main street in Cherating, to watch the warrung owners perform the ritual of ‘tea tarik’ (literally, stretched tea) whilst eating nasi goreng with my fingers and practicing my Bahasa Malay with the locals.

Grieving for this latest adventure sounds terribly privileged and self indulgent, but for me it’s an internal emotional and cultural fix that I long for and I work hard for. I’ve re-framed the situation from having a cancelled holiday to postponing an adventure for a safer time. Good things come to those who wait and all that!

As a family, we are now being creative with trying to recreate a sense of adventure to replace the one that’s on hold. We are fortunate enough to live in the countryside, so even with the social distancing in full swing we are still able to walk or cycle for miles without seeing another soul. This week we climbed tall trees and ran down steep hills. We took the girls out on a proper mountain bike ride for the first time. It was awesome to hear their gleeful shrieks as they sped downhill on the empty roads. On our walks across the fields, we’ve watched them role play as fairies using their ‘powers’ to create imaginary potions and spells. They are still experiencing adventure. It’s not quite on a scale that satisfies my soul, but watching them happy and curious brings a real sense of joy.

As for me, I’ve navigated the sweet scented streets of Hoi An this week, as well as a trek in the leafy Blue Mountains and a stroll along a white sandy beach in Cape Panwa, Phuket. Instagram is giving me a superficial fix for now. I plan on immersing myself in some fiction set somewhere exotic too. I’ve even leafed through my trusty Lonely Planet Australia (2002 edition). Happy memories.

Adventure may be postponed, but I’m grateful to be able to explore some beautiful locations from my sofa whilst waiting for this all to pass. The adventure is yet to come.

Values Series: Authenticity

Authenticity is one of my core values. It aligns closely with my other core values and is an integral part of my being. Authenticity is my own personal non-negotiable. It’s the visible and inner consistency that I hold myself able to, in both my personal and professional roles and it’s a value I recognise and greatly admire in others. 

Authenticity is about deeply knowing yourself, owning your strengths and your vulnerability, showing up, serving yourself and others to the best of your ability and being true to your values. 

I think you have to be strong to be authentic. You have to commit and invest time in understanding yourself and to the ethics you hold true. Consider this: a life time of experiences, and other people’s opinions and beliefs will shape your own authenticity. This may lead you to perpetuate your own misinformed beliefs which can manifest in unconscious (and possibly ignorant) learned behaviours and a misalignment with your own core values. Simply put, a lack of understanding about yourself does not serve you, or others well!

The last few years have challenged me to learn about and develop myself, and have allowed me to be comfortable in my own skin and in my own mind. Diverse experiences have enabled me to align my core values and embrace who I am. I embrace and accept my vulnerability, it’s a tool to make me stronger.

Like everyone, I have experienced setbacks and hardships, breakthroughs and deep joy, in both leadership and in my personal life. One source of joy for me was becoming a Headteacher in July 2019. This is a role to which I bring my true self to the front line. Headship is not for the faint – hearted!! I find it uncomfortable to ‘wear a professional mask’ to work and I’m truly a ‘heart on sleeve’ person, and so I’m a genuinely transparent leader. To look at, I’m not the stereotypical headteacher you see on the Google images! My hair is short and shaved on one side, I have tattoos and a sense of style that is perhaps not what is often expected. But I am happy to challenge the Headteacher typecast! I don’t need to wear a professional mask because I am a professional. 

There’s a danger that when you mask who you are you attract the wrong vibes, the wrong people and you make poor decisions based on appeasing others. You can waste a lot of energy worrying about what others think. I prefer to focus my actions around my values and I find that I’m attracted to others who do the same. I’ve been shaped by some inspirational, values driven leaders in my life, and my PLN and trusted colleagues continue to guide me, but ultimately, my self- esteem is now high enough that I can champion myself. 

Positive self talk and confidence within oneself can often be mistaken as arrogance, especially in women. I believe in humility, another of my core values, and those who know me well know that I am very much an introvert. Does that surprise you from reading the above? Introverts do not always have low self esteem! The self efficacy I have stems from a humble self-worth, and a spiritual self acceptance that has developed over time. In a recent Gretchen Rubin quiz to identify which of 4 tendencies I have (when responding to expectations), I was surprised to be labelled a ‘rebel’! I wondered whether there was some conflict between being an introvert and being a rebel. Rebels can described within this framework as:

Individuals who seek to live up to their own identity and values. They place a high value on authenticity and self-determination and bring an unshackled spirit to what they do. They choose to act from a sense of choice, of freedom. 

This resonated a lot with me. This is another dimension to my diverse and authentic self! 

To me authenticity is:

Knowing your values

Staying true to yourself

Showing courage and vulnerability

Admitting mistakes and asking for support

Being humble and having integrity

Being kind to yourself and others

Values Series: Harmony

I considered two questions when writing this blog and wanted to draw on my experience of harmony at it’s finest.

What can we learn from multi-cultural societies about living in harmony with each other?

How do we create harmony in our schools?

Peace and harmony are what many of us strive for, especially when life is busy and stressful (our current climate, for example!) and we often long to be somewhere else, away from it all, preferably on a beach with a cocktail, (or is that just me?!) What we are really craving of course, is that sense of calm and alignment, where we feel that all aspects of our lives are balanced and moving forwards at a pace that is manageable. We want those around us to have a sense of harmony too.

Is it possible to create harmony when we have so much social inequality in our society? Surely, this is something we should strive for. Harmony is humanity at it’s best.

So, what can we learn from other cultures that pride themselves on living harmoniously? Let’s look at Singapore as an example of a country that treasures harmony. Singapore is a multi-racial and muti-ethnic country and is one of the most religiously diverse countries in the world. Despite it’s population equating to only 0.08% of the total world population, the country sees diversity as it’s strength, with an eclectic mix of Chinese, Malay, Indian and Eurasians within the diverse community.

Religions don’t just co-exist together, they thrive together. A stroll down South Bridge Road reveals temples, mosques and synagogues side by side. I’ve walked these streets and there is a feeling of respect and acceptance, there’s no segregation and it feels like ‘the norm’. It’s magical to see such a mélange of people with diverse beliefs all going about their business in harmony.

Despite being multi-cultural, Singaporeans observe events and festivals together as one. Whether this is Chinese New Year, Deepvali or Christmas, there is no divide or segregation, just humans celebrating together. The citizens even have a mutually understood language – Singlish – that is used to keep everyone connected! Even the signage seen on the MRT promotes respect and equality with firm boundaries. There is also a national Racial Harmony Day to celebrate the nation’s success in being a racial harmonious country.

Singapore is also known for it’s commitment to environmentalism and is known as Asia’s greenest city, with award winning vertical gardens (If you ever get the chance to visit Gardens by the Bay then you’ll be astounded!) and self sustainable eco systems within the city, despite it’s high population density. The forward thinking dedication to the environment reflects the respect the country has for it’s citizens mental health as well as it’s impact on it’s surroundings.

What can we learn from all this and how can we use it to create harmony in schools?

As school leaders, we serve whole communities, not just the pupils within the walls of the school. We care deeply about our families, we make connections with local businesses, we take part and contribute to local events. We have a responsibility to influence to create harmony there too, because this impacts positively on our children.

When you look at the values that are associated with a harmonious culture, you can see that there is a great deal of respect and empathy for those within the community, as well as the environment. So creating a school which is based on values and relationships, where children are actively taught the importance of respect and compassion, helps nurture more empathetic citizens and creates a sense of harmony within the school.

Creating a culture where children celebrate difference and diversity and have a love for one another is paramount to a harmonious environment. Inclusion is fundamental. Educating the children about different relationship preferences, different ethnicities and beliefs, abilities and disabilities, for example, gives them the opportunity to empathise, understand, and become curious about equality. It also helps children to compile their own set of values and evaluate these, which is key aim of a an ethical curriculum. A curriculum steeped in values promotes a pedagogical philosophy based on valuing yourself, others and the environment as well as developing character traits to become forward thinking and globally minded citizens. Imagine a school community so eclectic that everyone fits in!

In nurturing a harmonious work culture within the school, the emphasis is on building trusting relationships with the team. Giving humble but clear feedback and an emphasis on ‘high challenge – low threat’ support is highly effective. Investing time and sincerely caring deeply about your colleagues helps them feel valued and, when everyone feels like they are valued and that they have a voice, these become firm foundations for a harmonious workplace.

Values Series: Choice

Choose love 

Choose authenticity  

Choose to act 

Choose to eat the frog 

Choose to reach out 

Choose to compliment her

Choose to thank them 

Choose to stay safe

Choose to be an ally

Choose empathy 

Choose to keep the circle small

Choose hope

Choose to eat the cake

Choose to wear the dress

Choose your family first

Choose to sweat

Choose your friends 

Choose to take the leap

Choose to cry

Choose to show your vulnerability 

Choose to slow down 

Choose to bin it off

Choose to dance in the kitchen 

Choose to say no

Choose to put your health first 

Choose valuing your mental health 

Choose to ask the question 

Choose to reply when you are ready 

Choose to turn the camera off

Choose to show up

Just choose

Values Series: Strength




These have been our family values for the past 8 years, developed when my eldest, now 11, was around three. My 8 year old has been chanting them her whole life. 

We created our mantra, our family affirmation, to unite us, to get us through tricky times and to focus us on the way we want to live our lives. Three words that serve as a reminder that we can thrive and be happy if we try and live by these humble, yet powerful values. And guess what, we are strong, kind and resilient!

Strength was chosen because it is two-fold. It encompasses strength of body and strength of mind. Both, to us, are of equal importance, both deeply intertwined and interdependent. When strength of mind and body are in balance, life is more harmonious and peaceful and it provides time for growth.

Strength of body

Health is important to me. In the past few years, I’ve recovered from operations, injuries, and illness with the help of exercise. I dedicate around 9 hours a week to exercise, which as a good friend pointed out, is an extra working day! I enjoy exercise and it sets me up for each day; it’s ingrained into my daily routine. Subsequently, my body is strong, I have physical stamina, and for the majority of the time, I am healthy. When I’m not physically strong, which is rare, it’s usually because my mental strength is compromised, because of emotional fatigue, exhaustion, stress etc.

Being physically strong is also about being independent. I teach my girls to strive to be physically strong so that they can achieve things for themselves and be less reliant on others. They giggled, when recently, a gentleman offered to lift our suitcases onto the luggage rack on the train and I politely responded, ‘No thank you darling, I’ve already lifted 30kg this morning, I’m good!’ I like to role model to them that I am strong and independent, hopeful that they will grow up with the same outlook. Empowerment, self-esteem and independence lie in physical strength. Strong is also healthy. We only have one body and it should be respected and nurtured.

Strength is built through endurance and enables us to endure

Strength of Mind

A strong mind is often born through struggle and suffering. A strong mind is developed through an innate understanding of self, of others and environment. A strong mind is an emotionally intelligent mind with a clear sense of purpose, of values and of vision.

I’ve admired strong women for as long as I can remember. I’ve surrounded myself with them, I’ve supported them, I’ve called upon them and I’ve become one of them. Maybe I was always one of them?My circle of friends comprise strong women, all unique in their own strengths and in the way they live their lives. Spiritually strong.

I’ve had to be strong in my mind over the years, both personally and professionally. Each setback has made me stronger, more resilient, and better equipped to deal with the next challenge. I’ve learned to see opportunity in bad days, to stay positive in hard times and have developed strategies, both self regulatory and external, to support myself in tough times. I understand that every set back passes, even when you can’t see the wood for trees, it passes.

Though I am introverted, I am strong. I remind myself often that I have overcome incredible challenges before and that I am successful in my own personal and professional goals. My strength is in being my authentic self; engaging in joy and purpose with humility, kindness and resilience.

Tough times never last, but tough people do.