My self-esteem has taken a hammering lately.
I work from home with small children, a situation that is a minefield of endless stops and starts. Just as soon as I get going, a tornado of demands sweeps me up into the air, and holds me at its mercy until I give in.
For years, I’ve tied my self-esteem to my productivity at work… so when I’m not working well, I shrink into self-doubt. It takes a titanic effort to get going again and find the flow. Maybe you can relate.
What I long for most
Since becoming a mom, I’ve wanted so much to be in a working rhythm, while utterly paralyzed as to how to begin. How do I overcome inertia? How do I find my voice and confidence after such a long period of inactivity? How do I address people I’ve left behind by neglecting correspondence? Just picking up my pen to write this journal entry inspired an entire month of procrastination.
Picking up my pen has been one baby step on my way to lifting out of my funk. I feel like a ship raising an enormous, seaweed-laden anchor on a creaking, rusty chain. But I keep going, lifting that thing, in spite of myself. And sure enough, the anchor is rising. Crank by crank.
A surprising source of self-esteem
Here I was recently, searching for my strength in a sea of defeat, when I turned to my business hero, Fabienne Fredrickson. Fabienne said that she herself once suffered from very low self-esteem. She found her answer by living in integrity. If she could always decide to take personal responsibility, and always do the right thing when nobody was looking, her esteem grew.
I really needed to hear that. What Fabienne gave me was a formula for self-esteem. As a bonus, her solution also put an end to my procrastination problem. I just made a rule to do the right thing when nobody was looking, and suddenly my work habits improved.
I soon figured out another answer.
My family runs a music school. Every year at our music festival, I watch hundreds of children perform for an audience, often after months of preparing and practicing a piece of music.
There’s this pattern with most kids. They know the beginning of a piece so well. They know it inside out. And they play the beginning beautifully, until they hit a trouble spot and make a mistake.
Then they freeze. After realizing they don’t know how to pick up again midway through the song, their eyes widen, panicked. The little performer will then spin around to face the judge. “Can I start again?”
The question is always the same, and often the judge will lower his glasses, smile kindly, and open his fingers in a flourish. “Be my guest.”
Here’s the rub. The flustered performer will begin again – expertly, impatiently, playing a bit faster and sloppier this time.
And, inevitably, get stuck on the same mistake again.
The irresistible temptation to start again
Starting again is so tempting when you hit a public roadblock. You feel the weight of everyone’s eyes on you. You want to run right back to the beginning: the part you’ve already mastered. We can play that part, loud and proud, taking risks even, for all the world to see. But when you make a mistake in the middle, you are suddenly in uncharted territory.
It takes a profound effort to find the path again when you’ve made a mistake in the middle of your journey. To feel out the right notes. To pick up your pen again when it feels absurdly heavy.
I have been that kid, starting again, so often. In piano, I learned that the mark of mastery came from the persistence to work through mistakes rather than simply repeating them. To face the mistakes and break down those tricky spots into smaller, manageable steps.
Now I’d like to apply that principle to my work. Face the mistake I keep making, despite dozens of restarts. Break it down into bite-sized pieces. Pick up my pen. Start doing the work.
And always do the right thing when nobody is looking.
Mia’s dream is to help thousands of awesome people to build businesses, realize their goals, and become better people in the process.
Are you a real person trying their best to get ahead in life and reach some goals? If you think building a home business might help you, book a Get Acquainted call with me. I’d love to chat!