An #UPFRONT conversation with Adah Parris

Motivational speaker, strategic consultant and cultural innovator Adah Parris is an enthusiastic curator of people, patterns and stories. She’s on a mission to create an ethical culture of innovation. 

We were thrilled to get the chance to learn about what confidence means to her, how she rediscovered her sense of identity, and her desire to improve her public speaking through improv classes. Here’s her story. 

What does confidence mean to you?

Confidence comes from our ability to recognise our own potential, to take action in creating the impact we want to make by speaking and living our truths.

Our confidence grows when we stop comparing ourselves to others by understanding that our measures of success may not be the same, or even similar to that of another, and that’s ok. It’s not supposed to be.

What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve encountered? 

Rediscovering my sense of identity whilst maintaining some level of confidence, and staying present and professional at work whilst going through a very messy and protracted divorce.

How did you overcome these challenges?

Talking to people helped. I found allies and support networks of people going through similar situations. Recognising that there was no shame in what I was going through; it was a disappointment, but not shameful. That took a long time to come to terms with.

I read self-help books and watched videos but I also wrote letters (that I was never going to send) to the person/people who I needed to talk to but felt that I couldn’t.

I would write letters containing everything that I wanted to say. I just let the words and emotions flow.

It was a cathartic exercise especially because I didn’t have to send the letter to the other person. The letters also acted as an agenda-setting exercise. This meant that I had already dealt with some of the emotions surrounding the issue and so if and when I was ready to speak to the person, I knew what I wanted to express, but with my emotions in check.

What are some things you have on the horizon for building or challenging your confidence?

I’m pretty scared of the idea of improv and have quite literally run away from workshops in the past. Even as I type this I can feel my anxiety levels growing at the thought of doing improv.

And that’s why one day, I’ll do it.

It’s not a priority for me right now; I look at my relationship with my priorities rather than constantly saying that I’m busy. 

My curiosity about life, mindsets, patterns of behaviours and tools to help us make the transformation that we would like to means that I’m comfortable with a certain level of discomfort, especially if it means that I can explore my resilience and vulnerabilities. 

I want, need and desire to restart my singing lessons. A few months ago, I started some embodied singing sessions with a wonderful voice coach. Not because I’d like to sing professionally, but because her technique helps you connect with your whole body, remembering that the sound that comes out of your mouth is part of a bigger orchestra of the body.

The way you stand, breathe, and think all impact your confidence in your ability to let out what’s inside. It’s an embodied process and I’ve found it to be pretty powerful.

What would your advice be to people reading who want to be more #UPFRONT?

Intimacy = into me see. Learn how to see and connect with what makes you who you are, including the resilient and the vulnerable parts. 

What are the different personas that you wear or assume that form part of your narrative? What are your levels of power and responsibility in changing your own narrative? What excites, drives, motivates and nurtures you?

How can we expect anyone else to see, recognise or know how to support us, if we don’t know, or are afraid to look ourselves? 

Why do you think organisations like #UPFRONT are important?

Organisations like #UPFRONT are important because they create and nurture communities where people can come together to share their stories and experiences, and support each other.

They help to remind their members and audiences that they are human first, and not just a label or a number, that there is power through sharing and collective intelligence, and that transformation is possible.

Thank you Adah for sharing your story with us at #UPFRONT. If you’d like to learn more about her and the work she’s doing, make sure to check out her website. You can also find and follow her on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Medium.

Interested in sharing your confidence story with us? Send us an email at or reach out on Twitter at @upfrontglobal. We’d love to hear from you! 

Here’s to being #UPFRONT!