When you begin

A lot of my fear around beginning something has to do with what people (strangers and close friends, too) will say. If I am really scared, I will hear an imaginary conversation in my head that sounds like heckling during a comedy show. Many times, this imaginary conversation becomes a real one, with people I know, and I freeze, like a deer in headlights.

I had a conversation like that a couple months ago. I mentioned that I have been wanting to coach, had my first call, and it was amazing. Normally, I would be looking for some sort of high-five or “right on!” but instead, I got, “I don’t mean to be rude, but what makes you qualified to coach?”

Freeze. My heart began to race as I tried to think of a way to convince this person that I was qualified. I started entertaining a battle between what I know to be true (I am qualified, I have non-paid experience, I have survived and thrived, etc.) and what someone else doesn’t know to be true and in most instances, I lose the debate.

But it’s not a debate, really. I forget that. When someone starts out, it’s always a wait and see moment, not a ‘here’s the proof’ moment. We think that upon first glance, we can tell something about the proposed success and that’s just not true. When someone declares they want to complete a major in architecture, we don’t ask them if they are qualified. They aren’t yet. They haven’t even begun. After a completed degree (or an admitted failure in completion), THEN we can talk about qualifications. But if it’s always about ‘do you have experience’ (which I do, so I still qualify, but that’s besides the point) right off the bat, then you’ll never get anywhere, because when you are starting out, you don’t! But you still have to start. 

I rely on the risk-taking ability of others (and they rely on mine) to BECOME qualified. So far, that’s been the only real life conversation I’ve had that felt challenging around being a coach.

When first starting out, we are going to be having those conversations. The key is to know they are coming (they might be parents, spouses, friends, strangers, or your own imagination) and to listen to the part of you that has encouraged (maybe even compelled!) you to start.

Something inside of you has made the case that whatever you are embarking on, is a good idea. You may feel drawn to do this work or you may be curious, but to let a few questions derail you is to second-guess that spark in you that knows something else to be true.

Exercise:

Write down those questions/remarks from others and then answer them on paper. Answer with what your spark would say. Listen to that spark inside of you that encouraged you to pursue the new, risky endeavor. That spark sees something that may not be obvious to everyone.

I used to believe that if I was “supposed” to be successful then I would get a million clients, I’d make a million dollars, and write a million books. My expectations were a bit out of whack. What tells me I’m successful now is when a client writes me an email and says, “Now, instead of hearing the negative self-talk all day, I giggle and think of what my inner voice says. Your exercise worked!”

What do people say to you that gets you off track? What keeps you going, or helps you find your way back?

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