Ask the Pro – Two Phrases by Angela Grace

Listening is what I do.  I find small phrases often make the biggest impact.  Two phrases have significantly improved my perspective and attitude and I’m curious if they affect you the same way.

Phrase 1:  “It’s ok to be a beginner”.  When was the last time someone told you it’s ok to not be an expert, it’s ok to go slow and learn, it’s ok not to have all the answers?  I use this phase often with my coaching and mental health clients and their responses are universal.  They feel immediate relief.   It’s only six words -it’s ok to be a beginner- but those words allow people to find perspective.  We live in a world where we are expected to be experts, expected to keep up with society’s fast pace, expected to do it right the first time, and are impatient with ourselves when our efforts fall short.  The frustration we feel with the breakneck pace of society, and the expectations that go with it, is often overwhelming.  Here is the truth:  it’s ok to be a beginner.   That phrase applies to authors who have written 1, 2, and 3 books, 8, 9, and 10 books.  Every book is a beginning.  Whether you are published or a novice, you have prior experiences that guide your way, but every book needs a start.  Allow yourself to breathe, imagine, and be curious about your writing.  Allow yourself the grace that is rarely afforded us in this content- driven, goal-driven society.  Find relief.

Phrase 2:  “Overcome myself”.  Watching television is not something I routinely do.  However, I enjoy watching Your Business with JJ Ramberg.    JJ’s guest recently discussed her approach to doing tasks that she does not want to do.  She makes a list with the tasks she least wants to do at the top, and gets them done first.  A lot of people use this type of to-do list.  She, however, took it a step further, explaining that she uses this method to “overcome myself.” That phrase -overcome myself- is having a lasting impact on me.  I ask myself questions like, “Do I really need to overcome myself?”  That seems ridiculous.  The answer is, yes, I do.  “What is it about me that I have to ‘overcome myself’?”  “Are some things really that hard that I can’t just do the task, but first have to get past my own self?  The answer is yes.  Sometimes, I have to get past my own self.

As a psychologist, I can say with certainty that one reason people stay stuck and do not move ahead in their lives is because they are unwilling to overcome themselves. Procrastination, fear, resistance, avoidance, and overwhelm can- and usually does- derail best intentions.   It is first personal awareness, and then determination, that allows us to push past the barriers we have set up for ourselves.  Putting this phrase to the test, I created a list of the things I least wanted to do, including making two very difficult phone calls.  I swallowed hard, and did the tasks. The concept still feels very strange to me but, by getting the jobs done, I overcome my own self.  More importantly, self confidence is higher, focus is sharper (because I don’t have unwanted tasks weighing on my mind) and I feel empowered to move ahead.

There are many, many ways to resolve the barriers we set up for ourselves.  What is important is that you start.  If you were born to write, but are not writing because of those barriers, I encourage you to overcome yourself.

Do you think it’s ok to be a beginner?  If you were going to be a beginner at something, what would you try first?  In order for you to be a beginner at something, do you need to first overcome yourself?


Angela Grace  MA, LLP, BCC, WCS
Board Certified Life Coach



  1. Thanks very much for this guest column Angela. I am heading back into the office with a difficult task in my sights, absolutely determined to overcome myself. For while I am brilliant on self awareness, I falter on determination. Not today!


    • Hi Millie- How did it go “overcoming” yourself on that difficult task? Thanks for the encouraging comment. I appreciate knowing that you tried out the idea.


      • Big success! Thanks!
        Your thoughts on overcoming yourself reminds me of advice to introverts on thriving in a world designed for extoverts. Apparently, the secret is to ‘act like an extrovert’ a few times a day.
        Those periods of overcoming yourself satisfy others’ expectations and give you room to be yourself the rest of the time…
        Looking forward to seeing your next column!


    • Szegerton, glad to hear you thought the ideas are useful. Overcoming myself is a mindset first and action second. Are you planning to give it a try?


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