I’ve made 2 big decisions this month: I announced my resignation as a Regional Director of Forward Ladies at the beginning of the month, and yesterday, I informed my members of The Academy for Talented Women that I would be closing the club at the end of this month.
It feels very strange today – as my members react to the news and I prepare for our last ever masterclass (“How to Silence Your Own Inner Imposter and Own Your Expertise”), with one of my favourite guest experts Caroline Ferguson, AKA “The Mindset Trainer”.
Closing The Academy has been a tough decision and it’s taken a fair dollop of bravery to let go of my “baby”. I created The Academy almost 5 years ago, in February 2013. It was originally called “FaB Club for Working Mums” and it was born from an online fixed duration group coaching programme called “Fab for Working Mums”. The programme was incredibly successful in helping working mums to become “Fulfilled and Balanced” (hence FaB), but I wanted to provide continuous, cost-effective support. So FaB Club was born.
Most of the members have been with me since the very start of the Club – and I feel so lucky to have attracted such brilliant women and to have such an incredible retention rate (I believe that the average is 4 months – mine has been almost 5 years).
A couple of years ago, in line with my strategy to get FaB out to the corporate world, sell hundreds of memberships and get crazy rich whilst doing something I believe in, I changed FaB Club to be more “corporate” – The Academy for Talented Women. I even created a corporate brochure (it’s still on my website if you’re curious – amandaalexander.com/theacademy).
The “selling hundreds of memberships to corporates and getting crazy rich” bit never happened. I could make loads of excuses as to why. In short, I loved serving my members, I didn’t love anything about marketing to the corporate world. I didn’t give it my all.
But as we all know, the Universe acts in mysterious ways.… After banging my head on a metaphorical brick wall for quite a few months trying to convince the corporate market of the value of The Academy and to no avail, this year other pathways have emerged in ways I’d never have anticipated.
Much of my time at present is working as a leadership coach (for male rather than female clients, to boot!). My work as a workshop facilitator has been notched up many levels. And apparently, I’m now a Virtual Learning Event Expert. A what?! Who would have thought that all those years of trying to stay calm when my webinars crashed would lead to me being labelled as an “expert”?!!
I have also recently taken my first steps as a Coach Trainer with Performance Consultants International, an exciting opportunity to deepen my own coaching mastery with one of the most prestigious coach training schools in the world, and the natural evolution of my existing mentor coaching work.
Alongside all of these magical new career branches, I am developing a deep interest in neuroplasticity, positive psychology and the benefits of mindfulness, particularly in the leadership setting. Who knows where this will take me? I feel increasingly drawn towards using mindfulness to support visionary leaders… For now, I’ll focus on my own mindfulness practice!
Last but not least, as you may already have seen, in June I set up a business with the simply delightful Tropic Skincare whose products and ethics are spot on for me. It allows me to build a passive income business to accelerate my personal financial freedom goals. With a team of 4 already (of whom 3 are former clients), much of my “spare” time (LoL!) is learning how to build my own sales funnels and coaching my team. It’s something completely different to coaching, yet it enables me to use my coaching skills to support women who have similar aspirations.
With everything that I have achieved and experienced so far, I have been stretched beyond where I thought I could go. I have had to work on a fair few mindset monkeys and negative beliefs. And I have experienced many failures along with the successes
7 Top Tips For Your Success, Failures and Who Knows Whats
So as I have reached a new juncture in my life, I thought I’d share with you my 7 top tips to keep going, feel happy and do your bit as you travel along your own journey of success, failure and who knows what….
1. When it’s all going wrong and the more you try, and the heavier life becomes, it’s time to do the toughest thing – surrender. That means taking a step back, pausing and trusting. As my friend and former client @Jocowlin says, “EWOP: Everything Is Working Out Perfectly”. Even when it feels like EGTS: Everything is Going to Shit. 🙂
2. When something isn’t working any more, your intuition will tell you. Don’t hang on because of familiarity, comfort zones and a sense of obligation when you know it’s time to move on – life is too short and there are too many amazing things out there for you. Take the leap and the net will appear.
3. When you doubt yourself, seek to serve others – hand on heart, tune inwards and set the intention to focus on the people you’re serving. Taking the focus off yourself and putting it onto the people you’re serving reduces performance anxiety and fear of failure. Whether you’re coaching, baking cakes, giving a presentation, selling stuff or building a house.
4. Own your failures and look for the learning and opportunities they have given you. The best learning comes through tough times and multiple failures. Remember that EVERYONE fails and EVERYONE has periods in their lives where it feels like everything is going wrong. You are not alone. Share your failures with others with a smile on your face – it will inspire them to fail and keep going. There is too much bullshit in the world – we need more vulnerable and courageous people to tell it how it is (with positive intention and a smile on your face please!)
5. Celebrate your successes and document them. Keep a “champagne moments” folder – a physical folder or one on your computer. Our brain is hardwired to focus on the negative (it’s called the negativity bias), so you’ll need to operate on a 3:1 basis of celebrating successes to directing failures to remain mentally strong and build emotional resilience.
6. ALWAYS make career decisions through the lens of your core values. This way, even if it turns out not to be as you expected (and things always change), the decision will be the right one, because it will lead to opportunities that you don’t know exist yet. Which leads me to…
7. Say “YES” to opportunities that light you up, even if you have no idea if you can do it. Remember – you can’t see around corners. Saying yes to mad things that scare me has always been a life policy that’s served me pretty well – I’m still alive, still laughing like a loon and quite frankly, I love my life.
The question is – do you love yours?
And if the answer is “no”, what do you need to change?
This week, I have written a little bedtime story about comparing yourself to other people’s social media posts. It’s one of many stories I could have chosen. It’s a work of semi-fiction. As they say at the end of a television drama, it is based on events that really happened.
If you know someone who is feeling a bit inadequate right now – because we all have those times, don’t we? – then please share this post with them. Because it might help them to stop comparing their behind the scenes with other people’s highlight reels.
She reads her friend’s shocking social media post. Who would have thought?…
She remembers that friend’s gorgeous posts less than 18-months ago. So many stunning, happy, loved up pictures of her and her new husband? She remembers the picture when they were lying on a sun-soaked golden beach, the crystal-clear sea glinting in the sunshine behind them. He was always giving her expensive presents. She remembers some of the pictures of the designer handbags, the huge bouquets of flowers.
Oh… What a perfect life. What a perfect couple!
She would sigh to herself and imagine what it must be like to be so deeply in those first stages of romantic love. What an amazing man her friend had met, how blessed and blissful her life is.
She thinks about her own husband of 15 years, a bit wrinkled around the edges, a bit squidgy around the middle. How he rarely buys her flowers and when he does, they are more likely to be a bunch of geraniums from the local petrol station when he’s feeling guilty. She can’t remember the last time she frolicked on a tropical beach with him and posed for selfies. Actually, she doesn’t think she’s ever frolicked with him on a tropical beach, although they once had a nice walk along Skegness beach – it was a bit windy, though.
In fact, the last time she was on the beach in the sunshine, she was running after her 3-year old and her 6-year old, trying to make sure they didn’t leg it into the sea whenever her back was turned, and trying to apply sun cream on their wriggling sandy bodies, pleading with them to stay still for just 30 seconds.
A few months after the frolicking beach photos, she sees that her friend is pregnant. She looks with envy at the selfies of her growing bump. And oh, what a neat bump it is. Her bump was never this neat-looking. And how has her friend kept her figure so trim, her hair so glossy, right through to month 9?
Then the baby is born and she sees regular photos of the most gorgeous little boy and his mum in poses of endless bliss. They have so much time to do so many lovely things together. She thinks of the chaos of her life – the military operation every morning to get the kids up, one to nursery and one to school. It’s relentless, exhausting.
And then, when the baby is one year old, she reads a long post that shocks her:
In this post, her “friend with the perfect husband, perfect baby and perfect life” reveals that her new husband had been sleeping with her best friend. Before she became pregnant.
The friend discovered the betrayal when she was just 2 months pregnant. Turns out, that she’d split up with her husband before her baby was born. She has been through labour, childbirth and learning to be a mum by herself. She has suffered heartbreak, humiliation, anger, anguish, loneliness and goodness knows what else. All those beautiful pregnancy and baby pictures – they hid so much pain.
And to think, she wished she were her. She thought her own life was so miserable, in comparison. Suddenly, her husband of 15 years with his sporadic attempts at being romantic didn’t seem so bad.
She had compared herself to her lovely friend and found her own life lacking. But she hadn’t been party to the heart-breaking story that was being played behind the happy pictures.
The “moral” of this story…
Next time you look at a social media post or photo of your friends and find yourself thinking:
She’s having so much more fun in her life than I am
She’s so much more successful than I am
They have so many more holidays than I do
She’s so much more beautiful than me
He’s so much more popular than I am
Their kids are so much more accomplished than mine
Remember that you don’t know WHAT is going on behind the picture-perfect life. The camera DOES lie – it shows just a moment in time. People tend to highlight their success and their joy on social media. Nobody has a perfect life.
The quote “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind” should be your mantra when you find yourself going into comparisonitis.
And let’s add a bit extra to that quote:
“Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. And be kind to yourself, whilst you’re at it!”
Five years ago Ness Knight quit her 9-5 job in marketing and embarked on the adventure of a lifetime, forging a career as an explorer, endurance athlete, presenter, and speaker.
She is the first female to stand up paddleboard 1000 miles down the Missouri River
She has cycled solo + unsupported 2000 miles across the USA
She is the first female in history to swim the length of the Thames River
She has run 400 miles – 15 marathons back-to-back, from London to Land’s End
She has cycled solo across the Namib Desert and next year, she will make another World Record attempt – to be the first female to row the Pacific Ocean solo and non-stop.
Ness’ greatest passion lies in exploring her mental and physical limits in some of the world’s most unique locations and terrains. She knows that when we challenge ourselves, and step outside our comfort zone, we grow.
In this episode of the Inspiring Women Interviews, Ness and I talk about:
The importance of resilience in any of your endeavours
The nature of fear, courage and constantly expanding your comfort zone
How to overcome a deeply instilled fear of failure
How to use Linked In to build your career and much, much more!
Ness reveals things in this interview that she’s never revealed in public before: You’ll hear her talk about the deep-rooted fear of failure that was instilled in her as a child, how she struggled with depression and how she overcame it.
This interview is intensely personal and Ness is definitely a REAL model as well as a role model. I know you’re going to be truly inspired when you listen to this episode!
Amanda: Hello, Ness. Ness: Hi. How are you? Amanda: I’m good. I am so excited about interviewing you today. Thank you very, very much for being here. Ness: It’s my pleasure. Thanks for having me.
Amanda: Ness, I’m going to start at the beginning. How on earth do you get started as an explorer? It’s not something you can go and look up where the job ad, first, in the paper, “wanted explorer,” is it? Ness: No. Actually, that’s one of my jokes and all these online forms. There’s no drop-down for explorer. Officially, my job title is other. It’s quite an unusual one, I guess. Yeah, I guess best job description as well is that I, basically, specialise in hauling everything I need to survive around with me, around those remote parts of the world, which is a bit of an unusual one. A fair question, how do you get started in that. In my case, it was definitely by accident. I stumbled into this career. That happened, probably, about five years ago now, five-and-a-half years ago. I use to actually work in Digital in London. I just had a bog standard 9:00 to 5:00 as a marketing manager.
I was actually working, at the time, for a company called, “School for Startups.” It was actually a social enterprise. Quite a few people might have heard of them. It was phenomenal. We basically taught entrepreneurship. I was responsible for the digital arm of that. I just realised after quite a few years of doing this that I spent all of my time teaching the people how to go about living their dreams and making their passion into a business. I really wasn’t taking my own advice. I didn’t know, at the time, what I really wanted to do. I knew lots of things in my life that I was passionate about, but I didn’t know what direction I wanted to go. I just took a year off and I quit my job. I headed out to America and stand up paddle boarded 1,000 miles down the river because no woman have ever done that. Actually, no person had gone that far, so why not, basically.
I got to the end of that and swapped my stand up paddle board for a bicycle. I just felt that the journey wasn’t finished. I hadn’t figured out what direction I wanted to go in yet. I was going to carry on thinking about this on the road until I figured it out. Because of my background in digital marketing, I knew how to tell a story. I was really passionate about storytelling. Along the way, along my journey, cycling west across America along Route 66, I just shared my story online through a blog and through my social media. Before I knew it, I suddenly have this following. It was completely unexpected. I thought it was great if one or two people stumble across it, but all of a sudden, I have this audience.
As I carried on paddling across and I was thinking, “Okay. Well, what can I do about this?” Because I really have fallen in love with adventure and wilderness. This is, really, truly where my heart is. “How can I use this audience and this new found niche to make a business because it was a niche?” There were very, very few people making a business out of this and a career out of this and let alone, women. There’s lots of women doing sorts of thing, but they weren’t in the limelight. I just couldn’t figure out why they weren’t getting that limelight and able to monetize on it and make a proper business out of it. I thought, “Well, I’ve got the experience in teaching entrepreneurship. I found the thing that I’m passionate about. I’m just going to take another step into the unknown and turn this into a career.”
Yeah, it was a little accidentally, but yeah, I guess when you open yourself up to opportunities and spontaneity, we tend to stumble across some great interesting things, which is what I did. Amanda: You said that you took a year off and then you paddled 1,000 miles down the river. As you do during the year off like “Okay. I’m just going to paddle 1,000 miles down this river here,” how did you [crosstalk 04:25] and then paddled down the river? Ness: Yeah. I guess, it’s quite a bizarre one to do. The seed for that idea, I suppose, was when I was working my 9:00 to 5:00 in an office that was, pretty much, windowless office in the centre and I’d gone in one of my lunch breaks. It’s one of those shops that sell post cards. I bought a post card that said, “What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” I just thought, “Oh, that’s really sweet.” I really like that and I bought it. I didn’t really think very much of it. I hanged it on the bottom line of my computer because it sounded like a really nice quote that was really inspirational. Three months later, I sat back one morning. I thought “I really don’t want to be here.” I sat behind the computer, two massive computer screens in front of me, greying my hunchback and thought, “This is not right. I was just not feeling this at all.”
For the first time, I looked at that post card and really read it. I thought, “Okay. Well, right now, in this moment, what would I do if I knew I could not fail?” because that has been a big thing throughout my life. It’s that fear of failure. I just thought, “You know what, I would go out into the wilderness and I would get space.” Time to breathe and to do something that’s physical because I love the gym. I love working out, something that’s mental so that psychological challenge of going on an expedition and into the unknown and you’ve never done anything like that in your life before and that huge challenge. I guess, that’s where it came from. Yeah, I just stand up paddling down the river. It was just, yeah, quite a bizarre stuff, I suppose. Amanda: That’s really interesting that you say that fear of failure had always been a thing for you throughout your life. Tell us more. Ness: Here’s a story I haven’t told anyone yet, actually. I guess it started, really, when I was quite young. I suppose, going really back to the very start when I was about six or seven. I was growing up in South Africa and it was quite an outdoors country. I spent half my time building tree houses and sitting in the mud. My mom screaming at me to get inside and try and get me in the bath, which was forever a chore and probably still is to this day. I really believed as a six or seven-year-old kid that anything was possible. I had a vivid imagination. I use to spend my time in my mind imagining these amazing world and universe as I was travelling through. It wasn’t one of adversity. It was just this incredible and magical world. I believe that anything was possible.
Then I went to school and that’s when things started to change for me because all of a sudden, I was introduced to schooling where you were taught to fear failure because you better not get lower than a C. If you get a D or let alone in that, a complete fail, then there’s something wrong with you. That’s where that started. The story that I’ve never told anyone is that, I guess, I stumbled in my early years in primary school because I was labelled. The reason I was labelled is that we were put through, at a very early age and I don’t think this is right, a IQ test. The whole school at primary school is put through this IQ test. A handful of us were sent off, shipped off to a place called, “Johannesburg School for the Gifted.” They said to us, “Well, you’re too smart and you need extracurricular activities off to school.” At first, my parents said, “That was wonderful.” My friends were like, “Wow. This is new and unusual and interesting.” The teachers started treating me differently because I was now the special kid that had been labelled as smart.
Really and truly, I really disliked going to that school for the gifted. It just wasn’t my scene. I didn’t enjoy any of it. It became very not pleasant place for me, but more so because when I came back to school the kids saw the teachers treating me differently. I got labelled and outcast from that. I was this kid that was special. No one wanted anything to do with me because the teachers liked me. I rebelled because I didn’t want to be excluded. I think a huge part of us as humans is getting connected to people around us and I did not feel connected at all anymore. I rebelled and my marks plummeted. The teachers and my parents and everyone around me thought, “God, what is going on with this child.” I was told I was smart and I had even failed at that. My confidence was utterly shattered. I was quite shy, introvert kid. I really, really, truly stumbled my way through school and didn’t do very well. I don’t think that anyone really truly, apart from my parents, expected me to come to anything much.
For me to be doing what I’m doing today is quite a long journey to get to where I am, but yeah, definitely, that fear of failure in school was instilled there. I just think it’s such as shame because as real young toddlers, we’re encouraged to fall and get back up. At what point do we change that conversation in that dialogue and start instilling that fear of failure. Because in my mind, personally I see it, any mistakes that you make and any failure is, now, having gone through the journey I’ve gone through and adventure and exploration has taught me this. I see those failures as my situation. They’re the most important part of our journey and the thing that makes us grow and become stronger. I think without them it’s very difficult to be successful. You have to be prepared to fail. That’s quite the journey. Yeah, that’s … Sorry. That was quite a long-winded explanation of why I think that fear of failure had been a big thing in my life and it was a big thing for me to overcome. Amanda: Gosh. Thank you very much for sharing that with us. You saw this post card and you thought, “Okay. What would I attempt to do if I knew that I could not fail?” You have this whole hunger from childhood and from having your confidence not a fear of failure. How did you bridge that gap between that innate fear that you’d, I suppose, nurtured inside you and doing something so huge? Most people, if they feared failure, would be making baby steps. Ness: I guess, actually, that that theme of jumping head first since my fear started a few years earlier than that because I’ve gone through those difficulties in childhood. I knew the person inside me wasn’t this nervous, scared, shy person. I was uncomfortable in my own skin because I didn’t have the skills and abilities to communicate and talk properly with people and really, just be who I was and have the confidence in that. When I moved from South Africa to the UK at the age of 15, it was actually an amazing thing because I said to myself, during that move and when I landed this side of the water, “This is a clean slate. This is an opportunity for me to change how things were in South Africa and start a new chapter in my book.” I promised myself that if I do one thing over the next 10 years, I would slowly but surely take on my biggest fears.
The very first one of those was when I was, oh gosh, I think it was about 20. I’ve really felt like I haven’t made too many inroads to doing that. I decided, “Well, I’ve got the summer ahead of me. What’s the thing I’m most scared about?” I can just say, “You know what, bug this. I’m going to go out and do that,” because I’ve had enough. I’ve had enough of being introvert. I’ve had enough of lacking the confidence. I’ve got all these great, amazing ideas of what I want to do with my life. I will be so disappointed of pointing it down the line, “I haven’t done something to change that and chase them.”
I really was terrified of sales and negotiation and strangers; walking up and talking and making conversation to strangers. I looked online and one of the jobs that really spooked me to overcome all of those was being a face-to-face fundraiser. You know these people on the streets that you’re going to walk around, they’ll ask you to sign up to charities and that encompass everything that “Oh, it’s terrifying to me; sales, negotiation, and strangers.” I did that.
Really, my first day was awful and horrendous. I stood on the street. I didn’t speak to a single person. I was just smacked in the middle of the street shaking all day long. I just thought, “No. Come on. You’ve got more inside of you.” I’d hit my work button that day of disappointment in myself. The next day, I went out and I just went through it all out. I suppose, because sometimes when you hit that rock bottom, there’s nowhere else to go. It’s like “Okay. Bugger it, I’m just going to go for this.” Yeah, it worked out for me and I realised that it’s never scary in real life as it is in your mind ever, ever. Within a few months, I was team leading and then I was coaching and managing the national campaigns for multiple charities and the face-to-face fundraising. Yeah, it became one of, well at one point, the most successful female fundraiser in the country. That happened quite quickly. I really surprised myself.
Really, it was just that courage to take those first few steps to go completely blindly into the thing that you’re most scared of and surprise yourself. The more I did that, the more I realise that it’s not as scary as I think. Actually, every single time, I’ll surprise myself in a good way more and more and more. I just felt that confidence that way. By the time I got to that little post card and thinking of, “What would I attempt to do if I knew I could not fail?” It was a little bit of a habit, but as we all do at some point in our life, I just got stuck in a rut. I got complaisant and I stopped chasing my dreams. That’s where after a few years, I realised that I was just doing life and ticking off other people’s boxes of get a house, a car, a dog, a cat and new relationship, but really, there was nothing personal and passionate that I was chasing within that. That’s the point where I’ve said, again, “All right. Okay. What would I do if I knew I could not fail?”
I wrote a list, actually. It wasn’t so much of a bucket list. More of booting myself up the ass of the things that I wanted in life like I didn’t want to get old and regret the things that I didn’t have the courage to try. Those things were on my list. Yeah, that’s where that came from. Amanda: Those things on booting yourself up the ass, was some of those doing the 400-mile run [inaudible 15:47] with respect to that? Ness: No. They were very vague, actually. I have always been really interested and passionate, probably because I was quite introvert, about the mind and the body, about psychology and that relationship also between mind and body and challenging ourselves. I knew for a fact through experience that we can always go further than we think we can physically. It’s just our mind that kicks into that survival mode that says, “No, no, no. Conserve the energy.” Yeah, we can always get through a little bit more pain and go a little bit faster and further. I wanted to explore that. Also, growing up in South Africa, I really loved wilderness, nature and animals and the outdoors. I suppose, it was only inevitable that I would go out and spend my first year of doing what I want to do, doing something and some adventure and exploration and challenging myself, but yeah, definitely, it was more of an accidental stumbling into this career in terms of really having a list of things like these expeditions that I do now. Amanda: I’m going to ask you a question now and it might caught you on the spot. You’ll have to provide what I think is your natural modesty of what makes you do. Okay. You’ve said that you’ve had these fears that you’ve said you’ve had to be courageous. You’ve got that curiosity, but what do you think is the quality or the combination of qualities that you have that has actually made you do something about this and create this incredible career and become this record breaking adventurer whereas, 99.9999999% of people who even thought they might want to do that would never do it? Ness: Interesting question and a really hard one to answer. Amanda: Well, sorry. Ness: It needs to observe outwards, but sometimes, yeah, the real difficult stuff to observe inwards is quite tough. Oh gosh. I was certainly not a born explorer or a born entrepreneur. I learned everything along the way. If I really think about it, probably, the one quality that’s got me to where I am right now with hands down have to be just resilience. Because if you can keep getting back up after people say no or things go wrong, again and again and again, you’re absolutely going to find your way to success. That’s really where it’s down to because I’ve been told no. People have closed doors on me more times that I can’t count in my life. I just keep getting up and chasing that and say, “No, that’s not good enough.” It was the same thing with confidence and courage is baby steps really and truly.
Our courage and our mindset is a muscle. Unless you’re working with and doing something about slowly building that up, then it just becomes stagnant and weak. You have less to call on. If you can just bit, by bit, by bit work on that courage and confidence and just hold on to that little bit of resilience.
Perhaps, the other thing is visualisation. I don’t know where I got that from. I guess, as a kid, I always have this vivid imagination and it’s never gone away. I have this ability, I suppose, to really in absolute, thorough detail and depth visualise where it is I want to get to. Even if it’s not a super defined pathway, I know that they’re actually I want to go into. I start imagining all the different ways that I could open doors for myself or try things. If that went wrong, then how would I react to that and pick myself back up.
Before, I wouldn’t just leave things to chance in terms of how I feel and how my internal narrative goes. I would proactively beforehand visualise, “Okay. If somebody said no to me and then the next person, the next person, the next person, I got 30 people down the line saying no to me, how would I be feeling and how could I get back up and what could I do about that?” I’d be prepared for that already. I guess, that’s helped me a lot both in life as well as in expeditions is knowing … You know who talks about this very well, if anyone has heard of Brene Brown. I’m not sure if you have. I’m sure you have. Amanda: Yeah. Ness: She is phenomenal. If you look up her TED Talks, she’s incredible. She talks a lot about courage. The one thing that she says, which I really truly lived by and believe in and it’s what has got me to where I am now is this idea that you have to have the courage to step into the arena and you will get bloodied. You will get battered and bruised in that arena, but that’s where the success lies for you. If you’re a spectator on the side, that’s all you’re ever going to be. You have to get into the arena. You’ve got to be ready to fight your way and battle your way to where you want to get to. It’s that expectation that it’s not going to be a breath ahead of you but also, that positivity that no matter what you’ll get through, I suppose. Yeah, resilience and courage and bit by bit growing confidence like a muscle. Amanda: Fantastic. Oh, yes. You are speaking my language. Actually, that just alluded to something that comes from a quote. I think it’s Abraham Lincoln. It’s “Victory belongs to the man who doesn’t get out but he’s coached to get into the arena and gets down and gets up bloodied and blah, blah, blah.” It’s a really good quote but I can’t- Ness: Yes. I know that one. I can never remember by heart but it’s brilliant. Yeah. Absolutely. Amanda: It is great, wasn’t it? Just in the side, my other favourite quote is, “Leap and the net will appear.” Ness: Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. On a similar vein, actually, if I turn around behind me, I’ve got a poster on my wall that says, “There is freedom waiting for you on the breezes of the sky.” You ask, “But what if I fall?” The answer is, “Oh but my darling, what if you fly?” Amanda: Oh, yeah. Ness: It’s a similar thing. You really do just have to have that courage to go for because really, what’s the worse thing that could happen. Amanda: Yeah. Well, [being placed 22:45] to that, maybe. Ness: Well, yeah. Fair enough. I can’t argue with that. Yeah. There are certain contested rivers that, maybe, if you leap, you might not … Yeah. Certainly. When I’m in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, I won’t be leaping off my boat. Amanda: Yeah. Ness: Yeah. Certainly. Amanda: Yeah. I’m [recording 23:12] that one. Ness: You get to leap [crosstalk 23:13] when I’m out in expedition. Amanda: Ness, I’ve got … Oh, my brain is going all over the place because there’s so many things I want to pick up and there’s so much valuable stuff in there, but can I go back to the resilience. You talked about resilience, about keep getting up again and again. Is there a story that comes to mind of a time when, not necessarily in one of your adventures but actually maybe an adventure as well, but perhaps preparing for an adventure, the funding, or trying to get your business off the ground. Something where you almost gave up. Ness: Oh, yeah. I got plenty of those. Don’t get me wrong. These keep happening. You don’t suddenly and miraculously become this person that never fails and never has to go through that and call on that resilience like that’s ongoing, but you get better at managing it and expecting it. Yeah. Certainly, with my career, it’s the same as running any business. A lot of people only see the expedition side of it and think, “Well, that’s a wonderful career” and off you go and that looks like quite an easy life. In reality, 90% of my time is spent at home doing the admin work behind my computer to make these things happen. In order to do that, I have to run everything like a business and I have to wear multiple hats. I do my marketing, I do my PR, I do my accounts, I do the logistics, and the fundraising. Everything is done myself. I even build my website. I do my social media.
It’s a huge daunting task. Especially, for example, leading up to this Pacific expedition, but yeah, over the years, I’ve had some big expeditions that have required a lot of funding to get off the ground and a lot of planning. I know, about three years ago, I went through a really rough path, actually, where I’ve almost gave up. It was right at the beginning of my career and because of what I do is quite an unusual thing. I have quite a job on my hands although, people were proud of me of what I was doing and achieving. My friends and family, they did find it quite difficult that I was going off around the world and doing these things that they see as incredibly dangerous and that they didn’t know much about and that they really quite honestly fit because they didn’t know whether I would come back alive. It’s easier for me because I’ve been through a few expeditions. I knew that I was safe.
As I said, I take calculated risk, everything or the minute detail that we go drill down into in the planning and organisation of this. It’s massive in the safety element. It’s a huge part of that and mitigating any risk and issue. I knew that it was quite a big job to convince those around me that this was a good idea for me to change after this career in this passionate mind. I struggled a lot with a number of things around that time. One was support. Again, don’t get me wrong, they were so proud but really scared. It was a big unknown for them. If I want to become an accountant, that’s known to everybody. That’s all right. I was like “Yes. Great. We know about that. Wonderful.” Exploring different story. Not having a huge support unit around me was difficult. At that time, I haven’t really made a huge number of friends in the world of exploration. I just didn’t know that many people yet or haven’t been out networking and getting to know people. I didn’t have that call on either.
I was trying to raise funds for expeditions. Obviously, everybody gets multiple times, people say, “No. That’s wonderful. We love the idea of it, but it’s not for us. Sorry.” It was like “No, no, no, no, no.” You’re trying to build a business and a brand and you have to have calling all those creativity to the marketing side of things and keep upbeat and be able to build pictures for that when you’re trying to sell people into your ideas and your expeditions. To try and keep that level of positivity there, to try and move forward and make the funds that you need and get the right partnership onboard and keep all this. That was really hard, really hard.
Actually, I stepped back from adventure for a little while and I slipped into depression. I’d never experienced that before. I’ve never been depressed in my life before. Trying to come back on that was really hard. That’s where I learned that you have to call upon the support of others around you. Without that, I think, it’s really easy for us in this day and age to feel like we need to be this super human people that are just good at everything, naturally, in order to look and appear successful to others and to ourselves that we have to win all the time. We put a huge amount of pressure on ourselves that we have to do it so low. That, to me, is just the worst way that you can go about things. What I’ve really learned in business and life, in general, is just don’t be that little island on your own. I’ve seen in so many ways in business and through my expeditions and also, the tribes and the cultures that I’ve met in some of the most remote parts of the world.
Most recently, in Namibia, the value that they put on collaboration and support of each other is huge. That’s the success of them. They’re incredibly happy people. The best businesses and entrepreneurs that I know are people who understand the power of collaboration. Yeah, I guess, that really was what started to turn things around for me again, but yeah, well, I’ve had to pull on that recently and it’s a lot. Put the ego away too. There’s no room for ego. Just chuck it to the side, leave it on the table, and ask for support around you. I think who you keep around you is very important and the attitude to life that they have. It’s very important to try and build a network of people close to you who have a really great outlook on life who will be a positive influence on you in moving forward. Amanda: Thank you. Thank you. How long did that period of depression last? Ness: Oh, about two years. Quite a while. It was a very slow coming out of it. If you look at the expeditions that I did, I’m trying to go back through the dates. I did my attempt swim in 2013. I did a 400-mile run from London to Lands End straight off the back of that, and then it went quiet for a period of time. A couple of years later, I headed out to Bolivia and things started getting moving again. I struggled during that period of time to pick myself up. It was extended and I learned a lot. Yeah, it was tough. It was definitely really tough. Amanda: What were the most valuable things that you learned apart from what you’ve talked about with reaching out for support and not being in an island? Ness: From going through that tough time? Amanda: Yeah. Ness: This goes for everything again. During that time, I learned very strongly that things can seem very overwhelming. There were days where I was lying in bed in my pyjamas at 11:00 in the morning and I was so depressed. I didn’t even have the energy to lift my arm to get my cup of tea next to me. I really just had nothing. There’s absolutely nothing there. I learned that sometimes some things feel so overwhelming. The most important thing you can do is reel things back in and go back down. Sometimes, the very smallest possible next step and just do that thing. Once you get there and you’ve done that thing, then find the next smallest possible next step and do that. Slowly but surely, you build momentum. I think that’s really important. It’s to try and get momentum going. It’s the same with expeditions. There’s so many times I’ve been out there.
In Namibia, recently, last year, I was heading towards 50 degrees Celsius and I was dehydrated, exhausted, sleep deprived, and plus any kind of motivations got bored and I would literally look ahead and see a rock about 10 metres ahead of me and say, “Okay. Well, I’m just going to cycle to the rock and put my foot on that rock, and then I’ll take it from there. I’m not going to think about anything else.” I get to the rock and then you think, “Okay. Well, next one, I’ll do 20 metres for the next one and then you get to the next drop, the next drop.” I’ll just go to that corner and then I’ll go that ridge line. Really, yeah, bit by bit, small steps as long as you are taking any step no matter how small. It’s what you can call it. That’s really important. Amanda: Oh, yeah, sister. I agree with you. Absolutely. Related to that just looking at that rock in front of you that, first, not even the obstacle but just taking those baby steps, do you practise mindfulness? Ness: I think I just recently started looking into this. Some people have said to me, “Well, naturally, through your expeditions and how you describe things, you seem to practise bits of mindfulness.” I think it’s a really interesting thing that I would love to learn more about. Apparently, I do a little bit and I would like to introduce that into what I do a lot more. I think many aspects of my expeditions and the building of my business and the balance and happiness that I have in my life are probably really growing and benefit from that. I would definitely want to look into it more. Amanda: Oh my goodness. Goodness knows what you’re going to achieve with mindfulness. Ness: I know. I think I need to get onto this one pretty soon. Amanda: I think that for about four years now, it’s made a real difference for me. Actually, I use get some head space and they have different packs. At present, I am going through a pack called, mindfulness. It’s for sport and for training. The introduction is all about how we have to get over ourselves when we have a goal. Especially, a goal with and adventurous goal or a physical sports goal and how we have to push ourselves. It’s like getting out of bed and not the whole thing about putting into perspective and mindfulness and being in the present and enjoying that presence. Yeah, it’s very useful, but I bet you probably do practise it without knowing what it was called. Ness: Yeah. One of the things that someone said to me recently that I do, which is mindfulness is, when I get up in the morning, for most of my life, I just left. I didn’t think about, literally, those best 15, 20 minutes of when I wake up and what I do in the narrative that’s in my head. Through adventure and expeditions and that extreme endurance that I’ve been testing myself at and pushing myself to the limit, I now set my day and my mindset and my attitude and my feelings to the day, literally, when I first wake up. I don’t leave it to chance. I wake up and I think, “Right. This is the day ahead. This is the stuff I want to achieve. This is the attitude I’m going to go and to work with. I give myself a little pep talk.” That set me off on the right footing and I find that I don’t do that. I just leave it to chance from the day that I’m least productive. I definitely believe in all that stuff. Amanda: That’s a great top tip. Can I ask you, what did you set as your mindset and attitude for today? Ness: This morning, it was all about creativity. I’ve got a big talk coming up in couple of days. I’m also doing a pitch for a lot of my fundraising. I just need to be in a very, very positive mental space. In order to get creative, I get that creative presence that block if I am not feeling in the right atmosphere and the right place. I’m going to go get the best out of myself. I actually spend time with my dogs, the very first thing in the morning because I lift my spirits up. I would think through the rest of the day and what my plan is in getting into that creative mindset. Yeah, that was today. Amanda: Wonderful. Do you train first thing in the morning? What’s your training regime like? Ness: At the moment, to be honest with you, it’s all over the place just because of my schedule. It’s all over the place. Yeah, I’m struggling a little bit with that because I do like to have some general skeleton idea of what my week is going to look like. Yeah, my training sometimes is early in the morning, sometimes it’s mid-day, sometimes in the evening. I do find though that that the times that I train first thing in the morning and get up 6:00 am session and by eight clock, I’m ready for the day and having my coffee. Those were the best days and most products days for me. I did struggle a lot if I leave my training to the end of the day. I’m really tired and mentally exhausted. Yeah, it’s not really how I wanted it in my day. I do prefer training early morning. It’s energising. Obviously, we don’t know that doing exercise releases those happy endorphins. Yes, it’s definitely in morning when I can get in early. Amanda: Are you a crossfitter? Ness: I am now. I might have been following these on Instagram. I’m going to suffer for this. I have to admit. I’ve been watching them. For two years, I’ve been going through my Instagram looking at all these motivational fit people and they do competition to fitness centre. It’s phenomenal what they can achieve. About two months ago, I signed up to my local crossfit. I am doing it now. It is hard. They make it look so easy. I guess it’s the same thing with gymnastics and those kind of sports. It looks effortless, really effortless and then you try it and you just can’t even lift your leg up. It’s awful.
Yeah, from my Pacific Ocean road that I’m heading out on next year, There’s three, really, important things for me and that is flexibility, core strength and muscle mass. As I go, I’m going to be spending six to nine months and see. Once I’ve depleted my fat stores, which I do need to actually up before I go, I need to put on weight before I head out. Once the fat stores go, my body will start using my muscle mass as fuel. I’ll start losing that very quickly. Also, the powerful rowing is in your legs. I really need to build that up. I’ve got these little skinny legs. That’s what I need to work on. Obviously, your core strength to prevent injury and flexibility. I incorporate at my crossfit. They do a lot of Ashtanga yoga and something called, [Animal Claw 38:40].
I’m the least flexible person. It’s horrendous and quite embarrassing. There’s a long journey ahead of me. It’s not a pretty one, but yeah, I’m giving it a go bit by bit. I’m starting to see the results come through now. Yeah. Amanda: Tell us about your next challenge, your record attempt across Pacific Ocean. Ness: Yeah. This is one that’s being in my mind for about seven years now. Before I even began to think about adventure and exploration, as a career, I was following a lady called, Roz Savage. She, at the time, was in the, I think, her early 30s, heading towards her mid 30s. She had been a management consultant for many, many years and in a similar way to what I was doing. It was just ticking boxes and going through life and just doing life. She just needed more. She ended up heading out and rowing. She became first female to row all around the world. She did it in stages year by year. She rowed the Pacific in three different stages and then she’s in India and she’s in the Atlantic. I just looked at the story and it just really, really spoke to me and spot something in my imagination.
I just thought from that very first day, that was to see those, but until I was going to, at some point, row an ocean. The most unknown, crazy thing that I could ever imagine doing. Regardless of doing this for a career, I still would’ve done the row. For seven years, I thought about it. When I started the adventure career, somebody who I trusted, close to me said to me right in the early stages when I got really excited, “Okay. I was going to be an adventurer. I’ll go to the Pacific road.” They said to me, “Well, what’s your reason for doing it?” At the time, I had so many different reasons why I wanted to do it. I didn’t explain it very well and I stumbled over. “Well, I just really want to feel what it feels like to row halfway across the world on your own steam, using your own body.”
I just thought it was the most fantastic thing. They said to me, “Well, that’s not a good enough reason. You can’t do that. That’s just not good enough.” I listened to them, unfortunately, for a good few years. I never embarked on it because they basically said, “Well, that’s not a good enough reason so you’re not allowed to. You’ll look like a fool.” Yeah. I guess, as my career, post depression, actually, and as I’ve got back into this career and built things up, I’m really in a good place that I thought. The time is right now. I’m so ready to do this. I said, “Right. Let’s start planning it.” Yeah, it’s been a long time coming. Amanda: When you started planning it, what was the first thing that you do? The first thing that you do is, you try to secure sponsorship funding or something else? Ness: The first thing you do is buy a giant map and put it up on the wall. My office, the entire … It’s a slanted roof and the whole thing is a map of the world, an enormous map. Yeah, I bought that and then plotted out the root for that. I stare at it all day. From that point, I set it up a bit like you had set up a major project for your business. I wrote a skeleton structure of a business plan for it. I got those giant rolls of paper and I stuck them to my wall and started plotting out all the different elements from the marketing side, the fundraising side, the partnerships, the equipment, the team, everything. Everything involved. I put a timeline together of how long I feel it would take, and then all the contingency around that.
From there, I started really going into each one of those and then exploiting those out and writing a much more detailed plan for each one of those different sections. Then I got the marketing side of it together enough that … I didn’t have a perfect plan, to be honest, but it was enough to get my marketing together, get a sponsorship proposal put together because of my digital marketing background that I could luckily do that all myself. There was no cost behind that and both to pitch and just started going out. I’m working on my LinkedIn connections. I literally connected with thousands of people on LinkedIn that I thought would be fantastic for building relationship in the future in terms of my expeditions and partnerships and sponsorship and things like that. I just started contacting people and cold calling. Also, getting in touch with my network that was existing and asking them if they knew anyone who might be interested in getting all the warm contacts because that’s so much easier than cold calling.
Their response was phenomenal. Absolutely phenomenal. Yeah, it’s been good planning from there. Obviously, you want those fun stuff trickling through then you can start working on getting the equipment and organising the boat build and things like that. Yeah, it’s just literally as you would with any company. It’s putting together a major project. Amanda: Wow. When you’re telling me this, I’m thinking about how many parallels because essentially, you’re starting a new business each time on you, something parallel. Well, it is a business. Ness: Absolutely. No, it’s exactly the same structure, exactly the same thing. You have to think about and put together in organising the same way that I would approach it for any other business. Yeah. Amanda: I also think, Ness, that what you’re sharing with people who’ll be listening here is that there’s going to be people listening who have no interest in doing adventures or no interest in starting a business or growing their business, but who have a career and there’s so many lessons that you can take from your career. For example, how do you use your LinkedIn contact, for example, that somebody might be able to mimic that to their next career move? Ness: Absolutely. For me, the very first step on LinkedIn was taking a step back, asking people around me what they thought about might existed. A lot of people that weren’t close, just close friends. Business connections that were good enough, close enough that I could ask them for this favour and trying to get people that wouldn’t be emotionally connected to me to tell me honestly with constructive criticism what they thought of my profile. Yeah, leaning on the support of others for that, then taking that and building my LinkedIn profile so that it was that all five star, [inaudible 45:40] singing and dancing. The most important thing, I’ll be honest with you, with my LinkedIn and with all my branding, regardless of whether your business or you’re just looking toward your career, you still have to think about your brand. Who are you? What can you offer? So much of pitching yourself or pitching a project or pitching a company is the ability to story tell.
If you can’t connect with people and really get them to understand both the logic but also, the passion and the vision behind it, then it becomes incredibly difficult to move forward and get them to buy in. If you can learn how to story tell, learn how to get your profiles in the various places like LinkedIn up to scratch, then that’s hugely helpful. I got that up to scratch and then I started connecting with people, literally doing, using and … LinkedIn is incredible because the ability to drill down in the searches is phenomenal, absolutely phenomenal. You can find exactly the right people and exactly the right places to connect with. I would click “connect” and then write a little personal note for every single one of them. That sounds like a huge amount of hard work and it did. It took me hours and hours and hours, but the pay off now, months and years later, is huge because those people felt that I was genuinely wanting to connect with them, which I was. I had taken the time and effort to write something personal to them.
Yeah, really and truly like you can’t cookie-cutter anything and just blasted out because people just delete it or not even bother reading it. Really, that personal connection with people and customising everything was critical. I feel I’ve got the upgraded premium version of LinkedIn. I’ll save the InMails that I have for key people and then just having the courage. Quite often, I’ll be like “Oh, no. I can’t connect with them. They’ll probably think I’m weird,” but no, you just do it. Just connect with them, find something to connect with them about and make it personal. That’s been great and yeah, it’s been the one thing that’s brought in so much of my sponsorship. It’s been fantastic. Amanda: When you connect with those people that you are initially reluctant to connect with because you worry they might think you’re weird. I guess you’re upfront to say, “This is why I’m connecting with you and this is what I’m hoping to achieve.” Ness: Yeah. Absolutely. People appreciate honesty. There’s nothing worse than someone trying to connect with you. It’s so obvious when someone is trying to give you a little … Trying to sales pitch you but make it sound like it’s not a sales pitch but really … Just be honest. There’s nothing that beats that. Just be honest. Because frankly, if you go through those efforts to try and pretend like there’s some other reason why you’re wanting to connect, down the line, you’re going to ask them for that thing and they’re just going to say no. Well, they get to know upfront then waste your time and get down the line. People either open to it or they not.
For the most part, most people have been pretty fantastic with connecting and most of the time, if I’m not honest with them, they’ll turn around and say, “Well, this is not … a lot of things at the right time, right place.” They might be interested in you but just not at that point in time because the business is not looking for that at that point in time, but you’re still going to be at the forefront of their mind because you connected with them when the time is right for them. A lot of what I’ve learned around business and connecting with people is [inaudible 49:33] awareness. Once I’ve connected with them, what I do is make sure that I put up the occasional updates and post that thoughtful and relevance so that they’ll hopefully see those in their stream. I’ll keep coping up. It’s just honesty. I’m not a fan of trying to pretend that there are plenty other reason than what you are. Amanda: I like that. It’s really fascinating to hear you talking as an explorer and an adventurer about your LinkedIn process thing. Ness: Well, yeah. I think it’s all good. Amanda: Not what I was expecting. Ness: If you think about it as an explorer, there are so many people that I’m going to want to connect with. Not just for fundraising, but also, there’s people that could be great partnerships. Service is partnerships with me, not financial fundraising. There’s also people who are directors and producers and the creators out there. There’s people that work within publishing industries. All of this stuff is relevant to me. There’s coaches out there who are fantastic storytellers that actually me going in having a coffee with them somewhere down the line would probably be incredibly useful for me. Some of the best connections and the biggest doors are being opened for me. The most amounts of money that have come my way are from the least expected people. The guys that I thought, “Well, I connect with them, but I’m really not sure what can come out of that.” You just don’t know who they know. Don’t just count people. Amanda: Yes. Absolutely. I run a monthly business breakfast for women in business as part of an organisation called, Forward Ladies. When I’m speaking to people about networking and about the way we do things at Forward Ladies, it’s very informal networking. I say to people who might have been too more traditional networking events, “Don’t come here expecting to give your business card to someone and they’re going to be on the phone next week ordering your thing or your service. That’s not how it works.” It’s so less century. It’s unbelievable. It’s about connecting, being interested in people, and you just never know where it’s going to land. It’s, as you say, always from the most unexpected places. You can’t control the people. Ness: Yeah. An example of this is, he is going and I started out on my speaking career, I would go out and basically, for free, do talks to companies locally in the area for that reason. To be honest, anywhere that I possibly could for two reasons. One, because I needed to practise and the more you do something, the better you get quicker. I didn’t want to do one talk a month and then have to drag out this process of getting better at it. I’d rather do one talk every two or three days and fast track that process. The other reason was because I knew by giving something away for free and going and inspiring people and not asking for anything in return, those people have those events. They run their own company, they work for other companies.
An example of this is a lady who … To be honest with you, I couldn’t even remember her because I never really met her at the event, but I did a free talk. Two years later, I get a phone call because she’s now working for a huge corporate and wants me to come in. There you go, there’s five grand worth of one talk. It pays off. I think it’s being able to see every single relationship and events as the ability to invest in a possible open door down the line in the future. I see it this way that I’ve always said to people, “You know there were so many things in life. The more cons you go through it’s more aces you find. Don’t hold back. Try and do as much as you can whenever you can. If that’s doing free talk, just connecting with as many people as possible and just being very open with people and very genuine and authentic with people.” It really does pay off because like we said, it comes from the most unexpected places down the line. It’s really truly worth it. Amanda: Yeah. I absolutely agree. I have an analogy. It’s throwing spaghetti at the walls. You just never know which of it is going to stick. Ness: Brilliant. I love that. It reminds me when I was a little kid about where I use to get the toilet roll and get tonnes of it and dump and throw it. Oftentimes, I use to throw it and my mom did her [inaudible 54:17]. It was all over the house and stuck to every corner of the house. No. Absolutely. It’s a story that remind me. Amanda: I hope it wasn’t [crosstalk 54:24]. Ness: Yeah. Definitely. I wasn’t that naughty as a kid. Amanda: The rebellious streak of it for. Ness: Yeah. Rebellious but not quite there. Yeah. Amanda: Listen, I am going to have to ask my last question. I would like to keep you talking for the next three hours. Ness: Oh, awesome. I love chatting. Amanda: Oh, good. It’s been absolutely wonderful. There’s so many other cases we could explore. By the way, remind me, when we finish the interview, I’ve got a great contact for you. Ness: Oh. Amanda: You see. Ness: You see. Amanda: Ness: Thank you. Amanda: I could probably give you more if you wanted that. You say that your mission is helping others, ordinary people can achieve extraordinary things. For all the women and some men who might be listening to this podcast, what would your message to them be about feeling ordinary and what they should do to achieve what their heart’s dreams of but they don’t actually go for? Ness: Okay. Do you have a few hours that I can explain? There’s so many things, but I’ll try and get down to, I suppose, the most important things that I found for me have really worked. Really, genuinely, doing a very physical proactive thing like sitting down and really asking a question, “If I knew I could not fail, what would I do with my life? If you’ll remove all of those insecurities, what would you do with your life if you knew that you were going to succeed at it?” Write all those things down and really, start making the changes to do that because it’s so worthwhile. I think there’s nothing left in getting 20 years down the line, genuinely. We know this. People are speaking about this for decades and centuries. The thing we regret the most are the things that we didn’t have the courage to do in our life. We don’t regret the things that we did and we finally made mistakes. That’s part of life. Those are things that we didn’t have courage to do in the first place that we would regret.
Do them. Sit down and write a list and start making the changes. It really does seem quite daunting at first because a lot of us have commitments that we’ve already invested in and we’re scared that those things are going to fall away, but you don’t have to do this overnight and instantly. You can work towards that on the side. I think I was reading something the other day. I can’t remember the exact number but after a year, the amounts of days that we have off including weekends and holidays and things like that is back up to about 120. Amanda: Wow. Ness: We can find a little bit of time within that each year on the side, grow whatever it is and then make that transition period. Really, I’m a very ordinary person. Really I truly am. I’m not sporty. I’m not born for this. I’m very uncoordinated. I’m very clumsy. I walk into door frames all the time. I have no spacial awareness. I should not be doing what I do. I’m a very ordinary person. It’s that whole idea that just got to keep reminding yourself that every single one of us who have mastered something was a beginner at some point. We’ve all been there. None of us are different to each from that perspective. We were all ordinary people. We’ve just grown experience. If you can just have the courage and the resilience to keep plodding through and taking the next smallest possible next step, you’ll absolutely succeed. I think that’s it. We’re not supposed to be extraordinary super human. We are all ordinary. Just the things that we end up achieving are the extraordinary things. Amanda: Thank you. Ness: Also a plea, really, one of the things I’m most passionate about in life is that if you succeed and if you start finding yourself on the way up, please pull people up with you.
Amanda: Of course. Ness: That’s really important. That whole ripple effect of positivity that just to keep really think about it. If you just help one person up, that person is going to have the similar effect on those around them because they will help. It goes on indefinitely. That’s an amazing thing to do. Yeah, just pull people up around you. It’s just the best thing. Amanda: Yes. Absolutely. It works so much more energetically and that’s what changing the world is one person at a time. Ness: Yeah. Absolutely. Yeah. Amanda: That- Ness: I know it sounds corny and cheesy but it really is. That’s my everything. Amanda: Yeah, it really is. That, really, is the ordinary people achieving extraordinary things. Ness: Yeah. Absolutely. Amanda: Ness, thank you very much. I will put a LinkedIn show notes to your website and your Twitter feed. Probably, also, your LinkedIn feed. Ness: Better make sure it’s in order then. Yes, really. Please do. Anyone can feel free to connect with me. Amanda: I’m definitely going to go and put a microscope to your LinkedIn profile. You might be getting an email from me saying, “Ness, please give me some constructive criticism on my LinkedIn.” Ness: I’m more than happy to help. Absolutely. Amanda: Thank you so much, Ness. It’s been an absolute joy. Ness: Likewise. Thank you so much. I’ve had a blast, absolutely a blast. Thank you. Amanda: Bye-bye. Ness: Take care.
High self-esteem is crucial to our success, equanimity and overall sense of happiness. If we want to feel happy and in control of our own life, it is essential that we nurture our self-esteem.
What the heck has low self-esteem got to do with Ripley’s Alien Mother Creature?
With low self-esteem, we filter our view of the World through our own distorted low opinion of ourselves. Low self-esteem is like the big bad mother of self-belief issues. She spawns lots of other baby limiting beliefs. And they in turn grow into monsters that are extremely difficult to slay – just ask Sigourney Weaver if you don’t believe me.
Do you suffer from low self-esteem?
Do you ever call yourself stupid or put yourself down? Do you frequently compare yourself to others and find yourself lacking? Do you worry that other people might not like you?
These are all indications of low self-esteem. But that’s ok – we’re not labelling you here!
You don’t have low self-esteem ALL the time. You only have it in those moments when you’re having those negative thoughts about yourself.
We generally expect people with low self-esteem to appear quiet, reserved: If you’ve ever met someone who finds it difficult to look you in the eye for example, you might suspect that they have low self-esteem. Not necessarily so.
I sometimes put myself down. Occasionally I compare myself with others and I have been known to fret about what other people might think. I never considered myself to have low self-esteem. I’m the sort of person who people view as confident, gregarious, happy and fairly well balanced.
Outward impression is not necessarily a reflection of what’s going on inside. And more importantly, self-esteem is not a fixed part of anyone.
Does low self-esteem come from a traumatic childhood?
Another thing we think we know about self-esteem: Doesn’t low self-esteem come from growing up in a family in which you are put down or belittled? Isn’t it common in victims of abuse? Well, yes – and no!
Dr. Rob Kelly, author of “Thrive” says that the link between childhood experiences and levels of self-esteem is not always to blame:
“People with a negatively distorted sense of self do not, however, need to have been regularly put down or abused by others during childhood….many people that I have treated with self-esteem issue have come from loving, caring families and it is largely their own self-criticism that has caused them to build such limiting beliefs about themselves.”
What IS self-esteem anyway?
Let’s take a quick look at the various synonyms for the word “esteem”:
When we add “self” to the word esteem, then we can start to get a feel for what self-esteem is:
Your level of self-esteem is a measure of:
• How you rate yourself • How much you value yourself • How much you like yourself • How much you appreciate yourself • How you judge yourself
In short, self-esteem is simply how you see yourself. If I asked you to tell me what sort of person you are, you might tell me that you are outgoing or shy; that you are hard-working or laid back; that you are a good friend or a conscientious person.
Essentially, you’d be responding with your beliefs about yourself. We all form beliefs about ourselves – who we are, what we like, what we dislike. They are not facts, they are simply beliefs that we have formed over years.
Your fluctuating self-esteem battery
Self-esteem is not real; it is simply your present evaluation of yourself – a set of beliefs. Sometimes you might evaluate yourself highly, sometimes less so.
Kelly tells his patients to imagine that they are keeping a mental score card of negative and positive thoughts. Each time they have a negative or critical thought it is recorded and each time they have a pleasant, validating thought, this is also recorded.
These positive and negative thoughts reflect the charge of your metaphorical “self-esteem battery”. So if, you have 70% negative thoughts in a day and only 30% positive thoughts, then your self-esteem battery is only 30% charged.
The effect of sh1t tinted spectacles
Kelly uses the evocative analogy of seeing yourself through “sh1t-tinted spectacles”. Here are a few examples of how those sh1t-tinted spectacles can distort your view:
• You look in the mirror and say “God, I look haggard” • You have a day when you get 5 pieces of good feedback from people and 1 piece of criticism. You focus on the criticism • A business connection you ‘phoned yesterday does not return your call and you create a reason in your mind that is all about you
Our human brain is a crafty thing. We create a belief and our brain immediately starts seeking evidence to back up that belief. We dismiss any evidence that proves this belief to be untrue – we want to prove ourselves right.
We see what we want to see – even though it doesn’t serve us, support us or make us feel good.
The secret sauce is in the PROCESSING
The trick in increasing your self-esteem is simply to increase the positive charge in that self-esteem battery I mentioned above: Change the positive/negative ratio of thoughts. Generate more positive thoughts and create higher self-esteem! And you can do that by processing your thoughts in a different way.
Kelly says that:
“processing is what takes place when your experience becomes a memory.”
Your memory is not reality – it is a construct made up of your belief systems, your unhelpful thinking patterns and your metaphorical spectacles – and how you decide to tint those spectacles.
In order to increase your self-esteem, all you need to do is switch your specs to a pair that are rose-tinted, rather than sh1t-tinted!
Coach Yourself: The simple habit that will increase your self-esteem
Time to coach yourself: This is what I’d like you to do:
1. Give yourself the gift of 15-20 minutes of journaling time within the next 24 hours. Set a timer and create a positive hit list and write down as many positive things from your day. Be as creative and as flexible as you want with your list. The only “rule” is that you reflect on the positive things from your day, even if it wasn’t a stellar day! For this exercise, please also reflect on why each item is in your hit list. Why did it make you feel good? What positive thing did it reflect about YOU?
2. Set yourself a reminder at the end of each day to do a mental positive hit list at the end of each day. It’s a great habit to get into both for your self-esteem AND for a good night’s sleep: In a mindfulness sleep meditation, one of the first parts of the meditation is mentally running through your day from waking to getting into bed.
These “positive hits” can be:
• Moments of pleasure • Things that made you smile • Moments of pride in yourself or those you love • Achievements – large or small • Challenges you overcame • Things that made you feel grateful • Acts of kindness that you received • Acts of kindness that you gave
To help you get the idea of what to write – and to demonstrate that I walk my talk! – here’s one I did earlier! This is my positive hit list exercise from Wednesday this week.
It wasn’t an easy day: I spent most of the day responding to my own mini business crisis – my broadband network failed and I was left with no connection to the Internet whatsoever. This meant I lost a lot of working time and had a couple of sticky situations to get round. Despite this, when you read my positive hit list, you’ll see that, even on a day that could be described as a “nightmare”, there were many positives:
1. Meditated first thing in the morning. Felt proud of myself as it’s an important habit, but it’s one that I have to push myself to do still. 2. Watched the mists rolling off the top of the hill and knew it would be a hot day. The sunshine always makes me feel happy. 3. Took Ernie for a walk in the forest and enjoyed the sunshine, peace and stunning views 4. Met a man in the forest who gave me a wonderful smile, engaged with me and wished me a wonderful day. It made me think how great it is when people connect and how lucky I am for such simple pleasures 5. Emailed parents of Duke of Edinburgh award participants to organise gifts for the D of E leaders. It would have been much easier not to as it will take time and thought, but it is important for me to acknowledge people. 6. Did some writing sitting on the balcony in the sun. Felt grateful for the autonomy and flexibility of my business 7. Responded creatively and calmly to challenge of running important client webinar after broadband developed a fault and I was left with no Internet signal. This shows that every day in every way I’m getting more and more resilient – rolling with the everyday blips of life and taking it (more or less) in my stride 8. Spoke to my friend Penny Pullan who logged into my business email system and sent an email to my clients about alternative conference line. Always love speaking to Penny and feel grateful to have a friend who I know will help me out in this kind of situation and who knows what to do! 9. Had a great conversation with Amanda Davie about coaching and EQ. Love talking to Amanda as she’s so bright, on my wavelength and she gets it! 10. No. 1 son helped me to clear away dinner dishes without me even asking. Wow! All those years of me feeling like a broken record are finally paying off! 11. No. 1 son ALSO mowed the lawn without moaning when asked. As above! 12. Bedtime story reading to Fred and friend’s daughter who stayed over. Really cherish reading a book to Fred and thankful for it as it won’t be long until he won’t want me to read to him. 13. Negotiated better deal on mobile phone contract and felt pleased with myself. I’ve also got extra contingency data 14. Upgraded mobile data contract to ensure better contingency next time there is a problem with broadband at home. I’ve really thought about mitigating a major risk in my business. 15. Spoke to John and Mum on the phone when I felt exhausted and fed up. Feel immensely grateful for these 2 big “rocks” in my life who always listen and always have wise words. 16. Was able to say “yes” to a friend dropping her daughter round and was also able to offer for her to sleepover. How great to be able to do this for a friend who helps me out so often.
If you do these 2 exercises – the written one to start and then follow up simply by creating a habit of ending your day with a positive mental hit list, you’ll quickly reap the benefits in more consistently high self-esteem.
And as you embed this new positive habit, you’ll find you naturally notice more of your own achievements, making it easier the more you do it!
You’ll have that Alien self-esteem mother monster slayed in no time!
Coming Monday 16th November at 12.30pm GMT in The Academy for Talented Women
How to be fabulously confident at work even in the toughest situations
In this masterclass, you will learn:
· How to project confidence in the way you walk and talk
· How striving for perfection is a killer for your confidence
· Why it’s so important to give yourself permission for self-love
· How to boost your confidence by understanding your strengths and limitations
· Why it’s essential to journal your achievements at work to reinforce your identity
Sherry Bevan runs The Confident Mother which is all about celebrating and loving life as a woman and as a mother. Everything she does is to help women feel confident as a woman and as a mother. Sherry believes that confidence comes from these five elements: work, wellness, contribution, family and the feminine. How you balance those elements is unique to each woman and changes at different stages in your life. Get those five in balance in the way that’s just right for you and you WILL love your life and get to know how to be more confident at work as a woman and as a mother. After more than 25 years working as a senior technology manager in professional services, coming back from an almost fatal head injury on the race circuit, two bouts of severe postnatal depression, retraining as a breastfeeding counsellor, two promotions while on maternity leave, then redundancy, Sherry set up her own business in 2012 to have a more flexible working life and more quality time with her children. She is an action-taker who knows exactly how to move women beyond the confidence blocks and inertia that holding them back.
Being yourself – one simple phrase. But what on earth does it actually mean to be yourself? And do you really know who you are? And what do you do when being yourself means being vulnerable?
Because let’s face it, if you truly ARE yourself, then some people won’t approve. Some won’t like you. You can’t please all of the people all of the time, after all. And what if “yourself” is “not good enough”?
What if you feel you have to “act” more formal, more funky, more corporate, more arty, more senior, more SOMETHING to achieve success? What if you are worried that “you” just doesn’t cut the mustard?
Believe me, this is something that I have battled with many times in my own personal growth journey! I’m going to briefly share with you what I’ve noticed this week. I’ve had conversations with a handful of the UK’s most influential women in business this week, with many more to come.
I have experienced self-doubt on many occasions during these conversations. With some of these women, I ended the conversation with thoughts like these nibbling away at me:
“Did she like me?”
“Did I come over as professional?”
“Did I waffle?”
to name but a few of the thoughts! Isn’t it fascinating, how much we question ourselves?!
Of course, some of the women I’ve spoken to and met this week may well think that “me” is a bit too enthusiastic, not refined enough, a bit too “whatever” for their taste.
However, others will feel the opposite. We connect with some people, more than others. I came off some of the phone calls buzzing, feeling as if I’d really connected with a like-minded soul. And that made me believe MORE in myself.
As the week has gone on, I have kept daring myself to be ME, more and more. And life has brought me several opportunities for that dare, but more about that another time.
This is the point: Daring to be yourself takes a heck of a lot of courage. Because, as we both know, some people won’t like you! But guess what, some will!
Here are a few coaching questions to ponder:
▪ What do you worry about when you are interacting with people you don’t know? ▪ Do you notice that there are certain friends or colleagues with whom you “put on act” when you are in their company? ▪ Who are the people that you can be absolutely you, no holds barred with? Hint: There are likely to be very few! ▪ What if you dared yourself to show a bit more of the true you to those people? Do you dare?
If you’d like to really get to know yourself and you are willing to play, I’ve got something so utterly brilliant coming up, that you’ll need to wear sunglasses because you’ll be so dazzled!
Next week, I’m launching a 3-part video coaching course. I’d go so far as to say it’s unique. I haven’t seen anything like it before.
You’ll get me coaching you over the course of 3 videos.
You will sit quietly with the questions, hitting pause on the videos as required.
And you will experience just a tiny element of the power of coaching.
Here’s what I am going to coach you on in these videos:
1. How to Know Yourself, Like Yourself and Be Yourself
2. How to Understand What You Want
3. How to Trust Yourself
This is important, essential and powerful stuff. And oh so necessary. Too many women are afraid of being themselves. Yet it’s the golden key to success, fulfilment and balance. Too many women don’t know what they want or what they are about because they have been so busy focusing on helping others. I’m on a mission to change all that!
Oh, and I almost forgot. The video coaching programme is going to be 100% FREE!
[Firstname] I strongly suspect you’re going to love it. I haven’t decided yet what to call the free video coaching programme, though. If inspiration strikes you for a title, please drop me an email!
Yours, excitedly, adventurously and authentically
Have you ever held yourself back because of thoughts like these?
– What if people don’t like me?
– What if people reject me?
– What if people are mean to me or belittle me?
Of COURSE you have. You are human. It’s ok to be afraid of people rejecting you – it doesn’t mean that you are lacking in any way. When we are rejected, our “lizard brain” kicks in. It produces cortisol and we want to run away…. Fight or flight! You’ve heard the metaphor “like a slap in the face”? It’s a very apt metaphor for how we feel when we are rejected.
But the problem is, you know that your fear of rejection is holding you back. Good news – this post will help you how to overcome fear of rejection!
This week I listened to an interview with a man called Jia Jiang on a podcast called Bulletproof Radio. Two years ago Jia decided to embark upon his own personal project called “100 days of rejection”. His goal was to desensitise himself from the pain of rejection and overcome his fear of being rejected by making 100 requests over 100 consecutive days.
The Krispy Kreme Olympic Donut Experiment
On the third day, Jia went into a branch of Krispy Kreme and asked for a series of donuts made into an Olympic ring, fully expecting to be rejected. However, the assistant said yes, disappeared for 10 minutes and emerged having made him an Olympic ring of Krispy Kreme Donuts!
Jia recounts that he was completely overcome, surprised and touched at this “yes” as it was counter to his expectations during his experiment.
“How many Olympic donut experiences have you missed because you’ve been scared of rejection?”
In fact, out of the 100 days of asking things which Jia thought were sure to get him rejected, he was only rejected 49 times. That’s right – the majority of times, even though Jia designed his requests to be rejected, he experienced the opposite.
What might you achieve if you gave up on being afraid of being rejected?
Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway!
Rejection therapy did, as you’d expect, desensitise Jia and it meant he became more courageous and more adept at questioning the “nos” However, stretching outside our comfort zone is not always a upwards trajectory, as Jia demonstrated on day 97 of his 100 days of rejection. Day 97’s challenge was to give a speech on a street.
I guess that, like me, you’re probably thinking that by the 97th day, it was probably a breeze for Jia to give a speech on a street.
Jia was so afraid of being rejected by strangers, the build-up leading to him making his speech was a real psychological struggle. This is simply because our “lizard brain” takes over – the amygdala that kicks in to prompt us into flight or flight mode. We are biologically programmed to be part of the tribe and we don’t want to do anything that might threaten being excluded from our tribe.
“Sometimes no matter how hard you train yourself, the fear of rejection will still be there. However, you’ve strengthened yourself and minimized your enemy – fear. If you rely on the strength, and “feel the fear and do it anyway,” you will always be glad you did.”
12 lessons on how to overcome fear of rejection
Here are 12 lessons for overcoming fear or rejection that I took from listening to Jia Jiang:
You have the freedom to ask whatever you want
Other people have the freedom to respond to your request however they want
Detachment is key: This will give you the confidence and freedom to ask.
Even if you become a master of being rejected, you’ll always have to combat your “lizard brain”. That’s just a normal physiological part of being human. Don’t sweat it (although you actually will!!)
Focus on what you can control. You can’t control acceptance or rejection, but you can focus on your actions, one by one.
Celebrate failure! For me this is about looking for golden nuggets of learning from each failure
If you don’t face your fear, you’ll always live in a certain amount of fear, because you’ll never know
When you are the one doing the rejecting, there is no reason for you to be a “jerk”! Be kind and be reasonable
Remember that “No” is the most painful word in any language. There’s the key for why we take on too much, eh? We don’t want to be rejected. This is a biggie for me. I don’t know about you, but I actually don’t like saying “no” to my kids. I don’t want them to be upset, angry with me. It’s much nicer when they think I’m the best mum in the World!
Help your kids to get a bit more comfortable with failure by asking them “Tell me something you failed at today”. Help them to think about what they have tried hard with. Help them to get used to the fact that it’s not the end of the World when they fail…. And that they can keep on trying.
Set up a system whereby people HAVE to reject you. For example, set up a number of rejections that you will take before you give up. Then you can “give up”, honour satisfied!
And if all else fails, ask yourself – How many Olympic donut rings might you miss out on if you don’t ask? 🙂
I hope this post has given you some food for though on how to overcome fear of rejection. Let me know what works for you! And if you’ve enjoyed this post, please TELL YOUR FRIENDS… They won’t reject you for it! 🙂
“Courage is not the towering oak that sees storms come and go; it is the fragile blossom that opens in the snow.”
― Alice Mackenzie Swaim
I LOVE this quote, because it expresses perfectly the courage we need to face our fears and make positive change in our lives.
You need courage to make any kind of change in your life, whether it’s career transformation, ending a relationship, starting a business, getting a promotion at work or battling through a nasty illness.
You have to stretch beyond your comfort zone unless you are happy to remain static in your life. By definition, beyond your comfort zone is an uncomfortable place, and to deliberately open yourself up to discomfort requires COURAGE.
However, you’ll be surprised at how little it takes to start building your courage. In this post, I want to convince you that it’s easier than you think, by sharing 6 stories of 6 “extraordinary ordinary” women.
I am sure that all of these women would identify with fragile blossoms more than towering oaks! Yet each of these “fragile blossoms” has made huge transformations in a short period of time.
Here are 6 inspirational stories from 6 real women.
All 6 of these courageous women took my Stepping Up programme a few months ago. I think you’ll be inspired by their real-life stories. Each has made significant and real transformations in their lives. Enjoy!
Tamara had been made redundant and wanted to set up her own business…
She actually ended up setting up not one but TWO businesses because she discovered something that she truly believed in with the 2nd business. However, in order to move forward with this, she had to get over what her family and friends might think of this. She had held herself back because she was worried what others might think. But she took the first step by getting really clear on what SHE wanted, rather than what others thought she SHOULD want.
Maria rediscovered her courage after being crushed by fear for several years….
This amazing lady’s story is one that would have you transfixed and horrified as a fictional drama on TV. But it was real: She had suffered greatly from a sustained “attack” by a group of people filled with fear and hatred. For this woman, even making the decision to JOIN Stepping Up was a huge one. But she took that first step. And that step led to many more. 3 months on and she has battled through ups and downs, sometimes taking two steps back for every one forward!
On this journey, Maria has begun to regain something very precious – her self-belief. She tuned into HER values, which gave her more strength. And gradually, her confidence is returning. This lady is becoming more courageous every day. By the end of Stepping Up, she had started to rebuild her business, something she never thought she’d have the courage to do.
Claire applied for her (unadvertised) dream job..
Not only that, she has been bold enough to negotiate the job as work from home and 3 days a week – even though it was originally intended to be full time in an office. She is over the moon and she tells me she would NEVER have even approached the company in the first place without my support within Stepping Up. We did quite a bit of email coaching back and forth and I remember her first email when she saw the opportunity. Claire wasn’t sure she dared to approach the company. I dared her. She made the first contact and the rest is history in the making!
Patricia started getting paid for something she had previously done for free!
Patricia was volunteering for a charity. She rose to the challenge with one of the Stepping Up exercises which required her to email or phone people and ask them to answer 6 questions about her. She took a deep breath and got more than she bargained for. Not only did she get feedback, she got a job: The feedback made her realise she had been under-valuing herself. This planted a seed in her mind: What if she could secure a PAID position within the third sector? It was an idea that had never occurred to her before. And lo and behold the perfect opportunity presented itself. And Patricia took it!
But there’s more! Patricia attended an interview for a place on the board of another charity. She consciously saw herself as their equal, something she often struggles to do. Like many of us, she is great at seeing other people’s strengths and her own weaknesses! She is now overcoming this Imposter Syndrome and going for it!
Jess achieved happiness, direction and clarity after a major life transition
Jess had lost her mojo and was grieving for her life abroad after she and her family repatriated back to the UK earlier this year. She felt lonely, disorientated and directionless. We found her mojo was merely hiding. We soon coaxed it back out by getting Jess to tune into what made her feel alive, on purpose, connected and full of energy. She only required the merest nudge!
Once she’d realised what was important to her and what she needed, she took action – baby steps – to get her needs met. Jess has taken up running, made new friends, attended networking meetings, sold her house abroad, been back to visit her old friends, eliminated a fear she’s carried around for years and got clarity on the direction of her career. She says she’s excited and “scared” because that career direction feels more like a “calling”. Phew! What a ride!
Suzanne took on a huge Internet client within her business development role, stepping WELL outside of her comfort zone.
She really stepped up to a new and exciting level within her role: Suzanne took on this
s-t-r-e-t-c-h challenge in her career whilst also managing everything by herself at home with a young child during a period when her husband working very long hours.
But that’s not all! During her time on Stepping Up, she started a new dance class, booked a holiday in a place that makes her soul soar and created a plan to set up her own sideline business!
I almost forgot to mention – Suzanne also found “the house of her dreams” She put in an offer and has just signed the contract to exchange on that house today! Suzanne said that key to her being able to step up in this way was learning to “trust her own instincts and her own experience”
Are these women any different from you?
These women are just like you. They have self-doubt, put themselves down, worry, have problems, get poorly, feel upset and have to deal with unexpected curve balls whilst they are stepping up.
They are not great strong oaks who know no fear. They are fragile blossoms, opening even when it’s cold and snowing outside.
The only difference between these women and you is that they took a deep breath and took the first step. The first step they took was a risk: They made the decision to invest a little money in their future happiness and success. They enrolled on Stepping Up back in February.
The early bird bonus I’m offering is quite simply AMAZING and it disappears for good at 6.01pm Saturday 16th May. The bonus is so deliciously good I have considered removing it before this time.
If you’re willing to be courageous, I’m right here waiting for you to blossom. And I’ll be here for you, even if it’s snowing!
If these stories of transformation don’t convince you, then nothing will and Stepping Up is most definitely not for you. I could have added another 6 stories if I had the time! But if you are thinking of joining us for Stepping Up and you courageous enough, then I would be honoured and delighted to help you.
But do it now. Before you forget. Before some little person screams for your attention. Before you’ve had a glass of wine tonight (and you forget!). Before you charge around on Saturday doing the shopping, doing chores, head off to do some sport or start your weekend taxi service. Do it now because there are only 10 places left and the early bird bonus ends at 6pm BST on Saturday. And if you’re wondering what it is, just scroll down to the bottom of the Stepping Up page!
If you’re willing to be courageous, I’m right here waiting for you to blossom. And I’ll be here for you, even if it’s snowing.
By the way, if you would like to chat to any of the women mentioned above before you join Stepping Up, feel free to contact me. I have changed their names to maintain privacy within this post, but they are each happy to be in touch via email with individuals wanting to explore Stepping Up.
Have you ever said “I’ll eat my hat if that happens”?
It’s been a breathtaking, shocking, tumultuous rollercoaster over the past 24 hours in the UK: A majority win by the Conservatives, a landslide victory for the SNP in Scotland and 3 resignations from 3 party leaders. Last night, the Exit Poll started indicating that the Conservatives were on course to win and that the Liberal Democrats would lose dozens of seats.
Paddy Ashdown, Chair of the Liberal Democrats reacted to the poll with utter incredulity. He said he’d “eat his hat” if the exit poll was true. Which just goes to show: None of us can predict the future and the UK election results have demonstrated this very clearly!
Yet often, we are certain that we do know what our future holds. I have lost count of the number of times I have worked with clients who had a specific goal, but who were certain they could never achieve it and it’s all down to lack of self-belief. I get such a kick out of it when my clients go from not believing that they can possibly achieve their big dream, to starting to see new opportunities, taking action and then suddenly… the “impossible wonderful goal” happens.
Oh, how many hats might have been consumed over the years…
Once upon a time…
Here’s a wonderful real life story to inspire you and it’s almost as fresh as the election results. It’s the story of one of my Stepping Up clients, Claire, who had a dream of a an “impossible, wonderful” job. She came to Stepping Up wanting to believe in herself more and have the confidence to be bolder and go for opportunities.
She achieved more than she had ever believed possible. In fact, Claire would probably have eaten her hat if you’d told her THIS was going to happen.
Here’s her story in her own words:
“I should start by saying that my objective for stepping up was improving my self-belief, confidence and resilience to get clear on what I wanted in my career and make a much needed change.
I have achieved that and so much more. Whilst on Stepping Up I reconnected with an ex colleague / friend. This person was an amazing boss and years previously had picked me to be on a new team they were setting up on a large national project on which we both worked. We went our separate ways and had lost touch. When I looked at their details I noticed they now run their own successful business and had a vacancy that matched my skills perfectly!
The company sounded amazing, the job sounded amazing and I already knew the company founder was brilliant. So I decided to step up, take a punt and approach that person for the job (in a creative way that helped me stand out). It took a lot of courage to do this and I can honestly say that I would never have been this brave or bold without the stepping up programme or Amanda’s amazing coaching.
After being so brave and getting an initial response I had a real wobble but Amanda refocused my perspective and kept me focused on the faint possibility of me nailing my dream job.
Fast forward a few weeks… I’m negotiating a package for my dream job in my dream company with my dream boss. I can hardly believe it..but it’s real!
And I wouldn’t have believed it if you’d told me last year that I would take these actions and be on this path.”
Hmmmm…. I wonder if Claire might has eaten her hat?! It’s a great story isn’t it? And I want to share it with you because I want you to believe that something like this could happen to you too.
What do YOU want that you believe might never happen? Beliefs are funny old things.. they are in fact stories that we make up in our heads based on a set of experiences that we have usually distorted in our minds.
The fact is, YOU JUST DON’T KNOW what is possible for you. And I want you to know that if you can have more self-belief, if you dare to be bold and if you take positive action, then you will greatly boost the chances of going from…
Impossible to Improbable to Absolutely Possible to REAL!
By the way, this is what I’m good at – believing in yourself, getting you out of your own way and getting on with it. And my Stepping Up programme has just helped 12 women, including Claire, to do just that.
The doors to the next Stepping Up programme are hereby OPEN.
Do this now. There are only 12 places. You’ll want to see what I’ve got in store for you and you’ll DEFINITELY want to see the bonus gift I’m offering to those who take action quickly. In fact, I’d go so far to say that it’s the BEST bonus I’ve ever offered for fast action takers!
I’ll hand over to Claire to finish:
“Stepping up has been amazing it has allowed me to become who I really am and be true to myself. In so doing and with the world class uniquely awesome support of Amanda – I am about to close a deal for my dream job! I should say my objective for stepping up was improving my confidence and resilience to get clear on what I wanted in my career and make a much needed change. I have achieved that and so much more. I cannot recommend Awesome Amanda and the Stepping Up programme highly enough – if you want to be the best version of the brilliant woman you really are and have the confidence, resilience to reach for the stars to fulfil your potential then go for it! Book your place now. Your life will never be the same (and I mean that in a wonderfully positive way!)”
Imagine failing at something so publicly that you were featured on the front page of the national press.
Now imagine if, at the time of failure, you were standing at the front of a hall in which 250 men who had turned up specifically to boo at you and revel in your failure. And imagine a journalist shoves a microphone under your nose and asked you to comment about how you felt.
You would probably feel like crying. And that’s exactly what Baroness Warsi, who experienced all this, felt like doing at that moment.
I attended an International Women’s Day lunch in Leeds last week with Forward Ladies. Baroness Warsi was the keynote and she related this story as part of her talk.
She related stories of canvassing for votes, knocking on doors and being greeted with comment like: “I’m really sorry, I’m not going to vote for a Paki”.She concluded that she was “Too brown for half of them too female for the other half”
And yet despite the story related above, there is no way you’d label this inspirational woman is a “failure”. Here’s a very short introduction to Baroness Sayeeda Warsi:
“A lawyer, a businesswoman, a campaigner and a cabinet minister, Sayeeda Warsi has had many roles, but she is best known for being the first Muslim to serve in a British cabinet and the foremost Muslim politician in the Western world. In August 2014 she resigned from Government citing the Government’s “morally indefensible” policy on Gaza.” (source www.sayeedawarsi.com )
Warsi conveyed two key messages during her talk last Friday:
1. You have to overcome fear of losing or it will hold you back.
2. Don’t let anyone limit your potential.
Baroness Warsi would never have embarked upon a career in politics or made an impact on so many lives had she feared losing or allowed those booing men, the British media or social media trolls to bow her into submission – and limit her potential.
I was curious to know exactly how Warsi bounced back from such defeat and humiliation and how she continued a public career in politics (“The bitchiest women I’ve ever met are men in politics”).
How do you keep going when you get knocked so badly? How do you continue to strive for your goal when there are people who are gunning for you to fail? That’s scary stuff…
At the end of the lunch, we were given the opportunity to ask questions.
I asked the Baroness how she maintained her self-belief and bounced back from public failure and humiliation. I wanted to know the “secret” of staying power, so I could pass it onto you!
But I have bad news for you Amanda! Warsi didn’t have any secret formula for indestructible self-belief and not letting people bother you.
But here is what I did learn from her response to my question:
1. She has a clear motivation for not giving up after failure. She believes strongly enough in her own mission and vision that she keeps trying.
2. She has a strong support network, particularly within her family. They give her a safe refuge of love, no matter what the trolls are saying about her.
3. She believes that it is better to have fought and lost than never to have fought at all.
Warsi said that she has met too many women in their 40s – childhood friends – who admit to feeling regret at what they haven’t done: “If only I had…” In other words, They regret not trying – they regret their fear of failure.
I sat at my table listening, trying to figure out the magical, never-heard-before gems of inspiration in her answer. There weren’t any. It was all common sense.
She confirmed what I already know to be true from coaching many brave women over many years:
1. You have to have a strong vision for what you really want to achieve, because you WILL fail at some point – and your vision is what you hold onto to go beyond those times of failure.
2. Your vision must be underpinned by YOUR most important VALUES. A vision based on values that you don’t truly hold dear will crumble at the first hurdle.
3. When you fail on your journey, you are allowed to crawl into a corner and lick your wounds. You are allowed to lean on those nearest to you, who love you – momentarily. But then you must get up, dust yourself off and get back up again.
1. Not going for your vision is most certainly a safer way to live. You won’t have to face the critics, the trolls or the haters. But is being in fear of other people a good way to spend this one precious life you have? I don’t think so! I think it’s better to face the demons and live your life courageously and purposefully.
2. Seek out like-minded, courageous, positive and sunny people. If you don’t have these people in your life right now, here’s how to attract them: Be courageous, positive and sunny yourself!
Don’t let anybody limit your potential! Be bold, be brave and go for it!
I was in Ireland on Mothers’ Day a few weeks ago; the boys were with their Dad back here in England.The trip to Ireland had been booked months before and I realised I’d be away from my boys for “the big day” only when I noticed the ubiquitous Mothers’ Day marketing messages everywhere a few weeks earlier.
Unfortunately, neither boys nor Dad are very good at remembering things like Mothers’ Day! And I forgot to remind their dad to remind them (anyone else do that?!) I didn’t even receive a text until I sent a snotty missive at midday to their Dad: “It’s Mothers’ Day you know! Not even a text!!!”
However, other than a bit of irritation, it didn’t consume much of my thoughts on the day or afterwards.
Let me tell you why it didn’t matter
I realised that I don’t measure my worth as a Mother or as a Woman based on how well I’m treated on that one day of the year.
Of course it would have been nice to find a card surreptitiously hidden in my suitcase, but that was never going to happen!! ☺
The reason why? I know how to cherish myself. And knowing how to do that helps me to have a high self worth.
“Treat yourself as you would like to be treated by others”
What this means is that YOU have to learn to be kind to yourself. You have to identify your own needs and if necessary, meet those needs yourself first, rather than hoping others will do so for you. It’s wonderful when other people (especially partners or kids) make us “feel special”, but I want you to feel special whether you have those people in your life or not!
I teach this in the context of helping women to boost their self-belief. But it goes WAY beyond that. I believe that it is a key ingredient in being a resilient, happy and successful woman.
I was running my self-belief masterclass last Friday at The Cooperative Bank for their Aspire Career Network. I asked a question:
“Who has _never_ bought themselves a bunch of flowers?”
In this particular workshop, only a few hands went up, but usually there are a fair number of hands that rise in admission of never having bought themselves flowers.
Have you ever bought yourself flowers?
**I have spoken to a number of women over the past few weeks who are living through very challenging transitions** – serious illness, separation, divorce, bereavement.
**It’s at these times when our self-worth – and therefore our self-belief, takes a knocking**. And it’s at these times where looking after yourself in the way you’d LIKE someone else to look after you is a good habit to have got into beforehand.
One of the many things I’ve learnt since I separated is that it is essential that I cherish myself. When you’re alone in the house with 2 kids, you simply HAVE to because nobody else is going to!!
Some Ideas for Cherishing Yourself – and Increasing Your Own Self Worth
Here are the things that I do to met my own needs and remind me that I matter, that I’m worth the effort!
I cook a decent meal for myself when the boys aren’t with me, rather than just throwing something together “because it’s only me”
Tonight is one of those evenings.. home made burgers, sweet potato wedges, baked tomatoes and avocado. I even garnished the tomato with a basil leaf! ☺
Dressing to feel good, with my make-up on, even if I’m working from home all day and not seeing anyone apart from the boys. I don’t do this every day, only when I feel the need – if I’m feeling a bit “frumpy”. When the boys see me “dressed for the office” they ask me “Where are you going?” and look at me strangely when I say “Nowhere!”
Going to bed early with a book when I’m tired and I just want to hide away from the World. This means resisting the urge to re-commence work after the boys are in bed as well as resisting the urge to look at fascinating things on Facebook!
Building a fire each evening and often lighting tea lights in the living room. Like most women, calm surroundings soothe me and the fire burning away helps me wind down in the evenings. Our wood burner is roaring every single night unless it’s summertime and the boys are expert fire starters! 🙂
And of course.. buying myself flowers.I haven’t done this for a while, but today, I was at the greengrocers and noticed some beautiful gerberas. I love bright colours and I remembered the question I had asked at the workshop on Friday.
YOU matter – YOU are worth the effort
The more you cherish yourself, the more you will increase your own self-worth.
So, what are you going to do for yourself?
Will you buy yourself a bunch of flowers? Get to bed early? Take yourself to a museum? Put your make-up on, even when you’re not going anywhere?
Start treating yourself as you’d like others to treat you!