Let me ask you a question; when you consider all the success and, with that, all the failings in your career, who or what has allowed that to happen for you?
Now, you might say it was circumstance or opportunity. You might put it down to your network, or even your perceived skills. However, when you break it all down, the answer is really 'you'.
Henry Ford once wisely said, 'whether you think you can or think you can't, you're right.'
He knew what he was talking about.
Many years ago, I was frequently required to do cold calling. I don't know many people out there who necessarily enjoying cold calling and I'm was certainly not one of them. Back then, I would often hope that it would go to voicemail where I'd leave some pleasant message and hope for the best which, as the years have taught me, possibly wasn't the best way to do that but that's beside the point right now.
There was one client who I would phone every month and leave a pleasant message to say hello and to explore if there was a need for our services. 'Just keeping us front of mind', I would merrily say while feeling a part of me sinking inside for fear of 'putting someone out' with my call.
I left that client a message once a month... for 18 months straight... and then one day she called.
“I've decide I'm going to give you a go!”, she said. I was both terrified and over the moon at this prospect. Within days, I had been out to meet with this new client and we began what went on to not only be a very beneficial working relationship, but also a very dear friend. In fact, I had lunch with her only yesterday.
It's easy for us to get caught up in the belief that our call is going to 'put someone out', and it is often reinforced by the small amount of bad experiences we might encounter. Funnily enough, even though the majority of calls are not going to be 'bad', we would allow that past experience to dictate what our expectations of future calls could be even when the realty is so much more friendlier than that.
Now, you might not have to do cold calls but you may have some other 'small thing' that you completely avoid in your own line of work because of some self created negative expectation that you hold around it. Sometimes you're right, but not always – right?
Energy Flows Where The Focus Goes
Our own self perception of what we are capable of and what we can or can't do not only creates our reality, but often the opportunity that exists within it. If you're afraid to pick up the phone and make a phone call, then you have to also be responsible for the lack of opportunity that may have come from that phone call, correct?
The most successful people in their careers are the ones who have often LEARNED to back themselves. I say learned because I doubt there are many people out there who just naturally trusted that they were capable. Often it was smoke and mirrors, changing the conversation in their own heads, even if it was to fool themselves for just enough time to do the very action they needed to do to bring about that next step instead of staying safely in the comfort zone that they've already established. I call it 'how to tell yourself to shut the f**k up.' Yep, it's brutal but sometimes we all need a good slap of tough love, even when we're giving it to ourselves.
Consider this – opportunities exist around us every day. From the moment people wake up and go to work, they're wanting to make 'stuff happen'. They're wanting to be creative. They're wanting to feel successful. They're wanting to do something meaningful. In order for that 'stuff' to happen, then it has to be through action. It has to be through engagement and connection with others outside of themselves. That is opportunity!
Making 'Stuff Happen'.
So what stops people from engaging with those wanting to make 'stuff happen'? Often when we break it down, it is a fear. A fear of being rejected. A fear of not knowing what to do. A fear of not knowing what to say. A fear that our deepest, darkest belief that we're actually not good enough might, on some levels, be true. Well, I have great news for you – there is not a single healthy minded person on this planet who doesn't share those same self doubts. Not everyone knows what to do every time. No one is perfect. Perhaps we should just focus on what the next step should be, commit to it with our whole heart, and do the best job we can. When we do that, we learn in the process. We realise that sometimes the things we fear the most aren't actually that scary after all, or perhaps weren't even there to begin with. We begin to learn that the monster we thought we would encounter only existed in our mind and that the world is full of people who, like you, have their good days and their bad days.
As you read this, ask yourself – what opportunities would I encounter today if I said YES instead of NO? What experience would I have if I decided to do that thing that actually scared me and discovered that it was all ok, regardless of success or fail, you learned something new and lived through it with a better understanding? What if I told myself to shut up with the self talk for a moment and actually channelled that energy into an action that I know is going to take me one step closer to where I want to go?
To those who see the world as full of opportunities, it truly is. To those who see it as a place where only the successful continue to succeed, it will be that too. What kind of world are you going to see today and how will you use that to your advantage?