This is a great image that was shared with us today by one of our favourite clients on Facebook. It’s an idea that’s been slowly winding its way through motivational circles and coming to the forefront of research efforts to understand how people get motivated, stay motivated and succeed in their endeavours. From little things like getting out for a daily walk to big things like building a team or building a legacy in business, motivation and the ways we speak to ourselves is a hot topic.

Change is generally an uncomfortable process. While some people thrive on it, others resist it with all their might. Many people motivate themselves to change something by avoiding pain and/or accessing fear (If I don’t save 10% of my income, I’ll be destitute when I retire. I have to exercise or I’ll be immobile). Though this path may lead to good results for some, it often results in people feeling overwhelmed when faced with challenge. Nobody wants to hang around with those doomsayer voices. It’s not fun. After a while, it seems much easier to give up, to give into the voices that keep telling us that things just won’t work out. Yuck!

The good news is we have an extraordinary ability to identify and reprogram those voices with a kinder, gentler tone.

What if learning and growing was actually a joyful thing? When kids are young, they are interested in everything, following their natural curiosity from topic to topic and enjoying the present moment. When they’re sad, they cry, when they’re happy, they laugh and most of the things they encounter are delightful. Parents joyfully encourage them to look at things, move their bodies and sink into their daily experience. What if your development as a leader, personally and with your team, could be the same? Think of your inner voices as cheerleaders, or the most encouraging parents that you can imagine. Research has shown that we need to hear at least seven pieces of positive feedback before we’re ready to integrate even one piece of negative feedback and act on it constructively. Seven!

This week, I invite you to listen carefully to your inner voices and bring awareness to what they are saying. When you catch the voices saying something negative, try re-framing the statement in an encouraging way. For example, if you catch your inner voice saying “I’ll never get it!”, try “I’m learning to do something new and I might have to take a little while longer to practice.” This allows your brain to stop shutting off when it hears you’re not going to get it anyway and to start thinking of the ways it might help you to learn that new thing.

There’s a real beauty in learning to be kind to yourself and real success follows. Try it today and let us know how it goes in the comments below.