Red dresses flash before me. I have this image of a sexy, glamorous, red dress and needing to tap into the power of that. My old image is a lifeless grey, stained cardigan. It’s very easy to slip it back on but it is tired and keeps me stuck.
I am off in October to the Speakers Training Camp – the equivalent of a public speaking ‘boot camp’ in Mt Hood, Oregon, in the States. It feels monumental: my personal Mt Everest to climb.
I was awarded a scholarship by the Deidre Snedden Foundation, through the Speech Communication Association (SCA), which is New Zealand’s professional body for speech and drama teachers. Deidre was a past member who wanted to share the benefits of overseas training and experience with others. She kindly left a quarter of a million dollars in her will to make that happen
It feels very exciting and very daunting. It’s extraordinarily easy in my mind to slip on the old cardigan, get stuck into negative thinking and to beat myself up; rather than take action and tick off items on my to-do list. It’s been my default mechanism for when things get tough, I have always told myself: I can’t do it, it’s too hard, I can’t change. So I keep putting the old grey cardigan back on and feeling pathetic.
It’s made me think about confidence and self esteem. According to Judi James, in her fantastically helpful book ‘Being Confident,’ success at work is 40% confidence and 60% performance.
She says one of the secrets to confidence is to discover your override switch. This allows you to control your fear and negative thoughts about non-threatening situations, such as public speaking. She also talks of the ‘Miss Havisham syndrome’ from Charles Dickens’ novel, Great Expectations. Miss Havisham surrounded herself with fear and negativity after she was jilted at her wedding, and refused to move on.
Red Dress Thinking…Same as grey cardigan thinking. It’s now being officially booted out – in favour of red dress thinking. On my vision board, in front of my computer, there are many pictures of red dresses. These include Emma Thompson and Kimbra, as well as singer Viv Albertine wearing a tight red jacket, while strumming her guitar.
So what is red dress thinking? It’s about reprogramming my mind for success, accepting and allowing the positive. Being courageous and gorgeous; daring to have a dream and working towards goals. I have finally realized that my old behavior just keeps me stuck in the pathetic.
My definition of confidence is feeling peaceful and easy in my own skin; it’s okay to speak up and it’s okay to be me. When I am confident I am in the flow: it’s seamless, easy, gentle and nurturing.
So I am going to the States. I am eternally grateful to the SCA and the scholarship. I may not have completed every action in ‘Book Yourself Solid’ in seven weeks, but I will be going.
I no longer feel stuck in a cycle of being pathetic. My journey is to embrace the red dress. Where the courageous, strong, daring, adventurous Anna steps out and she can coach others to do the same.
We are more afraid of the light, when we step into spotlight. We have nowhere to hide and become very fearful. I have battled with nerves and shying away from the light and am gradually learning to rethink what I tell myself.
Today I am going to cover two aspects on how to take the terror out of a talk and help you reposition your thinking around nerves and fear.