What we tell ourselves defines us.
I feel very fortunate that in my job I get to support and inspire young people; there is no feeling like it in the world. I get to see them at their worst and their best, I get to hear them tell me all the things they believe they can’t do and then get to witness them succeeding.
I am often asked why I work with young people and the answer is simple. I believe the teen years are where we really decide who we are going to be for the rest of our lives. It is where our beliefs are shaped and formed, the beliefs that will have an impact on us way beyond our teen years.
I wrote a little about this in a recent article What giving up my Olympic hopes taught me about failure and I think it demonstrates my point brilliantly.
From the age of about 13 I had clearly told myself that I was not a runner and this belief in one way or another has had an impact on me throughout my life, from police training school to my refusal to ever get fit and take up jogging. I use to joke and say, “When you show me someone smiling and jogging, then I will take up running!” Really what I was saying was that I believe I can’t run.
I know as a coach and an advisor for young people one of my jobs is to challenge myself, my beliefs and who I think I am on a daily basis.
So in perfect Sarah style I decided to challenge the belief I had held the longest - “I am not a runner”
Filled with dread and anticipation I became my own client and asked myself the questions I would ask a young person who told me all the things they are not.
1. Do I believe there are people who can run?
Well, the answer is pretty obvious to that one, right?
2. Have I seen people who look less fit than me running?
Well, yes I had.
3. Is the statement “I am not a runner” true?
The answer was that I didn’t know because I hadn’t tried it for so long.
4. Is there a way I can experiment with this belief and test it?
I knew the answer was yes; I looked around and found an app that had been used by people I know, who said it had worked.
The first week was hell, running for 60 seconds felt like the most difficult thing I ever did! Week Two started to get a bit easier and in Week Three I found myself in a rhythm that felt vaguely comfortable and as I pounded the ground in the local park I even found myself thinking that maybe I was a runner.
I am now on Week Five and today I have run for two 8-minute stints, a goal I thought five weeks ago was unachievable, not because I couldn’t run but because for over 30 years I had told myself "I am not a runner."
If you are anything like me you often tell yourself all the things you are not rather than all the things you are.
I am not a writer ( I have now written three books, including one novel)
I am not a sales person ( I have ran my own business for 16 years )
I am not a marketer ( I have successfully marketed myself for 16 years now)
The list goes on.
And while your list may not be as long as mine I am sure there is at least one similar statement hiding deep in the recesses of your mind.
So today I want to challenge you the way I have recently challenged myself to change one of your beliefs through action.
1. Make a list off the top of your head of all the things you think you are not.
2. Pick one, the easiest or the hardest, it doesn’t matter.
Ask yourself these questions:
Do I believe there are people who can do this?
Do I know, or have I heard of people who can do this? Do I know anyone who I think wouldn’t be able to do this and can?
Is this statement true?
Is there a way I can experiment with this belief and test it?
Then I would love you to share what you come up with and if you need any help with the experiment, please let me know.
I wish you all the best and please let me know how it goes.
Join me on facebook and let's share how this goes. Just think of the role model you will become for your children!