Welcome to the series People Who I Find Inspiring guest interviews. Some of the people I interview are featuring in the book Soul Journey – The Greatest Secrets To Living The Life You Want. Let me introduce you to the inspiring Jane….
Jane C Woods works with women to inspire, enthuse and motivate them to greater success. She has a popular web site and features regularly in national magazines commenting on personal development issues. She also publishes a free regular newsletter for professional women, runs her own inspirational courses for women, as well as offering one to one consultancy. She’s a feminist who thinks it’s great to be feminine.
Q1. What motivates you?
I guess you could rephrase this question and ask ‘what are my values’ as it’s always been my underlying values that govern what I do and why. At different times in my life (I’m now 56 with 2 grown up children) it’s been different things. But the leit motif has always been fairness. I have never been able to keep my mouth shut when I think something has been unfair. It’s one of the reason I am so passionate about working with women – so much of what happens to women in business is just plain unfair.
It first manifested itself when I was working as a Saturday girl in the Army & Navy Stores, Bromley South (is it still there, I wonder?) and I discovered that the boys got paid more than the girls. I was incensed (remember this is pre equal opportunity/equal pay days) and went marching along to the HR office and demanded to know why. They didn’t really have an answer; just that ‘it has always been done this way’. Then they offered to pay me more. But I held out for fair pay for all the girls and we got it. In truth, I think they were somewhat amused by this indignant 16 year old taking them on. It taught me early on that if you marshal your arguments and do something you’ve got a pretty good chance of changing things than if you just whinge on the sidelines.
And my family has always been a huge motivating factor. If it’s good for them, it usually works for me too.
Q2.Who inspires you and why?
Anyone really who stands up for what they believe in, (sometimes even if I don’t necessarily agree with them.) I’m also inspired by people who manage to maintain their integrity, be true to themselves, and yet still manage to achieve career success. I’ve worked with some remarkable women; Jane Weaver is a case in point: she was a PA, her marriage was disintegrating, and learning that her company was to be sold, arranged a buy out! She now runs AYS Couriers.
Q3.What are your 3 top tips for living a purposeful and ‘well’ life?
• Be true to yourself
• Help others whenever you can
• Everyone makes mistakes so don’t be afraid to make some along the way; the trick is not to make the same one twice!
Q4.What part of your journey to where you are at right now, have you found the most difficult?
I think the hardest thing was the run up to deciding to leave a comfortable job with a good salary and pension in my late 40s. I knew I wasn’t being true to myself and agonised for some time. It turned out to be one of my best decisions ever and I have created a quality of life for myself and my family I could only dream about before.
Q5.What part has been the biggest revelation?
Ooh that’s quite a tough one. I’ve learned things about myself and my own resilience, but I think I have been most surprised by how kind and supportive people have been. I came from the public sector (Local Government/NHS) so the business world was a potentially frightening place for me. So many people gave me advice and support in those early days.
Q6.In what way do you interpret the concept of ‘giving for the sake of giving’?
I guess the opposite of that is ‘giving for the sake of getting something back’ which isn’t really giving is it? I began my career in social work, determined to make the world a better place. Experience soon teaches you that it’s not as easy as you think, but there are always small ways in which we can make a difference. Giving freely what we can is one of those ways. It makes the world a better place. That said I often find myself encouraging women to be as giving and kind to themselves as they are to others. We can be our own worst enemy at times in the giving too much department!
Q7.Who keeps you going when times are tough?
I am blessed with some amazing friends, and a really wonderful family. I have been married since 1977 (same guy all the time!) and he is a huge supporter of what I do. I was the main earner so giving it all up to run my own business was a huge risk but he encouraged and supported me every step of the way. Going home is always my favourite journey
Thank you Jane….