When I was 17 and people asked me what I wanted to do when I left school, I didn’t have a clear picture in mind. All I knew was that I wanted to do something significant – whatever that meant.
I would often say, “I want to change the world’. A pretty bold statement and yet somehow acceptable for an idealistic 17-year-old. Not so acceptable for a 28-year-old, who was unhappily married, trying to cope with a newborn, missing her career, and trying to work out whose rules she was following.
Looking back into my twenties, I can see so clearly how I didn’t know myself at all.
The journey of discovering who I was, am and want to be, didn’t really begin until my thirties. And if I’m honest here, this journey is ongoing. I am learning new information about myself all the time, even today.
My desire to leave something of significance in this world hasn’t changed. However, learning about what drives me, how my personality traits and behaviour either support or limit my progress has been paramount to my success, and it’s how I help other clinicians create businesses that suit their goals and their definition of success.
If there’s one thing I now know for sure, it’s this: real success is about being real with you who are, what you want, and getting a little better acquainted with your strengths and your weaknesses.
(By the way – a weakness is only really a weakness IF you let it weaken you.)
Notice the lack of hacks, tricks, tools, tactics and shiny objects?
We don’t like to admit it, but we clinicians in private practice have a problem with knowing who we are.
As I write this blog, one of the first thing that comes to mind is this: many of us think that we need to cloak ourselves and our personalities behind a veil of ethics and professionalism, in everything we do. Professionalism and ethics are non-negotiables, but I’ve seen clinicians hide themselves – the very essence of who they are, what they want and how they want to show up in business and in life – behind these concepts.
Example: in being professional and ethical, we feel like we’re not allowed to experience strong emotions, or have a difference of opinion, or not like a client (*gasp* did I say that??).
In being professional and ethical we might also believe that it’s unacceptable to fail, or not know something, or ask for help, or recognise that we might need someone or something to get us through.
We watch our peers on social media and we compare ourselves to them ALL THE TIME, judging ourselves harshly for not having achieved someone else’s perceived level of success, and so we continue to hide those parts of ourselves that we fear, don’t understand, don’t accept or don’t like.
This is a problem as a private practice owner. A massive problem.
As for me, well… anyone who knows me is well aware that I often have strong opinions, and I can be very confident in expressing them.
This is a part of me – and for a long time, I was ashamed of being loud, opinionated, and direct. I hardly the fit the mold of the “therapist” stereotype that’s floating around in our society. I also have the strong feeling that most of the people reading this blog also don’t fit the stereotype – and that maybe, this scares us.
It’s scary to put yourself out there, to disagree with common train of thought and to take a stand.
Take it from Seth Godin:
In putting ourselves out there, we’re afraid of failing. But really, the core fear is about rejection, blame, and criticism.
When you put yourself out there in a real way, it’s vulnerable and scary. Not to mention the risk of being criticized by our peers, who seem to have a habit of judging harshly, especially if you don’t fit the mold.
I was scared of this too. And here’s what happened: I ended up trying to market and grow my business in a really inauthentic way.
I tried to shove myself into the mold of how I thought everyone needed me to behave, if I was going to be successful.
And as a result, my marketing wasn’t working. And when it DID work, it brought in the type of people who were just wrong for me, and how I liked to work.
And guess what that led to? Not so great growth, and not doing the work I loved, with the people I love to work with.
Something changed when I decided to work with my “flaws” instead of against them.
I now joke that I have strong opinions, and I let people know that it’s OK to disagree with. And I’ve done enough inner self-work to know that when people disagree with me, it doesn’t mean that I’m being attacked. And now, I’m not afraid to show up as me in my business. And because I’m not holding back, I’m attracting the kind of people who really get me, and the kind of people who are truly a pleasure to work with.
So how about you? Which bits of yourself are you hiding?
We might be able to ‘bluff’ our way through therapy sessions or client treatment but the process of building a business is the most difficult journey of self-discovery anyone will engage in.
You will find that there will come a point where you can no longer hide from yourself. And it will show in your marketing results, your business’ growth, your bottom line and whether you’re building the kind of practice you actually want to be a part of.
· If you have a strong personality and like things done a certain way – then accept this, own this and learn how to harness this power for your good.
· If you don’t like making decisions quickly and like time to process pros and cons, then make sure you create time and space for you to make decisions in your business.
· When you are under pressure and you know you are likely to snap at people, be short in your responses and generally less than friendly – then maybe that’s the time you don’t answer the phone on the first ring!
When we know ourselves, know what drives us, know how our personality governs our behaviours…. only then we can make sensible, informed decisions about how we do the work we do, when we do it, and when to delegate and ask someone else to do some tasks that we should not touch.
For example, I should NOT be doing the bookkeeping in my business. For several reasons:
· I find it boring
· I am terrible with accuracy, especially with keyboard accuracy
· For my business to thrive I need to focus on marketing, management and delivery
I have spent considerable time learning about who I am and how I operate under pressure. This has helped me refine how I present in difficult situations, how I cope under stressful situations and how to use my energy to the best of my ability.
I personally don’t believe that there is one test or system we can use that will tell us all these things about ourselves. I know there are many psychometric tests and they are somewhat useful. There are many behavioural profiles and they too are somewhat useful. There is information from people we trust, and this too is somewhat useful. The power comes in taking the time to understand how each of these elements turns up and creates a whole person – that person being you!
So here’s a question for you –
- What parts of you are you hiding from in your business?
Can we bring 1 or 2 of them to the surface? No shame or guilt here.
What you might be interested to know is that those things we are hiding from, are actually forming the behavioural drivers for us. In our desire to keep these things hidden we strive to keep them hidden, even from ourselves , so we have a belief and we act in ways that keep these things hidden. These are our demonstrated drivers, and once we have uncovered them we then we have the opportunity to do something with this information.
· You might choose to do nothing
· You might choose to learn more
· You might ask a trusted person in your world how they would deal with what you have found
Uncovering our demonstrated drivers shines a big light onto the things we are doing to sabotage our success, our freedom and our energy.
But the good news is – once you understand it, you can stop it.
Once we determine what is really driving us, we can fix the problem and allow our true intentional drivers take root and grow.
And how awesome is that!
And can you see how understanding yourself forms a foundation for a mindset for success? You can’t pretend to have a mindset for success – you have to build one.
Understanding YOU is the first module of the Success Mindset Masterclass happening September 14-17 2017 (early bird seats are now on sale, and you can save $300 on the price of your seat). Next week, I’m going to talk more into understanding ourselves and how this forms a foundation for a mindset of success.
For more about the Masterclass, click here.