So does this ring any bells from childhood?
Child 1 – “You’re a big smelly poo”
Child 2 – [say this part in a sing-song ‘nah nah nah nah’ child’s voice for maximum effect] “What you say is what you are”
Child 1 – Urgh no fair!
But it occurred to me the kids are actually onto the truth here! [Note my use of ‘the’ kids – you really have no evidence that it was my own kids having this high brow discussion during a boring, rainy half term!]
Anyway, it’s not that we want to be going round calling people big fat smelly poos – well, we could but it might not get us very far. It’s more the fact that they hit on the nugget of truth that is ‘what you say is what you are’.
In my lead-up to resigning from the corporate world I had high self belief in starting my own business to coach and develop leaders. Much of this belief had come from the coaching I received from my own coach, but also from the incredible support of wonderful people in my new world, many of whom I met on Twitter (kudos to those generous folks – Perry Timms, Ian Pettigrew, David D’Souza, Alex Moyle, Noel Gray). Through challenge and support all of these people helped me to get clear on what I wanted to do so that when it came to the point of resigning I knew that it was absolutely the right thing.
And then, once I’d resigned, I of course had lots of conversations with lots of people in work that involved them saying things like “you’re leaving?”, “you’re very brave”, “I can’t believe you’re doing this”.
This was all fine for as long as my responses were true to everything I believed that had led me to that point, and in fact that they were true responses. Where it started to take a downward turn was when I began jovially responding to the question of “so have you got lots of work lined up” with “no, it’s a bit crazy isn’t it” or “no, I’m hoping that’ll come”. Neither of which were actually true because a) I’m good at what I do and I love being able to help people make a difference (not so crazy) and b) I’d planned my approach to build my work (no need to hope).
But these jokey responses of ‘craziness’ and ‘hope’ started to niggle at my self belief and undermine my confidence in what I was doing.
So what? I spotted this, I switched my language, I re-focussed on what I believe and the purpose of what I’m doing.
And I started to regain my positivity and confidence.
Whatever we see and hear from people – the positive and the less positive – there’s a whole load of stuff going on beneath the surface linked to our beliefs, our values, our past experiences, our memories, our emotions. These influence the thoughts we have. And then these influence the stuff we see on the surface – how we behave, how we respond to situations, how we react, the words we use. And ultimately this influences the results we get in life, the outcomes.
And this connected chain reaction works the other way too – the words we use will impact what we think, which will impact how we feel. And which was why my words of ‘craziness’ and ‘hope’ had started to feed thoughts of ‘I can’t do this’ and feelings of depleting confidence.
And what’s more, some of these sub-surface beliefs aren’t even actually factually true! And yet they have a massive impact on our lives.
The best part though is that this stuff can be changed and the power of it is incredible! Our beliefs can be discovered, and built on if they’re working OK for us, or changed completely if they’re working against us.
And this is exactly why I’m doing what I’m doing – and why I love it!!
So next time you’re saying something that’s impacting how you feel – stop and ask yourself what would be a more helpful thing to say. What would you say instead that’s true?
Because what you say really is what you are.