“If I said no, I might always say no,” was stated by an executive trying to make a decision about a career move. He said “yes” to the new opportunity and was grateful he took the risk.
“I’m brave and I’m strong,” were the words to a song my eight-year-old daughter made up and sang out the other morning at breakfast. I asked her how she knew she was brave and strong. Her response was, “I go to dance lessons every week for four hours and it’s difficult, but I make it through.”
We all talk to ourselves. This internal dialogue is called “self-talk.” As I continue these series of blogs on stories, it seems necessary to address the internal conversation we have with our self about our self. Why is this a leadership development topic? Here is my thinking. The messages we tell our self about our self partly defines our self-perception. Our self-perception often impacts the way we engage and communicate with others. Thus, if I see myself as a confident and knowledgeable person, I will influence those around me much differently than if I view myself as foolish or incompetent.
There is obviously a spectrum of what we tell our self about our self. One extreme is arrogance. This reminds me of Muhammad Ali and the many “How Great I Am Speeches.”
How many arrogant leaders would you like to follow?
On the flip-side, seeing our self in a way that is “less-than” or even worthless has its consequences as well. This type of self-talk may lead to being more timid, reticent, or insecure. It is just about impossible to inspire people from this self-perception.
Thus, the spectrum of self-talk can go from worthless to arrogant. How do we find the right and healthy voice? There are three keys to consider.
It starts with self-awareness. Pause to recognize the words you are internally communicating about yourself.
- Check Your Story
Determine if the story you are telling yourself is accurate. This may be difficult if your internal storytelling pattern consistently leans towards one extreme or the other – arrogant or worthless. I would say that any story that says “I’m the greatest” or “I stink” is not accurate.
- Find the Healthy Voice
The healthy voice of a person understands his or her…
- Unique identity
- Strengths and weaknesses
- Purpose and passions
Discovering this voice will take thoughtful reflection time. As I examine my own self-talk, I realize my self-perception comes from my faith walk as a Christian. My identity, strengths, and passions are motivated by my beliefs and faith. Consider your own beliefs and faith and how this impacts your self-perception.
Being a confident and mindful leader means understanding your internal story you tell yourself about yourself. Take time to pause, check your story, and find the healthy voice.