One way to become more effective is to work on what is real, not on what you made up.
I recently showed the daughter of a good friend around the Ohio State campus. She is interested in going to college, so I took her around OSU so she could get a feel for the. As we walked, she explained she was thinking of going to a community college first to build up her resume and increase her chances of getting accepted to OSU. My response was, “That’s a good theory you’ve made up about getting accepted, but why not apply directly to OSU first? Then, if your application is declined, ask them what you need to do to get accepted. At least then you will be dealing with what you really need to do, not some theory you made up.”
I don’t think my friend’s daughter is any different than the rest of us. Rather than make a request that may be declined, we make up a theory that gets us off the hook for making the request. Students in my classes frequently tell me they have to do some particular thing before they can take a class, or participate in a program. But when asked, “How do you know, have you talked to the professor (program director)?”, they almost always reply “No”.
Think how much more effective people could be if they had performance conversations before they took action on the stuff they make up?