Be Smart About Art

Not putting yourself forward? Think about what your role model would do

written by: Susan Mumford April 30, 2017 1) RECOMMENDED-> Susan Mumford + Chris King's Blog 1453 views

Not putting yourself forward? Think about what your role model would do

from our Sunday reading series - a weekly blog post (subscribe here

No matter how established, experienced or confident you are, most people are inclined to hold themselves back at times. The reasons for this are manifold, ranging from not wanting to inconvenience others to not wanting to appear to be self-serving. As well meaning as this might be, you stand to have more positive impact in the world and inspire others with what you do and make by putting yourself out there.

There's an internal coaching method that I personally use to great effect, as do others.

Take the time last year that I was seated in a crowded auditorium in New York City attending a panel discussion. The seating had been designed to cram as many people into the venue as possible, the result being that rows were right against one another and minimal leg room was available. The Q&A session was set up so that if you wanted to ask a question, you had to get down to the stage level, where standing microphones were placed at each side of the hall. While I was positioned in a great spot for watching the panel discussion in the middle of a row, it was the worst location for asking questions. Half of an entire row would have to stand in order to let me past, which seemed a terribly rude thing to do.

Thankfully, I caught unconscious internal dialogue that was taking place telling me not to inconvenience others, and asked myself a question: "What would a (stereotypical) man do?" The conversation taking place in my head concluded that he would walk along the row without hesitation and down the aisle to ask his question. Surely the event would benefit from hearing his important question, after all?

Now while I appreciate that there's stereotyping in this story and not all men would've made their way to the mic, the point is that the method worked for me. I concluded that my questions (there were two), which highlighted angles not yet considered, would bring depth to the conversation. I coached myself through gathering my wits and standing up to do what needed to be done. Something that made it an even bigger success was that it turned out a colleague seated next to me had been experiencing the same dilemma. I literally paved the way for her to make it down to the stage to ask her question. And hey, my points were highlighted in industry press reviews of the event, which indicated that they were worth mentioning.

Here's my recommendation:
Who in your life, either now or in the past, inspires you a great deal? This is a role model who does / has done what it takes to succeed, while maintaining your respect. Whenever you're presented with a scenario in which you're holding yourself back, catch the internal dialogue and ask yourself:

"What would (X person) do?"

Then coach yourself through to make it happen.

I've heard of and read about many people doing this to great effect. You can be a role model for others, too, so that their own question is asking themselves what YOU would do!  

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Posted by : Emma 21/06/2017 14:02

Love this! Have tried it and it works thank you!

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Laughing as I hit the big reveal on the question you use when trying to motivate yourself over a hurdle: "what would a (stereotypical) man do?" As that is exactly the question I use to challenge myself when facing a crisis of confidence. I would have credited many hours of listening to Women's Hour for this, but maybe it's just in the ether

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Posted by : Jo 01/05/2017 14:17

Lol- When I was a teenager I used to say to myself in similarly over timid situations- "what would Madonna do?!"- worked for me ! (Now I find myself occasionally asking 'What would Tony Robbins do?' - still works- just less attitude! )