Last week my eleven year old told me that she isn’t good at jumping off of a diving board and wasn’t going to anymore. I responded to her by saying, “You don’t have to be good at it to enjoy it….” A nearby swimmer heard me, smiled and nodded to my daughter. I don’t know what her internal conversation was, but she made a new choice, went to the diving board and spent the next twenty minutes jumping, playing and experiencing the joy of movement.
It made me sad to think that at eleven years old, there are already things we don’t want to try because we might appear foolish.
Yesterday I did something that I’m not very good at. I went golfing.
Here’s the thing…I’ve only gone golfing on a real golf course two or three times. Each time was a disaster. So, I told myself that I don’t golf. End of story….. but not really.
I know I’m not alone. If we aren’t good at something, there are times when we, especially as adults, decide that we aren’t good at it and then avoid the difficulty. We often ask more of our kids than we ask of ourselves.
When I golfed before (more than 10 years ago), I was so concerned about hitting the ball. There was a horrible conversation in my mind. I fulfilled my own expectation of how I was going to do. I would swing and miss, swing and miss, swing and miss. “I must be bad at golf.” There were a lot more words attached to my failure in my head. I experienced shame…. never good enough. And I wasn’t having any fun.
Over the last three years I’ve had the opportunity to do a lot of internal self-awareness work. Overall I’m happier and kinder to myself and others. I’m also somehow better at golf.
First hole, I hit the ball with my driver and shocked myself with the sound of a nice hit. The ball actually sailed through the air. Second hole, same thing. We were playing “Best Ball” which was good. I had not learned anything new, but something was different. My Internal conversation was remarkably different. Instead of beating myself up if I swung and missed the ball, I internally recognized that my self worth was not attached to my success or my failure. The result was a way better game of golf… and much more fun.
The difference was in recognizing that hitting a ball well has little to do with who I am. So often our beliefs about who we are get so tied up with our behaviour and we don’t recognize that our behaviour can be changed. When I noticed that I did something wrong in my golf game, I adjusted my choice, without adding a helping of shame.
The implications for this in life and business are significant. What do we tell ourselves when staff behave badly? When a sale is lost? When we see someone else succeed at something we want for ourselves? Is there something in your work or home environment that unseats the best side of you? What is your internal dialogue saying? What if you could shift it to a kinder conversation?
The way we speak to ourselves has a direct correlation with what we believe ourselves to be capable of. Isn’t it time to make courageous choices, adjust our internal conversation and get on with the more important things in life, like trying something new? What if you unleash a new opportunity for joy? Who knows where it will take you…… you may surprise yourself.