All too human
“I have been questioning myself so often these days and I smell my lack of confidence and my cynicism in every thing I do. I know I have talent, I know that. I grew up in a culture that considers ambitions bad…”B.
I’m sharing this quote from a client’s email–she’s a professional artist–because on the same day she sent it, I spent an hour on the phone with another client, a veteran of the US Army, who served with great distinction in Afghanistan. I had been on the phone with her, talking this very brave young woman through her own crisis of confidence. Quite possibly, I may have also
nagged reminded her to eat a real mean, and that a chocolate cookie is not an adequate lunch, missy, but such is my gift. (You’re welcome, America, don’t mention it.)
For me, the experience of the email and the phone call coming at the same time was both fascinating and illuminating. I mean, I’m giving a pep talk to someone who received medals for heroism in Afghanistan…say whaaaat? What could I have to share? If you survived combat, isn’t it all downhill? Well, yes and no. Her service was hard, she earned her medals…and starting a small business is also damn hard. Both experiences are grueling in different ways. The whole thing reminded me that people, no matter their backgrounds, careers and genders, are, in all the ways that count, very similar.
And those are just two examples of the distinguished men and women I coach, from Wall Street attorneys to NYSE traders to army veterans to on-air anchors to former Obama White House staffers, a cross-section of men and women, who have come to me at all-too-human moments of tremendous doubt and despair.
I personally believe that a lot of these moments of self-inflicted doubt and despair arise from the fact that it’s 2015, for f**k’s sake, and women are still made to feel that ambition is unfeminine and shameful. Women are still made to feel bad for committing to what they love, unless it’s a baby, a pretty dress or their perfect weight. (Oy.) Meanwhile, men are indoctrinated with the stupid idea that ambition is how they can and must “prove” their masculinity. Thus, when men, as is normal to all humans, have business failures, when the bad times come, they’re made to feel weak and pathetic. Everyone loses. No me gusta any of that nonsense.
I’m personally a big fan of trying your best, of giving yourself and your dreams (same difference) 110%, of learning from your mistakes, of crying in the shower, or in your drink–in your drink, please, don’t dilute mine, yes, I do need ALL of this gin, thank you very much–and the next morning, getting up and trying all over again.
Sounds miserable? Hmm, I don’t know. I think having something bigger than yourself to devote yourself to, is the essence of happiness. Do what you can today, this moment, to get over your current hurdle, to remind yourself of why you started this process in the first place. Do one thing. Tomorrow, try to push yourself to do two things. Rinse and repeat. It won’t be easy. But you are worth it. You are worth your best. You’re not the only person who is doing something that is both rewarding and terrifying; there are people who served our country in combat, who feel sick to their stomach every time they send off a business pitch, or attend a networking event or fall in love. Fear is nothing to be ashamed of, fear is all too human. Fear is part of being alive. #gettowork