When we hold ourselves back from growing, it can simply be because we're judging and criticising ourselves, or we fear judgment and rejection from others. In short, we're worried we're going to look dumb and feel bad.
Learn 3 top tips for overcoming your squeamishness about surpassing what you have achieved so far. Help yourself learn new things, stay the distance and celebrate what you are REALLY capable of.
Essentialism: The disciplined pursuit of less Greg McKeown
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Dex (00:00:09) - Hi everyone. My name's Dex Randall and this is the Burnout to Leadership Podcast where I teach professional men to recover from burnout and get back to passion and reward at work.
Dex (00:00:22) - Hello my friends. This is Dex and I am glad you're here once again for the fourth episode in this podcast series on confidence. And if you need more confidence, uh, you might like to look at episode 74 through 76, which address confidence in regard to gaining clarity and efficiency, working confidently with people, and also improving self-esteem. So today what we're gonna talk about in terms of confidence is finding the confidence to surpass your previous best. So if you're a human being trying to move forward in life, this one's for you and surpassing your previous best. It could be at work, it could be in business or as an entrepreneur. It could be as a life partner or parent, uh, or maybe as a coach, healer or carer, activist, teacher, community, le leader, mentor could be an any sphere of life really. Or it might just be in terms of personal satisfaction, living this one human life in the way you know that your destiny shaped you for.
Dex (00:01:30) - And so I do really recommend listening to all four episodes in the series cuz it's gonna help you, uh, find confidence more broadly at a deeper level and in more aspects of your human life and potential. And it does it in a way that I think it's intended to connect you with your spirit and with other people. Cuz confidence when we think about it, really is terrific fuel for allowing ourselves to grow into our unique gifts, our authenticity and our big generous hearts, right? Delivering us into flow, accepting as well as support and integration with others, building connection, building love, and leveraging all of the parts of ourselves. And I don't think there's any more powerful fuel really for growth and confidence. It's, it's an expression of our courage, our love, and our acceptance for me.
Dex (00:02:32) - And I think really you can relax back into who you are at your very core and that's how to unleash this potency that's trapped inside you. And you can do that simply by quelling the doubt and resistance that comes up in your mind and slipping the net of trying to be something you think you should be that's kind of out of whack with your true genius. Cause it's such a sadness to me that really we're all taught that who we are isn't enough. That we should somehow strive to meet some impossible one size fits all. Ideal guess, how can we possibly do that? Our uniqueness is our gift. This is what we bring to the world and people are different for a reason. We are designed that way. We are unique.
Dex (00:03:20) - So I mean, think of the, think of the societies where this myth mythical, kind of homogenized perfection is not the idea. And the ancient Tibetan tradition springs to my mind where children are taught that at their core they're always perfect. And that perfection, their perfection, their personhood really is respected of itself. And even when their behavior strays away from that perfection, they can always return to it. It can't be taken away from them. And I dunno about you, but I wasn't raised that way. I was definitely not the message I received about myself. And I had to teach myself as quite a mature adult that I am good enough as I am quirks and all. And believe me, <laugh>, I have so very many, uh, flaws and all litter, unfortunate history of bad behavior and all got plenty of that too. Uh, continuing poor choices and all. I'm still not perfect, right? So all of that, if I'm able to accept myself as good enough, even in my full humanity, then I'm really, I think I'm onto something. It really helps me relax into all the new things I have to learn and do each day.
Dex (00:04:38) - I'm no better, of course, than any other human, but whipping myself and focusing on my suboptimal behaviors isn't gonna improve my user friendliness any at all. It's not gonna improve my ability to do good. It's not gonna improve my willingness to be vulnerable and and attempt to care for myself and my fellows. Whipping myself. In fact, for any perceived failures and emissions is actually just going to make me and I can prove this surly, withdrawn, resentful, and sick, unable to contribute. Well, it's actually going to compromise me to the point of shortening my actual lifespan, causing me to make more errors, all of that simply from be believing myself not good enough. And that would suck, right? Well, it did suck. So I don't choose to live that way anymore. Um, and I find it improves all sorts of things for me to simply choose to believe that I'm both capable and willing to do good.
Dex (00:05:39) - My intention is good. Um, amazing how much more I can do in the world from that style of thinking and how it also <laugh> helps me out a great deal with any sense of humor, failure that I might experience otherwise. So, you know, if you can relate to any of those things that I've said about, about yourself, and if you feel you're not currently operating from your highest potential, and I don't mean here really in terms of the material world, but right inside of you, your full expression as a human, then some fundamental questions you can ask yourself are, who do I want to be in the world? What do I want to contribute or give? How can I be of best service? And how is all of that different from how I'm being now? Um, you know, stuck inside some limitations I have.
Dex (00:06:34) - And when you are asking yourself those questions, let's take your capacity for good for granted along with your goodness of heart. Cause I know you've got those. So then if you want to surpass your previous best in the outside world, it's about unlocking your heart potential, releasing more and more of your vulnerable and tender goodness into the wild. So do you want to do that? Are you willing to do that? Do you want to be more of the essential you? And that is an act of courage, but really, I'm not talking about your best self here. It's that expression suggests to me that you're not your best self already. And I think that's a bit rude. It's my belief that you are permanently inescapably your best self. You can't be any different on the inside. I mean, that doesn't mean you're delivering of your best to the world.
Dex (00:07:35) - Most of us are way too intimidated, scared, little bit burnt, self-doubting, ashamed to let our hearts shine out. Unre, we're just too much in fear of rejection and hurt. So we shut down to protect our hearts. So I believe the best self is not a destination, it's an internal state of being that we can return to at any time. Just by relaxing back into our good nature by de armoring our hearts and by detaching ourselves from the fierce self-judgment, self-criticism, self abandonment that we've practiced for so long, we almost forgot it was a choice. We can choose now to make decisions from love, from our hearts. At least as much as we make them from our heads, we simply become a human being. Not a human doing. Inadequacy is not your true nature.
Dex (00:08:36) - Inadequacy is just striving to meet an external ideal. So only when we stop straining for that ideal can we discover the beauty of who we really are and start relishing and supporting ourselves in a way that generates confidence, joy, spontaneity, generosity and connection. So achieving something more than we've previously achieved. If we want to surpass our previous best, the answer is to inhabit more of our true nature. Choose to discover that nourish, cherish and support it. Be more in touch with our full humanity, not embarrassed by it, trying to cover it up, trying to compartmentalize ourselves and only show the supposedly acceptable parts of ourselves to the world. Just imagine doing that to a child. Saying something like, doing your homework is okay, but building hideaways under the kitchen table is not oddly. I think, you know, in spite of the evidence, in most cultures, we seem to have forgotten or ignored that children learn the most via play in their early years.
Dex (00:09:47) - And that exams and tests in that period are really quite counterproductive. Also, Greg mc, Greg McEwen in his book, essentialism The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, it's a terrific book, um, is about efficient economical productivity, and I I really do recommend it. It's a good read. So that's, uh, essentialism. Anyway, he suggests that adults, as adults, much of our values still comes from play from unstructured time, um, without which really our creative problem solving is a little bit stunted because how often do you have your best ideas when you're in the shower or walking the dog being businesslike and determin analytical in our thinking doesn't produce our best contribution and the discipline of being that heady, it's really, um, if it's unrelieved by spontaneity and unstructured periods of time, that self-discipline to be always up in our heads actually contributes to burnout. We've been trained, most of us to be head people.
Dex (00:10:53) - You know, that's a grown up way to be, isn't it? We're trained to be thinking based and rapid decision makers. Um, it sounds kind of executive even when I say it to me. But this doesn't align with our true natures and also it requires us to excise parts of ourselves to leave our feelings trapped inside or locked away somewhere. And the sad part about that really is every decision we ever make is made on the basis of how we think we will feel afterwards. That's, that's the proof of how our brains work. So if we try to shut down, isolate or ignore our feelings, they're still making all our decisions for us only now we're outta touch with them. So we don't know why we bought those new shoes. We won't wear without Tesla. Okay, let's use the Tesla as an example. If you have a Tesla or if you have a car that you love, how do you feel sitting in the driver's seat or pulling up at the curb in front of the office? Think about why you bought that thing. Cuz when we attempt to shut down our feelings, right, what we're doing really is we are divorcing a large part of our nature. And that divorcing process is exhausting, right? Blocking all of that energy of our emotions. And it causes a lot of stress, wear and tear and dis-ease in our systems.
Dex (00:12:23) - And although, you know, we do suppress our emotions a lot, you might be thinking on the other hand, if you're not performing how you'd like to right now, you might think, well actually, I've got too many feelings. I'm drowning in them. <laugh> Torrance of self-doubt and self-judgment, insecurity, anxiety, guilt and shame. You know, you can have both of those things at once, right? And maybe if that is happening for you, there's a lot of conflict there. You're probably feeling like a squirrel in a cement mixer. And if that is you, you know, turn it off and get out would be my advice. If you want to succeed in the future more than you are today, I've got three tips for you to share. And the first one is, stop actually labeling your emotions as good or bad and trying to outlaw the bad ones and make them go away.
Dex (00:13:14) - It's fine to feel insecure and anxious, you know, unless what you're doing then is building this concrete bunker around those feelings and accidentally going to live in the bunker with them. Any feeling you see is you know of itself. It can't harm you. It's just sensation. It's just an experience in the body. So the only way that a feeling can affect you is if you act on it because resist, resisting a feeling actually causes it to grow louder, stronger, more insistent, more persistent. It'll come back more often. Anything you suppress, it's gonna start growling at you because those feelings we have, they're trying to tell us something, they're trying to protect us. So if we get a feeling and we're not listening, it shouts, doesn't it? It keeps going, keeps trying to give us that message because feelings are just one of our survival mechanisms.
Dex (00:14:11) - Ignore or suppress them at your peril, really. Of course. I think fundamentally you already know this, right? So be careful which emotions you outlaw. They're gonna come and live in your bed with you, in your car, with you, at your desk, with you. They're gonna show up in the faces of your children. And a side note about feelings on, um, feelings like anxiety, fear, and stress. Those feelings that trigger a fight or flight reaction, which goes on to create this hypervigilance, looking out for further risk or threat. And that stimulates more anxious and fearful thinking. And that self-perpetuating cycle can be calmed when you accept your anxiety and fear is okay. And when you're willing to quiet your breath, your body, your mind, and offer yourself compassion and acceptance until you relax your way outta fight or flight.
Dex (00:15:14) - So the number one tip really is recognize the inherent okayness of all your emotions. Even the uncomfortable ones. Stop running away from them. They're just the same emotions that every human has. They're just signposts, um, to bring you more wellbeing, actually. That's their original nature. And any feeling you have is gonna pass through you quite quickly if you allow it to. So that's tip number one, allow your emotions. Number two is for goodness sake, don't believe in and spend time reinforcing your limitations, surpassing our previous best. Creating the confidence to do that is by its nature stepping into uncharted territory. So the confidence we need is not, oh yeah, I know how to achieve this next level. It's, I trust myself to explore, to try to experiment and to stick with it until I find out how, find out what works and what doesn't. It's just a willingness to not have the answers yet.
Dex (00:16:18) - And as adults, often we're not used to operating that way deep into the unknown. It's uncomfortable. We prefer mastery. And we tell ourself that, you know, that's what adults have. Adults have mastery, they know how to do stuff. And also we tell ourselves that it's what other people are demonstrating around us. They know how to do it. I don't, but you know, in that way, what happens is not knowing what we are doing almost invites us into compare and despair, doesn't it? It has endemically, the potential for embarrassment, humiliation, failure, loss and defeat. Sounds pretty nasty, huh? That's okay. Really. You don't have to explore the new if you don't want to, as long as you never want to play a bigger game than you are now. But as Maryanne Williamson, who we all love to quote says, your playing small doesn't serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you.
Dex (00:17:19) - So let's say for a minute that you are choosing to upgrade to the next level. You've decided to do the big scary thing. The next biggest problem you have after how uncomfortable it is emotionally, um, to not know what you're doing in this new space is judging yourself for it. I should be going faster than this. I should be better than this. I should know how to do this. I mean, how if you don't know something, you have to learn it. Um, and usually that's by trial and error. We also tell ourselves, people won't like me doing this. They won't think I can make it, or they don't trust me to do this, or they don't want me to change. That's a good one. Or they don't like me asking them for money to do this new thing. It's a thousand flavors of I judge and reject myself or they will judge and reject me. And that's what we might see as self-doubt. It's asking, can I change shape, change who I am and still be accepted?
Dex (00:18:19) - So while all that kind of squirrels around in our heads, how do we fluff up the confidence, you know, alongside all the doubt and fear that we may experience on the way. And I think confidence here is mostly self-acceptance. When I try this thing, I will not reinforce my doubt. I will not tell myself I can't do it, or that people like me can't do it. I won't tell myself I don't know how to do it because that's a given, not a barrier. I won't tell myself I'm confused, lost, helpless, or stuck again. Not very helpful. I won't tell myself I'm inadequate, lazy, or hopeless, just judgment. I won't tell myself I can't make decisions even when those decisions are hard. I won't criticize my actual effort and explorations and I won't tell myself it's not going to work. I won't compare myself to others who are ahead of me in their learning.
Dex (00:19:22) - I won't tell myself I didn't do enough or didn't do well enough or quick enough. I won't tell myself others will judge me or won't support me. And I won't tell myself I'm short-changing some other area of my life. This can be a really big one. We don't have to suck energy from somewhere else to try something new. It's not how life works. I won't blame myself for fails and I won't fail to celebrate my wins. Celebrating wins very, very important fuel for continuing. I won't be mean to myself about the way that I'm showing up any negative emotion, dread, horror, freezing. I won't blame myself for any of it and I will not give up. It's really, it's on us to champion ourselves through this process and the discomfort of the process. So where you can and how you can try to be your strongest advocate.
Dex (00:20:23) - Don't put up with all your old thinking about yourself when an old thought comes up. If you are criticizing or judging yourself, as soon as you hear that thought come up in yourself, go, oh no, hang on. And, and offer yourself the opposite thought about how you are doing your best, about how you're making progress, about how you love that you're learning new things about how many fails you're capable of working through to get there. You hear a negative, negative judgment offer yourself if you like the positive version right away. So at least you have those two tracks running, not simply this monologue of, I almost said self abuse there. It's actually quite mean and harsh on ourselves, isn't it? So don't put up with your old thoughts about yourself, where you're judging yourself, really call yourself out on them and choose to counterbalance them with a positive thought that you offer yourself in the moment, right in that moment.
Dex (00:21:17) - So number two, don't believe in and reinforce your limitations. Number three, and you know, I am repeating some topics here or some themes that I've taught about many times on the podcast. And I think every time it's just another reminder to dig deeper into ourselves, into our own resources. There is purpose in my madness, quite apart from the fact that some people may only have ever listened to this episode. Alright, so the third thing that we can try is to take strength from our why. Anytime the going gets tough for you, come back to your why. Why do you want to grow in the first place? Is your why. Compelling enough to be worth getting a bit of egg on your face. Taking a little bit of a risk. Is the end goal important to you? What does it bring you or indeed others? And what are you proving to yourself about yourself?
Dex (00:22:16) - This can be a really important driver. And the answer to your word could be self-fulfillment. We all have the need to explore and realize who we are. Or it could be financial, entrepreneurial, altruistic. It could be for family and friends. It could just be the challenge of it. It actually doesn't really matter why you want to do it, as long as it's important to you, uh, with, with a slight caveat that if it's a negative reason, in other words, if you're doing something like going for a revenge, um, you're gonna end up turning negative energy on yourself, which might hurt a little bit. For example, if you feel angry and bitter, you are the person experiencing that negative energy. So, okay, if you have a good why, tune into that. Why? If it supports you where it supports you, think about it. Inhabit, inhabit it, embellish it, build it up.
Dex (00:23:11) - Decide if it's worth fighting for. Am I willing to go through this for my why, but only decide that once? Don't keep deciding 15 times a day when things, when the gun gets tough. Just decide it once and stick with it. Back yourself on it and find the ways to keep your why front of mind. Tell that to yourself in the mirror. I'm, I'm really not one for affirmations. You know, every day and everywhere I become better and better. That super does not resonate with me. It's kind of empty every day. I'm simply willing to personally become more of who I am to inhabit more of who I am, good and bad. I get brave at not being perfect and not having all the answers and still keeping going. But I do think returning daily to your why can be enormously powerful. Oh yes. It's like, oh yes, this is why I'm willing to risk looking like a twit.
Dex (00:24:08) - This is why I'm willing to be my real self and truly connect with people. This is why I will attempt to pull off a feat of daring today, or this is why I want to be an example to others. So number three, you're why I think it's a big deal. Invest in it. Stay close with it. Let it grow powerful enough to support you through the hard bits. Let it be what supports you to create more and more confidence as you go. And notice that confidence when you're building it. You can show yourself, oh, I feel a little bit confident now. I wonder why. I wonder how I gave myself. Really important to notice that gradual increase in confidence as you keep going towards your goal. Because when you are on this journey to your goal, really who you're trying to prove yourself to and <laugh>, a lot of people are gonna answer in the back of your mind that it's your parents.
Dex (00:25:08) - And it could easily be, but probably also to yourself and maybe the people around you. So if you wanna prove yourself to yourself, finally at the end of the day to yourself, don't undercut yourself in any part of the process cuz your limitations are yesterday's news, right? Don't carve them in marble for yourself. And if you have an altruistic goal service goal, it can be very helpful to remember each day that you are doing this for others. So think about them, not you. Sidestep all that squeamishness about who you are in order to serve others. Ultimately, I think the confidence to grow our potential comes from championing ourselves, choosing to see ourselves and our efforts in a positive light and give ourselves support and encouragement, not disparagement and contempt. This is this little flower inside you that's trying to grow and it doesn't respond well to bulldozers.
Dex (00:26:12) - Okay? So confidence, really, it's, it's always an inside job. It's just a choice to be very, very good and kind to yourself. So thanks to listening for listening today. That's it. Go forth and choose confidence. Just do it. Um, and it's a really rare commodity these days. A lot of us are living in anxiety as a kind of perpetual state. So when you embrace this journey to confidence as well as your goal, you're really gonna start standing out for your bravery and vulnerability and humanity. It's going to be obvious to people. So the skill is leverageable into all kinds of other areas of life as well. And it's a great connector because people might admire you for your status in the world, but they will connect with you through your ability to be human and vulnerable. And as I've said before, if you enjoy this podcast, please help me and other people out by rating and reviewing the podcast. Appreciate you very much. If you've already done that, it really does help me reach more people who are in burnout particularly. And if you are in burnout yourself, listen for the link at the end. You must come and talk to me about how to recover quickly and sustainably and get back to your best performance leadership, most of all, enjoyment inside work and out.
Dex (00:27:43) - If you are in burnout and ready to recover, come and join my Burnout to Leadership program. You can book in to talk with firstname.lastname@example.org. Just tell me what's bugging you and let's make a plan to fix it.