A new perspective

Happy New Year to you!

That’s very presumptuous isn’t it – I am assuming that you, as a reader of this blog, are in a reasonably good place, and will be looking forward to 2019. I am, as I start a new job at the end of January, but I am acutely aware that if I had nothing lined up following my redundancy, I may not be feeling in such a positive mood.

It’s so easy to assume that everyone else is in a good place, but that’s not always the case with us though, and something that I’ve seen popping up in posts and tweets for a while are the interconnected themes of Confidence and Mental Health.

I will dive a little deeper into Confidence (and Imposter Syndrome) in another post, as it is worthy of it’s own discussion, but something happened this morning which made me stop and think.

I don’t normally have the luxury of so much time during the week, so decided to phone a charity to collect some unwanted furniture. A lady answered, and immediately said that she has speech difficulties, so would I bear with her. As she has spoken fairly clearly to me, I replied ‘Of course, no problem’, as I wasn’t sure what she meant. It became apparent that she was unable to complete all her sentences in one go, and there were periods where she would repeat the same start a few times, and then there would be a gap. I waited for her to speak in her own time, and we organised the collection. There is always the tendency to dive in due to impatience (I am not always a patient man) but I held back, because I didn’t want to be rude, or dent her confidence. Would I have held back if I were in a hurry? Maybe not, and that could have dented her confidence yet I would not have known.

It made me realise what courage it must take to deal with something like this on a daily basis – and to answer a phone and speak to someone who you don’t know, and have to ask them to bear with you, must be very hard. Getting on a bus and asking for a destination from the driver or going into a shop and asking for something, when you may not get out the sentence fully in one go, possibly due to the stress of the situation, must be so challenging. I’m not even sure that I would have the confidence to try, for fear of people around me laughing or making remarks, or tutting if I took too long.

It’s a measure of our society that we are always in a hurry. Having 2 months out between jobs has helped me to slow down for the first time in over 30 years of working. I am enjoying it to be honest, and as much as I am really excited about my new job, I will miss having the space. So my challenge is not to get back into the same frenetic pattern of life as before, but to learn that there IS time to take things slower. If something takes a little longer than it should – the coffee queue is longer than I hoped, the train is a few minutes delayed, the wifi connection is a bit slow – so what? Does it really matter? Will anyone die? If its not a life or death situation, why worry so much about it. As a Christian, I am reminded of the Sermon on the Mount in the book of Matthew, Chapter 6, where Jesus says ‘Who among you by worrying can add a single moment to your life?’. I’m sure there are similar references in other faiths.

Its a salutary lesson that we worry, rush and stress so much, and by doing so make things harder for those with speech, language, mental health or mobility issues.

I don’t believe in making new years resolutions as they usually fizzle out, so instead I want to make life choices:

  • I choose to step back from being so rushed, and getting cross when people are slower than me when I am walking, driving, queuing etc (it doesnt do me any favours anyway). This will be difficult for me, so I need to work at it!
  • I choose to give those who need extra time and space exactly the time and space they need and by doing so hopefully help build their confidence.
  • And I choose to continue giving back to the testing community, as so many others do, by blogging, mentoring where I can, and speaking at conferences too.

If you are thinking about speaking at a conference, and want to discuss your ideas, approaches, any concerns and worries etc, then please do get in touch. If I can help, then I’d be happy to do so.

Sometimes we just need that something to give us that new perspective. From a simple phone call, I have a new way of thinking about how my approach and interactions with others affects their well-being as well as my own.

Welcome to 2019.

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