Pay It Forwards…Always

By Liz Beck, Founder and Leadership Coach

This week I made a mistake. I de-prioritized my ‘self-leadership’, ignored the signs and eventually my bad back ground me to a halt.  
My body told me to rest (and I learnt a long time ago that the body never lies) so I spent the next 24 hours on the sofa indulging in two of my favourite films – both of which, without fail always teach me something new. The Shawshank Redemption and Erin Brockovich…
Both films, made me think about what it means to be in the world in service of others and with purpose, versus waking up every day with no purpose and nothing to serve. 
If ever there was a story of staying true to yourself The Shawshank Redemption is it. Whilst those around him protested his guilt, Andy Dufresne refused to let outside noise steer him off track. Quietly, but firmly following his path, it took him more than two decades to tunnel his way to freedom. Unwavering in his commitment, he knew that every chip he made with his rock hammer, was one chip further towards freedom. As he crawled through a river of human waste, he never gave up – in the belief that one day he would see daylight. 
And then onto Erin Brockovich – a story of persistence against the odds. A divorced and unemployed single mother, Erin was determined to be heard and acknowledged by the world. It was her relentless pursuit to find the truth and spearhead an investigation, that led to the US’s largest settlement in a direct-action lawsuit. Erin showed up in service of others and in doing so accessed her true potential and purpose.  
Through my own lapse in self-leadership, I neglected myself and consequently my body forced me to stop. Despite the acute physical pain, it reminded me of several lessons for which I am grateful for.  
– You can’t lead others effectively without leading yourself
– Progress is progress, no matter what. 
– Purpose is not just measured in financial reward, but in your beliefs, values and behaviours.  
– Overnight success is rare – it comes with hours of work that goes on behind the scenes. 
– You don’t have to be a leader in a boardroom to be in service. You can be a leader in your own home, community, social circle, but most importantly to yourself.   
As a business owner and Mum who left school with very few qualifications, I can relate to both Andy and Erin’s stories. So, as the team and I prepare for two big leadership programs, these films remind me of the very foundations I built Aspiring on…freedom and potential.

They also prompted me again to ask myself – am I paying it forward and being in service to others? How can I lead myself better? And how can I best support my colleagues by giving them the freedom to explore their potential?  
Fundamentally I was reminded to always be in service of others and pay it forward. And in Erin’s own words – “pay it forward but not with the expectation of seeing a reward…pay it forward because it is the right thing to do, reward or not.”