The more I read and research, and especially the more I coach, the more clear I become that the one, the only, the critical, the biggest thing holding us back from our leadership brilliance is how we let our voices be silenced by our own inner critics.
My heart sank during a recent coaching session with a client who is so intelligent, so perceptive, so exciting to be around and so intriguing in her sheer depth and breadth of wisdom, but she had just declared to me that she didn’t have anything new to add to the collective wisdom in her field. She is yearning to write and when she talks about her work, she shines with laser sharp wisdom – I learn something astoundingly new every time I speak with her, and yet, when she tries to take action and bring her brilliance out into the world through writing and blogging, she shuts down.
She is undoubtedly a leader in her field, but her inner critic has her believing otherwise.
When she is about to begin the process of writing, her inner critic fires up an arsenal of nasty messages to keep her frozen in a belief that she has nothing to add. "Who is she to suggest she knows something worthwhile in our field?" she is sure others in her field might demand. But it is not her colleagues passing this judgment, it is her own voice.
Taking a meta-view and looking down from the metaphorical mountaintop at myself, I see how time and again, I can struggle to bring my voice (my wisdom, ideas, declarations, uniqueness) to the forefront. For me, it looks something like this:
“It’s time to launch my new blog. Oh wait! The website isn’t perfect, so I’d better not start writing about what I know to be true.”
“O.K. here’s what I know to be true, I’m going to write, speak, develop a workshop on that. Oh, hang on a moment, what do the ‘thought leaders’ have to say about it? I should write about them.”
Just as I am gaining momentum I shelve all my plans to partner up with a colleague and I end up promoting their vision and voice while I shuffle mine to the side.
All of these instances are actually my inner critic having me play small. I might not even hear it as the sabotage that it is, for some of it can sound like wisdom....but....wisdom doesn't have you play small. Women, in particular, are very adept at sidelining their voices and their creative brilliance. In many cases it’s because we are listening to an inner critical voice and sometimes we don’t even recognize it for what it is.
If this is your story, how do you step into something more? How do you express your unique perspectives in your own voice? How do you get over yourself and let your essential self ROAR?
- Recognize what is happening – get to know your inner critic and the sneaky ways it works. When does this voice appear? What is it telling you? What is the impact of those messages?
- Just notice this without self-judgment and acknowledge how your inner critic is simply trying to keep you safe. Then understand that this is a fear-based survival instinct that no longer serves you.
- Shrink that critic voice down to size and teach it new language – the language of self-compassion and support, the language that calls you forth into your essential and more powerful self. You have many strengths and you are able to solve most challenges that come your way – begin to hear that sage self who knows who you are at your best.
- Get to know your inner sage – start a love affair with this more supportive voice – the voice of your true fulfillment, inner wisdom and values.
- Identify the compelling reason to let your voice roar. For example, to be of service, to help people heal, learn, thrive, etc. – to be generous and giving with your wisdom. Your values are your guideposts here, by the way.
- Feel the fear and do it anyway. Sure…you might fail, but I bet you won't – you are intelligent, strong, masterful, and capable. And if you do fail, it is all in service of your learning and your path to mastery. Your inner sage knows there is no such thing as perfection. Let your inner sage guide you into the mastery of positive framing.
- Celebrate yourself wherever you are in this process.
But please, don’t let your inner critic squelch your voice.
You are a leader, you are brilliant, and your unique vision and wisdom is needed. Our beautiful, brave, bountiful voices can change our world in astoundingly positive ways…but only if we BRING IT!