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HOW A BAD DREAM HELPED MY BUSINESS

October 22, 2016
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Do you ever experience a recurring bad dream? One that might be filled with anxiety and fear?

I attended a writing workshop recently, which focused on a dream (good or bad) that we would analyze and then write about to make relevant to our business. At first, I was skeptical as to how dream analysis might help my business as the two seem disconnected. I soon realized that reflecting on a dream can not only help you take a look at yourself but can tell a story. A personal story. And stories help define our personal brand.

The dream I worked with in the workshop has been recurring for decades since I was in my late teens. It’s an unpleasant dream about not being able to run away from someone who is chasing me. I struggle to get my legs to run in sync and therefore can’t move fast enough. While I never actually get caught in the dream, I’m anxious, tense, and scared.

Another anxiety-ridden part of that same, recurring dream is that I’m late for an exam in high school or college. In fact, I haven’t even taken the class and I don’t know why I missed it, much less how I would take and pass the test. In the dream, I can’t find the class, I know I’m going to be late, and I wake up out of breath and nervous.

The writing prompt was to face the dream within the context of writing a letter to it as though it’s a separate entity. To begin with “Dear Dream” made it much easier to write conversationally and in detail. The first couple of paragraphs were about the specifics of the dream and why it bothered me. By the end of my “Dear Dream” letter, I’d said that I wasn’t going be chased or shamed anymore. I told my dream that I was going to learn to run instead of limp.

After I wrote the letter and analyzed it with the workshop facilitator and fellow participants, I had my “A-ha” moment. The dream is about fear, self-doubt, and is the voice of my inner critic. We’ve all faced our inner critic at one time or another, I’m sure.

What was my take away? To stop my self-doubt and silence my inner critic, I need to just switch them off.

I felt empowered as I said that and committed the resolution to paper as I wrote. Then that sneaky self-doubt appeared shortly after and said, “Easier said than done.” I imagined giving the talk-to-the-hand gesture to my inner critic.

As I reflect upon this further, I discover that my self-doubt plays a part in my professional life. In fact, it may negatively affect how I make business decisions or stay open to new ways of growing my business.

My resolution and insight, to share with you, should you take on this exercise for yourself, are to consider the value you offer in your business and how you demonstrate that through your expertise and personal brand.

Commit to thinking of yourself as an expert, because you are an expert. Do you often think there’s someone else who knows more than you and, therefore, you don’t have the “right” to consider yourself an expert?

You know what? You’d be correct. There will always be someone who knows more than you, but you also know more than those who do not. An expert is always learning and seeking knowledge. If you ever think you don’t need to learn anymore, then, I dare say, you should stop doing what you do.

The inner critic takes away some of our confidence. When working in your professional life, having a lack of confidence – even if you don’t display it outwardly – may lead to poor decision making. It may make you feel “less than” and that, of course, is a lousy way to feel.

Instead of being held back by your inner critic, think of it as an entity outside yourself. Face it, and tell it to leave you alone. Tell the voice of self-doubt that you thank it for what it’s done for you but you can now take it from here. Know you have the power and control to push it aside, which will allow you to be the leader and expert that you are. As I learned in a leadership course recently, practice your power pose in whatever way that may look for you.

Silencing the inner critic – or even having it take a back seat – will be extremely liberating. Your thought leadership and confidence will return and be reinforced. Your true self will resonate and it will draw people to you. Those people may be colleagues, prospective clients, mentors, or customers. They’ll know they’ve found the expert to solve their challenges and that they’re in the right place, and safely in your hands.

Imagine how that will transform your business and how you want to “be” in your business. It will show itself through your reputation and how others see you. It will help you develop and sustain your personal brand. Your customers, peers, and colleagues will like and trust you, and all buyers seek that more than ever in today’s competitive business environment.