Getting Out of Your Own Way

February 3rd 2015

Everyone who’s ever achieved anything difficult must first battle her inner voices. You know what I’m talking about: the voices that start the moment you decide to do something that feels big. The voices say:

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“Who do you think you are, trying something like this? You have no business doing it. You’re not good enough/smart enough/well known enough.”

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“What do you have to contribute? Whatever it is, it couldn’t possibly be useful to your audience/your client/your boss.”

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“Why would you even consider such a big thing? You simply aren’t at that level.”

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Maybe your voices say different things, but this is the gist of the monologue I’ve heard in my own head. Clients have told me similar stories. It’s always about not being ______ enough. Fill in your own blank and you’ll find your voices. Whatever specific doubts the voices hurl, you can count on them being hurtful and self-limiting. 

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These doubts are also illogical. I believe we can choose to respond with a certain amount of useful reasoning. We can tell ourselves a different story. 

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When you hear “Who do you think you are?” in your head, you can tell yourself that you’re exactly the person to take on this project. Otherwise

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    a) you wouldn’t have thought of it in the first place, or 

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    b) the person who assigned it to you would have given it to someone else.

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Before you let the voices decide that you have nothing to contribute, review your database of knowledge. Think about all the stuff you know about a particular area. Then think both broadly and with a more narrow focus. Cover the spectrum. You may realize that you know more about it than you thought, and perhaps more about it than other people. And those other people could very well benefit from your contribution.

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When you think you’re not yet at a level required to take on the project, think again. Everything you’ve done has very likely prepared you to do what’s next. Everything you know can and will help you do it. Achieving a great result on this project will be only slightly different from the great results you’ve achieved on others. And it may be just different enough to help you feel a real sense of accomplishment when the project is complete.

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Finally, if you want to quiet those voices, get very still. Stop talking, stop doing, stop thinking, even if only for a minute or two. See? Don’t you feel ready to tackle that project more effectively and with less anxiety?

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Now, go on. Achieve something great.

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stories, communication, personal development, professional development

Comments



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Adrian G. Simmons
02/04/2015 12:59pm
I heard a professional athlete describe it once as trying to'swim against the current of your own emotions' -- we need to push back, and challenge our own emotions sometimes. :)
Jason Blumer
02/04/2015 5:34am
Ha, I've heard this stuff too (and so have my clients). I've never thought about reasoning with myself.\r\n\r\n"If I'm so incapable, then why have I been presented with this opportunity!" Boom, take that inner voice!