Machen MacDonald: Take a RISK to succeed |

Machen MacDonald: Take a RISK to succeed

Machen MacDonald

I was just on a call with one of my coaching clients who is a vice president of a high tech company. This guy is polished, well spoken, looks like he could easily appear on the cover of GQ or Sports Illustrated.

He is revered by his colleagues, friends, and family. He and his wife just celebrated their 20th anniversary and renewed their vows, and his oldest is starting her first year at an ivy league school.

So, what could this leader possibly need coaching on?

He needs coaching on being human. I’ve not met anyone yet who did not experience the gremlin’s chatter of, “I’m not enough.”

It shows up in various forms. It can sound like, “I’m not smart enough,” “I should have done better,” “I’m not good with numbers,” “I’m not a people person,” and the list goes on. It basically is a story we buy into about ourselves that keeps us from seeing who we really are … our brilliance.

For many living in first world countries or consumer nations, it’s become part of the human condition. If you are above ground, you are not immune from this syndrome we will call not-enoughness.

For some it is totally debilitating. It can lead to depression and anxiety. It’s no wonder the top two prescription drugs worldwide are for anti depressants and anxiety meds.

For others it can be managed effectively without medication and causes only slight hiccups in performance. What’s the difference?

In his book, “Man’s Search for Meaning,” Victor Frankl suggests that between a stimulus and our response to that stimulus there is a gap. In that gap, we make up a meaning about the stimulus and then respond according to the meaning we make up. Much of the meaning we make up comes from the story we believe to be true about ourselves.

If we have similar negative thoughts in similar situations, that thought can develop into an automatic negative thought (ant) that we eventually go unconscious to. We can easily become infested with the feeling of ants and feel like we don’t have a chance.

There is a way to combat the ants and take our life back. In the case of my client above, his story (internal belief about himself) was that he was not a good leader because he didn’t always have the answers to impart to his counterparts of how he was going to handling a given situation.

He imagined his colleagues to think less of him for having to get back to them rather than knowing in the moment what the best solutions were. This escalated, in his mind, to him ultimately being fired. Whenever we have those kind of awfulizing thoughts they tend to constrict and restrict our resourcefulness and we thereby compound our dilemma.

To combat our ants we must have a routine or ritual that helps us stay present to what is actually going on rather than get sucked into any future threat or passed regret. You can do this by taking a RISK.

Realize & recognize

First we must realize and recognize what is going on for us. The reality is we are simply having thoughts which may or may not be true.

We have thoughts and we are not our thoughts. We make up a meaning about something which, again, may or may not be accurate even though we may feel certain about our perception of what we are witnessing or experiencing.

Be in touch with the reality we are having thoughts about what is going on.

We are in a process. We are resourceful. We can figure it out.

Identify other possible meanings about the situation or stimulus

If someone attacks or calls us out in a meeting, we may jump to the conclusion that they are disrespecting us or trying to undermine us.

Other possible meanings could include: They are fearing losing something; they are not understanding all the information correctly; they are feeling misunderstood; or, they don’t know how to maturely express their needs or desires.

By coming up with alternative meanings, we can lesson our over reaction to what is going on.

Settle into our power

If we answer the question: Who are we without those ants? We will come up with much of our core essence.

We may be a very resourceful person when we are not worrying about what others may think of us. We may be extremely compassionate when we are not having thoughts where we feel attacked. We may be tremendously creative when we don’t associate never having graduated from college to mean we are not as smart as the rest of the people in the room.

Settling into our power is remembering who we really are without all the ants.

Keep on track with our purpose, goal, or vision

Henry Ford would say, “Obstacles are those frightful things we see when we take our eyes off of our goals.” Nothing great ever came easy.

There are sure to be obstacles, stumbling blocks, and detours along the way to our desired success. When we become the guardian of our desired outcome, we are less likely to be distracted or overwhelmed by the ants.

Rather we stay inspired to achieve the goal despite any ants.

This week, take a RISK and flick the ants away.

Make it up, make it fun, and get it done!

#1 bestselling author Machen P. MacDonald, CPCC, CCSC is a certified life and business coach with ProBrilliance Leadership Institute in Grass Valley, CA. He helps business people gain more confidence and clarity to live their ideal life. He can be reached at and 530-273-8000.

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