When I attended coach certification training, the first thing they did was introduce us to the concept of “gremlins”.
Gremlins are that little voice inside your head saying things like “You can’t do that. You’re not smart enough, good enough, pretty enough, tall enough, etc”.
I’d like you to meet Don, my gremlin. My gremlin is a “not good enough” gremlin. Don tells me that I am too young to be successful, too girly to be successful, too kind to be successful, and sometimes he even tells me I’m too smart to be successful.
The first time I met Don, I was 14 years old. A 16 year old boy told me that I was not good enough for him to date me. I believed him and Don was born.
Don has accompanied me throughout my life. He was there when I applied to college (“Oh, you’ll never get in to Notre Dame… you’re not good enough”).
He was there again in my first college French class. He sat right beside me and whispered in my ear that I wasn’t good enough to speak French with the really talented kids. I believed him again!
Don was there when I moved to France after college. “You’re not good enough to be able to successfully live in another country,” said Don.
Don didn’t think I was good enough for management.
Don didn’t think I would ever find love again after my divorce.
Don didn’t think that I would be a good mom.
I have come to realize that Don is my friend…he is trying to protect me. Don doesn’t want me to fail. He doesn’t want me to experience pain. Don is doing his job and he’s doing it well. I respect him for that and I am learning to appreciate his perspective.
As I embark on new adventures in my life, I have learned to invite Don to the table. I ask him for his opinion. I know he will tell me the truth – his version of the truth. I know he will show me where and how I may fail. He will show me the potential pitfalls in my plan. He will point out that I have failed in the past and will want me to go easy this time. Once I have listened to all of Don’s arguments, I have decided that from now on I will form my own opinion. Sometimes I will recognize that he is right. Sometimes the risks will be too great; the potential impact on my family will be too strenuous. Other times, I will decide that I am good enough and I will pursue my goals with abandon.
I’d like you to meet your own gremlin. Name him/her. Recognize the moments in your life when your gremlin shows up. Think about why your gremlin has appeared and honor that reason. Then think for yourself and make solid decisions based on what you think is right, not what your gremlin thinks is right.