Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Excitement and Fear

I was interested to read Theo Paphitis talking about the combined feelings of excitement and fear in his autobiography, which I can relate to. I remember experiencing an overwhelming combination of these two emotions throughout my life, even from early childhood, and still now in my mid thirties as a mother of two.

It is the exact same feeling, and I both love it because it makes me feel alive and I hate it because it petrifies me. As an older teenager I wondered whether it would be best just to avoid it, to live a safe life within my comfort zone, and almost straight away drew to the conclusion that the minute I do that I would start to get old, I would start to die. So instead I choose every time to walk through those fires, but the feeling never gets any easier. No sooner do I get comfortable with one new situation I am faced with another, bigger, more exciting and more terrifying challenge to match the bigger braver me.

It was in researching Julie Myer from Ariadne Capital that I came across a famous quote from Marianne Williamson:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

I also came across this talk by Marianne which I particularly enjoyed, where she speaks about the power of love, in particular that within a woman, the protection of children worldwide, the importance of depression and the need for nationwide remorse in response to war. Moved me to tears.

Saturday, 14 February 2009


One of my favourite TV programs is Dragons' Den, for many reasons. It is the BBC version of the show where entrepreneurs pitch before a group of 'dragons' for their investment, up to a total amount of £250,000.

I've often thought of applying to pitch for MedWorm, but I'm not sure any of the dragons actually have the background I would be looking for in an investor.

I recently decided to read the autobiographies of the dragons to see what I could learn from these self-made multi-millionaires. Just finished Duncan Bannatyne's and now working my way through Theo Paphitis's. Both guys started with nothing, no money and no education. Both always had lots of self-belief, put in a lot of hard work to get to where they are now, were great at spotting opportunities (and acting on them) and were out to prove to all the people that ever doubted in them that they were wrong.

Theo says that one of his biggest motivators came from his ex-manager who begrudged Theo leaving his work and setting up his own enterprise. He told him 'you could end up selling matchsticks at Victoria Station'. Theo says 'It was all the motivation I needed. It was my driving force - I simply wasn't going to be selling matchsticks at Victoria Station and this guy had got it all wrong'. He wrote down his comment about matchsticks on a big piece of paper and stuck it on the office wall, where it remained for the rest of the time he spent there.

I have one such great motivator in my life - my husband. Whenever I tell him about my latest achievement, he just says to me 'show me the money'. He tells me frequently that I am a dreamer and is quick to point out my weaknesses (of which I am only too aware). It's really quite comical and completely infuriating. Is this why so few women make a life for themselves as an entrepreneur I wonder? He certainly had confidence in my ability to climb the ranks in a corporate environment, and I think that is where part of the problem lies - there was a time when I was earning a very good salary and had an extremely bright corporate future. But I was never satisfied and much happier chasing my own dreams, all be it without any pay. I started my working life as an entrepreneur before trying out life as an employee, but I always said to myself 'once an entrepreneur, always an entrepreneur' and knew it was a destiny to which I would have to return.

The other motivating people in my life are probably all my siblings and my mother, who have never outright said that they think I am a dreamer, but I have always understood that glazed look that comes over them whenever I start to share with them my vision. My father, however, although maybe the biggest cynic in my family, is the one that gave me my self belief. I always remember how infuriated with him I was as a child coming home from school when I told him I had received 98% in a test, and he asked me what happened to the 2%, or when I told him that I came second and he asked me why I didn't come first. The day I realised I could draw, having sketched the house that I could see from my bedroom window - he told me that I had got the perspective a little wrong - at that age I didn't even know what perspective was. When I decided at a young age that I was going to be an artist (probably partly in rebellion against my father, who was a scientist, I wanted to make it very clear I did not want to do anything scientific with my life), he told me that if I was to be an artist, I should decide in what profession, and make sure that I was the best.

The fact that he believed I could be the best, could be first, could get 100% in an exam and draw a building with completely accurate perspective, I think was key in the self-belief that was somehow installed in me as a child and remains with me to this day. It does not matter how many people doubt my ability to succeed - the more doubters, the greater the motivation. Of course it is also great when I meet people that have complete confidence in what I am doing and conviction that I will succeed - those moments give a great boost to my moral. The two kind of balance themselves like a carrot and a stick.

I do see I might be turning a little corner with my husband however, and just maybe he is starting to believe in my ability to succeed on my own, particularly since he is now starting to admit that MedWorm really is a useful resource for his own work, and one that he should use more often. I have always promised him that I will dedicate my first award to him - the one person who never believed in me and constantly put me down!(hey you know I'm only joking - not!)

However, he does pay all the bills right now and gives me the freedom to work for little very little pay, often neglecting the housework and making the dinner very late, so I guess I can't complain too much.