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Larking Gowen's Business Breakfast hears from combat veteran

As a veteran combat helicopter pilot, with more than 20 years' experience in the RAF, Sarah Furness speaks with a certain amount of authority on the subject of ‘uncertainty’, and how courage creates opportunity.

The uncertainty of what to do when your aircraft strikes a high-tension wire in flight is not a challenge most of us will experience, but there are lessons to be learnt in the way we face the unexpected in our day-to-day working lives.

Following up on the theme for the year of "Future Proofing Your Business", at Larking Gowen's Summer Business Breakfast, former Squadron Leader, Sarah, explained how her training and experience led her to understand that embracing uncertainty is an important step towards confidence and self-belief.

"It's important to remember you can't eradicate uncertainty, but you can start to use it. Do something that scares you, and you can train yourself to handle uncertainty. If you do that, you'll start to build your self-belief," she said, at the event at Milsoms Kesgrave Hall, near Ipswich, this week.

Uncertainty often represents opportunity, and with self-belief you can take advantage of these opportunities.

She highlighted the importance for business leaders to create a culture of self-belief, saying this could only be done by allowing people to make mistakes in a supportive atmosphere. Leaders must show they are not afraid to admit their own mistakes and set the example by ‘going first’ and sharing their mistakes despite it feeling uncomfortable.

"Being good at what you do isn't about being faultless. It's about recognising your mistakes and growing from them. This takes courage, and like fear, courage is contagious," she said.

After graduating from Cambridge University, Sarah joined the RAF in 2000 at the age of 21 with the ambition of becoming a jet fighter pilot, inspired she says, by the Tom Cruise film classic, Top Gun. Not quite making the grade, she opted for the next best thing, a combat helicopter pilot flying Pumas. Her career saw her experience tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, and she has the accolade of being the first female helicopter pilot to fly an active special forces mission.

She left the RAF in 2021 to pursue her interests in mindfulness and wellbeing as a professional coach, and has written a bestselling book Fly Higher.

Speaking after the event, Larking Gowen Partner, Graham Mummery, said, "We’re extremely grateful to Sarah for such an interesting and inspiring presentation. We've had incredible feedback. Thanks to everyone who attended our Business Breakfast, and we look forward to seeing you at our Autumn event."

You can find out more about Sarah's work by visiting her website here.



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