Do you know that little voice in your head? The one that’s always there. That internal commentary is the narrative to your life. It dictates what you will do today, tomorrow and ever after.
Ever notice how often your internal story clings to the negative but slips away faster than a greasy egg in a Teflon frying pan? Don’t panic, it’s a common phenomenon – it happens to almost everyone.
But those negative stories impact our thoughts, our mood and our behaviour. Before long, we’re boxed in – our potential limited. We can change the ending to our story though.
Let me give you an example. I was having coffee in Costa earlier. The young barista and I got chatting. She loves playing football and trains hard.
“Are you any good?” I ask.
“Probably not good enough to take it any further,” was her reply. “I mean look at that French footballer, Kylain Mbappe. He’s the same age as me and look what he’s achieved. He’s already played in the World Cup and been given the Young Player award – I’m just not as good as that.”
You see what she did? At 19 years old, her internal narrative is already comparing her and telling her she’s not good enough. Once that narrative is fixed in her mind, the chances of her being able to see past it swiftly diminishes. The next thing that happens is her play changes, she skips practice and any potential future footballing opportunity is lost.
That happens day in and out. Not just in sport but in business the world-over. ‘I can’ slides seamlessly into ‘I can’t’ – preventing us reaching our full potential.
The thing is Kylain Mbappe has proven himself an exceptional footballer. His performance has been compared to Pele in 1958. If all the world’s footballers from the last 60 years had let their internal narratives compare themselves to him, I suspect the game, and its history, would look very different today.
There will always be exceptional people – some of them shine and others squander their natural brilliance. I’ve been fortunate to work alongside many brilliant people but if I’ve learned anything over the years, it’s that perseverance and practice matter most.
My barista was still making my latte as all this ran through my mind.
“I’m just not as good as that… yet,” I said to her.
“What do you mean?” she said.
“You said, you’re just not as good as Kylain Mbappe. I’m saying, you’re just not as good as him… yet.”
She paused a beat. “Ha,” she said surprised. “I’d never thought about it that way before. That’s pretty good.”
It works in business too – just try it.
‘I haven’t got that promotion… yet.’
‘I can’t speak French… yet.’
‘I haven’t got the confidence or skills to speak publicly… yet.’
It takes practice and patience to get good at something. You don’t have to be brilliant from the get go – you just need to set a goal, keep your internal narrative positive and persevere.
Who’d have thought it? Yet. That tiny word has the power to change the course of our life.
With special thanks to the inspirational sportswoman, speaker, mentor and coach, Sarah Winckless MBE, for helping me discover the strength of the simple word – yet.
Alex was employed by internationally-loved household brands to craft their words for two decades. She established not A Duff word in March 2017 to help businesses, brands and boards to wordsmith words that work, master their messages to matter and sculpt standout stories. Her blog ‘early words’ is published Thursday mornings at 07:00.