Whatever It Is, Just Say It

Note: There’s a chance to win two excellent books at the end of this post, so you’re going to want to check that out…

We tend to avoid difficult truths about ourselves. We go to unimaginable lengths to hide from them. We find palatable ways to couch our challenges and focus on enhancing our strengths rather than tackling our weaknesses. We ignore our real problems and overcome the easy ones. For some, this is a successful technique, but for many it’s what holds us back. For us, the lies we tell ourselves shape our lives more than any of the choices we make.

Lately I find myself gravitating towards the work of those who put themselves out there. Their honesty encourages my own. And while many have honest moments, two stick out amidst the rest.


The first should be a given to readers of the site; I’ve always been in awe of the honesty that Yuvi Zalkow infuses into his work. While he goes about it with humor, he always manages to do so without letting the self-deprecation get in the way of the self-actualization. Many, including myself, tend to use self-deprecation as a deflection, but Yuvi has a gift for using it as a driving force. It’s a tool that helps him move his work forward, no matter how terrifying it is to him. His willingness to talk openly about his crippling fear helps him overcome it. His ability to talk honestly about failure helps me push through my own fear of it.


More recently, I had my life impacted by the honesty of David Finch. David’s examination of his struggles with Aspergers, and the effect it on his capacity for empathy, was eye opening for me. His willingness to share how this (and other) shortcomings were contributing to the destruction of his marriage forced me to face something that I was successfully ignoring: my own ADHD was impacting more than my focus and follow through, the same impulsivity that creates professional challenges was also creating serious personal ones.

Face It

Getting over or through your challenges doesn’t start with action (although at some point it’s required), it begins with acknowledging them. You have to know what you’re dealing with or, oftentimes, you end up solving the wrong problems. You have to be aware of the obstacles that you continue to throw at yourself. The more I face and talk through my challenges, the closer I get to the real problems, the underlying struggles that keep me from getting where I want to go. The more I deal with these, the farther I find I’m able to go.

Guys like Yuvi, David and, hopefully, myself choose to do this openly. While I certainly wouldn’t recommend this for everyone, I can tell you that it starts by being honest with yourself. And if you really want tackle the terrifying parts, you need to be honest with those you love. It’s already difficult enough to do this with their awareness and support; it’s impossible without it.

You’re Not Alone

I also benefit greatly from finding people who are willing to talk about their struggle and find courage despite it. Since I’ve been so inspired by both David and Yuvi’s work (and to celebrate the fact that David’s book is now available in paperback), I’d like to share what they’ve created with one of you. David’s Journal Of Best Practices was a game changer for me; it helped me accept the effect my wiring was having on the relationships that matter to me most. Yuvi’s Brilliant Novel In The Works, while only a quasi-memoir, shares just how challenging it was for Yuvi to get out of his own way and get his creation into the world; it’s a constant reminder to push through, even when I think I can’t or shouldn’t.

Need An Example?

If you’d like to win a copy of both of their books, here’s what you need to do… Put yourself out there, share something, anything, that you have’t been willing to put out into the world. You can do this below in the comments, privately in the contact form or if you want to do it on your own site (just share your post with the hashtag #JustSayIt, mostly so I can be lazy when looking for them). Give a voice to whatever it is that’s been nagging at the back of your mind, but that you’ve been unwilling to say. At the end of the week, I’ll randomly choose one person to receive a free copy of two books that have gone a long way towards helping me deal with a few of the challenges that have been nagging at mine. Hopefully they’ll help you to overcome your own.

This post includes affiliate links, because I’m shameless and because I think you’ll like the things I’m linking to.

16 Responses to Whatever It Is, Just Say It

  1. Well, I already have a (signed!) copy of Yuvi’s book… :) Where is he? I’m making a mental note to harass him today.

    I know, I know. I haven’t said anything about my own struggles. We already know mine, right? I’m a recovering perfectionist who has issues with accepting compliments?

    • He’s hiding, likely in the midst of some shame cycle :) It seems like you’ve come a long way on overcoming the perfectionism, but how goes the acceptance of compliments… I’m nowhere with it :)

      • Perhaps I have. You’re probably a better judge of that than I am. Compliments? I don’t know. I have this irrational fear that I’m going to awaken one morning and no longer be able to write or draw. Silly, I know.

        Thank you for tweeting with me yesterday. It was a bright spot in the day. :)

  2. I’m scared that I’m not going to make it with what I’m attempting to do with my life. I’m afraid my attempts at staying clean will be sullied and I’ll fall back into a dank dark pit of despair and I’ll lose it all.

    This thought has been gnawing at me lately, and I don’t know how to handle it.

    It’s a terribly scary thought. #JustSayIt

    • I just read this quote today:

      “Too many people miss the silver lining because they’re expecting pure gold. Positive thinking isn’t about expecting the best to always happen, but accepting that whatever happens is the best for the moment” ~ Carolyn Jenkinson

      • I know this is through the lens of Productivity, but I’ve always thought that Eddie Smith’s thoughts on the subject of failling to hold to the things that are important to us is just so true. The way he considers slips and failures has always been interesting and helpful for me. I don’t know that I’d entirely agree that it’s always the best in the moment (or perhaps I’m just reluctant to accept that), but the idea that it’s a moment and that the next one can be better is always helpful for when I, often, fall short. Here’e the link to his thoughts: http://www.practicallyefficient.com/2011/09/09/arrow/

        • I really like that. Thank you for sharing that link. I follow his RSS feed but haven’t actually delved into his archives before. Having read this, I’m considering going on an Instapaper-fueled Read Later binge.

      • The unfortunate reality is that for a lot of people like me, having been homeless the last two months in Sudbury and Timmins before I moved to Toronto – we don’t expect any lining anymore. We’re fed scraps and we have no real hope. It just descends into a whirlwind of poisons and finding whatever escapes we could.

        Positive thinking is something I’m working back towards. But it’s taking some time to get there.

    • Thank you for sharing this Brandon. I hope you know it’s brave as hell. I can’t imagine the struggle that comes with this, but to some extent I know what it’s like to have to actively try daily not to succumb to something you feel you can’t control. I hope that you have the right people that you talk to about it reguarly. That has always helped me in the moments where I feel like “it” (in my case, my wiring) might win. When I feel like my wiring is winning, they always help me find firm ground beneath my feet. I hope you have the same.

      • I grew up in that whole punk rock scene, in the Northern Ontario region – where it wasn’t so much about the values but the miscellaneous drug use and violence. It took me a long time to realize that that isn’t what punk was about and I tried to steer clear of it and discover for myself what it was.

        I became a heavy drinker the last year or two and was starting to become non-functional, if you will. I was drinking at work, drinking every night. You know it’s a problem when you say you’re going a week sober and people are shocked in disbelief.

        I left Northern Ontario and recently moved to Toronto, into my father’s place. To kind of rebuild and reassess. Looking at my life through the lenses of OmniFocus and MoneyWell kinda leaves me shocked at how far I am in debt, how much work I have to do before I can break into the computer industry (high school drop out with a problem handling responsibility) – and sometimes it just becomes too much.

        I mean, my passion is programming and the only work I can find that will hire me on is temp labour. And I’m not exactly built for that (though, I’m pushing myself through it).

        It’s hard work trying to stay away from the bars when it’s so easy to just walk in and order a double-whiskey and continue doing so for the rest of the night until I wake up in another strange place – but so far, I’m managing.

        But the temptation is always there.

  3. I’m a young knowledge worker who was recently promoted , and I’m scared that my skill set won’t be enough excel. Despite applying myself at work, my team isn’t doing well. My people skills and charisma help me coach agents and my study of work flow helps tame a massive workload, but at the end of day I still failed to deliver.

    On top of that, I have a big problem with “productivity porn”.After work, I’m scared that I’ll spend so much time reading about being productive that I’ll never actually accomplish anything, so I feel guilty on both fronts.


    • Your current skill set probably wont be at first, but that’s often what comes with a promotion… the need to grow and the need to cultivate new or stronger skills. I’ve been there, in fact some days I’m still there. The best thing I can tell you is to try to take that “productivity porn” instinct and channel it. Identify the skills you’ll need and the gaps that kept your team from delivering. Don’t just look for a general technique. Get specific. It’s going to take some time, it will probably take some failures, but keep at it. They promoted you for a reason. And you have people skills and charisma, so you’re already a world away from what I’m dealing with :)

      • Thank you for the encouragement. Your use of the word instinct is spot on, now that I think about it. I don’t even think about it what I’m reading when I get home. I think work and “not work” are more closely related than what I like to think! Thanks again, this shook off the funk I was in.

        • Glad it helped. As I get a little bit older and a bit further along in my career, I’m starting to see that line between “personal me” and “professional me” blur. I also see the skills I try to hone impacting both aspects of my life equally. While I try to create balance between the two, the development seems to help with both.

  4. I have a terrible stutter/stammer and I work in customer support. I work in IT support in fact and sometimes I can’t force the words I want to say out of my mouth.

    Those who work with me I am sure have come to tolerate my inability to speak sometimes but it grates on me. Stuttering and stammering is one of those areas where no one really knows what causes it and why it comes and goes. (I’ve looked into it more than a few times.)

    I prefer the printed word because I can be so fluent and eloquent without leaving gaps in my replies and struggling to start a thought.

    Being a highly introverted left puts me squarely into the minority of minorities of the male population of the world which I’ve always found amusing somehow.

    That’s my challenge. Speaking. Spitting out words. Completing sentences. #JustSayIt is ironic because that’s exactly what my problem is. Just. Saying. It.

    • I have a stuttering problem too, and when I was working with a call center for Rogers cable support – I used to stress about it. Eventually, it got to the point where I stopped caring. I was talking with about 100-150 people a day, and only a small handful of them did anything more than an exasperated sigh.

      I’ve worked in kitchens where the head chef had a worse stutter than my own and nobody made fun of it or even seemed thrown off or annoyed by it.

      Maybe it’s because I’ve mostly dealt with Toronto citizens on the phone, or because I now reside in the Toronto area (don’t be creepy) – but where it used to bother me, and having seen it in people high above me and having to work through it for a decent amount of time, you just swallow it down.

      I, too, prefer the printed word – but it eventually comes out. I usually have to turn off my brain and let myself ramble for the right words to come out.

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