(image from TheRitters)
Have I written about obstacles before?
I think I have ... but that doesn't mean it's a issue I should stop talking about, you see, I have had many obstacles to overcome in my life (as do many people), and it's taken a lot of creative thought and get up and go to just tackle them head on.
This post is going to be a little bit different, it will be exploring a certain concept. This concept you ask?
"The Dream Is Bigger Than Any Obstacle" - TWEET THAT!
There is a story that I tell in my talks that illustrates this concept perfectly.
When I was 13 I decided that I wanted to swim at the 2000 Paralympic Games. It was my ultimate dream of success, to swim at my home games. So I started training and then got to the point where I had to enter my first BIG swimming competition. It was the Disabled Swimming NSW Championships. I had put my name down for a few races, one of them being the 50m Breaststroke .... the problem is I'm absolutely rubbish at breaststroke.
I lined up for the 50m Breaststroke race, nervous, trembling, and faint. The starter set us,
I dove in for this 50m Breaststroke race, and then proceeded to swim front crawl.
It took me about ten metres of swimming the wrong stroke before I realised this massive error and quickly switched to the correct stroke. Humiliation was seeping into my bones already. Finishing the race I hauled myself out to face the official; and I was promptly disqualified.
Ever had that feeling of such deep deep embarrassment that all you want to do is run away and hide, live in a hermit cave, and never interact with society ever again?
That was me that day.
I was faced with a choice:
Do I run away, don't face my problem, give up my dream and live a humdrum life full of regret?
Do I stay, learn from my mistake, continue to follow my dream, and have the success I dreamt about?
AND this is the thing -
STAYING CAN BE THE HARDEST THING, LEARNING FROM YOUR MISTAKES CAN BE THE HARDEST THING, BUT WHEN YOUR DREAM IS AT STAKE IT IS WORTH IT.
An obstacle can be a physical obstacle, it can also be a mental one, and more often the mental obstacles are the hardest ones to get over.
The answer is to take control of your responses and reactions and don't let the problem overwhelm you. Remember that that obstacle may only be in your life for the shortest of moments and therefore it would be a crime against yourself to let it derail your dreams.
(Haha love this image, it's from here)
I traveled down to Slough in London last week to speak at Baylis Court School for their PSHE day. It was a very busy, kind of manic day, but Mrs Nanalal (Hi Mrs Nanalal!) did a fantastic job to manage the timings, and so five 1 hour talks went smoothly, energetically, and fantastically!!! At the end of each talk I had students come up to me to give me a hug, say thank you, and to ahhhhhhhh over those glittery medals of mine. Now I'm saying this to make myself sound really awesome and great!! (or generally having a big head). I am not saying this because in the subsequent discussions with the students it came across that a lot of them had a low sense of self belief, but hearing my words on self belief and achieving success has helped them start to realise that they can go after their dreams. It is gratifying to know that my words can have this effect, that my story and illustrate that we all have potential, but I started to wonder, what exactly is it that I am saying that young people are picking up on?
So I thought about it and thought about it and thought about it some more. The particular moment that seemed to resonate was when I referred to that nasty little voice that you get in the back of your head that says "you can't do this," "that will never happen," "are you joking?" You know that voice right? I think we all get it, but when I spoke about this voice so many of the students nodded, agreeing that yes, that nasty little voice does stop them believing they can have the results that they want.
So, how did I start to chip away at the negative for them and plant a seed of positivity?
Well, self belief is essentially tied to ones self esteem - when you have good self esteem you believe that you are deserving of success and achievement and so your self belief flies sky high and the sky really is the limit in what you can accomplish.
Now having a disability a lot of people would assume that my self esteem would be pretty low, but when I proved otherwise to the students, it started to become apparent that good self esteem can be part temperament, but also heavily based on your experiences through life. I've always had a fairly positive temperament, but I also had parents who nurtured my self esteem and helped it grow into the self belief that I have now.
A lot of students said that their parents supported them, but they would be reserved and tentative when the students would profess big dreams. There was one particular girl who has a dream to be a singer, she loves singing, she breathes singing, but whilst her parents supported her in ever other endeavor, they were weary of the the singing, so she believed already that it was a pointless dream.
So I tried to change their thinking, tried to illustrate that with positive thought you can set seemingly crazy goals and actually take the first step on the journey to achieving it. In doing so I addressed what drives the negative thoughts, and it is usually your weaknesses that grow the negativity. But if you recognise your weaknesses and let them go and focus on your strengths, then you start to see that you are good at stuff and therefore those negative thoughts are really a bit silly ... really ... right?
Just say I'm right and we can move on!
So you start to focus on the positive and the negatives - whilst not disappearing immediately - start to fade into the background.
Also, start to spend more time with positive peeps! That's not to say you should ditch your negative ones, cause everyone needs love, but be aware that other people can be a huge influence on your mood and how you see yourself, so surround yourself with the positive and you'll crowd out the negative.
Perhaps most importantly though is to create a super vision of yourself, and embrace it now!! When I was thirteen, painfully shy, and easily embarrassed being the centre of attention, I envisioned myself as an all conquering Paralympic swimmer with the confidence to get out there as swim fast . . . I saw this in my mind everyday, I practiced being this everyday in training, and then I became what I envisioned.
I told all those students all of this. And now I'm telling you guys.
Because to be honest, I think we are all so full of rockin' potential that we all should believe in our super stardom!
I believe in myself, do you believe in yourself?
Let me know in the comments what you do to help you believe in yourself ...
Some days I wake up, get dressed, have breakfast, brush my teeth, wash my face, sit at my desk, and .... what am I doing?
Ever felt that way?
There are triggers for this, a messy desk, a messy kitchen (my desk is my kitchen table), a messy lounge room (my kitchen and lounge are open plan), and this all equals a messy mind, where I can't focus because I'm too distracted by the pile of magazines, empty food packages, or unwashed dishes. I'm sure you have experienced this, even when your dedicated office ROOM is chaotic - like a hurricane of papers and pens and ink cartridges hit during the night.
because there is a messy desk/room and your mind is messy, your calender appears messy, you put the wrong events on the wrong dates, and you've triple booked that lunch time with a network meeting, massage, and Dr's appointment.
WHERE IS MY MIND?
(*** Not in anyway referencing The Pixies song***)
There are a few things that I do to FIND MY MIND, or rather organise myself so that I can be as efficient as I can and have the success that I know will come slightly easier if I was more organised.
My desk with books in cane containers and pens/pencils in tin and ceramic pots.
1. Figuring out what works for me - I have a dream, a minimalist dream where the draws hold only the essentials, the cupboards have neat lines of produce, clothing, books, there is a nice rug on an empty floor, and everything is dust-free. I'm not there yet. I am working towards it though .... slowly. BUT, my flatmate is the opposite, piles of papers, clothes, and makeup, stacks of books on the coffee table, and shoes piled up at the door ... but she knows where everything she needs is - there must be some order to the madness! Complete opposites, but these different existences work. So, what way of organisation works most for you? Figure this out and you have a start to finding your organised state of mind.
2. Get necessary with the unnecessary - when you figure out what works for you, then ditch what is outside of this realm of organisation. For me that involves being very proactive in keeping on top of clutter, AND being rather ruthless with "things." If I haven't used it, remembered it, or "seen" it recently, get rid of it. Make it a necessity to ditch the unnecessary every week, don't let it pile on top of you.
3. Get specific about where you put things - On my kitchen table/work desk I have containers that specifically hold pens, pencils, post-its, sticky-tape, staplers, stamps, business cards, work books, etc. This makes them all very easy to move to enable the work desk to be transformed into a kitchen table at a moments notice. In regards to this though, remember that each item has its spot and try to put it back there after you have finished using it ... makes it dead easy to find the next time.
4. Keep your virtual desktop as tidy as your real world one - yep, your laptop/computer desktop can become just as cluttered and craze-inducing as your physical space. So use that trash can, use those folders, be ruthless, be thoughtful, and lower, firstly, what is visible on your desktop, and then what is actually in your folders. Make sure you have subfolders in folders and label them as specific as you can be, in my "Speaking Work" folder, I have many subfolders, including "Marketing," "Press," "Feedback," "Booking Confirmation," etc.
5. Organise that ticking clock - or rather your time and where you are spending it and not spending it. Some of my best friends work well with spontaneity, me? Not so much. I like order to a certain extent, especially when it comes to work and weekdays. Be conscious of your time and be deliberate with it. Set boundaries and let others know - this is me working and I can't be disturbed, and this is me with free time that I can spend with you, on my hobbies, or just plopped in front of the t.v. You are in control of what you do with your time, no-one else is.
Following these tips has helped me (slowly) start to get a flow happening to my life, a flow that is determined by me and helping me move not just my work forward, but also my life. Give them a go (or just one or two of them if you like) and let me know how it goes in the comments.
"Your Determination is Limitless"
- Elizabeth Wright