Our annual EWIF National Conference on Thursday 19th September was focused around the theme of bravery. Here, Steph offers 5 steps she took away from the day, to inspire you to live brave.

Woven throughout this year’s annual conference was the sense of the bravery involved in what we do. When was the last time you were brave? During the day, we heard of people’s personal encounters when they needed to face their fear in order to move forward in life. And, as we discovered from the ‘be braver’ panel, the idea of bravery is individual to each of us, to our own unique life-stories. Your sense of bravery is different to the person next to you. None of it should be disregarded, because what you’ve had to overcome in your life is what has shaped who you are today.

Can you think of a time in your life when you wish you’d been braver? As we reflect on the theme, it is striking how many of us know we are brave; but even within this, we know we can still be braver. There are times when, deep down, we all wish we’d been braver: Missed opportunities, people we didn’t connect with, life-enriching activities we avoided, all because we allowed fear to hold us back.

Are you ready to discover a braver you?

Based on the talks by Suzie McCafferty, Sarah Cressall, Caroline Pankhurst, and the Braver You Panel, here is an EWIF round-up of some of the advice we heard. Courage is not something given to the few, but is something we can all learn to master.

Step one: Identify what is keeping you in your comfort zone.

Suzie mentioned how she had felt intimidated by her youth, when she first started out in franchising. “I could have listened to the voice inside me telling me no one would take any notice of a young 23 year old woman. But I chose not to.”

We all have our comfort zone, and find it tough when something comes along to disrupt it. Our initial reaction is to ignore it in the hope it will go away. But, as Jo Stone admitted, “If I’d stayed in my comfort zone, although it felt incredibly awkward and challenging at the time, it caused me to grow. I wouldn’t have chosen the path we’ve walked, but I am proud of what I have personally accomplished as a result of not burying my head in the sand.”

Step two: Identify the good, so you can focus on the great.

Anne -Marie talked about how in 2018 she’d had a good idea and set about putting it into action, but actually it distracted her from the great which was happening in her life. “I had reached a point where I felt so overwhelmed by everything, I had to let go of the good, in order to pursue the great.”

It’s OK to call time on something which, deep down, you know is zapping more energy than it should and isn’t really what you are committed to or fully engaged with. Becoming the best version of you is not about squeezing as much as you can into your life, but focusing on those areas which energise you, those that you feel most passionate about.

Step three: Give yourself permission to stop

In her creative session, Sarah Cressall spoke of how the ‘wonder of you’ sometimes means giving yourself permission to stop. “We become so busy whizzing around here, there and everywhere, we forget to give ourselves permission to look after ourselves. I’ve often found the solution to a problem, or my next big idea, comes when I stop. Not when I am busy. It’s OK… the world isn’t going to crash when you stop.”

The panel all agreed this is the biggest challenge. As did our keynote speaker, Caroline Pankhurst. “Being braver is about clarity, confidence and courage. It’s about creating a space for you to work through your fears and fails. And then, it’s about having the courage to live by your beliefs and convictions. But if you don’t stop to assess what they are, how do you know what you are living by?”

Step four: Be more authentically you

Continuing on in her talk, Caroline believes “your personal core values are what will guide your life choices. When we understand ourselves better we know, with clarity, what we should be doing, and what we don’t need to do. It gives us the courage to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to anything which comes in our path, and the confidence to be brave as we grow.”

Helen Mansfield, MD of EWIF, is fully behind this concept of living authentically. “Over the last couple of years, I’ve given myself permission to discover who I am better and I am determined to live a more authentic life. Part of this involved reading books which have challenged me to face up to my fears, and redefine who I am. But the benefit I’m experiencing has given me the confidence to try new life experiences.”

Step five: Learn from others, but be your own HERo

Whilst we are HERoes in our own stories, we are not isolated from others. Christina talked about how she used to pile pressure on herself. “I didn’t have a clue about what I was doing when I first started franchising my business. But I thought I had to have all the answers, so imposed a massive pressure on myself to know it all. I soon discovered people I can learn from, so now I am learning to be kinder to myself by asking for advice.”

The beauty of the franchise industry, and of EWIF, is we are here for each another: You don’t have to do it alone – just as we tell franchisees they don’t have to build their own business alone. The general atmosphere of this year’s annual conference was of empowerment, encouragement and inspiration – supporting one another to higher levels. You are the HERo of your own life story, but there are people around you to cheer you on to achieve more.

Today is the beginning of your braver life – no more regrets!

What will be your first step to a braver life?