Don’t be afraid to shine your light

Don't be afraid to shine your light - featuring Alice Rixon

I met Alice Rixon through the beautiful platform we all know as LinkedIn. As I have come to discover over and over, what we know of people and what we see is always just a tip of the iceberg. There is so much more to uncover if we take the time and really listen.

Alice’s story

Alice Rixon

At the outset, I reached out to ask Alice to share her story at Thrive because Alice recently completed seven marathons in seven days. She did this with a fundraising goal of $10,000 for Bravehearts, Australia’s leading child protection organisation working to prevent child sexual assault and exploitation.

Alice said in a LinkedIn post that, “I reminded myself of my dedication to experimentation and that every experience has a lesson for me to learn”.

My goal for Thrive has, since 2017, been simple: enable women to be seen, be heard and be valued. The meetup goal was, among other things, to look at Alice’s career journey (which started with the Royal Australian Air Force and then with the Department of Defence and KPMG) as well as what made Alice take up the seven marathon challenge.

She opened the conversation by getting straight into the heart of the matter: Alice is a survivor of childhood abuse and as a survivor, is forever affected by her childhood trauma.

So here’s what amazing – Alice opened up and shared her story. It was raw and she spoke openly about her trauma. She was articulate and brave.

Thrive Meetups are intimate online (since the pandemic) sessions for career women. Each time I host these meetups, there may be a handful of regulars who had been coming to the face to face meetups prior but there are always far more new guests. What scares me always is the fragile dynamic of the session as it unfolds.

You can never be sure how the guests will come together, see each other, open up and feel comfortable enough to have a meaningful conversation. All of which needs to happen within a tight time frame and with a roomful of strangers.

That said, it continues to astound me, even now, how women have come together and feel safe enough to engage and open up about the things happening in their lives and careers at Thrive meetups. Innermost thoughts and feelings are shared and new bonds forged. For this, I am grateful.

“I’m allergic to asking for help”.

Alice said, “I have always been afraid of failing in life. But at the same time, I also love to rip the Band-Aid off on issues I face and set myself unique stretch goals”.

It took Alice three years to gather the courage to register for Braveheart’s 777 Marathon as a national runner in 2020. It took her a further five months after registering to write her introductory fundraising page.

Needless to say, she faced a few challenges.

She had never run a marathon before, so this was easily the most difficult physical goal she had set herself. She decided to raise $10,000 knowing that there were also many other worthy causes out there. She knew how daunting everything was.

How did she do it?

First, she trained hard for eight months. Second, she started talking to anyone she could to get advice and tips about running. That was hard because as Alice put it, “I’m allergic to asking for help”.

As a result, she began to meet amazing people who offered help and support. She started to grow her network. She began putting up posts on LinkedIn about her goal and training and received a lot of written support.

Training was difficult but she adjusted it to suit her particular needs. She understood her body and worked with it, rather than forcing herself to simply do prescribed things. She looked inward and paid attention.

It blows me away how Alice has transcended her situation. I cannot imagine for a moment what life must have been like for herself, her mother and siblings and what courage it took at the age of 12 to step forward and take charge of the situation that had been unfolding.

We need to talk about this

Sexual assault continues to plague women as we can see unfolding on Australian news.

This ranges from Chanel Contos’s petition for earlier sex education in schools to hundreds of testimonies from former Sydney schoolgirls, Australian politics in the wake of Brittany Higgins’ rape allegation as  well as hundreds of women writing in from across the country about the traumas they suffered alongside the feelings of shame, humiliation and fear they have endured for decades.

Alice said about her situation, “We need to talk about this. If I am going to be uncomfortable, it’s because I am learning something from it. I want to reverse inspire someone which means to be inspired by others who I have somehow inspired and supported. I believe you can be whoever you want to be fundamentally. I want to help others. I want to better myself in whatever capacity I can”.

Alice explained in a LinkedIn post, “… as with Anne-Marie Rice, I don’t see myself as a trail-blazer. There are many other women who have gone where I’ve gone before, further and have accomplished greater things. However, in saying that, regardless of what I end up achieving, I am a role model. I am someone who can help our generation and the next work out… how. How to make a long term career and a committed parenting role (or other role) outside work sustainable…”.

As we closed the meetup 80 minutes later, one of my meetup guests, Suemitra Selvaratnam posed a great question. Sue asked Alice how she viewed the distinction between socialising and networking. Alice shared that she saw networking as more about building rapport and a connection with the other person. For this, Alice was prepared to lower her guard in order to build trust. This was something she honed during her consulting days. On the flipside, Alice viewed socialising as being a far more guarded affair. She would be more in control in those situations. This article cannot begin to cover all that we discussed but hopefully, it sheds some light on Alice Rixon.

Don’t be afraid to shine your light. This was the theme we explored and it’s clear Alice is not afraid to do that. Alice lights the way for many others to come, with her raw candour, indomitable spirit and willingness to share her story.

Thrive Meetup #23 presents Don’t be afraid to shine your own light with Alice Rixon. 27 March 2021. Hosted by Rowena Morais

Guests included: Suemitra Selvaratnam, Hester Spiegel, Ubah Gabris, Kari Sutton, Usha Devi, Jen Steer, Maddy Rentmeester. Headline image features Alice Rixon.

Find out more about Thrive meetups or sign up for an upcoming meetup.

Alice Rixon is Managing Associate at Rob Dobson & Associates. She has a demonstrated history of working in the management consulting industry and is passionate about making a difference and creating a new and better normal life for all.

Programme Director at VerticalDistinct.com, a media and learning organisation, Rowena Morais provides support through curated learning, communication and content development. She supports HR and Tech professionals through digital resources and internationally accredited programmes delivered across APAC and the Middle East. Author of Build a Body of Work, Rowena was Founding Editor of HR Matters Magazine in Malaysia for eight years. A LinkedIn profile writer, ghostwriter and editor, she helps organisations and senior executives with communication, branding and content development. Over the last decade, she has been helping people refine their LinkedIn profiles and digital presence. Rowena runs meetups for HR folk and career women in both Kuala Lumpur and Canberra. She runs her boutique marketing and communications consultancy, Digital Confluence, from Canberra. Invited to the TEDx stage twice, Rowena delivers workshops on leveraging LinkedIn and has a Skillshare class, Build Influence through LinkedIn. You get two months premium membership free when you sign up on Skillshare where you can take her class and more – visit https://skl.sh/2KqhEfp

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