In the article, “Helping an Employee Overcome Their Self Doubt”, Tara Sophia Mohr explains the “inner critic”. This is the voice inside your head that instills self doubt. Instead of thinking rationally, it irrationally underestimates your abilities. The voice is very black and white (ex: can I do it or not?), hones in on insecurities and anxieties, is pessimistic, and is very repetitive.
Here at Radial, we acknowledge that these fears and self-doubts will naturally come up, but learning how to manage these feelings is a valuable skill. One trick is to discuss out loud when you realize that your inner critic is talking. Saying something like, “I’m hearing my inner critic say it’s doubts about…” can help you realize that your worries aren’t coming from a rational place, so you may take the leap you were too afraid to take before.
For example, I was nervous that I wasn’t talented enough for my position as a marketing intern when I started at Radial, and that my superiors wouldn’t be satisfied with my work. I was hesitant to start projects because I feared what they would think. However, Radial encouraged to voice my concerns. When I expressed that my inner voice was telling me these things, Ben asked what the worst thing that could happen would be. I thought about it for a while, and said, “Well, my work could suck and nobody would like it”. Ben then said, “Ok. Then you take feedback and make it better”. I learned that he was right, and that the worst thing that could happen isn’t that bad. Plus, I would only benefit from my mistakes by strengthening my skills.
Knowing what events triggers your inner critic to speak up is a valuable skill for personal growth. When you identify these patterns, you can work with your mentors to build a clear path to success. This can mean different things to different people, but breaking down your project into milestones is a good place to start.
Setting reasonable and actionable goals make intimidating tasks more approachable, and Agile business practices are a great way to do this. Agile organizes large projects into bite-sized tasks, and each task is assigned into sprints (two-week work periods), making complex projects much more efficient and manageable. Completing many small tasks instead of hacking away at one large one allows developers to move from a beginner level to an expert one more quickly, widening their skill set. We use this process so that we can promise consistent delivery and the best final product for our clients.
To overcome our inner critics, Radial provides a supportive work environment that instills confidence in our employees. We encourage pairing on difficult tasks, asking questions, and seeing our mistakes as learning opportunities. We recommend this style of office culture to create the best version of your employees.
Expertise comes from experience and experimentation. Your inner critic focuses on the risks and discounts the rewards. Managing your risks when you lean into a weak area of your skillset is important. Find allies, retrospect your past challenges, and find opportunities to create safety-nets. Don’t just “hush” your inner critic, silence it entirely with plans and contingencies that ensure that you WILL be successful.