It's hard being anxious. It affects my confidence. And my confidence has been particularly low for a couple of years now following some tough times at work. But don't worry, I'm not writing this looking for sympathy.
The blog I've linked at the end of this explains more about what it feels like. I thought I write this bit....
"If someone doesn’t answer my text, well then that’s it, they no longer like me. If someone doesn’t text me first, they don’t think about me. Someone is busy? Forget it. They just have better things to do with their time than spend it with me. I sound ridiculous, right? Welcome to the anxiety life. We do not have cookies, sorry, but can I interest you in crippling loneliness at a table for one? No? Didn’t think so"
And it's not just texts, its E mails, it's not saying hello in the morning in the office. It could be a whole host of things that I can react to and worry about. And it's not much fun.
Does it make my work worse? No I don't think so and I’m always told I deliver. It just makes it harder to be me and means I have to work extra hard to get things done. I'm also told I'm good at bouncing back from setbacks. And confidence can help with that. So I wrote this because it helps me feel more confident.
You might not know I’m anxious. I'm told I don't seem unconfident. I say things in meetings. I speak up. I can stand in front of a room and present. But there's a lot of work behind the scenes to both boost my confidence through tireless preparation and I analyse and re analyse my performance afterwards.
But this time I'm doing it for me, myself and I, because I'm the only person who's going to change things, and those books don’t seem to have provided the answer in the introduction pages.
We're all working in more diverse workplaces and studies show that mental health problems affect around 1 in 4 people in Britain.
To help those people be the best they can we need to be better at spotting if they are struggling, and also to be more open to people opening up about how they feel. I think I’m quite good at that. Are you? When did you last ask someone how they are and have time to really listen to the answer?
So if you know someone who's anxious you could try to help boost their confidence and reduce a bit of that anxiety with some feedback. Just a few nicely timed words can really help. Make it a regular thing if you can, not just when they ask. And consider how your words / actions might affect them in your communication.
I ‘d never say I have a mental health problem because the word mental always meant something else growing up. But I'd tell you my mind isn't as healthy as it could be, the same way my body isn't. I find it embarrassing to talk about mental health, I think a lot of people do, the media portrayal doesn’t help either, it's all down to the mental word I think. So if it’s ok with you I’d like to talk about healthy minds instead.
One of my main coping mechanisms with feeling anxious is moaning. I don't want to. But it helps, and I’ve got a tight knit support group who know that and are always there for me which I am immensely grateful for. But others just think I'm moaning for the sake of it, and don't recognise it's my pressure valve.
So let's not just talk about mental health. Let’s be more positive and talk about healthy minds. But let's properly talk about it. Not just in mental health (healthy minds) awareness weeks. Not just when someone is feeling really vulnerable but all the time, as part of everyday conversation. Ask how someone is feeling. Maybe ask how someone is thinking?
Striving for a healthier mind isn't like getting rid of a cold or a sore throat. It's not just better one day and then you feel fine. And you don't usually tell everyone in the office either and everyone doesn't know how you feel, but they may notice I’m moaning more than usual.
It's not weak to feel anxious, or stressed or depressed or anything else and I hope I’m not perceived that way by sharing. You're coping with a lot when you can’t switch off. It's hard to rest your brain and I admire anyone who talks openly about how they feel. So I guess I admire myself today. And that makes me feel a bit better, although I'm still not entirely comfortable with thinking positive things about what I'm doing.
But I am pleased I am doing something.
Right, I'm anxious about posting this now and what people will think of me and what I have said. But it's how I feel so it can't be wrong can it?
And if you know me / work with me I hope this is an interesting insight, but be assured I’ll still get the job done like I always do. If you might employee me in the future, and why wouldn’t you, please don’t let this put you off. And if you don’t know me but one bit of this is useful then I’m happy.
Thanks for reading. Take care of yourself and each other.
I’d be interested in your views - positive feedback to me only though right..... ;o)
For an amazing post on what Anxiety can feel like see 'What I mean when I say I have anxiety'
For some great info on mental health / healthy minds see... www.mind.org.uk
I’ve been involved in Open Data for a few years now, most recently as an observer, but always as an advocate of the power of the data and outcomes that it can help achieve.
Last night I was thinking about the biggest Open Data challenge. Things have moved on a long way in recent years, but what is it that’s necessary to happen to help make the next step change.
I thought maybe it was getting it Open, but I’m not sure that’s it. Was it getting it understood, I didn’t think so. And it can’t be getting it used can it because we know there are plenty of keen and capable users out there.
So what is it then I hope I hear you ask?
Well for me, I think it could be stopping using the d word (that’s data by the way) and turning the conversation and the influencing to talk about outcomes, deliverables (a better d word that more people understand) and benefits.
Shall we talk bananas or the health benefits of bananas to make more people eat bananas?
Tell a d word owner he / she needs to make their d open and he / she may not be immediately engaged. Whilst d is clearly an essential in the day job, is it exciting to talk about from their perspective, does it look to them like a meeting of real value and interest in their diary, can they immediately identify what's in it for them?
Say you want to talk to him / her about benefits, and what the d can do for them and their outcomes it can help deliver and the light bulb will be glowing bright and I reckon you'll get a much more engaged conversation.
It’s a bit like when the window salesman wants to sell you a window. Does he start off talking about all the stats and facts and figures, 7mm glass this, 20mm air gap that? Or does he tell you the benefits they will offer you and how it will help keep your kids warmer and safer and how your house value will increase (maybe) before getting onto what you need to do to realise those benefits.
You might need to know the stats and facts and figures, but I don’t think that’s a conversation starter (unless you really like stats).
If you were to talk to a community about preventing flooding you might be talking about a flood alleviation scheme. In your discussions you would help them understand the outcome produced and the associated benefits. Even if you didn’t know what the scheme might look like, and whether it’s going to be grass embankments or glass walls, you’d probably still talk benefits to help you sell the scheme to communities and partners to influence them why it's in their interest to engage.
Isn’t getting more Open d word out there similar? Aren’t we selling the benefits to owners of getting more d out, that’s easier to understand and use?
So as an idea if we want to move more quickly to more open, better understood and greater use, could we drop the d word, and make sure we always start our conversations by talking about benefits with those we are trying to influence?
Of course there's still a place for lots of detailed d word conversations within the OD community, but when we are engaging and selling an idea and influencing people do we always start with what's in it for them?
Culture needs to and is changing in a lot of organisations as a result of the great work done by the OD community.
But is the OD community also changing its culture quickly enough to get the most out of d word owners?
Do we sell? Do we influence and convince in the most effective way?
It’s just a thought. I'd be interested to know what you think. Is it something to concentrate efforts on?
I'm sure loads of people are great at doing this and I'd be really interested to hear examples, or thoughts on whether going benefits first would help?
Thanks for reading
Mr Paul Wyse