It Feels Like I’d be a Failure

Everyone knows what they don’t want.

Who we want to become is nearly unimaginable when “not wanting” dominates our thinking.

everyone knows what they don't want

Three conversations:

An aspiring leader:

He confessed he steps on people’s toes. That’s a nice way of saying he hurts people.

It’s easy to sacrifice people’s feelings when tasks outweigh people. But, trampling is a short-term strategy that gets you fired.

I asked, “If you weren’t stepping on people’s toes, what would you be like?”

He fumbled for a bit and finally said, “I don’t know.”

I said, “Imagine you did know.”

Still, language failed him.

A friend:

A friend is troubled by his constant striving. Life without striving is unimaginable. But, he also strives for contentment.

I asked, “If you weren’t always striving, what would you be like?”

He said, “It feels like I’d be a failure.”

I asked, “But, what would you be like?”

“I’m not sure.”

Hair dresser:

The woman who cuts my hair wants to stand up for herself. She doesn’t like being a people pleaser.

“If you weren’t a people pleaser, what would you be like?”

She said, “I wouldn’t care what people think.”

She described what she wouldn’t do. Positive language escaped her.

Profound growth:

  1. Profound growth is, at first, unimaginable.
  2. Explaining what you don’t want is the easy part.
  3. Everything begins with imagination.
  4. Either/or thinking blocks imagination. “If I didn’t constantly strive for more, I’d be a failure.”
  5. Describe it before you become it. I don’t mean to say that if you describe it, you will become it. But, positive language always precedes positive change. If you can’t imagine it, you can’t become it.
  6. Behave your way into becoming.
  7. An imperfect step in a positive direction is always better than circling the darkness.

Everyone knows what they don’t want. Leaders imagine who to become.

What role does imagination play in growth, leadership, or success?


Do you aspire to become a coaching leader?

I’m delighted to partner with Clarity Development Consulting to offer the proven “Coaching for Engagement” program. Drop me an email if you’d like to explore having Bob Hancox and me come to your organization to begin developing a coaching culture in your organization.