Gemma Margerison – “If It Doesn’t Fit Get Rid Of It”

I started my career as a journalist. Fresh out of university with a degree in Creative Writing and English Literature, I set off on what was supposed to be a six-month round-the-world trip and ended up being three and a half years living and working in New Zealand. On my return I stepped away from journalism and began working in admin and apprenticeships. I did this for seven years across a few different companies.

In my final role, I had some responsibility around training, safeguarding, wellbeing, and resilience. Topics that were of a growing interest to me. I had started to do bits of reading and research around wellbeing and mental health after being diagnosed with PTSD in 2015 and incorporated some of this into my master’s degree in International Relations.

The more work I did supporting the apprentices that I worked with, the more I discovered that I could use the love of story and questions from my journalism role, and use them to train as a coach, which I did.

In January 2020 I left my full-time and set up as a Resilience and Recovery Coach working one-to-one with individuals who had been through trauma and difficulty and delivering my newly created resilience training.

In 2021 I published my first book Connected: The 12 Ways of Wellbeing for a Holistically Healthy Life. This made me realise how much I had enjoyed the creative writing element of journalism and how books could spread the message of good health and wellbeing to those who needed to hear it. Off the back of the book, I knew I had to find a way to continue to publish this message in a way that was accessible.

Now, I’m able to combine all my passions and spend my days coaching individuals, training groups, interviewing wellbeing experts, and writing both articles for my website and book for future publications. This has allowed me to team up with some amazing individuals and organisations to produce stories which address social issues such as mental health and being a woman in the workplace.

I wouldn’t say that being a woman has brought unnecessary challenges to my career, but I would say that I’ve noticed a lot of companies promote characteristics rather than skills, and these are often predominately what could be classed as ‘masculine’. I think we need to stop talking about empathy and compassion and the ability to listen as ‘soft skills’ or ‘fluffy’ and recognise that these actually are the characteristics of good, if not great, leaders.

I think one of the biggest lessons I’ve learnt is that when someone tells you that you can’t do something, it’s more of a reflection on them than it is on you. It is about their fears, their lack of understanding, their unwillingness to do what it takes, not mine. This has taken me a long time to get to grips with, but it has caused a fundamental shift in the way I approach my business and my career.

Outside of work I love reading and walking my dog, I love going to the theatre and visiting castles and museums. I dabble in a bit of crochet, and I also like going to my Zumba class. I enjoy spending time with my family, especially with my nieces and nephew who never fail to make me laugh, and I enjoy being curled up on the sofa with my partner and a good television series.

My motto for 2022 at least is ‘if it doesn’t fit, get rid of it’. This just helps me stay focused and moving forward, and not hanging on to things of the past. I like to look at the things I have in my life and ask ‘is it serving me? Is it helping me to get where I’m going?’ I have a really strong vision for the future of my work and my business which makes it a lot easier to put down the things that are potentially stopping me or slowing me down.

I think that notion of asking questions, being curious, and trying things is something I would advise everyone to do. I have learnt a lot of lessons from the questions I have asked and from the times I have tried and failed. What’s kept me going is understanding who I am, what I’m trying to achieve, what I love, and what my strengths are, and using all of that information to take care of myself in the process of moving forward.

I had two music teachers in high school, Mrs B and Mrs Lane and I don’t think my life would have turned out the way it has without them. The music rooms were a safe haven for the creative and sensitive kids like me who probably would not have survived the playground, and I’m so grateful for both of them. With that in mind, I would probably tell my 16-year-old self to pay a little more attention to their wisdom, and to not be defined by the roles you play.

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