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How Facing My Personal Issues Built My Confidence in My Job

The following is adapted from Owner Shift by Mike Malatesta.

Wrapping my head around the fallacies I’d told myself along with the realization that I needed to be my own model of success gave me a new bit of courage and confidence. To think about a different future. Realize that there was a way out. I could see a path forward. I was still in the Valley, but its hold on me was beginning to weaken. The small progress was creating some momentum. I felt different, a hint of freedom maybe, the kind you get when you start to abandon an illusion you’d been fixated on.

I had a job to do that I hadn’t been doing well. I was supposed to make my company as successful as it could possibly be, which meant that I had to be as successful as I could possibly be. But instead of doing that, I created a Valley of Uncertainty and put myself in it. I waited there for someone to do my job for me. For something miraculous to happen. For God to tell me that I was good enough. Shame on me.

But I still wasn’t completely free. Sure, I was seeing new possibilities, editing my belief system, and accepting inevitable truths. Beginning to believe that I wasn’t actually broken. Now what?

The next step was fuzzy. I wasn’t sure what to do, but I knew that my model needed work. It was full of problems that I needed to work out. I started with things I could change.

Taking Inventory of My Problems

As an experiment, I sat down with my yellow legal pad and created an inventory that I called My Problems. It was just a list, really. Nearly unreadable because my handwriting was so sloppy. Of course, reading it wasn’t the point. Acknowledging it was.

I listed all the problems that I may or may not have been responsible for. Blame could no longer be on the table. It was a waste of time to debate that any longer. What I needed to accept was that I had the responsibility whether I was directly responsible or not. That’s the job. If it was in my world, it was my responsibility. I had to accept it. Own it. Do something about it.

Taking this inventory could have backfired and had the opposite effect. Instead of giving me the beginnings of a roadmap forward, it could have just strengthened the walls I’d built around myself instead. Made them even higher, deeper, and stronger.

If I’d done it another time, I may not have been receptive. I would have been scared instead of motivated. The Valley did me a favor that way. It made me tired of being in it. Encouraged me to find my way out. It gave me a safe place to wallow in the sludge of my thinking and kicked me out when it felt like I was ready. Like mama bird does to her babies. Fly.

Building Confidence and Accepting Change

Maybe I’d be able to solve some of my problems on my own and the rest with some help. Maybe they didn’t all need to be solved. Certainly not all at once. If I solved a few, I’d build more confidence that I was on the right track. That I was making progress and feeling better about me and the work I needed to be doing. The work to return to feeling happy and getting back to doing my job.

Writing out my list helped me understand things in a way I hadn’t before. It wasn’t an easy exercise. I had to admit things that didn’t feel good to admit. I also had to put a plan together that answered big questions. How would I make progress on all of these things? What was I capable of doing, and what would I need help doing? Did I really want this change, and was I willing to do the work?

Without knowing it, writing all of this down created the beginnings of a road map. It put my intentions out there. Opened me up to assistance. Laid down a path that I could follow and think about. I wasn’t looking forward to the journey, but I knew that the time for it was now. It had to happen. Change was an inevitability. And when things have to happen, well, they have to happen.

For more advice on how to face your problems head-on, you can find Owner Shift on Amazon.

Mike Malatesta started his first business in 1992, seven months after being fired from a company he had dreamed he might lead one day. Over the next twenty-two years, he helped run, lead, and grow that startup, selling it for more money than he could have imagined. The creator of the How’d It Happen podcast, Mike is deep into his second startup and an active early-stage investor. His mission is to help as many entrepreneurs as he can to create companies that improve people’s lives and, maybe, the world. Mike lives in Wisconsin with his wife, Jamy. He’s active in YPO, Abundance 360, and Vistage Worldwide. Connect with him online at



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