Lessons from Rick Carson on Taming Your Gremlin: Coaching Can Help

by Susan Power, MBA, CHRL, ACC  Founder & CEO of PowerUp Leadership

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Rick Carson, Author of the Best Selling Book (since 1984), Taming Your Gremlin kicked off our professional development series to Atlantic Chapter International Coaching Federation members on July 22, 2020.  Rick says every human being has one gremlin that they struggle to tame their entire lives. This gremlin acts as our inner critic, and we have to work hard to keep him/her in check.  Carson coined the idea of “gremlin taming” and demonstrated gremlin taming with three brave participants on the call covering off gremlins that struggled with everything from achieving freedom, people pleasing, and a desire to connect with others.

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Carson highlighted to the group that each person has only one major gremlin. He suggests there are four things we can focus on when we recognize our gremlin rising to the surface:

  1. Simply Notice: sometimes just noticing and bring awareness to our gremlin inner voices is enough
  2. Choose and Play with Options
  3. Breathe Dammit Breathe

There are some signs that our gremlin is emerging and needs to be checked.  Carson says in his book Taming Your Gremlin that the below rules are ones that our gremlin would love us to follow:

  • Using generalizations such as “we” and the impersonal “you” or “people” instead of the term “I”
  • Confuse feeling with thinking
  • Confuse the world of mind with what’s actually going on within you and around you.
  • Smile when you are angry and sad
  • Lead your life according to rules and regulations and without taking into account your natural desires and the current moment and situation
  • Never disagree
  • Use lots of filler words such as “know what I mean”, “sort of”, “wouldn’t you agree”
  • Make an effort to keep relationships comfortable and predictable, and not rocking the boat
  • Interrupt
  • Breathe shallowly and rapidly

My own personal internal gremlin is definitely a workaholic monster that constantly tells me when I am not working that I am going to fail and my life will implode around me if I don’t get back to work.  I have gotten a lot better taming this mini monster over the past few years with a lot of coaching and self reflection as I have realized that the only way to be successful is with balance.

My definition of success today is enjoying each day. It doesn’t matter how hard you work or how successful you are if you have no one else to share it with. 

At the end of the day, when I hear that gremlin voice in my head saying “You can’t step away from your laptop yet, you need to work harder than everyone else to be successful”, then I know that exactly the right thing to do is to stop work immediately and go spend some time with my kids.

As the current President of the Atlantic ICF Chapter Board of Directors,  I was really proud of our Board of Directors for organizing such a tremendous session as Taming Your Gremlin for our members to kick off our professional development series for 2020/2021.  All ICF Atlantic professional development events are open to non-members for a nominal activity fee per session.  ICF Atlantic’s next event on August 26 @12pm ADT features Cinnie Noble who will speak about Conflict Coaching. Registration to open on Eventbrite shortly and open to all.


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