How to Manage That Mean Voice in Your Head

How to Manage That Mean Voice in Your Head

Everyone has a mean voice in their head—a voice that tells you things like:
- You're not ready—don't try.
- You'll embarrass yourself and be a complete failure.
- Who do you think you are?
- No one will care what you have to say.


At first glance, it may appear that this voice—sometimes referred to as the inner critic or gremlin—is a jerk trying to keep you down. But actually, your gremlin is just misunderstood.

He or she showed up in your head sometime when you were young. Maybe you read a poem to the class and someone laughed at you, or you got new glasses that you thought were snazzy but the other kids teased you about. And this voice appeared to protect you, telling you to play it small—stay safe, don't stand out, don't take chances, don't put yourself out there—at every turn…

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Leadership & Responsibility (with a capital R)

Leadership & Responsibility (with a capital R)

In these first months of 2019, I'm adding a new piece to my work: the role of Interim Executive Director of Youth in Action, a youth development nonprofit in Providence.

I'm excited—taking the helm of an organization is a new challenge for me, and the specific needs of an interim role feel suited to my skillset.

Between this new role, developing Penney Leadership, working with coaching and consulting clients, board service, motherhood, homeownership, and all of my other roles—I have a lot of responsibilities.

That's what it is to be a leader, right? Over the years of growing as a professional, climbing the ladder through successive job titles and taking on increasingly more and more responsibilities.

Early in my career, I looked at the leaders around me and wondered how they could juggle so much responsibility (and why would they want to?)

I've learned that there's a whole different way of approaching responsibility and leadership—a mindset that's not anxious and draining but instead sustainable and whole. 

Here's the secret…

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The Value of Misery at Work

The Value of Misery at Work

A friend of mine recently started a nursing job at a new hospital. As part of the standard orientation plan, she was assigned a preceptor to show her the ropes and acclimate her to the hospital's policies.

But instead of being a supportive and encouraging leader, the trainer was constantly looming over my friend's shoulder, speaking over her during report-outs, and making unnecessary stylistic corrections to her written reports.

Instead of feeling confident and at home at the new hospital, my friend—an experienced and wonderful nurse—felt distrusted, incompetent, and frustrated. After just two shifts, she was going out of her mind. And the training period was six weeks long!

Each time I saw her, she was pulling her hair out, venting, and counting down the days. As we sipped gin and tonics on the porch after one particularly rough shift, I asked her:

What if, instead of seeing this as a frustrating and demoralizing situation, there was another way of looking at it?

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