I recently read one of Carl Richard’s articles – he is an author who publishes a column on Mondays in the New York Times. Carl, in his former lifetime, was a financial advisor. The article is here, Free Yourself of Your Harshest Critic, and Plow Ahead, on Behavior Gap’s website and I recommend that you read it.
I found this article so interesting that I did some further research, and found that self-criticism can become our biggest enemy, preventing us from seeing ourselves clearly, and can stop us from taking the risks that have the potential bring us the greatest rewards.
What, then, can we do to disempower that harsh voice in our heads?
• Stop holding ourselves to unrealistic standards! We should accept that our best work is just that – our best – and, being human, it’s not going to be perfect. The goal should be progress, not perfection. This does not mean our work should not be of excellent quality, and of great value to those we are engaged to assist.
• Realize that self-criticism can be an emotion stemming from our self-protective mechanism. None of us wants to fail, naturally; we don’t want to hear from others that we are lacking, or failing at a task. Some people’s first inclination is to want to be “safe” from the fear of failure. But failing to take calculated risks, and the reluctance to “put ourselves out there” for the world to see, can prohibit our growth.
• Understand that the energy we spend criticizing ourselves (often in advance of undertaking a meaningful task) is energy we cannot put into the project at hand. I recommend that we find a way to not criticize ourselves before we start, and use that energy in a productive and meaningful manner.
It’s all too easy to allow that inner critic – or that movie that plays in our minds – to derail us from plowing ahead. You are the master of your emotions! Take the next step, and start your next project with zest and gusto.
I truly believe we are called upon to be the best version of ourselves, to be of service to others, and that we have a duty – a moral obligation – to do excellent work. To that end, let’s forgive ourselves for being imperfect, and free ourselves to act, to move ahead, to take risks, and to improve.
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Until next Wednesday –