The Inner Core of Leaders :
The Tension of Two Selves

Each of us has experience with that voice in our heads. Also referred to the Inner Critic, the Gremlin, or the Saboteur, it’s that voice in our head that stands in the way of our greatness and our possibility. It doesn’t matter what you call it but it is important that you recognize it for what it is. Referring to the voice as the Gremlin is a concept, developed by Richard Carson, that has been most helpful to me in dealing with the negative messages that can swamp my thought process when I am leaning into the fullness of my Strengths and taking risks to change something.

My Gremlins interpret my experiences under the disguise of protecting me. It’s sole purpose seems to be maintaining the status quo by highlighting and heightening the obstacles, the negative chatter and the stumbling blocks – all things that prevent me from growing, changing, doing what I want to do or pursuing my dreams and aspirations because I may fail. Submitting to my Gremlin’s messages holds the potential to “kill” my spirit. However, the Gremlin itself is neither good nor bad. It just is.

When I attempt to manage my Gremlin, my Inner Critic, by arguing with it or trying to overcome it’s messages it responds by changing its disguise and its strategy. The more I grapple with the Gremlin, the more enmeshed I become. To dis-identify with the voices in my head that undermine me on a daily basis, I must simply notice or name the Gremlin.

In this week’s blog we’ll discuss how Tim Gallwey identifies and explains our Gremlins.

This is part 3 in the 5-part series on the Inner Core of Leadership by Diana Gabriel, Certified Strengths Strategy Coach.

Voices, Inner Critic, Gremlin, Saboteur, Negative Messages, Self 1, Ego, Self 2, Wise One, Awareness, Trust, Choice, Strengths, Strengths Based Leadership, StrengthsFinder, Leadership Coach

Self 2 becomes more prominent and authentic when Self 1 is quiet. Click To Tweet

In his books on the Inner Game, author Tim Gallwey introduces Self 1 and Self 2. These “selves” exist in everyone, whether we’re giving or receiving a message. Self 1 is the “big ego” – the know-it-all. It’s judgmental, it’s concerned with winning, being right and showing off.

Self 2 is the grounded and wise one – the real human being with inherent potential, including the ability to learn, grow and enjoy life. The one who is clear about their core.

When you act from Self 2, you are receptive and neutral. Relaxed, focused, you observe and listen without preconceived ideas and are able to take in and use information. You trust yourselves to make appropriate decisions and extend trust to others because you act from a place of groundedness, security, and safety. You respond from the inside out.

Self 1 does not trust. Always judging itself and others, Self 1 acts from a place of insecurity and fear while focusing on being right and winning. It uses pressure and high standards to get the most out of itself and others. Because Self 1 doesn’t trust natural abilities, it is critical, it is judgmental and it is stressed. When you act from Self 1 you are reacting from the outside in.

I clearly hear the tension between the two selves when I hear the executives and leaders I coach share their inner thoughts.

The Critical Voices in Your Head

Do you know which Self interferes with your high performance? In everything from sports and music to work and relationships, Self 1’s stress and anxiety prevent high-performance results. From Self 1’s worry and lost confidence, you focus externally and think about too many things at once. That which you fear becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

It becomes a vicious cycle – one that your inner game urges you to circumvent. Doing so can involve nothing more than observing non-judgmentally. Don’t change anything for a while. Just observe yourself talking, listening and doing. Become acutely aware of your feelings and responses. Nothing more – just watch and learn.

You’ll soon see how your Self 1 is active all the time, injecting opinions and criticisms. Self 1 distorts your reality because of it’s own agenda – maintaining control, maintaining the status quo, and appearing successful.

Once you can quiet Self 1’s voice, Self 2 becomes more prominent and authentic. Think of Self 2 as your inner wisdom. You will know what to say in ways that are much more effective and influential to others because it doesn’t have an agenda.

Nonjudgmental Awareness

Author Tim Gallwey’s Inner Game is based on three principles for dealing with the voice in your head:

Being in Choice

First, nonjudgmental awareness is curative, allowing you to trust yourself and others. Awareness sets up the conditions. When you are aware of your inner core, you have the foundation to both trust and be in choice from the inside out regarding your thought and actions.

The next time you need your people to take action, communicate your message non-judgmentally. Extend trust to others. Let your people choose how to accomplish desired results.

I’d love to hear about your experiences dealing with the voices in your head? What have you found to be effective? You can reach me here and on LinkedIn.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *