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Stop Being Bullied by Your Inner Critic


Do you find that your professional growth is slowed by your inner critic? Learn how to manage that inner bully.

Bossy Child

Do you find that your professional growth is slowed by your inner critic?

Most physicians will respond to the changes of the Affordable Care Act by trying something new. Maybe you're thinking about changing your practice model, or speaking to attract more patient referrals, or creating a podcast series. Then that little voice reminds you that you are venturing out beyond the familliar, where danger lurks.

I've been watching a family of nesting osprey. Imagine if the chicks hatched with inner critics saying, “Stay in the nest; it’s safe here.” Or, “What makes you think you can fly? “ Or, “Don’t jump. You could get yourself killed.” Nests all over the world would be filled with dead birds!

Do not let your inner critic kill your aspirations!

Your inner critic would like you to believe that it represents the voice of reason. Maybe the voice says, “That idea will never fly.” Or, “Who do you think you are?” Or, “That’s not good enough.”

The truth is that your inner critic is more like a bossy child. Sometimes it’s a downright bully.

Letting your inner critic make your professional choices is like letting your child make your vacation plans.

You can manage your inner critic the same way you manage a bossy child.

When your inner critic rejects an idea that could threaten your safety, say, “Thank you for sharing. I’ll consider that point when I make my choice.”

Here are three phrases that balance the limiting messages of your inner critic:

  • Done is better than perfect. So says Alan Weiss, and it’s my working mantra. Some people spend their time getting ready to get ready. Don’t! Get out and take action.
  • It’s okay if you suck. An art teacher delivered these words when she looked over my shoulder and saw I was having a hard time getting started. The first blog post or video or blog post you create will not be a masterpiece. That’s okay! You didn’t give up the first time you rode your bike without training wheels, or shot a basket. You practiced, and got better. Give yourself permission to make a mess and craft something that might wind up in the garbage. That’s how masterpieces are created.
  • Fail fast. Talk with anyone who has risen to levels of greatness, and they will tell you they have failed. Test the water first. If you think you want to write a book, start blogging. You may think an idea will fly; gather evidence to prove it before you dive in.

You want to make informed choices as you plan your next professional steps.

Let a thoughtful adult--not a bossy child--make these choices.

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Victor J. Dzau, MD, gives expert advice
Victor J. Dzau, MD, gives expert advice