Photo Credit: Julian Santa Ana,

“It’s hard to lead a cavalry charge if you think you look funny on a horse.”

-Adlai E. Stevenson II

You’re an incredibly talented leader and have the accomplishments to prove it. You’ve got it all figured out and are on a fast track to your dreams. Right?

Yes, but…

We all have inner critics that pop up at the most inopportune times and often speak louder than our bold and fearless selves. What stories do you tell yourself? Here are some of the most common for confident, driven leaders:

I’m an Imposter

“I can’t believe that I’m in this position at this company.”

“Where did this beautiful home and wonderful life come from?”

“What if they find out I don’t know what the hell I’m doing?!”

This one’s one of the most popular on the hit parade of stories we tell ourselves. We may not even know the story’s there whipping us. You sometimes wonder when the bottom will drop out. How can you be achieving at this level when you’re not smarter or more driven than any of your peers? Sometimes in your deepest depths you wonder what “they” see that you don’t.

I’m a Show Off

Beginning at an early age, Brad held the spotlight. He was exuberant and full of life. People loved his jokes and sense of humor. He was bright and school came easily to him. He loved all sports and worked hard to be an excellent member of each of his teams. While he received lots of positive attention for his achievements, he also heard a subtle but equally strong message.

His older brothers and sister saw him as competition, nipping at their heels. Teachers valued his quick mind and perpetually raised hand with an insightful answer, and at the same time often asked him to put his hand down to give others a chance. His hockey coach chose a less talented player to be captain and told Brad “Sometimes it’s better to stay in the background and let others have a chance.” Brad held himself back so as not to upstage others and became self-limiting in his accomplishments.

I’m Not Good Enough

Stacie spent the first 30 years of her career in retail and built a profitable, popular business from the ground up. The business affords her a level of income she never thought she’d achieve and a lifestyle that she and her family enjoy immensely.

Stacie’s dream for her next chapter is to exit retail life and to build a consulting practice based on all of the lessons she’s learned. When we first started working together, she struggled with pushing the button on proceeding with the sale of her company and starting her consulting practice. She focused on all of the things that she needed to do first: the logo, website, business cards, office space for her new practice… She found many reasons why she didn’t think she was ready. “I don’t have an MBA. Why would people pay me for my guidance? What if I get a client and they aren’t happy with my work? What do I bring to the table? It’s all common sense.”

You’re successful for a reason. You have talent and experience that’s gotten you to this level of achievement. Your accomplishments are real. Others see you for who you are, and value all of those qualities.

Look very closely at the stories you’re telling yourself. Are they true? Are you really an imposter? Do people really consider you a show off? Do they resent you for your success or admire you? How can you not be good enough with all that you’ve accomplished?

How much energy does it take to “fake it” when all you need to do is to show up authentically and shine? How much of your many gifts are you not sharing because you think that you should put a damper on your shining light? To what new levels could you take your organization if you were unleashed from these “show off” stories?

Not good enough? In whose eyes? Be honest — only yours. Look at examples of what you’ve been able to do, and think about your negative stories. If you were to let go of those and boldly lead yourself and others, what could you accomplish? Conversely, if you don’t do anything differently, where will you be in a year? What will you be leaving on the table?

You’re not unique in this struggle. Every single flourishing leader has these hidden deep within — you’d be amazed. My clients assume that they’re an aberrancy when they get to the point where they can admit these fears to themselves. You’re not alone!

Here’s the secret to Bold and Fearless Leadership – the fears never go away. They’re a part of you. They serve a purpose– perhaps to keep us humble and aware of others, certainly to protect us from the pain of big old belly flops. But once we call them out, thank them and put them aside, we’re free to let our whole selves shine and to achieve our greatest dreams and miracles!

“If you hear a voice within you say, ‘You cannot paint,’ then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.”

-Vincent Van Gogh

An Executive Leadership Coach is your ally and partner in moving your inner critic to the side to unleash your full power. For more ideas visit or contact BreakAway Leadership Coaching founder, Karyn Grant at [email protected].

 Photo Credit: Julian Santa Ana,