Sunday, 22 April 2012

How's your self confidence?

How's your self confidence? I bet it's not as robust as this guy's. You see we all live with self doubt. In fact a friend recently said; 'Robert, it's your self doubt and depression that makes you so good at what you do.'

And my self doubt is actually little more than a nervous edge that ensures I take nothing for granted. Working with a group last week, I had the very affirming opportunity to see how people respond to me. Once the penny drops they open up, reveal their challenges and we can start to explore solutions.

Large audiences are different. You see someone sharing a private joke at the back of the room and assume they're laughing at you. We all do that. I think it's what makes us work an audience and in my case, tailor each presentation to the group I'm talking to. And when the joke is shared later, you realise it wasn't about you at all. So why do we let self doubt screw us up?

How does the guy in the picture manage? Even the Prime Minister is saying nasty things about him. There's a massive campaign to get him out of the UK. His self confidence must be in tatters. Or is it?

My guess is that his commitment to his cause has over-ridden the basic human need to be liked. Being hated has somehow strengthened his resolve and so the more he is reviled, the more successful he feels. I'm sure it's a recognised psychological phenomenon.

So how can we get some of his self confidence, without becoming evil? I wonder if it's actually about having a personal mission. Something you really want to change in the world. Something that takes you above the day to day stuff that you can hold on to when the going gets tough.

Inevitably that mission will involve helping others. Not perhaps to 'martydom' but a more fulfilling life. Is mission the magic that can boost self confidence? Discuss!

Monday, 2 January 2012

Smoke gets in my eyes

Had he not died 30yrs ago, today would have been my late father's 85th birthday. I often wonder why I remember his birthday so easily and my mother's simply passes each year unremembered. (She died two years earlier).

I guess it's the time of year. The melancholy that accompanies the dawning of a new year. The cold weather and a time when work takes second place to life, inevitably leads me to contemplate death.

My father was not a happy man. He struggled with his demons and as he grew older, the demons began to win. He'd shut himself away, play Bach sonatas on his piano and drink. I think at the end he was consuming at least a bottle of Bells whisky a day, but this did not seem to salve his pain.

Finally he had the death we all hope for. He got out of bed one morning, took five paces, had a heart attack and was dead when he hit the floor. A shock for him and a relief for me, my brother and sister.

As time passes, the memory of my parents inevitably fades. My helpful mother in law sometimes says; 'I wonder what your parents would make of your life now?' Rather than rekindle memories this simply reminds me of the distance I have travelled since they died.

I do benchmark the relationship I have with my kids with that I did not enjoy with my own parents. There is no comparison. We are all very different and thank goodness, far happier with each other. I have huge respect for my now adult children and all their achieve; I think that respect is mutual, although of course masked by the usual cheeky banter you get from your kids.

The photo, is of Ipswich Crematorium. It's where both parents and one grandparent were dispatched. I've never been there and doubt I ever will. I've always avoided committals and was not there when either parent slid from chapel to cremator. Perhaps that's why each new year I remember. Perhaps next time I go to a family funeral I need to let the smoke get in my eyes.