Part 3: Accelerating Confidence & Impact
Updated: Oct 6, 2022
* No time to read it? Here's the audio version instead.
If you missed them, here are links to Part 1 and Part 2.
3 Top Reasons Most Leaders Don't Develop Confidence in Public Speaking
As an investigative journalist, it took me 7 years on the job to finally get to a point where I felt that my self-confidence had increased to a level I was happy with.
7 YEARS 🤯
I remember the day it all changed as if it were yesterday and I've never shared this part of my story before.
I remember when I first joined the team at the tender age of 27. The youngest on the team, I was super excited!! I had big dreams, and I was told that I had potential to become the next big anchor in studio!
What, me?? That sounded like a fairytale!!
I started off with a bang, rearing to go and gave my 150%!
Little did I know, a fiery curve ball was headed my way.
I remember the day I was chatting to our Executive Producer as if it were yesterday. He was a brilliant Producer, super smart and kind to me. He'd originally hired me and we have a good rapport, so we could be frank with each other.
I was told that he'd received news that due to changes to South Africa's Black Economic Empowerment laws (BEE), the management of our TV Station had to comply and that meant that only people of colour could be promoted into Anchor and lead journalist roles.
Like a mirror shattering into a thousand tiny pieces, my ghostly reflection of journalism success burst in front of me.
Now I'm all for equality, diversity and inclusion - I'm a huge advocate of it and know that we had a number of rights to wrong in our country. I know there are things I'll never understand, and won't ever claim to.
And don't worry this isn't about to become a political, or victim piece, it's a human piece, so stay with me.
Things changed for me from that day. It wasn't the first time I'd been passed up for promotions due to the colour of my skin. I'd managed and trained up 2 other managers in different roles before that.
Every time I did, I told myself, "It's ok, we're making right the past." And I made peace with it by consoling myself that it meant there was something better out there for me.
But to be honest, it was shit. Shit for me. I'd worked, hard, put in the hours - first one there, last one to leave, worked on weekends, through bronchitis (yea, that's too far!), but I'd paid my dues and didn't receive the recognition or position that I felt I deserved.
And then lucky number 3 happened.
I remember thinking "What's the point now?" The point of working hard, investing my time, energy and money into developing myself when I'm told that there is no way I'll ever reach the top of my game here?
My heart sank, and I was extremely disappointed, but I knew that I had two choices, leave, or suck it up, stay and enjoy the work regardless of the outcome.
Fortunately, I loved what I did, and at the time, that was enough to fuel me to keep going, for a while.
I developed my capability by studying all I could on the job. I did reams of my own my research for every shoot and gave my best to each story, but it felt like it was taking forever, and my desire for greener pastures outside of SA began to grow.
I don't mind a hard basket every so often, but this was next level.
I was also told I needed to be harder. Harder? "What do you mean by harder?" I'd ask.
My voice overs - sound harder, my questions, be harder, my tone, my body language, energy - harder.
I was hard-er. In progress.
Hard basket 101.
On some stories, we had 2 days to shoot a 10 minute story, 4 days before broadcast. That might sound like a lot of time, but it's like giving an artist the Mona Lisa to replicate in half an hour.
We were on borrowed time from the time we started! From red-eye flights to disappearing sources, 3-hour interviews with dodgy, corrupt government officials and evolving stories, we had our work cut out for us.
So it stands to reason that most of the more experienced Producers didn't have the time, desire, patience - capacity to help me develop my capability. Why should they, it wasn't their job.
We were literally given 1 hour of mentoring with a former journalist of the show. That's it. No mentoring or additional professional development and support from management, or the team.
I was faced with another challenge - sink or swim.
By this point everything had become an outright bloody big challenge to me! I'd become like the bull facing the Matador's red flag, grunting with a combination of determination, fear and fake confidence that I would make it out alive! I had to.
"Watch this space," I thought. "I will find a way to succeed - if it's the last thing I do!"
So I found a couple of new inflatable arm bands, blew them up and swam - albeit, somewhat clunky at times.
Eventually, over time, our stories were better than good. And at others, heartbreakingly brilliant. I was lucky (and crazy enough) to confront (and escape) brick-wielding corrupt municipal officials, free dive with tiger sharks, play pool with dangerous, high gang members in the heart of ganglands, met an ancient tribe called the Himba, and even stalked ghosts with some rather interesting ghostbusters!
I may not have been the Anchor, but we were making a difference, and that, mattered to me.
I've come to appreciate the 80/20 rule in life, and in this instance I experienced that while there oftentimes are the majority of people that are primarily focused on their own own success, there are always a few kind, generous and supportive people that seem to help make the world go round by lifting others up.
After some time, a handful of brilliant Producers that I really clicked with started helping me to become better with each story we told together.
I will forever be grateful to them for taking the time, and having the patience to support me.
At the end of 7 years on the job, some of the top Producers were asking to work with me, and I'd almost carved out a bit of a niche in the stories I did - the most dangerous ones, with the most gripping human stories. We would go to the places most wouldn't.
It was intense, but I loved it.
We'd tackled some of the most challenging issues facing our country; rape, violence, abuse, extreme corruption, drug trafficking, prostitution of minors and more.
Sometimes we made a difference. Other times, not so much.
But when I did eventually leave South Africa, I felt good about the positive impact we were able to make, together.
Those experiences will forever be imprinted on my heart. Hard as they were at times, I learnt some of my greatest life lessons from it all.
Tiger sharks are quite smooth to the touch.
Always carry a set of inflatable arm bands with you. One, courage, the other, kindness.
Even the most notoriously dangerous people are still human; with dreams, regrets and people that matter deeply to them.
Everyone deserves a fair chance.
Be kind, help others where you can and be patient - you never know when you'll need it yourself.
Years later, in hindsight, I think I really didn't need to go through all that struggle the way I did.
Had I received more support to be at my best, my capacity would've expanded, not diminished because I would've had more time, energy, desire etc. to dedicate to my growth instead of having to overcome relentless challenges first.
I probably would've chosen to more formally advance my capability, which would've accelerated the time it took me to develop a level of competence that could've made everyone's lives so much easier, not to mention the possibilities it could've unlocked for the kinds of stories we told, and for my career.
C'est la vie.
Fortunately, there was one thing that kept me going, and took me through.
Going back to the beginning, remember I said that confidence is like a 3-legged table?
There's one thing that sits at the top of capacity, capability and competence that holds us up in the face of any challenges we may face.
In Neuro Semantics, we say,
Meaning drives Performance
Regardless of being Anchor, what became exceptionally meaningful to me was our combined ability to make a positive difference in people's lives. The ability to give a voice to others that might not ordinarily have had one, and for me personally, to facilitate interviews that would allow people to open up, and share their remarkable stories with the world.
Stories that could change the world.
That's why I believe that if Confidence is a 3-legged table - WHY is the table top.