It all begins with one question.
In Oprah Winfrey’s time interviewing over 37,000 people on her famous show – from Barack Obama to Beyoncé to regular people with fascinating stories – she said there was one question guests asked her most often.
This question reveals some interesting insights into the one thing that could be holding you back from achieving your full potential and enjoying every minute of your success.
Let’s explore that question and what it takes to be good enough.
The big question.
Chances are, you know someone who really stands out. It could be someone you know well, maybe someone you work with or have encountered in your personal life. Or it could be singer, actor or world leader who regularly takes to the stage and people can’t help but pay attention and listen.
Many stars like this will have been interviewed on the Oprah Winfrey Show back in the day. Their sense of confidence and self assurance can radiate through the screen. Which make the question Oprah says so many of her guests asked her, once the cameras had been turned off, so surprising.
They asked in some form – ‘Was that okay?’
Now this may seem such a simple question but it’s very revealing.
It didn’t matter how seemingly important or famous the person was, it didn’t matter how many fans they had, how many newspapers wrote about them or how many people talked about them. Oprah’s guests still needed reassurance that they were good enough.
If you’ve ever doubted in yourself and your abilities, it’s sometimes reassuring to know you’re not alone.
But true validation can never come from outside, it always has to come from within. Because, although feedback can be useful, you need an internal compass to measure it against. That’s because people’s opinions can vary so you need some way of deciding for yourself whether you are indeed okay.
What you really want to know.
Oprah was so fascinated how many people were asking her the one question that she says she began to track it. In doing this, she discovered people weren’t just trying to find out whether they were good enough. They were really asking: ‘Did you hear me?’ and ‘Did what I say mean anything to you?’
This tells us something important. Whenever we’re communicating, whether it’s a conversation over coffee with a close friend or a speech being delivered to a room full of people at a conference, we want to be seen and heard. It’s not enough just to speak. We need connection and to create meaning.
When it comes to growing your influence and impact, it’s inevitable that you’ll need to get more visible. You’ll need to step out of your comfort zone and reach new people in new settings in new locations. You may find yourself talking to bigger groups about bigger topics and bigger challenges.
Every time you step it up, it’s easier for doubt to creep in. It’s easier to start questioning yourself, to think you’re not good enough. You may even feel like an imposter, like any minute people will find out that you don’t really know what you’re talking about, that you don’t belong here.
Why we doubt ourselves.
The reason we can doubt ourselves in a way that we would doubt no one else is because we have too much information. We know every detail about every strength, weakness and flaw within us. Whereas, when we see other people, all we see is the glossy exterior and maybe the odd crack from time to time if they let us see it. So, we’re not comparing ourselves fairly at all.
And, think about your inner critic – that one that natters away inside your head – sometimes at the most crucial moments – would you let it talk to your friends and colleagues the way you let it talk to yourself? That inner critic can be so harsh that, in some workplaces, it would be up for a disciplinary or even given the sack. So put it in its place!
But, how do you know if you are good enough? How do you know if you’re doing ‘okay’ as Oprah puts it?
The answer has two parts.
- Believing that you are already enough. You already matter. Not because of anything you have – or will – do or achieve but because of who you are. Truly appreciating yourself in all your uniqueness, is so important. This doesn’t mean that there’s not space to continually learn and grow but that you are here for a reason and you deserve success!
- Are you making the impact you desire? Whether your work is ‘good enough’ depends on your goals. To answer that you need to ask yourself what success looks like for you and how you’re doing in terms of the ambitions you’ve set for yourself. Do you have the influence you need? Are you being seen and heard and are you creating meaning? Do you feel are you succeeding in the way you intend? Tap into your internal compass.
How to make an impact.
There are three levels to making an impact that you need to truly get that feeling that you are making progress with your ambitions.
1. Are you creating connection?
When you talk to people, are you getting their attention? When you tell them your story, what it is you do, the difference you make, the results create, the products you create, the services you deliver – whatever it is – are they listening? Does what you’re saying seem to resonate? Can they relate?
2. Are people eager to engage?
It’s not enough to be one-way in your communication if you want to build relationships with people. To have true influence you have to start a conversation and that is a two-way thing. Are you opening up a discussion? Are you getting people involved? Rather simply building a following, are you building a community?
3. Are you inspiring action?
The true test of whether you are being seen and heard is whether people feel compelled to act. Whether you’re trying to inspire change, sell a product, or another goal, is it happening? Are people spreading the word and recommending you to others? Is your audience growing, are you getting great reviews, making sales, achieving results?
That’s ultimately what you need to track because then you’ll know if you’re making the impact you desire and you’ll be closer every day to achieving your ambitions.
You deserve to be seen and heard.
If you think you have any weaknesses in any of the three levels above, begin with creating strong and meaningful connections with people and working you way up. Make sure what you say means something to them by being relatable.
Keep your audience at the forefront and ask yourself, how can I create greater connection, more engagement and inspire action that aligns with my goals in a way that is true to who I am? Your visibility and success will then grow in amazing ways.
But remember, whatever your stage, you are always good enough.
- The one thing holding so many people back from achieving and enjoying the success they deserve is knowing they are enough. You are enough and you matter. You are here for a reason.
- The second thing you may be questioning is whether your impact it good enough. Feedback is useful but as opinions can vary, ultimately, validation needs to come from within. Use the goals and intentions you’ve set yourself as a compass.
- There are three levels to growing your impact and influence so you can be seen and heard in a meaningful way. You need greater connection, engagement and to inspire action aligned with your vision and goals.