Dealing with the paralysis of self-censorship

The arrival of spring is always an optimistic time for me: the (ever hopeful) improvement in the weather; the countryside waking up after its winter slumber; longer, lighter days…I see it as a time to make good on some of those areas of my life – both personal and work – that I’ve been procrastinating over. Take a spring forward if you like.

A LinkedIn confession

So it is, in this spirit of new beginnings, that I have a LinkedIn confession to make. It’s quite a while since I wrote a post on LinkedIn. That’s despite having written numerous posts which skulk unloved – and unread – in the dark hinterland of my computer’s hard drive. Why have I not published these you may ask?

Dealing with the inner critic

It comes down to self-censorship and my conclusion on reading these missives as to why anyone would be interested in what I’ve written. Perhaps the post didn’t seem original enough; perhaps it seemed – to me anyway – like it was stating the obvious; perhaps I just lost confidence in what I wanted to say. Whatever the result, I’ve been self-judging and ultimately self-censoring myself with the result that my LinkedIn posts have remained buried and unseen.

There’s a parallel here with the doubt that some of the executives I work with also tell me they feel when it comes to their leadership. Some say they feel overwhelmed with the many tasks ahead of them – particularly if they’re new to the role – and begin to lose faith in their abilities; some spend too long trying to perfect whatever it is they’re trying to communicate; some feel they have to try to change the world every day. And some experience a combination of all these things.

The result of all these different feelings and insecurities can be a paralysis; in the end, like my LinkedIn posts, nothing sees the light of day.

Be authentic

How then to turn that around? I think the key is to reduce your own expectation that everything you do must create a disproportionately bigger impact on the world around you. Breaking free from this mindset can be liberating. I’m not for a minute suggesting that we all settle for mediocrity or reduce our ambitions…but what I am saying is that it’s OK – in fact it’s more than OK, it’s entirely authentic – to admit to ourselves that not every action has to be world class. That heightened level of expectation is not realistic for our daily lives and will ultimately hinder our own progress whether in our personal or professional lives.

As for me, my first step this spring is to post this and be comfortable that while it may not win the Nobel prize for literature, it’s an authentic representation of how I feel when it comes to sharing my own insight on LinkedIn. It’s a start to liberating myself from that self-imposed paralysis. Rather than a “publish and be damned” approach, let’s label it more a “publish and…be relaxed, and then move on”.

If you’re reading this on LinkedIn, then I’m pleased to say I must be making progress.