Most people who know me would say that I am a fairly confident individual and they would be right – anyone who enjoys standing up in front of groups of people delivering training would have to have a degree of confidence. Having said that, and as highlighted in my current read ‘Self Confidence’ by Paul McGee, even confident people have areas where they are less confident and this is certainly true of me, but I am trying to do something about it by changing my mindset.
It was August 2017 and our family holiday took us to Chamonix Mont Blanc – myself, my husband and the two kids. When we arrived we decided to go to the Aiguille du Midi, which if you are not in the know, is a 3,842m peak in the Mont Blanc Massif in the French Alps!!! I was really excited about going until we reached the top. We left the cable car and ventured onto the first platform and it was at this point that my confidence left me completely. As my son and husband decided to climb higher I stood having a mini panic attack and a little cry…it was all very unexpected. I had never been afraid of heights before…not really. It was at this point that we moved from the platform to the main peak where the family wanted to ‘Step into the Void’…a glass room with a glass floor, situated off the uppermost terrace of the Aiguille du Midi. It claims to be ‘the highest attraction in Europe’. My initial response was that there was no way on this earth that I would be venturing into that ‘tourist attraction’ but I joined the family on their mission to scare themselves silly….when I say I joined them I waited in the queue with them, and as we queued (on a glass floor walkway) I didn’t look down and remained very quiet (quite unlike me). I may have been quiet but in fact I was having a firm word with myself. I asked myself questions like ‘what on earth do you think is going to happen?’, ‘how many people have stood in the box before you and come out alive?’. The more I continued this inner dialogue, the more I realised how completely irrational it was that I did not want to do it. It really was a once in a lifetime opportunity. So to follow Susan Jeffers’ thoughts (see ‘Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway’ in Book Recommendations), in I went and I have the photos to prove it. I cannot tell you how proud of myself I was. I didn’t look down (that really would have pushed me over the edge) but I got in and stayed there for at least a minute. When I left that box I truly felt I had achieved so much.
One of my mantras in life, one which I often pass on to the sixth formers with whom I work, is Henry Ford’s ‘Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right’. I know that if I had had a very negative conversation with my inner self at the very top of that peak, I definitely would not have got into that box. The more positive I am about an experience, the more likely I am to do it and more importantly, enjoy the experience. This mindset is currently helping me with my next big challenge in life!
On Sunday 27th August I will run my first ever 10km race. I am not doing it for charity, I am simply doing it because I want to push myself and show myself that I can and my goodness I really do need a very positive mindset for this! Now, I can run but I am not a runner. It seems that I get a mind blockage about getting out there and practicing and so I asked a great coach I know for some help. She helped me to visualise how I would feel at the end of the 10km race, she got me to consider the impact of me doing this race for my children and how they would view me and more importantly she got me out there running. In fact it is 6:34 on a Thursday morning and I have just returned home from a 4.4km run and I feel great. It was hard getting out of bed when the alarm went off at 5:30 this morning but boy do I feel good now and I will do for the rest of the day.
What I have learnt about myself through my coaching is that I am very good at creating obstacles. I make things far more difficult than they need to be and when I simplify things, life for me becomes much easier. So as I sit here typing this blog, my first ever blog (and that’s a whole other discussion right there) I am just over a week away from completing the race. I am not in it to win it…that would be a silly thought, I am in it to prove to myself that I can do it and right now, today, there is nothing standing in my way because at every stage of this journey I have told myself ‘you can do it Claire’…and that is precisely what I am going to do.
Wish me luck!