The young man with acne galore leaned out of the window and said, “I’m sorry it’s taken so long – the cooks are really slow today.” I asked if I could speak to the manager and he said, “Well, I’m the manager.” My first thought was, “Well, if you’re the manager, then why are the cooks ruling the effectiveness of the store?!”

  • They won’t listen to me, I’m too young
  • They know so much more than I do
  • I’ll never be successful at this

Those were the voices in his head that day. Can you relate?

We all have two voices in our heads – I call them the gremlin voice and the genius voice. One is trying to protect us by holding us back. It can be demeaning, hurtful, and very loud! The other is trying to push us up and out, it can be challenging, encouraging, and hard to hear over the gremlin’s shouts.

It’s true – I’m not good enough and I can’t be loved unless I’m the best. It’s true if I listen to my gremlin. When I was a kid my dad travelled a lot. When he was home he was fun and exciting to be around – or we had to go outside because we were too loud. I quickly learned that if I was the best at something – straight A’s, best softball 1st baseman, whatever … then he’d be really proud of me. And I loved … no, I craved his praise.

So my head created this belief that whenever I was the best, I got love from Dad. And my head created the 2nd part of it, too … when I’m not my best, I get ignored or pushed away (outside). This became a rule in my head and became the voice that spurred me on to great achievements in my life. And also to great procrastination, flagellation, and just plain worn out.

Do you ever feel like that? Not good enough? Not smart enough? Not bold enough? Not rich enough? Not …

That’s your gremlin voice trying to “help you” by holding you back in your comfort zone. Though it may not be where you want to go, it’s the devil you know, eh?!

I’ve been doing a lot of studying on emotional intelligence and the neuroscience of leadership and here are 6 things I’ve learned about lowering the decibel level of the gremlin and raising that of the genius.

GRATITUDE – 90% of the world lives in negativity most of the time. One way to move out of this is to remember when we were at our best, when we’ve listened to our genius, when we’re grateful. What are the top 3 things you’re most grateful for right now?

EXPLORATION – Be willing to look inside yourself and see where your gremlin voice is popping up. 90% of our brain is subconscious and unconscious. It believes what we tell it and looks for opportunities to prove that to be true. Are you telling it you’re unhappy, sick, poor, and not smart enough to change the situation or are you telling it that you’re happy, healthy, wealthy, and wise? What is your brain trying to prove is true?

NOURISHING – Spend time nourishing your brain – learn, read, grow. Nourish your body. 25% of our body’s energy is spent on maintaining the brain. Are you “garbage in, garbage out” or “fabulous in, fabulous out?!”

IMAGINATION – Athletes around the world have proven that visualizing that nothin’ but net free throw, that dive, that “10” floor routine, that gold medal 100 meter butterfly can physically change the outcome of the game or race or life. What does your ideal life look like in 5-10-15 years? Be as specific as you can about that vision so your genius thoughts can bring them to life when you need encouragement to step over the obstacles in your way.

UNIQUENESS – We all have something unique to share. You have an obligation to share this with the world – to make it, and you, better. Mine is my ability to see to the heart of a problem, through all the noise we pile on top of it, listen with an open heart, and be a catalyst for you to have the courage to change. What is your uniqueness?

SERVICE – When we live in positivity, our bodies produce epinephrine and testosterone which allows us to calm down, open up our brains for creativity and possibilities. We typically live with blinders on. Today really “see” someone and how you can use your possibilities brain to see their need. Give an encouraging word, a hug, a ride. Give them what they need and see your options open up, too.

I heard an obstacle is really a stepping stone to step up into your greatness. So when your gremlin voice is saying “Obstacle! Beware!”, instead, listen to your genius voice saying “Obstacle! Stepping stone to greatness!”

Take a moment and list some of the things your genius voice is saying to you in the comments section. What greatness are you about to step into?