What happens when we meet someone else and introduce ourselves? How do you introduce yourself and what do you tell them? If you look closely enough, you’ll see that this is where you tell your Story.
Everyone has their own Story. The story they tell themselves everyday about who they are. But you see, there’s a problem with the way we tell this story to ourselves and the way we see ourselves. The problem is that, the way I see myself is only the way I see myself at that moment. I don’t know why, but I have a vision of myself that is static. It doesn’t change. It’s always the same person. It’s a vision of me in the present.
The way I would describe myself to someone else is just the current me. And that’s my first reaction when I think of myself. That’s how I would describe myself if I didn’t put much thought into it. It’s almost as if I’ve forgotten how ignorant I was in the past and it’s almost as if I can’t imagine myself growing smarter or more experienced in the future. It’s a mindset where, whatever I believe right now would also be supported by my past self and future self. It’s a vision of me, a belief of me, that says that I won’t change and I never have changed. Which is obviously ridiculous if you’ve ever read a single one of my posts. Change is one of the best things in life.
A Story of change
I love change. I thrive in change. It’s also why I always push myself to go the next step to notice how I have changed, and will change in the future. I have to push myself to always be aware that I’m not a static person. And I believe that many of you out there may have the same problem that I do.
This is where I had to pause for a second and wonder why I was so happy to change when others were so resistant to it. And the only answer I could find was that I knew who I was. Because I had an identity, because that identity was one that I strongly held to, I was willing to change everything else about me.
Change is one of the best things in life
In debate we have this thing of always digging backwards, trying to use hindsight to figure out the fundamental logic and the main cause behind anything. So I questioned myself further… why was I willing to hold on so strongly to that identity and willing to release everything else?
And the answer I came up with was that I’d gone through a long process of building trust with myself. A process of constantly trying new things and succeeding and failing in them. And in that, I found an amazing thing. I found that being good at something didn’t define me…
When I had good English, that defined me. When I was good in studies, that defined me. But when I got good in basketball, it was less of an issue. It was just fun. And then I got good at theater, and playing cards, and debate, and a little writing. Here’s a short disclaimer: by good I mean I was just a bit above average. Never much more than an amateur beginner, but I felt good about myself.
I realized then that I was only good at these things after I’d spent a large amount of time on them. It turns out I wasn’t actually good at those things. I was just obsessed with them and spending so much time at them that I became slightly better than others.
It was in this that I found freedom.
I found that none of these things could really define me because I had no talent! When you have no talent, you’re not limited by people’s expectations any more. You’re free to be who you want.
So why did I think I was any good? Let’s go slightly off tangent and talk about the idea of trust.
Trust is the foundation of most relationships. This includes the relationship with yourself. But let’s talk about other relationships first. With any relationship you have, you’ll find that you’re constantly predicting the way the other person will behave. If you do A, they’ll respond with B, and if you do C, they’ll respond with D. After that you’ll think about if what you want to do or say to them is worth doing based upon their predicted response. We all do this, sometimes subconsciously.
The reason why it works is because you trust them to behave in a certain way. If they behave differently, you’ll be confused and start to think they’re on drugs or something. Even if they’re changing their behaviour from bad to good. That’s right, you’ll effectively create a barrier for them against change. You’ll be making them avoid change since they don’t want awkward questions from you and the rest of society.
Now, what if it was you? If you always behaved one way with your friends and family, then suddenly one day you changed! Changed completely! To become a better person! What would they say to you? It wouldn’t just be congratulations, it would also be a heavy dose of “Is everything okay?”.
When you have no talent, you’re not limited by people’s expectations any more. You’re free to be who you want.
This is the power of trust. It decides the path that you’ll most likely choose because you expect and trust another person to behave a certain way. Trust doesn’t just work with other people. It’s also an important part of how you deal with yourself everyday.
After all, be honest now, haven’t there been some times when you said you would do something tomorrow but you know you most likely won’t do it? It could be your work, some homework, cleaning up the house, going to the bank, washing the car, etc. We’ve all been guilty of doing it. We say we’ll do something when we know we won’t. In fact, we don’t trust ourselves when we say that we’ll do it.
Do you trust yourself?
Having trust in yourself is actually really important. It’s what carries you through those days when you’re not sure what will happen. Unfortunately, that’s most days.
For example, I’ve just started my PhD. It’s something that most people would say is a tough journey that may not even be completed. By definition it’s something you can’t predict, since it’s about contributing an original piece of knowledge to the global body of work. You can’t predict when you’ll find something original. It’s something unknown as of now.
By trusting yourself to finish a PhD, you can carry on, content with the knowledge that it will most likely happen.
But when you don’t trust yourself, something destructive happens. You start ruining your own good work by panicking and getting stress and anxiety. You move away from even applying for a PhD in the first place, distrusting that you would ever put in that kind of commitment for a measly 3 years. You never take up complex jobs since you start losing belief that you can ever complete something simple successfully, much less something complex. You sabotage your future.
To go beyond the stage where you think that you can’t complete a job successfully, you need to do something extremely basic, but extremely important. You need to build trust with yourself.
Building trust with yourself
If you have lost all trust in yourself, you need to build it slowly. You need to believe that you’re a man of your word, a person who can get things done. Let’s start with the time.
Any time you set a time to meet someone, be there. Be there 5 minutes early if you have to, or even 30 minutes early, but be there. Running late and you can’t avoid it? Contact that person and let them know how late you’ll be . If you think you’ll be 10 minutes late, say 15 minutes. Always be there when you say you will be.
This simple change will transform your life. It’s the simplest thing but it’s also a way of training your brain, to always remember the exact time you said and to plan what you’re doing now to make sure you get there on time. It’s great training for getting things done.
More importantly! Every time you manage to get there on time, you tell yourself something important. That your word can be trusted. That you will do what you say you will. This act alone can start building a huge amount of trust in yourself already. But you can take it to the next level.
Complete everything you say you will before the deadline. You’ll know when you can and when you can’t. If you know you cant finish it in time, either tell them a later date, or ask to do less. Honestly say that you can’t finish it in that time frame. Every time you keep your word and deliver your work one day earlier than expected or on the day of the deadline, you’ll trust yourself a little bit more.
Fix your relationship with yourself, and your relationship with others will be better too
You’ll soon reach a point where you never accept things that you cannot do. And when you’re pressured into taking something you don’t think you can do, you’ll take it up with absolute trust that you’ll finish it. Yes, you’ll warn them and say that it may not be your best work since you don’t think you can finish it on time, but you’ll also say that you’ll try your hardest to get it done. And the best part is… this time you’ll actually mean it.
You’ll actually try your hardest to do it properly because you have trust in yourself that you can do something hard.
And one of the best side-effects of this is that your reputation goes up too! Everybody loves someone who can keep their word. Everybody wants to work with someone who can keep his word even in the toughest situations. And reputation is one of the fastest ways to build up trust for your future relationships. It’s no accident that they’re related.
Believing that you’re good / a successful person
So let’s go back to what I said at the start. How can you believe that you’re any good if you’re the kind of person with no talent? What happens when you look at yourself right now and you don’t like what you see? It doesn’t matter. Rather than what you are now, it’s more important to see what you can be in the future. But you can only imagine that you have a future if you first build up a past where you trust yourself. This trust will keep you on your road to success in the future.
I trust myself now, to change in the future and try to be a better person.
If you can complete a simple thing true to your word (like getting somewhere on time), then you’ll believe you can do more simple things properly too. When you can do those well, you’ll believe you can do one harder task properly. As you collect those wins continuously, you’ll have a Story you can fall back on. A Story where you are a person of your word, who will do what he says. At that point, talent is barely remembered any more. At that point, you’ve entered the world of “Successful People” who are only worried about what to do next, rather than whether they will finish what they have promised to do.
“80% of success is showing up” – Woody Allen
80% of success is showing up. And if you’re the one showing up on time, I guarantee you’ll be much more successful in life than anyone who is talented but isn’t actually there. This means showing up at the time you promised, showing up with the work completed on the deadline, and showing up to even sign up for the jobs that other people feel are beyond them.
Build trust with yourself, and you’ll always be a man of your word.
- You can’t go forward when you don’t trust yourself.
- Build trust in steps. Start with getting to every appointment on time or 5 minutes earlier.
- Upgrade to completing all your work on time. Reject any that you can’t.
- 80% of success is showing up. Forget that you have no talent. (I don’t have any talents either)
- Your reputation and other relationships improve as you build trust with yourself.
- Always be a man (woman) of your word.