I once had a client who was teaching a university course. She was incredibly passionate about providing the most exceptional learning experience for her students. Even though she was a retired CEO and had enjoyed a very successful career in the c-suite, she still worried about whether she was ‘good enough’ as a teacher. (yes, even very successful people worry about that.)
In one of our sessions she was telling me about the feedback forms that she was having the students fill out after every session. I could feel the angst in her voice so I started digging deeper and asking more questions. Turned out the feedback from the students was destroying my clients confidence. The comments from the students were often blunt and curt and this lead to my my client viewing them through her very ‘self-critical’ lens. Afterwards her ‘am I good enough’ question would rage loudly in her mind with the answer being ‘no!’.
I asked her about why she was asking for feedback. She told me about how she always wanted to make sure the students were having an exceptional experience and learning a lot and so that she could tweak anything that wasn’t working. (Great intention!)
After some further discussion we made a simple shift that changed things dramatically. Moving forward, instead of my client reading the feedback forms directly, she would have her TA review them. From there the TA would create a document for my client outlining ‘areas for improvement’. Instead of receiving feedback forms that my client viewed as criticism she received a simple outline that guided her actions towards her original intention.
When you start to become aware of your natural way of operating and accept yourself for being that way (not that I’m saying you won’t or can’t change) you are able to design your life around that. In the case of this story, my client could have gone to the place where she questioned herself “why am I so hard on myself?”, “why do I see the feedback as criticism?” etc. That’s one angle to approach this. But, in my opinion, self-acceptance and self-love, followed by life design got us our desired outcome with a client who didn’t have to feel bad about ‘the way she was’.
Have you altered things in your life in an effort to honour your natural way of operating?