How doubt can indicate you’re on the right track

You’ve decided to finally do that thing you’ve been thinking about – open a new business, change careers, take a long-coveted course…

You’re excited. You’re committed. You’re ready.

But then…

Just as you’re about to take that first major step – start accepting clients, stop entertaining offers in your previous field, put down the payment…

The self-doubt hits:

“What if this isn’t what I really want? Maybe I’m supposed to do something else? Maybe I should do that other thing over there?”  

Your ego is never stronger than when you are about to make a significant change.

It wants you to stay in your comfort zone.

The ego likes you in a place where it knows the lay of the land. It doesn’t matter whether that land is a happy place or one fraught with dissatisfaction or indecision. Like a stubborn child, it wants to stay put.

This is why the moment you are about to take action, you doubt yourself.

Like a shy four-year-old starting school for the first time, your ego doesn’t know what’s going to happen when you let go of its hand so it does everything it can to keep you holding on.  

The stronger its grasp, the more significant the change when you let go.

From this perspective, self-doubt isn’t so much a sign that you might be on the wrong track but an indicator that you are on the right one. 

There’s a saying in personal growth: “New level. New devil.” This means that when you get to the next level of your life, you will continue to have challenges.

I think a better phrase is:

The devil precedes the level.

Looked at this way, doubt is simply another sign that, should you break through it, major growth is on the way. 

What doubts are you struggling with? Drop me a line and let me know. 

Are you circling the wagon

When I was 24, I thought the coolest job in the world would be to report on the local music, arts and theatre scenes for an alternative newsweekly.

So, I called up the publisher of my local newsweekly and asked him for an information interview.

Remarkably, he gave me an entry-level job on the spot!

Only it wasn’t writing about the local arts scene. It was selling advertising to small, independent businesses.

And I sucked at it.  

I lasted a week before I gave my notice. 

Going into that meeting, I didn’t know that the editorial and publishing arms of newspapers were completely separate areas.  

Once, I’d found out, I was afraid to say what I’d really wanted.

I was, as they say in the old westerns, circling the wagon.

Circling the wagon happens when you get close to what you want but don’t go directly for it. 

It’s:

  • The closet stand-up who memorizes every line from their favourite comic’s HBO special but never gathers the courage to do an open mic night.
  • The painter who works at the art supply store but hasn’t picked up their brush in months.
  • And, the journalist creating ads instead of articles.

When you circle the wagon, you are surrounded by people who are doing your dream. 

This is amazing! You are already part of a community that is doing the things you want to do. You have contacts!

But, you’re not actually doing what you want.  And this sucks!

You watch from the sidelines, stuck in self-doubt, never summoning the courage to step up and do what you want. 


If this describes you, here’s what you need to do:

1.  Ask someone living your dream for their advice.

Say, “Hey, I really admire your work. How did you become a [insert thing you are in awe of here]”?

2. Admit what you really want to that person.

Stating your dream to someone puts it out in the Universe. It makes you accountable to exploring it further. It sets the wheels in motion.

3. Take one small step toward doing it.

Follow the person’s advice. Do anything in the direction of being who you long to be.

Action is the first step to momentum.

The fastest way to get to where you want is always the most direct route. 


Often, all you need to get there is to believe that you can.


The dare that’s impacted 2 million and counting

“What would make you crap your pants?”

Last year, my friend Courtney Mcleod’s video surpassed 2.5 million views on Facebook.

She made the video on a dare…

of sorts.

At the end of 2018, Courtney, a life coach and organizer of events for women, decided that in 2019 she would dare herself to do something every month that would make her feel like she might crap her pants (her words, not mine.)

In short:

She wanted to push herself out of her comfort zone.

Her first challenge was many people’s version’s of Hell – speaking publicly in front of a large audience.

So, she applied for SpeakerSlam, a frequently sold out motivational speaking contest in a venue about half the size of a football field.

But more than that the fear of speaking in front of others, she put herself in a vulnerable place.

Courtney’s speech recounted one of the worst moments of her life.

When she was a child, her dream was to play Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. So, she rounded up the local kids to put on the on the play.

When the date came, however, the kids in the play staged a coup, told her she wasn’t pretty enough to play Dorothy and put someone else in the lead.

Courtney didn’t win the SpeakerSlam.

But, a video of her talk was picked up by GoalCast, edited into a three-minute clip and posted on their Facebook page.

Today, the number of people being inspired by it continues to grow.

Magic happens when you push yourself out of your comfort zone.

You gain confidence and the courage to take even more leaps.

Courtney’s sole objective for her speech was to do something that scared the crap out of her.

Along, the way, she’s inspired millions.

Imagine the impact YOU could have by overcoming your fears and speaking your truth.

The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step (or in some cases a decision that scares the crap out of you.)

If you’ve hit a wall, try this

When I was in my late 20s, I had a roommate named Darryl who had one goal in life – to perform stand-up comedy professionally.

He’d moved from a small town in Nova Scotia to Toronto to pursue this dream.

Seven nights a week, Darryl honed his routine at open mic nights, while six days a week he supported himself by working for minimum wage at a coffee shop.

He was busting his ass, getting laughs and making friends.

But, he wasn’t getting booked by comedy clubs, festivals, or anyone who would pay him and pave his way to bigger things.

After two years, still stuck in amateurland and about to turn 30, Darryl hit a wall.

“I’m doing everything I’m supposed to and still nothing is happening,” he said. “What’s the point?”

Darryl decided to give up comedy, pack his bags and go back to Nova Scotia to work in his brother’s pharmacy.

After we chatted, he postponed the trip.

Comedy was the only thing he’d ever wanted to do and he wanted it more than anyone I’d ever met.

It was his calling.

The ancient Greeks had two words for time: chronos or linear time and kairos or divine timing.

Sometimes when you push and push and get nowhere, the Universe needs time to catch up with you.

And this what happened with Darryl’s career.

He agreed to stay for six more months, write some new material and keep working the open mics with no expectations other than to hone the new material.

His new stuff was funnier than his old stuff.

His stage presence got better.

He stopped caring so much about getting booked.

And, within a year he received an offer from a broadcaster for a nationally-aired comedy special and was booked for a major comedy festival.

If you’ve hit a wall, stop trying so hard.

Remember when you first started doing the thing you are trying to get results with.

What appealed to you about it? What were the parts you loved before you expected anything to come of it?

Stop focussing the outcome and reconnect with the joy in the process.

Let go and let flow.

Trust.

Have faith. And you too might experience a resurrection of sorts.

You’ve been through this before

If you are going through something difficult in your life know this:

Transcript:

So I thought I’d come out here to the beach today and shoot a spring video. But as you can see it’s snowing not necessarily optimal conditions. But you know what? Life doesn’t always bring you optimal conditions to do what you want to do. That’s why change is hard.

So today I want to ask you a question. When is a time in your life when you’ve done something really difficult but made it through. For example: maybe you finished an educational program, maybe you changed careers, maybe you lost some weight or transformed your body, maybe you left a toxic relationship, maybe you saved some money.

If you’re a certain age, chances are if you look back far enough you will find some examples of times in your life when you rose up and you conquered and you won despite the challenges.

Seventeen years ago I faced what was probably one of the biggest challenges in my life. I quit smoking. I had smoked for 20 years. Blech! I know. GROSS! I can’t imagine this now but it was different times.

I had tried quitting smoking probably 20 times in those 20 years. I’d tried the patch, I’d tried Zyban, I tried hypnosis, I tried cold turkey,. I tried nicotine gum. You name it, I had tried it and nothing had worked. But I did not give up. I failed at quitting: many, many, many times. And I kept quitting.

And eventually, in April 2002, I finally quit smoking for good by joining a 12 step program. And in that program, I got a little coin that said one hour. And this was for the one hour of my first meeting that I hadn’t had any nicotine. And I held on to that because I knew if I could get through that hour I could get through the next hour and I could get through the next hour and I could get through the next hour.

It wasn’t easy. I had cravings. There were situations that I had to change in my life. A lot of feelings came up It was uncomfortable. But 17 years later I’m still not smoking.

And this week, I was able to look back at that because I had to make another tough decision. I had to let someone in my life go that I was feeling addicted to in a not very healthy way at all. And, letting this person go literally brought up cravings just like when I’d quit smoking. I could feel this need for this person coursing through my veins which was a big red flag that they were not a good person for me in the first place.

But the fact that I had quit smoking prior – I looked at this and I said, you know what, if I can quit smoking I can get through anything. I’ve been through this before. I’ve had this challenge before I albeit with a different substance and a different thing. And I got through it. I succeeded. Looking back at my history has given me the confidence to know that I will succeed this time.

So, if you’re going through a tough time in your life and you want to make a change and it’s seeming so insurmountable and so difficult and so challenging, I want you to look back on your life. Because, as my as one of my mentors Jesse Elder says, you have a long history already of winning. You have already overcome and the fact that you’ve overcome and you’ve risen up and you’ve met challenges before in life means that you can do it again. It’s in you to win. It’s in you to succeed.

Not only that: Future You, the you who is going to be you 10,15, five, however long years from now, maybe even one year, maybe a week from now, needs you to go through this now so when they reach a certain challenge they can look back and say “Yah! Current me overcame.”.

So think about what you’re going through. Think about your past. When have you risen up and overcome a challenge? You’re already a winner. All you need to do is step into it, know it, and succeed.

 

How to go out when you’d rather hibernate

In Toronto, the little lake in front of my apartment building is frozen solid and all I want to do is crawl under the covers with The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina until spring.

It’s easy to slip into a state of inertia when the thermometer dips. 

But, if you, like me, have dreams bigger than finishing a season on Netflix, you’ve got shit to do.

So how do you take action when you’re feeling as motivated on a sloth on its day off?

You make it easier.

Case in point:

Once upon a time, Carla’s passion was salsa dancing. Spinning around the dance floor once a week gave her an energy boost incomparable to anything else.

As she added a husband, a puppy, and a demanding full-time job to her life, however, she stopped going.

Carla wanted to get back into salsa but with the extra burden of putting on mittens, boots and a parka (yes, this can be a legit burden), she was finding it hard to leave the house after dinner.

Carla knew that once she got to the club, she would have a good time.

It was getting out the door that was the issue. 

To make it easier, I suggested that she listen to Latin music and wear her salsa shoes when making supper to trick her body into thinking it was already doing the thing that she loved.

When she tried this, her energy immediately perked up and her motivation to get to the club increased tenfold.

Carla is now practicing salsa once a week again and loving it.

Action, however small, creates momentum.

And momentum creates energy.

Whether your thing is painting or writing or making balloon animals, if you’re feeling unmotivated, do the easiest thing possible – pick up the brush, write a complete sentence, blow up a balloon.

It doesn’t have to be the best brush, the greatest sentence or the most wiener-dog-like balloon in the world.

If your effort is half-assed even better – allow yourself to suck.

Chances are your lame effort at something you enjoy will still seem impressive to people who don’t have your skills.

Any action is better than no action.

If you are fighting the urge to hibernate, ask yourself this:

What tiny step can I take today toward my goal (even if it’s half-assed)?

Make this question consistent, make your answers easy, and take that tiny action.

Before long, your passion will become a habit, your habits will turn to results, and spring will have sprung again.

Are you missing a sunset?

My friend Nuno radiates a quiet assuredness that comes from living in alignment with his gifts.

He is, among other things, a sculptor, illustrator, tai chi instructor, reiki practitioner and a massive fan of strategy games.

Although he currently supports himself with his passions (many of which he describes as his callings), it wasn’t always like that. Over the years, he’s held a variety of odd jobs.

One of those was as a baggage handler at Toronto’s Pearson Airport.

Now, Nuno is not a big, beefy guy. He’s actually fairly small and slender.

For an artistic soul, you might think lifting heavy loads on a noisy tarmac in the hot sun lifting would be Hell. 

Not for my friend. When I asked him how he liked it, he smiled fondly:

“There were the most beautiful sunsets and sunrises! They were amazing.”

It made me wonder:

How many sunsets and sunrises are we missing because we aren’t doing the exact thing we want right now?

How you are on the way there is how you will be when you arrive.

You might not be living the life of your dreams, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t practice being the type of person who is.

If you want to be self-employed, use your day job to master time management.

If you are a writer, notice the characters and stories all around you.

And if you are an artist, look for the sunsets and sunrises.

Just because you aren’t in your ideal environment doesn’t mean you can’t express small parts of who you are now.  

You might have an exit plan.

You might just be thinking about it.

Or maybe you’ve already left.

Regardless, take a look around.

Are your eyes so focused on the pavement that you are missing the gifts that are already all around you?

Nuno saw the sunset in the most unlikely of places. You can too.