Hope is a lovely thing.

When I’m not swimming first thing in the morning, then I’m out walking. It doesn’t matter how long I go walking for – this morning it was for fifty minutes, other days it’s ninety minutes. 

At the moment, I’m enjoying listening to audiobooks and currently I’m listening to Eddie Izzard’s Believe Me. It’s a really interesting ‘read’ for many reasons. It’s a long book – over 14 hours long. It’s him reading from the book of the same name, but with lots of digressions and additional footnotes. 

What has become really clear to me is how determined he is. He talks about his wilderness years and how during these times he tried many things; writing and performing in sketch shows with others, street theatre (with a partner and on his own), and finally as a stand-up comedian. 

No matter what the outcome he continues on, he fails, and continues. He keeps going to the Edinburgh Fringe, he keeps performing at Covent Garden, he keeps performing at clubs. He persists. He believes. He believes in his ability to learn, to improve, to succeed. He doesn’t give up. It takes a long time, hence his description of ‘the wilderness years’. He also says that he would do it again if he had the choice. 

“If you think you can’t do a thing, you will not be able to do it. If you think you can do something, then you have a chance of achieving it. Believing doesn’t mean you will instantly be able to, but you’ve got to believe that you can, otherwise you definitely won’t be able to do it. I’ve seen a number of people who I thought could do something brilliant and creative but they didn’t seem to believe in themselves and therefore didn’t, or couldn’t, do it.”

“I realized that belief is a key ingredient in trying to do things that are difficult.”

He also chose to make it more difficult for himself; he rarely chooses the easy option. He takes the difficult slot at the clubs, for example. His reasoning is that once he’s done the hardest thing then everything else will be easy by comparison. He does something, discovers what happens, learns from it, improves and on he goes.

He believes in himself. He doesn’t hope that things will be different. He does those things that allow him to improve and discover for himself.

Hope is not a strategy. 

I find this really helpful. To find out how we deal with things we have to do those things. Not just once, but repeatedly.

Every two weeks I run a free one hour Meetup online talking about self-esteem. I have over 400 members in the group, and anywhere between 15 and 20 people turn up each meeting to hear what I have to say. It’s always a mixture of people who’ve come along before and those who are attending for the first time. The aim of the meeting is to get people thinking about their issues in a new way, to get them to realise that they can take action.

I don’t plan the meeting. I don’t script the meeting. I work with the people I have in front of me and I encourage people to share their thoughts, challenge me or disagree with me. I share what I know, and what I have learned, and what I believe.

It’s hard work and I love it. And I do get challenged. People don’t always agree with me. People are looking for clarity and expect me to deliver it. It’s not always comfortable. Sometimes it’s very uncomfortable. Sometimes I recognise that feeling of doubting myself. I recognise it and that’s useful to me. I have experience but that doesn’t mean I have all the answers. But every time I do it I learn something, it gives me an opportunity to refine, improve and offer that clarity. I get clarity. It forces me to think clearly and to deliver clearly. And it allows me to recognise the work that still remains for me.

And then I have two weeks until I have another opportunity to discover again the quality and specificity of my offering. Is it perfect? No. Is it better than when I first started? Absolutely. And it will continue to improve, as long as I continue to show up, be open, listen, and learn.

More importantly, does it help those who attend? Yes. It’s not the right offering for everybody, but I know from the feedback that it is useful for some people. And I’m happy with that. I can only be me and offer what I offer. What people feel about me and my offering is largely out of my control, so I don’t worry about it. I strive to improve and I believe that I offer value. 

So if you want to bring change into your life then start making those changes, and if you don’t get the success you want then continue to do things to get that change. Persist. Learn. 

Hoping that things will be different is lovely.

Believing that things can be different is powerful.

Taking action to make things different is essential.

And if you’d like to share your thoughts with me then why not book a chat so that we can discuss them. I welcome the conversation.

Finally, a few more quotes from the book – because they’re useful, helpful and interesting.

“Stamina is the big thing you have to learn if you want to achieve success in any kind of career, but especially creative careers.”

“I’ll just borrow confidence from a future version of myself.”