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Photo by Jan Tinnegerg on Unsplash

By Jonathan Woolridge, WeAlign Certified Coach

A few months ago, I was driving to work and I kept hearing a thud on my starts and stops. Now I’m no mechanic, but I knew that my car shouldn’t be making that sound.

I dropped my car off and walked to one of my favorite coffee shops nearby.  45 minutes later I got a text message from the shop saying they were finished inspecting my car. As I packed up my computer and walked back to the shop, I couldn’t help but wonder what was causing the noise and how expensive it was going to be to repair it.

When I asked the front desk what the problem was they told me, “it was a bowling ball…”. You heard me right, it was my new bowling ball rolling around in the back. I’m a bowler and had put it there the night before because it needed to have the holes drilled and I didn’t want to forget to drop it off.  I can’t remember a time when I was more embarrassed.

Luckily, the shop didn’t charge me anything and I was on my way, my ego deflating as I tried to laugh it off. While driving back to the office I couldn’t help but see this story as a metaphor for all the times I assumed something was wrong with me, when in reality, my own expectations were rolling around in my head and convincing me of a problem.

The first time I realized the powerful effect of expectations was when I was coached through my CliftonStrengths Assessment. As we dug into my top 5 talents, I was able to give voice to areas of strength that I hadn’t been able to describe before. I could finally articulate who I really was and what areas I needed to focus on if I wanted to experience exponential growth.

As my coach and I got to the end of my assessment, particularly my bottom 5 talents, I realized that I had wrongly believed that I could turn these weaknesses into strengths. This insight was hands-down the most liberating part of being coached through my assessment.

Even though I stubbornly tried to play to my strengths I was still expecting myself to be good at things that were weaknesses. And the most sinister thing about it was that I had no idea the crippling effect it was having on me.  Without the self-awareness I gained through coaching, I would still be carrying that weight around with me, thinking something was wrong, when in reality it was simply a bowling ball rolling around in the back of my car.

What expectations of yourself do you need to let go? You might find that exponential growth is waiting for you if you stop trying to be something you’re not.

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