I just returned from my 'WE - Women Effect
' seminar in Silicon Valley. I find it so rewarding because I am able to see powerful, positive change happen to the participants right before my eyes. The formula for personal change is very simple: change your mind and your behavior at the same time
. Your mind-shift will lift your confidence to experiment with proven positive behaviors (I call them Jedi Mind Tricks ) that ignites progress toward the results you most want. So in the WE workshop that's what I do for four hours in the afternoon and four hours the next morning. That learning design with a confidence shifting session, an evening to reflect and absorb, followed by another blast of mind shifting information creates an optimum learning experience.
It's all good except for one thing . . . changing your mind is hard. It takes courage. Experimenting with new behaviors is easy. But being open to the fact that you already have the talent and intelligence needed to create your best career and best life is a big fat problem.
The reason is simple. We all have a voice in our head that Dr. Robert Firestone calls "the anti-self." This is the inner critic that is constantly second-guessing our decisions and undermining us with insults like . . . "You sound stupid; you're fat; you're boring; you don't know what you're doing; you're in way over your head; they hate you; or you're just not cut out for this." This voice also saps your energy for self improvement through seduction. "You don't really need to workout today; you don't really need to go to that meeting; you don't really need to re-edit that report . . . "
This is the voice that keeps telling you that you're not competent, likable or lovable. It's the voice that tells you not to expect too much of yourself, and that trying new things will result in inevitable failure. It is the voice that evaporates our courage to try, to do, to fail, to learn, to succeed,
In fact, even when you do succeed you might often feel like a fake. It's very common for high achieving people who receive recognition for their achievements to experience the impostor syndrome. That's when your anti-self is telling you if people really knew you, they would know that you are much less deserving of the admiration you are receiving.
Emerging research is revealing that the voice of the anti-self is generally much louder in women that in men
. It seems that because women have more neurologically active brains, they think more thoughts, that more of their brain capacity is devoted to creating self-narratives. In other words, women make up cause-and-effect stories to try to figure out why people might not be responding to us in the way we most desire (I am sure you can recall a time when your antiself has fabricated entire scenarios to explain other people’s behavior that you later found to not have an ounce of truth in them). Couple this with the fact that women blame themselves when things go wrong (while males tend to blame others); then you end up with women who hear and respond to that antiself voice much more strongly than men.
It doesn't appear that there is any cure for your anti-self voice. Healthy people will never completely get rid of their inner critic. And to some extent that's good. With the volume is on low, your inner critic is a monitoring device. It's a source of humility and emotional intelligence to question whether you were coming across to other people in the way you intend. However when the voice is too loud and too persistent it can be absolutely crippling. It robs you of your peace of mind, your self-confidence and your sense of self-worth. So getting control of the volume knob on your anti-self voice is absolutely essential.
Here is how to tune that inner critic.
I completely blew the first public speech I ever gave for money. I tried to present the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People
to the top leaders of Aetna insurance. I thought I was going to blow their minds. I did, just not in the way I intended.
I was horrible. In fact, I was so bad that the client asked for their money back. I have never heard of another professional speaker whose client demanded a refund. I unraveled in front of a large audience for one reason. I expected to be great or at least good. I was well-prepared with the content but as soon I could visually see the audience not responding in the way I imagined, my anti-self started screaming in my head that I had no business being on stage. That I was a fake. A pretender. A stupid twit. I begin to sweat which made the audience even more uncomfortable. The harder I tried the worse it got. I can only describe it as a totally humiliating experience.
When I got back to the office and had to face Stephen Covey he simply said "The next time you speak, seek to bless rather than impress
." That advice turned out to be profound. It applies not only to public speaking but to everything I do. And it is also the secret to taking control of your inner critic.
The voice of the inner critic is loudest when you pay attention to how confident you are feeling or how others are responding instead of focusing solely on the benefit you are trying to bring to others. I coach leaders to put all their energy into the positive impact they are trying to bring to others. This causes them to lose their self consciousness. Of course, we must empathize with our audience but for their sake; not ours. If you get into a mindset about how you might improve so you can create a more positive impact you can disarm your anti-self.
The first mind-shift I try to instill in the WE workshop is that you have a gift to give that is as unique as your fingerprint
. The world needs your gift. You have both the opportunity and responsibility to make yourself as capable as possible and nothing and no one will stand in your way unless you let them.
The Bottom Line - focus on the value you bring to the world
The path to Instant Courage
starts when you focus on the benefit you're trying to create. When you focus on the "value you bring to the world" through your work and relationships your inner critic will be subdued. Nobody can do exactly what you can do in the way that you do it. You're here for a reason. Make your difference. Let the world benefit from you!
P.S. Most women feel unheard and undervalued in their workplace. Do you?
Multiple studies confirm that women leaders are instrumental in leading companies to greater profits and now we know why. It's called the Women Effect and it arises from a distinct gender strength called CORE intelligence combined with female thinking versatility. Attend my live event to learn these skills and master the new tools that will change your work-life and your future. Learn more and register
for the event on December 1 & 2 in San Diego, CA.
Opinions expressed by the author are not necessarily those of WITI.
Are you interested in boosting your career, personal development, networking, and giving back? If so, WITI is the place for you! Become a WITI Member and receive exclusive access to attend our WITI members-only events, webinars, online coaching circles, find mentorship opportunities (become a mentor; find a mentor), and more!
Founded in 1989, WITI (Women in Technology International) is committed to empowering innovators, inspiring future generations and building inclusive cultures, worldwide. WITI is redefining the way women and men collaborate to drive innovation and business growth and is helping corporate partners create and foster gender inclusive cultures. A leading authority of women in technology and business, WITI has been advocating and recognizing women's contributions in the industry for more than 30 years.
The organization delivers leading edge programs and platforms for individuals and companies -- designed to empower professionals, boost competitiveness and cultivate partnerships, globally. WITIâ€™s ecosystem includes more than a million professionals, 60 networks and 300 partners, worldwide.
Inspire Future Generations.
Build Inclusive Cultures.
As Part of That Mission WITI Is Committed to
Building Your Network.
Building Your Brand.
Advancing Your Career.