The 5 voices in your head – managing them for success!
When preparing for, or going through, your next transition your self-image is essential in helping you work through it successfully.
How you see yourself, or how you believe other people see you, can often be really helpful and supportive. On the downside it can also really get in the way of you reaching your full potential or in the worst cases stop you even trying in the first place.
There are 5 voices that we can talk about and here are some thoughts about what they are and how to manage them. I call them the 5 C’s.
The first three voices are the broadly helpful voices – your Core voice, your Confident voice and your Cautious voice.
The other two voices are the ones that can cause real issues. They are your Critical voice and your Conceited voice
Let’s have a quick look at them and how to work with them
Your Core voice
You core voice is the one that represents your true self. It represents an accurate analysis of your key strength’s and weaknesses across all your capabilities – your skills knowledge and behaviours. You might call this your emotionally intelligent voice. It tells you what you know about yourself and what you think others believe about you and if you tested it out by seeking feedback people would broadly agree with your own analysis.
Use this voice by being able to accurately assess you current capability set against the needs of any future roles or positions – it can help you identify any gaps in your skill set so you can put plans in place to rectify them and can help you figure out what makes you uniquely qualified to take on new challenges and set you apart from the crowd.
Your Confident voice
This is the voice that pushes you to step outside your comfort zones and take on new challenges with the recognition you might not have all the attributes to succeed but you have the self-belief and confidence to try. It gives you the self-belief you can learn from any mistakes when you’ve pushed yourself, and that it’s ok to make mistake as you have stepped into a new area, rather than feel embarrassed or let down by anything that does go slightly wrong.
Use this voice to give you the motivation to try new things, to stretch yourself outside your comfort zones into a learning zone. Notice when your lack of a confident voice might be holding you back from an opportunity and learn how to dial it up.
Your Cautious voice
This is the voice that stops you jumping in feet first and potentially being completely out of your depth, it helps you recognise the things you have learnt that you might not be great at and also when you have learnt to manage yourself in certain situations when things have gone wrong previously
On a good day it stops you making a bit of an idiot of yourself and helps you recognise when to just hold yourself back a bit until you have enough information to act. It helps you to be curious and to learn about situations before jumping in – listen to it to keep yourself safe. On a bad day it can inhibit action and maybe make you come across as quiet or lacking drive – on these days learn when it is just holding you back a little too much and learn to dial it down a bit.
Your Critical voice
This is the voice that tells you you’re not good enough, you don’t deserve success or a promotion. It’s the inner critic that really undermines self-confidence and self-esteem and beats you up when things go slightly wrong by over-catastrophising the reality of the situation.
If you ignore this voice it tends to shout louder and if you engage it in an internal dialogue it distracts you from the real issue wasting your own energy.
The way to deal with this voice is to recognise the various critical voices and then have enough examples of when things have gone well to remind yourself of your own agency. To be able to acknowledge the voice as simply an inner doubt and to know that you can do something as you know there are times when you have succeeded before.
Your Conceited voice
This is the voice that over-exaggerates your own competence and encourages you to jump into situations you really aren’t prepared for with a degree of arrogance and absence of humility. It tells you you’ll be absolutely fine when in reality you just aren’t equipped for the situations at hand – choosing to run a 10k without any training because you used to run them 15 years ago!
It’s also the voice that when you can’t run that 10k makes you feel ashamed or embarrassed and can lead internal questioning of other competencies you might have taken for granted.
Before jumping in feet first seek counsel from trusted allies or mentors about your plans and test whether you are really ready for it. Be open to feedback and at least take time to think whether some of it might be true.
If you’ve already jumped in and it’s not going as well as you expected learn to look at your own part in the situations and create and action plan – better doing something sooner rather than later. Also, recognise any defensive strategies that you have built that push the blame outside – if you can’t acknowledge your own aprt then it will be difficult to really change it for the better!
Steve Holloway is an Executive Coach and Leadership Development Consultant with a particular interest and focus on transitions of individuals, teams and organisations.
Alternatively get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org