If You Think You Can, You Can!

 By Nicki Gilmour, Executive Coach and Organizational PsychologistNicki Gilmour

Recently as part of a paper I was writing, I was examining the elements that increase self-efficacy and improve goal setting for executives.

What makes some people believe that they can do it when others have such doubt?  Competence assumed, what are the necessary things to be in place for a professional to achieve their goal? It seems that self-reflection, forethought, intentionality and self-reactiveness are the researched pre-requisites to have to succeed. This makes sense as you need to think about what you want and plan to go for it, with the ability to reflect and act during the course of the task or job (also closely tied to adult learning theories).

So, what stops us from believing that all we have to do is set a goal and put a plan in place to achieve it? In my experience, it seems that it is our inner gremlins that stop us, the nagging self-talk that plays as part of our constant inner theater. We have thoughts and whether they are then implicit (unconscious) or explicit beliefs, they lurk in our minds with emotions and fears attached to them, telling us that we will fail, or look stupid or disappoint someone.

I realized a while ago that I am in the business of killing gremlins because you do not have to be held hostage by the paradigms that have formed or those that have been given to you by your upbringing (family or societal messaging). You literally do not have to believe all that you think to be true. Take the assumptions and put them on the table to understand what is really going on, so you can address what is getting in your way, unpack it emotionally and move on in your life and at work.

Easier said than done? Think about a goal for a second. Mine is running a 5k race and getting fit as I am aware that I want to stay alive for my family and enter middle age in good shape. The problem is I do not really run very often. This behavior is not matching up with the goal and in any normal advice column I would tell the person, in this case myself, to make a plan and stick to it. Sounds simple, right? Wrong, it is not that simple.

Why do rational people who really want to achieve a goal and have a history of knocking the ball out of the park on everything they do, get stuck on small but important goals? Well, like everyone else, I tell myself things to justify what I do or don’t do. Specifically in this case that I do not have time to run more than I do and that working is what I need to do.  That is my hidden competing agenda. The gremlin is lurking because it is really my fear of failure that is telling me I do not have time, not anything else. See how this works? To reframe and get on with it, you have to kill the gremlin.

If you would like to have me as your coach (or one of my associates) to kill those gremlins together, then book a free exploratory chat  or email me at as we are taking on Fall/ Winter clients -places are limited.