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.