Tag Archives: confidence

Today’s Lesson: Keep Your Eyes Fixed on the Road Ahead

So, I did it. I crashed into The Big Scary Wall of Self-Doubt instead of vaulting over it or crashing through it.

I’m in recovery now.

I’ve met with a few people who have given me some perspective and some ideas on how to get up, dust myself off, and keep working through my transformational journey.

Some of you may know that during my career, I’ve been a full-time employee and a consultant operating her own business. Both are very fine and noble ways to make a living and, obviously, the full-time route is a bit more stable and secure. But my passion for being a change broker and making a difference is what fuels me. So that’s the road I’ve been on in this current journey.

I want very much to take the entrepreneurial route again — I loved it, it fed my desire for challenges, it provided me a way to pursue my passion and it opened my eyes to all kinds of perspectives I didn’t have before. But, as Robert Herjavec of TV’s Dragon’s Den fame will tell you, it’s not for the faint of heart. In addition to having the drive, you need to be at ease with taking risks, willing to make tough decisions, put in all kinds of time and effort when needed, and stay focused.

I recently read Herjavec’s book Driven: How to Succeed in Business and in Life. As with many self-made successful entrepreneurs, he learned some very valuable (and sometimes tough) lessons throughout his life, starting when he was a 12-year-old immigrant from Croatia, to enjoying the life he has built for himself and his family and growing more businesses.

One thing his wealth has been able to do is satisfy his craving for fast cars. Herjavec raced his Ferrari in the Formula Vee (a class of racing for young and older non-professional drivers). In his book, he draws a compelling analogy between focus in business and focus on the racetrack:

Competitive racing teaches you one thing above all, and that’s the complex power of your mind. When it comes to survival instincts, the mind proves more powerful than the body. Here’s an example: you enter a corner at two hundred kilometres an hour and the car begins to spin. Ahead of you, as the car slides along the track, is a wall. You don’t want to hit the wall for a dozen reasons, ranging from losing the race to potentially losing your life. The normal human reaction is to look at the wall; the wall is a threat to be avoided at all costs. In racing, you are taught never to look at the wall, because if you do you will surely hit it, no matter how hard you try to avoid it. That’s because during the few milliseconds it takes to absorb the message – Omigod, I’m going to hit the wall! – your hands will freeze on the steering wheel.

Experienced drivers learn to avoid looking at the wall and fix their eyes instead on where they want to go, which is down the track ahead of them. In other words, you train your mind on where you want to go and not where you appear to be going. This sounds to me like a pretty good analogy for doing business in a competitive climate – look away from the danger and towards the opportunity. Or, if you prefer, keep your eye on your objective and avoid staring at the wall.

I read this passage a few times and realized that I’ve been staring at the wall with fear, worrying about crashing, instead of focusing on the road ahead. I have an arsenal of experience and expertise, I’ve run a consulting business before, and I’m told I’m pretty smart. So why am I letting worries, fears and silly reasons keep me from succeeding?

I’m focusing on the road ahead where I can do what I love, brake when I need to, take the curves as they come, and when I’m ready, open up and go full throttle towards the finish line.

Image: Pete Keen / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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The Brick Wall

A few months ago, I read a book that resonated with me in a big way. It’s called The Last Lecture and was written by Randy Pausch, a professor, researcher and mentor at Carnegie Mellon University.

The book is based on Randy’s last lecture, “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams”. Sadly, Randy lost his battle with pancreatic cancer in 2008. In his short life, however, he achieved many of his childhood dreams and has inspired millions to strive to achieve theirs.

Randy came to mind today as I sat pondering what I’ve achieved so far, some next steps, and what it will take to make my dreams come true. I’ve mapped out some pretty significant goals, worked with a great NLP-based coach to make progress in eliminating my limiting beliefs and negative emotions, and as I put everything into practice, the enormity of everything I want to do has suddenly stopped me in my tracks.

Because there it is. Right in front of me: The Big Scary Wall of Self-Doubt.

And on the other side: my heart’s desires.

That’s when Randy came to mind. In his book, he says:
“The brick walls are there for a reason. They’re not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something… The brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.”

When I’ve reached this point of self-doubt in the past, there were times when I summoned my strength, ignored the possibility of not succeeding, faced my fears and did it anyway.

Then there were the other times – when I threw my hands up, waved the white flag and closed the chapter on what might have been.

Why the difference – why do we sometimes give up and other times give it all we’ve got?

Does it really come down to how badly we want something? Looks like it. There are so many examples of accomplished people who faced the odds and through sheer determination and desire made things happen.

So here I am, facing the brick wall again.

Am I driven enough to silence the questioning self-talk? Can I get past the doubt? What will it take to get what I want and either break through that wall or vault over it, Navy Seal-style, to the other side?

I’m putting on my helmet and elbow pads. I’m armed with clear, vivid, Technicolor images of what I will see, hear, feel and do when I reach my goals. And I’m taking a run at it.

How badly do you want to achieve something? Will the brick wall keep you out?

Or will I see you on the other side?

Photo courtesy of: Image: renjith krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Leap and the Net Will Appear

Trust.

It’s a huge thing. Or is it?

From a young age, we naturally trust our caregivers, trust that we’ll get what we need, trust that if we speak up we’ll be heard, and trust that we can do anything.

Where does that trust get lost along the way? For some, it never does. Those are the people I look to for inspiration. They’re the ones who know in their gut that they can leap and the net will appear.

I recently read a novel, Belong to Me, by Marisa de los Santos. A memory described by one of her characters has awoken a desire in me to once again trust in the universe, trust in my talents and trust that I’m on the right track by taking a leap of faith:

“I found myself remembering Toby cliff diving on a family vacation to California, running full tilt, straight for the edge and over, flinging his body into nothingness with a whoop of exaltation. At the time, I’d thought it was pure, arrogant recklessness, the dumbest kind of dumb fun. But what if it was something more? What if cliff diving wasn’t as much about recklessness as trust, trust in the air to hold you and the water to cushion your fall? Belief in a benevolent universe. Kierkegaardian theology in action. Maybe, just maybe, it was Toby’s version of a leap of faith.”

What would happen if you opened yourself up to trust and took a leap of faith?

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The Woman Across the Room

DVF

Confidence. Most people would love to have more.

The lucky ones are the ones who have it pouring out of their pockets. Right? It seems to be in the composition of their DNA. They shine. They have presence. We gravitate towards them. They don’t have to worry about confidence like the rest of us.

Or do they?

Are they as confident as we’ve convinced ourselves they are?

Or have they become masters of “fake it ‘til you make it” or other brands of similar mantras that motivate us when we need them most?

On Monday, I was in a workshop in which we were discussing confidence, particularly in the career sense – you know, interviews, networking, presenting your best self. Most people thought that others in the room were far more confident than they are, and wanted to be more like them.

Fast forward to Tuesday: I’m watching The Nate Berkus Show (I’m a devoted fan). One of Nate’s guests was Diane von Furstenberg, the famous designer and fashion icon. What an amazing woman!

In talking about herself, her vision and what she has aspired to achieve through her work, Diane said something that reinforced for me something that has become a recurring theme and reminder as I journey through my current life transformation. That is, there are two sides to the confidence equation: what you think about yourself and what others see. Here’s how Diane put it (best):

You always look at the woman across the room. And you think, “The woman across the room is so confident, and so put together, and so on.” But that woman is looking at you. And for her, you are the woman across the room. Everybody’s the same. It’s just a big waste of time to be insecure.

Way cool. Thank you, Diane.

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