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  • Shirley Reeder from Brave Consulting.

Ignorance is Bliss, until it's not.

Updated: Jan 8

Last year I was held against my will in India, (with guns). I haven't been keen to share this story because it happened in the 24 hours before the Brave Women Leadership Program was about to begin in Nepal. I didn’t want this experience linked to the fantastic, and safe, trip that we had.

Photo taken from within the plane - Lucknow India.


The saga only lasted for 24 hours, but in that time my fear to brave scale was experienced to its fullest. The story is now one that I love telling over a nice meal with chilled wine, and I can tell you that I haven’t even had to embellish it, as all the facts remain true. I do, of course, amplify key parts to make them more hilarious or frightening than maybe they were!


The key thing about the whole trip was to introduce women to bravery, not the fear-inducing bravery that some programs offer, but witnessing the bravery of other women and children who are just trying to eke out a living or an education.


The Nepal experience took six months to plan and all involved were obsessed about safety (emotional and physical). Our advance party (the film crew and the CEO of the Aid organisation we partnered with) had planned to attend meetings and capture early footage ahead of the participants' arrival. We had no idea what we were about to experience. Everything started well with each of us getting a row of seats in the bubble of the A380 allowing us to arrive in Dubai refreshed and excited about our final leg into Nepal.


The following 5-hour flight turned into a 24-hour nightmare. In short, 3 aborted landings in storms, denied food and water, diverted to India, twice, trapped in a smoke-filled plane, abandoned in a decommissioned airport, held at gunpoint, moved against our will onto buses not knowing where they were taking us, and so much more 😊.


I witnessed so much in that short 24-hour period (specifically the powerful influence of our CEO, who became the unofficial leader for the 200+ passengers), I also learned a lot about myself. It has taken me a year to begin to digest the “what was that about” and consider how to share some lessons in the work that I do in managing change.


For now some lessons I have learned:

1. Ignorance is bliss until it’s not, and then you need to make some choices as to who you are and how you will respond in that situation – will you be a victim, or will you help yourself and others to some form of victory?


2. Being anxious and scared is normal, and usually temporary. Rely on your conscious and subconscious wisdom. Utilise the wisdom and support of those around you.


3. Be a participant, not a burden, and this doesn’t mean you have to lead, but if it’s you, lead for the whole group (not just your people group – this was important on a plane with various people groups who in some cases were deemed unacceptable in India). If others are leading, then follow in the best way you can, for some, this is quiet participation, for others, it's being active at the center, or at the margins.


4. Reality will set in, and this could send you back to anxiousness and fear, or it might be the moment of absolute clarity and conviction as to what brave next steps you need to take.


Here are some questions for you?

  • Can you afford to stay ignorant? Is there something going on in your home or work that requires your attention?

  • Are you feeling anxious? This is a terrible place to be stuck in, who can you seek help from (a coach, mentor, friend, counselor or colleague)?

  • Are you about to take some brave steps? Will this be a shared and supported experience? Are you equipped to leverage every opportunity for yourself and others?

I’ll leave you with this wise African Quote:


If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together.



I look forward to sharing more of the reflections from this experience with you.


If you want some help with changing your circumstances in a safely planned way, please make contact here.