Make your inner voice your friend, not your foe

The Lead Change Group is a global, virtual community dedicated to instigating a leadership revolution, one leader at a time. Lead Change Group, a division of Weaving Influence, publishes twice monthly with SmartBrief. Today's post is by Brenda Wensil.

Our career journeys encounter many obstacles. Surprisingly, the biggest of these is not the external kind: money, resources, time. These are significant. But turns out it’s the internal barriers that can make us or break us. These are thinking patterns that create doubt or downright inaccurate perceptions of ourselves and our situations. 

This internal barrier is our inner voice. And it can be our biggest foe. It is the voice in our heads that sends messages, sometimes subtle other times blatant, that sound like this: “What if I fail?” “What if I’m not ready or not good enough?” “What if I can’t handle this?” “What if I’m not as smart as the next person (insert any name here)?” 

We call these messages limiting beliefs because they can hold us back from achieving our goals and operating as our best selves. A leading authority on the power of positive intelligence, Shirzad Chamine, says beliefs and how they influence our behavior is why only 20% of team and individuals actually achieve their true potential. Or rather, why 80% do not.

A woman we recently coached was in line for the next chief operating officer role for a large technology organization. Despite being the lead candidate for the role, she seemed hesitant. When asked what was holding her back, she said she didn’t think she’d had enough experience in her current role and that her colleague Ted, who was also in the running for the job, had more time with the company and knew the C-suite. He might be a better fit for the job, she determined. 

Her limiting belief of “I’m not qualified, not ready, and someone else is better” nearly eliminated her from the role before she’d even stepped into the opportunity.  Fortunately, she changed those beliefs to “I have great experience with this company and know the industry as well or better than anyone else. I am the best choice for this role.” She began to “see” success on her own terms. She was promoted into the role and has operated at a high level with less anxiety for some time.

The mind affects behavior. Our thinking patterns are like well-developed muscles. It takes time and focus to train and adjust them to new movements, new thoughts and messages.

Make your inner voice your friend by changing out the old messages for newer, more powerful and enabling ones. Here are some ways to do this:

  • Think back to a time when you were successful. Remember what it took on your part to create that success. Write down the key message or takeaway from that success, such as, “I am really good at leading the team” or “I bring years of experience in this area (strategic thinking, or planning, or risk management, whatever area you see).”
  • Pull out old feedback or a 360-degree report. Read through and focus on what others have identified as your strengths. Craft a new message to replace an old limiting belief.
  • Keep an accomplishments log. Do you have a "brag folder" or a place where you can save glowing/complimentary feedback emails? If not, start one. If so, pull them out and read. Develop new and empowering messages. Each time the old, limiting messages surface in your head, stop and insert the new message.

We are bombarded with negativity, and those tapes are easy to hear especially when we are stressed or facing big challenges and opportunities. You have to go in search of the good stuff. So, find it, have it ready, craft a new tape, and let it make you more confident and assertive.

Don’t let the old tapes limit you. There are more than enough external hurdles in our path.

Prevent your thinking patterns from being the formidable foes they can be. Make your inner voice your friend -- and win.

 

Brenda Wensil, a partner with Flynn Heath Holt, is an executive leader and certified and accredited coach with expertise in building collaborative partnerships, developing teams and leveraging cross organizational structures to improve leader performance and drive results. Flynn Health Holt’s new book, "The Influence Effect: A New Path to Power for Women Leaders," explores the effect of self-doubt and other barriers while providing strategies to women to drive their success.

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