CEO Talk Back: Why Not You?

By Natalie Michael, CPHR

Mindset is an interesting thing.  It can mess with you, or contribute to your success in powerful ways.

Over the course of the last three years I have had to really work on my mindset because I have been pushing myself in my career.  About three years ago I started to run MacKay CEO forums and I found myself facilitating workshops with some of the top CEOs in our province—talk about fuel for the inner critic—and I wrote two books on succession planning which will be published in early 2017.

Yikes!  Vulnerability at it’s core.

Getting From Here to There
As I stretched myself in these ways I was hard on myself.  Some days I thought I would explode because my mindset was so negative and fueled with doubt. The thoughts in my head were nasty:  “You are not good enough to be here.  You have nothing valuable to say.  You have no value in this room. You suck. You are a failure.Who do you think you are?”  Oh, it was painful.

Then one day I was at a restaurant having a drink with a few of the CEOs in one of my groups.  I asked one of the fellows a powerful question:  What was the moment where everything changed for you?  The moment when you started to believe in yourself and really make things happen in your company and your life?  His answer has profoundly impacted me, and I hope it impacts you too.

Turning the Tables on Self-Doubt
That day, he told me a story about a moment in his career where he dreamed of building his company, but feared he would not.  In that moment, he didn’t feel good enough, significant enough or talented enough to make his dream come true.

Then, he caught himself, and turned the tables on his thinking. He paused, reconnected with his dream, and asked himself an important question:  Why not me?  Why, can’t I be the guy that does this?  He couldn’t come up with one single reason that he believed to be true, really true.

From this moment on, he started asking himself this question every time he wanted to achieve something so big it scared him:  Why not me?

A Growing Success? Why Not?
As time went on, and things evolved in his business he changed the question to:  Why not us?  He embedded this question into the fabric of his executive team.  Why can’t we be the ones to win the national contract?  To be the best in the industry?  To have an amazing culture?  To have state of the art facilities?

You won’t be surprised to learn that his team is top of their industry, they win some of the most competitive bids in the country, and the company is recognized as having one of the most admired cultures in Canada.

The Single Question Impact
However, the point of this story is that his little question has profoundly inspired and changed me.  It has re-calibrated my mindset, and I hope it can do the same for you.

Now, when I have those moments when I am filled with doubt, and I feel insignificant, I put in a little extra effort to connect to my dream—and, then I ask myself:  Why not me?  Why can’t I be the one on this earth to make this dream come true?  Why not me?!   Just like our CEO, it’s hard to come up with a solid answer that sticks.

Why Not You? Why Not Now?
So, this begs the question.  What is your dream?  Why, can’t you be the person on this planet who makes your dream come true?  Why not you?

My hunch is that even though your inner critic may give you all sorts of reasons for why you are not significant enough to make your dreams come true, if you really think about it none of the reasons offered will be all that good.

It can be you.

I hope it’s you.

Why not you?

Natalie Michael, CPHR is a CEO and executive coach with the Karmichael Group and a MacKay CEO Forums chair. She coaches executives who want to extract more meaning from their work, refine their leadership style, and be more influential in challenging (and sometimes political) environments.

(PeopleTalk Winter 2016)

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