Am I too shy to be a leader?

As a person who is about as sensitive as it is possible to be, and also lacking in confidence, I have often worried that I’m too shy to be a leader. Is it possible for somebody like me to stand up and lead the way for others? Can I possibly inspire other people? Or would it just be best for me to keep in line and keep my mouth shut?

I think that this feeling that I cannot lead stems from the fear that I cannot possibly have anything worth hearing. It’s a total lack of confidence in myself and what I stand for and I’m sure that there are a tonne of other people out there that feel the same way about themselves.

Where does this lack of confidence come from?

I’m no psychiatrist but I’ve had enough therapy to know that it comes from childhood. I grew up always being told to keep in line. I was an athlete so I had a very strict and structured lifestyle and I just learnt to do as I was told. And I was also told that you can’t be a shy leader.

I’m not saying that this was bad or that it damaged me in any way. My parents were incredibly loving and gave me everything I needed. And my sports gave me an incredible amount of discipline that has helped me later in life. But it also taught me to just shut up and follow instructions.

What I wish somebody would have told me?

So it’s all very easy saying that this all stems from childhood, but how do I fix it? I want to become a leader. I know that I have so much to say and to give and I can’t give it from my place in the audience. What do I do?

The first thing to remember is that a place in the audience is not a bad place to be. It’s the place where you learn from others and the place where you join forces with others to make something great as a team.

But, sometimes stepping up on to stage is necessary and you need to know that you are capable of doing it. It is a scary place to be because all eyes are on you, but you need to tell yourself what you should have been told when you were a child.

I wish that somebody had told me that my voice does matter. Because it really does. Even if I feel like I have nothing to say, I actually have a whole lifetime of experiences that could help another if I just had the courage to step up to the microphone. Even if my voice is shaky and uncertain, there will be at least a handful of people who will need to hear it.

Do our insecurities make us shy and unable to lead?

I have always suffered from anxiety and in my twenties I used alcohol to numb it. My alcoholism was always something that I was deeply ashamed of and it made me put the brakes on every time I started to excel at something. But what if I could use this part of my story to boost my own confidence and that of others?

Having had some time to reflect on everything that happened in my twenties, I have realised that my difficulties could actually help me to be a better leader. People can relate to that pain and that struggling and it helps me to relate to them. And being relatable is one of the best things a leader can be. It’s not all about being loud and gobby. It’s about having something important to say, that can help people, and can inspire them.

So, next time you are thinking you aren’t good enough, or your past is too shameful or isn’t epic enough for people to want to follow you, remember that those bumps in the road are the thing that will make you a great leader.

Confidence is all you need and it only comes from really knowing where you come from and really believing that none of it can stand in your way. I believe that any one of you can get up there and inspire others. It’s just a case of finding your tribe and the cause that really sets your heart on fire. I wish you luck in finding it because I know that it will lift such a weight off your shoulders and that is something that everybody deserves.

Much love,

Rachel xx

How do I master my feelings (plus poem)

I don’t know about you but I really struggle to master my feelings when emotion is running high. It’s like I lose the ability to act like a normal human being (or at least a normal adult human being).

Have you ever found yourself in a stressful situation and all that you can do is cry? Have you ever wanted to keep your cool and found yourself screaming at the top of your voice? Well, I think we’ve all been there at one point or another and apparently it’s completely normal.

Now, I’m all for showing your vulnerabilities because I believe that it helps to foster good relationships with others. Showing that you’re vulnerable and that you do have feelings makes you more much easier to relate to. However there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.

Don’t become known as the drama queen!

If you’re always kicking off and making a scene you’re going to become really unpopular pretty quickly. We all know that one person who we shrink away from when things go wrong.

So how do you master those emotions and become a little more zen when the proverbial shit has hit the fan? Here are three ways to change your thinking so that you can stay as cool as a cucumber in an emergency:

  1. Learn the art of meditation. It will help you to stay calm especially if you practice it in the morning, before you start your day. There are tonnes of guided meditations on Youtube that you can use for free.
  2. Remember that emotions can’t hurt you. You lash out at people and cry because you are frightened. The little kid in you is just trying to scare off the perceived attack. If you can tell yourself that the feeling won’t hurt you it’s much easier to curb that fear and stay calm, at least on the outside!
  3. Don’t engage with the person who has wound you up. Tit for tat is not going to work if you want to master your feelings. If somebody says something that is hurtful and would normally set you off try saying “Thank you for your input. I will take that on board.” It will totally stump the other person and they won’t really feel like they have made a chink in your armour. It actually becomes quite funny to watch them try and come back from that.

Bonus Poem – Emotions

Sometimes I really do not know

In which direction I should go,

When I’m pinned against the wall,

And this person’s gunning for my fall.

I feel like maybe I should cry,

I cannot fight but also cannot fly.

I’m trapped with no control,

You’re crushing my very heart and soul.

I used to drink to dampen down

The feelings and to place the crown,

Of painful thorns upon my head.

Now it goes without it being said,

That letting feelings flow and ebb,

Will free me from that sticky web,

Of tears and screams and then the losing

Of the words and actions of your choosing.

But those feelings will not hurt you,

So take it down a notch or two.

Don’t fight back or engage

And dissipate your angry rage.

Can’t connect with people? Try this one easy trick.

As a quiet person I often feel really awkward around people, and quite frankly, a little bit boring. I just don’t know how to connect with people in the same way that a confident person seems to. I have often watched people at events and parties and marvelled at the way that they work the room with ease. Everybody that they come into contact with seems to be putty in their hands and I wonder how on earth they manage it.

This has meant that I have spent quite some time studying them to try and pick out exactly what it is that they do that is so different from what I do. And there is one striking difference that I have noticed. I quite obviously want to impress people, and with them, (even though they still want to impress people) it is far less glaringly obvious.

How not to go about it….

To illustrate, I think it’s best to look at an example of when I have done this spectacularly wrong. A couple of years back I decided that I wanted to earn a shed load of money so I got a job as a recruitment consultant. It was my job to go out and win over the financial directors at local businesses so that they would turn to me when they needed to recruit. I was woefully bad at the job and crashed out after eleven weeks having achieved absolutely no sales. It is only recently that I have started to see where things were going so wrong.

Back then I was drinking so I had some serious scarcity issues, completely believing that there isn’t enough to go around for everyone. Therefore, whenever I went in for business I felt absolutely desperate. My mind was clinging to the fact that I needed to connect with the person and get the sale as there would be nothing else for me if I lost it. That put a hell of a lot of pressure on me and it showed. I would go into the meeting terrified that I would not be able to impress the other person and it was obvious that they could see it. Hence the reason that they would shake my hand at the end of the meeting and I would never hear from them again. Because why would they want to hire a woman who was so blatantly desperate for the business?

A change in mindset changed how I connect with people

Since putting down the drink, a lot of things have changed but two of the big things are that:

  1. My values have changed so I’m not so engrossed by the thought of money. I know that I can survive on what I earn so it’s not the end of the world if I don’t earn the bucket loads that I used to chase after. As long as I can put a roof over my head and some food in the cupboards, I’m not going to die. And;
  2. I try not to worry so much about whether or not people like me. So if that one financial director decides that he doesn’t like my sense of humour or the colour of my shoes, it’s not the end of the world. There are seven billion people on the planet and so there are bound to be at least a few that really think the world of me!

So changing my mindset was the first step and this was then followed by a little trick that I have since tried out and it really does work. It was so simple that I didn’t believe it would have any effect on how well I connected with people.

Basically, all it involves doing is getting the person that you are engaging with to impress YOU. I couldn’t understand how this could work as my confidence was low and I didn’t know why anyone would want to try and impress me, but it really worked a treat.

Next time you go into a room and you’re nervous that nobody is going to connect with you, find someone to talk to and try to imagine that you have five minutes to learn a bit about them so that you could introduce them to an audience. This encourages you to start thinking “what can this person say that impresses me?” rather than “what do I have to say that will impress them?”

This also means that the other person feels listened to and this makes them feel valuable. Normally, in a networking environment people are all wanting to talk about themselves so if you’re the one that is bucking the trend you are going to be far more memorable.

The caveat

The only thing that you need to remember with this technique is that it still pays to be kind. It’s fun to ask yourself what this person does that is impressive but don’t go in with the mentality that you are better than them or that you want to disregard them if they aren’t the most impressive person in the room. Liking the people around you, in turn, makes you more likeable so it’s always worth being the nice guy.

This also leads on to the point that you shouldn’t just go in thinking “what can I get out of this exchange?” It’s sometimes far better to think about what you may be able to give (and this is aside from the services you provide as a part of your business). So you might be able to start talking to the stranger who looks like they’re standing awkwardly in the corner, or you could put a person in contact with somebody you know who could be a help in their career. Neither of these give you any immediate benefit but you never know what it may lead to further down the line. Events are far more fun if you are focusing less on what monetary value you are going to get out of it. There is a reason that surprising benefits come out of meetings where you didn’t expect there to be any value. It’s because the real you can shine through and ultimately that is what people want to see.

Give it a try and see if it helps you to connect with people

So next time you’re at a networking event or business meeting , try it. Ask questions as though you are going to introduce the person on stage and try to forget about the transactional nature of the meeting. Look for things you can give for free, at no cost to yourself, and imagine that everybody is already your friend. I promise you that it’ll work and you might even find yourself having some fun.

Feeling attacked? Try this little trick to put a stop to it

I know that people who tend to be even the tiniest bit on the sensitive side can struggle with the feelings of being under attack. You do something wrong at work; you feel like your boss is attacking you over it for the next month. You can’t meet a friend for lunch; you feel like they are attacking you for being a bad friend. You can’t help out a colleague by covering a shift; you feel like they are being spiteful towards you for weeks afterwards. The list can go on and on. So how do you put an end to it without being an absolute bitch and losing your cool?

There are a tonne of different techniques that you can use ranging from meditation through to going into a bathroom and crying about it for ten minutes. Some are good and some are not so good. But this one is a brilliant way to cut the person down immediately without the need to be horrible in return.

The technique is really very simple and it’s all about repetition. Repetition is such a powerful technique in so many situations and this is no exception. Just think about it for a moment. If you repeat an action over and over, it gets learned and you become an expert. If you use repetition in a speech you really drive your point forward. If you repeat a mantra to yourself then you can really end up believing what you are telling yourself.

Now think what effect it has on someone who is attacking you. Many people who resort to attack are feeling emotional and they are not thinking about what they are saying. They are on autopilot. And it’s very easy for you to get sucked into the same trap, say something mean back to them and then you find that you’re both engaged in a meaningless war of words.

If you just slow down and ask the person to repeat what they said you will be amazed by what effect it has on them. I recently had a co-worker tell me that I had done half of my job wrong when I had missed one task that I was supposed to do. Instead of flying into a rage and arguing that point, I just told her that I wasn’t sure that I’d heard her properly and could she please repeat what she had said. She IMMEDIATELY took back what she had said because she was repeating it in her mind and realising just how much she had exaggerated. It worked a treat.

Now this only works if you then just let it go. You can’t then carry on and on at the person about how they had been making things up and outright lying and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. You have to know when to pick your battles and when someone has dropped it you need to learn to also drop it. You probably won’t get an apology but at least you have stopped the ear bashing in its tracks.

Try it next time someone starts to harp on at you about something that’s really not necessary. It won’t work all of the time but it’s a good way to stop things escalating when emotions are starting to bubble. I’d love to hear if it works for any of you?

Have a great day and remember to be nice to people and love your life because it’s the only one that you’re going to be given.

How to love a sucky job (and maybe get a promotion too)

I have a child and that means that I have had to work part time and evenings for nearly all of my twenties and early thirties. I’m looking forward to the day when I can waltz into a normal office job, but for the time being I’m stuck with the sucky jobs that very few people actually like. I’m talking the retail and the hospitality jobs that are low pay and sometimes really thankless. Some of these jobs are amazing but I bet there are more people complaining about them than raving about how great they are!

But are they really that bad? There are some people out there who seem to love them; always happy and joyful when the rest of us are grumbling about nasty customers and physically demanding tasks. It got me thinking about how these people do it. How do they remain so perky when the rest of us feel like we are on our knees?

And after lots of reading and watching talks and trying things out myself I have realised that kindness and caring is the key. I thought that was a bit of a cop out of an answer but it really is true and this is why.

As human beings, we are wired to be social and to live and work in community. The world as it is, makes this soooooo hard to do. It just takes one bad thing to happen in your day and your mood is ruined and you are far more likely to pass on those bad vibes to the checkout girl who is taking her time scanning your shopping!

But what if that checkout girl breaks the chain of ill will? What if she smiles back at the angry customer and at least tries to be pleasant? It’s not necessarily going to appease the angry customer but it might do. And if the next person that he comes into contact with is also very pleasant, it might have even more of an effect. If everybody he comes into contact with gives him excellent service and a smile it’s going to be hard for him to stay mad at the world at large.

And then the effect on the checkout girl is positive too. Just the act of smiling and being nice floods our bodies and minds with all those happy chemicals. Providing the customer doesn’t scream at her she can just carry on with the next customer and forget about him, knowing that, at least she has done the very best that she can.

The positivity of that checkout girl has a snowball effect, gathering more speed and more force for both her and the people around her. It’s infectious and that is a very powerful thing.

The point is that we can’t counter bad behaviour with more bad behaviour. It just doesn’t make anything better. We need to make a mental note that we should come out of every interaction having made a positive difference in that person’s day. We should never leave somebody having made their day worse.

We also feel happier and more successful when we behave in this way. It’s truly very difficult when we deal with droves of nasty customers, but those that are happy and joyful in their ‘sucky’ jobs are the ones that don’t let that first one completely deflate them and cause them to be ‘off’ with everybody else. Feeling like you have made everybody’s day better is the ultimate way to feel successful too. Stop measuring your success in money and measure it in how good you feel!

And funnily enough, it is the happy and positive people who are less stressed and more likeable and ultimately more likely to get promoted through the ranks (if they want it, because let’s face it, they’re normally pretty happy anywhere!).

So next time you have a crappy customer, smile and wish them a nice day. At least you can feel good within yourself even if they choose to remain miserable and angry.

Cheeky little bonus poem

You sometimes need to give a smile,

And go the extra freaking mile,

When someone’s getting on your wick,

And being quite the little pr*ck.

Just ask them how their day has been,

And until they’re gone, keep your language clean.

Reframing: overcoming blogging issues (and any other problem in life)

So I’m not the most technically minded person in the world and to be a really good blogger I have found that being a bit computer savvy is definitely advantageous. I’m also writing this blog because of my sensitivity and I want people who are like me to feel that the world is a little bit safer and easier to navigate. But sensitivity and computer problems don’t go together very well. In fact, they are probably the worst mix in the world because just a minor hitch in my plans can make me feel like my whole world is ending!

Therefore, the point of this post is to explore how people can make scary or crappy situations seem just a little bit more manageable. It is not just sensitive people that will struggle with this, but I do often wonder how some people seem to make everything look like it’s water off a duck’s back.

One of the best ways that I have found over the past few years of working on myself, is to reframe the problem, and I am pretty sure this is what all those really resilient people are doing even if they are doing it subconsciously.

What this involves is taking the problem (in this case it was my flipping computer not working) and reframing it so that it is less huge or just different in some way. Here I just had to look at it on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being my life being in danger and 1 being a minor annoyance. When you look at it in this way you suddenly see that it’s only about a 2 at the very most and it immediately diminishes the level of anxiety. This is because life is all about survival and when you see where you are on the scale of survival needs, everything can be put into better perspective.

The other way of reframing is to just look at something differently. I’m having a lot of problems with my mother at the moment. She is being very difficult and the situation was becoming overwhelming. With the help of a therapist, what I have been doing is looking at the problem as though it is a puzzle. I love doing books of sudoku and so likening it to solving a puzzle or just moving on to the next has just made it all feel a little more trivial. The problem is still there and it’s still serious, but I’ve given my brain some relief from the stress that’s been flooding it. This means that I can get on with other things in my life and have some moments to actually enjoy life.

Now I’m not a counsellor or psychiatrist so I’m just telling you these techniques because they have helped me. If you have any serious issues that are causing you distress I can’t urge you enough to go and seek help. There are resources out there that you can use and a lot of them are completely free. Your GP is a good starting place.

I hope that this can help one or two people and together we can make the world just a little bit happier, more patient and more kind.

Much Love

Rachel xx

Why numbers SHOULD mean sweet FA

I bet that as an anxious person you find the thought of hitting a certain number kind of terrifying. You may have to have achieved a certain number of sales in a month, or you may need to make a certain number of phone calls each day. Whatever it is that you need to achieve, put a number on it and it makes us nervous types a drivelling mess.

And what is worse is the fact that we live in a society that is driven by numbers. Even in a social context, we feel like we have to have more likes and Facebook friends than the next person, and if we don’t then we are just a downright failure. But should we really be putting so much emphasis on hitting high numbers? I personally don’t think it’s necessary and here’s why.

I think that the best leaders in the world are those that don’t micromanage their staff. A leader who comes down hard on every employee who doesn’t hit their target isn’t really a leader at all. They are a tyrant at best. A real leader will look at what can be improved and why something isn’t working. Instead of blaming the individual who didn’t perform they will look to see if there is something that can be changed culturally.

This is why I think that there is a lot of power in being a really sensitive manager. Somebody who is more empathetic is far more likely to focus less on the numbers and more on the people. People aren’t motivated by being shouted at and intimidated. They want to work in a place where they are appreciated and where they want their manager to be proud of them. This is achieved by giving them time and energy and building trust.

So, I would say that far more important than focusing on numbers we should be looking to build communities and relationships that are based on trust and common interest. We need to look more at the impact that we are having on people rather than the immediate numbers that are being generated by our efforts.

If we look at the greatest influencer in history, Jesus, we can see that he wasn’t all about healing as many people as possible. He could have healed far more in his life time, but instead he used his short time in ministry to have a huge impact that kept on multiplying well after he was gone. Surely this is what we should be aiming for in our work too?

So let’s start modelling our behaviour in the workplace on Jesus. You don’t even have to be a churchgoer to see the value in following his model. And next time you find yourself panicking that a blog post hasn’t hit your normal level of views or likes, remember that you are working towards a larger goal. People may quietly be devouring your work and talking about it to friends and further down the line it will pay off. Don’t sell out and do something just for the views. Be a good person and look after your people and the rest will follow, even if it is just smiles and laughter and happiness. After all, it’s not all about the money!

Bonus Poem

Look out for those within your tribe,

And don’t resort to con or bribe.

You want to build a thing that runs the race,

That doesn’t end up losing pace.

Numbers, targets, the odd sale,

Will only lead to a whopping fail.

So teach and love and make a friend or two,

And watch what happens when you do.

Focus on yourself, not others.

People, places and things. Something that you learn very early on in recovery from addiction is that you cannot control any of these things, no matter how hard you try. And this piece of advice wouldn’t go amiss in other areas of our lives.

Sometimes when you are trying to make it as a successful entrepreneur you will find that people don’t do the things that you wanted them to or expected to do. And this can throw a spanner in the works if you are trying to build something that is going to be a success and sustainable. And of course, you have to watch trends develop and understand how people tick if you are going to make something that is lasting, but you also can’t let it get to you every time something doesn’t go your way.

When I was drinking in an unhealthy way, a lot of the reasons behind it were that I just couldn’t handle people not doing the things that I wanted or needed them to do. It wasn’t because I was a bad person, or because I wanted to control them; it was because I had so little confidence in myself that I couldn’t handle it if I didn’t know, with absolute certainty, what the outcome was going to be. I would actually freak out and lose the plot which is not the ideal reaction when you are trying to lead and inspire!

As I’ve gone through my recovery, I’ve realised that people are funny and unpredictable things. There is no way that we can say, with any certainty, that they will be on board with our own ideas. The key to being successful is in being able to focus on yourself rather than everybody else around you.

You need to remember that everyone else around you has their own agendas and hopes and dreams and just because they let you down, it doesn’t mean that they no longer care about you. This can be a really hard thing for sensitive people to grasp, but it is essential if you want to make your own way in the world.

I would crumble every time that somebody so much as disagreed with my point of view, which was never going to get me very far. In fact, it only led to addiction and misery. So here are my top tips on how to stop yourself from going down that rabbit hole that I found myself in:

  • Take on board what people have to say and show respect if it differs to your own opinion. By arguing back you only make situations escalate into an emotional mess.
  • If somebody is getting a bit aggressive about a differing opinion, just back away. They are the ones that are stewing in anger and feeling uncomfortable. If you have the class and the self control to just walk away while someone is hammering you with abuse, guess what? You’re the one that comes out looking better.
  • Try to remember a time that you last had a bad day and remember how you felt. Now tell yourself that the person being horrible is having a day even worse than that. You don’t know if they’ve had an argument with their other half or scraped their car on the way to work. Anything could have riled them up and you have nothing to do with it!
  • Focus on your own goals. There are seven billion people in the world and just because one of them wants to be negative about where you are going it doesn’t mean that everyone else will be.
  • And most importantly, if someone is doing better than you, the same rules apply. Congratulate that person on their success and then focus on your own work. Never be nasty or bitter, because you’d want people to be nice about your own successes. Remember that you can learn from these people and they might end up being useful friends to have further down the line.

So, really, the point that I want to push more than anything is that I want to encourage people to be nice and lift others up if they are doing will. No more bitching and backstabbing and if someone directs that behaviour towards you, you are free to back away.

And a lot of the people that I hope are reading this are the sensitive type and I know how much of a slave we can be to our feelings. But remember that we are not a sum or our feelings. Acknowledge that a person has made you feel shitty and then move on rather than sit and stew in it. It’s not helpful for you mental health or your future success. You deserve so much more so concentrate on all the good things in your life and all the wonderful things that are going to happen. Everyone else is just running their own race and you need to do the same.

The secret to controlling your fears

Fear is just the worst emotion of them all, because what exactly does it achieve? If you were being chased by a rhino or found yourself in the middle of a battlefield then yes, I can understand how a bit of fear would be useful. But in our everyday, western lifestyle? Not so much.

And yet, it is an emotion that absolutely paralyses us and stops us from even trying to go after so many of our dreams. So how do we overcome this emotion that is sometimes strong enough to make the anxious ones of us physically sick?

There are several steps that you can take to reduce the fears that you have and start working towards the things that we really want. And we can do it in a way that is kind to ourselves and those around us. The last thing I would want is for us all to turn into a bunch of ball breakers who stomp on other people to get what they want.

So how do we do it? Is there a magic button that we can push to make it all go away? Do we have to fork out for expensive therapy? Is there a book that we can read that will reveal all? The answer to those questions are all no.

Really the only way to get over fear is simple trial and error. Runners can only get better at running by going out and doing it every day. Champion chess players can only win tournaments by playing chess every day. And your fear of a particular thing will only go away if you start doing it over and over again.

Fear becomes debilitating when you stop and think for too long. I have anxiety so I know that once I let something lodge in my mind, my brain runs with it. For example, if my boss gives me a sucky rota for a couple of weeks running, the sensible thing to do would be to go and speak to him about it the moment I’m feeling uncomfortable. However, for people like me, I tend to sit on it and then I start to worry that he’s giving me these terrible shifts because he hates me and then I start to reason that he hates me because I’m evil. The whole thing quickly spirals and before I know it I am terrified and have no control. It would be scary to speak to him but it’s far scary to go down that rabbit hole that I have just described.

With this is mind here are five actionable tips that you can put into practice when something starts to frighten you:

  • Go ahead and do it anyone. Unless it’s going to put you or anyone else in danger, what’s the worst that could happen.
  • Remain kind and loving towards other people. If you know that you have kept your side of the street clean then you have nothing to be ashamed about. A lot of people feel shame at being frightened and this is another strong emotion that is avoidable and useless. Just don’t lash out at people because you’re afraid and they are far more likely to help you out.
  • Retreat from the situation and take stock if you have to. I don’t advise you do this all the time as it can give you the opportunity to give up altogether. But sometimes a quick breather before you go charging in can be really helpful and stop you from doing any of the lashing out mentioned in the above tip.
  • Watch other people do the things that scare us. Quite often we are scared because we didn’t have good role models in that area when we were growing up. My mother was a great at caring for me but terrified of anything career orientated and so this was something I struggled with throughout my twenties. Now I’m learning from others and I’m coming on leaps and bounds.
  • Pray. Just turn to God and ask for love and guidance. I often find that spending some time in prayer or reading the bible just gives me that feeling of being wrapped up in a blanket so that I can’t get hurt. It helps me feel like I can go into battle and come out the other side intact. I often come out of this time of reflection just knowing what the answer is. It’s the not knowing the outcome that is the scary part but if you know that you are safe and that you are loved, these fears tend to melt away.

So go and tackle that thing that you were worrying about. If you’re worried about it you’ve probably already had the time to breathe and retreat so get out there and have a go.

I often try to imagine diving into my fears in much the same way as getting into cold water during my swimming days. I could either edge in bit by bit and drag out the inevitable moment when I would have to just start swimming. Or I could just dive in head first and get it out of the way. It’s far easier to just take that deep breath and leap in!

Want to work smarter? Stop asking questions…

I want to see people start to do well and one of the biggest problems that I see with people who are a little more timid is that there is a fear to take the next step, purely because you’re worried about going to go a little bit wrong. And how do we get around making a mistake? By learning from others and asking lots of questions, of course.

Now this is excellent advice, especially if you are new to a subject area and there is a lot to learn. It seems silly to make a whole load of mistakes that somebody else has already made when you could just ask the question and avoid a whole load of aggravation. But there comes a point where you are asking questions for the sake of just asking questions and this just makes no sense.

When I decided to swim the channel for the first time I had very little knowledge of how to go about it. I had been a swimmer as a kid, so I knew what I was letting myself in for physically, but I didn’t know about any of the logistics and the planning. However, I knew that I could get lost in tonnes of advice and ultimately talk myself out of the idea of doing the swim at all. So what I did was sign up for the swim and then start my research afterwards. And even then, I focused on getting myself into training above asking any questions of other people. It didn’t take a genius to work out that lots of long distance was the way to go; I didn’t need to hang around in a chat group to find that out.

However, you would be amazed how many people there are out there that do hang around in said chat rooms, asking how many lengths they should be swimming during each session and a week by week breakdown of it all. These are the people who generally do end up talking themselves out of it. Or worse still, they sign up and then fail because they’ve been procrastinating for so long.

It seems like basic common sense but sometimes we need a good shake to remind us what is sensible. I got across to France with a year of training and no faffing around with Facebook groups that just would have drained my energy. My personal opinion is that a lot of these people on there, want to find an excuse to not go ahead with the swim. And this is the case with so many things in life. There are a lot of people who want to find that one piece of information that will make it OK for them to back out. Do you want that? Are you actually hoping for a reason not to go ahead with your dream? Perhaps the thought of possibly failing is too painful to deal with so sabotage is the better option. Or perhaps you don’t want to put in the hard work?

By all means, build a supportive community of friends involved in the same thing and get yourself educated enough to decide whether or not you should spend time and energy on a project. But once you’ve made that decision, just go for it! It’s fine to be worried and anxious, but nothing great has ever been achieved without taking some risks and making a few mistakes of your own along the way.

With that in mind, here are five ways to stop yourself from getting carried away with too many questions:

  • Read one or two good books on the subject and then stop! If you pick wisely you should have a good enough outline to get started without the need to read a whole library.
  • Limit the number of support groups you join. This is particularly the case if they are on social media because you can lose days looking at every single post and not concentrating on your own task in hand.
  • Don’t beat yourself up if you make a mistake. We all make them and as long as you learn from it, there’s no need to become over reliant on other people. Leaning on people too much after a set back only encourages us to waste more time.
  • Devote chunks of time to solely working. If it’s a clothing line that you are building then say that in a five hour day, four of those hours have to be spent creating and being a business person and only one of those hours can be spent speaking to other business owners about what they would do in any given situation.
  • Really celebrate your successes because this will make you more confident. And it is confidence that will help you to trust your own instincts. If you have this confidence then you won’t need to turn to other people.

So get your head down and go for it. It seems like such a shame that your good ideas might be put to waste because you’ve spent too much time asking questions and not getting stuff done. I want to see all of you do amazingly well and I hope that this has given you some motivation.

Do you worry that you don’t have the knowledge to get started and what would be the thing that helps you to get over it?

Have you ever given up on a dream because you’ve entered into information overload or worried that you could never have enough information?

If you could start anything tomorrow without the need to do any long and boring stretches of research, what would it be?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.