There are few beliefs I hold near and dear to my heart when it comes to my work: that my clients always know their own answers and my job is to draw them out and mimic them back so that they can be heard; that defining a guiding north star is an important first step; that we can learn much by studying our own success stories; and that our solutions are often much, much less complicated than we think them to be.
It seems simplistic, but it is the antithesis of how my profession has traditionally operated - particularly in corporate settings where we waltz into a situation, pick apart and highlight every problem and then make lists and lists of all your ailments and the interventions we are going to apply to solve your problem and change you to become what or who we think you should be.
Focusing on strength and possibility is not only a research-backed best practice for facilitating change - it also feels better. And I’m of the opinion that when science supports what our heart and gut already know to be true, we must listen.
So why do we continue to focus on what doesn’t work? On the problems? Why do we feel so comfortable ticking off lists and lists of everything that is wrong with us and what we don’t have, but become paralyzed when trying to list even one way in which we are already strong?
The simple answer is, of course, we’ve been trained to be this way.
If we didn’t feel bad about ourselves there are entire industries that would go out of business. We are constantly being trained to desire tinier waists, shinier hair, brighter teeth, bigger boobs, bigger houses, faster cars, better zip codes - more, better, more, better - so someone can make a buck off of us.
You know what else has to be bigger and better? Our obstacles and our triumphs. It’s not enough that we succeed, it only “really” matters if we do so by suffering greatly and overcoming insurmountable odds first. No one’s doing cover stories on housewife Patrice from suburbia that decided to start exploring her passion of making art by giving up one day a week in the carpool to take a ceramics class, after all.
So we make up problems to focus on where they might not truly exist, or we focus on them when they aren’t truly an issue because something has to be wrong with us - something BIGGER - so our triumph can be bigger. We’ve been trained that our stories - that we - only really matter if we are sensational.
It’s what led me to joke the other day at the SheHive, “Not only did I do it, I did so while BEING FAT! I overcame SO. MUCH.”
There will always be people that have sensational stories - and people like me that can spin not-so-sensational stories into gold because it is our predisposition. They are the outliers, however - not the norm. Your “boring” story is your amazing story and it is important. The day you woke up and smiled into the mirror instead of frowning… the ceramics class you finally signed up for… the walk around the block… the fact that you woke up 30 minutes early for some “me” time… the small step you took to become more of who you are… all important stories.
What is one small, ordinary thing you did today to be more of who you are? Inspire others to embrace their important, non-sensational victories by sharing your own below.
With much love and gratitude,