How many times do you ask yourself, "What am I good at?". Depending on where you are in your life, this question can come up once a month, a week or several times a day.
In my experience, I have found myself in this abyss when I am uninspired, stressed out, mentally unavailable or generally exhausted. Depending on how well things are going, I live this experience on average three times a week. Even with a good week, I wonder if I missed something and end up questioning myself.
This slump is usually an indication of something bigger happening like imposter syndrome, burn out or worse that you need to address. Imposter syndrome is the feeling you get when you are second-guessing, questioning and are uncertain of your capabilities.
As an entrepreneur selling new & innovative ways/ideas on how to operate a business, I flirt with this feeling all the time. I learned to dance and live with this feeling but now and again, the feeling will get the best of me.
Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face — Mike Tyson.
So how do you shake it off? How do you get out of this funk? How do you bounce back?
"You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future"
~ Steve Jobs | The 2005 Stanford commencement address
This quote has been great learning that I have brought into my life because it challenges me to reflect on the experiences that I have had in my life.
In practice, it looks like this -> Looking back at my experiences, and making sense of them in today's context (the work I am doing). Some career highlights;
- GreenBacklight ~ an apparel company I created in High School
- University of Cape Town ~ pursuing my degree
- Learning at Yoco ~ building the future of commerce
- Founding Bora Growth Partners ~ betting on myself
- UCT GSB ~ pursuing a Postgrad
- Building PiCortex ~ betting on myself again
These experiences have all taught me a range of things that I bring into my work today. This reflection is powerful because;
- It forces me to reflect and be appreciative of what I have accomplished and be grateful.
- I get to understand the impact of what it is that I have been able to achieve.
- It helps me unlock any barriers or challenges that I might have
- It also gives me the energy to push on
Part of this exercise is to identify the times I had so much fun. Hardship is in our daily life and you should take stock, but you will remember the times you were buzzing through the roof more. Don't get caught up in the Nostalgia trap but pull from the moments' things you need to pull and bring them to today. Bring them into your work and the challenges you are solving for.
Other things you can do to get out of this funk;
Create a mechanism to help you recognise and know when this feeling is lingering or in the shadows coming up. Are you moody? Are you tired? Whatever this trigger is, listen to it. Step away if you need to, nap, read, get your mind back into it.
I have instilled meditation into my daily habit, I almost can't function adequately without doing it. Meditation is not a fix to my problems, but it provides me with a framework in acceptance of the way things are and how to manage your perception of them.
In the same breath, appreciation/gratitude goes a long way. The power of kind words goes a long way. Keep a document or folder of nice things people say to you or about you. Don't open this every day as we don’t want you resting on your laurels but do read these periodically.
In summary, recognise, deal and have a call to action.
Other call-to-actions that I practice include;
- Talking to friends - Hang out, chill, mess around. It has been difficult with the pandemic, but I am optimistic for a better outlook in the next year or so.
- Listening to music - Vibe out when you can. Music gets me pumped, inspired, teaches me new things like cultural norms, urban trends and most importantly relaxes me.
- Writing things down (analogue) - Being overwhelmed is a sign that too many inputs are coming your way. Reduce your inputs by going a little more analogue and writing ideas down (i saw this on Twitter, I will credit it when I find it)
Staying in the abyss long is not great for you and the people around you. Once you are unclear with yourself, it will show in your life. Bounce back today!