Disqualified

 

Disqualified

You were not good at math. You were easily distracted. You got an F. You got more than one F. You lost your temper. You messed up. You lost the account. You didn’t get into college. You didn’t tell the whole story. You said the wrong thing. You didn’t lose the weight. You were a bad friend. You got fired. You spoiled the party. You quit the team. You stopped calling. You didn’t get science. You made the mistake. You struggled with[insert name here].

Sometimes events make us draw conclusions. We were not good at math therefore we will never be good at math. We spoiled the party, therefore we will always spoil the party, so we should not be invited. We quit the team, therefore we are a quitter. We struggle with a pattern of behavior, therefore we will never overcome.

But worse than giving up, we become disqualified.

Disqualified is when the past is allowed to remove you from future opportunities, growth, or development.

Disqualified is a limitation on our potential.

Disqualified is keeping us from making a difference.

Disqualified is when struggles keep you from helping others.

Disqualified is a lifetime ban.

But, maybe there is no Disqualified status.

Maybe we misunderstood the value of the journey, the struggle, and the failure.

Maybe the fact that we struggle, fail, quit, mess up, and lose are the very things that qualify us to make an impact.

Maybe others need to know that we struggle as well.

Maybe we can learn, grow, develop, and be.

Maybe the future is wide open.

Maybe we are qualified.

Recalibrating the GPS

It started as a simple conversation about running, pace, and times. We both opened up the app on our phones and talked about some of the struggles, successes, and challenges ahead while scrolling through the history.

Then it came out.

“I must need to recalibrate the GPS, I am not that fast.”

As I heard those words, I couldn’t help myself.

“Really? You have been training hard, staying on schedule, and when you make progress, why does your first thought assume something is wrong with the GPS? Why do you discount your achievements?”

Pause.

Another Pause.

“Well historically…”

“In the past…”

“I used to not…”

All of next few statements were not about the present reality, or celebrating the accomplishment. All were focused on the past.

Past limits. Past thoughts. Past obstacles.

I listened for a few minutes.

“Sounds like is not your GPS that needs recalibrating.”

When do you discount your achievements? When does your past invade the present to take away the things you accomplish? When does your first thought assume that it must be the equipment or a false reading because it cannot be you that reached the goal?

Maybe we could all use a recalibration.

But We Ran

IMG_1177

Running this winter has been hard. Layer upon layer. Attempts to cover every inch of exposed surfaces. Runs when temperatures dropped from single digits to zero and below before we ended.

But we ran.

The combination of record cold and record snow has combined to create what we are affectionately calling “winter fatigue.”

But we ran.

This has not been our fastest year. Many of our times have slowed. We became sick, tired, frustrated, injured, and cold.

But we ran.

We ran on days when it was dark. We ran on days when the wind almost stopped all forward progress.

But we ran.

Despite spring arriving on the calendar, we have had near record cold again. Winter seems to want to keep us in a state of hibernation. Days that should be in the 40s and 50s have been in the 30s.

But we ran.

What is coming our way next?

More weather, more illness, more injury, more road blocks, more [insert term here] issues?

I am not sure. There is only one thing I know for sure.

We will run.

 

The Perfectionism Pause

The conversation is the same. The players are different.

There is an idea, a spark, a risk.

Share this art, this gift, this new thing?

Pause. It is not perfect.

I will share it someday, but it is not ready.

More work.

Pause. It could be better.

Even more work.

Pause. If I just (insert phase here) it will be perfect enough to share.

Imagine how much the Perfectionism Pause has robbed all of us of YOUR gifts.

Among Giants

Among Giants

I have a project. An exciting, new project. A project that I have been talking about for months. A project that partners me with another person (someone who is extremely intelligent, organized, and a deep thinker). We met on the project a few times, took notes, and had a game plan with various assignments.

This project has been on my plate for a few months. I started some research, then stopped. I opened the file to start writing, then stopped. I took the folder out of my briefcase, only to put it back in. For whatever reason, I could not “Ship It” or make progress.

Something was triggering this procrastination. I tried to pin down the reason, but could not find the words.

I took a risk and called this partner. We decided to meet.

“I have to confess. Despite the excitement around this project and our discussions, I have not made any progress on my part.”

“Well, to be honest, I have had the same struggle.”

Another risk. The real risk.

“Ok, here is the thing. I am a little intimidated working with you on this project because you know this material and have studied it in more depth, and are so smart, and so…”

“What? You are intimidated by me?”

The reason for the mutual procrastination was revealed. We both viewed the other person as more competent, intelligent, and suited for this project. I am sure some it stems from the “Less Than Default Switch” and this setting skews our perspective of others.

Our conversation continued.

“It is almost as if I am among giants, when I compare myself to others.”

“Exactly, but I am still surprised you feel that way. I understand why I feel that way, but not you.”

Among giants. Our perceptions of others, their abilities, their accomplishments, their status can warp our own self-perception. This distortion can create the fear and insecurity that holds us back from trying, shipping, or stretching ourselves.

They are not actually giants. They are fellow travelers on this journey. But this problem seems older that just me and this project. Older than you and your project, idea, or journey as well.

“Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world
Like a Colossus, and we petty men
Walk under his huge legs and peep about” Cassius

(Julius Caesar, Act 1, Scene 2)

 

The Less Than Default Switch

After hearing similar narratives during different coaching sessions, a pattern became clear.

Different people, same narratives.

Different issues, same descriptions.

Different positions, same struggles.

“I want to write, I would love to write, but I am not good enough compared to him/her.”

“Other people in the office seem to have their act together, but not me.”

“I am not as [insert word here] as her/him.”

“That [job, career, relationship, achievement] is for someone else, not me.”

“I’m sorry…[not always for anything specific, but a response to lots of circumstances or conflicts, even when they are not at fault].”

An image of a switch came to my mind. A switch buried deep within their being that was stuck on the Less Than setting by default.

Neutral Switch_Less than

The Less Than Default Switch.

No matter what actually is occurring in their lives, the switch in this position interprets them as being Less Than others. When they achieve something great, accomplish a goal, or create something amazing, the switch discounts all of it.

Even worse, when thinking about trying something new, striving for a goal, or being creative, the Less Than Default Switch short-circuits the motivation to try.

I mentioned the switch.

Surprise. Revelation. A few tears.

“Just for a moment, imagine that switch. See it in the Less Than position…Now, turn the switch to Neutral.”

Understanding.

“Just think about what you could do, accomplish, try, achieve, create, or pursue now that your switch is in the Neutral position.”

Hope.

Neutral Switch

Listen, to yourself and those around you. If your Less Than Default Switch is active, go ahead and give that knob a turn. Move it to Neutral. If someone around has the switch on Less Than, help them move their knob as well.

Over time, Neutral can become your new default setting.

No more discounting.

No more comparison.

Just you; allowing your gifts, talents, creativity, and art to flow.