Editor’s Note: Guest Post by Vanessa from daremytruth.com
If you’re lucky, the thing you most want to do in life plays right to your strengths. It’s like you were made for the job.
But what if that dream job requires one of your biggest weaknesses? Does that mean you have to find something else?
The movie The King’s Speech suggests not. Based on a true story, when King George V’s son Bertie (played by Colin Firth) unexpectedly takes the throne, he must overcome a debilitating stutter to rally his country’s support at the onset of WWII. Talk about pressure!
His journey is facilitated in large part by an unconventional speech therapist named Lionel (Geoffrey Rush) but also his own drive to succeed.
A weakness doesn’t have to hold you back if you are willing to dig deep, adapt and persist. Based on the movie, here are 5 steps to help you overcome your biggest obstacles, especially the ones inside:
1. Don’t treat the symptom, attack the root cause.
Bertie believed his speech impediment was due to a physical deficiency, but his speech therapist knew it had more to do with childhood trauma. Until Bertie was willing to go deeper and address his inner voice, he could not be helped in a significant way with his outer voice.
Regardless of your background, nearly everyone suffers some sort of childhood “trauma.” The result may not be as obvious as a speech impediment—maybe you “can’t do math.” You may have lived with the trait so long that, like Bertie, you mistakenly believe it can’t be fixed.
Finding your inner voice can be easier when you write (at least journaling has that effect on me). Set aside time, get comfortable, and find the source of those nasty whispers in your head about what you can and can’t do and the reasons why. This will help you with the next step.
2. Don’t be afraid to seek a non-traditional “expert.”
If you’ve gone it alone without success, it’s time to let someone else help.
Lionel’s method of speech therapy was unconventional at the time because he focused on the psychology. He wasn’t a trained doctor, but gained an experiential degree in humanity through healing WWI veterans from shock. Here are some tips on finding the right expert:
- Don’t get caught up in credentials or years of experience–referrals, reputation and your own vibe can be more valuable.
- Request to speak with a past client for more insight into his/her methodology (if he/she isn’t open to that, it can be a warning sign).
I’ve seen a counsellor myself at a couple different points in my life and while she wasn’t a miracle worker, years later I ended up following her advice (when I was ready). And it felt nice to have an objective ally at critical decision points in my life.
3. Look for small victories.
(*spoiler alert) To overcome Bertie’s negative internal feedback, his therapist had him don headphones with music while reciting Shakespeare, drowning out his own voice. When he listened to the recording days later, he was shocked to hear his voice deliver the piece perfectly.
It can be planned or unplanned, but proving you can overcome your weakness even once, even in a small way, will fuel your motivation to keep persisting. Need more proof? Small wins is the basis of Jen’s Everyday Courage series.
4. Develop tricks that work for YOU.
The previous King had read radio announcements where everyone could see him, an approach that wouldn’t work well for Bertie. Instead, he used a private room redecorated to a place of comfort, with an open window for fresh air to reduce anxiety. The nation couldn’t see Bertie and had no idea where he was when he gave his speeches and it didn’t matter.
Have you caught yourself in limited thinking or wanting to exactly mimic someone else’s approach, and then end up disappointed in yourself as a result? Brainstorm on your own, or with your expert, ways to approach a difficult task differently so that you can feel comfortable and be successful. Don’t feel bad or self conscious about your modifications – if the end result is strong, that is all that matters.
5. Find an ongoing mentor/accountability partner.
The very presence of Bertie’s therapist was so comforting he had him attend every speech or announcement he gave. If you cannot afford your expert’s ongoing support (you aren’t royalty after all), try to find a mentor who can provide the same kind of advice/support to help you face those high pressure moments.
The last word
No matter what background you come from, experiences from your past have likely planted the “I Can’t” seed. If your passion and heart get fired up by an idea you think you can’t do, it is worthwhile identifying all the other traits you possess that will support your goal. Then develop a thoughtful plan of attack to deal with your weakness.
It won’t completely disappear and it won’t stop challenging you, but the crowning glory can be yours.