Monthly Archives: November 2014

“Confidence is the purity of action produced by a mind free of doubt”
– The Confidence Code (Katty Kay and Claire Shipman)

A few weeks ago, I finished reading The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance- What Women Should Know. The book carries an important message: “confidence” – it turns out – “matters more than competence when it comes to achieve success and getting ahead”.

Even though the book itself has quite a strong career focus, there are definitely parallels with other aspects in our lives  – travelling, hobbies, relationships, etc. The book is, in my opinion, a wake-up call for any near-perfectionist. 

As a recovering near-perfectionist, I thought I’d go ahead and share my personal take on confidence – Follow along!

Don’t ruminate – rewire

Don't ruminate - Rewire (Kate goes Global)

I’m not good enough. How can I still not pronounce literature correctly? I’m never going to get promoted! I don’t have enough savings. I’m not in good shape. I’m never going to run a race. Or ski without making a fool of myself. I just can’t do it!

Does this sound familiar to you? It definitely does to me! I’m pretty good at overthinking and giving myself a hard time when I don’t get things right on the first, second or third try.

After my first attempt at skiing, I swore never to step on skis again. Instead of laughing it off and continue to practice, I focused my energy on all the times I fell on my bum and couldn’t, for the life of me, get up again without help. I listed all the excuses I could come up with to not go skiing again (it’s expensive, it’s far, I don’t have a car, my friends don’t ski, and I don’t speak french! – yeah, I’m not proud of that one).

Looking back, I can only laugh at my behaviour – what made me think that one (snowy) day on a swiss resort without an actual instructor would bring out my inner Suzy Chaffee? It took me another 1.5 years to decide to throw my ski-insecurities down a hill and learn on my own terms and pace (and oh am I grateful I did!).

Confidence Tip: Overthinking and overanalysing stops us from taking action, stepping out of our comfort zones. What I do now to restrain myself from worrying too much and holding on to past mistakes is to focus on what I did well. You can only imagine how ecstatic I felt when I actually managed to ski down through 2 blues and 1 red without falling over (who cares if it took me 4 x as long to reach the base!).

Strive for progress – not perfection

Strive for Progress Not Perfection

When I was younger, I would crumple a paper and start all over again if I had made one only mistake. My hand writing was (and still is!) extremely clean and neat. When I sketch, I start with a 5H pencil and will gradually move to softer ones when I’m confident that the lines are where there should actually be.

As a perfectionist, nothing will ever be good enough. While my teacher praised the quality of my work, I couldn’t avoid comparing my architectural sketches to all the architects and designers in the room, and feeling like a penny.

Talk about unreasonably high standards!

Perfectionism does not only increase our self-doubt but also leads to procrastination. We stop ourselves from doing something if we know that the result won’t be even near to perfect. When I first started preparing for the GMAT, the course recommended me to take a first CAT (test) to assess my level. Instead, I didn’t do one until I was halfway through the books because I was worried about not reaching a minimum score I thought was reasonable.

But here’s the thing though: not reaching my desired GMAT score on the first CAT shouldn’t be seen as failure, but instead, an opportunity for progress and improvement!

Confidence Tip: Just abandon perfectionism. Seriously. Holding on to unreachable standards is a recipe for disaster. Instead, break your end goal down into smaller manageable goals and don’t give up – Focus on progress, instead of the end goal!

Step outside your comfort zone

Step outside your comfort zone (Kate goes Global)

We need to take more action, more risks and be willing to face failure. By simply stepping outside our comfort zones and realising that the World doesn’t end if we get the first step wrong is one of the most encouraging feelings you can get!

When I started to consider a career change back in early 2012, I was a nerve wreck. I pondered all the things that could go wrong (what if I can’t find a job? what if I realise I made a mistake? what if this is the closest to my ideal job that I can ever get?) and held on to my fear of getting it wrong for months before I took the leap. And guess what: once I did, the World didn’t end. Instead, it turned to open many doors I wasn’t even aware existed.

So what is constantly stopping us from stepping outside our comfort zone? Self-doubt, overthinking, fear of rejection and fear of failure all cause us to freeze and avoid taking action. But being confident doesn’t mean that you believe you are naturally good at something, but that you can learn and improve through work and repetition.

Confidence Tip: Take more action. And if the action itself is too big and scary to cope with all at once, divide it into smaller manageable actions that trick your brain into feeling no risk at all.


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Blood swept lands and seas of red

Over the past months, the Tower of London has been transformed into a red sea of hand-made ceramic poppies to commemorate the start of World War One. The first poppy was planted in July – ever since, 16,000 volunteers from across the World have donated their time to help plant the 888,246 flowers – each of which represents a British or colonial life lost during the war.

Blood swept lands and seas of red

Blood swept lands and seas of red

The evolving installation by ceramic artist Paul Cummins and set designer Tom Piper has a remarkable theatrical effect. I felt overwhelmed by the number of flowers filling the moat and moved by the flow of poppies pouring over the walls of the tower and out its windows. It really provides a sense of perspective to the vast consequences of World War One (or, any war, really!).

Sure, the installation only commemorates the loss of british allied services’ lives, but the truth is – any life lost to war is one life too many. I can’t even imagine how the installation would look like if we added all +16 million lost lives, regardless where they came from.

Blood swept lands and seas of red

Blood swept lands and seas of red

Each poppy has been sold to the public for £25 each, with a share of the proceeds going to six service charities in the UK – and they’ve already been sold out!

Blood swept lands and seas of red

Blood swept lands and seas of red

Blood swept lands and seas of red

The last poppy will be planted on the 11th of November, Armistice Day. If you’re in London before this day, I strongly encourage you to pay a visit this installation – it truly reflects the magnitude of this event.

Writing is a key way to refine my thoughts and keep a clean record of my experiences. I love composing thoughtful post ideas and choose and work on the photos that best go with the topic. However, sometimes I just want to share my thoughts, goals and the little things that make me smile on a day to day basis.

At the end of each month, I will put together a behind the scenes post in which I’ll give you a peek of my weekends, business travels, goals and favourite links.

Click here to read my previous Behind the Scenes.


On the road

IMG_2279

There are 3 things I’ve learned over the past month: a) the more stuff you travel with, the more you’re risking to loose something on the road, b) It’s impossible to keep everyone happy all the time and c) long-haul business tickets are totally worth their price (trust me).

October has taken me to Paris, Zurich, New York, Boston, Frankfurt and Tenerife (this last one was mainly to nap under a palm tree). 7 flights, 1 (delayed) Eurostar and countless cabs and cars later – I’m back to my more conventional self!


 Weekend Scenes

London, UK

Recovering from such a crazy start of the month has meant spending my weekends locally – after all, the last thing I wanted to travel somewhere else. I wandered around my neighbourhood – discovering amazing cafes, food markets and spotting beautiful doors along my way (ah, yes – doors have become an obsession!).


Reads

Over the clouds

A few days ago, I finished reading #Girlboss (I know, I’m a bit late to the party!). While I can’t say that this book has made it to my Top 10 favourites, it’s no doubt an exceptional story in which Sophia Amoruso recalls how she went from being an anarchist to becoming a CEO. My favourite word of advice is:

“When your goal is to gain experience and knowledge, failure is no longer your possibility, failure is your invention.”

And now to my favourite online reads.

  • After 10 years filled with amazing travel stories, Kaleena writes a goodbye letter to her first passport. I still remember retiring my last passport back in 2010!
  • I don’t like being told that I’m lucky to be where I am, and so does Liz. It undermines all the hard work we have poured into our lives! Admitting we’ve been lucky would mean that we don’t own our own achievements – Stop giving luck so much credit!
  • While I have a serious obsession with doors lately, Anna’s got a thing for floors. I love exploring new perspectives – and this post prompts me to look down more often!

Mantra

“Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip.”

– Winston Churchill


October Goals Review

New York

  • Slow down. After returning from the roadshow earlier this month, I took this goal quite seriously and enjoyed doing nothing. I’ve spent weekends strolling around cafes, reading books and magazines and sleeping an average of 9 hours a day. I know, 9! That’s a luxury!
  • Walk without a destination in mind. Early October, I spent a weekend in New York. Even though I worked most of the weekend, I did squeeze in a long walk down to Madison Square (where I met the cutie in the picture above!). Back in London, I explored Balham, Wandsworth and Clapham Common – there’s always something new popping up in this area.
  • Move – no matter what! Ok so this one has been a bit trickier than I had thought. I went for a run through Central Park in New York and a few gym classes (hey, I even gave yoga another try and I liked it!) – but the truth is, when the weather isn’t playing along, I actually like to stay indoors. Maybe a new coat would help me break this habit?

 November Goals

Boston

  • Blog more often. I admit I’ve been a bad blogger over the past few months – only posting once or twice a month! While I’m aware that some bloggers are joining NaBloPoMo in November, I… am not ready to commit to a post per day. However, I do commit to 4 to 5 blog posts this month (you’ve got to start with something, right?).
  • Take more photos. This shouldn’t be a problem! This month, I have a visit to London, a trip to Paris and an Awards Ceremony. I can’t wait!
  • Run twice a week. I enjoy running, I really do. But ever since we’ve moved on from summer to fall, I’m finding it incredibly difficult to go out for a run in the park. The mornings are chilly and the evenings are dark. Don’t laugh – I’m a girl from the south!

 

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