“John, go home”, “Look at yourself, you are sick. You need to go home and get better.” I nod my head in submissive realisation that he is probably correct. I was not well. I had a severe head cold. My ears were ringing, my nose was constricted forcing me to mouth breath only and to top it off I was perspiring from a fever. I walked out of my project manager’s office at the time feeling like a complete and utter failure. Why?

Driving home was one of the longest trips I had ever had, it seemed interminably long. The odd part about the trip was that I was conforming to all the different speed limits but my mind and thoughts weren’t. What will he think? (Referring to my Project Manager) what will my work colleagues say? What if there is a problem at work and they go to look for me? What will he say? What will they do? What if? What if? What if?……….It did not let up on me. I was torturing myself with question after question, negative thoughts and scenarios played out one after another and they grew bigger as every moment that passed. Again, I ask WHY?

It was my values which were at fault. My values which I had told me to measure myself as a person based on what I decided my values were. The problem was that at this point of time I didn’t have good values when it came to myself. I had and still have all the sympathy and empathy for all people around me, whether I have known them for a long time or just met them. I judged each individual on our interaction with each other and gave them the benefit of the doubt and if I can help them in some way, I will. That’s what I told myself a good person needs to do to in order to be considered a good person. But somewhere along the line I forgot to create and have those values for myself. I had no sympathy or empathy towards myself. I judged myself and marked myself in the harshest and strictest way possible. No flexibility or margin for error. That inner critic in me was harder than the old headmaster. With a ruler to break across my knuckles if I made any error at all even the slightest was considered a failure by me. Failure, in my book was completely unacceptable.

I had to take a step back that day. I needed to go deep within myself and ask myself question after question. The process I used was to talk to myself in the third person and ask, why am I so harsh on myself. The conclusion for me was that I had poor values when it came to work. I valued myself for what my boss might think. I valued myself on what my co-workers thought. But I had no idea what my boss or co-workers thought. I was the one which was filling in the blanks. The blanks being what they thought. There was no truth to it. My inner critic was filling in the spaces. My inner critic, the one that had being torturing me on the way home that day in the car was in charge of filling in the area of the unknown. That’s a definite recipe for disaster. Where did my inner critic come from though? It came from another value that I must be perfect at work to succeed. Where did I have to be perfect at work to be successful come from?…….From every single picture and video I have ever seen showing a boss, owner, entrepreneur and employee in a perfect still shot gloating success.

These days I have no fear or shame in showing my faults to anyone and to you the reader. I encourage you to challenge your thinking and to ask why do you think a certain way. Look into yourself and your values and ask yourself are they your values or are they manufactured. Have you placed a value somewhere in your life where you haven’t really thought about it but have cut and pasted a value because you have seen it or been conditioned to believe it? Has the marketing machine of the world changed and influenced your values? Do your values allow you to fail? If not, why not? The difference between you and I and the most successful people in the world is that they have failed more than you and I. We only see their end result. Not their painful journey.

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