Got some nerve?

I've been making a lot of people nervous lately, myself included.

In the last week or so I've started a new (and quite scary) leadership development programme; taken Angela to meet our client, Mark, from Room2Heal; and had my employee from my other working life, Lou, come to teach proofing at Poached Creative.

In Lou's case it was probably the fact that I - her boss - was sitting in on the training session. We've delivered in-house training together before so it wasn't completely new territory. However, this time I was a commissioner and a participant and she was training people who didn't work in the same organisation as she did. She was concerned about pitching it at the right level, saying the right things, and making it interesting for her audience. Of course, she was brilliant and Brij, Chris and Angela got a lot out of the session.

For Angela, I think it was about not knowing exactly what was expected of her. Meeting with a client to talk about communications for the first time can be pretty nerve-wracking. But we talked through what we wanted to get out of it and what we wanted to ask. Her nervousness actually meant she prepared well and the meeting went exceptionally well.

I was nervous because I was about to be thrown into a learning situation with a bunch of people considered to be 'senior leaders'. I'd never considered myself in this way and I didn't really know what was expected or if my response would be right. It meant I read all the course material beforehand and thought about what I wanted to get out of it before I got into it. I met lots of really interesting, impressive people, and felt I had something to contribute. Phew.

So it turns out that a bit of nervousness is good. Taking yourself, or gently pushing others, outside a comfort zone is the way to learn quickly and feeling a bit nervous helps to sharpen your senses.

Public speakers, swimmers, actors, tennis players and TV presenters have all acknowledged it (I've just spent ages googling for the perfect link but you're just going to have to look it up yourself - Daniel Radcliffe and Pete Sampras stood out of the crowd). And classical musicians seem to know a thing or two about it too. Being a bit nervous means you're not taking things for granted and what you're about to do is important to you. For a real sense of this in action, take a look at Poached trainee Chris' blog.

I had a ski instructor once who said that if we weren't falling over we weren't trying. He felt we should be pushing ourselves to the next level. And that's a bit how I feel at the moment. That sensation of looking down from the top of a very steep mountain feeling part nervous, part exhilarated. Hesitating for a minute, then pushing off...

Keep sight of where you want to go, choose your turns and bend your knees!

There will be time...

It's been a busy few weeks and I had two new trainees start today. Things are really moving on quickly, meaning I've got to work hard to keep up.

First, there's the training. This is priority number one. I've got three people now relying on me every Thursday to give them training, guidance, feedback, work and support. If I do nothing else I have to make sure I get that right.

Second, there's the business essentials. Make sure there's somewhere to train out of. Make sure the paperwork's filled in. Account for the money spent so far. Try to make sure we've got enough computers, the right software, people to train and work to do.

Third, there's the business development. By which I mean business survival. We need more funding, we need paid work, we need organisations that are willing to pay us to train their beneficiaries. I'm finding it difficult to get the time to sort all this out.

Fourth, there's the professional development. I need to learn from this pilot, develop as a leader, influence others, build contacts and maintain existing relationships.

Finally, there's the people. Now if I'd really done this in priority order I would have to put them first because without them, none of this could happen. There's Angela, Jeevan, Chris and Brij, my trainees, who inspire me to get up every morning and work late into the night. There's Saba, Chris and Martine, Claire and Louise, who are all successful professionals in their own right and have volunteered their time to contribute (or promised to contribute) to the training programme. There's Claire, my development manager at UnLtd, without whom I'd have no money (and probably very little sanity). There's Sophy, Chris, Otu and Paul who are all helping in an advisory capacity with their various areas of expertise. There are my contacts at CDG - Michael, Kemi, Darren, James and Natasha who have all helped me get office space and people to train. There are my colleagues and bosses at work (the paid variety) who have been so supportive of this new venture. Then there are all the people - my flatmates especially - who just support me as a person to get all this done.

I'm afraid this is a really boring blog post - it doesn't think of its audience, it doesn't add anything of wider value, no links, no pictures, no particularly stylish use of language - just about everything I've ever told my trainees not to do. But it's going up for the record as a massive thank you to everyone involved so far.