Hey Millennials, why don’t we Trust ourselves?

I begin with an idea and then it becomes something else

– Pablo Picasso

I’m no Picasso of the world. But, his thought of fleeting changes in ideas and unexpected outcomes, resonates with me. One day one idea is appealing, but before I can action it out, I’m overthinking if it’s really something I want to pursue long term.  If it’s really my calling; my passion. And more so, if it’s really going to be something that makes me “come alive” long term.

Career dilemmas are daunting – plain and simple.  Is figuring out your passion daunting too?  Do you ever find yourself wondering how you are going to be happy following your passion when you don’t even know what it is?  Do you relentlessly debate with yourself trying to distinguish your hobby from your passion?  Listen to speeches, google inspirational articles of young entrepreneurs, watch YouTube videos, attend career fairs, talk to friends, and are still clueless…  If you are, great.  It’s reassuring (for me) and yes, you ARE normal.

How easy would it be to just know what you want and how to get it?  Life would be perfect.  But, there’s always a dreaded BUT.  Nothing is perfect (and we all know that).  I’m getting older and I should be well on my way to making a huge leap forward in my career by now, is what you’re probably thinking thanks to the societal, or parental if you will, pressures and norms bestowed upon you and ingrained into your mind growing up.  Breaking News.  I’m a millennial and it has felt like it has taken forever to find out what I really want to do.  In fact, I’m still not there, I’m still iterating.  The big difference now that I’m a little older, is that I’ve accepted where I am and enjoy most of what I am doing. 

Here is the big takeaway.  Let go of self 1 to tap into the power of self 2.

What the heck does this mean?

Tim Gallwey wrote a great book called the Inner Game of Work.  Millennials can learn so much from this guy.  Tim mentions that there are two selves; Self 1 and Self 2.  To summarize, Self 1 is the “lizard” brain as Seth Godin calls it, while Self 2 is the body that acts.  Self 1 instructs while Self 2 acts.  We get into trouble when Self 1 tries to tell Self 2 how to do something the latter already knows how to do — when we try too hard.

When Self 2 focus is occurring, it seems magical because the actions are more spontaneous and unexpectedly effortless. Self-consciousness is gone.  Self-judgment is gone.  The overcontrolling mechanisms of fear and doubt are gone.  When this kind of focus is happening, there is neither anxiety nor boredom.

Here is what Self 1 may be telling you if you are in a rut:

But what if I become a loser?  Or useless?  Or fail?  Or I become someone that just accepts things to happen rather than getting stuff done?  Didn’t Steve Jobs tell us we must “poke the world”?  Shit I’m getting too old to not have a solid foundation yet.  I’m not going to look valuable enough in that interview.  And on and on…

Well, hear me out.

What if you can only “poke the world” if you release control?

But didn’t Steve Jobs want to control everything?  That may be true, but I believe that for Jobs to figure out his desires, he first needed to release control.

Exercising trust in Self 2 seems like you are losing control, but the fact is that you are gaining control by letting go of an inferior means of control. This is a lesson that both coach and performer have to learn over and over in each new situation.  – Tim Gallwey in The Inner Game of Work

Jobs dropped out of college but still dropped into certain classes for free.  What do you think must have been going through Jobs’ mind as he was dropping in on these free classes?  Was he freaked out that he was screwed because he needed a degree?  Was he scared that he would never become anything?  Did he know that his calligraphy class would have a significant impact on the apple computer one day?  Maybe.  But more likely these thoughts did not occupy all of his mind-space because he trusted Self 2.

It is more likely he had fears of the future but made the decision because he trusted himself.  Maybe he tried to be curious, open, aware and enjoy the class even if it didn’t end up producing anything “special”.

This quote may help people if Self 1 is interfering:

There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how valuable it is, nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. [Martha Graham to biographer Agnes de Mille in Martha: The Life and Work of Martha Graham (New York: Random House, 1992).]

This is a great quote that explains why you shouldn’t block Self 2.  You will come up against Self 1 telling you it is a bad idea, it is no good, not valuable, or worse than others.  However it is your business to be open and aware to the urges that motivate you.

Interesting.  Note that when you trust yourself, you become more aware.  And when you become more aware, it is easier to prioritize and make decisions.  Tim Gallwey adds below:

Experience with the three principles—awareness, choice, and trust—showed that they were inextricably connected. They were three parts of a whole. Awareness was about knowing the present situation with clarity. Choice was about moving in a desired direction in the future. And Trust in one’s own inner resources was the essential link that enabled that movement.

Each side of this triangle complemented and supported the other. The more I trusted, the easier it was to be aware. The more aware I was, the easier it was to see my choices. As my understanding of each principle deepened, I saw that they were all I needed to form the basis of a new approach to learning and making changes. – Tim Gallwey

I think Millennials need to trust themselves more.

Okay great, this sounds pretty ideal, but how is it actually practiced day to day?

Well Gallwey used questions while coaching tennis players that helped them keep them out of their own heads.  Millennials (and bosses and parents!) can use these types of questions and apply them to their day to day instead of constantly judging or telling.

Here is what Gallwey used in tennis:

“As the ball comes toward you, can you notice anything about its trajectory that interests you.”?

There is a big difference in the above phrase vs. phrases that tell a tennis player how to hit a ball or what to focus on.

I think it is really powerful in coaching but also a great question to replace negative self talk with awareness.

Here are a few examples of applying this type of awareness to different situations:

A question for people in jobs who really dislike what they are doing.

As you go to work for the day, I want you to notice anyone or anything about your day that you find interesting.  Think about your environment, your coworkers, your clients, where your company is going, your walk into work.  What is interesting?

A question for someone who is at home in a rut job hunting.

I want you to notice anything about companies websites that attract you to them.  I want you to notice the linkedin profiles of people at the company.  I want you to notice who the potential clients of the company are.  What do you notice?  What interests you about them?  Does this make you want to apply to them?

A question for call centre operators who want to enjoy their jobs more.

Can you rate on a scale of one to ten the various qualities you can hear in the customer’s voice, like the degree of “warmth,” “friendliness,” or “irritation.”?

What do these questions do? It decreases judgement and allows self learning through awareness.  Trust is the foundation of awareness, and with both intact, self-learning occurs and choices happen organically.

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