I’m an adopted child. For all of my life, I’ve judged myself for that. I’ve set higher standards for myself than I would for anyone else, constantly seeking perfection, and whenever I’ve missed the mark I’ve been pretty hard on myself. I’ve also spent years hiding behind a number of unconscious and irrational behaviours (aka survival patterns) like procrastination, putting myself last, doubting my own intuition, trying to always be in control and feeling like I need the approval of others in order to feel worthy of the love, attention or whatever else I was seeking. These behaviours have served me in terms of keeping my comfort zone and ego intact by helping me to avoid feedback or criticism but they have also kept me from reaching my full potential.
A little more than 18 months ago I turned 40. It was a milestone for me as I looked at my life and assessed where I was at against everything I had dreamed of being, doing and having when I was younger. The balance sheet wasn’t in my favour and I realized that if I didn’t change, then nothing would and so I made the decision to actively define my purpose and find a way to live it. A few months later, in early 2017 I signed up for an 8-week online personal development program with a coach based in the USA. Although I joined the calls each week and followed the course material I reached the end of that program with a lot of unanswered questions. I then travelled to Los Angeles in July 2017 for a 4-day live workshop, hoping to find more clarity in that environment. Looking back, I rationalised this trip by convincing myself that because of the time and financial commitment I was making I would try harder, listen more intently and definitely leave there with all the answers I was looking for. Of course, that wasn’t the case at the end of that week but I did learn valuable lessons on that trip, not just in the content of the workshop but in terms of facing the fear I have around meeting and interacting with people I don’t know. I entered a room of 200 strangers and left 4 days later with a bunch of new friends.
Fast forward 8 months and I have recently committed to a new chapter in my personal development journey with accountability to a local coach that I get to meet with face to face on a regular basis. And I have committed to doing it with radical honesty. It’s daunting and I’ve had moments where I’ve chickened out of giving all the details upfront and I’ve circled back to close the loop later, but my philosophy is that unless I’m prepared to be completely authentic and candid I’m never going to get where I want to go. What’s really awesome is that I’ve found someone who doesn’t define me in a box and who isn’t afraid to call BS. It’s still early but I can already feel the growth. It’s not always comfortable but it feels incredible to be stretched and challenged.
Back to the question at hand: “Why am I incredible?” For me, the answer lies in the journey and right now, three simple recognitions.
I stepped back, assessed who I am, where I am and what I want and I made a single decision based on what I saw to change the things in my life that weren’t serving my dreams and ambitions. Most people will never step outside of their comfort zone to change their direction. I want more from my life – I want to be more, do more and have more – and I’m not afraid to step into the work that has to be done to attain this.
Although I didn’t get the results I was looking for in my initial engagements on my personal development journey, I didn’t give up on myself. It takes grit not to quit when things don’t go your way or as you had planned.
I can recognize specific, key moments where I have stepped through my fear to break through and make progress. Often we fail to recognize small wins – I’m learning to do that at the moment and to celebrate these as they arise.