If your inner voice is as loud and as consistent as mine, you will probably have doubted every single decision you make. I often think that I fail as a husband or let my children down as a father. Or I am losing my way as an athlete and wavering as a business leader, along with other negative thoughts that enter the mind and claim squatters rights in my head.

But I am also a victim of thinking that I am simply failing as a person. I hope you sometimes do too. I am not a sadist, but because misery loves company, I am in the market for some companions as the human representation of said misery.

My son is five years old. He is a kind, energetic young man who desires to learn new things and participate in activities. The other morning at 7 am, he did not want to leave the house to go to hockey practice. If I’m honest, neither did I. It was dark, below-freezing and the call of the sofa and a hot drink acted like a three-pronged blockade that stood in front of the door and stopped us from leaving.

My son wanted to watch Power Rangers. I wanted to go back to my laptop and get a kick start at work. The inner voice in my head told me that I was failing. So my son and I talked about it, then we pulled up our socks physically and metaphorically, put on our hats and gloves and left the house. Here is what going the house on that cold January morning has taught me about parenting and leadership…

My name is Andrew Sillitoe, and this week’s blog goes out to all of us who have loud inner demons and a desire to silence them. Let’s start before we convince ourselves it’s better if we don’t.

Both of us, my son and I, love hockey. I am over eight times older than my son, and I am incredibly competitive, so I am obviously going to tell you I like hockey more than him. I am also better at hockey than my son. This is because I have been playing the game for 35 years longer than my son, and also, if you were reading cl, I told you I am highly competitive…

I enjoy the adrenaline rush, the thrill of scoring, the enormous satisfaction that comes with working within a team, but I also love an easy win. When my son, the other morning, suggested that he would rather not leave the house before sunrise to go to hockey practice, I wasn’t surprised. I was relieved.

We’ve all had that feeling before. We’ve all had that feeling before doing something we dread, but before doing something we know will be good for us. Anyone who has sat at a table with a huge green salad in front of us knows it. Sometimes the good feeling comes after, but if we are offered a way out, a quick fix, we take it.

I wanted to say to my son, “Yes, ok, we’ll miss it today.” I don’t want hockey to be a chore. I don’t want to drag my son out into the cold and the dark in January, the month in the calendar that I am convinced lasts a minimum of 67 days. I don’t want to make my son unhappy. If you’ve listened to my podcast or read my blog before, you may have heard me mention my father. He would often tell me I couldn’t do something I wanted to, and I hated it. Maybe I was doing the same by not allowing my son to have a morning off as he wished to. I am convinced I wasn’t.

You see, what sort of message would I be sending to my son if I said, “yeah, don’t worry, we’ll have this morning off”? Part of being a parent, as with being a business leader, is about learning from your personal experience and allowing that to enrich the lives of others. I genuinely believe that my job as a parent is not to let my son off the hook but to encourage him to turn his “I don’t want to do that” into “I am so glad we did that.”

These moments we get to spend with our children are gifts. It would be wrong of me to give up a chance to play hockey with my son to reply to emails I will never remember. Of course, my son would rather stay in the warm and watch Power Rangers. It was freezing outside, and Power Rangers are awesome. But it is my job as a father to guide my son into decisions that better him as a person, to take opportunities that will improve his life, however small they may seem at the time. So we played hockey…

The same sort of decision making is often an essential part of being a good business leader. Our job is not to let people off the hook. It continually inspires people to do things they might not feel motivated to do. It is to encourage your team members to, at least, try.

There is a high chance that your colleagues have voices in their head too, telling them that they could fail, that they could let the team down, that they could accidentally include candid family photos in a PowerPoint presentation to the Board of Directors. If you have sometimes heard a voice in your head telling you “you’re failing,” there is an incredibly high chance that your team also hears those voices. If that’s the case, they might need your help to silence those doubts.

I’m not saying this is what was happening with my son and his hockey, but it got me thinking about the bigger picture and how our everyday actions can shape our…well… everything.

If I’d have stayed at home that morning, it would have been me being lazy, not my son. It would have been me rejecting an opportunity to spend time with my child and choosing, instead, to work.

Striking for the perfect work-life balance is always going to be difficult. We are constantly trying to better ourselves as leaders and as people, and sometimes you can feel split, divided. But I found that the lessons I learned as a business leader has improved me as a father. Instead of viewing those roles as opposite, we can enhance our performance in both parts of our lives.

This early morning allowed me to spend quality time with my son. We both came away from the practice with a new lease of life, a unique shared experience that made us feel closer. These incredible results can rarely be found through a television screen, even with the mighty Power Rangers, and it is hardly ever seen through a laptop. If you want to make a real positive impact on your day, it usually means doing something, even if you don’t want to at the time…

When I think back to my childhood, as I often do when faced with a new parenting challenge, I never wished I was supported less. There are times when I look back and realise that if I was pushed a little more, there’s a chance I could have gotten more out of life at that young age. I wonder if there is anything you wished you’d been supported with more? And if you have, maybe you can use that as a catalyst to encourage your team members to achieve more.

There’s no taking the easy route to be a successful business leader. There is certainly no easy way to be a parent. But if we try and put ourselves in someone else’s shoes, either the ones of our colleagues or children, you’ll likely find that they need what you’ve always needed, a little bit of encouragement, solidarity and support.

Hopefully, listening to this has meant you’ve stopped hearing the inner voice that aims to sabotage you, if only for a little while. I know that my inner voice will come back and say, “You’re failing. You’re letting yourself down. You’re not good enough.” And I will recognise what’s happening and I will go and show them who’s boss.

My name’s Andrew Sillitoe. Thanks for joining me. I am going to stop writing now and play hockey with my son.