Matt Ellison’s Visit to Speakers Corner HQ: We’re all on a transition journey
Each day we can experience success, or failure. We can bump into old friends, make new friends, learn something new about our colleagues. Every event we experience shapes how we approach tomorrow.
Of course. the world around is us changing. We've seen technology evolve at a rapid pace for example - who knows what the future may look like in 5-10 years time (an exciting debate to be had another time!)
Businesses are also changing. Some need to adapt to market conditions while others need to innovate to stay ahead. Employees need to change, adapt and develop to increase their skill set and value to their employer.
We can therefore argue we’re all in a state of transition, moving from one staging post to the next in our journey through life and work. When we think about this, it's exciting, but it can also be a little worrying. We're a positive bunch though here at Speakers Corner, especially when one of the team is trialing a new cake recipe.
But, when we think we need to make big, fundamental change, this can be a scary journey into the unknown. How do we prepare ourselves, ensure we’re making the right decision, and in some cases, find the courage to make the changes which we ultimately want, or need, to make?
We recently met Matt Ellison, a business owner, keen gym goer, a judo and jujitsu black belt holder, riding instructor, scuba diver – and a transgender speaker, to discuss change.
Matt's 39 Year Journey
Matt’s story is unique, yet familiar, when we think about the processes we go through when deciding if change is right for us.
We initially spent some time with Matt discussing his journey to transition, a 39-year journey as he likes to call it, which was filled with childhood memories and adulthood challenges as he wrestled with his desire for change.
There is a process we go through where our minds overthink worst-case scenarios. In Matt’s case, he worried and stressed he would lose his business, his family and his friends if he went ahead. The resistance we feel towards change builds up and into anxiety and stress.
A good strategy we learnt is to understand that we cannot pre-judge the outcome. Our risk, because all change has some level of risk, is best managed if we feel we have a choice and the capacity to cope during and after the event. Put simply, our desire must outweigh our fears to allow us to proceed in our chosen direction.
We spent some time discussing the merits of the internet, and the vast troves of data and opinion which we now have access to, which can help or indeed hinder our decision-making process (another fascinating debate for another time).
Matt’s journey through his transition has given him the opportunity to develop knowledge, networks and opportunities which he hadn’t thought were possible.
Matt was co-chair of FTM London (FTM = Female-to-Male) for two years, probably the UK’s largest support group for trans men. He’s participated in meetings with NHS England to help improve trans care and has developed a wealth of knowledge on both safe practices for trans people and the Gender Recognition Act.
We also discussed some of the problems Matt encountered which he hadn't thought may occur, and how to build resilience when setbacks occur.
It was a great experience to meet Matt and learn from his journey through change.