Burnout to Leadership

Ep#36 Championing Yourself

June 17, 2022 Dex Randall Season 1 Episode 36
Burnout to Leadership
Ep#36 Championing Yourself
Show Notes Transcript
  • Champion yoursef - the antidote to self-criticism.
  • How we get stuck in needing approval.
  • BE the approval you wish you could have from others.
  • Become MORE than your own best friend.

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Hi everyone, my name is Dex Randall, and this is the Burnout to Leadership podcast where I teach professional men to recover from burnout and get back to passion and reward at work. Hello, lovely peoples, this is Dex, and I'm gonna apologize right at the beginning, I do have a cold and I'm sorry if that affects the audio today, but what I'd love to talk about is championing today, championing the self. And let's look at what that means, very first of all, because let's assume that one of the reasons that you, probably a type A personality person are here is that you or someone you care about is experiencing burnout symptoms, like chronic stress, anxiety, overwork, de motivation, frustration and all the rest. So here's what Wikipedia says about a champion. Champion is a person who has surpassed all rivals in a sporting contest or other competition. No, I don't think that's it. A champion is a person who vigorously supports or defends a person or a cause. Okay, now we're on to something, 'cause perhaps for you, as for me, championing yourself is the latter, because the chances are, you haven't been doing a lot of that. Mind you, if you haven't, why on earth would you start now? Well, here's my question to you. How are you feeling? Maybe some things are going wrong for you. When things go wrong in our lives and we're upset, every single one of us somewhere inside has this weeping and wailing child wanting to be rescued. Am I right? We're basically all silently waiting to be rescued like kids, but guess what? If you're an adult, no one's coming. As an adult, we're gonna call that a victim state really, it's an acknowledgement that we don't think we can quite fix everything ourselves, and perhaps that we feel too shitty and worn out to even try. But you know, it's perfectly possible for us to learn as adults to champion ourselves, there is no rule that we have to be constantly harsh and mean and derisive about who we are and what we do in this world. And in coaching and self coaching, right at the beginning, I took a very firm stand, really early on to retire my inner critic and be nice to myself, and that's not kind of a wishy washy thing, it's because I finally heard some very, very persuasive logic about why beating myself up would never, in fact, could never make me a better person. And I'd always thought that was what it was doing, trying to keep my standards up, help me from making mistakes. But you know, if that was true, why then was I so depressed and burned out? Turns out, we're better motivated by the carrot than the stick. It's a design feature. Stick is for emergencies, carrot is for performance. Just gonna say that again. Stick is for emergencies, carrot is for performance. Because when we feel sustained positive emotion, it frees us up from anxiety and that allows us to get into flow state, creative state. It gives us space and passion to manifest our best thinking. And regardless of our actual skills, our attributes, experience, expertise, flow state produces a better result than anxiety, simple as that. And flow state is much better for teamwork, which is largely precluded when we're in chronic anxiety. I mean... And not to mention it's better for our health, our human relationships, and our sense of security and safety. Well, that's my belief anyway. You don't have to agree with me, of course. If you don't believe me, if you have some other belief, then I suggest you listen to the podcast episode number 14 on perfectionism and have a little experiment with yourself. But for me, I've created plenty of evidence that I run better on love than fear, it's just better fuel for me, better fuel for performance, well being in life. And you know, to put that into perspective, really, the expression "crippling anxiety" could certainly have been used to fit me when I was in burnout, I was non performant with the levels of anxiety and fear and worry and self doubt that I was experiencing. So, okay, championing myself then, becoming a person who vigorously supports and defends myself. That meant, first up, retiring my inner critic. And when I say retire, it's still there, of course, it just doesn't run my life anymore. And now we have a much friendlier relationship. Whenever it pops up, I don't fight it, I kind of thank it and just generally redirect my thoughts with a bit of champion and a little bit of light championing. And I think of that as abundant praise of the self, gratuitous or otherwise, it doesn't really matter. I invent a reason to be kind to myself. It's a little bit like a parent comforting a small child in distress. It's a little bit like the person who I wanted to rescue me, coming to rescue me. Don't tell anyone I said that. But really, if you're championing yourself, it means really, you'd like to be good for yourself, and I'm really all for that. If it means you'd like to perform better though, then I'm all for that too, because great performance is fun when it comes from a good and generous heart. Sustained and enjoyable great performance shows you championing yourself effectively, actually. It gets you back to passion. And if you're type A it's really... You know, better performance is really gonna appeal to you. So, okay then, if we wanna get back to performance, if that's the marker, what creates top level performance? And apart from the usual suspects that type A people have, I think about it as this, it's work ethic... Some of these, work ethic, intelligence, problem solving, ambition, drive, tenacity, competitiveness, sometimes aggression, not liking to lose, relentless learning, rigorously high standards, ruthlessness sometimes, speed, craftiness sometimes, manoeuvring, efficiency, network building, having exclusive skills, but it's also including things like confidence, self belief, self assurance, resilience, high self esteem, emotional intelligence and good communication, willingness to fail, willingness to be wrong, passion, conviction, persuasiveness. I don't know if any of those resonate for you, but it might be useful to ask yourself the question, Okay, what does create top level performance in my mind? Let's go on to what holds back top level performance. Well, here are some contenders you might think of, lack of staying power, laziness, lack of self belief, self doubt, overwork, getting lost in the weeds, procrastination, low standards, lack of urgency, anger, resentment, non cooperation, insubordination, need for approval, self effacement, need for control, approval seeking, insecurity, timidity, rigid views, selfishness, meanness, not being a team player, lack of sleep, worry, anxiety, overwork, overwhelm, irritability, withdrawal, anger, resentment, perfectionism, people pleasing, and of course, shame. That was a super long list, I mean, you could pick a couple from there, or you could have a completely different list. But I think it's good to really know what you believe creates top level performance and what you think holds it back for you. So write down that list for yourself. How am I doing okay now, what is working? How am I not doing how I'd like to right now, what's not working? And we're not doing that to beat yourself up. We're just doing it to recognize how you think about yourself and your performance and what you've got to work with, and sometimes, I didn't really pull out any stops when I... I didn't really pull any punches, I mean, when I made that list about what holds us back. But often when we have attitudes or behaviors that hold us back, quite often they're habits we've developed a long time ago and quite often the places where we need something we're not getting, or we get grumpy, irritable, resentful, angry and all of that. Quite often they are things that we've been taught early on in life, maybe our needs as a child didn't get met. We didn't get the unconditional love, approval, care, affection, attention, protection, security, play time, even nourishment, and boundaries and stuff like that, that we needed. Maybe we were disapproved of or maybe things were a bit sketchy when we were a kid. Maybe it wasn't okay to be who we were. And as a kid, we need to feel safe and we need to feel safe from our caregivers, whoever they may be. And if we don't get that, then as adults, we're quite often gonna be quite anxious and we're gonna experience a great need for control and safety that can't always be satisfied in our lives. So really, when we churn up a bit of the dirt here and we just have a look into the dynamics of how we are behaving, how we're showing up at work, what we like, what we don't love quite so much, then we can work out how to champion ourselves and also we can chuck out a few old ideas. If we see things that we've been doing that aren't really helping, we can re condition ourselves and produce more of what works, but I still think that the very first thing in championing yourself is deciding you're good enough. All of us have this inbuilt streak of not good enoughness. But we don't have to give it a lot of weight. We can just say, "We are human. I'm gonna do good things, I'm gonna do bad things, I'm gonna make mistakes, I'm gonna have triumphs. I'm gonna say things I regret. I'm gonna say wonderful things. I can just be me, I can just be human, flawed and wonderful both at the same time." So the decision that you're good enough rests on you. Nobody else can make you good enough, only you can. But you could decide it now, right now while you're listening to this and never go back on it. And I think that's a super power of championing yourself and flowing on from that really, you can also decide to give yourself unconditional love, regardless of what you're doing or not doing. You can give yourself unconditional self approval. It doesn't mean you condone your mistakes and think you'd like to make them again. It just means, "Okay, I'm human. I stuffed out one time. I still approve of myself in general. I still appreciate myself." Self appreciation, very, very important. Mostly our mind's locked into self criticism, won't notice anything good about ourselves or anything good that we did that we might appreciate, that we could afford to appreciate. The other thing is grace. We can give ourself grace for our mistakes, our shortcomings or anything we like, really. But just generally speaking, our hearts are in the right place. We'd like to do good and all. So from that point of view, the part of us that helps us give ourselves grace is recognition of our flawed humanity and acceptance of ourselves exactly as we are and from that also springs care. So self care very, very important. We have to treat ourselves well. If we don't treat ourselves well, it's going to be difficult to even receive good treatment from other people for one thing. But also we're not gonna feel very good very often. So that's kind of a little beginner list of what you might think about if you want to champion yourself. So what would I like to offer myself? What would help? What do I need? What do I crave here? And you can decide if any of the ones that I've mentioned work you or if you've got a list of your own. And as I said earlier, retire the inner critic. If you wanna know how to do that, listen to the podcast episode number six, which is called, Feeling Out of Control or episode number four about anxiety, and they're gonna give you some practical tips that you can work with retiring your inner critic. One of the things that you can also do is recognize that some of these patterns of self criticism emerged from childhood. Sometimes there are ways that our caregivers, our parents, whoever they were, criticised themselves, and they just handed those patterns on to us. So really, if you've got old patterns of self criticism, you can poke around at them and see if you want to keep believing that they are valid or not, because whose ideas were they originally? Not yours. You've inherited somebody else's belief and you're acting it out. So you don't have to keep doing that. It's a choice. And then once you start to turn that down a little bit, the self critic, you can start to develop self belief, and you can do that on purpose. Because you can look for ways every day, how can I believe in myself more today than I did yesterday? Well, how can I believe in myself in this area, which is new for me, it's an intentional thought you can generate for yourself. I choose to believe in myself as a kind human being, I choose to believe it myself as somebody who does housework, I choose to believe it myself as somebody who keeps the car clean, I don't know, it doesn't matter, anything, it can be at work, could be inside work, outside work, at home, doesn't matter. But find thoughts to help you generate belief in yourself. Here's another one, slow down, you might not want to do that, warning, if you're a type A, you almost certainly won't want to do that, but when you think about it, if you're not willing to slow down, what is it you're keeping your mind busy for? What are you running away from? That might be really helpful to investigate because it's probably a feeling, it could be any kind of negative feeling that you're running away from, so you're keeping yourself over busy so your mind doesn't wander into that dangerous territory that generates a negative emotion for you. It could be imposter syndrome, inadequacy, it could be shame, it could be frustration, it could be anger, could be resentment, it could be anything really, but ask yourself what you're running away from, and then learn how to feel those feelings. And that again is, I'm not gonna go through it now 'cause it would take a little while, but I'm gonna put a separate episode out on how to live with those tricky feelings that we tend to run away from, because what we can do when we slow down, and when we develop self belief, we counteract the imposter syndrome that we have intrinsically while we're in burnout, we don't think we're good enough, and it comes across as imposter syndrome usually, but we can counteract that on purpose every time a thought of impostor syndrome comes up, we can deliberately search for a thought about how we were effective, how we were productive, how we were useful, how we did do our work, how we were marvellously helpful or problem solving. We can do that. It's just a choice. 'Cause really what that means is we're recognizing instances where our performance is good enough, and they're the instances that we tend to overlook as a habit. We can celebrate the ordinary and the extraordinary wins, any win is a good win. Right? But when did you last take time to celebrate, how many times, for example, in the last day or even the last week, have you celebrated anything that you did that was in any way creditable or useful? Sometimes I set the exercise to my clients of writing down 10 things they appreciate about themselves every day, but you could write down 10 ordinary wins every day as well, if you can't find 10 things that you did that were a win today that were helpful, useful, kind, considerate, whatever, then it's because you're rusty, it's because you're out of practice, it's not because you didn't do them. We can also drop our rulebook for ourselves, if we have these stratospheric standards for ourselves, we can drop them back 2%. Nobody else would know, I can guarantee you, when you come out of this kind of self criticism, you will not perform worse, you will actually perform better because you will have more energy and enthusiasm for performance, so dropping a little bit of your standards doesn't actually make any difference to the work quality that you produce, it just makes a difference to how much you beat yourself up about it. And on that token, you can also be in the present moment, meditation, I'm talking about meditation, I'm talking about self awareness, because almost certainly in the present moment, nothing is going wrong, well in the present now, you're listening to this podcast episode, what's wrong in this actual moment now? Not when you finish listening, but now? It's probably nothing. So it can be very reassuring, it can be a way of demonstrating that the emergency that your head is telling you is happening is not actually happening right now. Another thing is, if you're judging your actions or your inactions or your behavior or your speech as substandard by whatever your own rules are, it's always useful to remember that this kind of behavior, the behaviors that we don't approve of, normally come from fear, they don't come from a happy brain, and so since we are all going to feel fear at times, then it's natural that some of us will do things that we don't find completely wonderful at all times, so if you're a human being, if you have behaviors you don't approve of and they do come from fear, maybe you could cut yourself a little bit of slack. Because in all probability, these behaviors you're judging, we're not intentionally causing harm, it could have been an oversight, it could have been you were too tired and grumpy, it could have been all sorts of reasons, but it probably isn't out of malice, so be gentle with yourself as a human, a fallible and flawed, yet still at the same time, perfect human. And have compassion, have compassion for the suffering you experience, that cause you to exhibit this behavior, and have compassion for anybody who is suffering alongside of you. Because compassion is, not only is it healing to the self, it's accepting as well, it's kind of relaxing, it's like, Oh yeah, we don't have to be perfect, I don't have to be perfect. They don't have to be perfect either. But it's quite good a connector as well, it connects us with our own humanity and with the humanity of others, it puts us in a gentler space, so alongside behaviors that you don't approve of, you know also if you have things that you're doing or not doing that you regard as a failure, failure is a very difficult thing to live with if you make it mean that you're a failure. If a failed activity means that you're a failure it's gonna really, really super hurt you. What if failure didn't mean anything? What if it just meant, Oh, I tried to do something, it didn't work out, I'll try again. So you can let go of your sternness, your harshness around this perception of failure being something bad, failure is actually just a part of life, if you can think of anybody who never has failure, can you send me an email? 'Cause really, it's all about all of these kindnesses that we give to ourselves when we're championing ourselves, we become much gentler and warmer towards ourselves, and we kind of sink back into being more of a human being than a human doing. Because a human doing is going like the clappers trying to achieve approval. The reason we're so driven is because we want to be safe, we want to be approved of. We want to be okay. And the drive, it never abates. Does it? I mean, we get one moment of approval and then we think, "Well, I might still be wrong, I need a bit more." Whether it's self approval or external approval, we're still being a human doing because we don't feel safe yet. Whereas when we retire back into our human beingness, when we relax, when we connect with our hearts and our bodies and our minds in a more gentle way, then automatically we are going to feel a little bit safer anyway. And the other thing, of course, I'm a strong believer in self coaching surprise, hey. I'm getting coached 'cause it helps us see where we're stuck. It helps us deal with the things that we have in our blind spot that are holding us back. All of our habits that are such long standing habits that we either don't notice them or we do notice them and they're painful and we don't think we can change them. Now we can, neuroplasticity lasts until our last puff, so we can. But quite often, self coaching is one tool we use to help us see ourselves more clearly and gain awareness of how we're creating things in our lives that we don't like. But getting coached is even stronger because it hits us straight in the blind spot, and it brings things that are easy to fix to our attention for fixing and it teaches us how to fix them. So that's my little snapshot on championing yourself. It's one of my favorite topics. I love championing myself, now I'm much happier because of it. I have a lot more joy and relaxation because of it, even though my inner critic lives on and it's quiet and relentless little way it's part of the human mind, I don't care. But I would advocate this for everybody, particularly those people who have a very strong and harsh inner critic that never shuts up. The antidote is this, it's championing yourself. So whatever you picked up from today that may have resonated for you or was useful to you, I would really encourage you to champion yourself by embracing the positive on purpose, nobody's looking, right? Nobody's gonna see you doing this. You can do it in the privacy of your own mind, be kind, be gentle with yourself always. As ever, thank you very much for listening today. That's all I got. If you're in burnout, you must come and talk to me how to recover quickly and sustainably and get back to your best performance and enjoyment inside work and outside work. If you're in burnout and ready to recover, come and join my Burnout To Leadership program. You can book in to talk with me at burnout.dexrandall.com. Just tell me what's bugging you and let's make a plan to fix it.