#cipdLDshow has been an absolute eye-opener for me so far and it’s only day 1. Over the next few weeks I will find it in myself to reflect on the whole experience and then knock a bit of a blog together to share how I feel coming out the other side.
This whole L&D show experience is new for me and I sit writing this after a VERY long, eventful and mind blowing day for me both professionally and personally. I am going to focus on the personal side in this blog and I will leave the professional bit for a little later once it is all digested and absorbed (and I have recovered from round 2 tomorrow!)
In the past, I have shied away from any prospect of those horrible social situations where you really don’t quite know who to talk to and end up standing, waiting, loitering for someone to strike up a conversation with you; you know the ones? Those flitting moments that last 10 seconds but feel like an hour. Standing in the abyss that is a room full of people and feeling like you are the only one that is not talking to someone. This has always been my perpetual fear and tonight was my opportunity to kick that fear in the butt and make an obnoxiously rude gesture towards it or at least a passive aggressive comment.
What gave me the kick up the proverbial to do it tonight, of all nights, in a room full of my peers, that I had never met before?! Well, it was all in a theme that came up in not one, not two but three of today’s different sessions …
Don’t be afraid of failure!
I think something that I have always struggled with is the thought that it is actually alright to fail and today taught me that failure doesn’t make a failure of a person but it makes a learner of them instead. We learn from those times when things don’t quite go to plan or work out the way we thought they would. So how can I learn to do this networking thing better if I am not willing to push myself to give it a try and instead insist on always avoiding networking at all costs because of the awkwardness that I perceive it to bring me?
To understand I look at it like this … I, like most, set my own standards and kick myself when I don’t achieve what I think good looks like. In my mind’s eye, good looked like me NOT standing in my imaginary abyss of silence in between conversations, so when the inevitable happened and the silence loomed I saw it as an immediate failure; 1-0 to the awkward silence and I will not try again in fear of more awkwardness!
So here was my epiphany during tonight’s inevitable moment of networking silence; if from failure comes an opportunity to learn and from learning comes an opportunity for success, surely if I don’t give myself the opportunity to fail every now and again how can I ever learn how to achieve success.
So with this epiphany in mind I embraced the awkward silence, I felt the cringe deep from within and I finally learnt that the only way to stop the lonely silence it is to just walk up to someone else that is in their own moment of silent abyss and say …
“Hi, I’m Ewan, let’s break the silence!?”
My mission for myself now is to embrace the awks and love the conversations and people you meet because of them, I did tonight and it feels great.