how it all began

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Children tend to be born with an innate confidence – until they’ve been disrupted by the adult world and self-doubt creeps in. My sister and I were fortunate in being raised single-handedly by a mother who instilled a tremendous sense of self-belief in us. She gave us the drive to succeed. I started my business career at a young age by helping her with bookkeeping from the age of eight and ran my own micro-enterprise from my primary school gates selling peppermint creams!

That childhood confidence served me well. I was awarded a bursary at the age of just nine, from one of Britain’s top private girls’ boarding schools and later a first class degree from St Andrews University.

I embarked on a marketing career in management consulting and that’s when my confidence took a nosedive. Don’t get me wrong, I worked with some truly inspiring people - both men and women - who encouraged, coached and supported me along the way. But the consulting world requires an inner strength to be able to speak up and hold your own. I didn’t always feel good at this. In fact, I was frightened in a way that I had rarely experienced. How could someone like me, who loves to sing – my lifelong hobby – and who would jump at the opportunity to act at school and at university became such a quivering wreck in front of a work-related audience? I felt like an imposter and wondered why on earth anyone would want to listen to me. This continued throughout my career and, given half a chance, I would always put someone else forward for opportunities before myself.

After working for the Management Consultancies Association for seven years, I co-founded Source Global Research, a leading provider of research, data and strategic advice. It coincided with the birth of my first child. Combining work and motherhood was challenging but I was fortunate to have a supportive husband who not only helped with the business, but also stayed at home to look after our daughter. I knew that I was a better mother when I was working, but it was still tough trying to fulfil both roles simultaneously.

Five years ago after the birth of my second child, I gave up full-time work to prioritise my family. Raising one child was demanding enough, but two mentally and physically exhausting.

I also spent this period of transition reflecting on what I was really good at and what I might do next.  There were many low moments at the bottom of the rollercoaster (usually after the children had kept me up all night) when I questioned whether I was good enough to work at all.

Nevertheless, looking back I realise it was an important period of transition, during which I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and propelled myself to say ‘yes’ to opportunities that inwardly I wanted to reject. I spent time learning how to speak up and find that inner confidence that would enable me to banish my previous terrors. I retrained, undertook a foundational course with The Coaching Academy and participated in a 12-month leadership programme with Dr Joanna Martin and her team at ‘One of Many’. During that time I became an active member of networks of women who faced similar challenges to me.  

When I started to focus on my strengths, I quickly came to realise that my passion in life is in making effective and fruitful connections. And my purpose is to use this ability to create growth for all of us at a personal, business and world level. That was the genesis of ‘My Confidence Matters’. What I know now is that confidence is something that can be acquired or regained.

By joining us on this journey, you too can make a lasting impact and achieve the life you want to live.

I look forward to meeting you soon!

Joy Burnford

It has been a pleasure working with such an inspirational and lovely lady. You filled me with confidence and I really learnt a lot from you.