How Pain Shows the Way

The pursuit of excellence turns ugly when it makes you negative and critical.

There’s a thin line between reaching high and negativity. Furthermore, turning the critical light inward is dangerous. During a recent seminar a leader asked, “What do you do when you remember all the things you’ve done wrong and forget the good.”

I relate to his frustrations. Perhaps you do as well.

Sincerity, in addition, has a dark side. Sincerity turns ugly when it turns to guilt. You hunger to make a difference and fall short. The darkness emerges when blame rises up.

Beating ourselves up wastes brain power, drains passion, and slows growth.

Facing the dark side of sincerity and pursing excellence:

You aren’t the only one that falls prey to a ravenous inner critic. Others feel the bite as well.

Lead through your pain. Embrace the dark and ask, “What lifts and energizes me when the inner demons beat me down?” Is it an encouraging word from another, a short walk to refocus, prayer, reading, or thinking of past successes?

Lead through your pain by giving what you need to others. Step into someone’s office and tell them what you need to hear. Give them something that soothes you. Send a text that you’d love to receive.

I don’t have an answer that permanently defeats your inner critic. Just a strategy you can use every day. Pain shows the way when you give to others what you need yourself. Perhaps, as time passes, your inner demons will realize they aren’t defeating you and they’ll give up.

Your dark side may serve you well.

How can leaders use their own pain to lift and motivate others?

How might your personal demons be showing you the way toward higher success?


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