How to keep believing in yourself

Simon Pemberton

I stood there catching my breath. A gush of thoughts were racing in my mind. “You don’t even believe in me,” I sighed to my best friend. “No one does.”

It’s funny how as soon as the words left my mouth, it dawned on me. A metaphorical mirror – a projection of my own reality. I’d hit a wall. Exhausted physically and emotionally from working 100-hour weeks, it was now as clear as day: I had lost my way in believing in me.

This wasn’t about others, it was about my own relationship with myself.

Usually fueled by a quiet confidence, I’d become worn down. Paralysed from making decisions as big as the best way to issue company stock right down to the minutiae of which Instagram filter to use. I was plagued with self doubt. Which was the best way forward? What are all the possible outcomes? Are things succeeding or failing? Who can and will help me?

Some people think they’re awesome. They even outwardly share the sentiment. From a young age, parents coo to them how special they are. Unfortunately, I’ve battled with feeling the opposite for most of my life. Couple this with an energetic drive and you have a delicate tension to balance.

The thing about entrepreneurship is that you’re forever operating outside a box – or known boundaries. That’s why some of the greatest innovators are ignorant to begin with.

“The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.” ~Bertrand Russell

This freedom can be crippling. Your confidence can be built to egocentric levels one day and smashed down to nothing the next. You contemplate how taking a job would feel like a sweet retirement. You are drowning in advice and critical feedback from everyone, and forget what it was like when you were in that position. You look around at everyone’s social media showreels and wonder if they are going through the same.

“Entrepreneurs have struggled silently. There’s a sense that they can’t talk about it, that it’s a weakness.”

It’s only now that publications like Inc. are uncovering tales from founders with articles such as The Psychological Price of Entrepreneurship. While one of the most-loved conferences by web geeks, Brooklyn Beta, created the space to host and share these conversations at this year’s event. Leading startup incubator Y Combinator also recently funded 7 Cups of Tea – a mental health platform that connects you with qualified listeners.

We’re only just beginning to rejoice in what sharing in this area can be like.

With some space, it’s been almost comical to personally reflect on my progress. How our company can be profiled in a national newspaper one day, an incredible co-founder join me the next and our growth be up 50% month/month in November – and still feel this way. Which brings me to:

“Never let the things you want make you forget the things you have.”

It’s natural we want to keep pushing, but it’s important to recall the wins so you can curb any self doubt. One helpful tool is iDoneThis, which will show you what you did rather than your to-do list. The Minimalists discuss in the Costs and Benefits of Awareness how:

“Our standards change whenever we are infected with a new awareness. We scrutinize ourselves more. The more we scrutinize, the more the spotlight brightens, and the more our imperfections stand out.”

In How to Believe in Yourself in the Face of Overwhelming Self-Doubt on Tiny Buddha, Melissa Ng recommends to be careful with who you surround yourself with. When you are rebuilding your belief, keep away from toxic people who will tell you “No” or “You can’t”. I often divide people into two groups – your ‘critics’ and your ‘cheerleaders’. Your critics are crucial for providing awareness that helps you grow, but in times of self-criticism and doubt, devote time to your cheerleaders who will egg you on and boost you up.

Ng also says: “Self-doubt never disappears. Over time, you just get better at dealing with it. It will greet you every time you fall out of your comfort zone and whenever you strive to do something great. But know that it’s not something you have to fear or resent. Your doubts are only thoughts, not your future.”

Now excuse me while I go remember and appreciate I might actually know stuff. :)

Image credit: Simon Pemberton

A couple of pics from NYC

There was something surprising about my recent visit to NYC. It’s kind of freaked me out. It’s as if I was finding out Santa isn’t real for the second time. You see, like others, I’ve long held the city as the epicentre of greatness – both in sheer size but also in less tangible aspects like opportunities and people. It’s the most renowned hotbed of artists, entrepreneurs, creators, writers, designers, musicians and everyone in between, of the last century. People flocked here to experiment and to make something.

What I noticed this time around though… was that it felt cosy. Navigable. Consumable. Especially the tech startup community. On my first day at a conference I bumped into nearly everyone I needed to. Two weeks and three Thanksgiving dinners, countless meetings, long days and some sneaky sales shopping later, it feels like a home. I’m mourning the loss of my bright eyes – the ones that would scan every street horizontally and vertically in awe. The shy creature conscious of locking eyes in busy subways. The one delighted by differences as small as pedestrian lights.

Suddenly the world doesn’t feel so big.

Been getting back into Instagram. I’m @katekendall and you can view other pics here.

The new look

Just a teeny tiny post to let you know I’m still here and haven’t forgotten about this place. I’ve been heads down over the past few months on The Fetch and just got back from a mini-work/play trip to Vegas and Portland (two starkly contrasting cities). I’m going to put some thoughts together on both shortly as well as some long-overdue big-picture posts so stay tuned. I really want to get into the habit of writing again as not only does it help to stay present throughout your weeks on this dear Earth but also the expressive act offloads a little weight into the world. There is freedom that comes through the transparency.

In the meantime, you might recall a new look on this blog. I felt it was time to retire the stock ‘Enterprise’ level theme (the name said it all) and go with something a little more modern and simpler. It’s still a standard freebie so not entirely representative of where I’d like things to be, but hey, it’s time to iterate.

Anyway, I wish you all a beautiful rest of the weekend and I’ll be back soon.

KK

Growth

I was walking through Montgomery BART station in San Francisco last week when déjà vu came upon me.  The creamy hexagonal wall tiles (which coincidentally can be admired in Greenday’s When I Come Around video) triggered a long-forgotten one-time avatar from 2010. It was during that summer I’d quit my full-time job in the magazine world to follow my digital dreams and check out the Bay Area. It was first of many comfort-zone-breaking steps I’ve taken over the past couple of years and I’ve never looked back on choosing this path.

I took a moment to quickly snap a portrait in the present day – especially since further serendipity prevailed and I was wearing the same hippy-esque scarf. I used a photo-stitching app to tee up the two pics and there you have it… the same spot, two years later. On the one hand it could almost appear I’m (metaphorically) in the same place. However, if there’s anything I’ve learnt since then – it’s the art of self, balance and resilience. My experiences have taken me through many challenges with amazing life-changing highs and tiring lows, and I reflect on and celebrate this as having lived.

So, here’s to trying, doing and learning – and further growth for us all throughout the years.

KK

Melbourne’s Top 100

Be sure to grab a copy or peek of The Age’s (melbourne) magazine tomorrow as the annual Top 100 list for 2011 is out and a panel of judges deemed me worthy for inclusion!

The Top 100 (which is apparently not ordered but for the record, I’m number 66) is a compilation of Melbourne’s most influential, inspirational, provocative and creative people for 2011. This year includes everyone from shadow ministers, philanthropists and authors, to basketballers, retailers and architects. I’m in there for creating The Fetch and Socialmelb, and it’s feels all warm and fuzzy to see my dedication and work in the digital communities recognised. I’d obviously like to thank everyone who’s been involved with either endeavour this year and beyond as I couldn’t do it without you. It’s such a pleasure to know and be around amazing people, and I’m truly grateful for the support and company. This coverage will be a nice opportunity to drive awareness about what’s happening in our industries and also a great driver for making what we offer better. It somehow makes every late night or weekend spent plugging away at my MacBook organising stuff worth it and I’m now wondering what I could do if I freed up my workload to focus more.

I’m particularly excited about where my new venture Cloud Peeps could go with helping people connect and find work/projects (beyond community management).

So, stay tuned, thanks again and here’s to 2012.

KK

P.S. If you’re new here, and interested in what’s happening in Melbourne’s digital, business and creative communities (events, jobs, local profiles, spaces and more), please subscribe at http://thefetch.org and follow us on @thefetchmelb.

Transience

There is nothing permanent except change. ~ Heraclitus

I’ve been meaning to write a post about location independence for a while now… mainly discussing how I’ve been combining work with travel in the last two years and how a PO Box is now my official residence in Australia after recently selling a lot of my stuff. However, I’m going to focus on transience and impermanence, rather than the resulting actions.

You see, I’ve been pondering about how my life has been evolving and the role of the digital world in facilitating this change. I’ve noticed my outer world isn’t as simple or straightforward as it once was – I don’t have a well documented formula to replicate (hello 9-5) and I can’t look around me for guidance. After all, I only know a handful of people able to freely choose their current location, especially at short notice. In a way, it feels those of us experimenting with these shifts are pioneers – prototyping plausible existences in public forums for what’s hopefully the benefit of others. And don’t get me wrong, I understand this position is a rarity and somewhat idealistic in approach – I certainly won’t crave this lifestyle if and when I’m a mother!

Firstly, I believe transience is coming about due to changes in our work, which are largely a result of advances in technology. As soon as flexibility and freedom from a physical world arrive, we are given the opportunity to decide on location for ourselves. I first got a taste for this flexibility when I started connecting with web developers – specifically the Ruby on Rails community. Here, these well-paid, mostly-male, mid-20′s programmers were deciding when and where they wanted to work. They seemingly had no problem travelling all over the world for some boutique conference or camp to enjoy some in-person time and global learning. While I wasn’t about to run away, clock up activity on my GitHub account and learn a cucumber isn’t just a vegetable – I was wondering how I could hack my life to make something similar work for me.

Working in a progressive area and on the web, I was fortunate to mash up a situation that’s allowed me to increase my awareness of the globe by seeing more of it. Working with companies that get it (especially travel-related) and creating something yourself has helped me to sustain my activities. Through these endeavours, I’ve journeyed through North America, Europe, Asia and Australasia in the past 12 months. I’m writing this post from a peaceful and tropical Port Douglas in Far North Queensland, before heading back to Melbourne via a Brisbane Fetch-launching stopover. I doubt I’d have seen as much as I have without having to quit everything to take time out for purely travelling.

One of the things I love about transience is it allows me to change and be agile in my existence. I feel like I’ve been growing so much as an individual in recent times, that having the freedom to take opportunities as they come or just be has allowed me to live more authentically in time and space. One of the things I don’t love so much is the impact of transience on relationships. I’m a fierce loyalist to my friends and circle, and it saddens me when I have to let go of a relationship. In my ideal world, we could all nurture each other and give attention to every connection. However when you’re on the go, the cherished face-to-face interaction dwindles and people soon forget about those not close by. In our often status-update-focused worlds, it’s now easy to have ambient awareness without ever having to ask a “How are you?”.

Above all, transience is about having no fear about what the future may hold. I understand what I am subject to now can change and change quickly, and what I thought were anchors and stability, gone. We’re all a target of this and even a 15-year commitment to one company doesn’t offer much security in the current economy. It seems I’m able to still arrive at the place I wanted to be though – with thanks to a vision and a rough plan. My energy and motivation levels flourish without having to fight an alternate path too.

The next steps for me involve embodying inner impermanence as a lifelong concept while returning to longer stints with my outer location. Thank you for listening and here’s to upcoming adventures and explorative living!

Kate