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Name Your Worst Enemy

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August 19, 2019

Raise your hand if you still remember your schoolyard bully. I do.  Sure, mine didn’t rise to the level of Mean Girl’s Regina George or the Lion King’s Scar.

How bad was yours? 

At one point or another this individual (or posse) was once a sworn enemy.  If you were on the receiving end of a confidence-deflating arbitrage then chances are you developed all sorts of avoidance strategies and coping mechanisms.  (If you were on the giving end, then we have another conversation coming . . . ). 

Either way, our entry into adult life, brings on the belief that enemies fade to black.  Not so fast, the enemy didn’t just disappear, it evolved.

This week, we’re exploring the personal and professional enemies we rarely acknowledge, but need to if we want realize the best of what’s in store for us.

Before we delve into a few common enemies, let’s get one thing straight:  if we don’t name the enemy, we won’t know how to respond.  So we’re taking it back to 1994 for a dash of nostalgia and the best defenses against the worst professional foes!

Running and Running, and Running

Life before GPS and Google Maps was complicated.  I remember on long road trips we picked up the AAA maps and plotted our course. Sometimes we had a final destination in mind, but sometimes, like on a lazy Saturday, the objective was just to drive.  

Though aimless wandering may be fine for a leisurely weekend activity, it’s a practice that easily crosses boundaries.  Just ask Forrest Gump, who in the film, ran for 3+ year with no particular direction or goal in mind. 

Uncertainty is the enemy of progress. Goals are the best defense.  Without the finite destination they provide, we keep running and running without ever making any progress.

Past Performance

The second enemy usually manifests as stage fright.  In a form worse than the nerves you experience when you have to give a big speech in front of a large (or live) audience.  Fear is the enemy I’m talking about.  Fear is the enemy of performance.

Think about past failures like a disappointing product launch, missing a revenue target, or a quarter of contracted growth.  How often have you let such circumstances cripple your forward momentum? 

Newsflash, Rafiki was right:

The past can’t hurt you. Nor can it dictate how much you achieve in the future.  As most trial lawyers know,  the rules of evidence prohibit using prior bad acts to prove present conformity.  The same is true in your  professional and personal life.  Don’t let fear prevent your progress.

You Are Who You Are.

We’re not quite done with the Lion King yet. We’ve got one more enemy to cover: Doubt is the enemy of purpose.

Just as Simba forgot his position as the King, so too we forget how much we bring to the table.

A lack of identity– in yourself or the product or solution you offer to the market– often fuels this dynamic. Do you know who you are?  Perhaps a better way to ask the same question is: do you know your unique value and worth?

One surefire way to build necessary confidence is to tap into that small part of your brain called the Reticular Activating System, which functions to filter out stimuli or inputs that do not align with your intended focus.  It’s the part of brain responsible for confirmation bias or why you start seeing your favorite car everywhere when you finally decide it’s what you want.  Focus on your purpose, don’t doubt it.

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