A few years back my mother and I were hooked on a hugely popular TV show in the UK called "Faking It." Each episode featured someone in hot pursuit of a crazy dream. An example that sticks in my mind is the person who wanted to compete in a high level show jumping event, when they'd never sat on a horse before.
The aspiring equestrian was allocated to a trainer, who had just 4 weeks to groom them to a level where they could hold their own against people who'd been riding practically since the cradle. The episode culminated with a jumping competition where a panel of expert judges were challenged to identify the phony. That week's faker actually pulled it off, fooling the judges into believing they were a professional rider. I've found "fake it till you make it" to be a very useful maxim, coupled with its necessary precursor "Just Say Yes". I don't mean "say yes" indiscriminately to any random offer.
The yes is for those opportunities that are a little bit frightening, but which you know have the potential to bring you closer to your goals. Just saying yes got me started as a freelance writer. The editor of a local family magazine was looking for new writers and she approached me about profiling a maths teacher at a nearby school. "Yes of course" I responded airily, having never interviewed anyone before in my life. I remember being greeted by the school's receptionist with the words "Ah good, you're the journalist." I was completely taken aback: I never dreamt that anyone would mistake me for a bona fide journalist.
Surely it was transparently obvious that I wasn't the real thing? Wasn't Rank Amateur stamped indelibly across my forehead? Whilst I still wouldn't consider myself a journalist, given the specialist training that profession requires, I do now feel comfortable thinking of myself as a writer. But the really interesting point is that others perceived me as one long before I did. What would you like to do or become? What small step can you say YES to? Don't worry if, after saying yes, you feel a complete fraud. This is where the faking it comes in: it takes time to grow into a new role. When I set up my coaching practice, I knew I wanted to give it a name that would pull me forward, that would dare me to be bolder and more imaginative than I actually felt ready to be.
And so Cows From My Window was born. However it was many months before I felt at ease with its eccentricity. I dreaded signing myself in when visiting offices, and would meekly scribble my own name instead. If pushed for a company name, I'd mutter "oh don't worry, they're expecting me," retreat quickly to the sofa and bury my head in a magazine. I've learnt over time though that others just don't see all our internal angst.
People are far more accepting of us than we are of ourselves. And we do grow into our new selves, as long as we've chosen them consciously and in line with what we believe in. So if you were to be the next star of Faking It, what (maybe not so crazy) dream would you be going for?.
Sarah Cooper is a career and personal coach who specialises in working with people who want to put their passions at the heart of what they do. Before qualifying as a coach, Sarah worked first as a solicitor before moving to the voluntary sector, where she worked in marketing for 8 years for two of the UK's leading charities. To kick start your transition to working at something you love, visit http://www.cowsfrommywindow.com