We have been taught that if we want to be successful, we need to get out there, work long hours, and take action. We are culturally programmed to believe that success comes from the doing. And while taking action is an important component, it’s not the only component.
If you ever think that you are doing all the things and wonder why they’re still not working, you need to listen in this week. We are human beings, and we are not designed to work endlessly. When we focus only on taking action without doing the inner work necessary to be successful, we end up burning out.
Join me this week as I discuss the concept of inner and outer work, the difference between the two, and how to establish which one you need to do to get the results you want. Discover how to question your outdated beliefs about what it takes to be successful and learn how to do the inner work necessary to achieve your goals. If you are someone who thinks you have to work more hours to get more results, I invite you to consider why you are wrong about this in this episode.
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What You’ll Learn from this Episode:
- Where we go wrong when we only focus on the doing.
- The importance of finding the most efficient way for you to work.
- How to establish where the inner work needs to be done for you first.
- The concept of working smarter not harder and how to apply it in your life.
- How to question the number of hours you’re working and what your beliefs are around this.
- An analogy to help you understand this concept.
- The difference between the inner and outer work.
- Why too many hours are wasted doing things from the wrong thoughts and feelings.
Listen to the Full Episode:
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Welcome to the Get a 6-Figure Job You Love Podcast. This is episode 89, inner work versus outer work.
Hey, there. Welcome to the Get a 6-Figure Job You Love Podcast. I’m your host, Natalie Fisher. I’m a certified career mindset coach who also happens to want to skip all the BS and get to what it really takes to create real results for you and your career. On this podcast, you will create real mindset shifts that will lead to big results and big changes in your career and your income. No fluff here. If you want to get a six-figure job you love and create real concrete results in your industry and make a real impact, you’re in the right place. Are you ready? Let’s go.
All right. So people come to me all the time, and I used to be one of these people that says I’m doing it. I’m doing all the things. Why aren’t they working? And today, I want to break it down. There’s many different ways to articulate this inner work versus outer work, which I’m going to explain, strategy versus mindset, mindset meaning the stories in your head, the sentences in your brain, the approach you take to something, the feelings you have behind it. That all turns into mindset. Whether or not you think it’s going to work or not, whether or not how much you think it’s going to work or not, all that is mindset.
And then the doing, and that’s the inner work, the doing is the simple action. So filling out the application, going into the interview, the words you say, the talking, the simple action that basically could be programmed into a robot and then a robot could do it with no feeling behind it. If you’re a developer, you could write a program and say, “Do this, this, this and this,” and it’ll just carry out actions for you, or a robot could just carry out a bunch of actions if you tell it, “Apply for these things. When you see this type of job description with these words in it, apply for that.” That’s the action.
And the thing that makes an action work is the thought and feeling behind it, what it’s fueled by. And the problem that I keep seeing over and over, and I was stuck in it for so long so there’s no judgment at all, it’s just something that I feel really strongly about needing to get out there for people because of how much time and energy I wasted doing, doing, doing and not getting … I got like little miniature results from doing, doing, doing. And I think it was said perfectly when one of my clients said, “My results do not reflect my effort. I’m putting in so much effort and so much work and my results are piddly.”
And if that’s what you feel like and if you feel like you’re in that cycle, then that’s what I really want to help with. That’s my passion. That’s why I’m doing this, because I discovered it and then I discovered how to do the inner work, and then the big results on the outside started to become easier and I started to see how they were happening. And I started to understand, oh, so that’s how people have become successful. That’s how we get the results. And most people don’t want to do that because they just think it’s more and more and more. They’re like, “Well, I got to apply for more jobs. I got to do more and more and more.”
One thing I heard it said like this, and I forgot who said it, I’m not taking credit for it, but she said, “It’s like you’re pedaling on a bike and you’re pedaling, pedaling, pedaling and then you don’t want to get out off the bike and into a car where you can actually program a GPS.” Slow down for a second. Get off the bike. Be like, okay, I’m not going to be moving for a couple of minutes. I’m just going to get off the bike, get into a car where we’re going to program a GPS and we’re going to plot a chart to where we’re going. We’re going to make some decisions and then we can just drive and it can be cruising. We can go on cruise control. It can be smooth sailing because we know we’re going to get there because now we have a solid mindset around it.
And I was totally the person on the bike who was like pedal, pedal, pedal. If you told me to get off the bike and focus on my mindset, I would be like, yeah, yeah, yeah, I did that already. I’d be like yeah, yeah, I’ve done that. Don’t make me stop. I have to keep going. I have to work harder.
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And some people do achieve success like that too. I was listening to a podcast recently and the woman was talking about how she had achieved success in that way where she was just going, going, going, doing a lot of work. And she said she was in an environment where a lot of other people were the same and they were even achieving at a higher level because they were doing even more than her and so she was feeling pushed to even more, but then inevitably people burn out. People get tired because we’re not designed to be going, going, going, going like that all the time. So it doesn’t work. It’s not a sustainable strategy for getting results. Even if you do get results that way, which I never did so it was like, now that I get it, I get it. And I always start with the inner work, the inner intentional work before I decide to set any goal or go after anything. That’s now what I’ll do.
But I understand some people do get results like that. I didn’t. So if you are or you’re not, either way, it’s not sustainable. It’s not rewarding. It’s not fulfilling. If you’re not getting results, it’s probably frustrating. If you are getting results, it’s probably scary because you think you have to keep up that amount of work all the time and then you have to double it and triple it.
So for example, in my business, it would never work. Say I was posting, I don’t know, 10 … Say I posted 10 times a day and I don’t post that often on LinkedIn, but say I posted 10 times a day on LinkedIn and that brought me in so many new clients. And say it brought me in five new clients a week. I posted 10 times a day. If the only way to increase that was to do more work, it would mean I’d have to post 20 times a day and 30 times a day up until a hundred times a day. That would be the only option for me to continue to increase the amount of people coming to work with me. But that’s not even true because the truth is I can post once a day or once a week. There’s people who post once every two weeks, and they have a sustainable business because it’s not the amount, the volume of the action. And we think this. We’ve just, along the way, picked up this belief. It is the volume of the action. It is the amount of action.
And so what I see happening all the time, the pattern that people fall into is, well, I need to just do more of the same. And they don’t know that they’re thinking that. They’re like, well, I just need to do more. It makes sense. I just need to do more. And for some people, this is the case. If you’re not doing anything, if you’re one of those people who is afraid to fail, afraid to do things, afraid to put yourself out there and you haven’t been doing anything or you haven’t been taking enough action, you haven’t been going on enough interviews, then for you, the case would be, yes, you need to do some more actions, so you can get some more results and some more data. The inner work is still going to be necessary, but you will need to get yourself moving and do the inner work to do that.
But for me, I was a doer. I still am. And it was the opposite problem. I was always just doing way too much and not getting the results and getting really frustrated and getting into this pattern. So you’re either in one of two categories. You’re either like me, how I was, or you are the opposite where you’re afraid to take action. You’re not taking enough action. You’re waiting on something to take action. You’re waiting for things to be perfect. You’re waiting for the right circumstance, the right condition. You’re waiting for something to happen or you’re waiting for somebody else to somehow give you permission or whatever it is. It’s an excuse for not taking the action in the direction of what you really want. And that’s where the inner work needs to be done for you first.
So what we do is we either stay in that same line of thinking, if nobody is telling us or sharing with us how to refresh our thinking, we can easily stay in it. So for me, that was me for a long time and it was just me chasing more actions, chasing more things, being like, oh, well, I’ll need to do this and I’ll need to do this and doing new things, new strategies. Instead of slowing down and being like, okay, what’s the real cause of the problem?
So for my coaching business, any platform will work. I’ve chosen LinkedIn and YouTube as my platforms of choice, but really any platform will work. I could go on Instagram. I could go on Facebook. I could go
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on Pinterest. I could go on, I don’t know what other ones there are, Clubhouse. Anything will work. If I decided that’s my platform of choice, I could build a following there and I could start attracting clients and having … I could find my people on that platform if I decided that. But what I would do is I’d be like, oh, well, I posted on LinkedIn for a few days and that didn’t work so I’m going to go on Instagram. Maybe that’ll work better or I’m going to go on Periscope. Maybe that’ll work better. And it wasn’t that. It was my mindset around any of them, it just wasn’t working, so I kept jumping around and being like, oh, well, it’s this, then it’s this, then it’s this. No, maybe I need to do this.
And really, now that I’ve stuck with LinkedIn for over a year, LinkedIn is the platform that I’ve made work. Not because it works, but because I made it work. So LinkedIn is great because I can make it work for business and you can make it work for getting your job. So I love it for that reason. And I use it to get my jobs and I thought it was great. So I knew that once I did the inner work around making LinkedIn work, that was going to be my platform of choice. But my mistake that I want to highlight is I used to think, oh, that didn’t work. I got to do this.
It’s like with diets. People will be like, well, I tried this diet for a weekend. I didn’t lose very much weight so I’m going to do this other one, but it’s not about the diet. It’s about sticking with the diet. It’s not about the diet itself that works because we can see testimonials and examples of everybody, a ton of people being successful on each one of those diets, and it’s not because the diet works or not. It’s because of the individual that was behind it. It was the user of the thing. It wasn’t the thing itself.
So why the doing, doing, doing doesn’t work is because we have a flawed mindset. So I’m going to use the example of an ambulance. So if an ambulance is sent to the scene and they need to rescue people who have been in a car accident, if you send an ambulance to that scene and you send the wrong people on the ambulance, then they’re not going to be much use at the scene. So if you send a couple of carpenters on the ambulance, you’re like, okay, you guys go save these people. The carpenters are going to get there and they’re not going to know what to do with these people that are needing their lives saved because they are used to building kitchens and cabinets and furniture and building houses. They don’t know how to save a human life. They just don’t know how.
So in this example, the ambulance is the action, the vehicle, and the carpenters are the thoughts and feelings. So if you send thoughts and feelings that don’t know what they’re doing to the scene of an accident, they’re not going to be useful. And it’s the same if we send a thought and a feeling to a job interview and say the thought is I really don’t think I’m going to be able to get this. I think there’s a lot of more qualified people. And then the feeling is uncertain, unsure, not valuable, then the action, the ambulance is the interview itself. You get there, the thought and the feeling riding on that ambulance don’t know what to do when they get there. They’re like, what’s going on? They just know how to be insecure at this point.
So that is the best analogy I can think of to illustrate where you might be going wrong and where we go wrong when we just do the action. So you can send paramedics on that ambulance and they’re going to know exactly what to do. So the paramedics are going to get there and they’re going to be like, okay, direct the traffic, stop the cars, put the cones down, let’s get this person on their side, let’s check their eyes, let’s check their head for bleeding. They’re going to know what to do and they’re going to go in there and they’re going to get it done. Whereas the carpenters are going to be like, huh, what’s going on? Do you need a house built or something? They’re just not going to understand.
And this is what we do. So if we picture thought and feeling, these are two people that we take and we put them on our truck to where we’re going or our ambulance, we need to make sure that we’re putting the two passengers on the truck that need to go there that know how to execute at the scene. And so when you go and you don’t have the right people on the ambulance, then they can’t save the lives. They can’t get the job done. And you can keep sending them over and over and over, and you can send a
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hundred ambulances with a hundred different people that don’t know what they’re doing. So you could send carpenters. You could send massage therapists. You can send grocery clerks. You could send high school students. You could send whoever you can think of on these ambulances, and they will not be able to be as successful as the paramedics.
And so the paramedics are what I’m using as the thoughts and feelings that do know how to get the job done versus all the ones that don’t. And so it’s the most important thing that we stop and slow down and make sure that before we send that ambulance out that we have the right people on it, the people that know what they’re doing, the people that know they can get the job done.
Are paramedics scared when they go out to a job? They don’t know what to expect. They’re not sure if they’re going to be able to save the life every time. They don’t know what to expect. Sure. That still happens, but they are the best equipped to do it if it’s at all possible. So if it’s possible to save that life, they’re going to be the best equipped to do so. They’re not going to be well equipped if they’re elementary school teachers or just people who don’t have that internal programming. And so that’s what I do in my program, is I help you to get those right people on the ambulance so that you can go and you can actually succeed. Which is why I believe my program is so much more successful because I’ve been through so many other programs where they just keep telling you what to do and they’re like, you have to do this and you have to do this.
I recently was on a webinar where the lady was, I felt like she was yelling, she’s like, “You have to do this and do this. And if you’re not getting the results then you have to do more.” And in my head, I was just like, no. I was like, that’s not what works, for me anyway. And if that works for you, like I said, you got to question the amount of action that you can possibly take in your lifetime because you will burn out. You are one human. You are not support supposed to be working 12 hours a day or concentrating for eight hours straight even. You are designed to take breaks. You are designed to work in the manner that works best for you, which for me is not go, go, go, pressure, pressure, pressure. And we’ve been taught that that is what we need to do.
And especially if we’re in a culture that normalizes that, there are a lot of cultures that will be like, yeah, everybody does that. We work late. It’s a badge of honor and it’s a medal. And so it’s expected of everybody to work late. And it’s like, well, the CEO, they’re the only person who should be working late. It’s their company. I have a mentor and she talks about how, if you have to work extra hours, you’re being sloppy with your time. And she says that the amount of time we give ourselves to do something is the amount of time we’re going to take to do it. And I don’t fully agree with this. Sometimes you can take a little bit longer with something and I can be working on something and it can take me a bit longer, but I’m in flow. I’m happy. I’m enjoying the work still. I’m not pushing myself to work harder and longer hours and get something done.
So I think that there are way too many hours wasted on doing things from the wrong thought and feeling that don’t always yield the best results. So I question the amount of hours that you’re working. If you’re somebody who thinks that you have to work more hours to get more results, I invite you to be wrong about that. That is not a true statement. And the reason why I say that, and I’m going to do another podcast on how to scale your career just like scaling a business, it means getting more results by spending less time. And what that means is just thinking in a way where you get more efficient with your time. You get smarter. So you probably heard of working smarter, not harder. That’s a real thing. And when you are able to figure out how to work smarter, you don’t have to burn yourself out anymore. You can have a life and you can still create unbelievable results.
So it’s a matter of shifting these paradigms, questioning these outdated beliefs that we have to work so long. A lot of companies are now questioning this, and I love seeing that. A lot of them are moving to a four-day work week and they’re not making people work extra hours on the other days. They’re just
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setting the goals with the amount of time that they have in those four days. Four days a week is plenty of time to get work done. So again, it’s not the time that is spent. It is the efficiency of that time spent.
So if somebody is sitting at their desk, pottering around, not really doing anything and they spend 15 hours there and they’re maybe slacking or they’re maybe talking to someone or even if they’re doing work but they’re not very engaged and the quality of the work isn’t very high, that 15 hours is not as good as four hours of really productive work. Marathons and sprints are a good example. You can cover the same distance if you are running at a very slow pace versus if you just do a sprint, you can cover the same distance in a shorter amount of time and then you can rest. I prefer sprints. You might not. I’m just saying don’t burn yourself out to the point where you hurt yourself. Don’t be one of those people who just thinks they have to run a marathon and then run another one right after. Just don’t do it. Don’t work to your detriment.
There was an example of a client, and he worked for an organization. He was one of my clients. He came on the podcast. He talked about how he worked extra hours because there was always something to deal with. And he’s like, “Well, I got other work to do, but then this other stuff comes in and I’ve got to deal with it.” And he wasn’t recognized or appreciated. Nobody seemed to care about these things except for him. And I was asking him like, “So what? So what if that doesn’t get dealt with until next week?” And he’s like, “Well, then this and this is behind.” And I’m like, “So what? So what? So what?” And then he’s like, “Well, I guess nothing. I guess that’s not really my problem, is it?” I’m like, “No.” And especially nobody was coming to get upset with him or tell him, “You got to get this done.” It was him holding himself to an incredibly high standard.
I made an example of, say, you’re a runner and you’re super committed to running and you run every single day. And then one day you hurt yourself, twist your ankle or something, and you run the next day because you’re so committed. You’re like, “Oh, but I’m so committed. I’m not going to miss a day.” But then when you run and you twist an ankle, you hurt your ankle more and then you make it so you can’t run for several days after that. Instead of just saying, okay, I’m going to slow down, take a break, recuperate for a couple of days then I’ll go back to it. That in the end is going to be more efficient for you.
So you have to find the most efficient way for you to work. And for me, I really like sprints. I’m like, let’s get this done. I get in flow. I get into it and I get it done. And then I can relax and I don’t feel bad about it. And for some people, they work better in chunks. They like to schedule their time. They like to slow down, put that program, their plan into the GPS, have that plan and then follow that, and then they can adapt accordingly how many hours they want to work.
But what I’m saying is it’s not true that you have to work longer hours. It’s not true that you can go on a bunch of interviews over and over and over and be successful to the point where you want to be. What normally I see happening is people will go on all these interviews, the action. So they’ll apply, they’ll get the interview. They might go on a ton of interviews and they get rejected again and again and again and again because the people on their ambulance aren’t the people who get the job done. So they’re thinking insecure thoughts. They’re having insecure feelings, whatever those are.
And I have a freebie to actually help you figure those out, so I’ll talk about that at the end. They’ve got the wrong people on their ambulance. They keep going, they keep going, they keep going to the scene. They keep striking out. They keep failing and then they get worn down by all this failing, especially because they’re not stopping to do any inner work to see, okay, what was I thinking? What didn’t go right there? What didn’t work? They’re not doing any of that. They just keep going and going and going, sending out more ambulances to more places to try to save more lives, and they’re not saving any. They get frustrated and resentful. And then when they finally get something, they’re like, “Oh my, God. Yes,
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I’ve got to take this because this is the only thing. Oh my God, thank you so much. Yes. I’m going to take this.” And then they end up settling for a lot less.
And it wasn’t because they weren’t valuable or capable or couldn’t have made more money or couldn’t have got the job in the organization they wanted. It’s because they kept sending the wrong people on the ambulance. So they probably could have sent half that amount of people and gotten a way better offer if they had slowed down and stopped and done some inner work instead of just doing outer work. So the two problems are you’re either not doing enough action. And if that’s you, probably you haven’t been on that many interviews. You don’t have that much data. You don’t have that much information about your failures. You don’t have that much to evaluate. You feel afraid to fail. You say things like, “I’m don’t want to go to that interview because what if I blow the opportunity? I blew the last ones. I can’t blow this one.”
You put pressure on yourself. You avoid it. You don’t really want to go. Maybe you’re like, “I hope they don’t call me because then I don’t have to go to the interview.” Or you want to postpone it. You want to wait a long time before you go. You’re like, “I need to prepare more. I need to prepare more.” That’s signs of not taking enough imperfect action.
And then if you’re on the other side of the spectrum, you’re taking too much action and it’s not working and you’re feeling frustrated. And that means that you’re probably taking the same actions over and over without doing the inner work that’s necessary to make those actions successful.
So you’ll either create one of two things. You’ll be nurturing your fear and keep telling your brain over and over like, “Oh, well yeah, we can’t go yet. We have to wait.” Or there’s something stopping you or you end up avoiding the discomfort, avoiding anything that might mean that you might fail or you will create the result of frustration. I think of it as someone bashing their head against the wall repeatedly and thinking, “Oh, but I’m not getting through the wall so I need to bash harder.” And that will mean that they end up hurting themselves because bashing harder obviously doesn’t work.
What they need to do is stop, go get a hammer or some pickaxe and bash their way through that wall. If they really want to get through that wall, they need to get an appropriate tool that is going to work for them to be efficient. If you keep using your head over and over, harder and harder, you’re just going to hurt your head because the wall is hard.
So what’s going to need to happen is for you to get through this is for you to realize where you’re in balance. So you need to have a balance of inner work and outer work. And most people I find are not doing enough inner work, regardless of what their actions are on the outside. They’re not doing enough action or they’re doing too much action and it’s not working and they need to slow down and do the inner work, which is what we do in my program.
And so that’s why this program is so successful. That’s why I believe in it so strongly, is because it is what got me the success I got. It’s what gets my clients the success they get and continues to. It is the thing that is missing from the industry of coaching. It’s mostly like action based coaching. It’s like, oh, career coaches will tell you what to say and tell you what to do and tell you what to put on your resume, do this, do this, do this. And if the right people are not on your ambulance, it doesn’t matter what you’re going to do. It’s not going to have a high chance of succeeding.
So that’s what I have for you, my friends. Thank you so much for listening and stay tuned for where I’m going to explain about the program even more. You’re going to hear exactly what you’re going to get. And for those of you who are going on interviews, wondering what’s going on, why you can’t get the offer. I have a freebie for you. It’s in the show notes. You can download it for free. You just have to enter your name and email. And I will explain to you, I’ll walk you through eight reasons you are not getting hired and how to fix them. And then inside my program, I customize that for you and go deeper with
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you on that. It’s like bulldozing all the crud that you’ve got in the way so that you can get out of your own way and you can just move forward and stop struggling and just understand that success is normal. It’s more normal than you think.
All right, thanks so much for listening. I’ll talk to you next week. I’ll see you inside.
To think three months ago since I contacted you and really started job hunting for real, and now I hear I am two weeks into a job that I never thought I would get in the middle of the pandemic. I want to say, oh, I was just lucky. But yeah, there was a process to get me here.
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