I was born in the year of the horse, according to Chinese astrology, but that has almost nothing to do with this post. Read on and you’ll see….
During my first trip to Santorini in May of 2015, my husband and I came across this handsome devil every day on the way to our hotel from the main beach road.
We always said hello and managed to catch this image. I’m not sure if horses smile and he doesn’t appear to be. Perhaps he’s happy and enjoying the land, visitors like us and the weather, but he’s not running free… something that made me rather sad each time I passed him on the hill. Is he grateful for what he does have? Does he have friend’s, a mate or even a comfortable place to live and sleep? I don’t know, but he is there and he looks healthy and well cared for.
Next photo victim.. Me
I’m smiling, the sun’s on my face, I’m in paradise and enjoying a wonderful vacation with my one true love. Everything is wonderful and I’m full of life.
All of this is true, or is it? (scroll down for more)
It is true however; no one really knows what lies beneath.
I’ve been smiling since the day I was born (nearly) and I enjoy being happy and doing pleasurable things. I counsel friends who are down, have a playful sense of humour, have taken care of my family and husband when they weren’t well and take pleasure in finding perfect gifts for everyone in my life for special occasions or “just because.” I give a lot, probably more than is healthy for me.
I have 3 pockets. I stuff each pocket with things that I don’t need or want while I’m enjoying life and happiness. My first pocket is close to my heart and holds the sadness of losing my father, the second pocket holds my worries… for everything and the final pocket holds my fears.. fears of health and fears of future.
The moment that I walk through my front door after a relaxing and enjoyable vacation or fun event, it’s there again. Me, the “me” that I tucked away in those 3 little pockets. The me that has been struggling “inside” with trauma that has taken over my persona.
My outside (public self) stays positive, optimistic and playful. Nobody realises, I am a great actress and my smile hides a lot of stories.
When I was a child, I was confident because at that time, I had no fear of the “unknown.”
In most cases, when we are young we just go with it and enjoy play, light conversation and meeting new people (making new friends) etc. There are no rules on how to be… we just are who we are at that moment in our young lives and we are not being judged by anyone. Perhaps the biggest decisions we make as children are; which toy to play with or which one of our friends are free to play jump rope with. (well.. in my day anyway)
Let’s talk about fear.. I have a very early example of this. 1973 aged 7- I was a Brownie and due to take part in a Christmas concert with my troop.. there must have been over 100 people in the audience (mainly proud parents.) We were performing “The 12 days of Christmas” and my part was.. “and a partridge in a pear tree.”
One line, easy to remember however; the act of delivering this was frightening. I was in the spotlight, which for most people is where they get stuck. At that early stage in my life, I didn’t know about believing in myself or my abilities.. who would? So I forced myself to sing to cue and almost missed my line once, before my troop leader gently tapped my shoulder to encourage me. The performance ended and I was relieved after many happy and proud parents applauded all of us kids. phewww.. it was over.
Why was I so afraid? Why are people generally nervous and scared to be in the spotlight? Actor’s who we perceive to be extremely confident also claim to be nervous every time they perform. Let me skip ahead to my working years and share with you how I overcame shyness.
So, “I was working as a waitress in a cocktail bar” yes… really and this was the beginning of my confidence building because A) I was in the “spotlight” and B) I was “performing” in front of strangers.
My good performances resulted in rewards (tips) and when I was off kilter, not so much. 15 years in the hospitality industry overcoming public appearances face-to-face with happy people, grumpy people, celebrities and new event challenges, encouraged my ability to feel more confident and so, I started a new challenge.
I began working for a globally recognised company and brand, where my people skills were valued even more. I rose from service advisor to sales advisor/ team leader and then technical advisor in less than 2 years. I was the go-to person for both customers and new recruit training and loved interacting with and helping people. As my training mentor has always said, “I could sell ice to an Eskimo” and had positive persuasion skills. Positivity is a “state of mind” and so is confidence. So I soaked up all that I could in the 5 years that I was employed there before embarking on the adventure known as the next stage of my life. Hang in there, I’ll get to the point but if you’ve read my other blogs, you’ll know that I enjoy telling stories and taking you on a mental journey.
All aboard…. next stop North West, England. A different culture and a new beginning. How did I prove myself to yet more strangers? My husband is one of the most confident people I know. Not arrogant by any means, but genuine and very approachable. He makes friends wherever he goes and I was never like that. He uses the “icebreaker” technique, which is such a simple concept, but one that you need to follow up and not be afraid to continue being yourself. I used to be the type of person that went to a party and stuck like glue to one or two people I knew in order to be part of it all, I didn’t have self-belief at that time or confidence in being myself to just mingle with anyone. I was simply…ME. Me from the very beginning of this story. Happy to be a part of something but froze under pressure. I must admit, with age comes a new kind of confidence and so I conjured up all of my powers and promised myself I would break down my wall.
After learning that a fair amount of companies in the UK prefer presentations as a means to rate one’s confidence in an interview, I swallowed my fear and came up with a plan.
During my first presentation, I decided to wear a mask. You think I’m kidding don’t you? Well.. I wore my glasses, which provided a mask-like protection that physcologically helped my confidence, as I felt that I was not fully exposed. I performed pretty well and if it wasn’t for the lack of a driver’s licence, I would have gotten the job. Personally, I don’t believe in presentations as part of an interview because A) It’s not a natural environment and B) I believe in getting to know the person.
I’m a people person (as you’ve probably gathered) and generally have good feelings or intuitions. So, I played the game several times during my career, with no training just being me and spreading my passion about subjects, people and experiences. I’ve created events, chaired meetings, started focus groups in order to share ideas and working practices and find that focusing on liked-minded people, relationships and common goals is by far the best way to nurture your mind and confidence. My state of mind has grown and so will yours if you’re true to yourself.
Some of the examples I’ve used might help you. I’ll break them down briefly in 5 steps:
Believe in yourself and take baby steps to master your fear
Use a conversation “Icebreaker” and stick with the conversation
Be yourself-It is much easier
Wear or use something that comforts you or makes you feel more confident
Be honest and talk about or do things that you know how to do (pretending is nerveracking)
I’ve always been drawn to people, both in life and as part of my career. They interest me, intrigue me and yes, sometimes disappoint me. As an optimist, I am not here to focus on the negative, but I do want to raise the awareness of the “good stuff” for those who would benefit from a little self-awareness and improvement. I’m the observer and the people watcher, which has served me well over the years.
Let’s talk about the “good stuff”, respect and admiration for just a moment. Over the course of my career, I have encountered many types of people:
For me, I prefer working with the first 4 types. Don’t get me wrong…being competitive and driven can be great but there is a time and a place for it and you need not forget about the people you work with. Cut-throat is not my style and it drains my “good energy”.
I recently saw a post on LinkedIn, quoting the type of work practice and ethos I’m into, so I shared it.
It’s that simple and so true. Let’s use Sir Richard Branson ( inspirational leader) as the example… he’s an extremely successful and powerful entrepreneur who develops ideas into businesses that for the most part, have excelled. Did he do this alone? No. He sought advice, created his support team and ensured that everyone worked together for one common goal>SUCCESS. He motivates and rewards his teams too, which is why and how he has done so well. So the next time you hear a story or read a story about dear Richard, know that he picked and lead his teams well to get where he is today.
When you consider how much time we spend at work each day and week… our rituals and experiences need to be positive don’t they? Yes there are targets and yes there are objectives but for me, a business cannot and will not succeed if their people do not support one another. Would you like another benefit of working together? Okay… what about learning from one another? Each person that you encounter in your workplace has a different style, level of knowledge and expertise in a company or if they’ve been doing it a while, their sector. It’s not a competition, it’s a learning experience. I myself have learned from people 10 years my junior and 20 years my senior. Make someone feel good and ask how they would go about doing a task you’re about to do. You will probably learn something great, but you will also make your co-worker feel needed and trusted. Everyone started somewhere, everyone needs help and guidance no matter the level and people do genuinely need people.
Many thanks to a fellow blogger who provided some very interesting ideas for my next blog, which you’re about to read.
We have officially reached the height of the computer age and if I had to guess, nearly 80% of our day is spent clicking and clacking on keyboards, tablets and smartphones. Yes, we’re hooked and it would be difficult for the majority of us to “disconnect”, without having a darn good reason.
Your keyboard is your friend right? Abandoning it would be impossible with a PC and nearly impossible with a tablet or smartphone (unless you solely use voice recognition) and we all know how well that works. So I ask you, if your think about conversations, work emails, texts, surfing and tweeting during the course of your day, how would your keyboard describe you and your habits?
Are you gasping or thinking now? Our actions using technology to communicate these days is almost automatic and perhaps this is difficult to answer. Really think about it… perhaps I can share first.
I confess, I’m a key banger because I exert passion and determination when expressing my thoughts. (my co-worker’s will back me up here) I clack more than I click (meaning that I find it easier to communicate using a full keyboard, instead of a gentle click of a smartphone key)
Now getting back to what my keyboard may experience.. probably a lot of re-typing and back spacing because I never go with my first draft even with an email. My less productive clacking might see me posting random thoughts on Facebook like we all do. Perhaps something along the lines of “out to dinner with the hubby tonight” or “I can’t wait to see this show”. I also notice that my messages are delivered with a lot of (x’s and lol’s), which means I am generally a happy and loving person right? Maybe I’m just being polite or using proper techie etiquette. (except for work of course)!
We find ourselves communicating this way a lot, sharing our fun experiences, life events, expressions, frustrations and sometimes even sad moments. Our keyboard knows it ALL but never judges except when it notices that a few key letters have nearly faded. This can only mean one thing.. either you are really fond of those letters or these letters are half of your secret password, which unlocks many precious places. This might tempt us to change them, but we don’t because we will surely forget them! If only our keyboards could talk.
Before you start to think that I’ll be comparing Facebook (global phenomenon) and Facetime (Apple’s clever version of Skype), I’d like to say up front and honestly this is not what my article is about.
If you have chosen to continue reading… wonderful and welcome to my thoughts. If you were slightly disappointed, please do not despair…I think you’ll appreciate what I have to say.
Moving on… it is becoming increasingly obvious that social interactions are happening more so in a digital format, rather than face-to-face. I think we can agree that for the most part life, work and travel has us “plugged in” at all times and I for one feel a bit weary for a re-charge in a totally different way.
How do you feel about social interactions face-to-face vs social media interactions? Is my not so obvious title starting to make sense now? Good!
There are certain benefits to both and I’d like to list a few of the benefits of communicating in person:
Eye contact-essential for trust
Expressions-essential for communicating how you feel
Clear instructions with few misunderstandings
Suggestions with instant hands-on actions
Questions with debate in “real-time”
Now a few digital benefits:
Helps those who are less comfortable with face-to-face
Ideal for the technology industry
Enables flexible working
I’m sure you might add a few of your own and I would love to hear them out of interest! (This means comments are welcome)
Social technology can also save an enormous amount of time and money, when you consider the travel and preparation for professional interactions however; let us not forget that all humans need social contact to survive in this world.
Thanks for reading and I look forward to “unplugging” with all of you sometime
They say the eyes are the windows to a person’s soul…. I truly believe this.
In fact, the realisation of this in my lifetime has proven itself time and time again both in my personal and professional relationships.
I ask each and every one of you who are closely attached to a significant other, whom you love and adore to test this out! Look deeply into his or her eyes and think about what you see. You might be thinking “what am I looking for?” Well… I’ll tell you what you should look for:
Infinity (where there is no end)
and most importantly, this person should be looking back at you and you should return the favour of the above.
Now if you apply this rule to business, obviously you’re not looking for love but rather a genuine, honest and non-threatening professional connection. I’ve listed a few traits to look for and a few to avoid. I like to end things on a positive note therefore; I’ll start with those you should avoid first:
Avoidance of eye contact
You’ll know how to recognise these traits when you experience them. Think about when you attend networking events… there may be some people who you meet and think to yourself later, nope.. didn’t connect with him/her so I don’t think I’ll contact them. TRUST your instincts.
Here’s what you should look for:
and of course, always pay attention to see if they are looking back and connecting with you. Genuine folk have no problem making eye contact with other people.
I do not profess to be a psychologist or an expert in this field, but I have lived, experienced and tested this in my life so why shouldn’t you?