When I was 14, I believed there was an ultimate solution to everything. I chose advanced mathematics for high school and I was going to find that ultimate solution!
However, I ended up applying for a university subject that involved a wider range of sciences and people – Medicine - which turned out to be fascinating and also a little imprecise… Medicine was less predictable than maths and that felt uncomfortable to me.
A turning point came when my professor of pathology said: Amina, have a little more tolerance for uncertainty. Soon after that, I launched into my real passion which was population health and I eventually found myself playing with probabilities and confidence levels at large scale - as a job.
Disempowering questions and hidden assumptions
If you’re a high achiever (or a human being who cares about how they spend their time and energy) you’ve probably asked yourself some of the same questions other high achievers do:
How can I make sure I’m not wasting my time?
How can I be more confident and do more of the things I want to?
How do I know what to do when I don’t know what to do?
My job as a trusted advisor and coach is not to give advice, but to listen for the assumptions underneath the questions.
What do you think the assumptions are underneath the questions above?
The exact matrix of assumptions vary from person to person. A few common ones are assuming:
you can control time when you can’t – you can only control our choices
pushing yourself is a way to success when it’s a doorway to burnout
you need to have the answers immediately and that slowing down is a waste of time, when getting quiet and still is the shortcut!
Perhaps, the ultimate assumption behind disempowering questions and assumptions is that there is a way to avoid the discomfort of uncertainty.
While uncertainty can feel uncomfortable, why would you want to avoid it?
Uncertainty is where infinite possibilities live!
Unless these assumptions are identified and deactivated skilfully, they continue to suck time and energy into blackholes and cut you off from new possibilities that are closer than you think.
When you recast the assumptions, your world changes.
Legend in the Making: Dr C is the co-lead of a highly specialised service in one of the country’s top hospitals. We started working together recently, exploring confidence at work, and quickly unearthed a few hidden assumptions. She opened up to challenging these assumptions, operating on the reverse assumptions, and seeing what happens. Immediately, she “felt totally different and stopped worrying about stuff!” Challenging the assumptions also freed her to speak up in a meeting – courageously enduring an uncomfortable silence as everyone took in her unexpected yet powerful words – and turned a fragmented situation into an opportunity for team cohesion and collaboration. Nice work, Dr C!
Where attention goes, energy flows
The brain is an energy allocation machine. It’s constantly scanning its environment and deciding where energy needs to be directed.
Your “hack” is in mastering your attention. If you can consciously choose your focus, you can redirect your energy in alignment with a greater truth that feels both calming and energising. This is why developing self-awareness and mindfulness work.
You say: that’s all good Amina but what can I actually do to master my time and energy? Well, how about cutting through any negative chatter and shifting your attention from disempowering questions to empowering ones.
What small step can you take that’s aligned with your (greater) truth?
If you trusted yourself 100%, what would you do?
Where do you hold yourself back? What becomes possible if you let go?
Remember that confidence derives from the Latin “con fidere” or “with trust”. So having confidence is having trust – even when you have no idea what to do.
Are you willing to trust and see what happens?
Have a great week,
p.s. I’ll be leading a workshop on energy management this month which I hope you’ll join. Details coming to you soon!