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I’m Not. Or Am I?

Whether we admit it or not, most of us struggle at times with self-confidence. Why is that? Sometimes we struggle with the “I’m NOT” voice in our heads. This voice can have many origins, some from people or experiences in our past, but that’s a topic for another time. Right now, let’s talk about this voice. The I’m not. I’m not a leader. I’m not a good friend. I’m not a natural talent. I’m not organized. I’m not able to. I’m not as good as [insert name]. I’m not good enough. Just - I’m not enough. Sometimes, we pull back from opportunities because we feel we aren’t naturally good at them. Let me tell you a story.

My friend Kay is a writer. Many years ago, at a writer’s conference, she had the opportunity to submit a piece she wrote to be reviewed (critiqued) by her favorite (famous) author. I don’t remember the exact response she received, but it was akin to “Don’t quit your day job. You don’t have what it takes.” Kay struggled with the “I’m NOT” but ultimately used that as motivation to propel her to hone the craft of writing. She began studying and learning and writing and studying and learning and writing some more. Eventually she was published. Years later, her path crossed with that same favorite author again. The author, of course, didn’t remember Kay, but once again, she reviewed Kay’s work and this time, the feedback was fantastic. Only after Kay became one of this author’s pre-publication reviewers, did Kay share this story with this author. Today, they are friends and colleagues.

So, if you find yourself struggling with an “I’m Not” thought, don’t let that mindset prevent you from pursuing an opportunity that’s important to you. Instead, add a YET. I’m not YET, but I’m working on it. Or maybe the voice is flat-out wrong, to which you should emphatically say “Yes, I am.” And when you receive feedback about your performance that feeds your “I’m not” thought, analyze it and pull out what’s valid, accept it as constructive, and use it to improve.

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