Over the last couple of months, I’ve been sharing my own career transition process as I up level in my business this year. It’s been a behind-the-scenes peek at what actually happens underneath the polished Instagram posts when we’re making a change and moving beyond our comfort zone.
As I sit down to write this, I am buzzing with excitement as I’ve now fully crystallised what the next steps are for me in my change and expansion process and I’m dying to share them with you!
However, when I’m documenting a journey, I need time after each step of the road to process, absorb, reflect and then see what my action steps were and what the learnings are so that I’m not randomly and self-indulgently oversharing, but that it’s actually of use to you.
So while I am beavering away behind the scenes on some new exciting stuff, I want to go back to what came up for me next after I’d made the decision to step into the advanced coaching, and then got through the initial impostor syndrome fear attack on starting the course….
I noticed through my daily journaling practice that somehow, I wasn’t feeling wobbly anymore and I was able to move forwards with more excitement and enjoyment, so what was the brake that I mentally took off that allowed that flow to start??
Interestingly it was to do with one of the voices of fear that had come up for me when I was observing what the ‘small’ version of me was scared of that I shared in Negotiating with Fear.
The subconscious worry that maybe I do have a limit of what I’m capable of doing, and that I can do what I currently do really well, so if I stretch and try and grow then what if I hit that limit and realise that I’ve gone as far as I can go?
The resistant part of my brain didn’t want to find out the answer to that question and felt it would be much safer if I didn’t know and so it didn’t want me to step into that evaluation and learning process, “just in case….”
The first thing to do when you’re observing your inner narrative and you find something like this, is to get curious.
So instead of just cognitively saying, “oh – well when I think about it now, I know that’s not true so I’ll just ignore it” or even worse starting to beat yourself up or judge yourself for having that thought, pause instead and do a bit of reflecting.
Where has that thought come from?
Why is it there and what’s it’s purpose?
On doing that reflection, I realised that I’d inadvertently slipped into a fixed mindset perspective which is an old familiar pattern for me of how I used to be before I did a shedload of healing, coaching, counselling and mindset work.
For anyone unfamiliar with the “fixed mindset versus growth mindset” concept, or who needs a reminder then the diagram below is a useful condensed version of the idea.
This represents the body of research work carried out by Carol Dweck, and her book Mindset is worth checking out if you’ve not heard of it.
Neuroscience had proven the mechanisms of neuroplasticity over the last couple of decades so we know that the growth mindset perspective is accurate, if we chose to embody it.
However, for many of us with how we were brought up and the messaging we received coupled with the brain’s natural negativity bias then a fixed mindset can be the default unless we decide to change how we think.
It’s important to say here that a person isn’t either a growth mindset person or a fixed mindset person per se. We can be fixed in some areas of our life and very growth mindset in others.
Also, as happened for me with my growth journey this year – I am normally growth mindset about my career but starting the coaching course temporarily flung me firmly back into my childhood setting of fixed mindset and perfectionist until I clocked it and chose to revert to my new way of thinking.
So, what do we do next once you’ve identified a limiting belief and looked at the roots of where it came from and why it might be there?
Start loosening that root by looking for evidence that disproves the fear-based belief.
We can either choose to fight to keep our limitations and look for evidence that they most definitely ARE true, or we can choose to release them and gather evidence that things CAN be different and even that they have been different in the past already.
We project our beliefs out into our lives and create them as self-fulfilling prophecies and usually this is happening unconsciously and mindlessly so let’s get conscious about this instead. YOU decide what belief you want to create as a truth in your life!
I was able to reflect on all the previous times in my life I have started something new, had to overcome challenges or be willing to be a ‘learner’ rather than a ‘knower and expert’ for a while in order to attain mastery of that technique.
(Hello becoming a parent! Hmmm, still firmly in ‘learner’ mode on that one even after 6 years… 😂)
Also, while studying for my accreditation, I’ve been reading neurophysiology books and the day after I realised I’d slipped into fixed mindset about having some sort of limit to my coaching ability, I read the exact physiological mechanism in our brain that proves this cannot be true.
In a nutshell, from a systems theory perspective, the human brain is an open and adaptive system so if you change the external inputs (i.e. start learning something) then the brain literally changes structure and the outputs change too.
This happens as long as we’re alive and have a normally functioning brain, and so in that sense, we can never truly ‘reach our full potential’ as our brain always has the capacity to keep changing.
Much better to talk about it as a verb.
So that when we apply ourselves and are looking to grow or change, we are ‘potentiating’ and expanding the potential of what we are able to do rather than feeling that we have some sort of limit.
You only have to look at the sporting achievements of the Paralympians, or the academic achievements of some stroke victims to see how far this can be taken by our amazing mind-body connection.
The third step in this reflective process, once you’ve found some new evidence and realised an unhelpful belief was activated is to ask yourself:
“Am I ready to stop limiting myself?”
May sound like a daft question, but the whole reason we feel resistance when trying to move forwards is because our brain’s safety software is trying to keep us safe from what it perceives as risk and uncertainty.
So there are often hidden benefits from not putting yourself forwards.
Maybe it’s not having to risk ‘failing’ or struggling with something.
Maybe it’s not having anything extra expected of you.
Maybe it’s feeling safe and not having to face the vulnerability of being a learner.
So it’s really really important if you’re going to overcome that natural, normal resistance that you truly want the rewards on the other side of your fears.
Then you can start to come out from under the duvet!
So, I had to ask myself do I really want to expand my repertoire of coaching techniques? Do I want the opportunity to serve my clients even more deeply? Do I want inspiration for new products and services that can support people in better ways?
This was a resounding YES for me on every level, therefore I was willing to put in the effort to drop the security blanket of the old belief and choose the new one instead.
Finally, what do you want or need to believe instead?
For me, my new narrative that I’d always known anyway but just temporarily forgotten was as follows:
“I CAN learn, I CAN tolerate the discomfort of being ‘new’ at something and messy and imperfect and not an immediate expert. I am willing to be vulnerable in front of the other delegates in order to practice and improve and hone my new skills.”
The whole energy I was feeling about the course completely changed and where there had been fear and wobbles, I now just felt excited, motivated and couldn’t wait to get stuck back in, even with the bits that made me feel super-vulnerable.
As Brene Brown says, vulnerability never gets easier or more comfortable, but we can definitely increase our willingness to feel it and tolerate it in order to grown and experience all the things we want to in our lives.
That’s it for this week! I’d love to hear if this resonated for you, and if you’d like a more fleshed out version of how to find and deal with limiting beliefs, check out the Boost your Career Confidence webinar on my Freebies page.
Also keep an eye on your inbox this week, as I’ll be reaching out to ask if you’d be happy to answer 5 or 6 quick questions on a form for me to help me with designing my new expanded course this Autumn as I want to know directly from my community where you’d most like help and support. You can sign up here if you’re not on the list…