BabyPhotoTeresaBabyPhotoTeresaThe biggest challenge most people have that stops them from becoming influential, is the unspoken cultural norms and inner dialogue that gets in their way. We have belief systems that influence and arrogance go hand in hand, or that we’re not capable of playing a big game or tackling big initiatives. I still remember the day I created one of my most challenging inner dialogues. I was not quite 5 years old. I’m standing in our small kitchen, surrounded by siblings and cousins. There is great excitement in the air because my Grandmother is taking everyone to the movies.

As a family of nine, we just don’t go to the movies.  Dad simply can’t afford that many tickets! But today is different.  Our cousins are here.  Everyone is excited because we’re going to go see the Love Bug. Suddenly there’s a conversation of whether or not I can go. The movie might be scary. I look across the room with dread as I hear my mother say “Teresa can’t go. She’s too little” I’m devastated. I start bawling inconsolably. My 4 year-old mind decides in deep frustration that “I’m too small to play with the big kids”. And that inner dialogue sticks.

Working in the corporate world, I realized pretty early on in my career that I had to get past that dialogue if I ever wanted to move into leadership.  It has almost become a barometer for me in my life. If there isn’t some level of that dialogue there for me to get past, I know I’m not pushing myself and playing a big enough game. Anytime I take on a bigger game, that dialogue comes back and I have to work through it all over again.  The good news is, I do it more rapidly each time. One thing I have consistently seen in my students who learn the Influence Game is that none of them ever feel big enough for their own dreams.

Which makes sense.  Our dreams are huge to us!  What normal person could ever be big enough for something so huge?  Yet the great irony is that each of them was as tailor-made as could be to be the perfect person to live their specific dream, to create the change they sought in the world. So how do we learn, despite our self-limiting beliefs, to feel confident enough to chase our dreams and create the change we want to bring to the world?

Exercise – 1. Create a list of what your inner dialogue is (what you tell yourself) that may keep you from stepping into a bigger role of serving others and influencing change. Choose from the following list as a start, and then create your own

  • It would be arrogant of me to ….
  • Who am I to…
  • I’m not _______ enough (smart / rich / experienced – fill in your own word)
  • I’m too _______ (young / old / shy – fill in your own word)
  • They might find me out
  • I might look _____(stupid / arrogant / self-centered – fill in your own word)
  • I don’t know how
  • I don’t know _______  (fill in your own word)
  • I don’t have enough credentials

 2. For the next week, notice where this dialogue is gets in your way  3. Practice mentally laughing with your inner child, until your inner conversation holds no significance