The Leadership Challenge: Head Trash – 7 Tips to Crush Your Inner Critic

The Point: If all of the world is a stage, then there are endless opportunities for critics to critique your every leadership move. But what if the critic is inside your head? What if the world’s biggest critic of you is… You? In this post, we’ll take a look at the concept of Head Trash and provide 7 Tips to crush your inner critic… Enjoy!

Are You Leading at the Tip of the Spear?

I’m Gonna Knock You Out!

LL Cool J might have rapped such a phrase about knocking someone out after his mother told him to do so, and you may very well agree that this is the shortest route as a leader to getting the results you want. However, unless you want to go “Fight Club” and put up with all those rules (There are 8… Can you guess #4? Hint: Tina Turner sang about it at Thunderdome), you’re going to have to first and foremost control yourself.

Most of the leaders I work with in leadership development settings where executive coaching sessions are conducted are well into controlling themselves. Controlling others might be there issue, but keep in mind that they are masters at self-control. The concept of “Head Trash” is that little voice inside your head that tells you that you are not worthy of accomplishing whatever it is you’ve established as a goal for yourself. If head trash moments were presented by someone other than yourself, you’d probably want to use that line by LL and his mom! So how do we quiet or eliminate that voice from taking us off track and risking leadership loser status? The following 7 Tips have been compiled from my executive coaching sessions with 500+ leaders.

Head Trash Tip #7 – Environment

I’m often amazed at success that is accomplished by the leaders I work with as an executive coach. Well after their initial leadership development moment, they seem to succeed in spite of their environment. What if the environment you worked in was optimally conducive to producing your best work output? Would you achieve more? You might…

Head Trash Tip #6 – Awareness

If you have an optimal environment to lead in, you just might not recognize it as such (Part of the reason I “hedged” on Tip #7’s success potential!) If you want to quiet that inner voice, try being fully present in the moment. Which moment? Every moment is important as a leader (Sorry, this is the equivalent to a “D – All the Above” answer!)

Head Trash Tip #5 – Vision

Do you know where you are going? Do you have purpose? If you answered “Yes” to both questions so far you at least have the vision to get their. So if that’s the case, why not envision yourself being in that place reaping all the rewards that place has to offer. Visualization as part of Vision is what every leader needs to be able to practice (and share with their Stakeholders).

Head Trash Tip #4 – Forget

I wrote a post about leaders and their ability to forget… It’s crucial that a leader have a certain degree of amnesia whereby yesterday’s mistakes are just that… Yesterday! In the past, nothing you can do about them, long-long-long gone.

Head Trash Tip #3 – Align

There’s probably someone in your “inner circle” that you know and more importantly trust with your inner/darkest/deepest secrets. Entrust in that person where you want to go. When the going gets tough, outreach to that person “in case of emergency” for them to remind you of where you are going for alignment.

Head Trash Tip #2 – Breath

I’m often amazed at how little breathing takes place in the C-Suite. I’m not talking about the metabolic automatic breathing that each of us participates in 12-20 times per minute, I’m talking about the big/deep breath that fills your lungs with air caused by your diaphragm pulling down. These deep breaths provide oxygen to your blood, a delay in your decision making process, and an added freshness to your being.

Head Trash Tip #1 – Get a Rock

I have to admit… I had “Head Trash” pretty bad about a decade ago. I’ve always prided myself on my work ethic/output, but always seemed to work for someone that liked taking credit for both. As such, I was rarely rewarded for my efforts and in return developed a pretty “snarky” inner conversation. A few years ago I worked with an Executive Coach that told me what I was doing, but like all good head trash participants I retorted that he must not know what he was talking about. After watching myself struggle, then fail, and struggle again I realized that he must be on to something. We worked on developing someone that would come in like a superhero and crush these head trash moments. Let’s see… someone really big, strong, and superhero-like was needed… The Rock (Dwayne Johnson) was the first person I thought of. To this day whenever I have a head trash moment I think of that conversation with my executive coach and The Rock appears to crush my inner critic. Maybe he can help you too?


In this post we’ve taken a look at the concept known as Head Trash and provided 7 Tips to help you crush your inner critique.


Sam Palazzolo

The Leadership Challenge- Head Trash – 7 Tips to Calm Your Inner Critique

PS – You may enjoy several of the other posts I’ve recently written:

About Sam Palazzolo, Managing Director

Sam Palazzolo is Managing Director at Tip of the Spear Ventures, an agile Venture Capital and Business Advisory Services firm specializing in Mergers & Acquisition, Sales / Business Development & Turnaround Management.