I call it the Voice of Treason – that negative, little voice that resides inside all of our heads. It’s the one that tries to undermine anything we might attempt that falls outside of our comfort zones. And it is annoying, and it is relentless, especially with “helpful” phrases like:
“You can’t do that! You’re not in their league.”
“Hey, man, nice idea, but remember the last time you spearheaded a project like this? You made a complete idiot out of yourself in front of the entire company.”
“You’re kidding right? All the other parents are still laughing about the last time you volunteered! Hold on, I think I can find it again on YouTube.”
Okay, so there’s no debating the fact that the Voice of Treason exists. The question is what do we do to shut that thing up?? Well, I’ve got a very good, three-part recipe for that:
1. Collect Evidence That Shows You Are Capable. Instead of hearing that voice and crumbling at the thought of a new challenge, get off the mental bench, and dig up examples where you have indeed accomplished some remarkable things in your past. Share those with the Voice of Treason as proof that you’ve got it goin’ on.
For instance, when I was in college, I decided I wanted to become a part of the Get Out the Vote initiative on campus. I didn’t have any experience. I didn’t even know what I was doing. But I dove in, became part of an energetic team, and made an impact on the number of people who voted on the Oregon State University campus.
Similarly, I attended a homeowners association meeting at a friend’s condo complex one time. The next thing I know, and with no previous experience, I found myself managing my first HOA.
Finally, when I decided I wanted to get into the banking business in Nevada, I needed to convince my wife that it was a good idea to leave our lovely home on the California coast… to start a new banking business that I didn’t know anything about. (Yeah, I whip out that one frequently for the Voice.)
Likewise, you are capable. Go back to your childhood and slowly progress through your adult years, taking note of your proud moments and your terrific accomplishments. Relive them, present those to the Voice of Treason, and tell him he’s nuts if he doesn’t think you can do it again.
2. Flood Your Mind With Optimism. Any challenging endeavor will come with setbacks, and your perspective on those is crucial to your success. Negativity robs you of energy, enthusiasm and perseverance, so it’s important to replenish your positive outlook regularly by doing two things: make an effort to feel gratitude every day, and do something good for others.
Keep a gratitude journal. Make a list of the things you’re thankful for to start the day and a list of the things you successfully worked on or completed at the end of the day. Visualizing the work you produced builds a sense of accomplishment and helps you establish the expectation that you’re an individual who keeps things moving forward. And practicing gratitude is a wonderful stress-reliever.
Secondly, if you want to feel good about yourself, do something helpful or kind for someone else. Supporting a co-worker can strengthen the team, while doing something for an elderly neighbor can nourish your soul. Find a way to give back, and it’s like keeping energy in reserve to overcome the rocky road ahead.
3. Take Action! This part may be the simplest, and for some of us, the hardest. Actually taking a positive first step toward accomplishing your goal is probably the quickest way to stifle the Voice of Treason.
Remember the new banking business that I mentioned above? Sure, I had doubts, but after I did my homework, I didn’t sit and wait. There was none of that paralysis- of-analysis stuff. I took action. I literally knocked on the door of every single banking prospect in town, and I slowly began to generate business.
I was confident in my abilities, and I was optimistic that I could be successful. But I made it work by taking action.
You can too.
And see if that doesn’t shut up the Voice of Treason.