I recently had a conversation with someone about a completed project. During the conversation, a comparison was made between the project and an outcome it was never meant to achieve. In that moment, I had a clear insight into how someone can create or perpetuate an often-heard statement – “I am not good enough”.  

Other ways to spread the “disease” of “I am not good enough” through everyday thoughts and actions:

  • Compare yourself to someone who is more skillful than you, and you will be certain to come up lacking
  • Create an unrealistic goal that you have no chance to attain
  • Listen to the feedback of someone who has a biased viewpoint
  • Feel devalued for not hitting a milestone you never planned to achieve
  • Look only at what you haven’t achieved 
  • Downplay what you have accomplished

Measures of success are important in helping us find areas for self-improvement, for differentiating performance levels and influencing goal setting and to generate healthy levels of competition. At the same time, it is important to remember that there will always be someone who is smarter, richer, taller, thinner, a better conversationalist, or more skillful than you are. 

Competition is great for focusing us on how to do better yet it can also set in perpetual motion the thread of “not good enough”. I still remember an instance from when I was a teenager exploring the world of music. At one point, I decided to try the piano, taking lessons from the same teacher who taught my older brother who happened to be a piano prodigy, establishing a built-in comparison. At a neighborhood musicale hosted by my parents and another couple, I opted to participate and play a piano piece. Afterward, many people came up to me and told me I did a nice job. At the end of the evening when my piano teacher connected with me, he shared only negative feedback. Which do you think I remember more clearly?

Comparison and feedback are two ways in which not good enough can become engrained. Consider if they motivate you to do better or spark a way for you to feel less than good enough.  

Do you sometimes find yourself saying to your children, your employees, your colleagues or even yourself – 

  • You really did a bad job
  • Can’t you do anything right
  • Maybe you’ll do better next time

The perpetual game of striving towards being enough can cause us to get stuck, sabotage our success, and even go in circles. If “not good enough” is a phrase repeating in your head, consider contacting me for a complimentary coaching conversation. 

2020 © Systems of Change, LLC