Last week I was asked to speak at an event with the title “This is Your Stage and it’s Showtime!” which aimed to increase confidence for women in the Tech sector.
The title of the event seemed perfect for a presenter like me, because my job is all about putting myself out there in the spotlight. And because of that you would probably think that I’m a naturally confident person – and in lots of ways I am. I love being on television and the radio.
But performers are also full of self-doubt. We are creative people with creative temperaments and can often find it hard to stay rational when emotions get the better of us. In a paradoxical way, it is our self doubt that makes up want to perform, because we want people to tell us they’ve seen us on television or heard us on the radio – because that validates what we are doing.
For me, one of my biggest issues is rejection. It’s applying for presenting roles and not getting them, or not even getting an interview or a screen test. And the thing with my industry is that it’s totally subjective – so you might think I’m fabulous on air but someone else might think I’m pretty annoying!
And then add on top of that the other issues media execs are looking at such as the ratio of male to female presenters, and an ethnic mix that reflects the audience. So if a commissioner decides they want a male presenter for a particular programme because they already have too many female presenters, I’m never going to get that job because I’m not a man. But when I get that rejection email, or that call from my agent telling me it’s a no, I don’t know that, all I know is that I haven’t got the job. And for a creative type like me that’s particularly demoralizing!
So, how do I cope with that and keep going in a career that I love – even though it can make me feel sick with self doubt sometimes?!
Well, a few years ago I started working with a fantastic lady called Dr Josellen Sellen. – she’s a chartered psychologist who works with people on a one-to-one basis giving them strategies to be more successful.
Now Jo is what some people would call a “life coach”, but I like to call her my performance coach, and I recommend everyone has a Jo! If you want to play a sport and play it well you’d get a sports coach, so why wouldn’t you use a coach to help you do better at work and to further your career?
Jo has given me some great strategies for dealing with my stress and I thought I’d share some of them with you here.
For example, when applying for jobs you should play the probability game – the more jobs you apply for the more likely you are to be given one. So if you are turned down for a job think of it as a positive because it means you’re more likely to get the next one!
She’s also taught me to plan out my monthly tasks with post-it notes. I put them on a board under various topics, such as presenting, commissions and exercise, and the once I’ve done a task I move it over to the heading that says ‘done tasks’. Now this might not work for everyone but for me it’s a really visual to-list and it really helps me get to the bottom of pile of work!
And she’s encouraged me to meditate. I’ll admit, I don’t do it every day, but I do find it helpful and I really believe that taking time for yourself helps with your self worth and therefore makes you more confident
I hope that’s given you some inspiration to help you with you goals.
And don’t forget, if you don’t believe you can do it, then no one else will.