DPO, my former boss, asked me an interesting question yesterday. He asked me whether I could consider the creation of another version of myself, one that had my existing strengths, none of my existing weaknesses, and all of the skills she needed to get what she needed done. He called her Abez 2.0.
We assigned her an empty chair at our table, and allowed ourselves to speak of her in present tense. Here is what we have decided. Abez 2.0 is able to:
- Aggressively pursue business development without guilt, because the profit motive is not inherently evil. In this case, the profit motive behind non-essential services is what facilitates growth of the company as well as our ability to subsidise services for children who can’t afford them.
- Reserve feelings of guilt for things that actually warrant them. At present, Abez 1.0 bastes herself in an unhealthy coating of guilt every day- whether it be about time spent at work, or elaborate cupcakes not baked, or sofas not looking as immaculate eight years on and three children later… Abez 1.0 has mommy guilt about taking time off, spending on herself, or allowing herself to have social outings. No one in their right mind should feel guilty about resting in between work, caring for themselves, or seeing friends. Needless to say, Abez 1.0 is not in her right mind about these things, but Abez 2.0 is.
- Not grant destructive criticism an audience. Constructive criticism will be taken objectively and from sources that are trusted. It will not be taken as a sign of failure, and it will be taken as an opportunity for improvement, rather than a cause for feelings of guilt about one’s professional inadequacy. (see above)
- Not allow the desire to please everyone all the time to dictate what policies are enforced at work. No one can please everyone, all the time. My responsibility is to help our kids, take care of my staff, and use the minuscule amount of “celebrity” status I have to further autism awareness and opportunities for kids on the spectrum. If that doesn’t make people happy, that’s ok. Making them happy is not my job.
- Maintain a locus of control that is as internal as possible, and take action to change situations rather than lament how difficult they are to change.
- Explore multiple plans and challenge limiting beliefs about what is possible for me to accomplish, personally and professionally. There is a voice in my head that pours water on the the fire of exciting new project ideas by saying “Oh, but I would never be able to do that…” Abez 2.0 tells that voice to shut up and wait to see whether we actually fail before making that assumption.
- Delegate without panicking by accepting that outsourcing can bring projects up to 80% of the way, and that my involvement can be withheld until the final 20%, allowing me to accomplish more, panic less, and have deliverables created to my standard of perfectionism without waiting to hire a perfectionist clone of myself.
- Assemble a group of trusted advisors to keep me honest- not because I am dishonest, but because the danger of being your own boss is that when you start projects, there isn’t anyone around to make sure you finish them. I need accountability and follow-up, and rather than expect myself to develop a multiple personality disorder, it would be better to seek outside help.
- Give myself deadlines and share status reports with above advisors.
- Create a workspace that is respectful of the role I am expected to play- in other words- set up a desk and keep the laundry off of it.
- Not allow myself to feel like an imposter, but accept that people play different roles and adjust their behaviours accordingly to get the job done. Being no-nonsense at work shouldn’t make me feel guilty, because being silly is a behaviour I reserve for playing with my children. Being sympathetic and completely trusting is something reserved only for my husband, not for the well-off clients who try to guilt me into discounts from already zero-profit, at-cost services.
- Accept that fear is actually F.E.A.R- False Evidence Appearing Real- that there is no truth to failure until it happens, and living in fear is allowing myself to be dictated to by the lie of perpetual failure.
There. That’s the beginning of what Abez 2.0 is going to accomplish. It’s a tall order, and we’re breaking the stages down into 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, etc. I’m actually excited- and this is all going to sound vague I’m afraid- because I’ve been living in fear of failure in spite of being a reasonably successful person, and it’s tiring. I live dangerously close to the fight or flight response, where I feel at any moment, someone is likely to yell at me, or discover that I am an impostor and in order to avoid being found it, I hide and avoid doing anything that would attract attention.
(Funny that I should avoid attention in the real world when I’ve been inviting the whole dang internet into my personal world for over ten years now, but maybe the two are directly connected. Maybe it’s my withdrawal from the world that motivates me to connect with people from behind the safety of pseudonym and an avatar?)
I’m looking forward to meeting Abez 2.0. I think she’s going to be confident, comfortable in her own skin, and more likely to take the risks that lead to success rather than hide from an immobilising fear of failure. InshaAllah. Please remember us both in your duas. 🙂