“Yeah.” He answered without missing a beat.
“Would you have any hesitation going snowboarding again after your wrist heals?” I inquired.
“Nah!” he replied. “Let’s come back for sure.”
This is an excerpt of a conversation I had with my son at age thirteen on the way to urgent care after his first attempt to snowboard. I was inspired by his lack of hesitation. And his courage. But most of all, with his mindset.
Mindset is the key to overcoming setbacks. Your mindset determines—to a large degree—whether you see the experience as a success or a failure. And the way you see the experience will have an enormous impact on whether or not you will try that experience again.
What’s the big deal if you don’t try an experience again?
Well, the problem isn’t so much the broken bone—in my son’s case—which will inevitably be accompanied by a certain amount of pain. The problem is letting the setback deprive you of a future that could bring you an immense amount of joy and satisfaction. And most people let seeming setbacks deprive them of joy and satisfaction more often than they realize.
It could be the proposals they poured their hearts into to that never really went anywhere. Or the promotions they were working toward for months that ended up going to someone else. Perhaps it was the first time they went out their comfort zones, only to feel as though they landed on their backside with nothing but broken bones to show for it.
Confusing Skill with Potential
You confuse skill with potential when you decide that you’ll never be good at something because you didn’t get it right the first time you tried it. Or the second time. Or the tenth time. Most people do not have a high degree of skill when they try something new. But doesn’t mean they don’t have an enormous amount of potential.
When you confuse skill with potential, you tell yourself a story that has you making an assessment of yourself based on a very limited amount of data. The story goes like this: “Boy, I was really bad at that. I’m just not cut out for it. I should leave it to other people who actually have talent.”
You allow it to keep you from trying something again. And trying something again is exactly what you need to do in order to gain the very skill you are having difficulty executing. So your story becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. You miss out on the joy of ultimately mastering that skill. And so do all the people who would have benefited from what you could have accomplished if you did.
But that’ s not the only story that can get you into trouble.
Taking an Experience Personally
When you take an experience personally, you make it more about you than anything or anyone else. Your universe constricts and you become the center of it. You feel hurt and rejected, or angry and resentful. You replay events in your mind and question what you did to screw things up. You think, “if only I would have done this, or been more like that, things would have gone better.”
You become so fixated in feeling wronged or victimized that you render yourself powerless. In an effort to avoid being hurt again, you may hedge your bets, fly under the radar, try not to get your hopes up. And this act of withholding keeps you from doing the very thing that could allow you to succeed next time.
Often, setbacks have nothing to do with you as a person.
You lost a big client. Yet in retrospect, you realize the client was a huge pain in your rear end, sucking up time and energy that you could have dedicated to someone you really love to work with. And if you take it personally, you’ll keep your perfect client from seeing the very thing in you that could cinch the deal.
What If It Was Personal?
But what if it did have to do with you? What if you came on too strong? Or too meek? Or if there was something you could have done to get that promotion, keep that client, succeed with that proposal? Well, if you take it personally you may never have the courage, the confidence and the open mind it takes to solicit or receive the feedback you need and to act on it in a way that allows you to succeed next time.
There is a difference between taking things personally and learning what you could do differently next time. Taking things personally causes you to contract. And learning allows you to expand. Which will you choose?
My 13-year-old son reminded me of the importance of mindset in my own life.
Though it’s not likely that snowboarding will be in my future, there is a good chance that I will fall the next time I try something new. When I do, I will remember how his lack of regret and eagerness to try again kept him from an unproductive mindset.
And I will pick myself up, tend to my broken bones, and allow myself to enjoy the joy and satisfaction that comes from getting back on the slopes.
Aligning your mindset with your desired outcome is an essential and often overlooked practice – a major focus of The Real Leader’s Guide to Freedom & Flow Group Intensive. Though the spring program is now full, you can get on the waiting list for priority access to the fall program, kicking off in September. For more information, visit The Real Leader’s Guide to Freedom & Flow Group Intensive.
In my last post Do Some People Intimidate You?, I wrote about the phenomenon that grips most of us at one time or another, leading us to feel inadequate, uneasy and temporarily inept in the presence of certain people. As I wrote in that article, through there are a number of circumstances that can trigger it, the root of all intimidation lies in what you are believing about yourself in any given moment. This leads us to question,
What can you do about it when it happens?
And better yet, how can you prevent it altogether?
Well, the interesting thing about intimidation is that the root of it is also the remedy. When you find yourself going down Intimidation Street, you can stop and redirect yourself down a more positive path simply by becoming aware of and eventually changing your thoughts.
I admit that this is much easier said than done. However, as with so many things in life, it gets better and better with practice. Here are three ways to redirect your negative thoughts about yourself to something more positive:
(1) Think of someone in your life in whose presence you feel really good about yourself – someone who leads you to believe you could do anything. Go ahead and try it right now. See if you can place yourself in that person’s presence and feel the way you do when you are together. You might find that you are sitting up straighter and holding your head higher just at the thought. Know that when you are with that person, you are the same you that you are when you are with people who intimidate you. See if you can envision being in the presence of someone who intimidates you while you are feeling the way you feel when you are around someone you feel loved and admired by. Imagine how much easier it would be to interact with others while you are in this state. Practice this in your mind often.
The next time you are around someone who intimidates you, use the exact same process. Treat every interaction as an opportunity to build this muscle for yourself. And before you know it, you will find that your behavior will become more consistently confident and self assured. You may also notice that the things that used to send you into a tailspin no longer really bother you.
(2) The next time you find yourself feeling intimidated, notice what you are believing. Then ask yourself if it is really true. This may be difficult to do when you are standing in front of someone, so if it’s easier you can wait until the moment has passed. You may find when you reflect on the situation that you felt the way you did when you were a kid and realize that those feelings are no longer relevant. You may be believing that there is something you need to do or be to win someone’s affection or approval when in reality you just need to relax and be yourself and let go of needing so much to be liked by others. You may be believing that the other person is thinking something negative about you that is purely conjecture you are poisoning your mind with.
When you notice and begin to challenge your assumptions, they lose their hold on you. It’s kind of like being in a haunted house after the lights have been switched on. You can go back there when it’s dark again, but it’ll never scare you the way it might have before.
(3) See if you can shift your focus from what you think you need to what you can give. As I mentioned before, we get intimidated when we feel we are lacking in some way. And then we tend to act in ways that will allow us to get what we think we need to feel better. Often that comes in the form of someone’s approval or affection. Think of what kinds of things you think you need from others in order to feel more confident. Is it a smile? Is it a compliment? Is it someone paying attention to you? A little appreciation or support?
See if you can find a way to give to someone whatever you believe you need. And do it in such a way that you are not expecting anything in return other than to be of service to another human being. In other words, don’t give to get. Give because it makes you feel good. When you do this, you will find yourself reconnected with the reserves that you are most in need of. Because when you give something – even if it is something you think you don’t have – you realize that by the very nature of giving it to others, you become an abundant supply.
“Those who bring sunshine to others cannot keep it from themselves.” – Anonymous
If you would like to learn more about building confidence, being authentic, and moving beyond old patterns that keep you from fully enjoying your life, check out my new video program, On the Road to Real, or pick up a copy of or my book, The Pinocchio Principle: Becoming the Leader You Were Born to Be, available at Amazon.com or BarnesandNoble.com. If you are interested in working one on one with me, visit http://www.dianebolden.com/coaching.html to learn more. When you are ready to move forward, contact me to schedule a complimentary coaching call.
Most of us have people in our lives that for whatever reason lead us to temporarily lose access to our fully functioning brains. You may find that in their presence, words suddenly escape you. Or worse, they seem to pour out of you like diarrhea or projectile vomit, leaving you to feel even more uneasy. Perhaps you unexpectedly develop a stutter. Maybe you become unusually clumsy, or suddenly fixated on how large your nose (or some other part of your body) feels.
These are the kind of things that happen when we are intimidated by someone. People intimidate us for a number of reasons. Intimidation can be triggered by someone with an explosive temper, or a person who tends to be critical of you. It could come on when you are around someone you really want to be liked by. And sometimes it happens when you are in the presence of people who seem to have all the things in life that you do not, from stunning physical attributes to lavish material possessions to prestigious job titles. But there is one common denominator present when you find yourself intimidated by another person and believe it or not, it has very little to do with any of the previous factors I mentioned.
The root of all intimidation lies in what you are believing about yourself in any given moment.
It is easy to conclude that the problem exists somewhere out there – the way someone looks at you, or responds (or doesn’t respond) to you. And you might even think – if so and so wasn’t in my life, I would be so much more confident and self assured. But the problem isn’t other people – not even people who may intentionally be trying to tear you down a notch. You may think their hurtful messages are to blame. But the trouble isn’t hearing hurtful messages from others. That wouldn’t explain why people are intimidated by those they envy or really want to be liked by – who may never actually say anything at all.
The reason people intimidate us is that in their presence we are telling ourselves that we are simply not good enough, attractive enough, rich enough, powerful enough, articulate enough, smart enough, skinny enough, athletic enough – or ENOUGH altogether. And worse, we are believing it.
When you believe you are inadequate in any way, you will inadvertently cut yourself off from your brilliance. Sometimes it’s just a little kink in the hose that still allows a small portion of your competence or grace or talent to come through. And other times it’s just an all out blockage. It’s not that all those wonderful things about you have gone away. You just temporarily have trouble accessing them. And then you may panic and find that things get even worse.
So how do you remove the blockage?
What can you do to avoid becoming intimidated and losing confidence?
If these questions are on your mind, stay tuned for my next post, How to Stay Confident Around People Who Intimidate You, or check out my new video program, On the Road to Real.
Image courtesy of Marcus74id at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.