We all remember days when we did a poor job / failed / got feedback about something we needed to fix.
These sorts of moments typically get stuck in our heads, they have a visceral quality.
You get criticised enough, you end up believing the critics and start doubting your abilities.
While criticism can be helpful in preventing mistakes from time to time, a better approach to shifting our performance up is to take note of what good looks like.
What were days when we thought we did well?
What did we sound like in those presentations and meetings?
How did it feel like writing that amazing chapter?
How did we feel post-facto?
Once we know what these look like for us, we can both use it to understand how we are doing at the present moment while also using it to understand what we need to do to improve and set a new bar for ourselves.
You cannot reason with negative self talk or somehow persuade it that the world disagrees.
All you can do is surround it with positive self talk, drown it out and overwhelm it with concrete building blocks of great work, the combination of expectation, obligation and possibility.
Self talk that says: “Don’t do that, remember the last time you failed miserably?” – is limiting.
We make more progress when we say: “You were remarkable, you were on your A game yesterday. What were a couple of things that didn’t work? How can we do better today?”
While the former inspires fear, the latter inspires forward motion.
When in doubt, tell yourself the truth.