In the hours that remain before I don the extremely heavy, gold-embroidered, midriff-baring Indian wedding outfit that I bought online while in Greece and had shipped direct from Calcutta to New England for Day 3 of my dear friends' 3-day nuptial celebration...
I am reflecting on that petulant demon known as insecurity, and the predictable ways it shows up to poison people's stories.
Having recently conducted some great conversations (sometimes while secretly trying on aforementioned Indian wedding outfit) with really smart people -- people who immediately present as confident and successful, to any outside observer...
I've decided it's time call this demon out into the open, where we can stare it down, name its names, and reclaim our power over it.
Without further ado, here are three ways that insecurity can sneak into a story and poison the wellspring of your good ideas:
1. Thinking you need to "explain" things better.
If you believe you need to do a better job "explaining" something, this might stem from a deeper insecurity around needing to prove or justify the VALUE of the thing you are doing.
Unsure about the WHY of it -- we become overly fixated on the HOW.
This shows up in your story as sharing way too many facts, features, details, data, and technical jargon in the hope that this will help the audience "get" it.
Unless they explicitly ask for it -- people rarely need to be "explained" to.
Rather, they need to be engaged -- and this can only happens once you stop explaining and start speaking to their imaginations.
2. Refusing to pull back the curtain.
"This happened, and then this happened, and then this happened... and now I'm here."
This kind of one-dimensional storytelling -- in which we hear what happened, but NOTHING AT ALL about what it made you think, or wonder, or FEEL -- can often be traced to a deeper insecurity around vulnerability and being witnessed for who we truly are.
If your audience doesn't know who you are, we have no reason to root for your success. Multi-dimensional stories -- like multi-dimensional people -- risk pulling back the curtain on what goes on behind the scenes; and in the process, offer us a glimpse of ourselves.
3. Needing to have the "right" answers.
If you find yourself having (or wanting to have) all the right answers, this can indicate a deeper insecurity around engaging with uncertainty.
Uncertainty is inherently uncomfortable -- it's why no one likes thinking or talking about death.
But if you can't engage with it? You end up hoarding all the space in conversation for yourself -- your perspective, your opinions, your worldview -- and alienating your audience in the process.
Conversely, people who can engage with uncertainty, without grasping at the nearest answer as a lifeline, are said to be high in "negative capacity" -- which is crucial for effective collaboration and for coming up with creative solutions.
. . .
If you can see a little of yourself in any of these...
What will you do, to root out that profoundly sneaky, un-sexy, and sabotaging inner demon?