Dear Ben Nemtin,
I work with a great team. We’re a small, close one, and we’re all very good friends. About a week ago, two of us got into an argument, and while everything is ok now, I don’t ever want it to happen again. What advice do you have for working with people you care about, and keeping things professional?
—Michelle, 31, interior designer
The biggest thing that you should have is the commitment that no matter what, at the end of this, the friendship will rule. As long as you understand that and you know that can’t go anywhere that would jeopardise that friendship, I think that it’s ok to have arguments. You need those different points of view to move forward in any type of business or partnership. You need to be able to have disagreements. Also, talking about a conflict is the only way to move past it. It’s the only way that you don’t build resentment.
In my personal experience with working with the guys, we started out with something, which grew into something else and has now grown into many different things. The biggest thing that we’ve learned is people change and people grow, and you have to allow them to follow their passions and to be their own person. And so it’s open, honest communication, with the big goal of whatever happens I want to maintain this friendship. Keep that in mind the whole time but be honest, have arguments, have disagreements, and be able to know if the best thing to keep the relationship is to not work together. It’s a double-edged sword because I think it’s great to work with people that you love, and sometimes those people are friends. And when you’re building a business and it becomes something bigger than what you initially created, you really have to keep that higher commitment or it’s going to be tricky. You also have to let people follow their own passions or they’re going to be unhappy and cause resentment. Ultimately that will be the best in the long run for everybody.
Please share some advice on how to be more confident. I love my job, but the part where I have to meet people and make presentations in front of a group kills me. What can I do to be my best, confident self?
—Andrew, 26, account executive
That confidence is something you build slowly over time. And good old-fashioned practice is the best way to do that. Present in front of your team or your company, and speak in front of people when you don’t feel like it. The more you do that, the more comfortable you become with it and the more confident you’ll become in your ability. Breath is hugely important when it comes to calming your anxiety or nerves. And there are little tricks that you can learn to put yourself in a better position to be confident.
What I do is make sure I set myself up for success: I get a good night’s sleep the night before, I meditate, and have half a cup of coffee with MCT oil, maca and cacao powder 45 minutes before I go on. You really have to put your practice in place so that you just focus on what’s important. If you’re doing a presentation in front of coworkers, you don’t want to be messing with the computer trying to get the projector going. Do the preparation and do the work before.
Anxiety and excitement are also very similar, so if you start to think of that anxiety as excitement, you can actually turn it into excitement. And you think, I’m not anxious to speak, I’m excited. You can actually shift the way you’re thinking about what you have to do and the feelings that you’re having. One of the biggest things I’m learning now is if I’m having fun while speaking, it’s always the best. Because people can feel it and you’re in a better state of flow. But I definitely still get nervous.
Two years ago, I was invited to do a TEDx talk and I didn’t want to do it. A TEDx talk is extremely nerve-wracking because it’s going to filmed and put on the Internet forever! But I had to do it because I didn’t want to do it. I didn’t know what was going to come of it, but I just knew that by putting myself in that position of being vulnerable, and I knew it was going to take a lot of work (I didn’t want to do the work), something positive was going to come out of it. And this is before I even thought I was going to be doing any speaking. That was really the catalyst to shift my direction to doing more speaking. Whenever you challenge yourself like that, you grow.
I have a full-time job. I have my own family, and a sick parent who I care for. I do my best, I work very hard, and I practice positivity in everything I do. I am tired, but I am happy. What are the best ways for me to recharge and care for myself? I don’t want to burn out when my loved ones look to me for support.
—Paul, 33, technician
You can’t take care of other people if you don’t take care of yourself. It might seem like it’s selfish but it’s really not. It’s like being with a boyfriend or girlfriend when you’re not in love with them. It doesn’t help you or them to stay with them. It’s a short term gain for a long term loss. And that means health-wise, anything that is going to combat that fatigue. Make sure that you get enough sleep. I’m a huge advocate of meditation—I think that’s a great way to quickly recharge, stay focused and build resilience. You need to be bullish about health in your schedule like you would for anything else that you need to get done. You have to make time for exercise. You have to make time for meditation. You have to make sure that you take the extra time to eat healthy.
You also have to make time for the things that you know are going to make you happy. You need to prioritise those things as much as or more so than the things you need to do for others. If you look at what a bucket list is, it’s a list of things that you feel are the most important things to you in your life, and the list is a device that will remind you that these things are there so that you don’t forget about them. What would make you forget about them? Work? Family? You can’t forget about those things because they’re so easily buried and you have to figure out what reminds you to do them. Whether it’s a list on your phone, a calendar block for 30 minutes every Friday, a group of friends, anything that will create that accountability and reminder for you to do those things. So that’s all The Buried Life is, it’s identifying the things that are the most important to you and figuring out a way to not forget about them. The idea is that over time, you won’t need those reminders. And you will intuitively and subconsciously choose those things as they come up in front of you and you will intuitively prioritize the things that are the most important to you. And you will be following your purpose. It bleeds over into the direction of your life and your work.
Starting a bucket list road trip that was supposed to last two weeks, has now turned into a philosophy of how to live my life. I find that people have either never thought about what was important to them or they don’t know how to act on it consistently and not let life get in the way. When you have a project at work and you have a deadline, you figure out a way to get it done. You have to take the same energy and do things that you know are important to you.
Photo courtesy of Ben Nemtin.
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