Don’t let *could* be the enemy of great

If there’s one thing I hear from my rebel clients time and time again, it’s “I could do ____.” Yes, of course you could! You’re a fast thinker and dot connector with myriad interests. You’ve proven that you’re a quick study, picking up a variety of skills and know-how throughout your life.

The double-edged sword of being a human Swiss Army Knife is that you could do a lot of things.

One of my clients is a successful CEO who is selling her business over asking price. We’re working together to define her next chapter in which she gets to do what she loves instead of slaving away for the money.

She can get distracted by the idea of executive coaching. And yes, she absolutely could do that. Many of her friends tell her so.

But feel the difference in energy between these statements:

“I could do that…” versus “HELL YES, I was born to do that!”

Wouldn’t you rather do the latter?

For her, executive coaching isn’t a hell yes. It doesn’t tap into the unique problem that only she can solve AND has a great passion for solving. Not only that, but she’d be a tiny drop in an ocean of executive coaches who have been doing that particular job for years.

But still, it lures her away from where her heart is. And she’s certainly not unique; I and many others have been caught in the could trap. I’ve seen a couple reasons for this:

There’s already a path

It’s really easy to be lured by prestige and financial rewards… especially when we have skills in those areas. “I could do that” makes it far too easy to wander down the shiny, well-trodden path when in fact blazing our own authentic trail will generate far more rewards, emotional and otherwise.

Aiming to please

Could can also send us off track when we’re wired to be helpful. People come to us because we’re good problem-solvers… and because we could solve their problem, we do. It’s justified because we love feeling helpful, and it really doesn’t take us that long.

But all of these little detours away from Hell Yes take their toll. They bog us down and fill up our calendars. We expend a lot of energy supporting other people’s dreams instead of our own.

Yes, it’s hard to turn the spotlight on ourselves. There’s a discomfort in truly being seen, or it can create feelings of guilt. But there’s nothing more inspiring than the sight of another human being who’s standing fully in their power, clear on their YES and NO, and flowing instead of striving.

So how do we avoid the could trap?

Start with WHO, not why

In my former life as a customer-centric strategist, I’d always start with the customer. Nowadays I start with the leader: who are you? What lights you up? What would inspire you to jump out of bed each morning? What are both your Hell Yesses and your limitations, and how can we turn those limitations into strengths?

From there, we can look at other WHOs. Your team, customers… even personal relationships. What emotional resonance can be created that unifies and unlocks collective potential around a shared Hell Yes?

With WHO serving as a firm foundation, you can more easily identify the Why, What and How of your business and operating model. You then can enter the flow of doing what you were born to do…. confidently and unapologetically.

I’d love to hear from you. In what ways has could been the enemy of great in your life or work?

PS. The exact same principles apply whether it’s for your personal life, starting a business, or steering a global company. If you’re an entrepreneur or business leader who’s curious about Start with Who, let’s chat.

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