On changing mindset5 min read
We often underestimate how much a small change, in our mindset can have a tremendous effect on our life. In many ways, changing the way you see yourself is changing who you are, and how other people see you.
For most of my life, I’ve struggled with confidence, I still do actually. The line is so thin between self-confidence and pretentiousness, I never wanted to take a chance at all. I know that I am talented in some fields, I just never choose to believe that I am better than anyone. Yet, from this humble intention, it quickly translates to “I never believed I was good enough”. But the way we think of ourselves and the words we use to speak of our abilities matter more than we think.
You are who you say you are
Actions matter more than words but words have the power to shape actions.
Let’s take an example: if you used to smoke and are currently trying to put this habit behind you, the way you think of yourself might change everything. If a friend were to suggest a cigarette, how would you refuse? Would you say « No thanks, I’m trying to quit » or « No thanks, I’m not a smoker » ?
Technically both sentences are true, you’re not a smoker because you’re trying to quit, but each sentence says something different about what belief you have about yourself. In one, you see yourself as fallible human, trying to quit but knowing that sooner or later you’ll fail. In the other you are reliable and your actions of the past do not stain the person that you are now and the one that you will be in the future.
When you are trying to build a new habit or break an old one, it’s better to change your mindset and to think about your identify: who you are in relation to what you are trying to achieve. It’s subtile, but it makes the greatest of differences.
Imposter syndrome & the constant quest for permission and validation
If you have tried to do something for any length of time, you might have encountered the Imposter syndrome. This feeling makes you believe that you don’t have your place in the field you’re trying to break into and that you’ll never be good enough. Honestly, Imposter Syndrome is a bitch, and it doesn’t disappear easily. The only remedy we can find against it is through actions, constant actions and small victories.
Although important, words are not enough on their own. For each time you speak of your identity, you have to reaffirm it with actions. Earn constant small victories as votes of confidence for who you are and who you want to be. Don’t just say that you are a lumberjack, go out and actually cut wood, do it everyday until you can master different styles of doing your craft.
Also, and this is an important part: don’t wait for people to give you permission for doing something you love or want to do. You’re a leader, you make your own choices. Remember that at the very least, you will never fail: either you will succeed or you will learn how to do it better next time.
How I’m changing my own mindset
« A bird is safe in its nest but that us not what its wings are made for » — Amit Ray.
I’ve always had a tendency to play it safe. Despite being talented in some fields, I would never believe that I knew anything until I could be sure I knew everything. So unconsciously I waited a lot for permission; for a long time I would not want to take a path if I couldn’t be sure it was foolproof. But life is full of risks and it’s only by falling that you learn how to get back up, again and again.
I’ve been passionate about web development and entrepreneurship for some time now. Yet, I always believed (and pretty much said out loud) that I was only playing around. I didn’t make it a part of my identity because I was waiting for permission to « be a developer » and to « be an entrepreneur ». Unconsciously, I was waiting in foolproof mode for someone to come allow me to be so. But, now as a leader, I change my mindset. I’ll make my own choices and decide who I am, what I do and who I want to be.
- Today, I am a creator. I take pleasure in writing posts and newsletters for you every week. As time will go I’ll find new ways to express my ideas, maybe through a podcast? Photography? a video channel one day?
- Today, I am a developer. I love to solve challenges and to give life to my ideas. I love to design, to strategize and to code. I can build small projects often and most of all, I know enough to know what I don’t know yet and where to learn it.
- Today, I am an entrepreneur. I love using both of my previous hats (creator and developer) to help small businesses, non profits and individuals build an online presence and solve challenges.
These paths are a part of my identity and I will prioritize them every day from now. Neither of them are foolproof and I will definitely fail a lot, but I’m no longer afraid to. I will earn confidence through small victories and I will prove to myself, and to you, who I am and what I can do.
More resources on the subject
If you’re interested by the subject, here are some books, posts (including some by me) and videos that inspired me this post:
- [Post]: What is it all for?
- [Post]: What are you working on?
- [Video]: 5 things I learned from my twenties | by Matt d’Avella
- [Video]: 5 Things I’d Tell My 19-Year-Old Self About Running a Business by Thomas Frank
- [Book]: Grit by Angela Duckworth
What about you, have you ever experienced self-doubt or Imposter syndrome? How did you overcome it? Do you think you can change your mindset?