Laura Nightingale, Artistic Director and CEO. 

Embracing Growth and Collaboration: Reflecting on 10 Transformative Months

Over the past ten months, I have had the incredible opportunity to participate in The Rank Foundation and School For Social Entrepreneurs Trade Up Programme. This experience has been a much-needed break from my day-to-day operations and has offered me a safe and supportive space to ask those tough questions. It’s amazing how sitting and listening to other like-minded individuals and social enterprises in Plymouth has been so enlightening. We all share a deep passion for making a positive impact in our community, and being able to collaborate and work together has been truly inspiring.

During this programme, I have gained a newfound acceptance of myself and a greater ability to express my goals and aspirations in a way that resonates with the communities and people I work with. I am more determined than ever to push forward towards a more equitable and inclusive future for all. This experience has allowed me to pause, reflect, and grow both personally and for the future of Exim Dance.

In the past, I used to feel guilty for taking a pause, thinking that things wouldn’t get done if I stopped. However, I now understand the power of pausing and giving myself the time to reflect and gain perspective. It’s essential to allow our minds to breathe, re-energize, and find clarity. I have learned that the act of pausing is not a sign of weakness, but rather a necessary step towards growth and success.

One of the most rewarding aspects of this programme has been the incredible cohort of individuals I have had the privilege to collaborate with. Their generosity, support, and empathy have been truly remarkable. We have shared stories, learned from inspiring facilitators, consultants, and mentors, and created a valuable space for growth together. I will always cherish these connections and the knowledge shared.

Throughout this journey, I have continuously reminded myself of the importance of focusing on my own growth and development, rather than comparing myself to others. Comparisons only limit our potential and prevent us from celebrating our own accomplishments. Each of our journeys is unique, and it’s vital that we celebrate our differences and focus on our personal and professional growth.

I am immensely grateful for the experience I’ve had in the Trade Up Programme. It has provided me with the opportunity to pause, reflect, and grow in ways that I never thought possible.

I am excited to apply the lessons learned and continue building upon the solid foundation established during participation in the Rise Trade Up programme. The formal nature of this programme has undoubtedly been instrumental in Exim and my growth. I am excited to continue my journey towards making a positive impact in Plymouth, and to contribute to a more inclusive and equitable future for all.