Do you want to know why I’m out of my comfort zone right now?
In my quest to help others succeed at innovation, I often challenge people to get out of their comfort zones, expand their knowledge and try something new. Diversity of experiences, curiosity and an appetite for taking risks builds us into better innovators.
I know my clients who are dedicated to improving their creativity and innovation muscles because they are the people who are purposefully striding out of their comfort zones; they are hanging out with the spiders at London Zoo, standing up and presenting in front of big audiences, trying meditation and creative writing. I’m very proud of them.
I don’t believe you can ask someone to do something that you wouldn’t be prepared to do yourself so I do push myself out of my own comfort zone.
I used to be terrified of public speaking. I trace it back to a nativity play when I was little and I got the role of the Angel Gabriel. I got muddled up and told the shepherds they were going to have a baby. The audience laughed and I didn’t know why until afterwards. I knew I didn’t like it though and I decided at the age of 6 that speaking in front of people wasn’t for me.
When I got to the world of work it transpired that I did have to do presentations to large audiences. I did public speaking courses, practiced a lot and then to get braver at presenting I signed up for a six-week improv course. You know like in ‘Whose line is it anyway?’ where the people on stage improvise a scene based on whatever is thrown at them from the audience – hopefully they throw suggestions of scenes and characters rather than physical objects.
It was terrifying. And once I learned to manage the fear it was a massive amount of fun. I also learned a lot about team dynamics and what makes good teams work well together.
Right now I’m way out of my comfort zone
I’m way out of my comfort zone right now though. I’ve got that knot in my stomach that is a bit to do with excitement but mostly I’m just feeling a bit sick. It’s because I’ve just gone public with an idea I’ve been nursing for about a year.
My idea has been sparked by a lot of the work I do to help people be more confident, more creative, think differently and make their good ideas happen.
I’ve noticed how people are too busy fire fighting to think straight. Going round and round on a metaphorical hamster wheel and not making any progress. Drowning in emails and meetings and paperwork. Some days it’s like someone sneaked in and stole their confidence.
I know this feeling because I’ve felt like it myself.
I’ve learned that there’s some simple interventions that nip these feelings of overwhelm in the bud. They include taking a step back, talking with others in confidence, that understand but are not involved in your situation and going back with a fresh perspective. And then having this sort of support as an ongoing event to keep on track – not just a one-off emergency intervention when everything gets too much. I describe it as the feeling that someone ‘has your back’
The problem is that most organisations don’t have resource for what I’ve described above, for example coaching, or investment in what gets described as ‘soft skills’. What happens is that people muddle along, often feeling miserable or just functioning with that niggling feeling that they are just not quite good enough. I see people leave organisations because of it. Sometimes people downgrade themselves because they think they are not performing well enough, they take less well paid and less interesting jobs and stagnate. Lack of confidence if it’s not nipped in the bud can easily create a downward spiral.
Back to my idea – The Lucidity Network
I’m calling my idea The Lucidity Network and it’s an affordable online and offline learning and support network to help build confidence, creativity and better results – regardless of your role or seniority. To raise the money to get it off the ground and to test the concept I’ve decided to crowdfund for it.
I’ve been a fundraiser – and I’ve helped fundraisers for years. But I have to say that I had no idea how scary launching a campaign of my own was until it was too late.
Before I even pressed ‘go’ there was the pain of making the video. I hate looking at myself on film. I’m lucky that I have a very patient brother who works in film who helped me. My little brother licking his hand and patting my head to make my hair flat and look ‘presentable’ was a particular highlight.
It’s one thing raising money for a cause, and quite another asking people to help get a project off the ground. As my mum put it ‘its not like you’re sending sick kids on a dream holiday is it?’
Asking friends and family if they would help get involved gave me a whole sleepless night. Every time a friend or family member wrote back with anything positive I had a little cry. I’m a bit more balanced now. All cried out probably. Nothing left.
What if it fails?!
I still feel very vulnerable, like I’m putting myself on the line. What if it fails?! I help teams work with failure and I’ve joked that I’ll have a new presentation on ‘how to fail at crowdfunding’. And whilst if that happens I’ll do it, but frankly I’d rather not. (if I don’t reach target I don’t get anything so it’s a very real and looming failure) I’d rather be developing content, hosting webinars, interviewing people who can give good advice, sourcing venues for the face-to-face events and helping more people think straight and be happier.
So I’d like to say a heartfelt thank you to friends, family and colleagues. To everyone who has responded with positive comments, advice, feedback, backed the campaign, made videos or shared with their network. I can only have a go at making this work because of all you brilliant people who have my back.
And I can only keep plugging away because I can’t let the people who have put faith in me and backed it and the people who would really benefit from the Lucidity Network – if I can make it happen – down.
At the time of writing I’ve raised £4.5k of a £10k target and there’s just under a month left. I’d love you to be part of the gang to help make it happen. Check out the Lucidity Network crowdfund here.