Today is April Fool’s Day, and I confess it is one of those silly days that I really enjoy. It is an excuse to play practical jokes, and also laugh at myself when I am fooled by a friend into believing something that they make up. However, we don’t need a special day, or creatively devious friend, to be tricked in life. We fool ourselves all the time. When we allow self-doubt to creep in, we think we are not as capable as we really are. If fear overtakes us, we can allow that emotion to trick us into acting in ways that keep us stuck. We delude ourselves when we set unclear or unrealistic goals. Perhaps one of the main ways we fool ourselves is by having a skewed sense of self, by not being able to see ourselves as we really are.
As an executive coach, I often work with clients to help them see themselves more clearly. My clients are all extremely smart, gifted and accomplished. Yet, self-doubt can hold back even the best and brightest. Together, we identify areas where self-doubt can erode confidence, and I help them to identify and bring forward their strengths, while addressing the areas that they want to improve. I’ve found that specifically naming the fear can then allow ideas to flow on how to deal with it. Asking yourself what do you need or want to know can then lead to action that will enable you to get to the other side of the fear. And, while I’m all for setting scary stretch goals, sometimes I do have to help clients (and myself!) re-examine goals that are not attainable, at least not without some intermediate goals first. Once the realistic goal is in place, we can work on strategies, plans and actions to make that come to fruition…and it usually does.
Sometimes, it is not ourselves but others who fool us, disappoint us, break promises, or let us down. We can be deceived by someone who is eloquent but without substance, if we rely more on their words than their actions. Our own past experiences with a boss or co-worker can make us blind to reality. Poor communications can obfuscate truth and cause us to be fooled into focusing on the wrong problem. Having someone who is looking in from the outside can often help bring clarity. I function both as a mirror and a light when working with clients: the mirror helps them see themselves, and the light helps them illuminate workplace situations and notice things they might have been unable to see before stepping back for a different perspective.
What circumstances or people fool you? What are beliefs about yourself that deceive you into thinking less of yourself, or keep you from realizing your full potential? If I can support you in tackling these issues, please let me know. Meanwhile, have a wonderful month….Spring is here!
Sharon Keys Seal