The most common phrase I hear. Self doubt.

Do you have moments wondering “What on earth am I doing?” or observing a serious lack of trust in yourself? If there’s one term I’ve heard in abundance lately it’s “I have self-doubt”. Whether I’m networking, working with clients or chatting with friends it seems we all have moments of self-doubt running parallel with a case of the speed wobbles. Many of us become paralysed by it, leaving us running round in circles.

Self-doubt is defined as a lack of confidence in one’s self and ones abilities. So why is it self-doubt is making such an appearance at a time when we have content galore to help grow our confidence, positive mentoring a phone call away and app’s at our fingertips to solve every problem?

And oh the irony. I have been sitting on completing this blog for a good few weeks. Then it hit me. I had doubt around my abilities and experience to write about this topic. I finally had the realisation that much of this inner chit chat had no substance. So I did some research, delved into what I know from hours of coaching and here’s what I learned.

Self-doubt comes in all shapes and sizes. I’m not sure I’m smart enough to get ahead at work. I’m not good at maintaining friendships. I’ll never be able to reach my goal weight. But what it all boils down to the old chestnut, belief and fear of I’m not good enough. You are good enough of course but right at this minute you are very much not buying that story and instead choosing to not back yourself.

person-on-cliff-meditating

Imposter syndrome is a classic phrase closely linked with self-doubt. I feel like I’m completely winging it and one day everyone will find out I’m a fake. Wow, if I had a dollar for every time I heard that cracker! The ultimate in doubting ourselves at work, not trusting or believing in our abilities. Sure, there are folks out there who are totally winging it but for most of us we have the knowledge, experience and practical know how to be in a role. So why put energy into believing we’ll be caught out? Well, my friends it’s been noted that this doubting business also appears to function exceptionally well as a phenomenal excuse card for not stepping up, pushing harder or going further.

Is there a quick fix for self-doubt? Not exactly as it often stems from stories from our past that we’re holding onto. Whether they be real or imagined, if we’re holding onto resentment, guilt, shame for mistakes of the past they will all lead to self-doubt. Often many people fear they will repeat their own past mistakes or from something a parent has done. And as we know the more we focus on this fears the more likely it is to come to fruition.

In order to overcome self-doubt we need to consistently practice self-forgiveness and self-compassion. As well as doing ourselves a big favour – drop the judgement. How harshly we judge others is a direct reflection of how harshly we are judging ourselves. The same goes for those of us with perfectionist tendencies.

According to a special report Loving You in the spring edition of Wellbeing Australia , if you doubt yourself you are settling for less. To move away from this they suggest we put our attention towards self-empowerment. Acknowledge you create your world and own your choices – no need for external approval or apologies required.  We would also want to focus on self-expression – how open are you with your communication style? Do you let have a creative outlet? How authentic is it?

doubtThe way our minds are wired for survival we will always find a bit of self-doubt popping up but how much power will you give it?

It’s your choice.

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Get your connector self on this summer.

Schmooze, hobnob, mingle, rub elbows with are all synonyms for networking. No wonder many of us avoid anything with the word network like the plague. But isn’t it simply about making purposeful connections with people? As we enter the festive season and our opportunity to connect increases five-fold I wanted to offer some useful pointers on how to make growing your network an enjoyable experience.

Network

Recently I found myself falling back to old habits at a launch of a new network in Sydney. On arrival, I took a quick panoramic scan of the room & noted many millennial ‘mover & shaker’ types. I then observed myself lurking behind a palm tree, obsessively checking my emails, accosting the waiter for hors d’eovres and ultimately appearing far too busy to start a conversation. Now, before you scoff I know for a fact I am not the only one who can fall into this trap. I certainly have extroverted acquaintances who bounce into a room with a ‘who will I play with?’ approach however I am constantly receiving feedback from colleagues and clients about how uncomfortable putting yourself out there can be. Susan Cain, the acclaimed introvert expert wrote in her blog on networking “I’ve come to realize that the problem with “networking” is not talking to strangers but rather making small talk with strangers—a subtle but crucial difference”. Universally we don’t enjoy the small talk however once we’ve made a connection the conversation becomes so much easier.

So here’s some tips to make networking or my preferred term connecting, a much less painful experience and ultimately very useful skill.

Before an event.

  • Your personal brand. Who are you being? A quick 1 minute check in pep talk to ensure your inner critic isn’t running riot & producing a million reasons why you shouldn’t approach new people. Do you feel confident? If not, recognise your inner critic at play and use the Thanks mind, but I’ve got this covered tactic.
  • Consider your wardrobe. What story does it tell about you? You may want to wear one memorable, albeit suitable piece of clothing.
  • Prepare your chat and do your research on your potential audience. Also having a unique spin on a topic is useful when entering new conversations. Listen to relevant podcasts or read an article which you can contribute to small talk where appropriate.

At the event. 

  • On arrival approach people on their own or groups of 3 – interrupting two people can be uncomfortable. In this video the speaker goes further to suggest open groups of three with at least one women are ideal as generally they are more inclusive.
  • Always obtain a new connection’s business card – dishing our your card is beneficial however you want to be in control of the follow up.
  • Use the exchange of business cards as a way to move on from a conversation which only needs to be five minutes.
  • Shyness can occasionally be interpreted by other people as a lack of professional confidence or experience – if all else fails, keep eye contact, keep your head high and posture confident even if you aren’t feeling it.
  • Obviously body language is important for everyone with research suggesting up to 55% of all communication comes from body language, 38% from tone and 7% from literal words.  How are you holding yourself? Are you open or closed off?
  • Approach each conversation without attachment – don’t put pressure on it to ‘be’ a life changing conversation but still be an investigator – you’ll either learn something about a new person or yourself.
  • Be present and an active listener. Refrain from thinking of how you’ll contribute when they stop speaking. Listen intently. Your connection will be stronger.
  • Authenticity is paramount. People can sniff out in-authenticity very quickly. Be confident, humble and focused without coming across as a ‘that’ pushy salesperson.
  • Be mindful of your story. When you’re on your energy bus, passionate and open the reaction from new connections is completely different to when your story is all about how business is slow or you’re out of control with too much on.

Post an event.

Connecting promptly after an event is essential however refrain from requesting a standard half hour coffee catch up. Show you respect your contact’s time. Be specific about what you would like to speak with them about, how long it will take & what you want to get from the conversation. A phone call within a week of meeting may be enough.

Building your network.

Connecting smarter is just as much about developing a network over time as it is attending events.

Be strategic about who you network with. Rather than a spray and prey approach, be mindful and seek out the key connectors and influencers in your area of interest.

Thank you

  • If you’re after an introduction find a link through someone you already know as an alternative to going direct.
  • Your current network is invaluable. How can you reward those who have provided referrals or linked you to key contacts?

A big thank you to my key connectors Andy Lark, Alice Moros, Mark MacSmith and Nikki Gravning for sharing your top tips on connecting smartly.  

Spring clean your life.

springAfter what seemed like a pretty harsh winter (am I a woos?)  –  Spring has finally sprung and with that a brilliant reason to refine the ‘stuff’ we have been accumulating, hoarding and growing like a wild crop of kale in our garden.

As we de-clutter, it’s also a good time to think about a good clean out for the mind. Marie Kondo (dubbed the Queen of clean) says “Tidying is just a tool., not the final destination. When your room is clean and uncluttered you have no choice but to examine your inner state“.

Think about what’s in your wardrobe. There are the classics which make you look and feel great. Your favourite leather jacket, your go to shoes for ‘heels and earrings’ nights or for men, your favourite white basic tee which makes you feel awesome. However if you’re honest there a few items you’re ‘waiting to fit’, an old flames t-shirt and a pair of jeans which will definitely come back into fashion (do they really ever?) or a top from your Mum that never really worked for you.  Kondo says you must review your wardrobe and ask does this bring me JOY?  If not, it needs to go.

Our mind is a bit like a wardrobe. It stores useful and not so useful items but how often do we edit the data we’re storing in there? Let’s just look at our beliefs as an example.

A belief is simply a feeling of certainty about something.  For many of us our M.O. (modus operandi) is to operate off the basis of beliefs formed about ourselves when we’re kids and we never re-visit them to review how much reality there is actually behind it.

As you Spring clean your wardrobe,  garage or kitchen this month and put back the items that are going to stay, do this too with your mind. What is useful? What needs to be removed and replaced with something to get you moving in the direction you want?

For your spring edit of your wardrobe: Marie Kondo emphasises learning to let go (works on so many levels). Be honest with the “might need  it down the track” pattern. If the favorite but slightly too tight jeans have served their purpose but no longer bring you joy or are relevant to who you are as a person, let someone else benefit from them.

Try this belief detox: Write down your top ten beliefs about yourself. Which ones are working for you? Great, they stay. The ones that aren’t need to go. Depending on how old that belief is you may need to work with someone externally. However for now,  experiment with remembering where the belief came from. Was it something you overheard as a kid at school? Did a parent or elder tell you directly? Go back to that time and look at the situation as an adult now. How much gravitas have you given one comment? Are you holding onto it like your safety blanket? What are you getting from keeping this belief about yourself (you’re getting something otherwise you wouldn’t be holding onto it). Finally your old belief needs to be replaced with a new one and evidence of it. So if you want to fit your favourite jeans, have a belief you’re worth it and set up systems and habits to make it easy for yourself.

 One final edit – social media. We might not feel like we can get away from it but we can choose  how often we engage with social media and what we see. We seem to feel like watching people who are skinnier, more flexible and have more glamorous lives than us will make us feel more awesome. But if you’re waking up every morning to images or rants which aren’t cool for you – detox away. I am officially unsubscribing to any more breakfast bowls & any impossible yoga poses. Yes, some of it can be inspiring but if it’s not making you feel alive, invigorated and happy with yourself, you have a choice. Follow or unfollow.

The Momentum Series kicks off on Monday 12th of October.  A focus will be around de-cluttering your mind as well as becoming clear on your intentions for 2016.

The un-packing of self-acceptance

packI’ve noticed a lot of unpacking going on lately. Not the kind my Poppa knew –  the unpacking of his caravan and setting up of the campsite which invariably took a good day by the time he’d set up the awning, toaster, Nana’s gin cabinet and his beer fridge. Rather unpacking in the sense of demystifying a term, breaking down a concept or explaining an over inflated thought.

A mentor recently asked me to unpack my concept of self-belief, there was more unpacking at The Happiness & Its Causes conference than I could shake a stick at and I can only imagine the amount of unpacking going down at my old haunts of ad agencies,  telco and financial institutions.

So while I chuckled to myself about all the unpacking, I noticed it had sneakily weaved its way into my vocabulary. And I must confess I love a good process and unpacking has pillars and steps a-plenty!  So today I’m getting on board with the jargon & I’m unpacking SELF-ACCEPTANCE.

 

 

The Self-Acceptance Formula.

  1. Self-acceptance is an acceptance of your  self in it’s entirety (the good, the bad and the awesome) or Nathaniel Braden explains in The Six Pillars of Self Esteem “my refusal to be in an adversarial relationship with myself.”
  2. The Latin for the word “accept” is “acceptare,” which means “to receive, willingly.” Simple question – do you accept yourself as you are? Here are the steps to check if you do.
  3.  Do you know the difference between your ego and your unconditioned self? Your ego developed during your childhood to help cope with demands of being in a family, going to school etc and you learnt you needed to behave in a certain way to receive approval from your parents. Your unconditioned self is who you are without all the labels from the outside world.  To practice acceptance you must get to know and love your unconditioned self and not cater to the ego which will constantly be trying to be ‘fixed’.
  4.  How critical are you? We are usually our own worst critic (often misinterpreted as high standards) translating into you are not good enough which tells a very bad story for your self esteem. How judgmental are you? The amount of judgement we place towards others is a direct reflection of how we feel about ourselves.   Practice forgiveness and compassion towards yourself and others.  We all make mistakes and have parts of ourselves which at times cause us to feel shame but we are just human and to live a life where you never accept, learn and move on from these perceived weaknesses will keep you stuck in the brenepast.
  5.  Do you accept all of your strengths?  Most of us struggle to ‘shine’ at what we’re really great at because we’re afraid of who we might need to bare all. But accepting our talents be they a brilliance for logic, excellence for listening or being unafraid of vulnerability is an essential step for self-acceptance and will allow you to see limitations as opportunities rather than as obstacles.
  6.   “True self-acceptance is the realization that you are what you seek” Robert Holden. Make a conscious effort to put it practice TSAF (had to make up an acronym!)  & see the results. Right now acknowledge 3 strengths you have which have contributed to something awesome you have done in the last month. And equally practice a conscious acceptance of a choice or action which you haven’t always loved about yourself but you know is part of who you are. Note down 5 ways you are not being very kind to yourself at the moment and counter balance that with 5 ways which you can be.   Remind yourself “I will not criticise myself today” and “Happiness is where I am”.

If this all sounds far too flufforama for you that’s  o.k. but why not spend a day observing your internal dialogue & seeing how nice and kind you are to yourself. If you are that is awesome! If not, perhaps something to consider.

I’m running The Direction Momentum workshop again where we get a bit  more in depth on our good  self. It’s on Tuesday 28th of July down in Bondi.