Can you drive?

Slow down!

Is the cry from my partner whenever I go 1mph over the speed limit, or her whole body will violently jolt whenever I come within ten meters of the car in front.

Cursory glances are mutually exchanged. 

If we park (sorry) my domestic woes for a while, I want to take a closer look at what is happening under the bonnet. (I’ll stop now)

Whenever we drive a car we are using lots of different skills. Muscle memory for changing gear and using the clutch. Our vison to watch the road, and critical thinking to make quick and adaptable changes should the need arise. We don’t credit ourselves with driving because it’s just what we do.

But how did we get there?

We all remember getting in for the first time, the inability to keep your foot still on the clutch, 20mph feeling like you were driving a supercar, and the horror of seeing other drivers on the road.

It’s very alien.

After a while a process starts to emerge, the gear change feels less clunky. We hold our foot at biting point without constantly being aware of it, and we start to notice what is happening on the road without the instructor telling us. We begin to trust ourselves internally that we can drive the car, or in other words our subconcious starts to drive the car, and our conscious mind concentrates on the external and reacts to the road.

So what are the parallels between driving a car and speaking in public, or doing the dreaded presentation?

Well, mentally there is zero difference between driving and public speaking. Too often my clients are checking internally if they will remember what they are saying, or they’re anxious to know if people will like them. They are focusing their energy on negative resources, and taking responsibility for what other people think.

What would happen if you had the same thought process when you got in the car and asked yourself; am I in the right gear? What if I crash? What if other car drivers behave erratically?

You’d quickly stall and start to panic.

When we get in the car, we must trust our skill and knowledge and react to the road.

When we speak in public, we must trust our skill and knowledge and react to the audience.

Public speaking, like driving, is about knowing your content or skill so well, you can forget it consciously and trust it will be there when you need it. This allows you to concentrate on the external;  and when you trust yourself and really commit your focus to the audience, what are you not thinking about?

You.

Maybe my other half was right.

What if you slow down, and take a moment to realise it’s not about you it’s about your audience.

Hide and Seek

Sometimes; when the mood strikes I break into a strange form of dance. It has no name or origin and might be better described as a collection of movements. When the moment comes my family recoil with a mixture of horror and amusement, and it doesn’t take long for them to lovingly remind me I have two left feet. This of course only encourages me, as I descend further into the depth of my imagination and inner clown.

We all have parts of ourselves that we only share with a chosen few. It maybe your funny little dance  or any other of your idiosyncrasies, but you’re happy to let go and be vulnerable because it’s a safe environment where you feel safe and loved.

However.

How many of us are willing to share our uniqueness with colleagues or strangers? This can be for good reason, we may feel we need to conform to the company ethos or what is expected of us. You want to be professional. Fine.

But look a little deeper and what is happening here is indictive of what we do in life generally. You suppress who you really are as you try to control what others think of you. This stems from a lack of trust that you are enough.  

This is particualrly pertinent when you have to do any form of public speaking in your job. You fall back on old patterns which hide your vulnerabilities and uniqueness as you strive for respectability from others. It becomes very difficult to listen and engage as all you’re concerned about is masking how you really feel. You speak in your telephone voice, you body language changes, your vernacular changes.

You change.

So what is the difference between being professional and sharing yourself?

Professionalism is a necessity, without it there is no discipline or structure to your work.

Sharing who you are is a necessity, without it you can’t listen and connect with people.

The truth is, you need both to succeed. I often talk to my clients about a relaxed concentration. It is the ability to know your stuff and trust it, but more importantly it is the ability to communicate it with ease, warmth and charm.

The ability to share when it matter most.

We are all individual. We are all unique. We all have something to share. The only thing that separates us is where we place our focus.

So the next time it’s your turn to speak-

Remember your funny little dance, remember what makes you- you.

I’m here to help- get in touch.

Who do you think you are?

‘Just relax.’

That little pearl of wisdom came from my other half when I couldn’t sleep in the early hours recently. It can be very difficult to get to sleep; a racing mind and an inability to switch off and just relax. We often lie in bed consciously thinking we are relaxed, then we bring our body or face muscles into conscious awareness and we realise we’re holding tension.

Your body never lies.

If we take that further, how much of your day do you spend thinking or telling yourself you’re doing ok, while in reality you’re doubting yourself or suppressing who you really are?

What if your thinking was invigorating and not damaging?

There can be misconception about thinking too much. We tend to see it as corrosive and damaging. It can affect your sleep, mood, and your ability to find perspective. However these things are the effects of your thought process and not the cause. Do we feel like that when we’re really concentrating at a job we love, or preparing our favourite meal?

What if you spent the day focusing on your strengths, and not your fears?

What you fear depends on what you believe about yourself in a given circumstance. Your beliefs then affect your thinking, and your thinking affects how you feel.  We manifest scenarios that only exist in our mind, and they can have a positive or negative effect.

A friend of my mine has a very good job, she believes she is very good in her role.  When she gets in the car it anchors her subconscious mind into a belief system she has created. She think about her day and she starts to feel feels confident, assured, and backs herself. Her mind is full of thought all day and she is relaxed because she acts according to what she believes. Home is fraught for a number of reasons, she has created a different belief system.  She finishes work and gets back in the car, she starts to think about what awaits her and can feel the transition from confident to anxious, assured to restless.  She consciously tells herself she is ok, but she gets home and her mind is full of thought again, she isn’t relaxed because she acts according to what she believes.

The same person. Feeling very differently about themselves in the same day. Caused by two different thought patterns, from two separate belief systems. Can she be more calm, measured, and confident in her decisions at home? What would that bring to her growth and development?

Imagine not having to fear the transition, not feeling like a prisoner to a self imposed mindset.

Your thoughts are a resource, they can be used to fill the tank or drain it. 

Who do you believe you are?

Now, time to relax.

If this sounds familiar then please get in touch

What is Confidence?

A while ago, when normality ruled. I went to see a comedy gig with a good friend of mine.  We got talking afterwards about the comedian on show.

‘I couldn’t do that.’ Remarked my friend.

Why?

Because I’m not confident enough.

Something immediately struck me about this comment; it was said with an absolute assuredness.

And yet- what is confidence? Is it how we present ourselves externally, or something deeper?

We often mistake apparent confidence for insecurity. Do you know somebody who loves to talk about where they have been, what they do for living, or how much money they have? What’s important to remember here is, who are they telling?  This is not confidence, this is ego talking borne out of insecurity.

So . . Something deeper then.  

Confidence is about trust- not the intangible and wavering feeling but in one’s own resources.

Clients will often say to me, In some ways I’m really confident and in other ways I’m shy. The key thing to acknowledge here is the self realisation that the feeling of ‘confidence’ does exist; otherwise how do they recognise it?

I put this thought to my friend.

‘Yeah, but getting up in front of people is totally different to what I do’

Well . . yes. . of course it is. However how do any us gain confidence in what we do? We learn, we make mistakes, we hone, we make more mistakes, and after a while a process starts to emerge and a trust starts to develop in our given skill and with it our confidence increases.

But that only happens once we have committed to something new, once we are prepared to get outside of our comfort zone and grow. So how do we take that first step?

We must use resources within ourselves that reinforce the feeling of trust and in turn confidence. Like driving your car. You don’t think about it consciously – you just trust you can drive the car.  If we choose to place our focus on the negative resources of our fears and doubts – like failing at an exam – we then sit inside our own mind, unable to see our strengths. 

This mindset is hardened and calcified in difficult times or when we’re watching comedians thinking  ‘I couldn’t possibly do that.’

Well, how did you get in the car for the first time?

Our sense of possibility only narrows when we don’t trust ourselves, and our confidence diminishes when we don’t acknowledge our own resources. 

Trusting your own experiences to gain confidence isn’t the preserve of the few, it is in all of us.

Is it there. It always has been, and always will be.

Whether you choose to find it,  is up to you.

If this sounds familiar then please get in touch.

Working from home or Homework?

‘Have you done your homework?’

‘Er, sort of Miss.’

What does that mean?

‘Well, I started it but then my mum washed my school bag, and then the ink on the paper run. So I tried to dry on it the radiator, but it was ruined.

Ah, the dreaded homework.

We all remember the nagging Sunday feeling, waiting for our parents to bellow the words we wish they would forget. Or dreaming up the much needed excuse for the teacher in the morning. What is it that stops children just making a start or taking action? The reasons for this can be varied.  For some  it can be a lack of belief in a certain subject- particularly if they feel their peers are doing better. It can be difficult for them to motivate themselves if they don’t truly believe they can master it. There is also the natural variant of academic ability, and of course the actual interest or love for the subject. Children are also easily distracted by technology, having fun, or connecting with friends.

However the most pertinent point is the phycological element, home is where they relax, and switch off. They don’t naturally associate home with work, or pushing themselves.

Sound familiar. . .

So where does this leave adults in the current climate?

When so many of us are now being asked to work from home?

Have your childhood strategies about homework really left you? With no teacher or parent to push you-the need to self motivate and take action whilst in your place of comfort has never been greater.  What do you truly believe you are capable of? How much time are you spending are on social media looking at what others are achieving? Are you being distracted by something more fun or chatting to friends and family?

When you are working from home,  you have much more time to think, and more things to think about.  You’re not an just an entrepreneur, business owner or work colleague. You’re also a mum or dad. You’re a partner. You also have your own wants and needs. Therefore it’s vital to acknowledge that you can’t be all things to all people all the time. Moving between the many ‘hats’ you wear at home and being able to switch into work or business mode can be very challenging. It can easily lead to procrastination, distraction and ultimately a loss of productivity or quality in your work.

So- what to do about it? There are three key things to remember.

  • Knowing when to say no  
  • Commitment to the moment
  • Creating a headspace

The hardest part of working from home is knowing when to say no, and concentrating what you need to do in that moment. That moment can be in any of the hats you wear, just make sure that  whatever you’re doing – you commit to it! This will create a better headspace, which will increase your motivation, drive and ambition.  If you’ve had quality time with your children and partner you’re far less likely to feel guilty about working. When you really commit to your work in the moment, you will won’t be distracted by family time.

You are many things to many people. Knowing who you need to be, and when, is what’s important.

Now, what’s the dog done with my tax return.  .

If this sounds familiar then please get in touch. I’d love to help.