My fear and apprehension was real to me. I had disturbed sleep for a few days prior, I wasn’t being fully present with my family, they were starting to get narky. I was anxious for the first time in years about ‘being a professional’.
I kept saying to myself, ‘Oh come on, it’s not like it matters to anyone else’, ‘You used to do it loads, you were good’, ‘You know what you want to say, it’s easy’, but in that moment, before you jump and know how deep the pool is, it didn’t feel easy. It felt daunting, scary. I was even laughing nervously at my situation thinking I am at my natural edge today.
I try to regularly take myself out of my comfort zone, it does get easier, I guess you get used to the feelings, how to recognise your stress triggers, but it’s never a ‘comfortable’ place to be. Being there and being ‘uncomfortable’ keeps me in tune, highly sensitive and empathetic with many of my clients and to my family. Nurturing the development of my children, remembering what ‘firsts’ feel like and how much we ‘adults’ often take for granted.
‘It’ was just a simple presentation to a network group. Not hundreds of people, no podium, no microphone. I have done that but a few years ago now; but it may well have been so to me, because I cared so much. I wanted it to go well, not for monetary/business gain but simply for myself and my confidence. Often when you want ‘it’ too much you feel like you are chasing, then it becomes awkward. There is a sweet spot of not trying too hard, and letting go enough to be yourself, authentic in the moment. I practice yoga when I can, I didn’t during my first career. I notice now the parallels of pushing for that pose, then remembering that my shoulders are nearly touching my ears and to just RELAX, BREATHE and LET GO! Saying it like this actually sounds too basic, but it is a lesson I aim to apply daily.
The morning of the presentation, I found myself in autopilot. I was drawn, unplanned, to a local spot where I often walk the dog. I had no idea I was going there that morning and I really didn’t have the time. However, on reflection I was so grateful. The early morning freeze was stunning, the water calmed me and the bird song uplifted me. That set me up, I knew I was on for a successful day. It didn’t stop the sweaty hands, the nervous chat prior to the presentation, but without that the adrenaline would not do its job.
So why write about this?
Well I was struck by how much I observed in the situation and what I learnt and would do again.
- It’s okay to feel fearful; How many times do we hear make fear your strength?! So in this instance I channelled it into preparation. I wrote the slides with detail, then wrote them again with minimal info. I read the slides out loud, I timed myself, I practiced only briefly looking at the slides. I didn’t record myself but that’s one step I will do next time. Then I can listen on the dog walk, I visualised the room, where I would look to stand, what would happen with my hands, I watched myself in my head.
- Acknowledge your stress points; observation is key, recognising we all have a choice as to how we react/behave. I knew I was distracted from the family but I gave myself the space to do that, without owning any of the guilt that in the past I may have taken on. This freed up my mind creatively. I know I had disturbed sleep a few days before, but equally early morning was when my best ideas appeared even before my eyes opened. So rather than be stressed I was tired, I was grateful.
- Find the sweet spot; when it feels intuitively difficult, too hard, step away, don’t force it. That’s when not leaving it to the last minute helps, even if you feel you work best under pressure. As when that blank hits, there is no time to let it go. Change your vibration somehow, shift your mood, use music, get outside, do something polar opposite but equally as busy. It’s then your mind will generate new ideas/connections.
- Choose calm; my whole being intuitively took me to a place of calm on my walk that morning. I know that gave me clarity, perspective and presence that day. Use your calm mode, know how to trigger it so you can call it up.
- Be authentic; sure be yourself everyone says so, but it’s true. If you make a mistake so what, laugh it off, carry on, ignore it, acknowledge it, you will know what to do in the moment, TRUST in that. Everyone is using live feeds these days because they want the real you. The you that isn’t perfect, the vulnerable side. We love flaws, we love mistakes, because it makes the audience feel more connected. Most want to identify with you, most want to support you and don’t enjoy seeing people struggle. Believe it will be so.
- Be open to acknowledgement; its’gone well, so take the compliments and feedback, don’t brush them away. You worked hard and put yourself out there so take the moment to congratulate yourself. Observe how you feel afterwards, write down in your jotter what you noticed, how you felt, your energy level, what you are grateful for. Call on this next time you feel fear tapping on your shoulder and just reply ‘I’ve got this!’
Get in touch if you’d like to talk through some of your fears.
Till next time,