#SessionConfessions: What Makes You Feel Different Keeps You Aware And Sets You Apart!
Leadership Lesson: Our differences – even the ones we believe set us apart in an adverse way – can be harnessed into great self-awareness about where we stand and how we can get better moving forward.
We’re all so different. And most of us know it, feel it, and sense it.
But do we appreciate it? Do we understand its value? Have we harnessed its uniqueness? Do we realize differences are pieces of us that set us apart – and that that can be the game-changer?
This Inc. magazine article talks about those differences, how different we all are, and, most importantly, who (surprisingly) might feel that way – in the article it’s people we admire as those at the top of their game. Look at some of the great examples given. You have titans of music, television and film, entrepreneurship and business. They’re very public people with their own curious cautions rooted in their own self-perceptions and self-awareness. They don’t assume they can go all-in, 100% in control, on anything and believe their job is done. They continue asking How am i doing?
The experience of the greater population at large probably doesn’t vary too much from those described in the article. Regardless of what their public persona exudes, very rarely is there anyone who deep down inside feels complete control over their delivery, skills, and contributions.
And, to one extent or another, we can all relate. Maybe we feel unsure, lacking confidence. Or, worse yet, maybe we feel like frauds, gripped by imposter syndrome.
We all have more in common than you might think when it comes to feeling unsure.
A Common Experience
A powerful aspect to coaching that I never take for granted, and respect highly, is that I’m afforded the opportunity to hear about the similar experiences and emotions people share with me that they don’t show to or share with others. I gain access behind the curtain to who someone really is and what they really believe – in general and about themselves.
The fact that people share these feelings and beliefs is never something I bring up in sessions, but it shows how much we have in common.
Probably not surprising to you is that there always seems to be two sides to someone’s story – the side other people know (the façade) and the true side they don’t necessarily consider pretty, sexy, or relatable enough to share.
That true side is the part they’re unsure of. Something from their past and in their development has lead them to question themselves.
But that true side is us. Our present is made up from our past. Who we are today is built off of all our experiences to date. You’ve gained your demeanor, skills, and attributes, among other things, from your past.
Some of my clients’ best attributes – some of YOUR best attributes – can come from some of those things that, when living in those moments you experienced them, you believed gained you nothing, would take you nowhere, or maybe led you to begin doubting yourself.
Consider those people mentioned in the article. If we hadn’t read it in this article, we probably would have never known what kind of insecurities — or, at the very least, self-awareness — those mentioned really have. We see the sexy side – their public persona – but not their internal self-doubts. Oftentimes, the rest of us operate in the same manner and mindset.
And like the article says, we all have these kinds of thoughts, but it’s just a matter of what we do with them that truly makes the difference.
That’s where the power of perspective comes in. Some of us have perspective on what our differences mean and what they can really do for (or against) us. For the rest of us, that perspective eludes us.
Like anything in life, putting things in perspective loosens the grasp of misunderstanding those things have on us. Through perspective, the more we understand something, the more we can use it to make progress or, at the very least, not let it stop us from moving forward and building who we are.
Perspective allows us to think: It happened. It’s life. I can’t change it. I have learned. This is what I’ve learned. This is what I’ll take with me. Time to move forward.
I’ve always asked clients and others to consider how their view of who they are has evolved as they’ve made their way through life and work. In general, although most of us may dismiss experiences and the feelings we have toward them in those moments as the experiences were unfolding, there’s nothing wrong with recalling them at a later time, looking for lessons. The way you look at your past can change over time, even from moment to moment, based on new understanding and knowledge you’ve gained. Every new thing you learn can provide a refreshing new lens through which to view your own past and experiences.
This plays perfectly into the power of story-telling. We’re told more and more as leaders and business owners, or anyone seeking self-development guidance for improvement and betterment, or for marketing and advertising purposes: Tell your story!
Telling your story is powerful. Someone’s story – their inner understanding of their challenges, opportunities, and obstacles – is more powerful than any of their achievements to date. Achievements are great, but what stands out even more is what exists behind them and what has allowed someone to reach them. People can’t necessarily relate to your achievements, but they can relate to similar emotions and experiences they might have in common with the you from your journey.
Your differences are power. I’ve seen it. I’ve seen it play out. I’ve helped people realize that what they maybe thought was a drawback actually brought them self-awareness to what they’re really all about and what they’re really capable of.
Beside seeing how much people can generally have in common, I’ve noticed – and maybe you have too – that the more we share, the more opportunity we have to recognize how much we have in common. And when we get to that point where we realize others have similar experiences with insecurity (just one great example) – whatever they may be – we don’t feel so isolated.
That’s the worst part about anything in life and leadership – the feeling of isolation that can exist when you believe you’re the only one who is unsure, not confident, nervous, anxious, etc.
So, if you take a look at the people mentioned in the article, before you knew of their self-doubts, you probably would have thought you had nothing in common with them. After hearing that they’re human just like you, it tends to change your own comparison to that person. (And yes, as much as we say Don’t compare yourself to others! it happens and it’s natural. It’s all depends on what you do with that comparison that matters.)
None of this is to say that realizing you share certain attributes with others will get you the same results they’ve achieved. It’s just to say that too often people don’t get started because they feel only they experience the “drawbacks” they do. They feel their limitations will keep them — and only them — from achieving anything they desire.
Outside of coaching sessions, whether here or in other conversations, hearing that other people may share those concerns can demonstrate that other people can experience them, force themselves to have perspective about them, and push through to achieve what they want in spite of them.
So, what is your story?
What attributes and skills have held you back from pushing forward?
Do you have a solid perspective on what they truly are and what they can do (and can’t do) to and for you?
Have you shared with others (as much as you’re willing and comfortable enough to) what feelings tend to hold you back in your mind?
Have you shared with others how you’ve applied perspective to attributes and experiences they may not understand in their own story?
You’d be surprised how much just talking about what it is that holds you back can actually set you free.
Free to live. Free to experiment. Free to succeed.