I’ve been labeled “Bullshit Slayer” today*. Yes. [Apologies for the number of times the word Bullshit appears in this post.]
When a single mom tells me she can’t find a job because, “After all there’s a crisis out there and let’s face it, who’s waiting for a single mom who hasn’t worked in a year?” I call bullshit!!
When a team leader tells me, “I’m just not management material. There’s nothing I can do to make my team happy and more productive!” I call bullshit!
When a small business owner tells me, “I don’t make money in the summer, because all my customers are on holiday.” I say, “Really? ALL of them at the same time? Bullshit! And what about new ones?”
[I don’t actually say that word out loud. Most of the times, anyway.] My point is:
There are always two sides to a story.
I have always questioned the stories people told me. It started when I was 9 years old and was in 4th grade in East Germany. Our teacher told us, “The Russians are good. The Americans are bad.” I wish I had known the word bullshit then. All I could think was, “And in America the teachers say the exact opposite to 4th graders, right?”
There are always two sides to a story. We usually pick the one we believe at first sight. However we don’t always check if the story we believe serves us. We often just take it at face value and don’t question it. Especially when WE are the story tellers.
If you wanna make stuff up, make good stuff up!
Oh, there are times when I make up stories, too. But luckily I start to question those, too, sooner or later.
Like the one I tried to tell myself when I was 16: “You will NEVER EVER be allowed to go to Spain!” A year later the wall came down and I laughed and cried as I stood in front of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.
“You need certificates for EVERYTHING!” ‘Says, who?’, I thought, when I was coaching managers in people skills and successfully published and sold management-coaching tools. I had never been on a management training course in my life. What I did have was almost two decades of practical management experience from the point of view of the manager as well as the employee.
“You need to go to university in order to make a career!” Bullshit! (Sorry, well-meaning parents!) I’ve had a great career in the corporate world and I learned what a university looks like from the inside, when I was lecturing at one!
Bullshit stories can be very motivating, too.
When people told me, “I want to meet new friends. I want to find new business partners and clients, but networking events are horrible!” – I went ahead and created a network that people loved: At the “Open Hand Cafe” we don’t sell to each other; we don’t pretend to be someone else – we listen, support and help each other and truly connect! New clients, new friends and business partners are an inevitable side effect of those genuine, authentic connections.
When people say, “You can’t start a business in a financial crisis!” I smile. Four years and counting!!! Has it been easy? Of course not. But it CAN be done. And hey, if I can make it work during a crisis, it can only get better from here, right?
When people say, “Half the people in the world are coaches! And they all want to coach the other half!” It will not stop me from being “yet another coach”. Instead I’ll be grateful that we live in a world where so many people are interested in helping others. I have no ambitions to coach the whole world. All I want is to help the one person sitting in front of me to cut through their limiting stories and make up new ones that truly serve them. (And sometimes that person then decides to become a coach! Isn’t that great?)
So if you ever find yourself believing stories that say, “You can’t,” – whether they are your own stories or other people’s – go and consult your nearest bullshit slayer. Quickly, before those thoughts become a habit!!
And if you can’t find one, just check with Mr. John “Don’t tell me what I can’t do” Locke for a little reminder and then run your thoughts through the bullshit filter:
If the answer is something like, “I’m not sure. NO. NO.” Change your story! Live life on YOUR terms!
PS: *And yes, I totally gave that label to myself! Because I make up my own stories!
What’s YOUR new story, as of today?