This week Dan Slee said something that has unnerved me
He was trying to persuade me to enter the Comms2point0 Unawards but couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t nominate myself. I gave him my usual self-effacing, Scottish Calvinist guff. If I put myself forward that implies I think I’m better than everyone else – how very dare I.
And then there’s the fear of failure.
“You have issues,” he joked.
Stop sniggering at the back.
Those words keep rattling round my head and I would now like to stand up and say, “My name is Carolyne Mitchell and I have issues – about self-belief and confidence – and it’s been over 40 years since I believed in myself.”
Mind you when I was 6 I also believed in fairies.
But Dan’s comment has got me wondering. I went to college instead of university then spent the next 20-odd years thinking I would have been too thick to get a degree anyway. Then I surprised myself and got a Masters in Corporate Communications and Public Affairs – with merit, may I add – from Robert Gordon University. At the time I kicked myself that I hadn’t got a distinction.
So, not only do I underachieve due to lack of confidence, when I do something noteworthy I put myself down because I could have done better.
In part I blame my Scottish Calvinist upbringing but now that I think about it I also blame the Scottish education system.
Our children take the subjects they are good at and enjoy. Nothing wrong with that, except how can you know at the age of 13 that one day you’ll want to be a UX specialist or a string theorist? By taking the subjects that come easily, kids remain in their comfort zone. But then who wants to risk failure? If they continue that subject at university the comfort zone gets comfier. Then BAM! – it’s out into the big world where if they want to keep it comfy they’ll get a job in the public sector or a big multi-national where they can fit in, follow the rules and not make waves.
But find a child who pushes against the comfort and breaks through the cushion fort to try something outside the zone and you’re likely to find a problem solver. Or a child who isn’t academic but wants to win at life – Richard Branson fits into this category.
Just today I was talking to Scott Sherwood of Dynamically Loaded. He wanted to be an astrophysicist so took physics at university. He quickly discovered this wasn’t for him and changed to maths, didn’t like that so moved to computing science where he discovered that coders look at the world differently – and he fitted right in.
And solving problems builds confidence and self-worth, not just sailing through exams without trying.
But one child who will definitely win at life is Danny Barbieri. Danny is the photogenic son of a colleague at North Lanarkshire Council. He practically lives in his Superman costume. Superman was a problem-solver as well as a life-saver and I hope when Danny grows up he’ll always remember how he felt when he was wearing his red cape.
And good things happen to superhero problem-solvers, even when they are four. Danny was snapped in his Superman costume during a Scottish Referendum rally and appeared on the front page of all the newspapers. Powerful stuff.
I’m away to look out my Wonder Woman costume to boost my self-confidence. While I’m away, will you nominate me for an Unaward please?