In The King’s Speech, Colin Firth masterfully plays a man who would be king, if only he could speak. Prince Albert, the Duke of York, is affected by a debilitating stutter that turns his first speech into a humiliating flop. While Prince Albert almost avoids kingship, speaking publicly becomes non-negotiable when his older brother suddenly forsakes the throne for a twice-divorced American woman.
Fortunately, the future King had a coach. The unconventional Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) had been recommended to his wife (Helena Bonham Carter), who was assured by Logue that he could help her husband with his stuttering. Help him he did, but not without resistance.
Logue made demands. He insisted on daily coaching. He would work only in his own office rather than the palace. He used unorthodox methods. He demanded to be treated as an equal, even calling Prince Albert by his nickname “Bertie,” which initially horrified the Duke. (He preferred “Your Highness.”)
But when Logue asked Prince Albert to reveal the emotional roots of the stuttering, inquiring the age it had started and the circumstances at the time, the royals drew the line. The Duke of York was not going to discuss personal matters! He was coming for speech therapy, not a psychological examination!
The royal couple claimed the issue was his tongue, not his childhood. The stuttering was labeled merely a “mechanical problem,” and Logue was instructed to provide strictly “mechanical solutions”. (Of course, the Prince’s inability to speak had deeply emotional roots, as the film reveals in time….)
We are no different. Our obstacles are rarely “just the mechanics,” and yet, we are distracted by trying to solve the easier-to-spot surface issues.
If only we had a different website, a new logo, another degree, or a new sales script. THEN we would succeed! We address the surface issues and not the deeper reasons WHY these excuses have lingered so long. We seek a band-aid when a healing is needed. By neglecting to recognize the underlying problems, the partial solutions only camouflage our core issues.
We focus on tactics, software, and the letters after our names. Perhaps we change products, companies, even industries, failing to recognize that the only thing holding us back is… US. The real obstacles lay at the root level:
- Our disempowering beliefs about money passed down from our parents .
- Our lack of confidence picked up in the school subjects we could not succeed in.
- The misalignment between the success we want and the success we fear.
- Our stories about how we must work hard at things we don’t enjoy to earn money.
- A low sense of self-worth that makes it difficult to ask for what we want and receive it.
- Our lack of trust in Divine assistance and a supportive Universe.
- The judgments we make about wealthy people that lead us to financial self-sabotage. (And so on....)
Our deepest fears rise to the surface and reveal themselves through our actions:
- Our lack of discipline.
- Habitual under-charging.
- The way we procrastinate with “creative avoidance.”
- Our unwillingness to leave our comfort zones.
- The excuses we make.
- Patterns of self-sabotage.
- The way we insist on doing everything ourselves.
- Our refusal to invest in ourselves.
- Resistance to the coaching and mentorship needed for success.
Embarrassing true confession: I spent nearly a year-and-a-half in business without a website. I had several failed attempts and a myriad of excuses to explain this fact. Was it a technical problem? Well, I didn’t have the knowledge to build a website, but there are 100 solutions to that problem. Was it a financial problem? No, I had hired a developer for a full year, but failed to write the text for the site he designed (and I write prolifically).
So what was the problem? In a group coaching/mastermind group, the truth finally came out.
On a not-quite-conscious level, I wasn’t ready to “be seen” yet. Although I had designed and facilitated workshops for years and obtained coaching and training certifications, I was still lacking the confidence to coach people one-on-one for the pay I wanted.
I was… hiding. Hiding by not even existing online. Avoiding networking. Isolating myself in a world where no one could hire me anyway, because they couldn’t find me.
Ready to bust through the real obstacle upon that revelation, I put up two imperfect yet serviceable websites. I did it myself, for less than $30, in one week’s time. The lack of technology know-how or a slim design budget had been merely surface symptoms of the real problem: my own reluctance to be seen.
The following month, I started promoting myself. I set up Biznik Facebook, and LinkedIn profiles, and participated in the conversations. I joined a local networking group. I began writing blog posts and articles (that still bring me clients to this day). In one month, I made more progress on my business than I had made in the previous 18 months.
I didn’t need a new strategy, tactic, or tool, I just needed to get out of my own way.
As Psycho-Cybernetics author Maxwell Maltz says, we are not likely to out-perform our self-image. For the tree to change, we’ve got to start at the roots. We must transform our disempowering thoughts and feelings; challenge the limiting beliefs we’ve learned and inherited. It’s time to expand the identity we’ve adopted that falls short of our potential greatness.
If kings need help now and then, surely mere mortals like us can benefit from a willingness to dig beneath the surface and a skilled advocate to assist. The King’s Speech offers us two worthy role models – the willing Prince and his committed coach. (The supportive wife who sought out Logue also deserves honorable mention.)
Long live your own breakthroughs; may you transform from your "roots" and be royally successful!