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One Giant Step Toward Greater Self-Confidence

Your problem is your underlying assumption that there's something wrong with you. Of course we all make mistakes, but that's not the point. It's not about being perfect or blameless. The answer is to forget about trying to be good enough.
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Stop picking on yourself! We do this over and over, determined to be different, better, more enlightened, wiser, or whatever we're criticizing ourselves for at the moment. It's the old uphill battle. When are you ever going to be good enough? It's time to say goodbye to your lack of confidence once and for all.

I'll tell you how in a minute, but first, answer this question honestly: How long have you been trying to be good enough? My guess is that it's been since you were about 8 years old. Of course, it's not your fault; parents, teachers, friends, family and bosses have been doing their best to "set you straight" and help you to "make the most of your potential."

But these good folks have long since stopped being to blame for how much you pick on yourself. As my dear friend Lew Epstein used to say, "That's their way of loving you." It's you that translated their well-meaning remarks into a lifetime of trying to prove yourself.

The problem is your underlying assumption that there's something wrong with you. Of course we all make mistakes, but that's not the point. It's not about being perfect or blameless. The answer is to forget about trying to be good enough. That's a complete waste of your time!

Just think about it for a second. Imagine a drop-dead gorgeous car, recently off the assembly line, now sitting on the dealer's lot -- and picking on itself! I wish I were more like that Lexus over there. I ought to be red instead of black. What's wrong with me? I'm just not good enough.

Ridiculous, isn't it? But your spending so much energy trying to be good enough is just as stupid! Recently, long-time friend Morty Lefkoe blogged about how we came to be this way, and the huge cost to our relationships with others.

So, back to the question: are you ever going to be good enough? The answer is yes -- you already are!

What can you do?

Take responsibility for your greatness (yes, you!) so that your life isn't about becoming good enough; it's about finding ways to use your special gifts to make a difference. Appreciating yourself is the first step toward giving yourself permission to be who you are and making the contribution you're here to make.

Way beneath your habitual self-doubt, you want to make a difference with your life by making things better for your family, your friends, your community, your workplace -- and beyond. In the past 30 years I've coached thousands of people, from high-powered CEOs to independent professionals to mothers ready to return to work, and I have yet to meet one single person who doesn't want their life to count. Although you may not be conscious of this basic motivation as you live day to day, these hidden drives are the strongest in your life.

The more conscious we are of this deep desire, the more we empower ourselves to make the necessary changes in our lives. That's why it means so much for you to stop picking on yourself; you're wasting at least half your energy, energy that could be much better used by doing what really matters to you. You are already more than good enough to make your contribution!

I've seen CEOs and top executives in large companies who think and act as if they were still waiting to be given permission to take the ball and run with it. Instead of making the changes they've been longing to make once they rose to a position of leadership and influence, they still hold back, afraid to take the lead they've earned.

Use the model above to consider your own life pursuit. Does Life Pursuit 1 or Life Pursuit 2 best describe your current focus? How are you investing your heart, intelligence and life force? If you see that you're engaged in Life Pursuit 1, your awareness and your commitment to shift to Life Pursuit 2 are sufficient to make a fundamental transformation in your life.

Sometimes it takes a bit of time to wake up to what we're doing and which pursuit we're engaged in. When Tim and I were first married, we would sit at the dinner table in the evening having our meal and talking over how the day went. He was starting a company and found himself in a position of leadership and total corporate responsibility for the first time in his life. Although it was what he'd always wanted, it was frightening and scary now that the time had come to make it happen.

Every time he faced another new challenge -- making his first cash flow, getting in more sales, training new staff -- he'd have another attack of self-doubt. He was open with me and let me know how he was feeling. Night after night I reassured him, reminding him of his strengths and his greatness.

After months I noticed something about our conversations: they didn't seem to be making him feel any better. I realized that I'd become part of the problem and was feeding into his paradigm of Life Pursuit 1. We had to stop playing this game in order to help him empower himself. One night, when he was sharing his doubts about himself, I said, "You know, maybe you're right. You just might not have what it takes." That was the end of that game for both of us!

Spending time in Life Pursuit 1 is not only a time-waster; it's a comfort zone that you must leave in order to be the person you're meant to be.

What motivates most of us far more than material success or recognition is our desire to be true to ourselves and live our lives in ways that demonstrate our personal values and beliefs.

Are you ready to take this giant step? I'd love to hear your answer -- and your other thoughts about the value of this article to you. Either leave a comment here or email me at