‘Being self-critical is good; being self-hating is destructive. There’s a very fine line there somewhere, and I walk it carefully.’ These are the words of Daniel Radcliffe, the actor who played Harry Potter, and they apply well to us as leaders.
When you find yourself on the wrong side of Radcliffe’s ‘fine line’, here are some ideas to shift your thinking.
- Get specific. What don’t you like right now? It’s easy to hold a global sense of unease. Getting clear on exactly why you are uncomfortable means you can take action.
- Keep a ‘warm thoughts’ box. Over the years I have kept in a box, warm thoughts gifted to me by others. Cards from friends, emails from clients, ‘the 3 most amazing things about you’ activity I did with a group years ago… A quick flick through the box boosts my spirit.
- Sleep. Most things look better after a good night’s sleep!
- Get compassionate. Chances are, you would be much more forgiving with someone else’s errors than with your own. Try offering yourself the same level of compassion you would show to others.
- Laugh. Distract yourself in humor and lightness. Shift your perspective and come back to it later.
- Seek input from others. Author Stephen King says ‘writers are often the worst judges of what they have written’. We are all writing our own leadership story. Seek feedback from the people around you best placed to provide a balanced view.
- Replay the video. This effective technique comes from a sports coach… If you are annoyed about how you handled something specific, close your eyes and imagine the scene. Replay the video in your mind. When you get to the part you ‘stuffed up’, instead of playing the ‘real’ version, run the ideal version, right through to its ideal conclusion. This simple technique has the dual benefit of 1) stopping the self-flagellation, and 2) paving new neural pathways so that the imagined course of action is readily available to you in future.
- Realign your values. Living out of alignment with your values is a fast path to disliking yourself. Get clear on your top 5-7 values, do an honest assessment of how well you are living each, and identify what you could do to up your score on the lowest ones.
- Skill up. If the thing you don’t like about your leadership stems from a lack of capacity, learn a new approach.
- Take action. Do what needs to be done to move on.
What are your strategies when you don’t like yourself as leader? I would love to hear via my blog page.
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