I’m coming clean.
Last year I finally reached a point where I believed it was safe to relax my death grip on hard work. To begin enjoying my success, spend more quality time with the people I love, and get out and enjoy life.
Precisely as I began to feel more joyful, the proverbial rug was whipped out from under me. Rudely and cruelly. And with brutal timing. My life came crashing down around me.
I've always been a fighter, though, and expected to pick myself up once again - as I've done before - and push forward. But not this time. Many, many months later I'm still in a kind of purgatory. Everything but the love of those closest to me has been taken and prospects for the future seem bleak.
It's tempting to share the gory details of ‘what was done to me’. In fact, for a while it was a tremendous relief to finally give voice to the injustices I’d suffered silently, both professionally and personally, for many years while battling stoically on. It's also tempting to blame. To blame those who stole from me, blame those who allowed envy to become spite, blame the economic situation, blame those who took advantage of my good will, blame others for their blind prejudices, blame those who saw what was happening and did nothing. But that brings only bitterness.
"I've been finally forced - very much against my will - to question everything about myself, and see my part in my own demise"
Instead I've been finally forced - very much against my will - to question everything about myself, and see my part in my own demise. To find the courage to analyse how my determination, always my biggest strength and saving grace, slowly lost its place in the repertoire of behaviours that serve me.
How did I come to this realisation? I was doing an exercise in positivity, still viewing perseverance and hard work as one of my strengths, and began thinking deeply about the true origins of this 'strength'. It struck me that one parent always over-praised me, believing that we all rise to expectation; the other minimised me, believing in the virtue of humility. Well intentioned on both their parts, bless them. But my innocent mind reached its own conclusions. I grew up believing I'm expected to out-perform others, but that I'm in reality never quite good enough! It was the secret of my success, and propelled me to take chances that others wouldn't and to put my heart and soul into my endeavours. I've always been complimented for my excellent work, yet have never understood why I received these compliments, secretly believing that I'm a fraud and one day someone would see I wasn't good enough. I was most conscious of this when consulting, but didn't realise this belief was a fundamental driver in my business partnerships, sports activities, love relationships, role as a mother and every other aspect of my life. This unquestioned paradigm had shaped my entire life, bringing me much success and yet subtly sabotaging everything I held dear, finally leading to what I considered to be massive failure on both a personal and professional front.
A primary driver of my success was also one of my most fundamental self-sabotaging and damaging beliefs. And it turns out to be based on a simple misunderstanding.
"In our success lie the seeds of our failure." To grow, we need to recognise beliefs that have served but slowly strangled us.
My MBA Strategy lecturer once said something profound: "In our success lie the seeds of our failure." In life-coaching parlee, this can be extrapolated to, "let go of what no longer serves you."
To grow, we need to take the radical step of turning inward with love, recognise beliefs that have served but slowly strangled us, stop letting them control us. Be conscious of how we apply the behaviours they've engendered, and use them in constructive and appropriate ways.
In this darkest period of my life, I'm starting to see the light that has always been here. Things have happened that have shown me I’m loved and valued. Things that I never saw before. I know others do want to see me thrive and be happy. I've reflected on things I've done, and realised I have reason to be proud of them. It's still hard for my heart of hearts to believe I'm worthy of love, joy, respect, success. But I'm slowly becoming open to the possibility. Somehow I know that when I accept and stop clinging to outdated beliefs I'm open to receiving the help, goodness and abundance that life wants to offer all of us. And this may be key to my self-empowerment.
So I’m coming clean. I acknowledge the part of me who feels she must earn love and respect, and I thank her for the success she has brought me. But I understand that this paradigm no longer serves me, and I choose to let it go and take conscious control of my joy.
What behaviour has served you in the past but needs to be let go for you to truly thrive?
Originally published on LinkedIn on 10th September, 2018
I have interest in a broad range of subjects relating to business and life.