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Banish Your Inner Critic
Denise R. Jacobs
Design/Content  Vancouver, BC  7 August 2015
@dcontentconf / #dcc15
Want the slides? Go here:
Photo by Derek Kearney
Upon a time…
29 June
I was going to be a writer!
Photo: Denise Jacobs
Instead of creativity
Photo from
The voices in my head were merciless
I totally freaked out
I shouldn't be writing this
I misrepresented myself
I don't know enough
This should be someone else’s book
I’m going to lo...
2 days
Worked non-stop
Pushed myself to burn-out
My internal critical voices
Made this happen
Physical evidence of fear
A different kind of fear
Photo: Denise Jacobs
Internalized criticisms + fears
= The Inner Critic
F.E.A.R. =
The enemy of creativity
Creative brainwaves
Know your brainwaves
Stress & frustration
Suppress generative impulses in the brain
Dampens creative expression
How to ID your Inner Critic
Not that hard, right?
“OMG, I’m SO busy!”
“I should have done more by now…”
“They’ll find out I’m a fraud”
“I don’t know enough”
(or intimidated into this)
vs. “NAILED IT!”
Impostor Syndrome Paradox
You will only experience impostor
syndrome when you are
competent and skilled.
(re-read this as many times as necessary.)
“It needs to be FLAWLESS”
“I’ll do it tomorrow…”
“Really, I’ll do it tomorrow.”
“I will do it tomorrow!”
Feed each other
In order for
You need brain management
“The goal is to manage
anxiety so that our energies
are used for the productive
and satisfying art of
…rather than the destructive
and debilitating art of self-
torture. “
- Clare Warmke, Idea Revolution
How do we…
Banish the Inner Critic?
Eliminate “Have to/Should/Must/Ought”
Replace with “I choose/ I decide/ I will”
Say NO to Comparisons
Ask it questions
Be compassionate
Reassign duty
Remember your successes
(My personal version)
Photo: Denise Jacobs
Maintain perspective
Cop a Power Pose
“Our bodies change our minds,
our minds change our behavior,
and our behavior changes our
- Amy Cuddy, Your Bo...
Breaking the loop
“Perfectionism is self-abuse
of the highest order.”	
― Anne Wilson Schaef
The real problem
Perfectionists focus on the finished
Rather than the process
“The Best” vs “The most”
Wise words
Remember egocentricity
“You alone are enough. You have
nothing to prove to anybody.” 
― Dr. Maya Angelou
Decouple your performance from who
you are
Fear of failure
“Fear is not real. It is a product of
the thoughts you create.
Do not misunderstand me. Danger
is very real. But fear is a...
Reframe failure
And mistakez
(maybe even embrace them)
“Failure is only the
opportunity to begin again
more intelligently.”
- Henry Ford
Humble beginnings
Twitter, circa 2006
Copy the #fail masters
Photo: Denise Jacobs
Take steps
Go again
Be bad/make it ugly
“Being right keeps us in
place. Being wrong forces us
to explore.” 
– Steven Johnson, Where Good Ideas Come From
Perfection ≠ Excellence
The trick is not determining which you
Nor administering a dose of
Increase the meaning/value
Mind Tricks
Don’t do it, just get ready to
Photo: Denise Jacobs
“Structured procrastination”
Time & Space Tricks
Eliminate distractions
From “Shit Black Girls Say”,
Ignore to focus
Browser Extensions
Google Chrome:
Added bonus
Airplane/Do Not Disturb mode
Make it a Sprint
Fill a Quota
Remember this:
Photo: Denise Jacobs
My story’s end?
I wrote a book!
Photo: Denise Jacobs
Which created AMAZING
things for me
Bad dreams
“The rule is, jam to-morrow and jam yesterday—but
never jam to-day.”
“It MUST come sometimes to ‘jam to-day’,” Alice
“Jam” = Reward / Satisfaction
By sharing my experience
Photo: Deloria Jacobs
Show you there is an alternative
“The creative
adult is the
child who
survived after
the world tried
killing them,
making them
‘grown up’….
…The creative adult is the child who survived the
blandness of schooling, the unhelpful words of bad
teachers, and the nay...
By understanding this
You’ll look at yourself differently
Let yourself create those imperfect,
yet amazing ideas
Because, after all…
The End
Photo: Denise Jacobs
Get the slides!
My upcoming book!
Banish Your Inner
26 Effective Techniques for
Unleashing Productive
Please take the Creative Blocks Survey
A Creativity + Innovation Collective
Work Better. Create More. Create Betterness.
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“They’ll find out I’m a fraud”

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