Happy New Year!

I’ve been thinking about the changes I’ve made this year (this decade!). Not least of which is the progress I’ve made in a particular area of my life…

Which is best described in a story.

I was in the middle of facilitating a workshop for a Board of Directors.

It was a peak moment: a professional photographer was filming as they were sharing the vision they’d built together out of LEGO®—the culmination of the previous few hours.

LEGO® Serious Play® workshopAs one of the Board members started to point to the parts of the model and tell the story of the team’s aspirational vision, I had a sudden thought:

“I should capture this on paper with graphic recording!”

But right on the heels of that thought, other thoughts rushed in:

Oh, that would be distracting. People won’t know where to look!”

“Besides, you’ve only been doing graphic recording for a short time, and you’re not nearly good enough at it yet.”

“It won’t look very good, and you’ll only embarrass yourself. You’d better not.”

In the end, I convinced myself that the video would be enough—after all, video plus a follow-up report had served fine in the past.

But I regretted my decision later.

I realized that those voices in my head, which sounded so reasonable in the moment, were the “gremlin” voices of self-dout.

Gremlins like to disguise themselves as the Voice of Truth, the Voice of Wisdom and the Voice of Reason, but they’re actually just fear, trying to keep us safely inside our comfort zones.

In this case, my self-doubt gremlins were doing their darnedest to keep me safe from ridicule or potential humiliation.

The problem with letting our gremlins drive the bus is that staying in our comfort zones not only keeps us from growing, in this case it also withheld benefit from my client.

If I had been able to get past my fear (and what ultimately boiled down to protecting my ego!), I would have realized that having a 2-dimensional, visual documentation of the Board’s vision — created in real time — would have been hugely valuable for the workshop participants.

It wasn’t about me!

It never should have been about me. It should have been about what would have been beneficial for them.

If I could have stepped outside of my self-doubt echo-chamber, I would have remembered that I am my own worst critic, and in the eyes of my clients, even my worst efforts are usually deemed “brilliant.”

I could have benefitted the team, and myself as well, by getting on-the-ground practice in what, at the time, was still a new-ish skill.

Sadly, I let my self-doubt stall me in my tracks.

This is, unfortunately, all too common.

Self-doubt, and its partner-in-crime, uncertainty, are two of the biggest obstacles freezing many leaders and aspiring leaders in place and preventing them from taking necessary risks.

Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be this way!

Self-doubt and uncertainty don’t always have to freeze us in place.

We can’t make them go away, but we can learn to manage them better, so we can take the risks that will allow us to move forward in life:

  • Asking for that promotion
  • Stepping onstage to speak
  • Applying for that job
  • Putting our work out in the world, where it will be subject to judgment
  • Picking up a pen to write or draw

Just about anything worth doing has some element of uncertainty.

And just about anything worth doing will rustle the self-doubt gremlins out of hibernation.

I’ve learned some tools to help you harness the butterflies, transform uncertainty into a catalyst for genius and gremlins into counter-intuitive allies.

Because self-doubt and uncertainty don’t suddenly disappear.

However, when you learn techniques for managing them — and when you practice those techniques — you’re less liable to freeze in situations like the one I describe above.

I’ve seen improvement in my own life, so I know this to be true!

I’ve designed a session using hands-on activities from the worlds of improv and LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®, to introduce participants to some basic concepts and techniques to help you lean into uncertainty and manage the gremlins of self-doubt, so you can take bold action in your professional and personal life.

I’ve delivered versions of this training virtually and in-person for years.

Now I’m excited to deliver this session to the Silicon Valley professionals of Promatch on December 16.

To speak to me about delivering a similar session at your company, email me and let’s chat!


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