Pauline Crawford on creating natural confidence and gaining success

Creating natural confidence and gaining success all starts with knowing yourself and valuing YOU more, as you create your BEST life.

BEST = being extraordinary starting today

Once upon a time, I was a relatively happy, unhappy teenager. I thought I knew a lot about ‘me’ and survived by not facing things I didn’t like. I wouldn’t have said boo to anyone and didn’t feel confident as a female. I was also unsure about what I would achieve as a woman. All that feminine stuff challenged me as a young student away from home. I was a tomboy. As a young career woman in the 1970s, I found my professional energy and business acumen. I loved the practical nature of work. Yet only a few years later as a mother of two, I struggled with the maternal side even though I adored my kids. And I didn’t see any future potential for myself other than wife, mother and domestic.

As women, our lives are often a rollercoaster affair, with emotions sweeping us up and down regularly. Even in that first career in marketing, where I had enjoyed myself, I never stepped out into the spotlight. Now I go on stage and talk to hundreds of men and women, inspire them to transform – and I so enjoy it!

So what happened? Were there two people in my story? No, only one, me. Now I have worked out how to be myself and value my natural gifts, the balance of my female energies, my core nature as a woman, and my natural mindset for business. I now can contribute my gifts to create a better world. I am passionate about my role as a grandmother, for Finlay (three and a half years old) and Georgia (15 months old). It has made me more intent than ever to be an active part of creating a glorious world, where males and females will equally fulfill their best potential every day, both in their professional and personal desires.

I am especially focused on how we females can come into our power naturally and more effectively, to bring about the shift needed for a more collaborative and healthy working life. I know that women are able to bring great unity to the world, but it’s not happening. We don’t see huge numbers of women leading organisations. However, we do observe growing numbers of courageous women who work in the business world as you do, and many who run their own business. They all desire a better life and work tirelessly for good causes. They achieve huge workloads for little pay, and put their lives on the line for their families. We know that the majority of Executive Secretaries are female. You are a force to be reckoned with. Yet do you play small too often and not together? What is it we fear? Ourselves, maybe?

Why are women not more naturally empowered to be leaders in their own life? Do you see yourself as a leader in your Executive Secretary role? You are essential to the smooth operation of the business world, yet so often seen as ‘less than’ rather than ‘more than’. Whose story is that? What is it you fear? I believe it is the story that women themselves need to transform if we are to make headway in a world currently lead mainly by men and masculine thinking. So let’s focus here on who you are as a human being, as a woman, as a purposeful business provider, key to the business you service.

My advice to you comes from my own story, where all (good and bad) experiences have taught me well. Ponder on your own story as I share my advice to you.

Never say never – or it will never occur

When you hear yourself say ‘Oh I could never’ or ‘I can’t do it’, think again. I never thought I would divorce my husband, or be a successful business woman, or be capable of being a significant change agent in today’s challenged world. In the past decade, I have walked up two steep mountains of 4,200 metres, when I had never walked more than a few miles before. I have slept rough around a Massai encampment in Kenya, when I’d never ventured into the desert before. I’ve presented on TV without a script, and sang solo in front of my family, when I had never sung on my own until that day. I have also developed a pioneering approach to training and developing people and their natural value, despite never taking a qualification in training. I have created a blueprint for a new conversation between men and women, which I believe will change the way we work and play together. I have big dreams.

Dare to dream – your big dream

If you can’t remember your dreams at night, dream when you’re awake. Create a picture of your ideal world. Paint your intentions in a vision board, a collage of cuttings and words that illustrate what you want. I dared to dream to bring harmony to business where bad behaviour is so often the norm, and stress and pressure overpower our healthy lives as men and women. Since 1999, Corporate Heart has been that dream and my team helps clients (and their workplaces) transform from the heart and change the nature of office stress. Here’s my current vision board. Guess where my dream is taking me? I’m working towards becoming an ‘ambassador of magical conversations’ – towards creating and presenting a chat show, where brave women who have dared to dream can tell their own stories.

One step at a time – go slow to go further

I didn’t leap from the backroom to stage performer over night. I didn’t go from mummy to entrepreneur without challenges. I have transformed my lifestyle multiple times at different stages, often slowly and painfully but always with a smile. I left a 30-year marriage with harmony and minimal distress, even though it was the most painful thing I have ever done. I held my family together with love and gratitude. I built up my career and it fell down, so I built another. I sourced my personal passion by re-training, putting myself on programmes that challenged me. I sought to transform the corporate world, and have created pioneering services that can help people help themselves. I am now on track to create the chat show, which will recognise women who have made great achievements despite coping with the same ups and downs as you and I.

Seek to understand others – value life in all forms

You can mastermind every relationship to be good with genuine unconditional love; some may be great, some strong, some gentle, some fragile, all positive. Over many years of self discovery, with the influence of my loving parents and my two amazing children, I learned to see the differences, the good and the not-so-good in others. It also revealed much about me. Everyone sees their world through their own eyes and the lens of their life experience. If it was a hard life, the lense is tough. If it was a happy life, the lens is rosy. Our view is not ‘the’ view. Be generous in seeing others’ views. If someone is difficult with you, ask what they find difficult about you in that exchange? Their challenges and snipes at you reflect their own needs. Serve their needs and you will find yourself valued. I have managed even the most challenging people by understanding their nature. On occasions, we may go our separate ways, but each relationship is completed with compassion. Let kindness be your magic wand.
Value your own natural potential – it’s a gift

Believe in yourself – why should anyone else if you don’t? You have the potential to be your natural best; to live and work in ways that harness your greatness in all circumstances and manage whatever life deals you. We are born perfect on the inside, with natural gifts. The rest is learnt as we grow. Start to know your natural gifts better, rather than relying only on what you have learned. Are you naturally musical, an artist, a literally type, a wordsmith, a mechanic, an orderly person, a numerical genius, a social servant, a persuasive talker, a scientist asking many questions, or a born outdoors adventurer? These are the natural gifts you bring to your community, your team mates, your bosses, your family, and your friends. When you are best motivated, you will be in the flow of your natural gifts. This starts the value cycle of your life – you. Now in my early 60s, I return to honour my natural gifts as an artist and mechanic, creator of maps and frameworks, and my love of communication and language, social service and people all my life. I align this to my current work and it’s magical for me as I am using my gift and my passion – doing the work I was born to do.

Respect and honour great relationships as keys to success

Behave as if everyone is a valued friend. Honour and value people, especially those most different to you. You can only do this if you truly honour and value people as human beings, regardless of whether they are being difficult. Remember, there is no such thing as a difficult person. I test myself regularly as to whether I am being true to my relationships, both at work and at play, at home and in the street. Am I being truly honest or am I afraid of a rebuff? In the value cycle of life, you can only give this value if you value ‘you’, when you arrive as a guest in the relationship of ‘me and you’. If you truly need to say no – or disagree – to even your closest allies, then speak with genuine self expression and keep to the facts. Don’t get muddled by too much explanation (something women are particularly prone to do). As a woman, be supportive and loving of other women. We all have an emotional cycle. Make your presence valued in the wider social and business circles you meet and work in. Respect relationships are two-way.

Groom, pamper and nurture YOU – always present your BEST

Last but not least, this is a sure sign of self-respect and self-value. It says volumes about you and how you can survive any current. Women are resilient, so let’s show the world we care about ourselves. Our most precious possession is ‘our self’. This is quite literally our body, our mind, our emotional presence and our self-image in this world. It took me a long time to love my female image – wobbly bits and all – at the age of 40, when I studied and worked as a top Image Consultant. Take time out to love who you are and the body you have been gifted with. It is precious and it’s the only one you have.

Own it, love it, care for it, groom it, keep it up to date and take regular advice on the best look for you. Don’t skimp on your diet. Be the right weight. Have regular hair-styling, polish your nails, pamper your feet. Face the world with a genuine and authentic smile that comes from within.

Be the guest that you would always want to invite around to your place. Take responsibility for your welcome, your manners, and your embrace. It’s your value that kick starts the difference to your life and others.

Your story continues…

I am very fortunate in my life to be gifted with many wonderful experiences and great personal challenges, where I can source my wisdom and apply it. I have recently transformed my lifestyle yet again. I have sold my property, stripped out the material baggage and found a new simplicity in living, in a collaborative way, in a beautiful apartment with wonderful female friends. I am just 62 and love the freedom this has given me. It enables me to be fully committed to my dream of being a woman who counts in this world. I am committed to my sisters across the world and my brothers with whom we are here to co-create with and work alongside. I hope there will be a fabulous future, where my grand children will be proud that we all made a difference, right now, being the best we can be.

Be your BEST – be extraordinary starting today!


1. Take time to care – about your body hygiene, your skincare regime, your energy and your fitness. Basically, everything you need to make your whole body smile. You can be beautiful every day and the basics don’t need to cost much. It is vital to shower and smile. Both activities will make you and everyone else happy. Make sure your hair is clean and styled. Long or short, it’s your crowning glory. And don’t forget to show gleaming teeth!

2. Own your clothes – do your clothes fit you? It’s important to wear clothes that are not tight or loose, for your body at the weight you are at now. Don’t wear items just because they got stuck in your wardrobe! Make sure you wear clothes you love and are well dressed and accessorised. Ensure the whole look is fresh, meaningful and connected to your message!

3. Send the message you want – one of success, friendliness, love and affection. A message of personal ownership, influence and authority. Whatever you wear let it be about you – if you don’t know what that style is then take advice from a professional image consultant. Pick one who you like and trust – carefully choose the person who is most like you in looks (they will understand you best).

4. Be prepared and polished at all times – plan in cleaning time for garments, ironing where necessary and mending when damaged. If you value yourself, you will present a polished look. Whether classic formal or casual jeans, you can still look a mess if you don’t put some effort into your look. When your appearance says ‘I care about myself’ it shows you’ll care about others and the environment.

5. Stand on your own two feet – understanding the value you gain when you enter a room and meet people, old friends and new, means you always wear your best look out. You become known as a highly presentable person. You always make an impact of your surroundings. Stand tall, walk gracefully and greet others consistently positively. Engage people whatever the atmosphere but don’t smother them


I was always taught that manners and mindset made me the best guest to have visit. Are you your own best guest? Do you have a social value?

1. Be a good listener and always mind your manners.
2. Respect others people’s time, space and property – especially in a shared environment.
3. Respond to all calls, texts and emails with speed and honesty (and a smile) even when you do not have an answer.
4. Make introductions where appropriate. Be aware of customs and cultures – shake hands firmly with women and men alike as deemed fit.
5. Always be attentive to and make eye contact with the speaker in meetings, group debates and even family conversations.
6. Avoid discussions on topics that can provoke and offend in any social or business conversation. However, do express your personal character through interests and hobbies.
7. Never make promises you cannot keep – however small they seem. Don’t think it’s being nice to say yes all the time. If saying no helps clarify your promise, then say it with responsibility for its impact.
8. Be aware of the social protocol at events – who’s there, what the style is, where the action is. Research what is required before you attend. Be interested in others and be interesting yourself.
9. Establish a consistent outer professional credibility in every situation, however stressed you may be inside. Don’t worry about what others think of you. They’re too busy worrying what you think of them.
10. Relax and enjoy being yourself. Be natural in all situations. Be present in your presence – you choose every moment, make it a joy.

Pauline Crawford is CEO of Corporate Heart. She works with businesses and individuals on improving organisational cultures, transformation and diversity with a special focus on women and their positive influence. Her passion is magical conversations that ... (Read More)

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