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Podcast Episode #8: Bringing Your Idea to Life When You Feel Anxious & Self-Doubting with Sally Jones (School for Social Entrepreneurs)

Hayley Stanton
Hello, and welcome to the Quiet Connections podcast. My name is Hayley, and today Stacie and I will be joined by Sally Jones from the School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE) in Cornwall. We’ll be exploring how you can bring an idea to life even though you might feel anxious and self doubting about it. We are in for a really great, heartfelt conversation today. So please settle in and enjoy.

Welcome, Sally. It’s so so lovely to have you join us here today. I wonder if you could begin by just sharing a little bit about who you are and what you do with the School for Social Entrepreneurs, please?

Sally Jones
Yes, I’m the learning manager at the School of Social Entrepreneurs in Cornwall, which sounds very grand, doesn’t it? I help run programmes which is short programmes and long ones as well, working with people who have an idea they think they’d like to explore without any pressure to make that into anything particular. And yeah, I love chatting with people about what they what they want to get out of things for themselves. It’s all about them.

Stacie Clark
Hayley, would you like to share a little bit about how Quiet Connections came to life?

Hayley Stanton
Okay, so Quiet Connections has come to life, because I grew up really, really shy and socially anxious. And I was avoiding all of the good things in life, I was afraid to make a mistake. And I just didn’t put myself out there. And I missed out on so much. And I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I thought that I was different, I was broken. And I didn’t realise that these anxieties that I felt, and this self-doubt that I thought, was actually pretty common and quite normal.

So I realised what an impact it had on my life. And as I started talking about it, I noticed that there was so many other people who felt this way too. And I saw that there was this big gap that no one was really talking about this anxiety that we feel in social situations. I had this little icon of an idea, because it took maybe 10 years for me to get to a stage where I felt like I could really show up and be seen. And I’ve learned so much, and had this little little idea for Quiet Connections. And I was like, Well, someone needs to do something, someone needs to bring the support and start these conversations. And I was like, that person is not me.

So it took me quite a while to even begin to start exploring the idea for Quiet Connections. And to get to a place where I thought, well, maybe it could be me, because no one else is doing it. So if I don’t do it, who else is going to?

I’ll share some of the insights that I learned that really helped me with that later. But basically, I’ve gone from a place of avoiding all kinds of attention, public speaking, and just shying away in the background really, to being in this position where we are now presenting to hundreds of people at a time and really putting ourselves out there and really being vulnerable and sharing our own personal stories too.

Stacie Clark
Hayley and I met on the SSE programme and Sally was one of our facilitators on the startup course. So me and Hayley, we work at Quiet Connections. Hayley is the founder we are both directors and both coaches now. And yeah, my story is slightly different in respects to I, when I joined SSE, I came in with a different idea. And I started to set up a business with that original idea and came in and explored what that could possibly be. And then I let it go. So my story is really kind of grounded in exploration, and permissions to have a go and explore, because you really do never know where your ideas might take you. But also really in trusting your own instincts and following what feels right for you. And if something doesn’t feel like it’s going in the right direction, or perhaps you realise that you want to change direction, pivot or anything like that, then that’s perfectly okay as well.

Hayley Stanton
So one thing that we really love about SSE is the the team all can really ‘get it’. They all will have their own experiences of setting up a business and feeling the same kind of anxieties and self-doubt that we have experienced as well. So Sally, do you want to share a little bit about your own personal journey in setting up a business and exploring an idea?

Sally Jones
Yeah, thanks, Hayley. It’s been quite an interesting thing that you’ve both said around how you need to listen to your gut instinct. So I was working for SSE and feeling like I was making up as I went along. And there I was was trying to bring, like speakers and experts in to talk on these programmes and not really knowing anybody. How good they were, what the people wanted, and all these amazing social entrepreneurs were turning up and then me having to stand up in front and, and welcome people and introduce specialists. And I must have looked like a rabbit in the headlights. You know, for me, I’ve been there now for seven years. But I would seriously say for the first five years, I was running to catch up. And funnily enough, actually, I would say in lockdown, where I’ve been able to do stuff from my desk in my kitchen has been Oh, so calming. For me. I know, it’s been a terrible time for so many people. And we’ve all had awful things happen. But in terms of a sense of calm, I’ve been able to sort of gather what I think I know and talk to people and tell them how I’ve been feeling over the last five years, six years and, and that’s sort of working with what I do now.

So when I’m not doing an SSE programme, I’m a forest school leader. And I only have become a forest school leader because when I was in SSE, a dear old friend of mine came on the programme and she says she’s doing this really cool stuff now in woodlands, do you want to come along. And I turned up and they’re like, Oh, 35-40 people there, all the way younger than me. And they all seem smart, doing sort of environmental stuff at university.

My boy was seven at the time, this is back in 2014. But what we were asked to do was to just sort of wander around and pick stuff up off the ground and explore nature. And, you know, it does help if there’s a lovely sunny day. And it was, but then we were asked to do something a bit different, which was to light a little fire. As a child, as the youngest of five, I was never given the chance to do the thing in the household, you know, never got to use the drill or light the fire or, you know, whatever it is that was being done. And here, it was just enough to do on my own quietly in the corner, and not be told how to do it properly, just allowed to connect to work it out. And I got it lit, oh that incredible sense of achievement that I felt at the age of 44 at the time. And I just thought, Oh, goodness, this is amazing.

So I could then decide whether I wanted to train. And I thought, well, I’m too old. I’m too old to train to do something else. But then my friend who was running course, she was 55 then and she, you know, only trained couple years earlier. So I thought, well, I’ll give it a go. And here I am in 2020. And I’m actually running my own forest school. And I think partly, it’s been a really, it’s been a series of knocks along the way, I have to say it’s not an easy journey. You know, I have met people who’ve been less than supportive. I’ve wanted to give up, because I thought it was too hard, a struggle at times turning up, especially when it’s lashing with rain, it’s cold, I’m lugging loads of kit in, I’ve got children who have been getting cold freezing, I’ve got to like figure out stuff. But what I would say is that in the moment – when you’re in the moment – especially with the children who don’t come with baggage, you know, they they are themselves in front of you and they’re really present. I get so much in that. A friend of mine on social media posted about one of those things yesterday, which is about success. I just thought that was so timely. Because she said success is gaining the affection of a child. And I get that every Saturday when I run a session and I have a really excellent friend who runs it with me, who’s a teacher and outdoor educator, but when that child comes up to show me something in their hand they found. It’s just, I just want that moment. It’s that moment of happiness. But I feel like, I feel I’m home. And that’s those are the things I count as being, I’m the right person in that moment for a child, and the right person in the right place for me. And, yeah, that’s how I feel. But it you know, it’s, it’s not easy.

Stacie Clark
Yeah, I love so much of what you said that, Sally, because what I heard there was that, you know, you’ve experienced a lot of anxiety and there was quite a few thoughts and doubts that came up around, you know, you’ve been too old or feeling that you can’t do it. And but actually, it’s that feeling of like, doing something that brings you so much joy. And that brings so much fulfilment that actually like, being in touch with those feelings, and what it is that is important to you, and what you value is really, really helpful in helping us summon up that courage to actually overcome some of those anxieties. And I do feel like when it comes to exploring an idea, or setting up a business or a community project, that that’s one of the key things that we need to keep bringing ourselves back to – it’s why do I want to do this? what is so important about this project, or this business, or this idea that is just pulling me towards that no matter how many doubts or anything that I have, I just keep coming back to this because I think we all have this idea in our heads of what a successful person looks like, or what a business person is, or someone who creates something new. And I know for me, it was very much, someone who was just very confident, or this what I perceive to be confident. And I guess someone who just never, ever experienced any feelings of anxiety. And for me, you know, that was almost like the opposite of how I saw myself. I was someone who was like, I feel so very anxious. And especially like when I started SSE, I remember feeling terrified of coming onto that programme. And I know Hayley did as well.

Hayley Stanton
Yeah, I think the gap between who we think we need to be to be successful and who we think we are right now, is where we can get really fearful and hold ourselves back. Because we think, well, I can’t get to be that person. And for me, I used to feel like I had to be this very confident, outgoing, chatty, connected, more extroverted person than I was. Like you Stacie, I was looking around all these people who I perceived to be successful, and I saw them as being confident and I thought they’ve never experienced anxiety and self doubt, like I have. And then take Sally for example, when we were on the course with you, you come across very confident, you wouldn’t know how you’re feeling underneath that. And Sally Heard as well, who heads up the School for Social Entrepreneurs in Cornwall, and she’s amazing, you just wouldn’t realise that underneath that you both feel the same kind of anxieties and self doubts as we experienced at times too. And the real difference is not that you don’t feel anxious, and you don’t feel self doubting, it’s just that you don’t let it stop you.

Sally Jones
I think that’s true. I mean, every time I’m getting close to a Saturday, when I’m going to run a session, I, I get nervous. I’m running a session tomorrow. And I know that the other person I run it with is all over it because she’s doing this daily. Of course, if asked, maybe I should ask, she might feel the same! I’m really nervous, really nervous before all the children turn up. And it’s a bit like, stepping out on stage, isn’t it and, and yet, of course, each child arrives and they’re nervous. And so I need to put my ‘big pants’ to be there for them and welcome them and be. One of the secrets that I found is to just focus on the person in front of me and make that personal connection. And so when I was in the early days of SSE and being a learning facilitator, welcoming these social entrepreneurs, when they will have to stand at the sign in desk you know, when these people are coming in, after about the third time meeting them, I would know their name and they would look for me. But they didn’t want to talk about business, they just wanted to find out how was I and talk about what they had done at the weekend, it became an individual personal conversation. And so those people that made that effort with me made it easy for me. And I think if I can do that for the children, that’s one of my secrets to getting through it.

Stacie Clark
Yeah, I really like that, that idea of focusing on making that connection with just one person, it’s actually something that I try and do as well to help manage any nerves like, especially when doing something like this. So community groups or something is just to think about, okay, it’s just one person, it doesn’t have to be loads of people. But also Sally, like what you just said, that reminded me of, like, one of the things that I used to think was that when it came to like the world of business, that everybody else who was involved wasn’t human, they were some kind of like different breed of person. But it’s also very common to think as well, for anyone who is involved in, in other businesses or who run projects or have like high positions in organisations, that it’s not okay to reach out to them or to connect with them. And that was quite a barrier for me and thinking that, you know, I suppose it’s seeing people as being above who you are. And once I realised that people are all just people, and that we do all feel this way. And you know, we all have our insecurities and things that we feel nervous about and anxious about, then that can be a really nice way of starting to recognise that actually, we can all connect with with one another.

Hayley Stanton
Absolutely, I love that – that people are people, you are on the same level, whether you are talking to someone who has a managerial position or, or someone who is unemployed, you are all exactly at the same level of status. And it’s just remembering that and remembering that those feelings of anxiety and feelings of self-doubt, they’re not unique to you. Those are human emotions. If you are talking to a human being, you’re talking to someone who knows what that feels like. And I think when I was on the School for Social Entrepreneurs, startup course, and well, let’s talk about how we got on the course because actually, it was a very difficult application process. It was very long, we had interviews with a Dragon’s Den style panel.

Stacie Clark
That was scary.

Hayley Stanton
I had an individual interview with Sally Heard, who heads up the School for Social Entrepreneurs in Cornwall. And yeah, it was all very scary. And the whole way through, I was just like, not focusing on the outcome and just, I just need to get through the next step and just show up and do my best. And I got this call from Sally Heard to say that I had got through. And I was like, That’s amazing. And I was jumping around the house, which is really out of character for me, by the way. And then suddenly, I had this like, “Oh, I’m gonna be like, Sally Heard’s biggest mistake ever. She’s gonna really regret taking me on, I’m gonna really let her down. And I just had all this self-doubt and the shame gremlins were on my shoulder telling me I’m not the right person, and I’m in the wrong place. And then when I was actually on the course, I was looking around at Stacie and all these other wonderful people who had ideas that they were bringing to life alongside me. And I was thinking, well, they are so much more confident, so much more capable, so, so much further ahead than me. And just felt so much comparison. Looking at these, these people around me and just felt like I was gonna get found out for being in the wrong place. And somehow I tricked myself into this space on the course. And then, of course, that wasn’t true. And when I actually started talking about how I felt with Stacie and some of the other people on the course, some of them were like, ah, I’ve been feeling the same way. And I’ve been feeling like that about you like you’re doing so much better than me. And it was just such a relief to realise that the majority of us were feeling this way too. We were kind of going through the same like imposterism, I suppose. Like, I feel like I’m not supposed to be here and I can’t do this.

And then what we realised is that we tend to compare ourselves. So imagine you’ve got a pack of cars and you can see the faces of every single card that you’re holding, and the people opposite you can’t see those. And you can see on those cards, you’ve got your personal history, you’ve got your insecurities, everything that you think, everything that you feel, everything that you believe about yourself. And you can see every single one of those cards. But someone else is going to show you just a couple of the cards that they want you to see. And they they’re going to show you the cards that are the best cards that they are holding in their pack. And you’re not going to see that they’ve got very similar cards that they don’t really like themselves as well. So we’re comparing, what’s like the whole of our story to a very tiny piece of somebody else’s story. And it’s really important to remember that, you know, it’s a really common experience, and you just need to scratch the surface to get to those similar vulnerabilities and insecurities that we all feel.

Sally Jones
Gosh, so true. I love the analogy of the packet of cards. I think that’s fascinating what we choose to show people. Having gone through the forest school training and meeting loads of teachers, people who have spent time with children, and I remember sitting there thinking, I know nothing. I don’t understand what are these children’s things, you know, I felt such a fraud. And I, for the first three years of actually operating, I just every time I felt I’m saying something that was not acceptable in the teacher world. And, and yet, when I then spoke to the teachers about how they cope in classrooms, they were like, Oh, so hard. I always feel like I’m making it up. But of course, they had to present themselves as on a daily basis of holding it together. And I think it was only when I asked them about their insecurities around in that being in that situation, it gives that scratching that surface.

I can’t think of anybody who’s been through any of the SSE programmes where that hasn’t been the case, or I’ve just asked them a little bit more and they’ve shown a vulnerability. But you know, and I remember, I don’t know if this came up for you guys when you’re applying to startup programme. But one of the things that that comes up when people apply is that they show their shiny side, really shiny. And I remember reading through some of the applications and we look at ourselves in the office and we go, why should they want to come on the course. They don’t need us. And in some of the interviews, I know that some of my colleagues have said, Why do you want to come on this course? Because actually, we think you know, everything you need to know. So unless you’re going to show some of your gaps, be prepared to just go Ouch. I really don’t know about that. Because we can’t teach when all the boxes are ticked at all. So I think there’s a lot to be said about that. You know about saying, actually, I know nothing about business planning. I don’t know about finance, I know nothing about making a difference the world. What is this thing about making a difference for me? Because otherwise, how do we find our way in to how to help?

Stacie Clark
I completely agree Sally, like we quite often feel like we need to show up and and feel as though we already have it all figured out. And for a lot of us like that’s a lot of pressure that we place on ourselves and, and we’re giving ourselves that permission to know that we don’t have to have it all figured out. We don’t have to know all the answers, that it’s okay to learn as we go and, and that it’s ok to make mistakes is something that is really important to learn. But it’s also recognising that that’s something that a lot of us need to practice. And to give ourselves that permission as well first because a lot of us have beliefs and stuff that we’ve grown up with having that kind of saying otherwise, to us. And so when I joined SSE, um, I felt as though I was really really outplaced because, you know, I came in with nothing more than an idea. And you know, it wasn’t a business, I had no idea how to run a business how to start a business. And I felt as though most people around were way further ahead. And even now, actually, because, you know, my my background is in fashion. Like that’s where I trained. That’s what I’ve got a degree in. I worked freelance in that industry for a while and then You know, after I let go of my business and I joined Quiet Connections, by entering this new kind of field, I suppose this new industry, like, for quite a while, I also really felt like an imposter. And what I’ve noticed is that it’s, it’s not really always like, what you are skilled or trained in, like your degrees or your previous experience that that always matters. It’s what you personally bring, what qualities and gifts that you naturally have, as a person, are quite often the most important parts to be exploring. So, you know, the reason why I, you know, fit in so well with Quiet Connections is because of just who I am as a person, you know, I’m very good at listening, I’m very good at holding space for people, and very supportive. But I didn’t always recognise those qualities within myself either. So we can quite often trick ourselves into to feeling like, oh, like, I suppose that that inner critic can take over and we tell ourselves like, I’m not good enough for that role, I’m not the right person, I need to be someone else that I know or I should be doing something more. And, and the truth is, is that our thoughts aren’t always reality. You know, our brains can only process like so much information every seconds. And generally, what happens then is that our brain creates these filters that decides what it wants to let unconsciously so what ends up happening is that we distort, generalise and delete certain bits of information. So if we believe something to be true, and whether that’s about ourselves, or about how a situation is going to turn out, then our brains are set to look for evidence that’s going to back those up. And until we start exploring what else could be true, you know, whether again, like, if that’s fine to recognise some of our qualities within ourselves and the things that we like about ourselves the things that we’re actually good at, then we can start to reset those filters to also start looking for, for the evidence that backs those up as well.

Hayley Stanton
So two things are coming up for me there, Stacie, firstly, for me, I was in this position of like, I need to collect qualifications, I’m not ready yet to go out and coach people. And I would just be looking for the next course and the next thing that I needed to do in order to be enough. And my coach said to me, how many qualifications are you going to need? When are you going to stop? And the truth was that I was just going to keep going collecting qualifications, and I still was not going to feel good enough. What I learned was that I just had to get started and had to start putting myself out there. And taking small steps and stretching my comfort zone and getting used to being that person. And still at times, I feel like you know, that I don’t really have this. You know, other people sometimes call us experts in the field, or we have messages about being inspirational speakers and things. And we’re like, Oh, that’s nice. That’s a big deal to live up to. And then we just have to remember that, you know, this is other people’s perspectives. And the way that we see ourselves isn’t necessarily real at all. And in fact, we tend to have very negative views of ourselves. And we focus in on all the things that we don’t really like about ourselves. And we focus in on the things that we have failed at, or the things that we we don’t feel good about within ourselves. And we have this very negative self-image.

And if we have that negative self-image, like Stacie says, we look for information that confirms what we already believe. If I believe that I can’t speak in public, I’m going to be collecting lots of information about all the times that I can’t speak in public, all the things that could possibly go wrong. And I’m totally going to overlook any moments where I have been able to do that. And it’s going to be the same for you. If you believe something about yourself, you’re going to be collecting that information. So we need to gently shift that belief to ‘what if’, and looking at what else could be possible. Because I mean, let’s face it, we all believed in Santa Claus at one time. And it turns out that Santa Claus wasn’t real. So the things that you believe about yourself right now aren’t necessarily how you really are. And we tend to have lots and lots of blind spots about what we can do and how we come across. And actually if we find that we’ve held ourselves back a lot in life, and we haven’t really given ourselves the chance to step up and try something, then we don’t know if we can do it anyway. And, you know, have you have you ever like been at a dinner table with a kid and the kid’s like, I don’t like carrots? Have you tried carrots? No, I just don’t like them! Like, how frustrating is that when you know, they haven’t actually given it a go? And we do this to ourselves as well, where we just assume we can’t do something. And it’s really important to just allow ourselves to give ourselves permission to have a go and to make mistakes and change direction and just collect information that tells us what we enjoy and what we can do.

Stacie Clark
You made a really good point there Hayley around giving ourselves that that permission to to explore things, because in my case, if I hadn’t taken that, that first step was giving myself that chance to just see what what was a possibility with this idea that I had, then I really wouldn’t be in this position that I’m in now. And like, I do strongly believe that because my path wouldn’t have crossed with you, we wouldn’t have met on the on the SSE programme. And so taking that chance on myself, and by the way, like previously, like my go-to response, when I feel quite anxious is to avoid altogether is really to freeze, like, to experience what I think Brene Brown describes as life paralysis. So that is that I don’t even try if I don’t feel like I can do it. So that’s been something that I’ve had to really work on over the last few years.

I think, when I look back on me even applying for SSE, that was a huge thing for me to do. And the only reason I felt able to do that was because someone else saw something in me that I hadn’t quite seen myself or within that idea, and really encouraged me to apply for it. I came into SSE, with this idea for a knitwear brand. That, you know, because of my my training and my degree, I felt like I had to do something in the realms of fashion because that was what I knew. And but I also really, really wanted to help people and to support people. So I set out to create something that was around creating self-care, knitting and crochet kits. But throughout the course of the programme, I found myself being really drawn towards actually working more directly with people and having community groups, community spaces and creating a place where people can actually practice and give themselves permission to make mistakes, to stretch their comfort zones and to really connect with other people.

So by the end of like, I suppose like the SSE course, it I think it was about six months after, and I was kind of evaluating what I had done so far, and realised I’ve got almost like two separate businesses here going on, and they they’re just not gelling together. And whilst there was this part of me that was like, I’m gonna try and force them together, because, you know, part of me felt like I had to commit to what it was I had originally set out to do. And, and when I did finally realise that I really just needed to listen to what my gut was telling me and what my heart was saying to be like, actually, let’s just focus on this one area, which really was like the the community aspect and the support aspect, that I realised that it was okay to let go of something else.

And then I was saying Hayley was already kind of doing the same thing. And we had already worked and collaborated a little bit more together. So we just decided to join forces. And that really what I learned throughout that process was that ideas are really just ideas. You’re allowed to change your mind. Ideas are there to be explored. Because if we don’t give ourselves that, that chance to even just see what could potentially happen with it, we don’t know where that path might take us. And if there’s one thing that I’ve found the most worthwhile throughout the last couple of years, is that through taking that time to initially explore that original idea, I have really gotten to know who I am. I have learned so much about myself. I’ve seen what I’m capable of. And I’ve connected with people that I think I never would have really connected with before and just that in itself is really worthwhile. So sometimes it’s okay to detach that idea from the outcome, to detach ourselves from from that pressure of ‘I need to stick at it’ even if something doesn’t feel right anymore. So yeah, allow ourselves that permission to just trust. Trust ourselves. And yeah, see, see what happens.

Sally Jones
I’ll say something, that’s so true about the permission and giving yourself permission to, to try, permission to change permission to explore, without there being a requirement for an end goal, just literally seeing what feels right. It is it’s incredibly liberating, to be in a space where that’s possible, and you’re not asking someone else for permission to do that. It’s just it’s allowed. It’s already a given. It’s powerful stuff.

Stacie Clark
Absolutely. And I know like, for me personally, Sally, the thing that I found the most beneficial from being on the SSE programme was the people that I met and connecting with those people, and being in that space with others who, like, I think it’s probably helpful when when you see other people being like, Okay, well, we’re just gonna explore this together. We’re all in this space of like, I don’t know, and that’s, that’s really okay. Yeah, it’s a powerful thing, isn’t it to be in that space of others who were also on that journey with you?

Sally Jones
I think that’s one of the things that we really enjoy as someone who’s who tries to hold a session, so that people can do that. It’s that interconnection between everybody, it’s, it’s that, that word of support that I’ll hear from one person to another, it’s so heartening, and we have this recently on a session where somebody was having a little technical issues, but also I could feel the tension building for that person that was already there. That level of anxiety was rising in the first half hour on on a zoom session. And one of the other people in the group, after I’d said, ‘it’s absolutely fine, take your time’; he said, ‘It’s okay, we’re all right at the start of this, and we’re all in it together’. He didn’t know her before, but it was such, it builds on that idea of the brave, safe space that we try to create. So we ask people, what is it you will need here right now, to be able to be brave to feel safe enough to speak if you want to, you don’t have to if you don’t want to, but to start talking to expand on your ideas. And it doesn’t need to be one, it could be several ideas, it could be all sorts of things floating around. Because I know that I need to have several things: I need for it to be confidential within those people I’m talking to. And it needs to be kind of all kind. And for there to be time and space to do that thinking, so yeah, it heartens me every time.

Hayley Stanton
I love that about the time and the space. I was employed when I first started exploring this idea, and my employer was like, ‘No, you just have to get out there, put your business out there get started right now. Otherwise, someone else is going to come in, they’re gonna steal your idea, they’re gonna be doing it for you, there’s not gonna be space for you’. And I was like, oh, like, I’m really slow and reflective and honestly, Quiet Connections has been a very, very, very long journey to before it even came to life. And, and, and now I really honour the fact that I have allowed it to be that way. And I’ve, I’ve really gone with my own quiet strengths and be more reflective and done the research. And I’ve not given in to that pressure that I have to just get out there. And I think if I was the type of person who was just able to throw themselves out there and put themselves in the limelight, it wouldn’t have worked. That wasn’t who the people who we support here in Quiet Connections need. The people that we support need someone who’s going to show up, and they’re going to be quieter and calmer, more sensitive. And they’re going to be maybe quietly confident, but able to show their vulnerabilities and show up and let people know when we’re feeling anxious, which we quite often do. And what you quite often see us starting a workshop going I’m feeling really anxious about this right now. Because that’s really normal. If you’re trying trying something new, you’re gonna feel anxious. That’s just part of the process. In the last two years, we’ve reached 15,000 people through doing presentations, through webinars, through attending panels as sort of experts on the panel, and through coaching and our app and our workshops, and I think we very quietly have a real impact on a lot of people’s lives.

Sally Jones
Absolutely agree. And it’s been wonderful to see so many people coming from Quiet Connections onto some of the SSE programmes, particularly the Springboard Programme, and how they, they would never have pressed that button to send the email before. In fact, when we were doing some research with people who have been on the programme, who’ve come through you. And the comments around them needing to really put their big pants on to even connect in the first instance… one person said it was the bravest thing they’ve done in the whole of that time. It was to literally say hello, could I find out more about this. I mean, she’s done amazing things, since then, but that was a massive step. And it had come from the inner critic. It had come from a background of hearing people say to her, you need, you can’t do that. Do this, you won’t be able to do that. And so, the fear, the fear of hearing it again, putting ourselves in a position with other people. terrifying. And she was able to press the button and to have a quiet moment when she wanted it, she didn’t have to speak if she didn’t want to. And by the end of the course she was really sharing some amazing thoughts, and skills and ability to just go I can go do it anyway, I’m going do this. And she has! So, it’s a long burn at times, I was a very long burn too. And some people just feel validated, you can see people validating them in sessions going what you have is amazing, and it’s wonderful to see. It’s a very lovely little safe space to test.

Stacie Clark
I think for so many of us with that inner critic, and one of the things that really holds us back is that we’re fearing what other people are going to think of our idea. But usually when we’re thinking about the people who actually aren’t the people that we’re probably going to be working with, so I know for me it was like what family members are gonna think what friends are gonna think when actually, they’re not my clients.

And also running businesses or taking those steps themselves to do something that is, you know, this is scary like, you know, taking that first step is probably the hardest thing to do and it’s taking a chance on yourself and it’s actually a real demonstration of courage and self-trust. You want to take that step and give yourself that like value yourself enough to take that chance. So quite often where we’re fearing the comments and potential criticism from people who are not in the arena. Where as we find when we step into it, those people are actually usually like the most supportive we’re all going through the same thing. And that actually we will want to see each other succeed.

Sally Jones
I totally understand that, what you’re saying about family. On a regular weekly basis, my father will tell me he doesn’t understand what I do, or why I do it. He will mispronounce forest school. He will ask again why am I doing this, how much money am I making. So yes, I fight this battle, every week, when we have our weekly conversation. And he was always asking me about my career. Why aren’t I this. And I find it. I find it hard to come up with the reasons for that beyond saying, I love what I do now, which I couldn’t say that I did any time in my life before. I don’t think there is such a thing as getting to the platform of success and being able to look down from it. I think always climbing the ladder we can only look at one rung at a time. but that’s actually, as long as we feel the rung is there and we’re holding on. Sometimes that’s enough. We recognise within ourselves that we’re good enough or good enough for ourselves.

Hayley Stanton
And this is how we define success for ourselves isn’t it. Success does not have to mean fame and money and being in the limelight success, It’s whatever it means to you. I had this conversation with a lady who was thinking about setting up a business, a number of weeks ago. And we were talking about whether she wants to set up her own business or whether she wants to go under the umbrella of someone else’s organisation because she wants to work with the same kind of clients, and she was debating it and she was like, it feels like I really want to have this, the credit for it I want to be recognised for it, but on balance, what I really want in my heart is to have time with my children and I don’t want to be focused on like doing all the background stuff and setting up the business and I want to be just able to do this one little bit where I’m connecting with people and I don’t want to do the background stuff. And so that’s what she’s decided to do.

Sally Jones
Very often, I hear people talking about ideas for businesses or projects which is actually what they need themselves. So, a very wise person said to me, I am really setting this up because I need it. And so I think this is useful to take on board because building what you need is the best way forward because you will always be in the heart of it. So, just recognising that it’s important.

Stacie Clark
It’s such a nice message and I completely agree I think when, when we focus on like, you know, what is it that I want to see differently in this world? What is it that I wish that I had? Then you know we’re bringing in that aspect of, again this sense of humanity because you can guarantee that your struggles are not just unique to you, that there are other people in the world also who will benefit from what it is that you’ve experienced and what it is that you’ve learned and what it is that you’ve been through by you, showing up and sharing that and bringing in like your own like unique solution to it, which is really what it is, it’s just your own approach that has worked for you. There’s going to be someone else who’s going to be like, thank you so much for sharing now I needed to hear that I needed to experience it.

Hayley Stanton
It’s that being really connected to your heart and what’s important to you, and also having that connection with other people that you know, it’s important to have a mentor who’s kind of been through it and you’ve got someone that you can look up to, who’s gonna be honest about their experiences, anxieties and self doubt that they feel as well even though you think of them as very successful and maybe very confident. And it’s also really important to have those people who are going through the same thing with you at the same time. And the one thing that kind of gets me through it is having Stacie and whenever I’m having a meltdown I’m like Stacie, this is gonna go on.

Stacie Clark
Likewise.

Sally Jones
Having those people that you find that you just don’t have to explain everything to but get you, it seems to me it’s a bit of magic isn’t it. It’s one of the bits of the Springboard Programme i think is one of the best once you’ve got past pressing the button. The email bit. The next stage is getting getting the four hours of mentoring, and it can be a little bit, like, really exciting because you can speak to a person running a social enterprise, who can tell you about how, you know, how it’s done, if it is that is a thing; I don’t know if that is a thing. But, but also it’s terrifying because you can worry that it could be a parent-child relationship but everyone’s kind of on the same level. They’re like you, we’re all the same. So they might have this grand title or something. But at the end of the day, every day they get to do this. They do wonderful things. They would have chosen this by saying yes and no to things. It would have been nice to say no more at the start, saying thank you very much more but I prefer not to. I know that takes practice to come and think about those things but being very, very clearly about what to say no to, is a way of allowing the chance to say yes.

Hayley Stanton
Yes, absolutely. We really need to be saying no to some things so that we can create space for the things that we really do want in our lives. Now, Sally, we all know how nerve racking it can be when we are starting a new course, or even just reaching out for information about getting support. So, I wonder if you could tell us a little bit more about the ethos around the courses that you’ve run at SSE.

Sally Jones
I know it can be scary to, to just say Hi, can you tell me more about it and that’s what you need to do. And what I’ll do then is either arrange to phone you text you. We can talk if you like, or I can just do it by email, and I can just give you the dates, and some of the content and you can have a little look at some of the documents we work through. Then we go, we go at the pace of the people on the sessions. It’s very gentle and calm. I would say, in a recent session, there was a lady there, who runs a community centre for many many years. And I go, gosh, what is it you think you’d like to get from the course, because I’m worried that we’re not going to give you what it is you need here, that we’re not going to give you the level of information you need. Then she said, Oh, I just, I just find the whole time I feel disheartened. I remember my teacher telling me I give up all the time. I was thinking, you’re in your 60s, can you really remember that? Oh yes, she said, last week, my trustees just told me my idea was rubbish and I was right back there. And so, with that, what she needed was the space to explore and be able to share I suppose. That’s how we work. And it’s. There’s no requirement at the end of the support we give you to to do anything. You don’t have to set up an amazing business and you can literally just say, Well, that was really lovely Thank you, that was really exciting, and do nothing with us. You might go away and then do something else and then you can always come back with a different idea. You don’t have to sign up for anything, just have a chat with us. I personally get so much energy I suppose in meeting people with wonderful and small ideas and wonderful and big ideas and different ideas. Just the way people’s creative minds work. I love it.

Hayley Stanton
That’s really beautiful Sally. And I think that as human beings, we’re all naturally really creative and really curious and we’re full of ideas. And then these you know these little self doubts and little feelings of anxiety come along and we just we forget to look beyond that, to like look at the other resources that we’ve got within us that could help us to move through that anxiety and those self-doubting feelings. We can be brave and afraid at the same time. You know, as well as any sense of anxiety that you might be feeling you also have this massive sense of courage within you. And it might just be that we need to develop some ways to help us manage those anxious feelings to step into our own quiet confidence a little more easily. And you can see Stacie and I managing our own emotional state using breathing techniques and power posing and other state management tools before any any big event or before before podcasting even. And this is really how Quiet Connections can help you. We can help you with topping up your toolkit with techniques that work for you. We can work one to one with you or in groups, in safe spaces to practice gently stretching your comfort zone, teach you how to pace yourself. And we actually offer a lot of advice in our free resources on our website. So you can go to www.quietconnections.co.uk/free-gifts to access those.

For those of you who want to find out more about the School for Social Entrepreneurs and the free support that you can get to explore your idea or start your business with them. Just go to www.the-sse.org. And if you’re looking for Cornwall in particular, go to www.the-sse.org/cornwall

Thank you so much for listening to the Quiet Connections podcast today. A massive thank you to Sally Jones for joining us and sharing your own experiences. You’ve really spoken to us from the heart.

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