Tag Archives: confidence

My Rattle & Hum Years … And Rediscovering Your Mojo

What ought to have been a huge success for U2 turned out to be critically panned – and if you’re having a “Rattle & Hum” year, here’s how to turn it into your “Achtung Baby” era.

I bought my Dad Rattle & Hum as a present in 1990. I was only 14 and didn’t really know much about music, but he had played Dire Straits Brothers in Arms for years at me and U2 looked similar but cooler (to me). The LP was a giant doubler and it was all black and shiny. I loved it.

Still Haven’t found. Angel of Harlem. All I want is You. That song captured the essence of my unrequited love for Carol in 4th year. I didn’t even realise Helter Skelter and Along the Watchtower were covers!

I had the documentary on VHS and when Bono chimed up with ‘this is not a rebel song’ to the opening drums of Sunday Bloody Sunday, it made my hairs raise on my arms every time.

It led me on a U2 odyssey, through Unforgettable, War and October, Under a Blood Red Sky. I joined their Propaganda fan club and queued for 24 hours for tickets to see their Zoo TV tour in a big shed in Glasgow.

It was only much later that I realised that Rattle & Hum was considered a critical and commercial dud, their zenith being the Joshua Tree of course and my dear Rattle & Hum being self indulgent, cultural appropriating over-blown nonsense.

I played Rattle & Hum today. Still loved it and it inspired this post.

I look back at my “career” and had a good upwards trajectory. I smashed my 20s, 6 promotions, lots of talk about my ‘high potential’ and was going places. I excelled as an individual contributor. October. War.

My 30’s, I was on a roll. Managing multiple teams, functional directorship level (Unforgettable Fire), knocking on the door of general management.

I was at my peak at 40, having led a team that sold a $200m deal – my own Joshua Tree, (although that value gets larger in every retelling as the years go by and my memory fades).

….but then the wheels slowly fell off.

Don’t get me wrong, 20 years of moderate success gives a cushion not afforded to many. But through a combination of false starts and bad choices (mainly mine!) I will end 2020 having earned less than I’ve earned in any year since I turned 30.

What happened?

I got to the Joshua Tree late. It’s really rather good isn’t it? If you’re reading this I suspect you like U2 too.

Since January this year, I’ve been looking for work … a.k.a “developing my business” for the self employed. I spent 7 months of 2020 wondering if I’ll ever get the chance to create another Joshua Tree.

Will I ever work at a senior level again?

I was seeking to build my own skills development business and struggling to convert good interest into sales. There were also precious few permanent jobs on offer. I was applying for roles that I wouldn’t have considered ten years ago simply out of the desire to work and stay relevant, but getting nowhere. (This is not a great job search strategy, for reference).

It makes you self-reflect, all the spare time. Makes you highly self-critical and in my worst moments even jealous of others successes. Why isn’t that me? Once upon a time, we were the same (or at least in the same room!).

My list of limitations others may spot although it naturally took me longer to. I am self deprecating, which I think make me friendly and likable but appears to others as low confidence. I want to be liked more than I want to be respected. I still get tongue tied with authority at times. I can be indecisive. I want to please and have sometimes sought to please my boss over my team. I’ve kept quiet when I should have spoken out. I can ramble when clarity of message is important. And on. And on.

If you peruse my linkedin profile for the last years I’ve still had some great roles. I’ve had roles at a couple of big retailers and learned loads. And sometimes the above limitations bit me despite delivering the metrics. I’ve had other consultant and interim roles too where my strengths came to the fore ahead of my weaknesses.

But in all cases, my sense of forward momentum was disappearing: it was like my star potential was falling, my impact diminishing.

Was this it? I guess that’s how Bono and the boys must have felt after Rattle & Hum’s reception.

Rebuilding one’s Mojo, 2020.

Some of 2020 was a struggle: applying for full time jobs and hearing nothing back almost ever; the call from a recruitment agency; the false hope as they ask for your CV; the disappointment when you get nothing back; the days tailoring CVs and cover letters to get a rejection a few weeks later.

Some of 2020, however was hugely rewarding. Of course lockdown. But it was wonderful (for me): Sunny with family at home. Getting fit with my daily exercise … Heaven.

But also, thanks to Linkedin I “met” 4 or 5 random connections who had similar interests and were in similar positions. Over zoom it was weird but some genuine, now firm friendships formed. We created business ventures, simply through graft and enthusiasm, and supported each other in the search for clients and jobs, through the lows (not many highs!). None of us had to play the ‘corporate’ persona, it was liberating and most of all fun. Simply being able to be have a giggle whilst building to a purpose made me want to get up each day.

No money was coming in but I was enthused and energised. I had rediscovered purpose.

They reminded me what my strengths were: corporate life too often focuses on your weaknesses and the weaknesses of your teams. We found areas of common interest and simply started sharing views, research and ideas: each of us seeking to make sure that in our interest topic we were jointly the most informed, and had THE WORLD’S BEST body of knowledge on that topic. And created from there.

In the last month, I had the opportunity to return to consulting with a big-4 player. It’s early days but so far its been really exciting, if startlingly hard work. I feel that I’ve got somewhat lucky given the current environment to get a role at all, and am determinedly bottling up the mojo my new (and some old) friends gave me.

When things are low, particularly when you’re out of work, find a community and get busy. Doesn’t matter what initially, just have some professional fun. That’s essentially my tip from this post. Get busy and you’ll find your mojo again.

I loved Rattle & Hum. And I loved my Rattle & Hum year of 2020.

But watch out: I’m hoping my Achtung Baby (of course U2’s best album) is just around the corner. And yours too.

This article was originally published here – it has been reproduced with kind permission.

Four Ways To Cultivate Real Confidence And Supercharge Your Career

Often we think of confidence as something that the lucky few are born with and the rest are left wishing for. But this couldn’t be further from the truth…

Think of someone who you say is confident – your boss, a colleague or a celebrity, perhaps. Chances are you’d describe them as poised, hopeful and positive. They know their strengths and they know their weaknesses, too.

Often we think of confidence as something that the lucky few are born with and the rest are left wishing for. This simply is not true. Confidence is not a personality trait or a fixed attribute; it’s the outcome of the thoughts we think and the actions we take. Confidence is learnable.

It also isn’t based on our actual ability to succeed at a task but on our belief in our ability to succeed. It is the expectation of a positive outcome – regardless of whether this relates to our belief in our ability to speak in front of a large audience, to learn new technology, to lead a team, to handle confrontation, to change jobs and careers, or to start a business.

With consistent effort, and the courage to take a risk, we can gradually expand our confidence and, with it, our capacity to build more of it. Here’s how to do that in four ways.

  1. Show up as the real you

Having the ability to show up with real confidence means you know yourself, you can be yourself and you show up as the best version of yourself. This is more than getting out of bed, splashing some water on your face and fronting up at your desk hoping you can cope with what the day throws at you.

You believe you can draw on what you are great at. You believe what you’re good at is important, and that it’s aligned with how you are working. You believe that you are valuable and valued.

Showing up as truly confident over a sustained period of time is something that needs to be built from the inside out. ‘Faking it until you make it’ only gets you so far and for so long. Trying to pretend you have the confidence needed to get the job done can be exhausting.

2. Stand up for yourself

At work, especially if you’re looking to get into a leadership position, you need to speak up when no-one else will. You need to be visible, make unpopular decisions and go slow in order to go fast. You must stand alone in a crowd and have the confidence to believe in yourself. You don’t need to be the Dalai Lama, but you do need to stand up for what you deem right, fair and important.

When it comes to building your confidence in standing strong, ask yourself:

  • What do you VALUE? To speak out, you have to know what to speak about. To stand up for your beliefs, you have to know what you stand for.
  • What is your PURPOSE? Steve Jobs once said, ‘Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me. Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful, that’s what matters to me.’ That’s a clear sense of purpose. He was clear about what he stood for and why, and you need to be too.
  • How RESILIENT are you? Inevitably, when we stand up, we are putting ourselves at risk of rejection. Building your capacity to get back up again is important in maintaining your confidence during adversity and setbacks.

3. Speak up and have a voice

A sure way to fail in today’s demanding business environment is to keep quiet when you should be speaking up!

People often tell me that they don’t speak up because they are not confident and they fear being judged. My response is, ‘So you would rather be judged on just sitting there and saying nothing instead of taking the opportunity to have a voice and potentially getting it wrong?’ The likelihood is that we are going to be judged one way or another.

Many of us also back away from speaking up to avoid conflict. We see conflict as bad, rather than being able to reframe it as healthy debate. As a result, we keep our opinions to ourselves – thinking that if we just keep doing our job and delivering the outcomes, we will get ahead.

Yet we must be willing to speak up, even when it is hard or unpopular or you feel like it will cause conflict. As Martin Luther King Jr put it, ‘Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter’. So, use your voice!

  1. Step up your performance

You need to have the confidence and skills, and the ability to take on an element of risk, no matter what role or industry you work in. To step up confidently, you need to master your mindset, build your personal brand and have great sponsors.

Reflecting on your current behaviours and stepping up as required is critical. You often need to do things differently tomorrow from how you are today. You need to take yourself out of your comfort zone – and be confident enough to do this – and be aware of your context and what the environment requires of you because this is always changing.

If you’ve got your ‘head down and bum up’ all day long, knocking off your to-do list, how will you be able to assess what you need to do to influence and ensure the work makes real progress?

Continue to challenge yourself and ask, ‘If what got me here won’t get me there, what do I need to be doing now to step up?’

When you do this in line with all the other confidence skills, then you start to cultivate your confidence and supercharge your career.