The Stories That Hold You Back

As you know launches in less than a week, and I have to admit it’s been a hard week. It’s been a week of self doubt, of questioning what the point of this is, of digging deep, and struggling to find a solid ground to launch from.

It’s been a week of being distracted, of thinking I have a handle on things, and then thinking I don’t. Of course these are all just stories. Stories I tell myself about my life and who I am.

I used to think the more successful I got the less powerful these stories would be. But because you’ve created success you know this isn’t true. You still have stories. The hard part is knowing which ones help you and which one’s hold you back.

Here’s what I did this week to vanquish the stories that held me back:

1. Stop believing them –

Your stories aren’t true. Not like gravity. Not like the Big Bang. They simply aren’t true. They’re just stories.

2. Realize they hold you back –

My clients tell me stories all the time. * I can’t create something to earn money, because it’s insincere. * I can’t lose my manager or else I’d be screwed. * I can’t ask my clients to pay me more. * I don’t know what to talk about on our call today.

These are all stories, and they all hold you back. Sometimes you see this and sometimes you don’t, but whether or not you realize it, your stories are keeping you from your full potential.

3. Start with the bad ones –

The easiest stories to start with are the bad ones. The ones you don’t like. Most successful people have done a lot of this. They’ve let go of the stories that clearly held them back. But sometimes a few of them linger. So start with those.

See what parts of them aren’t true. Think about all the ways the opposite story is true. Come up with examples. Soon you’ll see these bad stories aren’t true. That we give them power because they give us permission to not be all that you could be.

4. Keep going –

Then (and this is the hard part) let go of the ‘good ones’, the stories about how what you’re doing is the one right way, the stories about how this has always worked for you. Anytime you catch yourself saying things like, ‘Well every other time I did’ .. stop and realize it’s a story.

Think about a smoker who says, ‘Every other time I tried to quit I failed’. Does that mean he should stop trying? No of course not.

But that’s what we do, especially when we’re successful. The more success we have, the more ‘better than’ you think you become, the more you’re attached to our stories.

You think, ‘these stories got me here. I like these stories. These stories are my code, my law, these stories are the Zen of Toku’. But they’re just stories. Stop enshrining them in gold.

5. Don’t throw the baby out –

I’m not saying you should sell diet pills. I’m not saying you should just fire everyone who is hard to work with. I’m not saying you should demand a million dollars from your next client.

It’s easy to look at the extremes, because the contrast is comfortable. Grey is the land of possibility.

But the extremes are obvious. We’re afraid of slippery slopes, because we act like we won’t notice we’re sliding down a cliff. I’m not saying you should join the dark side.

Instead start by pushing the boundaries of your favorite stories. If you’re afraid to create something for money, then create something small that’s also of value and see how it feels. If you’re afraid to lose your manager send her on vacation for a day and see how you handle it. If you’re afraid to raise your prices, try it out with a couple of new clients. Just to see what happens.

I’m not saying you have to get rid of all of your stories today. But you have to stop pretending your stories are sacred. The stories that got you here won’t help you get where you want to go.

Conclusion –

If you want to do something within your imagination, then do it in a world built by your stories. If you want to do something beyond your imagination, you have to let go of your stories. Even the ones you like. Especially the ones you like.

Your stories are just a narrative prison. If you’re willing to be fearless. If you’re willing to be uncomfortable. If you’re willing to be creative. There is always another way. If you’re open to it.