Lessons on courage from Ita Buttrose

By Margie Warrell | Feb 11, 13 08:31 AM

Ita is gutsy, brave and courageous and that's helped her get to the top.

While writing my new book Stop Playing Safe, I approached numerous people who have been really courageous throughout their career and working lives. In between my fair share of “Thank you, but no thank you” responses (which were wonderful opportunities for building resilience), I managed to secure interviews with quite a few really amazing people to gain their insights on why courage is important for success.

Ita Buttrose was one of them. This year she was named Australian of the Year and I wanted to share with you some of her wisdom that has helped her become one of Australia’s most respected women.

Ita left school at 15 to pursue her ambition to be a journalist. By the time she was just 23 she had asked Sir Frank Packer, head of Australian Consolidated Press, to be appointed editor at the Sydney Telegraph. Her boldness paid off then as it has many times throughout her trailblazing career.

When it comes to asking for what you want, Ita believes it’s vital to put yourself ‘out there’. “You have to let people know you have ambition. You have to flag it with them. They can’t guess by looking at you.”

Her willingness to take risks led to her launching the groundbreaking Cleo magazine. Highly risqué at the time its first edition was released in 1972, Cleo was an immediate hit, selling out its first print run in two days. But as Ita said:

“You have to risk your reputation or you will never know what you can do. The world would be a very dull place if no-one rocked the boat.”

Ita went on to become editor of Australia’s leading magazine, the Australian Women’s Weekly then later launched her own Ita magazine. It was a bold move and many skeptics doubted it could succeed. It didn’t. However despite the fact that it eventually folded Ita told me has no regrets. She doesn’t believe in them.

“Life is full of challenges and setbacks. What’s important is that you are there participating. Mistakes aren’t to be avoided but to be accepted if you are going to achieve the success you want. Every experience shapes you, gives depth, builds resilience and helps you decide which step you are going to take next.”

Many times over the years Ita has refused to play safe or conform to expectations. Working right through her second pregnancy, and never pausing in her career to raise her two children in the early 70’s when most women left the workforce to raise children, is just one example. But Ita has never let concerns of what people think hold her back and never succumbed to Australia’s Tall Poppy Syndrome.

“You can’t spend your life worrying about others opinions, disappointing people, getting approval and making others happy. If you do that you will make yourself miserable. Your life is your business. No one else’s. You have to forge a path that’s true for you.”

Of course forging your own path isn’t always the smoothest path, but Ita believes what matters most when the chips are down is to stay focused on the future, and never succumb to self-doubt. “You’ve just got to pick yourself up and never give up. Never. Some of the best opportunities can emerge out of failure. What’s important is not to dwell on where you are now, but to focus on where you’d like to go from here.”

Whatever challenges you are facing right now, I hope you can apply some of Ita’s wisdom to face them with more courage and a greater faith in your own ability to emerge from them stronger, wiser and better off.

Margie is a Premium member of Business Chicks, request her online business card and connect with her here.

Margie Warrell is an author, Forbes columnist, coach, speaker and mum of four kids. Founder of Global Courage, Margie is passionate about supporting women to live and lead with greater courage. Her newest book Stop Playing Safe (Wiley) comes out in March 2013.  More info at www.margiewarrell.com and check out Margie's newest book Stop Playing Safe here.


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jhon jimmy
By jhon jimmy SA | Feb 22, 2017, 03:51 AM

then later launched her own Ita magazine. It was a bold move and many skeptics doubted it could succeed. It didn’t. However despite the fact that it eventually folded Ita told me has no regrets. She doesn’t believe in them.telecharger minecraft gratuitement | how to get free psn codes emailed to you Reply

Rebecca Summers
By Rebecca Summers NSW | Feb 16, 2013, 04:03 PM

Ita Buttrose is one strong and courageous woman! She has worked so hard to get to where she is. We were lucky enough to have Ita speak at 5 Business Chicks Breakfasts last year and it was so inspiring to hear her incredible story, she certainly has a lot of wisdom to share. Thank you for sharing this with us Margie. Reply

Qing Wang
By Qing Wang ACT | Feb 11, 2013, 03:21 PM

I get inspiration and courage from women like Ita. I've always wanted to help people and be part of a sustainable solution to poverty. Finally I took that step. I started a not-for-profit business called Global Handmade (www.globalhandmade.com.au) that buys and sells fair trade handmade products from developing countries and returns full profit to help people in need. Having no business experience what so ever, and having a full time job, I'm sure there'll be plenty of obstacles ahead, but I'll never give up. Whever I have a bad day, I'll draw inspiration from women like Ita. Thank you Margie for sharing this!Reply

Brittany Woodford
By Brittany Woodford NSW | Feb 11, 2013, 10:51 AM

Great article Margie - my goodness Ita is one incredible and wise woman!Reply

Rebecca Bodman
By Rebecca Bodman NSW | Feb 11, 2013, 10:09 AM

Everything that comes out of Ita's mouth makes me love her more! Thanks Margie for sharing this.Reply

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