I was working this past week with a private client of mine, a very talented and prosperous wealth manager. She’s been working through an extremely complicated tax matter for a client of hers. She began telling me how “horrible” she’s been at certain aspects of the project, how she’s “screwed up” certain parts of the file, and how “overwhelmed” she’s been with all the “problems” that she’s been faced with.
In my most sonorous coaching voice, I said, “Well that’s a pretty dramatic story.”
Which, thankfully, stopped her dead in her tracks.
“What would it be like to tell a different story, a more empowering story, a story that casts you as a more resourceful professional?” I asked.
“Well, I’d feel much better,” she answered.
Of course she would. And she’d be more effective too.
What’s interesting is that, as entrepreneurs and professionals, we are often harder on ourselves than we are on anyone else. We hold ourselves to incredibly high standards; even higher than those we hold for our people. We demand of ourselves sustained, uninterrupted peak performance. We are highly intolerant of our own weaknesses; and unforgiving of our shortcomings. We drive ourselves longer, harder and faster than we would ever reasonably expect of others.
We tell stories about ourselves, and use language to describe ourselves that we would rarely say out loud.
We focus on what’s not working rather than on what’s working.
We focus on our weaknesses rather than our our strengths.
Yes, we talk dirty sometimes. About ourselves.
Stop it. Stop it now.
The two primary questions that confront every single one of us are: “Am I enough?” and “Will I be loved?”
No one escapes. No one. Not presidents; not prime ministers; not kings.
And at one time or another, every single one of us wonders whether we’re just a fraud in the world, playing some imaginary role; and we worry that it will just be a matter of time before someone finds us out.
But knowing that these feelings of inadequacy are universal; knowing we’re not alone; we have a choice.
We can focus on the good.
We can focus on what’s working well.
We can use more powerful, more resourceful language.
We can choose not to talk dirty about ourselves.
In the Book Yourself Solid® community, Michael Port has banished the words “struggle” and “overwhelm” because the words themselves create a negative story.
- Problems are challenges.
- Mistakes are lessons.
- Dangers are opportunities.
So how do we become more resourceful with our language?
We practice. Just like with anything else. Like strengthening a muscle. Like playing an instrument. Like learning Spanish.
We practice. We catch ourselves in the act. (Or your coach catches you!)
We practice. We fail. We start again.
We tell better stories. We use better language.
It’s a (life-long) work in process.
Me talk dirty sometimes. You do too.
Let’s stop it.
When you’re ready to create a new story, email me: firstname.lastname@example.org