I’ve always referred to it as “hitting the wall.” That time in your life when you realize that working hard independently is just not going to be enough. At some point, you have to ask for help to move your learning forward. That can be a hard pill to swallow when you’re used to relying on hard work and persistence to create success in school or at work, but each time you take a dose of that medicine, it tastes better.
Different life experiences cause people to take the medicine at varying stages. Some are lucky enough to get a dose of it in high school, allowing them the opportunity to develop wisdom in their youth. Others taste it for the first time in college or when they start a new career. I’ve had to take it a number of times, being a bit of a slow learner myself, but I am recognizing the approaching wall before I hit it these days and I’m starting to appreciate the flavor that the medicine takes on when I welcome it. My younger son, a wise one at 17, calls it Embracing Your Inadequacy. I love the sound of that on my tongue! Embracing My Inadequacy means I get to set aside the baggage that comes with believing that I have to know it all, do it right the first time and every time, and that harsh judgment lurks in the shadows of mistakes. It’s freeing to ask for someone else’s ideas and suggestions, whether their answer corroborates my plan or opens my eyes to a new possibility. There’s camaraderie in collaboration, a connection that doesn’t exist when I’m alone in my office with the door shut.
When I reject my inadequacy, I have a sinking feeling that the ME who used to be wasn’t good enough because I didn’t know everything I know now. I wasn’t as knowledgeable, as wise, as capable of being who I want to be. Which is followed by a distinct fear that the ME who is now isn’t as knowledgeable, as wise, as capable of being who I want to be. It’s a feeling of never being able to catch up to my ideal self. Following this thought pattern, I will NEVER be good enough. I will always be stuck.
The only way to combat this limiting, judging mindset is with a reminder that, to be who I am today, I had to be who I was yesterday…and five years ago…and ten years ago. It’s the learning from setbacks, from mistakes, from the not-always-perfect moments–and the success–that has given me the expertise and wisdom I have today—which will continue to build with more time, setbacks, mistakes, and successes.
Embracing My Inadequacy gives me permission to be human, even while I am striving to be my best self. I can ask for help, recover from mistakes, and truly enjoy collaborating with others to create a better product—and a better ME–than I could create by myself. Hmmm…there’s a spoonful of sugar in that medicine!