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Is Your Story-Telling Derailing Your Career? Two Mindful Steps To Get Back On Track

Near the end of his life, it has been reported that Mark Twain was asked to look back and offer an assessment. He noted that ‘my life has been one tragedy after another but thankfully, most never happened’. If you stop for a few moments and consider this observation, you might also note the many times you told yourself a story that something terrible was going to happen, but it never did.

We are creative beings and so we can imagine many outcomes or scenarios. Our minds can write full-length feature films and we can become certain that the worst is going to happen. Or we can limit our potential by telling ourselves that we will certainly fail, or not be good enough. Too many careers stall before they need to, solely because of the stories we create in our mind.

I’m not talking about full assessments that look at all possibilities. I’m talking about the much more common assessment that only looks at all the things that might go wrong, or that might make something challenging, often with little or no facts to support those conclusions. These are the thoughts that can keep you from soaring, or reaching your full potential.

Here is a simple approach to cultivating a more skillful approach to moments when your own thoughts may be holding you back:

1. Write down the thought that seems to be holding you back or cultivating anxiousness or fear, and then read it aloud. What do you notice?

2. Now, intentionally choose to hold the thought with some spaciousness and note that ‘this may or may not be true’. There is no need to push the thought aside or try to bury it. Just hold it lightly. In the spaciousness you have created around these thoughts, they begin to loosen their grip. How do you want to meet those words now? What is the skillful choice to live your best life?

This simple practice takes just a few moments but it can be a powerful way to interrupt the thinking that has limited your career and your life.