On the UCLA campus during finals week, I saw a student of mine stretched out on the grass under a tree, looking up at the leaves. I stopped near my student and looked down. “Donald! What’s up?” Without moving a lick, he looked over at me. “I’m creating the now,” he said.
This post is about the “now” I’m creating. . .
Later in June I’m slated to begin teaching at UCLA Extension my eleven-week “Dynamics of Interpersonal Communications” course.
I’ve never taught a class online.
Some of you who read this blog have taken the course. You know that it’s highly “interpersonal” and interactive. And so, you might not be surprised to read that I feel intimidated by the task at hand!
I hadn’t intended on writing about this. I had another idea for the post. BUT I kept coming back to this notion of me being a fraud!
My website is called The Business of Confidence. On a regular schedule I toss out advice on how to be confident when speaking or engaging in difficult conversations. And now, here I am, struggling to find the confidence to do something seemingly “simple” – teach an online course!
Yes – I feel like a fraud. At least of sorts.
I’ve procrastinated for weeks in doing the prep work the school has asked of me. In fact, writing this post is part of that procrastination!
Why have I procrastinated?
Well, the answer both surprises – and – embarrasses me. That’s why I’ll share it with you.
- I’m afraid of failing.
- I’m afraid the online course won’t be “perfect” (not that I think the in-class course is “perfect” in all respects).
- I’m afraid I’ll mishandle the technology and look like an idiot to the participants.
- I’m afraid the school will finally realize I’m incompetent and not renew my contract.
- I’m afraid if I don’t master the technology I’ll miss out on opportunities.
- I’m afraid of failing.
My fears have created a mindset – and my mindset has created my fears.
Although I know these fears are illogical and irrational, I am seduced by them. The more I feed these fears the more of a stranglehold they gain. The result is – I procrastinate. Like many of you, I trick myself into thinking that if I put off the hard work, then my fears won’t come to reality. It is all magical thinking!
Okay. So maybe I’m not a fraud. Maybe I’m simply like many of you – a person who easily veers toward seeing the pitfalls of a new situation and not the opportunities – someone who buys into a form of catastrophic thinking and becomes paralyzed with worry and irrational fear.
Maybe it’s because I’ve coached so many on how to be and live confidently that I’m stunned that truly old habits die hard and so, too, old fears.
I’ve been humbled by this experience (which is just beginning) because I’m reminded that confidence is not a state that, once attained, is permanent.
Confidence is a way of feeling, thinking, living that is ever ongoing.
There is no confidence without honesty and without honoring feelings, even those generated by irrational thinking that make me feel anxious and uncomfortable.
Confidence is grounded in a state of heightened awareness and being reconciled to the truth that confidence is a decision to act in a way that goes against the worst-case scenario.
I’ve written about this before and here need to remind myself that pursuing “excellence” means consistently asking the questions that challenge my crippling way of thinking:
- What am I telling myself?
- What feelings are those thoughts generating?
- Are those feelings energizing me or draining me?
- If draining me, then how can I go about doing the task differently so as to be more efficient and productive?
- Is there anything I should be doing that I’m not doing because I’m afraid to do it?
THE question is –
if I didn’t believe the lies, and the fears had no power over me, who would I be and what could I do?
Confidence is driven by the pursuit of excellence – not the pursuit of perfection.
Perfection is rigid and unchanging.
Excellence is fluid and adaptable.
Excellence incites creativity and allows me to take risks in exploring opportunities and unanticipated possibilities.
What matters isn’t that we attain perfection,
but that again and again, with humility and faith, we reach.
I decided to “come clean” this week in the hope that if today you find yourself procrastinating know that there is a “simple” reason for it all – choose to move through the lies you’re telling yourself – do what you know you must do!
I’ll leave you (and me) with the stark yet encouraging words of motivational guru Wayne Dwyer:
You’ve never done it before, and if you expect yourself to do it the first time with the finesse of someone doing it for the 1000th time, you’ll be in trouble. When you start a first creative project or begin the study of an art or craft, what I want you to do is lower your standards until they disappear. That’s right. You’re not supposed to be good at the beginning.