053. Taking a Brilliant Gamble on Yourself with Blaire Palmer

First, Blaire went grey, then she took her daughter out of school, sold her house, bought an RV, got passports for the dogs and hit the road. How’s that for a midlife crisis?

But Blaire doesn’t call it that. She calls it her Brilliant Gamble.

Why is Blaire a great guest for your show?

There comes a time in life when you want to live on your own terms, when you think ‘If not now, when?”.

Blaire is a “serial Brilliant Gambler”​​, ​​having ​​shaken up her life over and over since she first left her secure job as a BBC journalist to become one of Europe’s first certified coaches at age 29, nearly 20 years ago. ​Recently – even with all of her experience of changing her life – midlife hit Blaire like a blow to the head. And she’s not alone.

We live in a world where women still bear the brunt of most of the childcare and household chores, juggling “life” and a hefty, high profile, high octane career. Add to that ageing parents, our own changing bodies and a slow dawning that we’re more than halfway through our allotted time on earth. Quite frankly, it’s why a lot of people find themselves saying, ‘screw it’ a lot.

Blaire is brutally honest about the realities of changing your life. She’s passionate about breaking the rules of work, living on your own terms, creating a unique blend where work, life and self sit in harmony and helping others to take the road less travelled.

And Blaire doesn’t just spout endless theory. She puts her theories – conventional wisdom, personal hunches and inspirational ideas – to the test. As she says “I wouldn’t have any credibility to help other people change their life if I wasn’t willing to have a go first”.

Key Points from the Episode with Blaire Palmer:

  • After a successful career in journalism at the BBC and elsewhere, Blaire took the leap to go off on her own as a leadership and business consultant nearly 20 years ago.
  • After a couple of decades in her independent practice, she decided she needed to shake things up in her business and life, and decided to take a year with her daughter and dogs to travel around Europe and experience things first hand – something she calls her Brilliant Gamble.
  • She could have looked at all the reasons not to do it or barriers to doing it, and say it’s rational to let that idea fizzle. There were risks that it wouldn’t work – that her business couldn’t keep running while she’s on the road, that they would run out of money or any number of things that would make it a failure.
  • Blaire decided she needed to rip the band-aid off, take away the connections to not going full-force forward, and go for it.
  • To do something that’s hard, you have to make the status quo so uncomfortable that the pain of change is less than the pain of staying put.
  • She and her daughter bought a camper van and drove all over Europe, having experiences first hand. At the same time, her daughter was home-schooling (or van-schooling) and Blaire ran her consulting business. The logistics of the travel meant she had to learn two things:
    • How to make her business run even if she only had a couple of hours of solid internet connection to make things work
    • How to let things go when things just didn’t align for it all to go smoothly (e.g. files not uploading fast enough).
  • Interestingly, the forcing mechanism of the logistics taught her really well how to see what 60-70% of what you’re doing isn’t translate to being valuable so she could make smarter choices than she used to.
  • Blaire says she’s made it impossible to do the wrong thing by putting barriers in place, like the demands of running her home, home-schooling her daughter, etc. That keeps her on top of making the right choices with her priorities and keeping from going back to 9+ hours of desk work each day.
  • We talked about the idea of control. While Blaire wouldn’t say her day to day is 100% in her control, her overall life is. There are things that come up that are not of her choosing, like illness in the family or emergencies that pop up. However, the life she’s living is of her choosing, and that’s the most important form of control.
  • She came away from the trip with several key pieces of knowledge:
    • You won’t know until you go. Waiting to be ready won’t teach you what you need to know. Only embarking on the journey will reveal what the journey is going to be about, whether you’re ready or not!
    • Changing your situation won’t change your statebut it will reveal what state you’re in​​. Changing your life is not the end of the journey. External changes (new house, new job, new location, etc) are only the start of the emotional and psychological journey you’re thinking about.
    • If you’re alone you’ll go home. Most of us think we can do this on our own but we need a community.
    • There’s no such thing as a balanced life…just a balanced mind. ​​No amount of money or time will make you feel good about your life unless your mind is balanced, you are present in the life you have and you appreciate that everything is just right already.
    • Rolling the dice is your job. Where it lands isn’t. Change is unpredictable and we must learn to accept that the journey is never what you thought it would look like when you took the first step…but, that’s the fun! You throw the dice but you don’t control where it lands, only what you choose to do once the numbers are revealed.
  • Fear of failure and fear of success are huge barriers for adults. She advocates to have a worst-case scenario plan so you know what you can do if things don’t work, but most of our fears about failure are unfounded. The only time you really fail is if you stop playing the game.
  • We talked about whether some people are wired to be able to take brilliant gambles than others. Blaire has seen people who are definitely more risk averse or risk tolerant, but it’s never too late to change. We need to ask, if we aren’t going to do something that gives us joy and challenge now, when might we do it?
  • I asked if it’s about the fear or missing out or the draw of opportunity. Blaire feels it varies by person.
  • Instead of believing something isn’t possible, you have to believe that it is, and ask the questions about it from there. If it was possible for me to do X, how would I do it? What might I have to do to make it happen? This helps draw us past the barriers and toward the way to make the possibilities work. Frame from possibility to find solutions rather than failures.
  • We did talk about the word choice of “Gamble” in the name of what Blaire did. It shouldn’t have to be a gamble to take a chance on ourselves and going after what we really want. We should be the best place to bet on, so that’s what makes it brilliant. And it’s a gamble to sit still and stay with what you have now – we just don’t usually see it that way.


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