14 Jul Nerves are there to be nurtured not feared!
From live TV debates, to taking decisions in the boardroom, to attending Cabinet in Government I’ve had some pretty nerve-wracking experiences. And over time I’ve learnt to nurture my nerves. Nerves and the accompanying adrenalin can be your friends in such times, providing an injection of energy and focus, but you have to get over their side effects!
I remember in my late 20s when I was told I was to become the new female host on ITV’s breakfast show GMTV with Eamon Holmes. I cheered as the producer told me over the phone, but inside I was thinking, what if I mess up? I was made even more anxious when I discovered I wasn’t going to get a rehearsal but was going live that Monday.
Boy was that first programme nerve wracking. For the entire show I felt like I was having an outer body experience. Time slowed right down and it was as if I was watching myself perform. My brain split in two, me doing the work and me watching me doing the work. I’ve only ever had that experience once again and that was when I first went to the Despatch Box to take questions as the Minister in the Department for Work and Pensions in my early 40s.
Until I met Alistair Campbell (Tony Blair’s head of communications) I didn’t know if anyone else had experienced that feeling, then Alistair told me how he froze one time on live TV as he was touring the studios after the Iraq War. Literally 5 seconds passed before he answered a question. He explained his outer body experience. He said he went to see someone to have explained what had happened.
It was nerves – extreme nerves – accompanied by a large dose of adrenalin – your body calms right down, you become super alert, magnifying everything around you. So use this moment. Learn from this moment. Your brain is absorbing everything at an intense level. It’s a massive learning experience. Whilst it’s disconcerting at the time – it’s a period of rapid knowledge intake.
The downsides are butterflies, fear of the unknown and self doubt. The upside is personal achievement. So prepare all you can and ride the fear. Nature provides the energy boost, adrenalin, which will see you through.
Don’t hate nerves ….nurture them …..