September 21, 2021

Episode 3: You have exactly what it takes

If you feel disappointed and defeated about where your career and your life are at, you need to create motivation. Today, we investigate a major source of bad feelings – and a potential source of determination, commitment, energy and grit: your inner dialogue.

What you will discover

  • The fuel behind getting a better job and going running at 06:00 AM
  • How your self-talk impacts your motivation
  • A simple reframe to stop demotivating yourself
  • The 4-step process to create motivation
  • 2 major assumptions successful people make
  • A ton of corny references to 80’s series and films


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Episode Transcript

I will repeat that to you until when somebody wakes you up in the middle of the night and shakes your shoulder, you sit up and you scream “my beliefs create my feelings!!” Hi, and welcome to the Excellent Rider podcast. I'm Mélanie, I'm a certified life coach and I specialize in helping people like you get things done, find ease and motivation again, and get unstuck when it feels like you've lost your mojo.

So my friend, if you're here listening to me, I'm guessing that one of the things that you tell yourself regularly is that you don't have what it takes or you don't anymore have what it takes.  For a while in your life, you thought that you did, and now you've come to a situation where it seems to you that you are not as determined as you thought you were.

You are not as skilled, not as competent as you thought you were. You're not as disciplined as you once managed to be. And it can feel like a giant sense of disappointment and defeat about your career, where you are just not getting the kind of responsibilities that you would like to get. Or you seem to be stagnating compared to other people your age and with your background.

And they have all by now made it to VP or started their own company and not you. But it can also show up in a smaller area of your life, for example, that you'd like to exercise regularly and you cannot get yourself to put on those shoes and go running; or you can't help yourself from eating those chocolate cookies every evening at five PM.

And it started with one cookie and then three, and now you're down to one package a day and you cannot get yourself to stop.  Any resemblance with my life, my past life would be a complete coincidence of course. So if you remember the last episode, you remember that everything we do in life, we do because of the way we feel.

If you're not taking the kind of actions that will create the kind of career that you want to have, or if you're not putting on those running shoes, it's because you are feeling emotions that are not helping you do just that.  Last episode, I also explain how your feelings are created by thoughts.

So, what I want to talk to you about today is one main gigantic source of thoughts that create negative feelings or potentially create negative feelings. And that's the way you speak to yourself. When you speak to yourself, you use a lot of statements about the situation; about what's likely to happen, about who you are, about what you can and cannot do.  All those statements are thoughts.

You might not even be aware that you're speaking to yourself or if you are, it probably sounds to you as if you're simply describing the facts of the situation to yourself. I'll give you an example. So imagine that what you want to do is to go running three times a week in the morning, like you used to do a few years back.

Maybe you used to play a lot of sports in your free time, and then you had an injury and then you had to stop for a while.  And then you didn't really pick it up again. So your internal dialogue might sound something like this: “I injured my ankle two years ago. I used to be quite athletic and now I haven't been running at all.

For a long time I ignored my ankle problem and I didn't really take care of it properly. And now I feel old and less dynamic. I'm flabby, look at this…  Even though I used to be strong. I would like to exercise more. I need the exercise to feel good.  And now I just feel fat and old. I'm letting life happen to me.”

So, I want you to imagine that you are a personal trainer and that you open up a class for people who have not been any doing any sports for two years. And this is the welcome speech that you give them: “Hi, and welcome! You thought that you were quite athletic, but you have never been running.  For a long time you ignored your limitations and you didn't take care of them properly, tsk… tsk… tsk…

You're older than you think, and you're less dynamic. You're actually flabby, even though you used to be strong.  You've come to this club because you need exercise to feel good, but the truth is you are fat and old. You're letting life happen to you!” How many people do you think would end up actually taking your class and meeting you three times a week at 6:00 AM to go running?

I'm guessing that about two thirds of the people would leave the class right away and maybe one third would stay for the first session.  And then they would think it's quite difficult and you're not so pleasant and they would give up. So imagine if instead you had told them: “Look guys, I'm so happy that you're interested in running!

I know it's difficult to exercise so early in the day, and you should really be proud of yourself that you joined today! So today and in the coming couple of weeks, we're going to take it nice and easy so that you can get back into the rhythm of exercising and build up some stamina. What matters is that you show up. And when you show up, you're building mental stamina and soon it will turn into a habit.

And I want you to think right now of all the good reasons why you're joining this class.  Maybe it's because you want to feel better, maybe it's because you have a particular race in mind that you would like to run.  Maybe it's to improve your health. Just remember your reason and congratulate yourself for having put your shoes on and join us today. And now let's start jogging!”

You can see the difference.  Probably a few more people might stay for the class and a few more people might show up three times a week at 6:00 AM and go running with you.  Well it's exactly the same with yourself.  If you tell yourself that you're old and flabby, that does not create motivation my friend! It's quite the opposite. It actively creates discouragement.  Defeat.  Demotivation.

So usually about now, when I explain this to people, many of you ask me: “But it's true. I am older and my stomach is flabby. So should I lie to myself?” And it's not about lying to yourself. It's about finding another angle that is more useful. When you say, “should I lie?” You're assuming that there's only two things that you can say to yourself.

Either you say that you're old and flabby or that you're young and fit.  But there's so much more that you can pick from. You can acknowledge the challenge and congratulate yourself for daring to face it anyway, like they did in this fake welcome speech.  You can notice what feels good about putting your running shoes on after such a long time.

You can think about something completely different and remind yourself, for example, how beautiful the city and the park are going to look early in the morning when there's no one around.  Find an angle that works for you. Find a useful angle. What I call useful is a way of looking at the situation that will create a useful feeling for you.

And a useful feeling is a feeling that will help you do what you want to do. So in this case, a useful feeling is a feeling that will get you to put on your shoes.  So once again, it can be motivation; it can be determination; it can be curiosity, you know, like “Ooh, I wonder if I'm able to do this.” There's… It can be playfulness like “oh yeah? You think I can't go running? Look at this!”

You know, there's so many different ways of doing it. So find a useful angle. I'll give you another example of internal dialogue.  Let's say that you were one of your departments identified talents and that at the end of 2019, you were given a new assignment in another country to become country manager.  Exactly the position that you had been dreaming of.

And you were supposed to take your new position in April, 2020, but then of course the Corona pandemic happened.  And then on top of that, there was a reorganization in your company and your manager left. So long story short, you could not go to the other country to become the MD. So a local person was hired. And your previous job had already been given to somebody else.

So you couldn't go back to the old job either. And without your old boss to fight for you, you were given some half strategic assignment to keep you busy while waiting for a suitable position to open up. And now it's been a year and a half and you're bored to tears in your job. And your internal dialogue sounds something like this: “I don't have the same appeal that I used to have.

My new boss doesn't really know what I'm worth. I have everything to rebuild. I have to earn her trust. I want to take responsibilities; to go all in into something; but there's nothing in sight for me. People only think of me for support roles. I don't feel useful. I'm not progressing. I'm not growing. I'm not contributing to the development of the company.

I've been searching for opportunities for too long, now. I can't take this anymore. I'm not given the kind of assignments that I'm built for.  Without passion, I have no meaning. I try to investigate all the possibilities. I try to showcase my competence to management, but it’s hard to get traction. I probably have to be more patient, but I really feel stuck.”

So here again, imagine that you have just recruited someone with a really nice track record.  And the job that you have recruited them for is a little bit specific. It's a little bit special. The job you have recruited them for is to create a job for themselves and then convince management to give it to them. So that's their job.

Their job is to create a job and convince management to give that job that they have just described to them. So it's a tall order, but you've recruited someone that you know is really good at taking on challenges. So you believe in them. And then on their first day, this is your welcome speech: “So forget about the appeal that you used to have.  Here, it doesn’t work.

Management here has no clue what you're worth, and you're going to have to build everything from scratch. What everything means is not clear either because you don't have a very clear assignment. There's actually nothing in sight for you.  If people think of you, it will only be for boring support roles. You're not useful. You're not contributing to the company.

Honestly, you really don't want to take this assignment because you're not going to be given the kind of assignments that you're built for.  Here, you have no meaning. Whatever you try, it will be hard to get traction. Maybe if you're patient and you waste your time for a few years…  But I guess you already feel stuck.  And now good luck. Go and create that awesome job from scratch, tiger!”

So when I put it like this, you hear how absurd it sounds. And yet we all do this. We all do this.  We talk to ourselves in a way that is very counterproductive because it creates a lot of negative feelings, which doesn't entice us to do whatever it is that we know we should do in order to change the situation. So pay attention to the way you're speaking to yourself. That's super important.

If you want to change that, some quick and dirty fix that you can do already now, before we go into more details about what you can do in the next episodes; what you can do is, the first thing is that you can acknowledge the difficulty. Be honest. It is difficult to go running a 6:00 AM in the morning.

It is difficult when you don't really see exactly what you could do in your company and you have to create a job for yourself from scratch. It is difficult. So acknowledge the difficulty. And then congratulate yourself or at least thank yourself for showing up anyway, in spite of the difficulty.  You can look at all the great things that you have been doing.

Be wary of not acknowledging what you have been doing and only pushing yourself on for more.  Let me give you an example: if you're all stressed up and you're not doing all the things that you would like to do, you have a long to-do list and you're not managing to do everything on your to-do list and you feel very stressed up.

The tendency will be to blame yourself or to tell yourself that you're not doing enough or… So notice what you are doing.  Notice, for example, that you've been working every evening. And what you want to do in the evening is that usually you go and read a story to your kid around 7:00 PM. And what you would love to do is just curl up in bed with your kid and start your night there and then.

But instead of what you do is that you muster all your energy and you go back to your computer and you put in a few more hours, and that takes a lot of determination.  It takes a lot of discipline. So even if it's not helping you do all the things that you, I mean, even if you don't get done all the things that you would like to get done, you have to acknowledge for yourself that you are determined.

You are disciplined, you are doing difficult things, right? And then you can remind yourself what your goal is and how the situation that you are in is part of reaching that goal.  So if your goal is to run three times a week, you need to be in this non-running state to start with. Otherwise running wouldn't be a goal.

If your goal is to get the job to desire, having this opportunity to try several more times is a way for you to check that you really want this goal, and it will also make reaching the goal so much sweeter when you do get the job.  If everything would be easy, there would be no merit in accomplishing things and you would not enjoy accomplishing them.

So acknowledge the difficulty, thank yourself for showing up, look at all the things that you're doing, which are good. And then remind yourself what your goal is.  And whatever you're telling yourself, I want you to make the following assumptions. The first assumption I want you to make is that you have everything it takes to succeed in this situation. You're just not aware of it.

You just need to look at all the great things that you are doing, even though you're exhausted, even though you feel stuck, even though you're demotivated.  You need to look at all the strengths that you are still displaying, even in this difficult time.  And be creative on how you can put them to good use in this situation.

Think of it as a MacGyver episode, you know, this series from the 80’s. Oh, damn, now I've revealed my ancient age. So MacGyver was this guy who could create anything with very simple household items. So he would need to create a diversion and he would make a bomb with you know, like a chewing gum, a shoelace, some dish washing liquid and a bottle of shampoo.

Or he would need to retrieve something in a tight spot. And he would create a miniature robot with a cockroach, two magnets and a bit of glue, right? So you need to be like MacGyver. Assess what talents you have, assess what assets you have and then be creative as to how you're going to use them to get yourself out of this situation.

So don't bullshit yourself about what assets you have. If all you have is a bottle of shampoo and two magnets, that's all you have.  Don't try to make it sound greater.  But if you're smart in assembling them or using them, you're going to make a great job out of it. You don't need additional skills. You don't need a better boss. You don't need a new opportunity.

You just have to figure out how to assemble the components that you already have.  So the first assumption I want you to make is that you already have everything it takes to succeed in this situation. And then the second assumption I want you to make is that this situation that's happening right now, for example, this ankle injury that made it difficult for you to run for a while;

or this assignment abroad that didn't happen as planned; that's exactly the best classroom for you to learn the skill you need to learn so that you can make your dream goal from true. So let me explain. You've been quite successful in life so far, and of course you've had a number of difficulties to overcome, but you've managed to get through them and you have achieved quite a lot.

And I want you to think of this like a Nintendo game. You've gone through the levels and you've defeated the big, bad boss at the end of each level before. And then you got to the next level, which is the level that you're in today. And since you're quite a good player, all of these first levels were a bit challenging, but they were not truly challenging for you.

They might have felt a bit challenging at the time or even very challenging at the time. But we know that they were not really that challenging since you got through to the next level relatively easily. And now you've reached a level where you're going to have to improve your skills as a player in order to get through and to go to the next level.

And you don't have to go to the next level, if you don't want to, I'm just taking an image, right? So in those Nintendo games, you have a ton of little villains that you need to defeat until you get to the big, bad boss at the end of the level. And your situation right now is like all of these little villains.  They are preparing you. They're helping you train.

They're developing the exact skills that you will need in order to defeat their boss. So let me come back to reality and give you a pragmatic example of what I mean.

So if you want to take an MD position in another country (a managing director position in another country), you're going to have to become really good at facing the unknown in a situation where you have very little local support, for example.

Because I'm guessing that when you're expatriated to become managing director in another country, even if the local team likes you, they just haven't known you for long enough. And on top of that, you are from a different culture.

So if you're going to be in charge of that team and in charge of those operations, you're going to have to be very good at managing difficult things, because if they were not difficult, they would not end up on the table of the managing director, right? It would be solved lower in the organization.

So if you're still serious about that goal to become a country managing director, you need to start embodying the managing director in the situation that you are in right now, when you don't have the fun job.  Think of it as training wheels. Look at all the ways that your current situation is actually very similar to being an MD in a foreign country and all the ways it is actually much easier.

Think like an MD.  So imagine that the situation you're in is the training grounds to turn you into an excellent MD, because once you're an excellent MD, it will be so much easier for you to find an MD job. So, you know this saying that at work, you shouldn't dress for the job you have, you should dress for the job you want to have?

Well, I don't know about clothes, but it's very true for thinking.  You should definitely think like the person who has the job you want to have, right. So I will speak in more detail in later episodes of the way you speak to yourself and help improve that. But this is one of the first things I wanted to cover in this podcast, because it will make such a difference.

And then one last thing, when you catch yourself speaking to yourself in a way that is derogatory or beating yourself up or describing a situation in a way that's completely depressing, don't blame yourself. Otherwise you're just adding one more layer of problem. Just drop it and start again and describe the situation again. And this time do it in a supportive and kind way.

The way you speak to yourself is super important because what you believe, so all the thoughts that you're putting your attention and belief on, what you believe creates your feelings.  And your feelings are what drive your actions and your actions of course determine your results.

And I will repeat that to you until when somebody wakes you up in the middle of the night and shakes your shoulder, you sit up and you scream “my beliefs create my feelings!! My beliefs create my feelings!!” Alright? So. Start to pay attention to the way you're speaking to yourself and change your inner dialogue based on those two assumptions.

Just like MacGyver, you have everything it takes to succeed in this situation.  And the second assumption is that your situation is the best classroom for you to develop the skill you will need in order to reach your goal. Think of that other movie also from the 80’s. Oh my God, I'm so old. You know, the Karate Kid, it's just like in the Karate Kid.

Waxing the car of your teacher or painting his endless fence is the best training to develop super strong karate chops. So off you go, my friend: wax on and wax off. It really takes recording a podcast to realize what an incredible nerd I am. So if you liked what you heard, go to my website (Excellent Rider in one word dot com) and get the episode notes.

They are organized in a structured way that makes them easy to remember. And there are additional exercises and illustrations that you don't get in the audio. And if you really liked what you heard, you can go to your podcast platform and leave me a review (you can Google how to do that if you're not sure how to proceed). This helps the podcast be more visible.

And that means that it will be easier to find for other people who need to hear exactly this message. And it's also great encouragement for me.  If you felt that this information was valuable, it's the absolutely best and nicest way to let me know. I personally answer everyone who is kind enough to leave me a review.

So thanks so much for listening today, and I hope to talk to you again very soon because you, my friends, even when you can’t get yourself to do what you want, even when you're stuck in negative emotions and unpleasant thought loops; and even when you don't believe it, especially when you don't believe it: you absolutely rock and you'll soon be an Excellent Rider.

There's no bad horses. Only untrained riders.

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