Insecurities are like Packing Peanuts

Admit it. Every leader has times when they feel insecure. If they don’t, they’re a sociopath (which is actually not that uncommon). If you’re not a sociopath, please, read on. If you are, that’s another article for another day.

I like to describe insecurity as a bunch of those foam packing peanuts. They’re pretty much useless except for one thing… protecting something for a short period of time. 

Confidence can be elusive at times. I’ve been there and I think we’ve all been there. Transitioning to a new job or your first day in the executive office. Imposter syndrome brings a ton of packing peanuts with it. The good news, is that insecurities are something you can work on and make great strides in a short period of time. 

Temporary value

If you consider what packing peanuts are used for, their value is temporary. You have something important being shipped to you and the seller uses packing peanuts to protect it. Congratulations, you just acquired a whole bunch of difficult to recycle garbage along with that great package. Thanks seller.  Likewise, that’s the same path that insecurities can take to get into your head. You are growing, learning, kicking ass and some doubt starts to creep in with those valuable things.

They like to stick to you

The thing about packing peanuts and insecurities is the more you focus on them, the more they tend to stick to you. There’s no use in carrying those things around after your package has been delivered – unless you’re a cat owner. That’s hilarious.

cat packing peanuts

Seriously though, so many people decide that they need to hang on to their insecurities and carry them around with them all the time even though that insecurity, like a packing peanut, has served its useful purpose. Here are some tricks to leave your insecurities behind: 

1. What are you protecting?

Behind every insecurity is something you’re trying to protect. Spend some time to ask yourself what those truths are. Be vulnerable with yourself (it’s great practice to become a better leader too) and dig into the reason you’re doubting yourself. Then ask yourself what you can do about it. It can be treated like a problem just like most in business, except you are the company, the CEO and the Board of Directors. You might not be able to solve an external pressure that’s making you insecure, but you can control how you choose to feel about it. Many insecurities creep up within us due to external forces such as someone saying we aren’t good at a particular aspect of work or life. Is that actually true or a reflection of that person’s insecurity that they’re trying to ship your way? Chances are you’re better than you think. You’re on your way to higher confidence just by understanding yourself.

2. Mostly air

It’s interesting, packing peanuts are made from expanded foam. They’re terrible for the environment and they’re mostly air. Same goes for insecurities. 

Insecurities can stick to you and grow like packing peanuts, if you panic and flail, they’ll just stick to you harder. But if you take a bit of the to focus on them, you’ll see the problem isn’t as big as it looks and it’s solvable.

3. Apply some heat

After determining your insecurity is smaller than it looks (or even if it’s a real biggie), ask yourself how important it is to you. Remember, great leaders focus on leveraging strengths. Perhaps you’ve been feeling insecure about something that in the big scheme of your career or business isn’t actually all that important. Drop it like it’s hot!

If that thing you’re protecting has some legitimate insecurity protecting it then tackle it like you already know how.

Take small steps but set goals that will destroy that insecurity and send new ones running for the hills. 

That action plan applies pressure and heat to insecurities and they will begin to melt away. In the case of packing peanuts, hopefully you have a recycling depot nearby so those little buggers can be transformed into something better.

4. Stick to it, not vice versa

Remember at the beginning of this article I talked about packing peanuts sticking to us? Now it’s time to flip the script and stick to the plan to eliminate them. Find ways to keep yourself accountable to reaching your interim and final goal. Focus on your strengths to keep that momentum going.

Coaching can help

Working with an Executive Coach can help you deal with the times you feel insecure. Together we can identify them, prioritize them, put together an action plan and stay accountable to your goals.  Reach out and learn more about how C.J. can help you build more confidence and kick those insecurities to the curb.