Back when blogging was starting to become a thing, I tested software at Microsoft. I had opinions to get off my chest. I started blogging.
Not many Microsofties were blogging at all back then. Let alone about testing. People turned out to be curious about testing at Microsoft 😊
Fast forward several years. My blog was consistently one of the most read Microsoft blogs. Strangers at software conferences recognized me. People in other countries invited me to speak at their conferences.
Meanwhile, blogging had gone from starting to be a thing to being a thing to being just one more medium. Lots of other people throughout the industry were blogging about testing.
While I didn’t view these other people as competition, they were consistently writing the blog I was going to write before I could.
Writing it better, I thought, than I ever could.
I stopped blogging. Which, of course, made it difficult for my readers to choose me over those other writers.
Perhaps you’re not surprised I’m no longer well known in the software testing community 😂
We all have these limiting beliefs. These feelings that we are not “good enough.”
Almost every problem I hear from my clients has at least one limiting belief in play.
Underneath each limiting belief is at least one fear.
Which is, itself, often a symptom of something else.
We need to identify that underlying issue if we are to let go of the fear and its limiting belief.
So, how do we do that?
Talk with your fear
One technique I’ve found consistently helpful is talking with the fear.
And, yes, I literally mean talking with it 😊
Start by visualizing it there in front of you. Engage all of your senses.
Is it a blob, a shape, a person, a monster?
What sounds is it making?
What does it smell like?
Can you taste it?
What do you feel from it?
Is it by itself? Is it a committee? Or a mob?
Ask what is “good enough”
Now that you see your fear, make its acquaintance. Greet it. Let it know you’d like to engage with it. Ask whether it’s willing to engage with you.
If it’s not so inclined, ask what it needs to be ready. Follow that thread. You may learn something.
If it is game, thank it. Then, ask: What does “good enough” mean to you?
Give yourself time to hear the answer. Fears generally aren’t used to being talked with. So your fear may need some time before it believes you’re listening.
You may already meet the bar
The first few answers your fear tells you may be vague. Ask more questions. You’re searching for concrete details against which you can measure yourself.
You might discover you already meet that bar 😊
One time my fear had shown up as angry-emoji 😠. I wasn’t clear where I was falling short of the criteria it was giving me. When I asked it to help me understand where I was not meeting those criteria, it turned into astounded-emoji 😲 and then blinked out of existence. I laughed and knew that particular fear would no longer trouble me.
Learn what you need to release your fear
If you don’t already meet the bar, continue discussing the concrete details your fear is telling you. Ask why those details matter. You and your fear might discover you have those details covered after all. At the very least, you’ll have information to guide your growth towards releasing the fear.
I had one fear appear as Yosemite Sam. True to that character, it was all blustery and intent on protecting me from my “gol darn self.”
As we talked, I learned it worried I was becoming too directive with my clients. It wanted me to ask them questions, not tell them what to do.
It also wanted me to decide on a focus. “You are aiming at too many targets and not hitting any of them,” my fear said. “When I shoot around wildly it’s funny. When you do it, you confuse yourself. Focus on one thing. The other targets will still be there if you want to switch to them later.”
I took its advice. I made a point of asking questions. I started tracking when I inflicted help. I started asking each day what one thing I needed to focus on.
Sometime later, I went looking for my fear again. Where I expected to find Yosemite Sam, I instead found a cartoon headstone inscribed “R.I.P.” His hat rested on the ground in front of it. I had finally met its bar.
You may not get an answer
The next time you tell yourself, “I’m not good enough,” talk with the fear skulking behind that limiting belief. Ask it to help you understand where you’re falling short. Let it guide you to the knowledge you need to let it go.
If your fear doesn’t answer? In my experience, you’ve stumped it 😊 Take advantage of its distraction and experiment doing that thing you’re “not good enough” to do!