I was recently interviewed by FemgineerTV host and my friend Poornima in an episode called “How practicing creative confidence can help you embrace risk.” Poornima had some great questions for me, and some of what we discuss include:
- Being conditioned (especially as women) to hold back from things we feel we’re “not supposed to” do.
- How to develop a design-thinking mindset that will allow you to stay experimental and be OK with making mistakes.
- The 3 questions to ask yourself when filtering criticism and feedback.
- How to reframe self-promotion into storytelling.
From the interview
Poornima: Earlier in my career when I was a software engineer, there would be times when I’d be sitting in a meeting and I'd have an idea for how to improve a product or a process. But I didn't say anything. I was always concerned people would think, What does this junior engineer know about building a product or a feature?. So I held back because I wasn't sure enough to speak up. Why do you think that happens? Why is it that, even though we're creative, we still hold back?
me: I think we hold back because we're afraid to make mistakes. And part of that comes from our conditioning of “we can't speak up unless we know the right answer" or "we're won’t speak up unless we're 100% sure that what we have to say is valuable”. And we learned this from school. In school, you don't raise your hand unless you know the answer, and you only speak up if you have a good reason. That kind of conditioning carries over to the workplace. So in your example I think you were feeling a lot of "I'm not supposed to", which is really common.
Poornima: Are the fears of criticism, rejection, and failure also wrapped into that?
me: Ya, absolutely. I think the fear of being criticized and judged is huge, and that comes from the fear of making mistakes. Because what happens when you make a mistake? You look stupid, you feel embarrassed, people think things of you and form opinions. So the fears of being rejected, being criticized, making mistakes, they kind of form this trio.
Poornima: So how do we move past that?
me: A lot of it has to do with getting to know your inner critic. The inner critic tends to show up when we're expanding or at a growth edge, when we're going to take up more space or more time than usual, when we’re about to become more visible or share a part of ourselves that we haven't shared before. That's when the inner critic likes to get the loudest. Having awareness of your inner critic– recognizing when it’s coming up and knowing the signs that it’s growing louder –that’s the first step. Simply recognizing the inner critic reduces its power over you.
This was a really fun interview.
Watch the full episode here.
If you want to go deeper on this, check out my audio series on the blocks to creative confidence on the Heroine podcast!