You’re A Fake & I Know It!

John was being interviewed about his distinguished career as an anthropologist. He was smart, witty, inciteful. A true professional. The real deal.

Except that he wasn’t.

John was a classmate of mine at a recent conference I attended to hone my public speaking skills. And this was an on-camera exercise he was chosen to participate in.

Even though John was a financial planner, he was told to play the role of an expert anthropologist, despite knowing jack shit about anthropology.

But he was amazing!

Those of us in the audience learned a lot about speaking on camera.

But there was an even more important lesson.

Every single one of us, at one time or another, feels like a fraud. We think we’re not “good enough.” We’re convinced – we’re absolutely certain – that we’ll be “found out” for the inadequate fools we think we are.

No one escapes.

Even those of us who speak on stage.

But watching John “be” the anthropologist with such poise, ease, dignity and grace reminded us all that the stories we tell ourselves about how (we’re convinced) the world will see us (with all of our imperfections) are just that: stories; stories that we make up in our minds.

The truth is that, for the most part, those in the “world” (those you’re absolutely sure will find you out) are much too busy worrying about their own stories of adequacy and worth. And that when you step up to share those gifts that are uniquely yours to share, others are judging themselves far more often than they are judging you.

So be fearless. (Or, as Susan Jeffers says, feel the fear and do it anyway!)

If John can “be the anthropologist,” then I certainly can be me. And you can certainly be you.

And, I dare say, that’s enough.

Road Blocks & Hula Hoops

“I need to do some research on the market.”

“I need another certification.”

“I need to build a website.”

“I’m not sure of my target audience.”

“I think there’s a seminar I should take first.”

“I’m still a bit unclear about my message.”

“I don’t really know what to start writing about.”

“I’ve never spoken to a group before.”

“I’m too young.”

“I don’t have enough experience.”

“I think I might be too old.”

And on and on and on…

In the course of my coaching, I hear them all. Every single one of them.

The excuses we all create for not beginning, for not starting out, for not taking action. The obstacles we set up; the hurdles we drag out; the hoops we think we need to jump through .

We do this because we are afraid.

We fear that we are not enough. We fear ridicule and condescension. We fear failure. We fear success.

It’s easier to stay put, stay safe.

It’s easier to pretend. It’s easier to be ‘busy’ doing things that we tell ourselves are ‘conditions’ for taking action… rather than really taking action.

Rather than risking.

If it looks important and sounds important it surely must be important.

Maybe we can fool the world. But not ourselves.

In staying safe, we’re playing small.

And the world so desperately needs those gifts that are yours alone to give: your writing, your speaking, your coaching, your art, your service, your teaching, your product, your ideas.

  • By taking action, you will find your direction, discover your voice, clarify your vision, define your mission.
  • By taking action, you will draw to you opportunities and resources and people who will support you.
  • By taking action, you will discern what you really need to sustain you on your journey.
  • By taking action, you will learn what works well and what needs to be tweaked.
  • By taking action, even when you fail from time to time, you will move closer to your goals.

You could stay put (safe) for the next six months… and be nowhere in the direction of your dreams in six month’s time. Or you could start out on your desired path, fully fail for half the time… and be well along toward what you truly want.

There are enough real obstacles that will rise up along the way.

You need not create any of your own.

Build it, discover it, create it, refine it… Do it on the go.

Don’t wait. There’s nothing else you need to do.

And there is no time to waste.

Start. Today.

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This is an encore of a post first published on February 13, 2014.

Just One Thing

The phone rings. A fax comes in. There’s an email alert. Your associate needs help. The school calls about your sick child. Your Outlook chimes. There’s a LinkedIn request to connect. You’re mentioned on Twitter. Your associate needs help. Your gCal pops up. A text comes in from an unhappy client. Someone ‘likes’ your post on Facebook. Your partner messages you about dinner plans. There’s a customer at the desk.

“I really like my work,” Dan said after the talk. “It’s just that I get to the end of the day and I feel so scattered and unfocused. It’s exhausting”

I had been speaking to a group of attorneys about emotional wellness and sustainable peak performance.

Dan is not alone.

We live in a culture of distraction. We suffer from information overload.

Everything seems urgent; everything competes for our attention; everything wants to be done… now.

Except that it can’t be.

We can only do one thing at a time.

It’s when we delude ourselves and pretend that we can do it all – and all at once -that we deplete our limited resources.

We love to indulge the myth of multi-tasking. We love to feel significant and needed.

But the hits of cortisol are addictive. And continuous partial attention extracts a huge toll.

Without laser-like focus,

  • We make mistakes.
  • We’re unproductive.
  • We become emotionally fragile.
  • We experience stress and overwhelm.
  • We dishonor our relationships.
  • We miss opportunities.
  • We end up being poor stewards of our time.

Focus is fuel. Focus is power.

Focus is the doorway to creativity and innovation.

You nurture focus through practice; you strengthen it like a muscle.

If you want to be resourceful and resilient; if you want to create deep relationships and change lives; if you want to advance your career or grow your business; if you want to serve at the very highest level and make an impact in the world, then focus.

Do just one thing.

3 Things Successful People Do Differently

Many folks think that success is like magic. It just happens. It’s a matter of luck; or birthright; or privilege. It’s reserved for the fortunate few.

But actually, success is like a cake recipe. There are ingredients, and particular steps; and if you follow the recipe, you will be successful.

Study successful people. You will see some of these common ingredients.

Here are three of them:

Successful People Focus on High Value Targets

Most of us wake up to a “To Do” list that overwhelms us. Everything looks like it has the same level of urgency and import. But that’s not true.

Successful people know that there are really only a few important things in their day to get done. They apply the Pareto Principle ruthlessly focusing on the 20% of things that lead to the 80% of the results. They focus on what matters most.

And successful people say no. Often.

Steve Jobs once said, “People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.”

Successful people practice leadership expert John Maxwell’s principle, “Say ‘no’ to the good so that you can say ‘yes’ to the best.”

They know that less is more.

Successful People Don’t Work Like Machines

Our industrial age mindset is that, in order to be successful, we need to work longer, harder, faster; that the more time we put in, the more successful we will be. Show up early, leave late, work overtime, nights, weekends, holidays: that’s the path to success.

Successful people know that we’re not built like machines. They know that, just as we sleep in rhythms, our awake time has rhythms as well. They know that humans work best in 60 to 90 minute segments; and that throughout the day, they need to take breaks to recharge their minds and refocus their attention.

Successful people know that, in order for peak performance to be sustained, they can’t work 24/7/365. They know that performers and athletes and artists at the top of their games ‘practice’ their crafts for 5 or 6 hours a day; and then turn their attentions elsewhere.

They know that the secret to success is not working harder; it’s working smarter.

Successful People Take Care of Themselves. First.

Most folks, especially those of us in service-related businesses, charge into the day, never focusing on their most important resource: themselves. They give and they give and they give some more. Until there’s nothing left. They know they’ve heard that old schpeel from the airline attendant about the oxygen mask and putting it on first before helping others. But for some reason, they believe that the adage doesn’t apply to them; that they won’t end up dead on the cabin floor.

Successful people know that in order to show up in the world, serve at a high level, and really make an impact, they need to take care of themselves first. They know that you don’t run a high performance vehicle around and around the track without ever stopping.

Successful people stop. They fuel their bodies with good food; they hydrate; they rest; they sleep. They fuel their minds with good books and good conversation. They nurture their spirits with time for reflection, mindfulness and meditation.

Successful people surround themselves with others on the path with similar values and powerful visions. They know that they don’t want to be the smartest person in the room; that they constantly want to be growing and learning and called ever higher.

Successful people know that when they take care of themselves first, they can change the world.

How’s your recipe? Is it time for a new one?