Should we challenge our self-perception in 2019?
Since deciding to work for myself, two years ago, I have had the privilege of meeting a lot of very interesting people. Only last week, I had the luxury of a one-to-one with the amazing Erin Thomas Wong, an inspirational finalist for the ‘influential woman’ category of the Venus Awards. Erin runs Making Mumpreneurs, an online community supporting mums building businesses around family life.
Over a couple of perfect flat whites, at Little Pickles Deli in Boscombe last Friday, our discussion covered a lot of fascinating ground including the concepts of ‘self – limiting’ and ‘self-sabotaging’ behaviour within business (both of which are topics I plan to re-visit at some point). However it was a throw away comment on perception, in relation to self-esteem, that particularly stayed with me for the rest of the day.
Making use of the handy split-screen function in my brain (I assume everyone has one and it’s not just me. It’s what makes multi-tasking possible isn’t it? But I digress…) I went on from my meeting with Erin to two further very constructive meetings, then completed a full supermarket shop (so tedious but necessary) followed by a school Christmas Carol concert (Sigh! So sweet!) and all the while my brain was chuntering away in the background, because something was bugging me and I couldn’t work out what it was.
However, as soon as I walked through the door at home, at the end of the day I suddenly understood. Enlightenment dawned! Don’t worry, it wasn’t painful.
My eyes were drawn to a large painting that I’d recently hung on the wall in my cottage, and that painting embodied precisely the concept I was trying to put into words.
In my mind, it simply wasn’t complete and, therefore, it was not good enough. Eventually I gave up trying to solve the conundrum it represented, as I had other commissions to do, my latest book to edit and no spare time, so this canvas was abandoned to the shed where it lurked mournfully for quite some time.
Several weeks later I suddenly sat up in bed at 3am, wide-awake, gripped with an absolute certainty that I knew what this piece of work needed. Impatiently, I made myself wait until a more civilised hour, because rummaging around in the shed in the middle of the night is really not a sensible thing to do. This is the country, there are spiders the size of tractors in that shed! Nevertheless, as soon as the first sparrow signalled the start of the dawn chorus, there I was, scampering around the garden in my ancient old nightie and a pair of mismatched wellington boots, intent on dragging my forsaken canvas back into the house; whereupon I set about it with my power drill and screwdriver.
Shortly afterwards, my painting hung in pride of place on the wall, but, instead of hanging it in the conventional ‘square’ fashion, I had turned the canvas 45 degrees so that it hung as a diamond shape, and all of a sudden, the painting ‘worked’!
The way that I had been looking at it was what was wrong.
This was the concept that I had been pondering after my conversation with Erin about all of the ways we limit our own success by not believing that we are good enough. Now, whether such an outcome is the result of psychological phenomena like ‘imposter syndrome’, I don’t know, but I do believe that we can often create a personal reinforced glass lid over our own heads that will prevent us from ever reaching our full potential.
I am as guilty of this as anyone else. For twenty years, my role as a GP surgery manager was an uncomfortable fit. With hindsight I can see now that I was actually very good at my job, but at the time I felt that I was effectively standing in the way of someone who could potentially do it better than me.
After an unexpected change in career direction that was triggered by my house falling down (Yes, I know! It’s a long story that I won’t go into right now, but do feel free to read my books if you'd like to know more.), my situation has completely changed. My work now is that of an artist, an author and a speaker, and I love it.
Fundamentally, I know with an absolute certainty that no one can be me, better than…well… me! So, I don’t waste any time waiting for someone else to come along and unmask me as a fraud. I simply get on with being me and working out just how far I can go with that. To date, I haven’t found a limit yet and that is very exciting!
Therefore, with the New Year approaching, I thought I would share my musings on the many mental mind traps we can often put in our own way. These reflections are merely my opinion, of course, so don’t take them too seriously, it is Christmas after all.
I believe that ultimate personal success is all about perspective.
How do you see yourself?
Are you happy where you are?
Do you like doing what you do?
Or, are you weighing yourself down with self-imposed concrete boots?
If you don’t feel that you are good enough, if you’re limiting yourself with fear or feelings of lack of worth then perhaps it is time to try to look at yourself from a different perspective.
As with my painting, maybe trying a slightly different angle will be enough.
The chances are that you are perfect just the way you are; but maybe some other things could do with a bit of adjustment. After all, any good jeweller will tell you that a diamond will only look its absolute best when placed in the right setting.
So my humble suggestion for 2019 is that we stop self-limiting our success. Let’s challenge our personal perceptions and make sure we’re not putting self-generated boundaries on what we can achieve.
It’s worth thinking about at the very least.
After all, we are all totally awesome and remember, anything is possible if we believe in ourselves!
The link to Erin Thomas Wong’s fabulous Making Mumpreneurs website is below, do check it out:
Just in case anyone fancies reading my trilogy ‘The House That Sat Down’, all three books can be found on Amazon starting with book 1, ‘Accidental Damage’ here: