Resilience, Diabetes and Me

I haven’t ever had a desire to climb mountains (or ski down them). I never thought of myself as brave or courageous, but when I did my training to become a Resilient Leaders Consultant a great transformation took place. I began to really consider my own hidden disability and what my own resilience looked like after living with this for over 50 years, what kind of person had it made me?

I suppose the other question I had to ask myself was, why, through my leadership career I had always kept my diabetes as quiet as possible. I never saw it as a strength, I thought that if I expressed how I felt, the impact it had on my everyday life, the continual adjustments I had to make that somehow that would mean that others would not consider me a good leader. In May 2020, in the middle of the first lock down had achieved my 50 years of being diabetic. An event that was marked by a medal

Interesting the lockdown had made me confront my condition in a totally different way than before, rather than not ‘publicising my diabetes’ I had to confront it head on and tell everyone as I fell into the government’s definition of a ‘vulnerable group’. After all my life being told there was nothing I couldn’t do, suddenly there seemed to be nothing I could do. My leadership had to be done remotely and I was unable to be on the front line with my staff.

I used the Resilient Leaders Elements to support me through this tough time. I was upset and I was angry but gradually I accepted that this was a time to let others take a visible lead and for me to focus on the aspect of being service to others. I found out about the story behind my medal, which led me to question if I was doing a disservice to others in not acknowledging my diabetes was so much part of me.

The story of the Alan Narbarro Medal       

Alan Nar barro was diagnosed, at 7 years old when he was diagnosed as diabetic before insulin was available. It was literally a death sentence.

Due to family knowledge, he was able to become one of the first people in Britain to be given insulin. Through his life, his leadership was demonstrated in service to others. He worked at combating discrimination against young people with diabetes, at a time when diabetics were often denied opportunities and jobs because of perceptions and misunderstanding about their condition.

So, where am I now?

I’ve realised that I’m now at a point where the work I’ve done with other leaders has meant I can now pull back. Others are stepping up to lead. The training I’ve done to refine my skills has really enabled me to consider ‘who I am’ and how that is linked to ‘what I do. I know that have the skills which underpin my own resilience and how to use them.

And the medal? Well, it won’t lie forgotten in a drawer but sit in a frame, where it can be seen, after all where would I be now if Alan Nabarro had decided to keep quiet?

Joanne Stanley-Bell June 2020

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As individuals we thrive when working collaboratively, when we seeded the idea of Leadership 43, we collectively had 43 years of leadership service. We have all led schools, small rural schools to three form entry urban schools to a ‘boutique’ and effective Multi Academy Trust.

We have all led in times of turbulence, challenge, and high pressure. The element that brought us together is our passion that the development of leadership at all levels within an organisation should be a given.

We use our collective knowledge, skills, expertise and learning to support your organisation in providing high quality leadership development for your employees. We are all accredited Resilient Leader Consultants and use this as part of our extensive toolkit.

To find out how we could support you and your organisation visit our website Leadership 43 or email us at enquiries@leadership43.com

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