Why Your Experience May Not Be the Best Measurement | Blog
Why Your Experience May Not Be the Best Measurement | Blog
How do you measure how things are going? How do you measure how you’re doing or how well you did? How do you determine the state of your business or your relationships? For many of us, we are using the wrong measuring stick.
Often, we use our current feelings and moods to determine if something is going well. Or we use our current feeling to decide if we’re doing okay. And we use this same snapshot to decide the status of our business or our relationships. Here’s why that may not be a reliable gauge:
A couple of weeks ago, a friend, and colleague, hosted a fund raiser for her nonprofit. During the event she got up and welcomed everyone, talked about her mission and then introduced us to two amazing individuals that had been deeply impacted by the work the nonprofit is doing. At the end of the evening when we said goodbye, she mentioned how nervous she had been and how much she had forgotten to say. The next morning, I sent her a note telling her how lovely the evening was, and she again mentioned her nerves. She was beating herself up about her talk and had been replaying it all night. She was feeling self-conscious and upset about forgetting things. She felt like she stumbled and hadn’t made any sense. She wanted to represent all of the amazing growth and didn’t feel like she had done so.
I could totally relate to this experience. I often have to give talks and afterwards can spin in my mind about how I wished I had done better. But here’s the thing . . . her experience of her talk was nowhere near my experience of her talk.
Her experience was full of nerves, accelerated heartrate, and some self-consciousness. My experience was one of being incredibly touched and inspired. I thought she was heartfelt, sincere, and an amazing leader.
Isn’t it fascinating that while she was living in the feeling of her own anxiousness, which was certainly not pleasant for her, it was not the experience the rest of us were having in the audience? Her experience was coming to life inside of HER—not us. In fact, during her experience, I was actually feeling a lot of love and inspiration from what she was sharing.
This points to a powerful and profound understanding: our current feelings are telling us where our heads are at—NOT how something is actually going.
This last weekend, I was at a retreat with my mastermind group. This was a “working” retreat, which meant we spent the weekend working on creative projects. We had dedicated time when we each went off and worked by ourselves and then we would come together for support and feedback. During one of the feedback sessions, one participant was sharing an outline he had created for a book. In the midst of his sharing he said, “Wow, I feel a little self-conscious.”
Again, I can relate to feeling a little self-conscious while sharing something that is close to your heart and not fully flushed out. But again, here’s the thing . . . his experience of self-consciousness was nowhere near our experience of his sharing.
He was self-conscious, yet the rest of us were excited and intrigued. For me, I was especially excited to see his interest, his passion, his depth, and his insights coming together in the form of this book. I loved the direction he was going and the stories he was telling.
This is another example of how our internal state, our current feeling, is not pointing to a “truth” about how it’s going but is pointing to the quality of OUR mind in that moment.
I see this with the solopreneurs and entrepreneurs I work with as well. They experience anxious thinking about progress, growth, their own capabilities . . . and as a result of that feeling, decide they are stuck, or things are going badly. From there, they might feel sped up and overwhelmed while others may feel demotivated and down.
To be honest, I can get derailed by this as well. I may have an insecure thought about my business, take that feeling seriously and then I find myself focused on what is wrong, and things begin to look problematic. Often, I conclude that the problem is Me. Either I’m not working enough or doing enough or doing it right, etc.
During those times, knowing I am experiencing a sped up insecure mind, not really experiencing my business, has helped me recalibrate. When my mind settled, I would often realize that there was no problem, I had just created one in my mind.
Our feelings don’t actually tell us how things are—they tell us how we’re experiencing something in that moment. We can only feel our own thinking; we are not feeling our business, our relationship or the status of anything or anyone. We are feeling thought. Sometimes in full technicolor.
But if we can’t rely on our current feelings and moods as a gauge for how things are going, or what others are experiencing, what can we use?
When we see the simple but powerful truth that our current experience is pointing towards—thought in the moment—we naturally take things more in stride. We have more compassion for ourselves. We ride out the moment, we let our minds settle, and clarity comes. We get perspective, and from there our deeper intelligence emerges and guides us.
When we see beyond our current moods or feelings, we are able to tap into a more useful measure. We tap into our inner knowing.
This becomes our gauge, our compass.
“Our feelings are a variable and beneath the ups and downs of our thoughts and feelings lies a deeper knowing.”
Our internal experience is coming from thought in the moment. Thought in the moment is creating your personal version of reality—not a truth.
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Barbara Patterson is the owner of a global coaching and consulting company bringing the insights of performance and fulfillment to clients around the world. She helps organizations, leaders, entrepreneurs and coaches access more clarity, creativity, have greater impact and higher levels of performance in work and life. Barb is the Founder of Beyond Limits in Business and host of the Real Business Real Lives podcast. If you’d like to experience in-depth, robust and transformative mentoring for you and your business check out Barb’s 6-month Beyond Limits Small Group Mentoring Program. You can follow Barb on Linkedin, Twitter and Instagram. You can also subscribe to her weekly blog on her website at barbarapatterson.com