Believe it – you did it!

“I can’t believe I did that” is a phrase that I’m sure we’ve all used at one time or another.  Sometimes it is after a big social outing, or sometimes after making a big presentation or making it through a tough challenge.

Thinking or judging?
And what emotion is usually associated with that question when you ask it of yourself?  It seems to me that this question comes quickly and without much forethought – and that means it comes from our sub conscious mind.  The area to focus on is what emotion this unbidden thought brings with it.

Is it pride?  Could it be shame?  Is there surprise and disbelief?
I had an experience recently that really made me think about the question and how I really felt about, and how I perceived myself and what I had been through.
Recently I was driving in regional Victoria on a quite spectacular road (not that I could really admire it much while I was behind the Bendigo to Wangaratta viewwheel, but it is spectacular) and as I drove I was reflecting on the fact that it is single carriageway, frequently used by trucks and a lot of other vehicles, splitting farm land so there can be machinery on the road and with trees close to the road shoulder, with the possibility of local wildlife popping out as well.

In other words, a typical country road.

There are also no street lights.
And the speed limit is 100kmph.
This drive was during the day on a pretty sunny albeit overcast day, the conditions were quite good. As the photo shows you – it’s ok I pulled over to take this photo because it was such a lovely day.
My “I can’t believe I did that” was because the first time I ever drove that road was at night, actually around 1am, when I was moving from NSW to Victoria. The road and the area was completely unknown to me, and I had no real idea of the conditions I would find – if I had taken a wrong turn I would not have known straight away.
As the question comes to mind, how would you describe or label my first drive on this road? Was I brave? Or silly? Was I taking an unnecessary risk? Perhaps I was disorganised?

Or just focused on what had to be done and just doing it?
As I thought it through, I realised that my initial emotion was partly chastising or criticising myself for being foolish. and driving on such a road at night.  There was a large risk that I may have come across a kangaroo or a wombat.
And then I reminded myself that it was actually a pretty brave thing to do and something perhaps to be proud of because I didn’t let fear dictate my actions.  I consider that I took a calculated risk – I had my lights on high beam (except when there was oncoming traffic of course) and I reduced my speed somewhat.

It's ok to ask

It’s ok to ask



And then I realised that it was just something that had to be done. So I did it.
When you consider your own “I can’t believe I did that” story or moment, how do you feel about it?

Do you feel OK about it?  Are you comfortable with what you did?

What labels or emotions do you attach with your experience?  How does that influence your willingness to do the same thing again in the future?
The reason this is important is that how you feel about what you’ve done in the past affects your willingness to do it again.
Let me say that again, this is an important reflection because if you feel proud of something you’ve done before then you are much more likely to try something similar in the future.
Whereas if you feel shocked or disbelieving of something you did before then you are less likely to try it again because you don’t want to push your luck. Or you have attached negative feelings to the memory and will be unwilling to put yourself through that again.
This can and does have a significant impact on your career choices.
By attaching emotion and judgement to our experiences we are influencing our future.
And we are not always conscious of that internal influence or its long term effect.
For me, that thinking about my experience (yes ok it was a 2hour drive so I had plenty of thinking time) really helped me understand exactly why I am able to take what others may see as bold steps.

It’s because I focus on the reason for doing something even if new and unfamiliar rather than the activity itself.
If I had focused on driving a regional road in the early hours of the morning in unfamiliar territory then I might have felt more fear, and may not have done it.

Driving and moving house is one thing – what happens if the same effect occurs at work.

Making an important presentation to a key meeting or senior people – and perhaps you forgot your notes or the presentation did not work as planned, so you “ad lib” the meeting and it results in the sale or endorsement or whatever success might be in that situation.

So what?  Afterwards you might wonder to yourself “I can’t believe I did that, “winging” an important meeting is really……”

And the words your mind adds to the end of that sentence will influence you and your future choices.

If you are ever in doubt about whether you can do something, my tip is to find someone who you trust and ask them if they think you can do it. When they say yes, put your faith and belief in their belief in you.

Then go and do it. Afterwards, you will have a good experience to reflect on as well as the faith and trust from someone important to you.

Sounds like a good approach to me. I’d be happy to hear from any of you who try it too, because everyone that I have coached and trained over the years who has done this has said that it worked really well for them and helped them to build their confidence.


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