READ TIME: 5m 15s | WATCH TIME: 13m 9s
“Nervcited – it’s a cross between nervous and excited.”
I’m ready to get started, a lot to say, a lot of conversations I’d like to have, and thinking I’d like to share. Only thing is, there are some pretty loud voices getting in my way. You know the kind of thing. The fears of trolls trip trapping over the bridge, saying ‘anyone could see it’ ‘who do you think you are?’ and ‘it’s all already been said.’
So why do it? Why now?
Because I want to for a start. I love to read. I love to learn. I love conversations about the work I do and the people and ideas that influence and inspire me, and this is a great way to have more of those. People have said positive things about writing I’ve done and encouraged me to write more.
I can keep ignoring all these good reasons to start. That’s an option. I can’t help noticing though, that it takes up increasing energy and time to ignore it. I think a lot about what I want to write, and then think a lot about whether or not to write it. If I just write it, the thinking about whether to write it time and energy is available for something else… who knows what? I might even get to Grade 2 on the piano with that time??!!
And I can’t help noticing that I’m here! If you are reading this, I have written it! I’ve got started. So, what has helped?
Some more useful self talk for those imaginary trolls out there for a start. I often ask clients ‘what do you know to be true? What are the facts?’ We can all think of times when we have listened to the voices in our heads, credited them with being right, and acted accordingly. We have a choice about that. Checking in with what is real, what we actually know, is often a useful place to start.
A few other things helped too.
The first was watching Brené Brown in conversation with Chase Jarvis (I anticipate mentioning Brené Brown's work A LOT as we blog away here – I’m a big fan of her methods and the conclusions she draws, and the way she shares them) and hearing her talking about ten minutes in about her little square piece of paper that when she gets hooked into worrying about the opinions of strangers, reminds her of the people that really matter. So I started by writing that. The names of the people whose opinion truly matters to me. There are ten of them. And they will be my ‘yardstick’ (as my granddad used to say – he’s one of them). They are also the people who have been saying get on with it… write. Often in my work it’s when we work at what we choose to think rather than what we choose to do that is where the most useful and sustained change is. And it can be done. Science says so. My experience says so. My client’s experience says so. And it takes effort, repetition, and kindness to yourself when you don’t do it all the time. So, step 1, choose to think about the people who would be giving you a round of applause, and write!
I’m also reminding myself that my generation of social media users, we can easily think that people care more than they do. I might, just maybe, possibly, be overthinking the what people might think thing?!
The next was the starfish story. I love this little fable. It has been a comfort to me as a teacher in a challenging school, and as a coach, and a comfort in life generally when I get overwhelmed by watching the news, or by just how much it can feel like there is to do.
Once upon a time, there was an old man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach every morning before he began his work. Early one morning, he was walking along the shore after a big storm had passed and found the vast beach littered with starfish as far as the eye could see, stretching in both directions.
Off in the distance, the old man noticed a small boy approaching. As the boy walked, he paused every so often and as he grew closer, the man could see that he was occasionally bending down to pick up an object and throw it into the sea. The boy came closer still and the man called out, “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”
The young boy paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean. The tide has washed them up onto the beach and they can’t return to the sea by themselves,” the youth replied. “When the sun gets high, they will die, unless I throw them back into the water.”
The old man replied, “But there must be tens of thousands of starfish on this beach. I’m afraid you won’t really be able to make much of a difference.”
The boy bent down, picked up yet another starfish and threw it as far as he could into the ocean. Then he turned, smiled and said, “It made a difference to that one!”
Adapted from The Star Thrower, by Loren Eiseley (1907 – 1977)
So I made an effort to the self-talk that this blog is only worthwhile if hundreds of people read it and love it, and that everything there is to say in this field has already been said. (Comparison really is the thief of joy). I changed it to as long as the people whose opinion matters most to me have their thumbs up, then all is well, and if it proves useful to one person, it’s worth doing.
And finally I highly recommend this TEDx talk (full disclosure: it was recorded at a TEDx I’m involved in – more about that here. I include it because it’s brilliant and pertinent to what I’m saying, and it helped) by the quite brilliant Steve Chapman who I was fortunate to meet last year. If there’s an inner critic messing with you and getting in your way, try interacting with it, playing with it even. Which is what I’m doing right now by tapping away at my keyboard.
Next to sort before I started was how to write about my work from an ethics point of view. What do I need to consider ethically. I know that I wouldn’t dream of writing about a client’s experience without their permission, but I wanted to be sure I wasn’t missing anything else that I needed to take care of. My supervisor is the guardian of my professional quality and standards, the place where I can work on my work, and myself in my work. If you are thinking of investing in a coach, a great question to ask a prospective coach is ‘Do you have a supervisor?’ Even better, ‘How often do you work with a supervisor and what do you find useful about it?’
*‘Nervcited’ this great new word invented by my fabulous godson on the morning of an important test that he had been preparing for for a long time.
Nervous, yes, because it was important. I don’t know how many times I have said to clients, students, friends, family ‘Nerves are there because you care. Nerves say this is important. They will serve you well if you stay in control of them.’ It’s the ‘go towards the things that scare you’ thing.
He was also excited. Excited, because he was ready. He’d done the work and wanted to get on with it, show what he could do, maybe even enjoy it. Put them together and there you have it. Nervcited!
So I’m nervous because I care. I’m excited because I’m ready. And with the launch of this site, and this blog, being a celebration of ten years since completing my first coaching qualification, I’m ready because I’ve been working towards this for a long time, and because I have so much more to learn.
My intention for this blog is to offer thoughts and ideas. A touch point for clients to re-connect with work and ideas we have looked at, and to discover something new, and a place for prospective clients to get a sense of whether my work is what they are looking for. I also hope it will be a place where fellow coaches can read and hear some useful things and start some interesting conversations.
The posts are an offer, not an instruction. I’m not setting out to say something new. I’m looking to share learning, ideas, thoughts and observations in the spirit of useful conversation, and would feel great about throwing a starfish or two back into the sea on the way!
Thanks for coming along.