A long time ago when I was about 13 years old, my school announced a dressmaking competition. As the uncrowned “best seamstress in Mrs Mitchell’s needlework class” I decided to enter. My mother who had taught me to sew helped me to make a dress and I proudly took it into school to enter it into the competition.
It was an A line dress in the Twiggy style with a round collar, buttons half way down the front and the fabric was soft and flowing. It was red.
I decided I would present it at my next needlework class. I was so excited to enter this competition and I laid it on the table as I walked into the class, with anticipation.
Mrs Mitchell was inspecting all the entries with the Deputy Head, Miss Ingram – a stick-like woman that nobody really liked.
Suddenly I was called to the front of the class. Miss Ingram was holding my dress and the look on her face was one of horror.
Instead of the praise I expected, she promptly started to criticise my handiwork and publicly humiliate me in front of the entire class.
How dare I present such shoddy work.
How could I even think that this work would be acceptable.
Who did I think I was to even imagine that my work would be good enough
She then disqualified me from entering the competition.
I was utterly, utterly devastated.
Fighting back the tears, I picked up my dress, shoved it in my bag and sat down at my place. I wanted to crawl inside a hole and never come out.
In that moment, I resolved to never ever put my work out there ever again and risk that kind of humiliation ever. I never wanted to feel like that again, ever.
That decision at 13 years old, affected my whole life.
I always shunned the limelight, never acknowledging my talents or my gifts in case someone would shoot me down in flames like Miss Ingram did
I was afraid to stand up in front of people, even just a small group, like guests at my B&B and tell them about my area. As soon as I felt them looking at me, I would stop talking and make an excuse to leave the room
I would be afraid to go into my guests lounge if there were more than 2 people in there, because I would risk being the centre of attention.
I carried this with me until about 10 years ago when I started to examine why my life was like it was.
I realised that Miss Ingram’s words all those years ago were still holding me back from being my true self and sharing my knowledge, talents and gifts with others.
I realised that the only way to live a fulfilled and happy life is to put myself out there, help people and inspire them, and maybe if I find the courage to do it, then others could have the confidence to do it too.
We live in a world where people who stand out do risk criticism and humiliation but what I’ve learned is that those who engage in criticising others are really just illuminating their own insecurities for us all to see.
And yet, standing out from the crowd, leading with your value, being an “expert in the eyes of your guests” and then helping them to get what they want is the only way to get out of the eternal high season/low season trap, stop relying on online travel agencies to bring you guests and paying their commissions, and to stop worrying about the ever increasing competition from the likes of Airbnb
Next Thursday September 15th I’m running an online workshop where I’m going to help you to uncover your unique value and help you to position yourself as an “expert in the eyes of your guests” to have you standing out from the crowd, commanding higher rates and filling your rooms whenever you want.
CLICK HERE to join us.
I’ll also be sharing the results of our big survey, which I think you’ll find interesting.
With love and blessings
Also published on Medium.