The eradication of doubt


The Creation of Adam Michelangelo Sistine Chapel God and man

Section from ‘The Creation of Adam’ by Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475–1564) in the Sistine Chapel, Rome.

Most people find it hard to sell themselves. How often have we come across people (including ourselves) who say ‘I can sell someone/something else, but when it comes to selling myself I can’t do it’. When the spotlight is forced on them by themselves, they’re riddled with self-doubt and lack confidence in themselves and their abilities. It’s interesting to notice what kind of people do find it easy to sell themselves compared with those who don’t, and what it is about themselves that they are actually able to promote.

So why is this and what can we do about it?

In my experience, the main category of people who struggle to sell themselves are the many different types of artists: painters, musicians, designers, dancers, performers and writers, and the thing they struggle selling is their art.

The main category of people who are able to sell themselves don’t have a particular name so let’s call them ‘salespeople’. They have in common a projectable self-belief that is not connected to any product, artifact or art that they have made, but is linked to confidence in something external and/or their ability to deliver a potential service in the future.

So now we can see a clearer difference. The ‘artists’ judge themselves and their self-worth on what they have created in the past, their ‘art’, which as time goes on, has less and less value in their eyes. They then project this lack of self worth, index linked to their fading glories or past failures, into the future. This pressure lowers self confidence in their abilities so much that they fail to be able to communicate the value of their work and fail to sell (or even pick up the phone or knock on the door).

The ‘salesperson’ does not really care about the past. They communicate with people in the present about the future. Their self-belief is index linked to an ideal service they may deliver in the future. This creates an unlimited potential in the future which builds confidence, enabling the person to sell their services.

So in part it’s a difference between products and services. A product already exists and can be judged, but a service has yet to be delivered so might well be perfect.

But there’s something more than that. The product that the artist is talking back is intrinsically linked to them. The salesperson may be able to easily sell someone else’s product precisely because it exists and is tangible. It exists to the salesperson in isolation and therefore can be linked to their own confidence about their own ability to communicate its benefits as a service.

The artist who created the product can’t do this because the product is too close to them, it is still part of them. The very fact that they are an artist means that their own feelings and emotions went into the creation of the art. This is unlike a bricklayer creating a wall to a set plan, possibly laid down by someone else. They might put their all into the construction, and may even be able to describe themselves as a highly skilled artisan or craftsperson,  but when finished, the wall is not art and not linked to the individual in the same way as art. Instead, it’s the product of a service rendered.

So for the artist to sell themselves and their art they have a few stark choices. One is to portray their art as a future service. This is how successful designers learn to think. The other way is to portray their art as products. This is how successful painters learn to think.

But there is another thing to consider and that is the power of a team mind. Obviously it’s easier to sell your product or service when you have a real physical team of people supporting and working with you. But when you’re on your own there is a secret way of being a team too.

Our consciousness gives us the benefit of an internal voice, the voice in our head. It lets us weigh up options and figure things out. It works as a stream of a conversation in which we are both the speaker and the listener. Many people have tried to investigate how and why this works. It’s related to the fact that we actually have two brains, two hemispheres. We often call them ‘right’ and ‘left’ and relation them to the different world views of abstract visual emotional concepts (right side) and logical sequential verbal mechanics (left side).

Another model that takes these basic concepts further is to think of one of our brains (the active dogmatic left side) as the Apprentice or Emissary and the other as the master (the unconscious holistic right side). The conversations we have, happen between these two beings, the Master and the Emissary.

A route to self confidence can begin by accepting this model and listening to the voice of the Master, who always has your best interests at heart, and allowing him/her to guide you to the best decisions. Now you’re working as a team. You’re also creating your art as a team, having internal conversations as a team. Many artists describe the creative process as a collaboration between a part of them carrying out the physical art and another part giving the instruction, often externalised, sometimes described as divine instruction, coming to them. John Lennon described his songwriting process as him as an antenna, picking up signals from a higher source.

If we, as artists, accept this model we may well just find that our internal team will also support us in the selling of our products and services, which, now, are not only our sole and lonely creation. Plus, safe in the knowledge that our Master will not let us down, we can rely on him/her in the future too, so can base our self confidence on that certainty.

This, I believe, is the secret to the curse that stops us selling ourselves and our art. This is the secret to the eradication of doubt.

For more on these ideas, read this excellent book: The Master and his Emissary by Iain McGilchrist.

Ayd works with people and businesses to explore and unlock their creative ideas in ways they may never have thought possible, to inspire innovation.

Book Ayd to speak about the Power of ‘What If?’ and Inspiration for Innovation at your conference, or in your business. A great way to open your event or as an after lunch energiser.

For more interesting info see: www.aydinstone.com

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Foxy


France 1982

There he is, just on the edge of the photo

Can you can admire and hate someone at the same time? Such was the case with Foxy.

I was 11 and it was my first trip abroad, a school trip to France. We set off on a coach from our school, Belmont in Durham at a quarter-to-early o’clock in the morning and headed south. Somewhere in the Midlands we stopped at a public school to pick up some older kids, presumably to share the cost of the visit. They were older than us, probably even as old as 14. One of them was a ginger curly-haired boy called Foxy.

The coach got onto the ferry at Dover. I felt queasy so couldn’t eat any breakfast. We were back on the coach in France and my travel sickness continued, fueled by the potent smell of teenage cigarettes that fumigated the coach. We stopped at some service station for lunch, but I couldn’t eat anything. Not even a salad, each of which was accompanied by a large green slug. Later we learnt it was a gherkin. We didn’t have gherkins in the North-East.

We drove on to Paris and spent a few days there in a guest house, then onto Orleans where we stayed in small chalets. Me, Richard, Steven and Ian stuck together and enjoyed our adventure. We didn’t see the older boys and girls much. We didn’t buy fireworks and throw them around or get drunk or smoke. We did drink too much hot chocolate at breakfast though.

But occasionally I’d notice Foxy. He was just a little bit cool, a little bit self-reliant and a little bit confident. He didn’t care about peer pressure or the official tours.

On the coach journey back he’d acquired a girlfriend and with his arm nonchalantly draped around her, rested his head on her chest as he defaced the white cotton head rest cover in front with her pink nail varnish. In big sparkly pink letters he wrote the word, ‘Foxy’ and underlined it.

Can you can admire and hate someone at the same time? Defacing the coach paraphernalia riled with my sense of fair play. But the guts, or arrogance to not care about what other people think and do it anyway was something I admired. I wanted to be Foxy, put my feet up on the coach seats, get the girl.

I don’t know what happened to Foxy after that. Maybe he went from strength to strength. Maybe he’s out there now, driving around in a convertible Bentley, head of investments at a large hedge fund. Maybe he’s a successful raconteur, a mover and shaker in the film business, now living in LA. Or maybe he peaked age 14 and it was downhill from there. Maybe now he’s fat and old, been made redundant from the local car dealer, just divorced from his third wife, paying what money he can to the children he had with the first.  Or maybe he’s the same old Foxy, a free spirt, no-one can tie him down, always on the go.

That was the first time I recognised self confidence in action. I knew it was something I wanted. It took me another ten years before I could claim it for myself.

When did you claim yours?

Book Ayd to speak at your event.
For more interesting info see:

www.aydinstone.com

How I was labelled ‘sick’ by some school kids



boba fett star wars comics

My comics from aged 10 (left) to age 13 (right)

(click on any of the drawings to make them bigger)

“But they’re amazing”

“Totally sick”*

I’d shown a group of fifty 14 years olds my comic strip drawings from when I was 12 from Doctor Who and Star Wars (more here). I delivered four sessions that day, to batches of fifty pupils each time and got the same reaction from each.

They seemed to think the drawings were pretty good even before I told them they were done by a 12 year old. I then told them that by the time I was their age I’d given up on wanting to be a comic strip artist. You can see my final drawings, done aged 15, below.

“But why? You’re really good.” they said.

Daleks Cyberman

Drawings of a Dalek and a Cyberman, by me aged 13

I told them it was because I didn’t think I was good enough. I’d compared myself with the professionals and felt I obviously didn’t have the talent so I gave up. I told them how I’d gone down a different route that was less frowned on by parents and teachers but was not my real passion. (For the full story, click here.)

“But all you had to do was keep at it.”

“You just needed to keep practicing” they said.

They had got the message. The previous exercise I’d done with them to write down what they really enjoyed doing, just three things they were passionate about suddenly made more sense.

Dalek Masterplan

My drawing of a Dalek, done aged 15

“But I like horseriding. How can I make a living from horseriding without doing racing?” said one girl. The girls next to her reeled off a list of horse related ways she could live a life of horseriding and make money.

That’s what my session is really about. Getting the students to realise that there already is something they can be inspired about. That their creativity can help them imagine a better, more worthwhile future right now, even when they’re constrained in the restriction of having to keep their heads down and focus on GCSEs.

In fact, a student who is inspired about their worth, about future plans and understands that the life they might like to lead can actually be theirs with application of time and energy (rather than abstract talent they may think they don’t have) does better in school right now, getting better grades as a result.

K9 from Doctor Who

My last drawing, of K9, my me aged 15. I didn't draw again until I was 23.

Unprompted, two students separately gave me a great testimonial (which I’ve actually had before a number of times):

“You’re like Willy Wonka. Not the new one, the original one.”

I’m very happy with that. It’s spot on. Do you remember the song?

“Come with me and you’ll see a world of pure imagination. Living there you’ll be free, if you truly want to be.”


For more see:
www.aydinstone.com
www.sunmakers.co.uk

Do you have contacts in schools who may like to bring in external speakers to inspire the students and get better results from them? If you do, please let me know.

In addition to me and my creative thinking sessions I have some great colleagues who cover a range of topics that inspire, improve and educate students in topics that schools don’t have the resources to tackle internally.

Please do pass this list onto the schools you’re in touch with.

Dave Hyner

Dave Hyner

Dave Hyner is the Rhino man of massive goal setting and personal achievement in schools. He runs teacher and parent workshops too to get the messages of how to achieve more and better get embedded. www.stretchdevelopment.com

Angela Whitlock

Angela Whitlock

Best-selling author Peter Roper delivers sessions on ‘natural’ presentations skills, how to speak in public with confidence in your own style. Best suited for 16-18 year olds. www.positiveground.co.uk

Angela Whitlock is an expert coach in communication skills, improving students, teachers and parents emotional resilience, often working one-to-one with parents and children to help connect them to their future. www.angelawhitlock.com

Miguel Dean unlocks learning potential for disadvantaged youngsters, especially those experiencing homelessness. www.migueldean.co.uk

Chris Matthewman

Chris Matthewman

Chris Matthewman is a comedian and self-proclaimed expert at all things to do with love and relationships which he presents as a highly entertaining and thought provoking ‘stand up comedy for schools’ show. Especially suited for PSHE and 6th forms. www.chrismattewman.com

James Burch inspires 15-19 year olds after overcoming challenges and adversity developed from been knocked down by a hit and run drunk driver to now creating the best out of every situation and help teenagers reach new levels in life.

Nigel Vardy

Nigel Vardy

Nigel Vardy survived temperatures of -60C in 1999, losing his fingers, toes and nose to severe frostbite on Mt. McKinley in Alaska.  Regardless of that, he still climbs internationally and has tackled some if the worlds toughest mountains. He talks about overcoming adversity and project management, guaranteeing to give pupils a huge dose of reality. www.nigelvardy.com

Paul Kerfoot, aka ‘The Bulletman’ is a creative director and award winning designer who has a session where the pupils (usually aged 14-16) create their own comic-book style superhero exploring themes of imagination and confidence. www.paulthebulletman.com

Michael-Don Smith helps pupils create a success mind style using his NLP for Young Mind s programmes. www.mindstyle.co.uk

Barry Jackson gives pupils interview skills to prepare them for the world of work and help them to be memorable in front of an employer.

Penny Mallory

Penny Mallory

Penny Mallory delivers a knockout 2 hour workshop to Year 9-11 students based on her experience as a homeless teenager turned rally driver and TV presenter – a high impact presentation that inspires students to achieve their maximum potential. www.motivatingstudents.co.uk

Lee Jackson talks about motivation and relationships at school. His fantastic and original new book ‘How to be Sick at School’ written for pupils, taps into what makes the children want to listen to the message to achieve more. www.howtobesickatschool.com

* I’d only recently learnt from Lee Jackson that this word is used where previous generations would have used ‘wicked’, ‘bad’, ‘skill’ or ‘cool’.