At the age of 39, after decades of fear, I chose to make one of the most fundamental and disruptive changes a person can make. Gender transition has seen me become a different person, a better person, and one who even now, years later, is still growing and achieving as a result.
I’ve been asked “What makes you‘re story so different to the many other inspirational speakers out there?”
I think one of the biggest differences is ‘Choice’!
I’ve been inspired by those who have shown great courage in the face of life changing adversity, maybe due to accident or illness. These instances are testament to the fact that humans are remarkably resilient, can overcome the unthinkable and still thrive….when we are forced to.
However I made the choice to face the changes I made. I battled my inner demons of nearly 40 years, overcame them, and as a result elevated my quality of life.
Fear usually plays a big part in holding back change, but as fear and understanding are inversely proportionate, knowledge is key to facilitating change.
In this fast paced world of change we MUST initiate change to keep up. To stand still is literally to go backwards! So the only way to keep ahead of the game, or your competitors, is by making fundamental changes.
Here’s just one example from my journey.
Sometimes you can’t see past your own blocks. I was incredibly scared about what people would think of me if I transitioned. If people thought it was freaky, or that I myself was a freak, then potentially my life could be ruined, and not worth living. I found the thought of losing everything very scary.
However, upon educating myself (in this case through seeing an experienced gender counsellor/psychotherapist) I learnt that given time, I would be passing as male 100% and as new people came into my life they would be unaware of my ever being anything other than Matt. That’s all they’d know.
This understanding was fundamental in enabling me to move forward and make one of the biggest and disruptive changes a person can make.
If I’d had the courage to make this change 20 years earlier I would have been a long way past that stage, and life would now be just great. So at worst, all I had to do was get through maybe a year or two of potential difficulties, and then I’d be on the other side and life would be far better. My fear then dissolved and I could move forward with ease and confidence.
Of course there were other considerations, but again all quite easily overcome with greater understanding (these stories are for another blog).
How is this relevant to others, and in particular the business/corporate world?
Ask yourself, what is it that’s holding you back from initiating the changes you need to make? Look at those things. If need be take a step back and try and see past that initial fear. Work out what actually might happen if you make that change? Very often we latch onto the worse case scenario and simply can’t see past it. We can’t see the forest for the trees so to speak. So try and look through that block. Also look at the positives that may happen as well the negatives.
Of course you do need to examine the negatives, otherwise you might blindly go ahead with change that goes spectacularly wrong. But ask yourself, even if the worse does happen, what would be the consequences of that? How could you over come it? How long would that take? Once resolved would you be in a better place?
If you can see a way through your worse case scenario (which probably won’t happen) with things improving overall despite this scenario, then what is there to fear in initiating that change and elevating your life or your business? To really thrive? Yes that’s right, NOTHING!
Another working example
Geoff, my partner, teaches English pronunciation and is well known in his field. Language evolves and changes just like everything else in life. If it didn’t we would still be speaking how Shakespeare did. Geoff is trying to update how phonetics is taught because the current teachings still relate to old-school Queen’s English (RP or Received Pronunciation for any of you in the know). Nowadays hardly anyone speaks like this and it’s considered very old fashioned. Yet he faces a lot resistance to updating. One of the reasons given for this resistance is “…but it would confuse the students to change everything”.
This example relates directly to my example above. Given a couple of years new students will be coming through who won’t know the old way of doing things so won’t have anything to get confused with. They will be taught up to date material that is actually useful and relevant for them NOW. Yet so many teachers are simply too scared to make these changes, clinging onto out of date ways of doing things. They latch onto a reason not to make change, genuinely thinking it would be a disaster if they tried to.
Geoff’s latest book on English after RP – https://www.amazon.co.uk/English-After-RP-Standard-Pronunciation/dp/3030043568
Coping with the challenges that change inevitably throws at you
One of the things that makes change feel scary is that you can never know for sure what will happen. It’s bound to throw some challenges at you that you couldn’t foresee.
This doesn’t mean the change was wrong, or bad, or that things will turn out worse for you or your business. We all deal with difficult challenges regularly, often without giving them a second thought. Yet when it’s something new it can feel different. It’s easy to feel bad if it was our own actions and choices that brought about these challenges, and that maybe we made a mistake by doing what we did.
My worse case scenario didn’t happen at all, yet even so I found many challenges popping up throughout my journey. With just a little thought about how to deal with them I was able to overcome every single one of them, and quite easily too. At the very least a compromise was met, and even on those occasions things were still a lot better than before. I soon learnt that these challenges weren’t anything to be scared of and in no time I was taking them in my stride with no stress or worry. I actually found in many ways they made life interesting. Often leaving me with funny anecdotes to re-tell later down the line. I believe learning to deal with these challenges is just practice. However if you never make change, how can you gain that practice?
I found I had constructed a wall (no, please don’t mention Trump!) and I couldn’t see past it. I was looking so strongly at the short term I couldn’t see ahead at what could be. Sometimes things might initially be a struggle, but if working through that struggle enables you to elevate your life, whether that’s on a personal or corporate level, then surely the struggle is worth it.