Reading time: 6 minutes
Thinking time: just give it a 1 … 2 … 3
For me personally, the year 2021 started off on the wrong foot. Even though – in spite of Covid-19 – my business was and still is thriving, in my private life I felt alone, miserable, a bit hopeless and not in the least very angry with myself. For all I knew, I messed up. Again. Why do I always have to make things much more complicated than they should be? Why am I so sensitive? Why can’t I find some sort of belonging? Why can’t I just be happy with what is and not constantly push everyone for what I believe should be? I mean, it’s my job. I know all the theories. A job I’m good at. A job I adore. I’m driving a brand-new Tesla, for Heaven’s sake. Shouldn’t I be an example of tranquillity? Accomplishment? Feeling successful in life?
Let me tell you this. Without any doubt.
Day after day I successfully work with people that feel the same. People that are experiencing some sort of lack of any kind. Individuals that are ambitious to get more out of their potential. Beautiful kind souls feeling the need for more fulfilment. Whether it is work or life. The funny thing is, overall, most of them are pretty successful already, even though they wouldn’t just agree to that.
Good enough is never good enough.
Throughout my career, I have gained the personal conviction that, without the hurt child within, most (if not all) of us reading this wouldn’t be as successful as we are. We would be much less bothered by our own urge to prove our worth and therefore we would simply not have raised the bar as high as we did. We wouldn’t have studied, worked or tried that hard and as a consequence, jobwise we would definitely be less ambitious. I do wonder, on the other side, who is the happiest. The grinders? The pushers? Or the ones that have been content and satisfied all along? I guess deep inside we all know the answer to that, don’t we?
Problem solved; you could say. Just lower your bar and happiness and fulfilment are within reach. Unfortunately, the human mind doesn’t work like that. For the ambitious amongst us, there’s always another expectation that must be met at some point. Tell me, who would you be if you weren’t seen? Or heard? Or understood? Not respected or always criticized? Have you ever felt that way before? Would that ever again be a voluntary option for you? I guess not. It is an existential right, nevertheless, without the luxury of ‘being good enough already’, we ceaselessly need to deserve our spot in this world. By doing good. Better. Best. Every small and big rejection counting as a complete failure. Again. And again.
In our minds the (over)performing is giving us the right to exist. It’s not something we believe to deserve by nature. Probably because we’ve experienced the opposite too many times. As a consequence, we make sure we are heard. Or seen. Or respected. We avoid failure and criticism. The only thing is, overperforming never works. Not in life. Not in love. Not in work. The minute you feel the need to compensate for your worth, you’re selling yourself short. You start to demonstrate so much of your core qualities that you end up right in you pitfall. Annoying others. And getting exactly the opposite of what you are working so hard for. Rejection.
Based on my personal conviction, in corporate life, more than elsewhere, we all walk around with huge backpacks and a need to prove ourselves. By focussing so hard on our own performance, on top of everything we forget to see the other one. Most of the time we are not undervalued by someone else. At least not consciously. We simply feel undervalued or undervalue ourselves. Our hurt child being guided by the overly critical parent that is also a part of who we are. With so much focus on ourselves that there is little time nor energy left to take a look at the people around you.
What to do when you feel sad or bad?
Whenever you feel a shortage of happiness, success or fulfilment, just count to three and follow the steps below.
1. Accept that you are your own worst critic
Find the hurt child and critical parent within yourself, listen to what they have to say and decide who you are right now. Silence your inner critic and give love to your inner child. Embrace who you are right now.
2. Understand that it is not a matter of life and death
You have the right to be here, to make mistakes and to be just you. Being just you, you deserve to be seen, heard and understood. It is not something you need to work for. You can let go of your own unrealistic expectations.
3. Give yourself a break and stop overperforming
Lean back. Even though far from perfect, you are good enough already. We all are. Have a little faith in yourself, and in the other. Take a look around and understand that we all try our utmost best already.
Thinking about my own rough start of the year, this is how I’ve then again decided to live my life. Day after day. Embracing my inner child. Silencing the critical parent within. Knowing that I am good enough just the way I am. And also knowing that I as well tend to forget all of the above when I need it the most. With the right to feel sad and alone from time to time, let’s count to three together and decide not to be so hard on ourselves.
Are you in again?
Feel free to share your own experiences and opinions in the comments below.
P.S. What??? Are we really lowering the bar? Only a little. In percentages maybe from 120 to 100. I still challenge you and myself to be the best version of who we are. With bars that are high. High. Not unattainable.
About me – Being a certified executive and personal coach, I am associated to the Global Coach Group and Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Coaching team and owner of the global executive coaching practice BigFish4.me where I am working on an ambitious scale-up plan now that I’ve learned to ‘not having to do it all on my own’. Next to that I’ve co-founded thehouseofgrowth.org in December 2018 and started working some hours a month for my old love, the Adecco Group (LHH) as well as for one of the biggest Dutch coaching practices in Amsterdam. My passions include playing my quarter grand piano and messing around with acrylic paint on large sized linen canvas. When I’m not catching some proverbial Big Fish, for now I’ve partially replaced the gym for my now brand-new mountain bike, and I am loving it. But then again, I am still luckiest doing what I do best, challenging others and myself to perform at ‘our’ best