“I’m a terrible listener. I’ve been told that for years. My colleagues at work and even my wife say it. I guess that’s just the way I am.”
Way too often, we hear otherwise brilliant leaders make counterproductive, self-limiting comments about themselves. You have undoubtedly heard them too. Maybe you have used one of the following phrases to describe yourself:
“I constantly procrastinate.”
“I’m always late.”
“I’m not good at public speaking.”
Have our genetics condemned us to be impatient, bad at public speaking, or a lousy listener for the rest of our lives? Certainly not! Then where does the belief come from?
These personal stereotypes usually originate from stories that have been repeated for years, sometimes since childhood. Often, family and friends have reinforced them until they became part of our identity. As a result, we set low expectations for ourselves in these areas and produce a self-fulfilling prophecy. In this vicious cycle, we have proven over and over again that our negative expectations were correct. Though in fact, they have no basis!
When we are coaching someone and he or she says, “I’m just not good at…,” we naturally ask them why not. With others, we automatically reason that nothing should hold them back. However, when it comes to ourselves, we tend to blindly accept the way things are.
Next time you hear yourself say, “I’m just not good at…,” ask yourself why not. We can get better at almost anything if we believe we can and then practice consistently. Let go of the old stories that are holding you back and start fresh. Let go of the past and take a step forward.