Heroines to Channel for Professional Success

Heroines to Channel for Professional Success

I decided that this year I would step up and be a professional.

I shared this with my friend Kerrin, who has a gift in follow-up questions, and she asked me: “What does the professional version of yourself look like?”

I replied with the first thing that popped into my head, “Well, she’s wearing a blazer”. 

For anyone pursuing a passion as a career, it is important to distinguish “the work” from “the job”.

I am a writer, and so as an artist, I write, but as a professional, I publish. I put on a different hat once the work is done, or rather, I put on a blazer. 

Of course I don’t need to wear a physical blazer to be a professional (although I would like one, and I would like it to be pink, so let me know if you see one). I can also wear the traits of heroines I admire, whose courage and certainty I need to borrow sometimes. 

This list in particular includes some flawed characters. Do not become these heroines. Draw on their strengths and be mindful of their weaknesses. Channel what resonates with you, and in doing so, be more true to yourself. You’re not creating a new character, but understanding who she is to begin with. 

HEROINES TO CHANNEL FOR PROFESSIONAL SUCCESS

Joy in “Joy”

Heroines to Channel for Professional Success

The character Joy, who is inspired by a collection of real-life entrepreneurial women, is steadfast and determined. No one would blame her for collapsing in the overwhelm of the responsibilities thrown on her as the sole caretaker of her family. She not only survives this situation, but sparkles with a vigor for creating. When she gets an idea, she runs with it. She is not too proud to ask for help. She demands her worth. She holds unwavering belief in her work, and defends it until no one can deny her.

Andy Sachs in “The Devil Wears Prada”

Heroines to Channel for Professional Success

Sometimes you have to make personal sacrifices to succeed professionally. Andy treads this fine line, and learns how to set boundaries for herself. We watch her navigate how to further her career, bending to expectations without breaking herself (although she comes close). She learns to dress the part, play the game, get ahead, and make a name for herself on her own terms.

Blair Waldorf in “Gossip Girl”

Heroines to Channel for Professional Success

From her W internship days to taking over Waldorf Designs, Blair shows up like a pro as if she were born that way. And as entrepreneurial Eleanor’s daughter, she practically was. Blair thrives on recognising her strengths (and slips into desperation when she knows it’s not her strong suit). She reigns in line with herself and her style, and when she is certain of her own success, she gets it.

Tiana in “Princess and the Frog”

I remember Daddy told me “Fairytales can come true
You gotta make ’em happen, it all depends on you”
So I work real hard each and every day
Now things for sure are going my way

Carrie Bradshaw in “The Carrie Diaries”

Heroines to Channel for Professional Success

From the little I’ve seen of Sex and the City, grown-up Carrie lives a pretty glamorous life for a writer, but The Carrie Diaries explores how a younger Carrie got herself to the top. Carrie works her way into the New York magazine scene as a teenager, channeling her creativity, putting in the hours of work, and advocating for herself. She is certain she belongs, and isn’t afraid to rank herself among the pros.

Who do you channel for professional success? Let me know in the comments!

P.S. Super-inspiring films for productivity and work ethic

The Best of Heroine Training 2016

How do you measure a year in the life?

in blog posts, in cups of coffee.

The crazy wonderful thing about writing here is that I have a time capsule of thoughts, only an archive away. These are the highlights of 2016, the writing of which I am most proud, the collection that represents my year.

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JANUARY

The Very Best of Alan Rickman

The Very Best of Alan Rickman

Although I plan what I will publish weeks and months in advance, sometimes I am compelled to introduce a new idea into the calendar last-minute, and it is often these pieces that are filled with the most passion. My blog post schedule is like my philosophy on finding purpose in life: do something until you feel the urge to change the plan.

Alan Rickman’s death shook me as if he were a true friend of mine, and through his art, he was and is. Like many of my favourite actors, I was introduced to him through Harry Potter, but his body of work represents so much more scope.
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FEBRUARY

How to organise your to-do list

How to Organise Your To-Do List: Passion Planner Edition

The first of my extensive planning guides was on How to Organise your To-Do List. I have been obsessed with productivity and organisation since childhood, and only recently realised that what may seem obvious to me is worth writing out. I hope it helps!

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MARCH

TAYLOR SWIFT SONGS THAT ARE ACTUALLY ABOUT JANE AUSTEN HEROINES

Taylor Swift Songs that are Actually about Jane Austen Heroines

Besides a couple of master’s dissertation-writing pomodoro sessions fuelled by flat whites, the most focused I’ve been in a while was on a train to the Isle of Skye, in deep, serious discussion with Anna-Claire (aka Mansfield Snark) over which Taylor Swift songs best suited which Jane Austen heroines. This list is one of my proudest accomplishments of 2016, and possibly ever.

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The Art of the Afternoon Singalong

My two biggest business projects of 2016 were the relaunch of my ebook, Own Your Story to include an Addendum on Depression, and writing and delivering my Leading Lady course. Nothing makes me happier than hearing from students, telling me what they have accomplished through the course.

I have been trying to find my place in the arts for years: performing onstage was an integral part of my childhood, and while I knew I didn’t want to pursue a career as a practitioner, I was not ready to let that passion go. Sharing the intrinsic value of the arts is a life mission of mine (it’s why I did my master’s degree in Theatre and Performance Studies), and Leading Lady is my love letter to the arts through self development.

The complex thing about working in the self development industry is that my own life is an ongoing research project. To prepare for Leading Lady I committed to singing and practicing music more, a forgotten habit I now deem vital to my daily wellbeing.

The Art of the Afternoon Singalong

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MAY

MY ALTER EGO, PRINCESS XANDRA THE BOLD

I regularly reflect on what it means to be ‘a heroine in training’. Heroine Training means channeling heroines you admire and creating a character for yourself, all the while being more true to your authentic self. Being a heroine is not about putting on a costume, but about dressing to express yourself. Being a heroine is not about living a fairytale, but about being mindful of the story you are in. My alter-egos and the way I choose to dress them remind me of who I am and wish to be.

my Alter Ego, Princess Xandra the Bold

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JUNE

You don’t owe anyone excuses

This simple but powerful message is the essence of ownership. A heroine’s actions do not require explanation. Period.

You Don't Owe Anyone Excuses

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JULY

I wrote a song about Harry Potter

Another big project of 2016 was revamping my YouTube channel as Heroine Training television (HTtv). I’d been sitting on so many Harry Potter parody songs written years ago, and the Monkey encouraged me to share them. Practicing the guitar parts with purpose was a fun project that I intend to continue.

I Wrote a Song About Harry Potter

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AUGUST

Love yourself as a work in progress

This is probably my favourite article I’ve written to date. It is dedicated to so many talented and beautiful women I have worked with, who have shared with me their insecurities. Vulnerability is confidence.

Love Yourself as a Work in Progress

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SEPTEMBER

You need a day off

This wisdom, of intentional work and intentional breaks, is probably the most valuable lesson I learned from my Oxford degree.

You Need a Day Off

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OCTOBER

How to socialise as an introvert

Owning my identity as an introvert has been a key to adulthood. Like my experience with depression, I wish I had heard more voices on the subject as I was growing up. My video about what it means to be an introvert is one of the most important messages I can deliver.

How to Socialise as an Introvert

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NOVEMBER

Katniss was not an activist

A big theme for me this year is that feelings are real, and are ultimately what drive us. The character of Katniss Everdeen is widely misunderstood. Katniss is motivated not by social change or revolution. She is motivated by her core value in family, by an enraged urge to protect her sister. In the trilogy, others read her actions as political statements, when really she is acting on personal motives. She is a reminder that activism and politics are driven by personal desires, and I was thinking of this especially in light of the American presidential election.

Katniss Was Not an Activist

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DECEMBER

Inspiring Books for Getting Back on Track

Lately I have been turning to these motivational texts as inspiration for doing my own work. I find myself telling everyone to read The War of Art especially, and keep a copy in my already-too-heavy bag I tote around to my coffeeshop offices. Powerful writing reminds me of the importance in my own work, and my responsibility to keep articulating my ideas.

Inspiring Books for Getting Back on Track

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What’s coming in 2017

This year marks the second year of running Leading Lady and year 4 of Lumos Your Life. These courses are my passion, and I can’t wait to meet the new students, my constant inspiration.

I will also be presenting my first in-person workshop on Hogwarts Houses and the Heroine’s Journey at the Granger Leadership Academy. I had been dreaming of working with the Harry Potter Alliance for years (it’s even on my birthday list!), so it was an honour to be invited. I hope to see some of you there this March!

This is my year of writing. I am finishing up my Life Lessons from Gilmore Girls book to send to publishers, and I will also be finding new ways to spread the values of Heroine Training through other publications. In the meantime, I will continue to write lessons for you here. I hope they help you on your journey.

I would love to know: what would you like to read about this year? Which topics have resonated with you most? What else would you like to see me cover?

Thank you for your thoughts, and thank you for reading.

xandra-signature

Katniss Was Not an Activist

Katniss Was Not an Activist

Let other pens dwell on politics.

I’ve avoided being political because ‘it’s not my place’ and because I’m so unclear about what policies I support. When I take political spectrum tests I’m smack dab in the centre because I want benefits for everyone and taxes for no one. The world doesn’t really work like my disjointed utopia.

This election, however, transcended politics.

One thing I’ve learned, from this election (and from Survivor), is that emotions are what primarily matter to people, whether we admit it or not. Emotions come before logic, before experience (For example, TIME magazine argued that “Hillary Clinton built a machine. The nation wanted a movement.”). 

November 8th was a wake up call. I remember thinking there was no way Donald Trump could be a Republican nominee let alone THE candidate let alone THE President-Elect. 

As commentators have put it, his voters took Mr Trump seriously but not literally, even as his critics took him literally but not seriously.” – The Economist

Even now I find myself thinking there is no way he will follow through on his political promises. There is no way he can continue to lead through fear. Based on my poor track record regarding our President-Elect, I’ve decided it’s time to stop assuming these things and start doing something about them.

I’m not ‘an activist’. But neither was Katniss Everdeen.

Our Hunger Games heroine was not out to revolutionise Panem or take down the Capital. She volunteered as tribute because she wanted to save her sister. She threatened to eat the poison berries because she refused to kill Peeta. Through these actions she made bold political statements, but throughout the trilogy Katniss is motivated not by The People, but by her people.

Aren’t we all?

Politics and economics are systems designed to support our lives. Just systems. Ultimately we all want the same things: safety, freedom, happiness, liberty and justice for all…

“Understanding is the first step to acceptance. Without acceptance there can be no recovery.” – Albus Dumbledore

When something big happens, I want to understand. One good thing that comes with hightened emotions is an urgency, an energy, to be more aware and to react. Let’s do this constructively.

Many voices on the internet presume that the results of the election is a tragedy for everyone. Counting down to the final announcement, newscasters said in disbelief, ‘This is not what America wanted’ when, looking at the states colouring in red, it kind of looks like exactly what America wanted. Many many people feel hurt, while many many others think that this is okay. 

Politics and policy aside, right now many people feel scared, and personally attacked. It’s not about winning and losing.

I felt this way when Britain voted to leave the European Union. I woke up flooded with every hurtful comment, slur, and assumption directed towards me as an American and as a non-Brit. Everything that made me feel unwelcome, ignorant, and unimportant, even though it’s not logically about me at all. I’m not Europe nor European.

I trust that America was not voting for misogyny, xenophobia, homophobia, or racism. America was voting to make America great, but the problem with this nonspecific language is that it sweeps all the baggage and complications under the rug.  Albus Dumbledore once plotted with Grindelwald to fight ‘for the greater good’. His initial desire to protect wizard-kind meant fatal harm to other humans without magical power. 

As many across the internet have said, it’s not enough to tweet hashtags in support of causes we believe in. Ranting on Facebook won’t change minds. Let’s feel the way we feel, let others feel the way they feel, and then let’s talk about it together.

So let’s talk about this.

On Election Day I shared a photo of Lady Gaga all dressed up in her voting couture, and in the back of my mind questioned whether I should have even made this much of ‘a political statement’. I realise now that telling people to vote isn’t the point. I realise now that not saying anything is not being neutral, that it instead is silent acceptance of the way things are. Mr Trump was elected, whether because of his hurtful polarising opinions or despite them. 

What I think is important is to be able to talk about these things. That’s all. Just have conversations about your perspective and my perspective and the new ideas we can construct together. I want to hear about how you feel. 

I feel compelled to do something, just as I did after the Boston bombings. Not because the two events are comparable in fact, but in how they made me feel. What I did then was write about it, and so here I am, writing about this. In my confusion and uncertainty following the election, I turned to my favourite writers. Leo Babauta wrote about Compassion in the Midst of Madness. Sarah von Bargen wrote about 9 Real Actionable Things We Can Do About Trump

I am not writing to rally behind a political party. When [Dumbledore and] I say that we are only as strong as we are united, weak as we are divided, I am on Team America, Team Planet, and Team Human Race.

We have to be able to have conversations before we can change minds.

If we believe that things Mr Trump says are wrong, we can’t just shout and hope people will hear and change their minds. We have to also talk with each other. My opinions are only such because of other people.

Here at Heroine Training I celebrate the value of fiction not as a means of escaping our world, but of exploring it. Through Harry Potter, the Hunger Games, and many others, I have expanded my view of politics and good and evil. I see the world through the lens of Hogwarts, and while people will always dismiss that view as childish, I know firmly that it is not. 

I created Heroine Training as a safe space for fiction to be cherished. By being your own heroine I want you to feel that this is also a space for you to be truthful and open about your opinions and experiences, the story that you have personally lived. Please feel welcome to share in the comments, in our Facebook community, or to reach out to me personally to continue the conversation.

Xandra