I once had a boss named George Geiss who hung photos around his office of the backsides of many famous US monuments. Instead of the characteristic head-on shot of Mount Rushmore, Geiss framed an image of a side view of the monument that severely obscured the Presidential profiles and focused heavily on the vegetation and rocks. It was the kind of thing that made you say out of the corner of your mouth, “Huh? What is that?”
He explained the unique photo angles to me: “We ‘think’ that there is only one ‘perfect’ or ‘right’ way of seeing things in life – when in fact, there are so many angles and perspectives with their unique beauty and charm that deserve to be celebrated.”
I appreciated the simple truth of these photos, and was reminded of the wisdom in their purpose every time I stepped into this office to chat.
When we are working on ourselves – through therapy, coaching, self-development, writing, meditation – you name it – it can feel easy to see our personal and professional qualities in a binary way. We tend to label our skills and traits as either ‘good’ or ‘bad.”
We are quick to jump and blame if we are not the ‘right’ or ‘perfect’ versions of ourselves or if we are not where we want to be in our growth. Too often, that blame can turn to anger, frustration, or even despair.
In a recent conversation with my business coach, I shared how difficult it felt to onboard an assistant to help me with the mounting workload. I, like many solopreneurs, have had a hard time delegating tasks to someone else, and I worried that this block would keep me from growing in my business. I would ask myself often, “What is WRONG with me that it is so hard to delegate? Why don’t I just let go?” I began to see this challenge as a fatal flaw – that something in me was inherently unfixable and getting in the way of my further success.
The coach offered a different perspective.
She said to me: “Kristin, all the skills…the scrappiness, the resilience, the training and late nights, and burnout and tears and joy, and the ability to do it all, from programming to social media, to website construction, email lists, marketing, branding, speaking, accounting…those things have allowed you to survive and thrive. Don’t label yourself as ‘flawed’ especially when all of those things you have built up are THE VERY THINGS that have made you the massively amazing person you are today.”
I was reminded of the photos in Geiss’ office and the opportunity to see my skills in a new way. One change in perspective, and new ideas were revealed; one shift of my viewpoint and I felt full of much-needed self-compassion versus anger and frustration. (And oh, I may have cried a little in relief when she said that I was “massively amazing.”)
Instead of viewing myself and ‘bad’ because I had a more challenging time with delegation, it became an opportunity to say, “I have worked hard to be where I am, and this means so much to me. How can I take time with myself? How can I be respectful with the work that I have done, and loving to myself so that I can confidently take that next step?”
That way of thinking is a much different one than saying, “You suck at delegation. You are never going to grow. You are a control freak, and you are doomed.” Yadda yadda yadda…(Yes, I have said these horrible things to myself and they were never ever never motivating. Never. Ever.)
So…here is an opportunity today to think about things in your own life:
Whether it is work, family, personal, community (or a combination of those things), I want you to step out of the kind of binary thinking that keeps you paralyzed AND to start thinking about a new way of seeing yourself so that you can appreciate the nuances, the growth and the gifts you have.
Much like the photos in George’s office, I imagine that there is a new way to look at the picture of who you are from a new angle, and see the rich qualities that make you a unique and powerful person.
Lovingkindness and respect – and please reach out to keep the conversation going on this idea. There is so much more to share and I would love to hear from you.
Stay in touch with me and join in the conversation about the intersection of business and personal growth. I appreciate your ideas and feedback.
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