100% Jodi: The Remedy to Playing Small
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Over the summer when I shared my Mom’s cancer diagnosis I asked this community to help support me in doing the Women Taking the Lead podcast by giving me some ideas for future episodes. I knew I wouldn’t have a lot of creative energy so your suggestions would take a couple things off my plate.
I have to thank Geraldine Carter of the She Thinks Big podcast who sent me voice recordings that she created while she was out for a walk with ideas for future episodes. On idea was to talk about Tara Mohr’s book, Playing Big.
We talk a lot on this podcast about playing small so this is not the first time I had heard of Tara’s book or gotten the suggestion to read and possibly review it.
This time, however, I was ready and an open recipient for the suggestion. Geraldine, thank you so much for the support you have been to me.
Let me dive into some of the underlying premises of Tara Mohr’s book, Playing Big.
Women Are Playing Small and They Don’t Like It
Women work really, really hard to deliver value and then undervalue their own work. This leaves them behind men who are not as critical of their own performance.
In a survey Tara Mohr put forth to her community, to ascertain what type of content and programming she should create for them, she created a long list of multiple choice options. The “largest number of survey responses from women deemed their most significant problem, ‘I’m playing small.’”
Playing small ranked higher than work/life balance, stress and relationship issues.
It is my opinion through my own experience, and I put it forth confidently, that most of you who are listening to this know you are playing small and it makes you unhappy when you think about it.
I’m going to do a few episodes on the concepts in the book, Playing Small, because I want to make you aware of what is going on for you and some steps you can take to stop playing small in your own life. Even though I’m going to review this book I recommend you buy it as well because:
- Tara Mohr is amazing and you’ll want to experience her more fully and
- You’ll get more detail from the book. I don’t know exactly what concept will create the “ah-ha” moment you need to get out of the spiral of wishing you were playing bigger, but not.
The concept I’m covering in this episode is only chapter one of this book so much like a book turned into a movie, there’s a lot that didn’t get included.
The Inner Critic
Did you cringe or get really excited? If you had a response to my saying “The Inner Critic” your response will give you some information on how ready you are to tackle this one. If you cringed, take a deep breath. You’re safe and no one is going to ask you to do anything scary…yet.
The inner critic is the internal chatter that tells you that you are not ready, not an expert, not good enough, you are too much, etc. It is a vicious critic that wants us to play small to keep us safe. That’s its job. Its best strategy to do its job is to create self-doubt and it works…if we choose to believe it.
The inner critic will always exist; much like your ability to sweat to help you regulate your temperature will always exist. Rather than wishing it away the goal is to learn how to manage it; and it can be managed. You can get to a place where you hear the voice and don’t take direction from it.
11 Qualities of the Inner Critic
- Harsh, rude and mean. You know it’s your inner critic if the voice is disparaging.
- Binary. The inner critic is a black and white thinker. You are awesome or you are nothing.
- It will mimic the voice of reason. It will posture a logical argument for why you shouldn’t play big but if look at it closely the “logical argument” is not logical at all.
- It is the voice of “you are not ready yet.”
- It will tell you that you are not good at things, typically things that are associated with masculinity like math and technology, some forms of leadership.
- It is the voice of body perfectionism.
- It is constant and automatic like a video that starts to play when you hit a webpage.
- It is like a broken record repeating the same messages over and over again.
- It is irrational but persistent.
- It utilizes the 1-2 punch. It will tell you that others are better then you then it will tell you to get a grip. Thus, it attacks you with critical thoughts and then shames you for having them.
- The inner critic may take inspiration from critical people or forces in your life.
Inner Critic vs. Realistic Thinking
Alternatively, realistic thinking will recognize possible limitations but is forward thinking. It searches for solutions and possibilities to overcome the obstacles it perceives.
We often think of realistic thinking as pessimistic or even cynical but that’s not true. Realistic thinking takes in facts without getting emotional. It is grounded, not defensive. It is inquisitive and curious like a research scientist looking for angles and new perspectives. It seeks to see a problem holistically rather than with tunnel vision.
Your inner critic initially has tunnel vision, focusing on the immediate problem trying to slow you down or stop you, until you flip its switch – and you can flip its switch.
Why Do We Have an Inner Critic?
From an evolutionary perspective the inner critic developed to protect us from “rejection from the tribe. It’s a safety mechanism. But we are not at the same risk we were in 10,000 years ago. However, we are still sensitive to rejection.”
Real or perceived vulnerability/exposure will trigger the inner critic to get louder and more vicious. The risk of embarrassment, rejection, failure or pain will bring the inner critic to life.
According to Tara, “for women the risk is even higher because our playing big is not necessarily welcome in our culture.” We’ve witnessed women playing big who have been torn apart for daring to play on a larger stage.
However, the inner critic can be a signal of great things about to happen. The louder the inner critic speaks the closer you are to a breakthrough. About a month or so after Geraldine Carter had suggested this book as a prompt for an episode she asked me if I would interview her for her podcast so her audience could get to know her better.
During that interview I asked her to describe the experience one has when they are thinking big and playing big and what she described was not a warm cozy feeling. When you are really living life to the fullest, that place that will bring you the most fulfillment and satisfaction you will be more likely to describe yourself as being off balance, uncertain of the outcome but also, going with the stream rather than trying to fight it.
This is why expressions like “success lies outside your comfort zone” are so popular and why it’s a good idea to celebrate when the inner critic starts to yammer at you. Congratulations, you are living!
But that doesn’t mean you sit still and take the inner critic’s abuse.
Do You Really Want to Quiet the Inner Critic?
Tara describes a common statement she hears from her clients and I hear this from my clients as well; those clients who ride themselves to work harder and beat themselves up for making mistakes.
They make comments that sound something like, “This whipping motivates me to work harder. Without it I’ll become a slacker.”
According to Tara, yes it can motivate but there are serious costs to being motivated this way.
- Quality of Life: it steals your joy.
- Professional life: you will work hard but doing the wrong work. You’re more likely to micromanage and get lost in unnecessary details. It will not be the creative, innovative work of a game changer because that work requires non-judgment and freedom to be different.
- Playing bigger costs: “Can your inner critic help you live out your version of playing bigger more boldly, quicker and with greater enjoyment?” No.
- Health Costs: the stress hormones that are released during an inner critic episode are correlated with a multitude of diseases and conditions.
This strategy will destroy your self-image and how can you continue to achieve bigger things if you are consistently tearing down your confidence and belief in yourself?
Noticing and Naming the Voice Frees you
I said earlier that you can flip the switch on the inner critic and take control. This is how you do it…
You must acknowledge the voice is a mechanism of your brain but it is NOT YOU!
It is important to start identifying when the voice you are hearing is your inner critic. Label it or say to yourself, “that’s my inner critic talking.” This helps you to separate who you really are at your core from your inner critic.
Go one step further and say things like, “my inner critic had a field day when I thought about doing my presentation” or, “my inner critic is having a meltdown.” Rather than “I am having a meltdown”, “my inner critic is having a meltdown.”
Do you have an image or a character created for your inner critic? If not, this could be a great way of continuing to separate the inner critic from your own identity. It also brings the absurd into play and it’s hard to be intimidated by things we find absurd.
Also, remind yourself that there is a reason the inner critic exists. Its job is to keep you safe but it does not realize how capable and talented you are. Remind your inner critic of who you really are, thus reminding yourself.
The inner critic also needs a job. You can’t keep it idle or it will just crop back up again. If your inner critic is trying to get you to back away from playing big let it know you are moving forward but you need its help.
For me it looks like this:
- I’m doing a Women Taking the Lead live event in December. Immediately my inner critic starts ranting at me about how I don’t know what I’m doing, I’m going to lose money, I’m going to fail again, I’m going to embarrass myself and once and for all will I just not go back to a full-time job so I can start earning a steady paycheck again.
- I recognize that my inner critic is freaking out because it is afraid for me. If this live event goes south it doesn’t want me to feel like a failure or ashamed of my inability to fill a workshop. The inner critic is like a parent that is worried for you but doesn’t have the self-awareness or social skills to support you in way that would encourage you or help to be successful. It has castigation as its most effective tool and it goes for it first.
- My job is to remind it that it has other tools that would be more helpful to me. I do this by having an internal conversation with my inner critic. I tell it, “I’m doing this. We are going forward with this live event.”
- Then I call upon its powers to problem solve. I ask my inner critic, “What do I need to know or do to make this event a success?” For my clients I call this, “Giving your inner critic a different role.” Rather than being the harsh critic it is now the role of the problem solver.
This is actually a real life example and you know what happened? All of a sudden I thought of people I should talk to. It started with two people and one person recommended two other people to talk to.
Out of four conversations I had all the logistics planned out and confirmed, as well as a documented marketing plan that is already being executed.
Essentially what I did was I took all that frenetic energy of worry and self-doubt and I shifted it to problem solving when I committed to moving forward and asked the question, “What do I need to know or do to make this a success?”
If it’s a situation where you are second guessing an interaction you had, and I do this frequently, you can ask, “What can I do to resolve this conflict while honoring my relationship with this person and with myself?”
What often comes to me is a way to approach the other person graciously and from a place of service and before I know it we are better than we were before the conflict.
Tara Mohr gives some other suggestions for how to diffuse the inner critic so be sure to read the book to get her list of dos and don’ts when it comes to interacting with your inner critic and how to get better at identifying when your inner critic is at play.
It’s Time to Start Thinking about Your 2019 Goals
If you want to start the New Year with a bang you’re going to want to set your goals for next year before the New Year starts. December is the perfect time to plan, prepare and get excited about the year to come.
I meant that. I don’t see goals as a burden or another to do. I see goal setting as the process that gives me more clarity and structure around what is going to bring me to life. That’s why I call my goal setting process “creating goals that are worthy of you.”
It is a very personalized system because the goals that will bring me to life are not the goals that will bring you to life. This process will help you to create and achieve goals that are perfect for you.
Goal setting is the support system to playing big. It is because of my ability to set these personalized goals that I’ve been able to run a marathon, start a business, launch a podcast, write a book, become a national speaker and workshop facilitator, as well as do 1000 burpees in one workout, increase the profits in my business and do a live event.
Yes, the live event I am doing in December is one of my 2018 goals and it is happening!
And this is the perfect time of year to talk about setting and achieving goals in 2019.
It’s time to toss out the old arbitrary formula for setting goals and create goals that not only represent who you are and the life you want to live, they will guide you to let go of who you are not and old patterns that do not work for you as you journey toward your goal.
In this workshop you and I will:
- Explore what has worked and not worked for you in the past
- Create goals that are what you want for yourself (not what others want for you)
- Learn how to leverage your superpowers in the attainment of your goal
- Create a way to track your progress to sustain momentum
- Identify who you need to be to achieve your goals (missing from most goal setting systems and yet so crucial to your success!)
This process will reveal your Highest Self.
If you are done with either pursuing vanilla goals, suffering through the struggle of goals that are not aligned with your strengths, or dealing with heartbreak of an unattainable goal this workshop is for you!
- Date: Tuesday, December 4, 2018
- Time: 9:00 am-2:30 pm, Doors open at 8:30 am.
- Location: CoworkHERS, 411 Congress St, Portland ME
- Parking: Parking at the Temple Street Garage included in the price of the workshop.
- Price: $175, Early bird price of $125 until 11/23/2018
However, this space can only hold 32 participants and tickets have already been sold so don’t wait for the last minute to register. Get signed up now. Go to womentakingthelead.com/goals2019 and reserve your seat!
As always, I hope this was of value to you and here’s to your success!
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Accomplished: How to Go from Dreaming to Doing: A simple, step by step system that gives you the foundation and structure to take your goals and make them happen.
Create Goals that are Worthy of you: If you are done with either pursuing vanilla goals, suffering through the struggle of goals that are not aligned with your strengths, or dealing with heartbreak of an unattainable goal this course is for you!