So, I was just thinking about my bipolar disorder and how this impacts my work. Apparently people who suffer from mental health problems overgeneralize and catastrophize everything, especially those with depression or bipolar depression. What this means for my work is that I tend to only hear the negative comments, even if they are far fewer than the positive ones and I make decisions based on my generalizations which come from a skewed view of the truth anyway.
I just read this today from one of my favourite bloggers – Christine Kane – and it really hit home:
Beware of Everyone
Written by Christine Kane
Exhibit A:Woman says to her coach: “I’m lowering the price on this package. Everyone says that number is too high.”
Coach pauses. Then she asks: “Everyone? How many people have said this?”
Woman thinks for a moment. Then she says, “Well, there were two, actually.”
Guy announces to his mastermind group, “People keep telling me I should offer this whole other service so I’m going to hire someone to make that happen.”
Coach squints her eyes and asks, “People? Who? How many?”
Guy looks up at the ceiling: “Um. Let’s see. In the past year, I think there were two – no, wait! – there were three!”
So, you know how sometimes when you do a presentation or speech, they hand out these feedback forms to everyone in the room?
And of the 50 people in the room, everyone says positive things and maybe a few of them even rave?
But in that pile, there’s these two feedback forms that are not so nice?
…which of those feedback forms will stick with you for, like, the next three weeks?
Yeah. I know. Me too.
Well, your lizard brain works that same way when it comes to ideas and changes in your business.
Enter “Everyone” and “People.”
The vague notion of “all things” is your lizard brain’s way to get an added punch when trying to distract you, persuade you or derail you for whatever random reasons it has.
As a coach, my motto is “Beware of everyone and people!” That means I am militant about the use of these two words when it comes to opinions, tracking, decisions and supposed feedback. When a client comes to me with a bright shiny new idea, or a reason to stop doing something, or a sudden change of direction, I start in with my questions.
If I ask the right ones, the truth often reveals itself. And many times, the truth is that this new direction has been inspired by the infamous “everyone” or the ubiquitous “people.”
“Everyone tells me…”
“People keep saying…”
Maybe it’s because we have this neurological need to pay attention to every nit-picky, critical or even seemingly thoughtful idea that someone tosses at us.
Or maybe it’s because we’ve spent our lives giving more weight to our feelings than to the facts, or even to the proof.
Or maybe it’s because we are masters of doubting our own capabilities and ideas.
But for some reason, we often equate one or two people with the entire planet. Never mind that up til now, we’ve been building momentum, getting clients, and are otherwise totally on track.
Now, of course, there will be some feedback that’ll be the perfect information to take you to the next level. You will hear the same comment from tens or hundreds of ideal clients. And you will be grateful. And you will correct course and please more people and make more money.
(and this is a big but… which is why it got its very own paragraph)
…until you have ACTUAL feedback, all you’ve got is the drama queen in your head telling you that EVERYONE has offered this nebulous opinion and PEOPLE everywhere are waiting for you to do something about it.
“Everyone” and “people” are like “always” and “never.” It’s the language of hysteria. It’s not the language of truth. And certainly not the language of decision.
So, here’s what to do…
The next time you catch yourself saying, “Everyone has been telling me to…” Or “People keep saying I should…”
Do yourself a favor and ask yourself one simple question…
“How many exactly?”
And then follow it with one more…
“Is that number enough to justify making this big of a change or is there another way to look at this?”
Hey, maybe this isn’t something you even do. Maybe I’m taking a few tiny instances and turning them into a great big deal. Everyone keeps telling me I always do that.
How did she know about my inner drama queen???