Earlier this month, I received an invitation from fellow coach and writer Christine Livingston. A while ago now, Christine helped me start to recognise when I really need to ‘show up’ to get results and when I really just need to (in her words) ‘give less of a shit.’ This might sound a little unorthodox but it’s what I needed to hear at the time. I can’t tell you how much of a difference it’s made for me to stop when I’m getting caught up in unhelpful thought patterns and think ‘but do I really give a shit?’
Not your average networking breakfast
Anyway, I digress. My initial reaction when I saw Christine’s email was ‘urgh, networking.’ I got curious about my reaction and realised that it was the image that this word conjures up for me. A bunch of people thrown together with the often tenuous link of being in the same (or similar) profession, many of them bringing only their personas and not really being present (myself included – what if they don’t like the real me?) and plenty of awkward small talk.
But Christine is not your average host.
Even though we’d never met in person until last week, we met on social media some time ago and had spoken, so I knew that the image I had conjured up for myself was not the sort of event she would run. On reading the email properly, I could see that. The breakfast was to be a small gathering of what Christine called ‘VIPs’ (including me, really?) having a discussion around a particular topic:
Are business success and wellbeing mutually exclusive?
Having recently launched my freelance business and still working out the balance between getting it off the ground and still taking enough time to take care of myself, this was definitely a subject I am interested in exploring. I was still very nervous that morning, thinking about how I hadn’t had time to really prepare (what? A deck of flashcards with my thoughts? How authentic would that be?). As I stepped off the tube, I took a moment. What did I really need to do, to get the most out of this? Then it came to me. A reassuring voice (the one in that bubble I told you about last week), saying ‘Just Show Up.’
That’s it. Show up. Be present. Listen, really listen and speak up if you have something to say. So I did. I was still nervous, but less so as I focused on what was in front of me and let go of any notions of what others might or might not think of the fact that I was late, barely spoke, and was hesitant when I finally did share something. And of course, I got so much more out of the morning than I otherwise would have.
I took away so many things from the session but I’m just going to share two today. One, I have already shared, sort of…
This is what I mean by Show Up and Be Present. After the session I was heartened to read that Christine also has an internal struggle with allowing herself to be vulnerable in this way but that that there is a hidden power in allowing yourself to be fallible, to be human. She says, ‘Drop the need to anything other than who you are. In fact, see how it doesn’t serve you to try molding yourself to someone else’s version of what good looks like’ and concedes that this is not easy!
Mindfulness vs Mind Fullness
There was an interesting discussion on what it means to be mindful and suggestions ranged from just sitting with one’s thoughts (as in sitting/silent meditation), being present in the body during exercise (which raised the question of whether a high intensity workout could increase cortisol levels – and therefore stress – as opposed to say, yoga or pilates) to a complete focus on the simple act of sitting and eating a chocolate coin. The actual word itself became a talking point too, as someone got up and wrote Mindfulness vs Mind Fullness on the flipchart and explained explained that he had recently attended a conference where mindfulness was a topic and halfway through, it became clear that half of those present thought they were discussing the latter word. A different conversation entirely!
Getting out from under the cloud
I know I only said I was going to share two things but as this relates back to mindfulness it counts as part of the second (stay with me!). We talked about the ‘cloud’ of negative self-talk we all have. Not sure what I’m talking about? Well, here’s a glimpse of what mine was like that day in the moments I let my mind wander (staying present takes work!):
The CRAP cloud
And here’s what it was like when I Just. Showed. Up.
How often do you really show up, especially when it comes to work? What’s in your crap cloud (‘cause that’s what it is – just crap. It’s not real) that’s stopping you from showing up? Do share in the comments below, let’s crack these crap clouds together!