As a follow on from my last journal entry about the inner critic I wanted to complete the journey by talking about the inner leader: the part that we all have inside us that knows us best, understands that we are capable of more than we often think we are, and that ultimately everything will turn out OK. We often fail to notice this voice because the inner critic or saboteur (my Darth Vader) has such a strong grip on us and we are so practised in believing all it tells us to be true.
I attended a Yoga class this week for the first time in let’s just say a ‘long time’ and I was reminded that Yoga is something that we must ‘practice’ to really feel it benefits. It struck me that to be aligned with your values, to focus on your strengths and to be guided by your inner leader rather than the saboteur also takes practice. I also realised that this practice has been somewhat lacking in my own life recently. In a conversation following the class, I talked about the reasons why I set up my own business and walked away from my previous role. It was about freedom, balance and doing what is important to me.
In the rush, eagerness and determination to create a successful business for myself, I’ve begun falling back into old habits and ways of working i.e. pushing myself to unreasonable limits and not giving myself permission for the time out that is so precious to me. More importantly, forgetting to be kind and compassionate to me. This realisation has made me take a step back over the past couple of days and reconnect with my own inner ‘strength’ which has a few different personas but the one I lean on most frequently is Yoda, the Jedi master from Star Wars.
Yoda teaches that “you must unlearn what you have learned” and most of what I’ve read about inner strength focuses in one way or another around the central theme of ‘training’ the mind to think or act differently. In the training that I did with CTI, the emphasis is on the inner ‘Captain’ who holds the key attributes of wisdom, compassion, courage and certainty & clarity. Your captain ultimately knows what is best for you and will guide you to the path that leads to your own version of fulfilment. In coaching, we also believe that there are many different versions of our self and that we can tune in to these ‘selves’ as and when we need them, depending on what is most useful to us in the moment, for example, all of us has an ‘appreciator’ within us that can see the value in any situation.
Reading Shirzad Chamine’s version of this in Positive Intelligence and his description of ‘The Sage’ is what first brought Yoda to my mind. He describes The Sage as the part of you that “can rise above the fray and resist getting carried away by the drama and tension of the moment or falling victim to the lies of the Saboteurs”. This again brings us back to mind over matter and that by engaging different areas of our brain than those that fuel the inner critic, we will be able to lessen its grip on us. Chamine suggests that we each have 5 great sage powers within us, that we can access them whenever we want and that ‘with practice’ this becomes easier. We all have a conscious choice over what we do and how we react in any situation. Turning to these 5 powers has a significant impact on our own well being and the relationships we have with others.
The 5 powers of the sage:
Chamine suggests that the sage has 5 great powers:
- Empathy – for yourself as well as others
- Ability to innovate and create solutions
- Navigating along a path that aligns with your values
- Taking action
When we have had years of being governed by our Saboteur it can take time to adopt the habits and behaviours that better serve us. Chamine has a tool that he uses with his clients to help them begin to think differently which I think is really helpful and perhaps a game changer. He calls this the ‘three gifts technique’. In any ’bad’ situation to start engaging the power of the sage, we must first identify what gifts or opportunity we have from that situation. For example, if you are in sales and are experiencing the pain and frustration of losing a big deal you have been working on, the three gifts of losing the deal might be:
- An opportunity to re-evaluate the company’s sales strategy
- Creating a push toward more rigorous and innovative product development
- Providing an opportunity to better serve existing clients by freeing up customer service staff that may otherwise have become overloaded.
He starts with this approach to help clients see a different perspective on a situation before moving forward. The premise being, taking a ‘sage’ approach will lead to a far bigger, bolder, braver and most likely better outcome than following the saboteur.
Our mindset when the Saboteur or Inner Critic is in charge:
- A sense of hopelessness
- A feeling that we are not good enough
- We often feel shame
- We plan for disaster rather than success
- Thinking the situation or conversation is ‘difficult’ rather than ‘important’
- Fear of impending doom
- Trapped and unable to move forward
- Unable to see solutions or opportunities
When we engage the powers of the sage, however, new ways of thinking open up:
- Seeing possibility
- Exploring and getting curious about the situation we are in
- Believing we can reach a successful outcome
- We have faith in ourselves and our ability to cope with whatever lies ahead
- We are kind and compassionate to ourselves
- Staying true to our values and what is important to us
- Knowing inherently that everything will be ok
- We are innovative and find answers easily
To become more open to the power and possibility inside you try tackling your next challenging situation by taking the following steps:
– what is it about this situation that is challenging?
– what evidence do you have to support this belief?
– what is causing you to feel the way you do about it?
– what options do you have for moving forward?
– how could you look at the situation differently?
– what are ‘the three gifts’ in this situation?
Be Empathetic with yourself and others
– what would it look like to be kind to yourself in this situation?
– what permission do you need to give yourself?
– what do you need to explore with others in this situation?
– how might others be feeling?
Be open to possibility
– what options do you have?
– if you couldn’t fail what would you do?
– what support is available to you?
– what is possible?
– what would it look like to achieve success and retain peace of mind?
– what opportunities do you have in the current situation?
Be aware of what’s important
– remind yourself of your values
– where are you in alignment and where are you turning away?
– what action do you need to take that you may be avoiding?
What is blatantly obvious in all of this is that engaging with your own inner leader takes thought, time and most importantly practice. So, the next time you find yourself in a daunting, perplexing, frustrating or difficult situation, before jumping in, take a step back and think about what your own inner leader wants for you. For me, this means staying connected to Yoda and thinking about what he would guide me to do.
“Many of the truths we cling to depend on our point of view” – Yoda