I recently met with my client, Dave, who is feeling frustrated by his role leading a large change project while not having complete authority to execute. In addition to struggling with the dynamics of the project itself, he is hearing internal commentary repeating ideas like: destined to fail, difficult outcomes, desire to retreat, divide and conquer, etc. His biggest concern, however, is around the issue of self-trust, which directly impacts his ability to take risks.
While he is clear about his abilities and strengths regarding the project’s needs and understands why he was put in this role, his overwhelm is centered on the people aspect of the project. Specifically, his language is that he is “feeling in over my head” when contemplating the managerial tasks necessary for a large project.
“In Over My Head”
When have you felt “in over your head”? What about the situation made you feel that way? When we use this imagery it usually implies that we are feeling lost and alone in a place that seems beyond our capacity to handle.
Exploring the imagery more deeply, Dave reported that he felt like he was treading water in the middle of the ocean. When asked what he needed to get back to shore, he replied, “a life vest, boat, paddle, food, positivity, supplies.” So we began with the life vest. I asked him what would represent a life vest in his current situation.
Investigating his possibilities, he thought about a previous boss with whom he still has a strong relationship. Because of the level of trust they have, the support that he had received in the past, as well as the insight he could provide, Dave believed that his old boss could serve as a powerful mentor in the personnel aspect of the project, as well as possibly make a connection with someone else in the company with whom Dave could develop a mentor relationship. Because of their connection, Dave trusted that this person would be able to find a mentor with strengths that could complement his own. In so doing, that new relationship could develop strong bonds of trust more quickly.
Leaps of Faith
Dave then stated that he needed to take a leap of faith. We think of leaps as huge undertakings, but they can also be accomplished in small steps that allow the building of trust to occur. For Dave, he had to have faith that reaching out to his old boss and creating space for a mentoring relationship was the right step, and it meant exploring the stories he was telling himself to see if they were true. But by taking the first small step in faith, he built a platform from which he could leap more confidently.
Trusting yourself can feel so tricky when moving into new territory. A powerful quote by E.E. Cummings captures it perfectly:
“Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight or any experience that reveals the human spirit.”
It doesn’t matter if it is a business or a personal challenge, believing in yourself and trusting that who you are is enough opens the door to possibility and the risk-taking necessary to create opportunity.
Here are a couple of steps to begin that movement:
Create space for mindfulness in your life. Let it begin as an awakening of YOU to YOU. Perhaps you can start with:
a meditation practice,
commitment to journaling to explore what is going on inside,
having a cup of tea in the early morning orgoing for a long walk in the sunset.
Let SOMETHING be a beginning into breathing space into your life for you! It is there that your deeper wisdom can begin to speak and you can begin to feel that you have faith and control in your life.
- As you begin to feel into your life, claim the exercise of gratitude. This can be as simple as naming 3 things each day that you are deeply grateful for in your life. Give yourself 5 minutes to write them down and feel them once again in a moment of pause.
With a positive emotion such as gratitude, the chemical dopamine is released, which provides clarity for immediate objectives and helps you feel more energetic and elated.
Allow YOUR life to be YOUR journey.
The only way that happens is if you open to it. We are each ENOUGH—so believe it!