Closer Than They Appear

On this week’s episode of Rick Stein’s Road to Mexico he was in a hire car, a blue open-top Mustang, driving through California and Baja, and there was a shot of his wing mirror with the immortal words (which you never see over here, or rarely anyway) “objects in the mirror may be closer than they appear.”

I like this expression. It is funny. It is salutary. And it’s always a bit of a head-**** for me as my first understanding of the words is always precisely their opposite, that things look closer than they are. Go figure.

But this thought came back to me this morning when contemplating writing this newsletter because I wanted to write about something Alison said to me, or at least some thoughts she triggered in me.

She said she was going to write down on a regular basis her achievements during the next twelve months. She has a particular agenda, she is going to put in for an award and she will need to make a business case for that and she noted that it is all too easy to forget the things that go well. We talked about how our inclination is to rush on to the next thing that needs doing and to focus on those things we haven’t got quite right yet.

We talked about feelings of worth and value and what contributes to that. And how we, looking in, often find it easier to appreciate someone than they give themselves credit for. And the role that learning to accept a compliment plays in that, especially when you take time to consider it as valuable feedback, or not.

I have owned a business and right now I advise another where the daily work comes in only when something goes wrong. And as you adapt to that reality it feels as though all there is is wrongness, when in fact so much is going right. As much as 98%, but the remaining 2% is firefighting and skews our assessment of the truth of our business and our happy customers and clients. We have to choose where we put our focus and how we evaluate what feels good to us and enables us to feel proud of our work and achievements, of our biz.

Because Alison has to put in an application for the award, i.e. nominate herself for consideration, we discussed how that is similar to my niece and nephews and their personal statements to get into university. But it still felt rather immodest to both of us, because we are less comfortable perhaps in recording our successes and certainly in regurgitating them with others.

Despite an inordinate amount of pride I take when people say nice things to me, I brush it off and move on too quickly. I am trying to do that less and less and sit with the lovely feedback and see how it helps me and helps me to help you. And even as a woman in business for forty years, it is still incredibly valuable to have these words come to me from clients. I do record them in a file called Warm Fuzzies which is something my own coach taught me to do. I can go in there and read them on a bad day though, TBH, I have fewer and fewer of those in my work these days. I know the reason why that is and I shall save that thinking for another day.

When I was learning to be a coach, part of the training (quite a big part) was about trying to get clients to acknowledge their successes. My clients don’t really want to do that themselves, they never have in 15 years of this work, and so I have appointed myself their cheerleader, much like a parent might do. It doesn’t mean I am all yays and hurrahs and pinkness, but credit where credit’s due especially when they refuse or appear unable to acknowledge it themselves and/or demonstrate a failure to be able to see themselves reflected in a truer light.

Their strengths and successes are always closer than they appear in their own mirror. I don’t know why that is. It just is. But nevertheless I think we all have to battle through these personal development demons until such a time as we can acknowledge ourselves and pat ourselves on the back, and until that day then recording all the good stuff is a genius idea of Alison’s. Do you do that?

Make it a routine. Diarise it as often as you think you need to, or create a system which collects it for you. Warm Fuzzies in a file. Testimonials on your website or Facebook Page. Thank you letters copied and kept on your iPhone. Whatevs. It doesn’t really matter what you do, just as long as you remember to put equal weight on the good stuff as well as on the continuous improvement, otherwise all we feel is still not good enough yet. And we doubt that we ever will be.

  • What can you acknowledge yourself for today?
  • How do you know when you’ve done a good job?
  • When will you choose to record your successes and how will that help?
  • Who tells you good stuff about yourself and how do you receive and process that intel, and acknowledge it too?
  • What value does it have?

Answers on a virtual postcard always welcome. You know I love to hear from you.

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I’m taking on clients now for a 2018 start (or earlier if your need is pressing). All you have to do is contact me or message me and I’ll do the rest. Together we can scope out something specifically for you and bag your spot.

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