Being a better person

I sometimes feel reticent to share personal thoughts and feelings on here, and certainly much moreso than I used to.  As a person generally I don’t shy away from talking about these things – I think open, honest communication is the foundation of a good relationship – and I never used to feel uncomfortable doing so on here.  But now that the net is wider than it used to be and friends, family, acquaintances, friends of friends, and so on, read this, it makes me take a conscious pause before committing to the keyboard.  I wrote about anxiety and confidence recently and it felt natural and comfortable to do so but afterwards I had friends of friends contacting me to see if I was okay, PR people asking if I needed to drop off campaigns, old Uni friends texting me to let me know they’d read it… it felt like ‘a big deal’ – like I’d just announced some major weakness or illness.  People were just being kind and thoughtful, and I so appreciate that, but to me it was just a chat about some things I’d been musing over and my personal efforts to improve my self-confidence.  I didn’t want it to be a ‘big thing’, just to chat with other people who felt the same things and share some thoughts with you guys, many of whom I call friends and and know will take my thoughts in the way they’re intended.  As many other bloggers have reflected lately, other bloggers, blog readers, Twitter followers and so on are an amazing support group and I feel really privileged that there are people out there who I can talk about these things with.  I feel like you guys ‘get’ that people can share things on the internet and talk about personal things and it doesn’t mean they’re ‘not okay’.  I guess that’s what makes us such a close-knit group, that we understand why we blog and what it means to do so.  So, thankyou.

photo credit: lomographic society

I have been feeling more introspective lately.  For a combination of reasons.  Going away on holiday always makes me feel that way – I feel like I can’t reflect on things whilst they’re all around me and so when I’m out of a situation and free from the constraints of my daily routine it gives me great perspective.  Being away in France gave me a great opportunity to look at areas of my life I want to improve and gave me huge motivation to drive changes, from things like being excited to make our house lovely and tackle the DIY, to bigger things like wanting to work harder at maintaining friendships and supporting my family.  Also, my major project at work at the moment is about leadership and self-awareness, a lot of which stems from thinking about being a better person and being more positive and having passion and purpose.  I can’t help but let some of those ideas and aspirations rub off on me.

With this in mind, I’ve started to make a list of things I want to do over the next few months (and forever, really!).  They’re things I want to ‘work on’ rather than a to-do list.  I thought I would share it here.

1. Be Mensch 

In Yiddish, “Mensch” is “someone to admire and emulate, someone of noble character. The key to being ‘a real mensch’ is nothing less than character, rectitude, dignity, a sense of what is right, responsible, decorous” A lot of my leadership research has led to me thinking about being a better person generally – having integrity and being known as someone who can be relied on.  I really want to work hard at this in all areas of my life. I’ve been thinking of things that I do that don’t fit with this (being judgemental based on what other people say about people, talking about people, etc) and I want to stop these and be someone I can feel be proud to be.

2. Be positive

I am not always a positive person.  I like to let people know when I’m not feeling very well, when I’m cold, when I’m hungry, when my feet hurt, when I don’t like my food at a restaurant, when I didn’t sleep well – and so on.  I guess the truth of it is, I can be a bit of a whinger.  When I’m not having a good time at work, I’ll tell colleagues and complain about it to my boss.  When I’m cross about something that happened on my journey into work, in a shop, or with someone I know, I am that person who tells everyone about it.  Granted, everyone needs a whinge every now and then, but I want to be known as a more positive person.  I was recently building some training on networking and found a section on ‘being a positive influence’ that I loved – I want to take on board all of these points:

Be positive.  Use positive language.  See the good in people.
Be known as a really positive person.  It rubs off on others and people will warm to you for being so.
Keep your emotional criticisms of others and personal hang-ups to yourself.
Speak ill of no-one.
Be passionate and enthusiastic but not emotional or subjective.
Avoid personalising situations.  Remain objective.
Seek feedback and criticism about yourself and your ideas from others.  It is the most valuable market research you can obtain – and it’s totally free.
Be tolerant.  Be patient.  Be calm and serene – especially when others become agitated.
Followers gather around people who remain positive and calm under pressure and who resist the herding tendencies of weaker souls.

source unknown – please let me know if you own this image and I will credit/remove

3. Be present

One of my greatest frustrations with my own character is that I overanalyse, worry, and overthink things.  I worry about things I’ve said after I’ve said them (or sometimes weeks later), I worry about the dog when he’s at home alone, I worry about putting on weight, I worry about losing friends, I worry about hurting myself, or looking silly – and so on.  All of these worries and stresses are barriers to me enjoying the present moment.  Even blogging sometimes stops me ‘being present’ – if I’m having a great day out I feel pressure to photograph it, when I go to dinner I’m rifling in my bag for my phone to take a photo rather than just enjoying the moment (and enjoying the food!)  I need to stop thinking about things that have happened in the past and worrying about things that might happen in the future and just ‘be’.

I had a good test bed for some of these things when I went stand-up paddle boarding on Sunday – when we were invited to go I worried about falling in and getting cold, being rubbish at it, being self-conscious about not wearing make-up and wearing little board shorts, taking expensive sunglasses and losing them, etc.  And then I told myself to be positive and be present.  I had a go, and I loved it! I did fall in, but I just pulled myself out, up onto the board, and got on with it.  It was so much more of a better experience for me (and for Tom) because I didn’t constantly go on about being cold and wet, being hungry, thinking about the cost of it, saying “I can’t do it” and so on.  I thought about the sort of person I wanted to be in that situation, and did it.  Because I wanted to enjoy it and pushed those concerns and worries out of my head, I enjoyed it more.

I hope this post hasn’t been too longwinded and boring… I’m conscious that I’ve done a bit of a ‘brain dump’ of all of the things on my mind at the moment.  This is my little space on the interweb and I want to make room for all of these things in my life, so it makes sense to make room for them and talk about them here.

Do you set yourself personal goals? Do any of these resonate with you?

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