This year’s Gather Inspiration series was kicked off by Elena Markos and Emma Frampton at The Gunmakers in Clerkenwell. An evening of story telling and knowledge sharing that took focus on optimism and overcoming - more often than not, ourselves.
Elena is a Business Development Manager with many years’ experience in the front line of helping businesses grow and successfully reach their clientele. She recently left the corporate world to join and help shape a fashion start-up’s growing London office. What is immediately evident in Elena, is her confidence. Mostly because it’s quite pronounced - literally. She is a bundle of energy, volume and optimism to be around and it’s very authentic.
“When positivity doesn’t come to you, go look for it. The universe will work with you.”
A bold statement of faith - in oneself and in the universe - that Elena refines by suggesting where we start our search, should be with gratitude. Gratitude gives us perspective but it also provides the ignition for positive thinking.
Is gratitude more than a hashtag? If you’re looking to begin practicing gratitude, this might be a nice place to start.
And in gratitude, we can find our meaning. Which in Elena’s case, despite her talent and drive for both career progression and personal development, is simply, love. Which nicely segways into Elena’s secondary focus on self-love. Self-love is a little large to unpack here but I will just leave this 2014 piece by Dr SooJin Pate for you.
In response, the group had a discussion about giving ourselves time, being kind, not compromising on who we are, keeping our outgoing energy balanced with incoming sources and ruling out perfectionism. Perfection is not a real condition (though very ‘real’ and immobilising for some of us). To paraphrase Elena, ‘Eat the frog and get on with it!’.
‘Eat the Frog’ refers to one of the books Elena recommended to the group. All her recommendations are now on the Gather Discussion board over here.
Emma comes from a background in marketing but came to Gather Inspiration with her ‘Co-Founder of Adventure Queens’ hat on - a community "smashing down barriers that prevent women from heading off on adventures".
Emma went to school in New Zealand. Whilst you might think this provides the perfect backdrop for a childhood introduction to wild camping, the outdoor adventure life came to Emma much later in adulthood while in London - kicked off by joining a Microadventure. Hearing the progression of Emma’s journey into adventuring reminded me of Anaïs Nin when she wrote,
“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage.”
Embarking on a solo cycling trip across Cuba and a number of other self-navigated adventures, she soon found herself immersed in a group of professional adventurers - you know the ‘triathlon the length of the country’ or ‘sail the Pacific Ocean’ kind of professional adventurer.
And along came ‘Imposter Chimp’, proud bearer of Imposter Syndrome - where we begin to doubt our qualification to do what we’re doing or be where we are. Emma’s lightbulb moment with overcoming the Imposter Chimp came when she realised her lesser adventure experience actually made her more relatable to the community with which she was trying to connect!
Eloquently, Emma outlined a few strategies that have enabled her to overcome moments of self-doubt, as follows:
- Remember most people experience Imposter Chimp, you are not alone
- Take a step back and take stock, recognise what you’ve already achieved
- Be kind to yourself and celebrate these achievements
- If you struggle to self-celebrate, have a friend or mentor help you
- Stop comparing yourself to others, this is your journey and it will look unlike anybody else’s
- Be authentic
- Say yes
- Change your mindset regarding achievement; sometimes the purpose can simply be the journey itself
- Harness and embrace the imposter feelings, using them as reminders of how far you’ve come and where you’re going
Emma closed noting that Imposter Chimp will never really go away and that’s ok - it’s usually a positive sign that you’re continually curious and challenging yourself! Stay curious, keep adventuring.
Emma referenced a number of communities in her talk, they can all be found over here.