Little by little...

Little by little...

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Holding Back

I’ve become a conference junkie over the last 2+ years. Add in books, webinars, articles, and tweets and I sometimes feel like Violet Beauregarde. I share her competitive tendencies and wonder if I’m not too quick to jump on every opportunity to expand my knowledge.

My concern is that I’m spending a lot of time taking in other people’s thoughts and ideas. That’s not bad, of course. It’s a primary source of learning and stretching your brain.

But how do I know I’m learning? Where is my output? I write a blog post once a month (at least I try to) and I have presented a few talks and webinars. But most of that has been repetitive material and all things that I know very well.

What am I doing with all this new stuff I’m taking in?

A key component of learning is doing something with the new information. And sharing it aids retention like nothing else. So why aren’t I sharing more?

I started thinking about what might be holding me back because it feels unbalanced. Here's what I came up with. Do any of these reasons sound familiar?

No Process Time: Sometimes I don’t give myself time to process the new material. Or the situation doesn’t conveniently provide a respite, like at a conference. And in the flurry of new ideas, I just move on to the next gem. Shiny!

-> Opportunity: Pause. Breathe. Digest. Even if it means missing something else. It’s better for me to skip a session that I’m not super excited about so that I can process the notes from a session that posed cool, new ideas. Same applies to webinars, articles, etc. Be intentional with my time. Less is more.

Imposter Syndrome Strikes: Why do I think I have something original to add to the plethora of information already out there? This self-doubt that I have something unique to say is, well, ridiculous, when I think about it. We are all literally unique. I just might explain the same idea with a twist that helps someone understand it for the first time or push someone else’s thought in a new direction.

-> Opportunity: Speak now or forever hold your peace (or is it piece, in this case?). Ok, less drama, but the point is – just say it. I have this one life to make a difference. Offer my thoughts boldly and without comparison to those around me.

Fear of Rejection: Related to Imposter Syndrome, the fear of rejection creeps in whenever I put my self out there. What if no one likes my idea? Or no one agrees? Or worse, everyone thinks I’m an idiot. It’s much safer to share someone else’s ideas because if they are rejected, then the original speaker is getting rejected, not me.

-> Opportunity: I think the advice is “same as above” with one addition. If I am going to write an article or create a presentation, then it’s ok to call on trusted friends and colleagues to review my material. So be brave and step out there – and put my best self out there.

Is There Anybody Out There? Another mental game I play is called, “If you have a brilliant thought and no one hears it, is it really brilliant?” In moments of weakness, I worry that my efforts are wasted. How can I impact the world if I don’t get 10,000 page views?

-> Opportunity: I must remind myself why I’m writing, sharing, etc. It is not about page views or likes or shares. Those numbers don’t measure anything valuable. What gets me excited is teaching one person a better approach to a problem. Or reigniting one person’s passion for their career. Or inspiring one person to submit a talk to a conference for the first time.  The power of one will change the world.

So there’s my list. What about you? What’s holding you back? Leave me a comment – I would love to hear from you.


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