As someone with social anxiety and nervous illness why on earth would I go to an Entrepreneurial Leaders Conference on 28th/29th June??
I’m gonna tell you…. but first, a bit of context.
Helen Packham is a leadership and business coach based near me in Brighton. I first heard her talk at TEDX in 2016 and was impressed with the fact she’d only had 24 hours to prepare. What a woman!
Then, when I launched Inspiring Talks Brighton a year later, she was one of our first ‘Risky Biscuits’ (two people from our audience can speak for 5 mins ‘in the raw’ totally unprepared). I had no idea who she was until she said mentioned that she'd given a TED talk. I couldn’t believe we were attracting TED quality speakers at our first event.
From that moment, she was well on my radar.
I joined her Facebook group The Courageous Leaders Club but wasn’t that active in it, until I started to realise the importance of ‘groups’ for building relationships and winning business. The more active I became, the more I realised what a bloody winner SHE was! She seemed to be growing at the rate of knots and I was soooooo impressed. I wanted to know what her secret ingredient was, so I signed up to become a client of hers.
That journey has been an incredible one and I will blog about that soon but I wanted to let you know WHY, as someone with social anxiety and a nervous illness, I agreed to attend her Entrepreneurial Leaders Live Conference.
1) You Become The Company You Keep.
I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that EVERYTHING INFLUENCES YOU. The TV you watch, the books you read, the YouTube vids you watch. That also applies to the people you surround yourself with. Anxiety sufferers are among THE MOST SUGGESTIBLE people on the planet, so if you, dear reader, are one of those, I suggest you start surrounding yourself with supportive, uplifting people who have got your back. At ELL we’re going to be surrounded by and influenced by the nicest most high vibe people around. Yes the ticket was expensive for me at the time, but you can’t put a price on your wellbeing right?. That’s why I went for it. When I’m around good people, I”m less likely to experience anxiety because I’m going to feel connected, inspired, uplifted and joyful. When those kinda feelings prevail, anxiety transforms into excitement & energy.
2) Practice Makes Permanent.
But what if you have a ‘turn’ I hear you say? Well, the only way to the other side of fear/panic/anxiety is through it. You have to practice accepting feelings of anxiety (as counter intuitive as this sounds). You learnt to be anxious, so you can unlearn it but the only way you can master anything, is to practice. That’s why I often put myself in uncomfortable situations so that I can train my mind to believe that I can be in social situations and cope perfectly well.
That said, it’s important to look after your energy. Anyone with a nervous illness will know that exhaustion is all too familiar.
Here’s how to prepare for a big social event like this.
1) Build Your Energy Reserves.
I like to book something relaxing in my diary the day before, like a massage or reflexology just before bed time so that I know I’m going to sleep well and awake rested. I also turn the dial up on my affirmations ensuring that my mind know that I’m safe and perfectly enough exactly the way I am. I also like to clear my diary as much as possible the day after to allow for any mental and emotional processing that needs to be done.
2) Understand Your Threshold
Often we convince ourselves that we don’t feel well enough to go to these events and cancel at the last minute, but actually what we really need to do is just get ourselves there and we’ll feel better. Often this works, but not always so KNOW YOUR THRESHOLD and know that it’s ok to leave if it’s taking you over the edge. Also it’s absolutely ok to tell someone at the event that you’re an anxiety sufferer and get them to support you while you’re finding your footing. Know that the first 30 mins to 1 hour is often the most ‘painful’ and that you will settle in quickly and easily.
3) Make It All About Them
Now that you’ve got your energy and you’re feeling good, when you’re chatting to new folk make it all about them. Just forget about how you’re coming across…. every person on the planet thinks they are weird! Sometimes small talk goes a long way but generally people just want to be soothed and to feel like they matter… even people who you think are out of your league. Ask questions, listen and take a genuine interest.
That’s it really. I’m just so grateful that events like this exist.
When we’re trail blazers in a fucked up world we need all the support we can get.
Wanna Meet Me There on 28th/29th June?