One of the most painful truths I’ve ever encountered is that if I want to be good at something, I have to tolerate being terrible at it for a while.
That feeling of not knowing what I’m doing is terribly uncomfortable – especially since there are many ways I could spend my time working within well-understood competencies! But more than the discomfort, there are also consequences to producing terrible work.
- My early clients experienced an advisor who seemed more confident than he really was and who was wrong a lot. Did I do right by clients when I offered them advice I would never offer today?
- The first couple of years of my writing and podcasting produced work that makes me cringe if I read or listen to it today! Would people want to work with that guy?
But to become the advisor, writer, and podcaster I am today, I had to endure some time being imperfect. I had to tolerate sucking! And even though my today self judges that advice or writing as terrible – at the time, it was the best I could do. Clients valued that advice and got results from it. (God is merciful.)
Still, I don’t like it.
I bring this up because I’m aware, even this week, of times when I see a need for a service that I can offer, and I get all excited about it, but then I start to fear that I’ll screw it up! And I don’t follow through, or I make a half-hearted effort to put something together (secretly), hoping that no one responds.
Every time I want to do something new, try something different, or take a risk that people might not like, The Voice will pop up and tell me all kinds of horror stories about what will happen when I fail. (Notice that from the point of view of The Voice, failure is a certainty!)
When The Voice is chirping in my ear, I can paint all kinds of miserable outcomes that honestly are never going to happen. Then the spark of creativity and joy dims and fades. It’s easier not to take a risk than it is to fight The Voice.
So I’ve been toying with the idea of firing The Voice.
What if I didn’t make my own decisions about what to try and how hard to go after it? What if I took these decisions to a coach, Mastermind Group, or trusted friend and laid them out for evaluation? Then if the advice I get is, “Go for it!” I can tell The Voice, “They said to go for it. I appreciate your feedback, but I trust this other advice more.”
How could you fire that critical voice in your head? What would happen if you did?