Creating a personal development plan

I was speaking on Monday at the PA LIfe summit in London on the subject of personal development, and it struck me how many lovely ladies who are so successful in the jobs that they do struggle with  other areas of their life unnecessarily.

Personal development has  become a huge area of interest for people. I think this is down in part, to the frustration we feel in our lives about not       measuring up.  The reality is that the demands we place on ourselves are usually other people’s needs, not our own, and there is a feeling within most of us of something missing.  The reason I started my web site was to give women inspiration and a start to challenge some of the very long-held beliefs in our life that just aren’t true.

The number one fear is public speaking, and in my seminar on Monday, many women expressed that fear. That in itself is not unusual, neither is the root of what causes us to be fearful of it.  However what does constantly amaze me is how little “evidence” we need to back up our certainty of not being good at something. When I questioned how each woman told me that they were “useless” at public speaking, (their word not mine!) it usually stemmed from one  or two feelings which were enough to convince them.

I asked them to teach me to be afraid of public speaking and here were some of their replies:

I think about how much more everyone else knows than I do, as I dont have a degree” 

I asked Jackie if she was good at her job, she replied she considered herself very knowledgable and professional. So what did a degree have to do with presenting her expertise?

I think that i am go

ing to forget everything, and freeze”

I asked Lucinda if she believed other people made mistakes ever, and that if she did and looked at her notes people would think she was silly? “No of course people do make mistakes”she said

I think how prepared other people are and should I have done more to prepare” 

Do you know you subject well I asked. “Yes” she said very well.

All of these examples would scare the hell out of me if I had to think about that just before I went to speak. Not only that, but some of the ladies I spoke to had no real experience of ever speaking in public, but had managed to imagine really well that they would be no good!! Quite a feat to consider yourself no good at something when you havent even tried it!!

Given however that public speaking is the number one fear, I am respectful of the challenge that some people face with it.  That is not to say that their fear is justified though, it is a learned behaviour of creating pictures and a story in your head which does not serve you.

Be mindful of letting thoughts run wild that are not only not true but are extremely destructive. What if you imagined that the people you were going to speak to were all your friends who wouldn’t mind in the slightest if there was an “um” and a moment of forgetfulness. What if you imagined everyone coming up after and saying, “thank you, that was so interesting”

If you can’t imagine this then you need to start practising because if you are happy to practise negative scenarios then you can as easily spend the time practising positive ones. Even if both were untrue, the positive one would serve you better!! It always amazes me how unwilling we are to exaggerate anything good yet really happy to do it with the negative!



Lastly, a little quote from a sporting legend which emphasises another important point:

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed. ”

Micheal Jordan

If you are not willing to practise the things that scare you so that you can be better, then at least don’t do the disservice to yourself of saying you are useless at it, just say, I’m not sure if I would be any good as I have never really tried to be good at it.

Kimberly Rothman

Founder of

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