Do you wear self-criticism as a badge of honour because it improves your performance at work?
Me, too….For a long time, I believed that constantly beating myself up made me better at my job and would accelerate my career progression.
But there was a downside to that:
My stress levels went through the roof - because getting criticised is stressful, even if it’s by yourself.
But what’s even worse, chronic stress slows down your brain, and my performance actually dropped below what it could have been without the stress.
Not only that, but the fear of being criticised even more by others stopped me from taking any kind of risks at work and speaking up about my views in meetings - but speaking up in meetings with good ideas was exactly what I needed to do in order to get ahead in my career.
Sounds like Catch 22, doesn’t it?
I sought help and got told that I needed to start praising myself more instead of beating myself up. When I heard that I couldn’t believe my ears! Praise myself? Wouldn’t that turn me into an arrogant idiot?
Before I did anything, I googled positive reinforcement and found lots of research supporting the link between praise and performance improvement.
But it has to be the right type of praise, for the right types of actions, of course, or otherwise you might indeed turn into an arrogant idiot pretty quickly.
So I thought about what a mentor might praise or acknowledge me for, and then acknowledged myself for doing that.
They were mainly things that my inner critic would have stopped me from doing, like
- speaking up in meetings,
- sharing my views,
- cold-calling leaders in the industry to propose collaborations, …
In the end, the acknowledgement I got from my inner mentor was what got me to take imperfect action- action that my inner critic would have told me I’d be stupid to take, but that ultimately helped me accelerate my career enormously.
Today, this is what I help my clients with. In my Leap into Leadership program, I help them transform their inner critic into their inner mentor. And because we work primarily with the subconscious mind, this process is much quicker than working with an actual mentor.
Are you acknowledging yourself for stepping outside of your comfort zone?