How has your week been? My week, my last month even has been particularly challenging. Lot’s of good stuff woven in and some fascinating reading been going on… I have enjoyed that very much.
Working with some of my coaching clients we’ve been looking at the challenges of showing authentic leadership and asking what it even means to show up authentically…
Many people have learned to show only well-managed parts of themselves to the world, personal and professional. In work we justify this because this is the professional thing to do. This is what is expected. This delivers our best work and keeps us safe.
We sometimes underestimate the amount of energy it takes to polish our professional image.
Over 60% of people in work say they are actively hiding parts of their lives from others… from the Dads who are pretending to go to meetings off-site when instead they’re watching a child’s sports day, to the Mums who are working all hours to catch up with “time they missed” while caring for their family.
How many of us are trying hard to be a fully committed professional “something” while juggling a messy and demanding second role that we fear could undermine our professional image? (What would they think if they really knew how messy/chaotic/complicated/by-the-skin-of-my-teeth/just-in-time my life really was?)
And that’s even before we talk about the people who are trying not to be too Black, too Asian, too queer, too working class, too posh…
Many of us are trying to hide parts of who we are at heart, because we fear that other people will think that who we really are isn’t good enough – and yes, we pay a price. Stress, anxiety, exhaustion…
Whatever it is you fear other people will find out, the chances are your Inner Critic is telling you that you aren’t doing a good enough job.
Our Inner Critic may tell us that:
- our work isn’t good enough
- we’re not clever, creative or innovative enough
- we don’t try hard enough or we’re not committed enough
- maybe we’re not “interesting” enough or have enough experience
- we’re too shy or quiet or loud or messy or disorganised…
Our Inner Critics are trying to protect us from criticism or rejection by others by getting us to change the way we present ourselves to the world.
The truth is, despite having the best of intentions, our Inner Critic is not always right. Their messages are not always accurate or helpful.
As able, intelligent and resourceful adults we can choose to filter or interpret those messages differently. We can choose to believe – and tell our Inner Critic that:
- our work is good enough and there’s room to improve if we need to
- we are clever, creative or innovative enough
- we do try hard enough and we are committed to many things in our lives
- we are every bit as interesting or experienced as we need to be and can get more if needed
- we’re good, just as we are…
Which option do you prefer?
And even now I can hear your Inner Critic – my Inner Critic – reacting: “That’s not true. I’m right. You’re not good enough!”. That doesn’t mean they’re right. You can learn to manage your Inner Critic.
Of course, there are times when there are objective measures of “good enough” – like Olympic athletes running faster or jumping higher – but most of us don’t work in that sort of environment. It’s difficult to compare the work of two finance officers, solicitors, doctors, academics… we’re dealing with different cases and contexts so exact comparison is impossible.
Each day we do our best, with the resources we have, in the situation we find ourselves in. Isn’t that “good enough”?
Are you ready to believe that you are good enough?
I’d love to know what comes up for you when you think that thought…
Do enjoy your day!
PS You can learn how to stop feeling like a fraud, outsmart your Imposter and your Inner Critic. I’ve edited a section from one of my programmes to show you how:
Yes, I want to manage my Inner Critic
Click the link and watch the video now!