CFO South Africa Women's Dinner keynote encourages women to show up to themselves


Beyond the Dress Founder Lori Milner: Women need to celebrate progress instead of aiming for perfection.

Women are not great at showing up for ourselves, says author and businesswoman Lori Milner. Lori presented the keynote address at the 2019 CFO & CHRO South Africa Working Wonderwomen’s dinner in Sandton, on 1 August.

In her talk – entitled “Showing up to yourself: In business & in life” – Lori said that although women excel at ‘holding it together’ for everyone else, at work and in the family, “we are not making self-care a priority.”

As a trainer, mentor, and founder of consultancy Beyond the Dress, Lori encourages women to actively, intentionally carve out space for themselves using the acronym ACT, which stands for “Attitude; Consistency; Trust”.

Top takeaways from Lori’s presentation – the lessons that had delegates nodding emphatically – include: self-care is not selfish; and time is not the enemy. Rather when we struggle to fit in time for ourselves (to gym, to take time out, to read for pleasure), it is because we are putting other people’s agendas before our own.

“Balance doesn’t exist when we don’t appear in the calendar,” she says. “We feel out of balance because we’re not making time for ourselves.” Furthermore, our culture of instant gratification is becoming a barrier to creating and celebrating “micro wins”, little achievable incremental goals along the way. That is the consistency issue. You consistently show up for yourself, to achieve your micro wins, and take time to acknowledge them before adjusting the goalposts.

“Replace perfection with progress,” she encourages.  Finally, there is the “glue that holds it all together”, what Lori says her daughter might call the “magic unicorn glitter”, and that is trust. She says you need to trust in the process and preserve.

“In consistently showing up for ourselves, showing how strong we are, we build up resilience and become mentally strong. Achieve this. Celebrate it, and then press repeat, she says, and that is the “difference between ‘one day’ and ‘day one’”.

Read more: Challenges and solutions shared at CFO South Africa Women’s Dinner panel discussion

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