What would it take for you to stop judging yourself?
When my coach asked me that question, it stopped me in my tracks. More than 15 years later, it remains the most meaningful and impactful coaching question I’ve ever been asked. When she asked the question, I was a Fortune 500 vice president in my thirties and, by a lot of external standards, a success.
I never felt that way though. My modus operandi was a cycle of self-criticism and self-judgment. My coach picked up on that and one day, seemingly out of nowhere, asked me that question: “What would it take for you to stop judging yourself?” Her question hit me so hard and so deep that it almost brought me to tears. It took me years to come up with my answer.
Since then, I’ve become a coach myself and have written a couple of books. The first book was for leaders who want to succeed at the next level. The latest book is about how to manage yourself and your life when you get there. I couldn’t have written it if I hadn’t learned to go easier on myself. What I’ve found is that by judging myself less, I actually get more done and the results are usually better than they were when I was trying to be perfect all the time.
There’s a pretty excellent chance that you spend a fair amount of time and energy judging yourself. If that’s you, read on. Based on the work I’ve done with clients and on myself since my coach asked me the question, what follows is three pieces of advice I would give the younger self-critical and self-judging version of me. They would have helped me back then; I hope they’ll help you now.