My Invisibility Cloak: Self-Confidence

My Invisibility Cloak: Self-Confidence

I bumped into Heather, sitting at a neighborhood sidewalk cafe, my fellow Toastmaster talked about career and future plans. What Heather said next… surprised me; complimenting my self-confidence and self-assurance.

“Bearded Iris” pastel painting, (c) Joann Sondy August 2017. Created for my daughter’s birthday.

Wow! I had no idea that people saw or perceived me in this manner.

Recently, people have been noticing my confidence. What?! Me?! Since when?

Truth is… I’m just like you. Knees shaking. Unsure. Introverted. Fear of public speaking. Imposter syndrome.

Many of my Toastmasters’ friends are kind to say how well-rehearsed and prepared as a speaker. It’s true… I practice A LOT; just ask my husband. Rehearsal, not to be rote or mechanical, practicing to become [extremely] familiar with the content, refining my body language and voice and perfecting timing.

I was extremely nervous when delivering my last speech. The content was a subject I’ve been researching deeply the past few months. Valerie, my evaluator took note that I was overtly focused on my content and should have ‘lightened up more’ to engage more deeply with my audience. She also commented about my note cards (a topic for an upcoming article and speech “Val stole my security blanket”).

“I’ve taken several tours and you (Joann) are the best docent so far! Great time, thank you.”

Cheeks flush, I was glowing with modesty after shaking the gentleman’s hand following my CAF ‘Treasures’ tour a few weeks ago. The guest did not know that it had been months since I had lead this amazing tour. Days beforehand, practicing at home and asked a friend to join me for a practice tour.

Success=Self Confidence. Self Confidence is Preparedness.
Urban Sketchers Chicago 10×10 Lincoln Park Zoo & Garden Sketchwalk

The Toastmasters speech projects and evaluations have helped me tremendously to overcome fear of public speaking and concentrate on scripting good stories or content. My constant journey of learning about creativity, focus and confidence has added to my arsenal of confidence.

Resources for you:

  • The Tools, Phil Stutz and Barry Michels; especially chapter 2
  • War of Art, Steven Pressfield
  • Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert
  • Deep Work, Cal Newport
  • Creative Habit, Twyla Tharp

Join me for a Chicago Architecture Foundation walking tour.

Clutter, Chaos & Creativity

Look at my desk! Every day I attempt to keep the stacks organized. Thoughts of my arm sweeping all of it into the garbage pale are enticing. I don’t. Why? Because I’m developing several (big) projects right now and I’m in a mode of creation.

photoMy organized chaos consists of:

  • Work-in-progress
  • Family archival scans-current batch
  • Sketches and artwork for my textile designs
  • Speeches in the queue
  • Monthly planning
  • Prototypes
  • Reference materials

Let’s Get Messy

Throughout my readings and research about the creative process, there is one phase that is regarded as necessary: CHAOS.

Variety, I do a lot of things, not well, it avoids boredom.
-Isaac Mizrahi

It is the initial stage of generating multiple ideas, tagging research/examples, scribbles, sketches, picking ingredients, playing random notes, etc.

Ever observe a young child at play? It’s messy. That’s a good thing!

CURIOSITY or Open Mindedness is the child-like perspective to exploration and experimentation. We’re having fun and uninhibited.

Typically, this is when most of us give up. I have, many times. Why? I couldn’t truly tap into my playful and less-purposeful mind. I was after all, an ADULT.

Circle of Creativity

creative-flowWriter and humorist, John Cleese, has a theory about the circular process of creativity as we move from “open” and “closed” mind states.

  • Open mindedness: we’re relaxed and playful.
  • Closed mindedness: we’re impatient and tense.

Each state contributing to the overall creative process. How can you do this?

Conditions for Open Mode are space and time. Sequestering yourself away (space) from external demands and distractions. Give yourself time to focus, this is a necessity–not a luxury. Be specific if you must, set a timer for 2 hours or 30 minutes for uninterrupted time.

A discipline that can be developed over time. Be gentle with yourself. Your mind will want to check email and text messages…RESIST. Stat focused within the oasis of quiet time to be with your own ideas and thoughts.  Strengthening over time.

Closed Mode is a phase for implementation or executing on your ideas. Taking pages of notes & research and scripting a new speech. Reviewing quick sketches for larger and long-term potential.

Cycle through the Open/Closed modes as you move through your projects. Giggling and inspiring our inner child to keep moving forward; regardless of opinion.

Ideas are worthless if you can’t make them happen.
-Scott Belsky

My daughter’s room is messy, I do wish she’d tidy up a bit. I don’t nag about it as much as I used to (only if it gets too bad). Why? I don’t want her to lose the ability to use her child-like mind as she prepares to depart for college to begin a new phase of her life.

Go play!

References:

John Cleese “How To Be Creative”

Isaac Mizrahi TED Talk “Fashion and Creativity”

Scott Belsky “Make Ideas Happen”