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From Inner Critic to Inner Coach

Updated: May 9, 2022

Consider the quote from Teddy Roosevelt: “It’s not the critic who counts. Not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.” Can you turn off your inner critic, the voice that doesn’t count, and look at the dialogue that does?

Ask yourself the following questions:

Sometimes—oftentimes—we understand what something is by exploring what it is not.

What is the opposite of criticism?


An understanding that you can do the do-able, on your way to creating the impossible (or maybe just the inventory report for next quarter). Shifting gears from criticism to encouragement, we look at the nature of success. Ask yourself, or your team (if you are facilitating a group workshop or team-building exercise) to share insights on these questions:

Are your answers circumstantial (such as finances, training, and education)? If so, go upstream—because there are many stories of people who have overcome circumstances to see powerful and compelling (dare I say, “successful”?) results. Look at the aspects of perspective and mindset that are making success elusive. If you had money, resources, training, recognition...or whatever circumstances you there anything else that would keep you from being who you are meant to be?

Circumstances are a fallback position that show a lack of imagination and creativity. Watch out for a game of blamestorming, not inspiration—and don’t play it. Circumstances invite and amplify your inner critic. Blamestorming takes over when we look at circumstances. If you’re blaming someone or something else, how can you take ownership for your results? Because of circumstances, or in spite of them: we have to play the game. And we play full out when we aren’t listening to our inner critic.

When blamestorming appears, a deep misunderstanding can ensue. For example, “I can’t access success because I am working from home, and I have too many obligations and responsibilities.”

Ask yourself, or have the facilitator ask the group, this three-word question: Is that true?

Because things that are true are always true. Like the law of gravity. It works for you, it works for me, whether we want it to or not. Whether we believe in it or not. Doesn’t require faith, fame or fortune. Gravity is just true.

Some folks work from home and they are burdened and burnt out. Some folks work from home and they are not. Similar circumstances. Different results.

So, does success rely on circumstances? Or something else?

Perhaps if we explore the “something else” we can facilitate true change. We can change our relationship with work. We can find agency instead of victimhood. We can design our work environment from the inside out, from a place of understanding (not just control, instruction and criticism).

The Success from Anywhere Game asks you to look away from your circumstances to find that “something else”.

● Write down all the things that people don’t really understand about success. Look for myths and misunderstandings.

● Given these lists, what can you do to access success from anywhere? Because understanding how a thing works—in a way that’s just true—can help us to access new results.

Here are some possible outcomes around what we don’t realize about success. Which did you discover, and what could you add to this list?

● That success results from a carefully thought-out plan

● That success will make you happy

● That success is about “hard” work and not “smart” work

● That success is something you really understand

● That success only exists if it is externally validated

● That success has a shortcut

● That success is achieved on our own

From a new understanding around the relationship between success and criticism, we enter into a place where circumstances can be shaped. Designing the future of work, and designing the culture of high performance, comes from accessing success on an individual level. Working from home might work for you, but not for me, for example. Designing an organization around a “one size fits all” model, or “this size fits most” is not optimal for success.

Success happens one person, and one conversation, at a time. That conversation takes shape when misunderstandings are replaced with truth, and the willingness to explore new ways of designing the future of work. And, quite frankly, your career.

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