How do you crack open your self image so you can reach higher levels of achievement (and it’s got very little to do with pumping yourself up with positive affirmations)?

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Sketch by Chesney Bradshaw. Delta Park, Johannesburg. 26 August 2018

Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night sick with worry that you have gone too far? You may have decided to take the next step to launch your side-income small business and feel that it’s just too much for you to handle. You could have pursued a line of action where you are coming up against huge resistance in your personal or business life and you are experiencing doubts that you may have overreached. If none of this applies to you, you may want to still read on because the opposite is overconfidence where you may jump into something believing you can do it only to find out some time down the line that you bit off more than you could chew.

What is it that holds us back in life and business apart from external factors such as our present environment, financial circumstances and the marketplace?

At some time in our lives we try to break through our mental shackles and move to the next level but something just keeps holding us back. We don’t know how to move forward. We seem stuck. We may even feel afraid that we are pushing too hard, jumping too far out of our comfort zones. The psych insight that I have here is that we feel comfortable with a certain self-image that we have created for ourselves. If we venture out of that self image, we suddenly begin to feel uncomfortable, feel afraid and can even become depressed. Understanding such expansion of the self image is something that would be entrepreneurs and even small business owners who wish to grow should understand.

The common wisdom is that we should take small steps but this isn’t always possible because fortune favours the courageous. This means that when we see an opportunity we have to decide whether we are going to seize it or not. Lady luck doesn’t appear every day and when she does we have to embrace her or live with regret. Of course, if we aren’t prepared for an opportunity, then it might be better to let it go and rationalise our inaction so that we don’t harbour regrets.

I remember, for example, when I was petrified to stand up and talk to even a small group of people. I knew something was wrong and joined the Dale Carnegy Course and attended my first session in the Carlton Centre in the Johannesburg CBD. I got up on to that stage, trembling and spoke to a group of strangers but couldn’t see one face in the audience. I can’t remember what I said but I’m sure it was a disjointed, garbled effort. But the point here is that at least I did identify my weakness and that decided to rise above the thing that was holding me back.

But this raises an important point. As Dr Maxwell Maltz once said we need to find the “big U” in us and trust our creative life force to come to our aid and carry us through. Every day we are faced with challenges, problems and difficulties but we need to go out there with the knowledge that as human beings we have our creative life force that will help us find solutions, know what to say and how to act.

For those who may not have these inner fears born out of a restrictive self image and jump into things too quickly their creative life force may come to their assistance and, for example, persuade them to seek coaching or other forms of help. After 18 months, for instance, one small business owner’s venture started to go down the tubes, he became depressed and despondent and it was only through the guidance of a coach that he was able to pick himself up and find it in himself to start rebuilding his business.

Perhaps a good place to start is by admitting you may be out of your depth or are feeling discomfort having left your comfort zone. As one entrepreneur recently said, with independent start-ups you always have to put out this persona that you “are just killing it” but it can be a very lonely place when you run into difficulties. Admitting your human frailty and deciding to do something about it is an important first step in the right direction

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