Who says you can’t do that?
Was it you?
Last time (Writing is for thinking)
I told you that I throw a lot of my journaling away. Once I’ve done the
writing of process writing I am focused on the result, and I don’t need
a lot of the deliberations that led up to it; I’ve moved on to
However there are other kinds of journaling I do keep, and one kind is idea capture.
The ideas we come up with can turn out to work differently in various
contexts, and I like to read over my random ideas over and over again,
for I never know when I will be reading them from a fresh perspective.
That just happened to me again this past Tuesday afternoon.
I write my ideas down in a small notebook that I am always carrying
with me. Reason being that I’ve discovered my best re-read time comes
when I am standing in line somewhere, I’m waiting to catch a flight, or
I’m early for an appointment.
The ideas in my notebook are not always mine. They might come from
someone else, and often do. For instance, I love to flip to a clean page, hand my
notebook to someone in one of my workshops who has just had an aha!
moment, and ask them to write their idea down for me before they lose
the thought. When I read it later, their handwriting serves as a much
So Tuesday, I come to a page where a leader I’m coaching had written,
“Who says you can’t do that?
Did someone really say
or was it a voice in your own head?
I talk to myself too much.
I really should learn to shut up more.”
Wow. I started wondering just how much I end up being my own censor,
talking myself out of doing things, and out of acting on other ideas.
How much starts out clearly black and white in their clarity and
brilliance, until my inner critic starts coloring over them with smoky grey?
So yesterday I conducted a little experiment. It was a day that I
had three different Skype calls scheduled, and I knew they would be
rich ones: One was with an executive coaching customer, another was
with a friend who’d be filling me in on her new business venture, and
the third was a conference call with a board of directors I sit on.
After each call I sat for about 20 minutes of quiet time to think back
to any time I “got grey” in my own self talk, or any time I spoke
offering an opinion or reason of some kind:
- Was my reason truly sound and valid, or could it possibly been an excuse or justification in disguise?
- Was there any way I was actually fooling myself?
- Did I ever state as fact something I was actually guessing or supposing about?
What a fabulous exercise. I must admit, I did catch myself on a couple of things. I pride myself on being positive, and I work on it constantly, but I can begin to believe my own hype! Which is okay when it is encouragement, but not when “can’t” and “yeah, but” starts to creep into my language! Not when a once-valid reason has now turned into a no-longer reasonable excuse.
- Rethink a conversation which has ended but is still fresh in mind
for you. Did you make any statement which could very well be wrong? Who
says you can’t change your mind? Who says you can’t try something
different? Who says you can’t admit to something being right before, but wrong now? You might not need to apologize, but should you change your m.o.?
- Ask yourself honestly about something you’ve thrown a “yeah, but” at in your own head. Who really says you can’t do that?
A few posts back I wrote “Who gives you your second opinion?” and one of the questions there was “When do you listen, and when do you go your own way?” Might be something to think about again in this context.
Let’s talk story.
Any thoughts to share? No one says you can’t! Comment here, or via the tweet-conversation we have on Twitter @sayalakai.
Next time I see you:
Show me your notebook and I will happily share mine with you. We will have a delightful barrier-breaking conversation about one of your ideas and one of mine!
From the Talking Story Archives, a favorite of mine:
Believe in your Biology! Did you know —truly know and realize— that keeping a positive or negative thought in mind is a one or the other occurrence, and not a both at the same time?
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