A few months ago I was contacted by a young man I didn’t know through Linked In. He asked to meet me to discuss a few things as he was enjoying the blogs I’d been posting. I get a few of these types of requests and I’m always very flattered. I did a bit of research on him and agreed to meet. He had a senior role in a large company and had earned himself a PhD a few years prior. When we caught up for coffee, our chat was fascinating and we discussed some great subjects in depth. During the chat we discussed blogging and he said he believed he had a lot to say but had never got round to putting pen to paper. I asked why, he totally avoided the question and we moved onto other subjects. Later that day it dawned on me that I had not got an answer as why he had not written anything, so I emailed him and asked him the question outright. Two days passed and I hadn’t received an answer. On day three I received an email with a one word answer. It said “Timidity”! I’d never actually heard the word Timidity before and actually had to look it up. “Timidity – lacking in self-assurance, courage, or bravery; easily alarmed; timorous, shy.”
For those people who know me, I would assume that timid is not a word you’d use to describe me. I would however disagree. I’m quite introverted and like everyone else, in lots of situations, I’m timid. Whether we admit it openly or not, we all lack self-confidence at times, and are scared of putting our head above the parapet.
“The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease forever to be able to do it.” – Peter Pan
In my case, one example of many, regards Timidity is writing. Apart from business papers, I hadn’t written anything in my own words since school. Until May last year that is. I’d been thinking for a while that with 25 plus years’ experience in the workplace and 44 years of life experience, that maybe I had something to say! The thought had been brewing for a few years but I’d never had the confidence to put pen to paper. A doubting thought came into my head every time I’d think about it. To be honest “Wanker” was probably the most re-occurring word that popped into my head! Apart from it being my favourite swear word, I thought it would be used in comments about my posts when I published a blog, followed by something like, “What the hell do you know?” and “What makes you think you’re an authority on that?” It wasn’t until I was talking to my good friend Belinda Coates about my Timidity issue of putting pen to paper, that she admitted to the same fear. So we agreed that we would both support each other, each write a blog and make it a competition to see who got the most comments. Friendship, support and a competitive streak got us over our Timidity.
I’m sure there are some people out there who may think ill of me and my blogs, but the comments I have received on Linked In and WordPress have been amazing, very humbling and inspire me to write more. I also get lots of support by direct Linked In messages and emails, as per the example that led me to the word Timidity. For those who do support me and comment, I thank you from the bottom my heart. It’s amazing the positive effect that those comments have on me and give me the confidence to write more. That’s until the next time when I sit down with a blank page in front of me and the seed of an idea that might lead to a half decent blog post. The doubt and Timidity inside me however once again kicks in!
So why am I writing a blog on Timidity? Well I’ve spoken to lots of people over the past year and it’s a common theme out there. People really surprise me when they say it, people who I believe have a huge amount of knowledge to share, show lots of confidence day to day and seem far from timid. Many of these people would love to write a blog, to share their knowledge, wisdom and ideas but are struggling to get over that first hurdle. I’ve even spoken to people who are too timid to comment on a blog, even when it’s really positive feedback they are giving. I met one person recently who had commented on a blog of mine and I publicly thanked her with a reply. I didn’t know this person but when I was fortunate to meet her at an event, she introduced herself and thanked me so much for publicly responding in thanking her! It turns out it was the first time she had ever posted anything on Linked In and she was really worried about what people would think of the comment she’d made. She was so chuffed that I’d liked her comment and replied. I guess, like me, many of us fear that the word “Wanker” will come back at us if we put ourselves out there!
We all seem happy to post a picture on Facebook or Instagram and not care what the world thinks, but as soon as we try and write original ideas and put our own thoughts out there we clam up, get writers block or just believe that no one will be interested in what we have to say!
My example above is about blogging, but Timidity can affect anyone on anything. From putting forward a new methodology at work to improve the way we deliver our services, to having an amazing idea, to starting a new company. All ideas and new thinking takes courage to initially speak up and even more to see through and implement.
So do I have a cure for Timidity?
My last blog Read Here was about the power of our networks, that our networks help drive innovation and get our ideas noticed. These same networks are the cure to Timidity. Like when Bel and I set each other a challenge to write our first blog, we need to surround ourselves with the right people, people who encourage us to strive for greatness and believe in our ideas. When we surround ourselves with a great network we are far more likely to believe in ourselves, in our ideas and eradicate the feeling of Timidity. I truly believe that you need to build a network of positive people, people you trust, people who believe in you and people who have dreams desires and ambition that will push you further.
My other tip is to make sure your network is honest, most importantly your inner network. Even though we need support in our ideas, we also need a Jiminy Cricket on our shoulder, a conscience if you will who will encourage everything we do, but also ask the right questions and test our theories. With my blogs I always ask the advice of two or three individuals who I know will give me true honest feedback before I publish.
So believe in your ideas and beat your timidity through the help and support of your network. As Wilfred Peterson said “Walk with the dreamers, the believers, the courageous, the cheerful, the planners, the doers, the successful people with their heads in the clouds and their feet on the ground”