For many years I resisted opportunities to become a presenter or group facilitator. I told myself the story: ‘I am an introvert, I get exhausted in front of crowds, who want to put themselves through that?’ The real story is: when I live in fear of not measuring up for others, I feel overwhelmed by a sense of doom and fear of personal failure.
This deeper story was a result of my internalized belief that vulnerability is a place to stay away from.
Colleagues and friends found my resistance puzzling: ‘you seem confident; smart, well spoken’; ‘when we have heard you speak you have been great!’ I resisted this affirmation and lived in my fear.
Over the last year there have been numerous occasions to provide coaching demos and workshops on leadership and coaching skills. Pondering more deeply the roots of my fear, diving into my old story created a shift for me.
The paradox is that I did not feel as confident on the inside as I appeared on the outside. The dissonance between ‘the outer me’ and ‘how I experienced the inner me’ was unsettling.
As I explored this dissonance I began to re-live the roots of my fear. Feeling vulnerable to rejection; being exposed as a fraud, criticized if I voiced thoughts or opinions that were not ‘mainstream’ and feeling like a fool if I did not know an answer! All grounded in my internalized expectation of perfection.
To compensate for this need for perfection I prided myself as one who searched for competence. The ‘I need to know what I am talking about’ tape continues through my being. The thought of ‘not knowing’ an answer to any question created anxiety and fear that touched my core.
The internalizing of this fear prevented me from risking new learning, being open to future possibilities.
The shift came with valuing one of the roots of executive coaching: ‘people are the experts of their own lives’.
Letting go of my limiting belief ‘I must be an expert’ and embracing the belief that people are the experts of their own lives created new possibilities.
The more I own the ‘new possibilities’ approach to life, the more I am able to risk living as a person who is curious, open to new experiences, and more respectful of myself and others as the experts of our own lives.
Letting go of the belief that I need to be an expert to facilitate a group or have an impact on others has freed me to be a co-explorer, co-creator and partner with groups of people. In fact, experiencing and reflecting on my experience of facilitating has frees me from the ‘expert teacher’ mindset by embracing the opportunity to be a ‘co-learner’.
Becoming free from the expert mindset has allowed me to be more open to change within myself. To more freely walk the talk with clients and groups, learn while doing and being with groups, engage others in their own learning, see greater possibilities for working with individuals and groups to create opportunity for effective leadership.
Others have supported me to recognize the root and limitations of my old story. This has led to the creation of the new story that has the potential of many powerful beginnings that start with being in the moment and letting go of the past.
I welcome your thoughts on this blog and my other blog posts.
Explore the Possibilities
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