Let’s play a little game of truth-telling. When was the last time you looked in the mirror and thought/said, “Wow, I’m absolutely crushing it today!”? If you’re like most business people I know, you’re probably more likely to share the 101 things you should/could have done better.
We are our own worst critic.
It’s a bit of a paradox. As entrepreneurs, we’re wired to chase perfection, innovate, and continuously improve. That’s great for business. When it comes to self-talk, we often sound like Eeyore (from Winnie the Pooh), “I could have aced that presentation if only I’d added more stats,” or “Why didn’t I network better at that event?”
Sound familiar? The truth is, we set super high standards for ourselves. And that inner drill sergeant barking orders isn’t always the most effective motivator. Sometimes, it’s just plain mean. And let’s face it, being mean to ourselves is about as helpful as selling ice to Eskimos.
Picture this: You’re at a networking event, and you meet another entrepreneur. Would you ever say to them what you often tell yourself? “Hey, I noticed you stumbled on your words there. Better luck next time!” Never! So why the double standard when it comes to self-chatter?
Being kind to ourselves is more than just a feel-good mantra; it’s a business strategy. Studies show that self-compassion leads to greater resilience, creativity, and a better ability to handle stress. That’s right, being nice to yourself might just be the secret sauce to your next big breakthrough!
Next time that inner critic starts yapping about what went wrong, let’s take a step back. Let’s treat ourselves with the same kindness we’d show a colleague or a dear friend. Because, at the end of the day, being your own cheerleader is more than feeling good — it’s about being good at what you do. And who knows, that kinder inner voice might just be the pep talk you have been waiting for!
We’ve explored how we are harshest to ourselves and now we want to move outward. It is a strange phenomenon, almost like a backward law of kindness. The better we know someone, the less filtered our interactions become.
Is this really how it should be?
Think about it — with people we’re close to, whether it’s our team, long-term clients, our friends, and definitely our family, we often drop the niceties. We assume they’ll understand our gruffness or blunt feedback because, hey, they know us, right?
Shouldn’t those who stick with us through thick and thin deserve our best behavior?
On the one hand, it’s great to be comfortable enough with someone to be your authentic self. However, there’s a fine line between authenticity and, well, taking people for granted. The phrase ‘be yourself’ is not a free pass to forget common courtesies. In fact, being ourselves should mean being the best version of ourselves — especially with those who support us most.
Here’s where we often get it wrong. Comfort zones are cozy, but they can also make us a bit lazy in how we express our appreciation and respect. We think, “Oh, they know I’m thankful,” or “They understand I’m just having a bad day,” and leave it at that. Let’s flip the script: how amazing would it be if the people closest to us received the highest levels of our kindness and patience?
It’s about time to kick up the kindness revolution, starting from the inner circle and moving outward. Let’s make an effort to show more gratitude, patience, and understanding to those we know well. A simple ‘thank you’, a genuine compliment or even an acknowledgment of their constant support can go a long way.
Oh, and if you are freaking out…
This isn’t to say we become any less nice to strangers or ourselves. It’s about elevating our kindness game across the board. It’s about creating an environment where everyone, from the stranger we just met to our oldest friend, gets a taste of our best selves.
The beauty of kindness is that it’s not a zero-sum game. We don’t have less of it by giving more. On the contrary, kindness is like a muscle — the more you use it, the stronger it gets. So, as we go about our journey, let’s sprinkle a little more kindness everywhere we go, starting with the mirror and extending it to every person we meet. Because, in the end, a world where everyone is nicer to themselves and each other is not just a nicer world — it’s a stronger, more resilient, and ultimately more successful one.
Let’s challenge ourselves to rethink the scales of kindness. To be as generous with our self-praise as we are with our self-critique. To offer the same warmth and understanding to our colleagues, friends, and family that we do to strangers. And to remember that every interaction is a chance to spread a little more kindness.
Remember: the kindest word in all the world is the unkind word, unsaid.
Let’s make our world a little brighter, one kind act, one kind word at a time.