How Rik de Koning Overcame His Fear

Rik de Koning, 36 years young and with over 8 years of experience at Rapid Circle. Rik currently works as a Principal Consultant in the BizApps team, where he focuses on everything related to the Power Platform. He started his career as a SharePoint trainee but quickly made progress, becoming a SharePoint Consultant, Office 365 Consultant, and eventually a Power Platform Consultant. Rik has always been involved in digitalizing and optimizing business processes using workflows and form design. Therefore, it was a natural step for him to delve further into the Power Platform when Microsoft first announced it. And today? Today, we get to know Rik even better. From self-development to increasing his assertiveness and speaking at major events. Are you ready to follow his journey with us?

Today, we’ll talk about your self-development journey. Can you tell me more about a specific moment in your career when you became interested in speaking or presenting?

“I have always enjoyed sharing my knowledge with others and helping them in various ways. It wasn’t necessarily that from the beginning, I thought I wanted to speak or present. But how it actually came about is that during various performance cycles—and I also knew it myself from personal and professional experiences—I was told that I was quite introverted, which could hinder my work and growth as a consultant. As a result, my team lead and I decided to find a suitable solution, and we agreed that I would attend an assertiveness training to become more assertive. Rapid Circle (formerly Portiva) certainly supported me in this endeavor.

During that training, I also decided to step out of my comfort zone and share something about my field of expertise with a group of people. So, I started giving a session at the Dutch Power Apps & Flow User Group. The event was still relatively small at the time, but you have to start small. And I actually enjoyed doing it. I also received good feedback. So, I got the feeling that maybe this is something worth pursuing.” How did you find the assertiveness training? “You’re actually in a class with like-minded people. Often, there are introverts, people in between, and extroverts, but here it was different. Because everyone is in the same mindset, you’re also somewhat forced to say something. Otherwise, it would be quite silent in the class. What stuck with me the most was the outcome of the training. It had a real impact on me. I got to know myself much better.”

How did you find it? Such assertiveness training?

“So, basically, you’re in the class with like-minded individuals. Usually, you have introverts, people who are somewhere in between, and extroverts, but here it was different. Because everyone is in that same mindset, you’re kind of forced to speak up. Otherwise, it would be very quiet in the class, of course. What stuck with me the most was the outcome of the training. It had a real impact on me. I really got to know myself much better.”

Was it challenging or confronting to be in such a group?

“On the one hand, yes, because you feel a kind of discomfort. You know how each other feels to some extent, but also not quite. And on the other hand, yes, because you know what they’re experiencing and what challenges they’re facing. And indeed, you also have the same exact issues. So, you immediately have a conversation topic. If you engage in a conversation, you know what to talk about.”

Do you have an example of a moment when assertiveness was an obstacle in your work?

“Yes, several. For example, when you’re in a meeting with a client, and things are being discussed, and in your head, you’re thinking, ‘I want to say this’ or ‘I want to bring up something else.’ But then you have this feeling of waiting a bit longer. And then you keep postponing it until the meeting is over. And then you can no longer share it. And you feel disappointed. It’s not just about not being visible, but also about not being able to make your point and the client not seeing the potential in you as a consultant. Fortunately, these were mostly operational assignments, and I didn’t have a guiding role per se. I also have no ambitions to become a manager or anything like that. So, in that sense, it doesn’t bother me. But it’s more about wanting to make myself more visible as a consultant. It’s nice if you have that ability to some extent.

There are also cases where emotions sometimes play a role. I always find it difficult to deal with other people’s emotions. I still struggle to respond to them, also because I want to maintain a good relationship. So, if you want to change or influence someone’s emotions, you’re also changing the kind of bond you have with that person. This is where my fear often lies. However, I’m slowly working towards learning how to manage and deal with it effectively.”

What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve encountered during your self-development journey?

“I think the biggest point was getting to know myself truly. This happened during the assertiveness training. They delved deep into your personality. They did this through role-plays, interviews, and simply observing your reactions to certain situations. As a result, an image of yourself emerges, which you may not have fully realized. You learn more about yourself, why you behave the way you do, and why it can be both good and bad.

A crucial message conveyed during the training was that it’s not bad to be the way you are. However, it can have an impact on your personal life, work, or both. During the training, you learn how to navigate and manage these aspects better. It also helps you to examine yourself more closely, and you might suddenly realize, ‘Oh yes, that explains why I behaved in a certain way in the past.”

Are there any things you would like to work on or change?

“Yes and no because a large part of it may just be my character. And you don’t want to change your character because then you would be pretending to be someone you’re not. Wanting to work on being more outgoing is always an ongoing journey. It can help guide yourself to occasionally step forward when it’s important to someone else.”

“Perhaps a large part simply lies in my character. And you don’t want to change your character because then you would be pretending to be someone you’re not.”

Rik de Koning, Principal Consultant

Going back to speaking and presenting, can you share a moment when you faced a significant challenge while speaking or presenting and how you overcame it?

“Definitely the first time speaking. That was obviously the big hurdle I had to overcome. Because I’m naturally quite reserved and introverted. So, suddenly having to talk to a group of people about things is quite intimidating.”

Was it scarier than you expected or less scary than you expected?

“The first time was scary, for sure. I think it was about as expected in terms of how scared I would feel. But mainly, it was about working up to it. So, what I mostly noticed was that I started feeling nervous a few days beforehand. Once I entered the room, my heart started pounding in my throat. But once you start and tell your story, that feeling completely disappears. It’s just about overcoming that barrier and the fact that you’re speaking to many people at once. That’s somewhat thrilling. But now I know that a healthy dose of nerves is always good. Most speakers experience that as well.

One tip I received from someone was to simply mention that I’m nervous. Tell it to the audience. That way, if anything happens, they know why. So, I did that for the first few times. And even when I recently spoke at a large international event in Copenhagen. The feedback I received from people was that they didn’t notice it at all. They thought I had been doing this for years. So, that’s also good to hear. Even though you feel nervous, it doesn’t show on the outside. And that also helps for the next time you stand in front of such an audience. You think, ‘Yes, I feel nervous now, but apparently, it doesn’t come across.’ It can make you feel calmer.”

What are your future goals regarding speaking or presenting?

“I’m now trying to apply to speak at more significant events. There’s no guarantee that I’ll be chosen, of course, but I’m giving it a try. I’ve noticed that it’s something I enjoy doing. In essence, I’m working on what came out of my assertiveness training, which is that I like to help people. I used to write quite a few blogs for this purpose. That was my silent way of helping people. I’ve realized that I like being the helping hand and trying to pass on my knowledge as much as possible. And I want to continue doing that. Now, instead of being behind my laptop, I’ll do it in person as a speaker.”

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