How are you doing battling the the inner voices? You know, those little voices that play in your head at weird times and distract you. The ones that you hope no one else ever hears, because it would be *horrible awful dreadful unimaginably bad you might need therapy* if anyone heard them. They’d know that you aren’t quite the you that you want them to think you are.
I’ve got ‘em. Lots of ‘em. I’ve tried a variety of regimes of positive self-thought. I’ve tried to Tony Robbins motivate them out of my head. I gave up drinking 30 years ago or I’d have to drown myself in hard liquor to quiet them down for a night. All these tactics work, for a little while, but they come back (usually the next time I try to do anything “risky,” or the next morning, whichever comes first). God help me deal with the inner voices!
I took some advice from Jon Acuff* and started writing down the inner voices I hear.
- Who the heck are you to be writing about leadership?
- Yeah, about 42 people might see this blog post, and only 6 finish it, so why bother?
- That idea isn’t ready to share, it’s not perfect yet.
- You couldn’t possibly earn a living doing this. Go back to your real job.
- You’re too wacky, not one will take you seriously.
- You’re too serious, not one will listen to you.
- Stop coloring outside the lines other “smart” people already drew.
- “There’s nothing new under the sun,” as it says in Ecclesiastes. Your me-too stuff is cluttering the world without adding value.
- What happens when they find out the “real” you isn’t very impressive?
- Grow up. Stop dreaming like this.
- The men in your family die in their mid-60′s, so you only have 15 years left and you don’t dare waste it on stupid stuff.
- Really, seriously, did you hear what you said?
- Don’t let them know that! Ack, they’ll know you’re a moron now. Way to go, buster.
(By the way, these are just related to my work coaching others and writing on leadership. I have a very active committee of voices, with sub-committees that focus on husband, father, homeowner, my regular job, etc. People with only one inner voice are either tone-deaf or extremely lucky.)
I’m sharing these for 2 reasons:
1. Publishing them like this takes away much of their power. They’re pretty ridiculous when you see them written down.
2. I strongly suspect you hear these kinds of voices, too. If you do, you’re not alone.
Can I say that again for you? Let it sink in: You’re not alone. Anyone has a creative bit of DNA (that includes you) is going to hear these voices that aim to persuade you to give up, give in, quit, surrender early, and do something other than what you are born to stretch into .
Several really smart people have written books on dealing with the voices. I think Steven Pressfield’s “War of Art” and Seth Godin’s “Linchpin” are particularly good.
Here’s something I will add to their recommendations: Find your identity.
This is where I greatly appreciate Jesus. When I was a kid in high school (1970′s) the big idea was to “find yourself.” Jesus found me. He has told me who I am (and whose I am). My identity is secure in Jesus, and completely independent of my identity as a family man, employee, etc.
( If you aren’t Christian, I still think you need to find you need to find your identity, apart from your employment or source of income. You’ll need to look deep inside. I also think you’ll have to have some religious perspective — the identity question touches the spiritual and eternal.)
When your identity is secure, you can tell the truth. You can tell the truth to yourself. You can tell the truth to others. You can tell the truth to those stupid voices in your head, too
Until next time, keep working on your craft.