October 2015

It was only yesterday I heard that reaction on TV when a reporter rang at a house and the dazed female occupant reluctantly admitted the crew. A bit similar to what happens when you unexpectedly give someone a ride in your car (don’t mind the clutter….  the children, the dog, so busy these days,…).

Recognisable? I plead guilty as well. It is all about shame, and the fear of not being considered good enough or perfect enough by someone else (and especially by yourself). Apparently it is mostly women who feel ashamed – they want to live up to the image of the perfect, caring, well-groomed woman, mother, partner, professional who manages to combine everything, seemingly without effort. A man is apparently more ashamed of the idea that he could be perceived as weak. It is hardly surprising that these differences serve as the perfect breeding ground for misunderstanding and tension between men and women – a potentially interesting topic for another Inspiration.

Check out the TED talk by Brené Brown ‘Listening to shame’ (https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_listening_to_shame) –  quite enlightening, original and funny.

These past few days I’ve asked myself what I am ashamed of (or used to be ashamed of, these things tend to evolve). And come to think of it – when does shame start, as obviously young children are not bothered by it? Does shame have a function, does it make us a better person? Wouldn’t it be much more comfortable to live without this useless burden and just stand for who you are, show your true self and forget about appearances?

I will set an example and publicly admit to something (next to what is mentioned above) that makes me blush with shame: I do not exactly change our bedsheets on a regular basis, and this makes me feel like a failed housewife. I don’t even keep track of when I changed them the last time, I follow my gut feeling or wait until I feel like investing time in this chore. Of course nobody sees this except for our cleaner (I do wonder what she makes of it… more blushing). I have this idea in my head that a good housewife has a fixed schedule for these chores. So if you were thinking that next to being punctual as a blogger, I am equally punctual as a housewife, you are very much mistaken.

And now it is your turn – I dare you to confess to something you feel ashamed about. Or do you have interesting insights about this topic that you want to share? Let us know.

18 years ago I was on the receiving end of this type of – probably well-meant – comments: “Congress organiser? Are you sure? There is a lot of competition out there, you know!” History repeats itself today: “Coach? Aren’t there enough of those already?” So many years ago the comments made me feel pretty uncomfortable, especially when they came from people who knew the business. But I persevered as I was so keen to succeed, and I managed to find my own spot in the conference organisation market.

At the start of this new phase I am confident that I will find my own place again. I deliberately do not use the term “conquer my place”, as that sounds aggressive and implies that you need to push away others to achieve your goal. Don’t get me wrong, it will be hard work – clients do not magically appear on your doorstep. But if there is one thing I learned in all those years, it’s that you need to be true to yourself, that it is important to find your own voice and make yourself heard.  In other words, there are plenty of coaches out there (just as there are plenty of doctors, dentists, physiotherapists, and why not – butchers and bakers), but there will only be one like me. And some people will connect to this and become my clients.

If I can offer one piece of good advice in conclusion: listen carefully to yourself and trust your inner voice. What do you really want to do, more than anything else? What makes you feel intensely alive? What makes you happy? What makes you forget time as it gives you so much satisfaction? Go for it, even if it may not be immediately possible at a professional level. Because you need to stay realistic, after all you still need to be able to pay those monthly bills. And above all: leave the well-meant comments for what they are…. well-meant comments.

If you don’t find the courage to take that step or if you want to find out what really makes you happy – a coach is there to help.