Inner Critic Inner Success (Book Review)

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2022

image“If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” – Vincent van Gogh

What’s holding you back?  Hopefully, not you.

It’s easy to sabotage your own success, whether it’s a limiting belief or your own Inner Critic.

You Feel Nothing You Do Ever Do is Good Enough

Maybe it takes the form of perfectionism, where nothing you ever do is ever good enough.   Or, maybe you feel like a fake or a phony, and you don’t deserve success.  Maybe you feel like a people pleaser and need to be all things to all people.

Or, maybe you feel like a driver or high achiever who can never rest, and who is “always on.”  Maybe you compare yourself to others in a way that chops you down and belittles your own self-worth.

You Sabotage Your Own Success

Or maybe you sabotage your own success simply by undermining your own efforts, hard work, and brilliant ideas.  Maybe you have an unrealistic definition of success — it’s not attainable by mere mortals.  Or maybe your definition of success is not authentic — even if you were to attain it, you would not be happy because it’s not authentic, and it’s not true to you.

Success is an Inside Job

After all, no success on the outside can ever make up for a lack of success on the inside.

Whatever the challenge that lies within you, the answer is to work the core — your inner core.

If you integrate your thoughts, your feelings, and your mental models, as well as your self-awareness, your self-knowledge, and your Emotional Intelligence, you can use your Whole-Person Intelligence.   And, your Whole-Person Intelligence is how you can bring out your best and bring your A-game to work and life.

Your Inner Critic Can Help Your Inner-Success

In Inner Critic Inner Success: Claiming Your Success While Taming the Critic, Stacey Sargent shares an approach to bridge and to blend your Inner Critic with your Inner Success.  Stacey Sargent is the CEO of Connect Growth and Development and she is an authentic facilitator, coach, speaker and author.

Stacey’s mission is to help bring humanity back to the workplace.

Here is a guided tour of Inner Critic Inner Success

Chapters at a Glance

  • Introduction: Why, Why, Why
  • Chapter 1 This is How We Roll
  • Chapter 2 Meet the Cast of Inner Critic Characters
  • Chapter 3 Know Thyself; Know Thy Critic
  • Chapter 4 Show Me the Data
  • Chapter 5 Taking a Different Look
  • Chapter 6 Your Divine Flaw
  • Chapter 7 Work Your Core
  • Chapter 8 Know Thy Success; Know Thyself
  • Chapter 9 Rocking Your Strengths PLUS
  • Your Definition of Success
  • Work Your Crew
  • Cultivating Your Practice

Problems Addressed

Here is a sampling of some of the challenges that Inner Critic Inner Success helps you with:

  • Learn how to defeat limiting self-talk and limiting beliefs
  • Learn how to use your Inner Critic to support a useful purpose
  • Learn how to create your own, unique, authentic definition of success
  • Learn how to use Whole-Person Intelligence to leverage your mind, body, and emotions in any situation
  • Learn how to get unstuck
  • Learn how to use self-defeating voices to achieve authentic career success
  • Learn how to use your strengths to energize and renew yourself on a daily basis
  • Learn how to practice your success stories
  • Learn how to use your Divine Flaw to step into your greatness
  • Learn how to build a board of directors to support you for the road ahead

Key Features

Here are some of the key features of Inner Critic Inner Success:

  • Coach-in-a-Book.   Inner Critic Inner Success is like having a one-on-one coaching process, at your own pace.
  • Activities and Worksheets.  With more than 30 activities,  you can turn insight into action, internalize the information, and practice what you learn.
  • Conversational Writing.  Stacey writes like she’s there with you, across the table.  It’s a conversation among friends, not from a soap box, a pedestal, or high-horse.
  • Stories and Real-World Experience.    Stacey’s coaching experience shines through in her ability to explain things in a way that only a coach can.  She shares real-world experience, and stories from her clients that have been through the process.

Here is a sampling of some of my favorite highlights and nuggets from the book …

Inner Critic Inner Success

Success is a dynamic thing and it starts from the inside out, flaws and all.

Stacey writes:

“I believe that as you develop your capacity to reduce its power over you, you can become an Inner Critic Master (earning Black Belt status).  Similarly, I believe that success isn’t static and it’s human nature to experience new desires, give birth to new goals, and update your vision of Inner Success.  And guess what happens when you do? A new Inner Critic pops up!  Your Inner Critic and your Inner Success are related in a dynamic relationship.”

The Most Defeating Struggle I Witness

Doubt is a killer of spirits.

Stacey writes:
“This is the most defeating struggle I witness — staying in a job that makes you unhappy; losing the ability to muster your best efforts, energy, and talent; and then suffering even more debilitating self-doubt.  Shower. Rinse. Repeat.  This vicious cycle kills people’s spirits and it pains me to witness them in that place, especially when I know I can help them.”

Stacey’s Coaching Philosophy

Just like the Scarecrow, the Lion, and the Tin Man, you’ve already got what you need inside.  But a clever coach can help you reveal what you’re capable of.

Stacey writes:

“As a coach, I believe that my clients already have everything they need to figure out the solutions themselves.  My job is to help nurture their self-understanding, self-awareness, and self-knowledge, so they can recognize it and engage their own capabilities.  It’s a vastly different role than that of a manager, mentor or teacher.”

3 Key Questions That Unleash You

To achieve meaningful change you have to get clear on what you want, why it matters, and what needs to change.

Stacey starts the process with 3 prompts:

  1. WHAT does success look like?
  2. WHY does it matter?
  3. What do you need to change or learn in order to get there?

Utilize Your Emotional Power

We’re not as rational as we think we are.  But that’s not a bad thing.  We just need to know how to use them.

Stacey writes:

“Learning to understand and utilize your emotions empowers you to become your absolute best.  There’s a ton of published research (in books such as Primal Leadership, Emotional Intelligence 2.0, The Happiness Advantage, Drive, and Working with Emotional Intelligence) suggesting that your emotional brain has much greater influence over your attitudes, behaviors, and actions than your rational brain. 

One of my favorite passages in Jonathan Haidt’s work on the subject is, ‘Human rationality depends critically on sophisticated emotionality.  It is only because our emotional brains work so well that our reasoning can work at all.’  Our emotions are necessary!  Most people have a vague understanding that Emotional Intelligence (E.Q.) is important, but they don’t know much about accessing it and applying it.”

Whole-Person Intelligence

Bring all of you to the table.

Stacey writes:

“Now, don’t get me wrong — I absolutely love my own rational brain and my client’s vast cognitive skills.  But I want to advocate expanding into what I call ‘Whole-Person Intelligence.’  This endeavors to add emotional intelligence and body wisdom to the rational, cognitive intelligence.  This powerful trio gets you access to all your assets, intelligence, and wisdom, allowing you to bring the best of all of you forward.”

3 Questions that Build Emotional Intelligence

Stacey shares 3 question to help you build your Emotional Intelligence skills:

  1. What are you feeling?
  2. What are you thinking?
  3. What’s’ your physical reaction?

By asking question #1, you get better at identifying whether you are feeling mad, glad, sad, or afraid.  By asking question #2, you get better at distinguishing your thoughts from your feelings.  By asking question #3, you get better at understanding how your experiences, decisions, and environment are impacting your body.

6 Inner-Critic Characters

Stacey introduces 6 Inner-Critic characters that limit or hinder us, rather than help, or lift us:

  1. The Perfectionist
  2. The Driver (a.k.a. The-Do-It-All)
  3. The Fraud (a.k.a. The Fake)
  4. The Pleaser
  5. The Saboteur
  6. The Comparer

Where Does the Inner-Critic Come From

The Inner-Critic is a bad habit we developed in our younger years.

Stacey writes:

“The critic’s origins stem from when you were a little kid figuring out how to survive in the world — which was made up of your family, culture, religion, ethnicity, education, and society at large.  It was very useful back when you were investigating how things worked in your environment.  Unfortunately, as you get older and those strategies you once employed became unnecessary, the critic voice stayed with you as nothing more than a deeply ingrained habit.

For example, you might have grown up in a family environment in which getting good grades garnered a lot of positive attention.  This often shows up later in life as a High Achiever (on the positive side) or as a Perfectionist Critic (on the negative side.)”

5 Elements of an Inner-Critic Attack

Stacey breaks down the key steps of an Inner-Critic attack:

  1. Feeling(s).  A ‘feeling’ or emotional response that originates in the limbic brain.  For example, ‘I feel afraid because I’m about to go into my performance review.’
  2. Message(s). A ‘thinking’ response by way of an Inner-Critic message that originates in the rational brain.  For example, ‘I suck at my job.’
  3. Physical. A physical response that might manifest anywhere in your body.  For example, a suddenly churning stomach that sends you running to the rest room.
  4. Trigger(s). A trigger event that provoked your Inner Critic.  For example, your annual performance review, a phone message from your boss or public speaking.
  5. Pattern(s).  A pattern — that is, a specific set of circumstances that prove to be a fertile breeding ground for your Inner Critic.  For example, you have to give a presentation, and it’s in a meeting packed with VIPs, and it’s on a research project you’ve worked long and hard on, and this work means a lot to you.  If that weren’t enough, you haven’t been sleeping well and you really, really want this meeting to go well.

You Can’t “Cure” an Emotion

Emotions aren’t something you can problem solve, or think your way out of.

Stacey writes:

“Phoebe had no idea how she felt because as soon, as soon as she’d begin to feel sad, she’d stuff it and distract herself by going into thinking mode — that is, rationalizing and problem solving.  She got busy to avoid feeling, but her sadness didn’t go away.  Sound familiar?  Our brain’s coping mechanism is to see everything as a problem we need to fix.  But you can’t ‘cure’ an emotion — certainly not by thinking your way out of it.”

Name It to Claim It

By naming your emotions, you can reduce the power they have over you, or at least address them more effectively.

Stacey writes:

“You have to feel your way out of it; you’ve got to ‘name it to claim it.’  Naming the emotion you’re feeling reduces its hold on you (and it gives your thinking brain something to chew on by way of an answer, which helps dial down the mental gymnastics, too).  Phoebe’s simple acknowledgment that she felt sad and attending to that sadness meant that the motion had less need to jump up and down and scream for Phoebe’s attention.”

Switching from Auto-Pilot to Choice

If you figure out how you’d rather respond, you can start to create new choices versus react on auto-pilot.

Stacey writes:

“After bringing my awareness to how I do respond during Comparer attacks, I next set my mind to determining how I’d rather respond.  While I’d like to not feel vulnerable and nervous, I know feelings aren’t something I can control.  I’d also like to not have all those undermining thoughts, and while I can turn down the volume and reduce their impact (by doing the work in this book), I can’t switch my brain off, either. 

What I can do is shift my physical auto-response.  The last thing my facilitating partner and my client needs is for me to go dark.  I need to bring all of me — my skills, expertise, passion and empathy — in order to create the best, most enriching experience for everyone concerned.  Despite my feelings and thoughts, I can still work towards staying engaged, being vocal, making decisions and reminding myself of what I do have to offer.”

Don’t Believe Everything You Think

Like it or not, we fool ourselves on a regular basis, even if we mean well.  Our filters and our focus can distort our thinking.

Stacey writes:

“One of my favorite sayings is, ‘Don’t believe everything you think.’  It has both wisdom and humor.  When I say this, people generally tip their heads to one side.  They think about it for a minute and then comes that moment when they get it. 

Their heads pop back up and they laugh, but they have a bit of mystified look, too, because they’ve also just realized that those powerful big brains of theirs aren’t as powerful as they’d always believed them to be.  Worse, the brains they’ve put all their trust in — the rational parts of themselves that have served them so well over the course of their lives, and have produced glorious, all-sacred answers and solutions — are sometimes liars.”

The Truth Series

Stacey shares 4 questions you can use to break down your Inner Critic message and separate fact from fiction:

  1. Is it one hundred percent true?
  2. What is more true?
  3. What is less true?
  4. What else could be true?

“Tyranny of the OR” and Embrace a BOTH/AND Approach

Look for ways to have your cake and eat it too.  It works for visionary companies and it can work for you, too.

Stacey writes:

“In the book, Built to Last, Jim Collins and Jerry Porras call this the ‘Tyranny of OR’ — the kind of thinking that pushes people to believe that things must be either A or B; they can never be both.  For example, I often hear clients say, ‘I love the work I do now’ OR, ‘I could become a manager, meaning they can either be an individual contributor doing the work they love OR they become a manager and therefore will have to forsake the tasks they formerly enjoyed.

And, while it’s true that being promoted invariably means learning to delegate, I challenge my clients around their belief that they have to choose between one OR the other — I challenge them to open up to a BOTH/AND approach.  Collins and Porras note that it is a habit of ‘highly visionary companies to embrace BOTH extremes AND a number of dimensions at the same time.’  I encourage you to adopt this invaluable philosophy.  It may help you become a highly visionary individual and see beyond your critic messages.”

The Possibilities in Your Shadow

Rather than a shadow of your former self, your shadow just might be a foreshadow of your future self

Stacey writes:
“We’re going to step back from the pool table to take yet another look at your Inner Critic — this time, as an aspect of your personality that you’ve kept hidden because you’ve deemed it unacceptable, undesirable or unbecoming.  This neglected part of oneself is often referred to as a ‘shadow.’  Sometimes a shadow has echoes of the Inner Critic.  But while a shadow sounds like a typical Inner Critic message, it could actually be something you need to pay attention to, something that wants and needs to see the light of day.”

See the Big Picture Before Taking the Easy Shot

Don’t just go for the easy shot that’s right in front of you.  See the big picture and look at your options from a few different angles.  Plan ahead, while playing forward.

Stacey writes:

“My dad taught me to play pool at the local tavern when I was a kid. (Ah, the beauty of growing up in a small town!) When it was my turn, I’d be chomping at the bit to jump in and take my shot — already eyeing that solid yellow ball sitting near the corner pocket. ‘Slow down, Stace,’ my dad would say, ‘make sure you walk all the way around the table and see every shot.’  At eight years of age, I didn’t really want to slow down, I wanted to sink that yellow ball. 

But my dad patiently coached me to see the big picture of the game itself — versus zeroing in on the easiest shot to take next.  He stressed the importance of looking at the whole table, making sure I’d viewed it from all perspectives, before choosing my move.  Inevitably, my patience would yield a completely different shot I hadn’t seen at first glance or a golden possibility masquerading as a seemingly impossible angle”

You Have More Than One Success Story

Stay open to multiple success stories.  You don’t need big dreams to enjoy massive success, and success can often be serendipitous.

Stacey writes:
“Even though Christine’s exploration revealed a very big life purpose and a major life philosophy, please don’t become married to the idea that your Divine Flaw should be profound.  And whatever you do, don’t expect to find The Answer to The Question: what’s it all about?  It’s unrealistic to expect that identifying your Divine Flaw means you’ll have solved the ultimate puzzle.  That’s just harkening back to Perfectionism and Either/Or thinking — which isn’t how life works.  You have more than one Divine Flaw, just as you have more than one Inner Critic and more than one Success story.  And with time, practice and attention, you’ll begin to uncover them all.”

Strengths PLUS (Your Energizing Strengths)

Your greatest growth is in your strengths.  The key is to use more of your energizing strengths, more of the time.

According to Stacey, your energizing strengths are ones that make you Lighter, Open, and Lifted (LOL).

Stacey shares a recipe to live your strengths:

  1. Raise your awareness level around those moments that bring you to life and fill you up
  2. Know what Strengths you’re engaging in these moments
  3. Take action and intentionally create more of these moments

Your Authentic and Alive Definition of Success

If you want authentic success, you need to include all of you.

Stacey writes:

“How do you stay true to yourself and to what’s important to you while navigating fear and doubt as you move towards Success?  By integrating all aspects of yourself — the deepest, the darkest depths of your Inner Critic and the most authentic truth of your Inner Success — and by creating a solid container to hold both as you take the heart-pounding ride that is life.”

Rich in Spirit

Wealth doesn’t equate to satisfaction, fulfillment, or even happiness.  Chances are, you’ve experienced miserable misers and passionate paupers.   A rich life starts from the inside out.

Stacey writes:

“Robert had a life-changing realization: there’s a whole spectrum of people and personalities, lives and lifestyles, and therefore successes and failures.  Robert had always measured success in terms of money and power; he had plenty of both. 

However, these porters had nothing — they were dirt poor, they had no fancy climbing equipment and they wore flimsy tennis shoes in place of high-tech mountain boots — but they were unbelievably rich in spirit.”

Stay Resilient in Success and in Doubt

Life happens.  Don’t let the setbacks hold you back.   Use whatever happens to find your way forward.

Stacey writes:

“And, as you continue to move through this thrilling and (at times) tormenting life, you’ll experience the rush of Success, the resonance of connection, the tightness of doubt, the softness of comfort, the bitterness of regret and the pain of mistakes.  That’s just life.  The magic is in embracing all of it — the good and the bad — and having the courage to reach into the discomfort, knowing that it’s all just information you can use to enrich and inform and adapt and enhance your experience

This is my long-winded way of describing Resilience.  Merriam Webster’s definition is ‘an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.’ but I think mine’s prettier.”

Self-sabotage is the worst way to go.  Unfortunately, our Inner-Critic can get the best of us, if we don’t know how to use it.  Worse, if we don’t have an authentic definition of success, it’s easy to climb the ladder, only to find our ladder was up against the wrong wall.

Transform your Inner Critic voice into an Inner Coach that helps you leverage your hopes, your values, and your strengths in an authentic way.

Get the Book

Inner Critic Inner Success: Claiming Your Success While Taming the Critic by Stacey Sargent is available on Amazon:

Inner Critic Inner Success: Claiming Your Success While Taming the Critic, by Stacey Sargent

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