How you can access your inner wisdom so you can proceed with confidence

Kathy Archer
6 min readNov 21, 2022

In the last few weeks, we’ve been diving into the steps of The Inner Guidance Cycle. You may have made some realizations and know it’s time to take action, but…

Having the courage to deal with something differs from knowing you should deal with it. Likewise, resolving to address an issue differs from starting a tough conversation. And keeping silent when you’ve decided to let something sort itself out often requires tremendous courage, especially if the risks are high. Yet taking action, even when it’s hard, is the mark of an effective leader.

Confident leaders keep moving

As you build your leadership confidence, you’ll need to continue to move forward despite challenges. That level of confidence comes from mastering your thoughts when things get rough. It’s when you dare to make a decision, communicate it and move on. When you learn to master your inner chatter, you’ll set boundaries, speak up and open up hard conversations, even though it would be easier not to do those things. The way to move forward, even when it’s uncomfortable, is to follow the steps of the Inner Guidance Cycle.

When you connect to your inner wisdom or Inner Guidance System, managing your thinking is more doable. Thus, taking action is more even when you would rather not but know you should, is more doable.

To help you manage your thoughts, I’ve been teaching you to use the Inner Guidance Cycle.

These are the four steps in the
Inner Guidance Cycle

PAUSE — Step back into this moment

PONDER — Tune in to what is going on inside of you

PIVOT — Shift your thoughts

PROCEED — Move forward with intentionality

Accessing your inner guide can help

When you follow the steps of the Inner Guidance Cycle, the final step is to PROCEED. However, getting back into motion after pausing, pondering and pivoting can often be the hardest step.

❓ Why is taking action the hardest step?

First, you’ve paused and then pondered

Something has happened, and you know you need to get ahold of your thoughts before they drag you off to the land of doubt, frustration or shutting down. So you PAUSE, step back and become more mindful of what is happening.

Pausing allowed you to move to the next step and PONDER. When you ponder, you begin to notice what has been going on around you and inside of you. You examine your thoughts, feelings and body sensations. Reflecting on your inner and outer experiences gives you insights. By pausing and pondering, you are awakening your inner guide or your Inner Guidance System.

A little shift now by pivoting your perspective

By awakening that Inner Guidance System, you evaluate your thoughts. Insights, ah-has and a willingness to examine thoughts, beliefs and judgements often shift your thoughts, views or opinions. That takes you to step 3 of the Inner Guidance Cycle; PIVOT.

​Pivoting means seeing things in a different way

When you have new perspectives, you often need to change, turn or pivot how you handle things. As a result, you feel prompted to take different actions or respond in a way you usually wouldn’t. Alternatively, a new way of seeing things may lead you to inaction where you had previously planned to act.

That new action or inaction may contradict what you are used to doing. It may also be far from what those around you are accustomed to expecting from you. That could be uncomfortable for you and them. Think about how it feels to:

  • engage in an awkward conversation
  • send the controversial email
  • take the next big step

Discomfort can be paralyzing

Even though you may have gotten to the point where you need to do something differently, doing it differently is a whole different beast! So insert step # 4 — PROCEED.
👉 AKA — having the courage to proceed.

All of the examples above can be very uncomfortable. Discomfort can paralyze us. We freeze, not wanting to go to the next step. So, it feels better to stay right where we are. It does until you look at what staying here means.

The deception of our comfort zone

​Staying here, in our comfort zone, isn’t really all that comfy. No, it actually sucks. For many of us, our comfort zone means we’ve given in, blended in or conformed. It feels a bit like defeat!

Settling for the mediocre life, the ok job, or the tolerable work environment isn’t comfortable. It’s painful. And not addressing staff issues, continuing to work way too many hours and being too embarrassed to ask or help are anything but comfortable.

Dealing with the pain of the comfort zone

The problem is we don’t usually deal with the pain of the comfort zone in healthy ways. Instead, we numb the pain and try to pretend it’s ok. So we:

  • ​Stay very busy
  • Get lost in Netflix
  • Take another Tylenol
  • Scroll through Tik Tok
  • Pop another antidepressant
  • Open another bottle of wine

Numbing the pain keeps you from experiencing pain. But the discomfort is still there. We’ve just masked it.

Change is necessary

​The bigger problem is that you are not reaching your full potential as a leader by staying in your comfort zone. No one ever changed the world by living in their comfort zone. No one ever grew, developed, or achieved anything by numbing the pain and playing safe. Organizations don’t make a big difference in the lives of their clients by playing it safe. Instead, change is made when we get out of our comfort zone.

​Getting back into motion: Proceed
The answer

Q: Why is taking action the hardest step?
A: Moving forward moves you to a place of discomfort.

However, to grow your leadership, enjoy your job, and live a full life, you must move forward instead of continuing to play it safe.

Proceed forward.

It’s time to get back into action and PROCEED by doing the right but uncomfortable thing.

  • Make the call
  • Cut the program
  • Set the boundary
  • Say you messed up
  • Apply for the new job

Two strategies to make proceeding easier

💪🏻 Strategy # 1 — Start with courage

Confidence begins with courage. To become more confident in yourself, you need to be more courageous.

Courage and confidence go hand in hand. The more confident you are, the braver you’ll be. The more often you exercise courage, the more confidence you will feel. The two feed off each other. It’s a loop that spirals upward.

🌀Each time you take a courageous act, your confidence soars.
Each time your confidence rises, you feel more courage to try different things.

Having courage and confidence gives you the elements to survive and thrive in leadership and life.

Strategy # 2 — Get the momentum going

An object at rest stays at rest. Conversely, an object in motion stays in motion. Therefore if you want to move back into action, you have to get the ball rolling.

One way to make this easier is to break it down into tiny steps and identify the first next step, and then proceed by taking that step. For example:

  • You may have realized you DO need to have THAT conversation.
  • Book the time to have the talk
  • You may have made a tough decision, but now you must communicate it.
  • Practice writing out what you need to say
  • You may have decided you do want to apply for a new job. Now you need to send in your application.
  • Set a deadline for yourself for when you will apply by. ​

Proceeding forward by taking that action can be challenging but so worth it! Take time to create your vision of the leader you desire to be and the impact you want to make. That will give you the courage to proceed with the next step.

Grab your copy of Mastering Confidence today and learn to pause, ponder and pivot more effectively!

Originally published at

Kathy Archer

Helping women leaders make it in the nonprofit world. Leadership Development Coach * Best-Selling Author * Wife * Mom * Grandma * Mom to one boxer named Zeus!