I’m pretty sure I can safely say that individuals who read our blog are achievers. You work hard, seek to develop your skills, and look forward to the next goal in front of you.
I’ll also bet you’re your own harshest critic. You probably beat yourself up at the smallest perceived failure. Some of you do more damage to yourselves than that funky albino monk in Da Vinci Code did to himself with that nasty rope of his. Sometimes your self-deprecating humor isn’t very humorous.
Stop it. Now.
These negative thoughts don’t just affect your performance – they rub off on your team. If you’re not careful you can create an environment where your standards are perceived as unreasonable and where praise seems extremely hard to come by. Over time, that erodes your team’s morale and can eventually lead to turnover (not to mention a lousy standard of living for you).
We’re going to get a little cerebral and introspective today. I ask you to do so in the spirit of getting on a healthier mental track. Do so not just for the benefit of your team but for yourself, your friends, and your family.
So how can you do this? My suggestion: assess, admit, and act.
You need to understand if you’re too hard on yourself and how much you beat yourself up. React to these questions candidly (from strongly agree to strongly disagree):
* I wish the quality and quantity of the work I do was better
* I’m afraid I don’t measure up in others’ eyes
* Other people do better work than I do
* If I don’t work harder, I won’t get promoted
* I don’t have good work-life balance because I HAVE TO put my work first
* I can’t remember the last time I did something truly great
Noticing any trends? If so, continue…
Only you get to judge yourself. Sure the opinions of others matter but in the end, there’s only one person who gets to pass judgment. Go back to the Assess section and answer the questions again but do so more objectively this time. Odds are your first time through you were compensating for your self-criticism and didn’t answer as strongly as you know it to be true. Too many times I’ve seen folks be dismissive of their self-defeating behaviors (present company included). Take those blinders off.
Like many great professionals out there, you might be an insecure overachiever (I know I am – maybe you should fess up too). We overcompensate and try to exorcise our fears by bludgeoning them with perfection and accolades. The bad news is, you’ll never get there that way. You have to face the root of those insecurities and defeat them at their core.
Do you allow your team members to make mistakes? Do you understand they’re not perfect? Do you know they do some fantastic work? So why can’t you view yourself in this light?
Take a step back and look at your accomplishments over the past year. But review them as if they are the accomplishments of one of your team members instead of yourself. Pretty impressive, huh? You’ve gotten a lot done, haven’t you.
Now take a moment to catalog all the bad things you’ve said about yourself just in the past week. Pretend a member of your team said those things about themselves. How would you react? I’d ask you to rebut each point and explain why it’s erroneous.
Look at the balance between all you’ve achieved and all the inaccurate self-assessments you’ve made. Messed up, huh? Make this assessment a regular practice. Do it once a week or so. Destroy those negative thoughts and hopefully over time they’ll diminish. When they do you can actually be much more productive and set a healthier mental tone for yourself and your team.
How do you deal with negative thoughts? How do you make yourself focus on the positive aspects of your performance?