I’m a bad leader. I’m a bad speaker. I’m a bad communicator. I’m bad at resolving conflict. I have a bad memory. I hear these kinds of statements all the time in my line of work.
They’ve got it all wrong. There’s no such thing as a bad leader or a bad speaker or a bad communicator… only an untrained one.
These are simply stories we tell ourselves, and sometimes they are excuses to not have to do the work required to get better and learn the skill once and for all. If someone is willing to put in the work, sacrifice the time, invest the money, and make some mistakes in order to grow… they can learn these skills. We must simply be willing to step out of one thing and firmly into another.
We must step out of the personal identities that we become weirdly attached to in defining who we are and what we can do. Think about something in which you would describe yourself in a negative way. I’ve always been bad at math. I’m not a good driver. I’ve never been able to remember names. Whatever it is, it only makes sense that it won’t stand a chance of actual improvement unless you’d be willing to never describe yourself that way ever again. Sounds like a no-brainer, but I’ve met many people (including myself) who have worn a label for so long and proclaimed it so many times to the world that they almost don’t know who they are without it. When we take on a new way of viewing and describing ourselves, we begin to naturally seek out the resources to make the necessary changes. But we’ll be less inclined to let go of who we say we are if there is nothing to fill the void when we do.
Once we’re willing to redefine ourselves, the resources are abundant. Coaches, seminars, books, programs, information, successful colleagues, and guides abound to help light the often simple steps necessary to master almost any new skill. If you want to speak more comfortably and effectively, you can. If you want to be a better leader, you can be. If you want to embrace conflict as the gift it is and be known as someone who fosters cooperation, collaboration, and compromise, you can learn to do it. But you must first stop with the story. Stop saying you’re not good at it. Just get to the work of learning and growing the skills you need to be better. Exchange the pleasure of the attention you received from the negative picture you paint for everyone with the pleasure of actually enjoying the benefits of improvement and eventual mastery if that is what you seek.
There’s no such thing as a bad anything, just a person who is secretly enjoying the attention of not being good at it or one who is yet untrained. That’s it.
There are only two options: Make progress or make excuses. It’s really that simple.
“Every excuse I ever heard made perfect sense to the person who made it.”
~~Dr. Daniel T. Drubin