Balancing Self-Awareness and Self-Belief
Balance like a Bike
Successful creative projects are kind of like riding a bike. Here's why:
One wheel is self-belief, and the other is self-awareness. The handlebars are your creativity guiding the direction of where you ride.
I've crashed many times because one of my wheels falls off. I've learned that my ideas aren't going anywhere if it's not being supported by both self-belief and self-awareness first.
On their own, self-belief and self-awareness are mostly ineffective for any long-term success. In order to build work that lasts, they must be running in tandem, like a bicycle.
Why is that hard? Because they actively work against each other in day-to-day life. Trust me, I feel the pain of this on a moment-to-moment basis.
The Four Personas
As I've spent time thinking about how to simultaneously be self-aware and have self-belief, I've identified 4 mental personas I encounter in myself. They've helped me find clarity in trying to balance these two seemingly opposing forces.
Persona 1) The Repeller
The Repeller is the persona that other people love to hate. Why? They have no self-awareness and seemingly infinite self-belief.
A Repeller can be incredibly effective in the short term. They can get a lot done by sheer will and brute force. But they tend to not do very well in the long term. Why? Because no one wants to work with them based on their lack of self-awareness.
It's no fun to be around a Repeller.
The Repeller's common phrase → "I just tell it like it is"
Persona 2) The Floater
I think The Floater is the saddest persona because they've lost their self-belief and self-awareness. One example I think of is 'the grumpy dude in the office'. The one who seems miserable and makes sarcastic comments about how hard life is all the time.
Floaters feel invisible. Life has probably let them down, and they find comfort in negativity. They've been conditioned to believe that if they don't aspire for more, they won't be hurt by the inevitable disappointments to come.
The Floater's common phrase → "I'm not a pessimist, I'm a realist!"
Persona 3) The Imposter
The Imposter is paralyzed by a fear of failing and is deeply aware of their deficiencies. So much so, that they never take meaningful action to improve their situation.
This persona never quite feels like they fit. This is where imposter syndrome comes from. A feeling of not believing you've earned what you have or that you will be exposed as a fraud in no time. It's a painful cycle to try and break.
The Imposter's most common phrase → "I'll do it someday."
Persona 4) The Builder
The Builder is the perfect blend of self-belief and self-awareness. This is where we stop second-guessing and start doing. Where we iterate on ideas instead of quit them. This is where fulfillment and achievement collide.
It's difficult to be a builder, but it is possible. No matter which wheel tends to loosen up on your bike, you can always take a moment to pull over and tighten it again.
The Builder's most common phrase → "Let's do this."
The good news is you aren't trapped in any state of being. The more conscious you become of the persona you’re inhabiting, the more you can take control of where you want to go.