Tuesday, 9 December 2014

The Best is Yet To Be - Day 10

Day 10
10 Downing Street
the UK Prime Minister's London residence
Downing Street is named after Sir George Downing,
one of Harvard's earliest graduates; he financed the building of the street.
Samuel Pepys described him as a "perfidious rogue".
Until the 15th century, the site was the location of the Axe brewery, run by monks

Vera Woodhead wrote today's piece. Vera was one of the first people I got to know via Twitter and she is an inspirational and supportive contact. You can follow her via @verawoodhead. She works as a facilitator and professional coach, with a particular interest in women's leadership and career progression. She also lectures for a number of academic establishments and organisations. If you want to know more about her career and professional experience check out her profile on LinkedIn or read her blog. What she writes below will tell you more about how she views and lives life...

The best is yet to be

A startling realisation has been dawning on me. Given that the life expectancy of women in the UK is 82.5 years, I have lived more than half of my life! And in a few years I would have lived half a century.

UK life expectancy predictions, via BBC, 2014

Age brings some benefits and freedom. Permit me to share some:


I care less of what other people think or say about me. The accumulation of life experiences grows into a thick skin which gives you a certain worldliness and wisdom. I know ‘me’ best – my values, strengths, talents, shadow side, weaknesses….I have had plenty of time to learn to accept who and what I am – and this is so very liberating.

There is less of having to prove oneself or compare self to others. No longer do I feel guilty if I am out on the moors at 2 pm on a weekday afternoon whilst everyone else is tweeting how busy they are or how wonderful work is.

The Yorkshire moors - photo by Steve Jackson
Learning to live in the moment is more evident. To be blunt, the number of moments (or years) is diminishing, so best to make the most of them!


I have made certain choices – work, lifestyle, financial… to give my children the best childhood they could have. Even though it was a choice, it did not stop me from feeling resentful at times and even frustrated.

On the other hand it has enabled me to develop and extend my portfolio of skills and knowledge which made me adaptable, flexible and suitable for today’s market place.
And most importantly, I am reaping the rewards of watching my children grow into happy, balanced and responsible young adults.

A life lived

So far, I have survived 2 near death experiences and one life saving surgery. Life is precious, time limited and needs to be lived fully.

When my children started secondary school, holidays became adventure time.

The shared experiences and memories created when experiencing different places, cultures, and people are priceless and imprinted on our souls. They will hold us together.

Nothing can beat being woken by the loud guttural sounds of Howler monkeys in the Rainforest, being 10 m from a brown bear as he enters the water and swims across the lake in British Columbia, witnessing a humpback whale and its calf on its migration in San Francisco or fearing for your life when the only thing between you and the caimans is a dugout canoe in the Amazon.

I hope that my children will cherish these moments and when they leave, I will create some of my own – a gap year for the over 50’s, a world challenge expedition, volunteering overseas….the possibilities are endless!


Leadership development is big business with US organisations spending an estimated $13.6 billion in 2012. After 18 years in the field of leadership, I am becoming cynical and wondering who is benefiting from all this development?

Effective leaders need to become masters of themselves – self awareness, clarity of purpose, values, strengths and have the desire to lead. Leadership starts with a journey of self discovery.

Most leaders are already competent in what they do. It is often the ‘how’ that needs adjusting. This ‘how’, stretch and emotional courage needs to come from real situations – to be vulnerable, to communicate difficult things, to listen with empathy, to receive real time feedback, to make tough decisions and be accountable for them…

We are all leaders in our own capacity and the behaviours demonstrated in good leaders, are the same that can be seen in any good person:   


My biggest learning this year has come from completing my first marathon. It has tested not only my joints but also my mind. I have learnt so much about myself: my resilience, motivation, being in harmony with my body….and the true meaning of the cliché, ‘it’s a marathon, not a sprint’. It really is one step at a time.

Practice needs to be mastered so am having another go next year with the London marathon and raising funds for Children with Cancer UK (any donations gratefully accepted). Have recently been told that I need a new knee, am unsure how the joints will hold up – ever the optimist!  

Grow old with me. The best is yet to be! (Robert Browning) 


In case the picture doesn’t work:
1.     Be kind
2.     Be grateful
3.     Show empathy and compassion
4.     Know your values and having the courage to stand up for what you believe in
5.     Be generous
6.     Recognise and use your talents and strengths
7.     Be aware of your shadow side and learn to manage
8.     Be collaborative 
9.     Build and nurture relationships
10.  Know your purpose and drive

1 comment:

  1. A good piece of synchronicity here Vera - I have a post in my up coming articles entitled "Older" - gives me a good excuse to post a video of George Michael. Your post has inspired me further.