Cultivate Your Inner Voice of Courage (Video)

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You’re not smart enough. You’re too new to this. You make bad choices.

We all have critical voices in our heads that peck away at our self-confidence and undermine our dreams. But imagine if the only voices you heard in your mind were on your side. Thanks to one particularly strong, supportive voice in my life, I was able to root out the naysayers and replace them with cheerleaders. The trick was to deliberately seek out and cultivate lots of supportive voices. Voices that gave me the courage to risk.

To identify your own potential inner guides, simply follow the praise. The next time someone pays you a compliment, lean into it:

Let it in. It sounds simple, but it’s maddeningly hard to do – especially in the moment. First, it means banishing critical voices. (They rarely leave quietly.) Second, you must hear what was said. Often, we have a reflexive response to compliments. Too embarrassed to receive them, we brush off kudos with a quick “thank you” and a change of subject. Only later do we realize how meaningful the remarks were and allow ourselves to feel the rush of satisfaction. Remember to stay present, be curious, and let the words land.

Believe it. Once you’ve invited a compliment into your head, the real work begins. Now, you must allow for the possibility that what was said might be true. “You’re a good speaker!” Even if you want to accept the idea, if it challenges how you see yourself things can get uncomfortable fast. It means stretching or outright changing your self-perception. Don’t back down from the praise. Sit with it. Play with the idea. What if it is true?

Pass it on. Be a positive voice for others. Again, this one sounds easy, but in a world that equates critiques with smarts and discernment, it can be hard not to qualify your compliment. Or worse, to give inappropriate or awkward praise: “Sure, the presentation tanked, but you looked great!” Give a simple, genuine compliment and let it go.

And when things inevitably go off the rails?

Breathe. Challenge your definition of failure and call on one of your most trusted inner voices for advice.

These days all the voices in my head are by invitation only.  After years of careful curation, I finally have a team I can count on to give me just the perspective I need in the moment.

To learn more, please take a moment to watch the video.
And then listen.
Listen for your voice of courage.

This video appeared on YouTube, April 22, 2016.

Sabina Nawaz

Sabina Nawaz is a global CEO coach, leadership keynote speaker, and writer working with executives in Fortune 500 corporations, government, non-profits, and academia.  Previously Sabina spent 14+ years at Microsoft first in software development and then in HR.  She led the company’s executive development and succession planning efforts for over 11,000 managers and 700 executives. Sabina has spoken at hundreds of seminars, events, and conferences. Sabina believes the greatest privilege of working with leaders is bearing witness to their acts of courage.

Look for more stories, insights, and advice on thriving as a leader on Forbes, HBR, and Inc and her TEDx talk. Follow her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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