In my work, we often deal with how to become curious about our health and in our lives. To be curious about what we are actually dealing with, rather than what we think it should be. This is important because without that curiosity and the courage to show up and speak up, change is not possible. Showing up and Speaking up is the crucible for change. Recently, I have been fortunate enough to speak at two very different events. It’s been a great practice in Showing up and Speaking up.
Share the failure
The first one was what is called a Fuck Up Night, or F.U.N., for short. This is a global movement of events celebrating our failures and mistakes.
Starting in Mexico City six years ago, this event is now taking place in Cambridge, hosted by students from Cambridge University. A whole evening set aside to share and show our failures helps break through the taboo of doing things right. The ideal of perfection being something that is spontaneously or systematically created, is busted.
It was liberating to prepare for the event and get curious about how I came to find myself in a situation that was costly to the running of The Helpful Clinic. Not only that, it threatened my ability to deliver The Helpful Mission of increasing wellbeing through increased Health and Emotional literacy. It was tripping over my own limiting beliefs about marketing and my arrogance in thinking that there really wasn’t much to it.
Helping yourself can benefit others
Once I’d confessed this not only to myself, but also to others, something magical happened. I teamed up with two experts in this space and together we created the Small Business Marketing Bootcamp. The powerful thing here is that not only has it helped The Helpful Clinic, but already helped eight other businesses do what they do best.
We completed the first four-month Marketing Bootcamp back in January and are now getting ready to kick off the second Marketing Bootcamp in April. The key here was to show up to what was truly going on and speak up about my share in it. So what is showing up? Showing up means to pay attention, have a look, put your focus, time and curiosity into what is going on. Showing up is the opposite of denial. Showing up is the opposite of taking an Ostrich approach of digging your head in the sand. Showing up means standing up and having a look around. This pivotal point made it possible to make the change happen, to ask for help, get curious and create something powerful. If you do nothing, nothing changes.
Speaking up gives others permission
The second event was the Rising Festival or rather a conference, hosted by The Rising Network here in Cambridge. Here we had the opportunity, alongside other experts, to offer short sessions to participants and to participate in a panel discussion about Balance; especially in terms of personal and professional lives.
In both the panel discussion and the individual sessions it was again the pivotal point of showing up to what was truly going on and then speaking up about it that was most profound for people and how they understood change. Talking about frustrations, limiting beliefs and the truth of what was going on meant that people could then take stock, get curious about what they needed at this point and what actions were most likely to be helpful to making any change.
Where change happens
Hearing other people speak about their experiences gave many others the courage needed to speak up about what was going on for them and get inspiration about what they could do about it. The interesting thing is that I see this again and again in my clinical practice. It is not until people are able to show up to what is truly going on that the pivotal point of change occurs. Whether it is the level of fatigue or pain they are dealing with or the overwhelm of managing a chronic health conditions alongside family life and work commitments, speaking up, even if it is only with a health practitioner, is the crucible of change.
But it can be easier said than done to recognize what is truly going on and know the words to describe it. I often say that none of us can see the back of our own head. It is anatomically impossible to do so. We need someone else to help us hold up the mirror and reflect our experience back to ourselves and help us develop the vocabulary to speak up about it. We often also have to deal with a heavy sense of shame, as we sometimes believe that this very human experience of getting things wrong (if there is such a thing) or being unskillful makes us not good enough or less acceptable to others.
When I share with people how spectacularly unskillful I can be at times or how I making a conscious effort to be more assertive or whatever else it can be, I am often met with surprise. As I have been talking about my experience of doing the F.U.N. event and that what I shared there was just one of many ‘failures’ and mistakes I have made, that too has been met with surprise. What comes after the initial surprise has been relief and laughter and then people almost always share that they are also unskillful in their behaviour or some of their failures and mistakes.
Change requires curiosity and courage
I am reminded that when we show up to what is really going on for us and speak up about it, we are doing so for others too. When we create those pivotal points of change for ourselves and our own ability to make change, our permission becomes their permission. I feel grateful to those who have dared to do this and inspired me to show up and speak up and for those who are encouraged and inspired by me showing up and speaking up. I am reminded of one of Winston Churchill’s most famous quotes: ‘Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.’
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