The Game-Changing philosophy I wish I’d had at the start of my leadership career.
When we’re part of an organisation it can be wonderful! Exciting goals, great people, supportive leaders and team work. It can also be toxic and soul destroying. Egos, arse covering, blame, silos and stress.
I’ve been in both situations. When it’s bad, it feels like the world is intent on making it hard for you to succeed. A harmful culture can make it feel challenging just to show up, let alone deliver to the best of our capability and be the best we can be. I believe confidence is crucial for high performance, but even the most talented individuals can end up paralysed by the noise and cr** going on around them.
So what can we do about it?
I want to share something with you which has helped me enormously. If you adopt it as a philosophy, the impact on your life could be transformational. When I installed this idea, I released myself from self doubt and perfectionism, and I no longer felt the need to do things just to please and appease others. This helped me in my leadership career, and was vital as I stepped out on my own.
To do my job well, I need to be visible to the public (in a pretty big way), therefore other people form opinions of me, and the work I do. In the past, positive feedback would fill me up, and negative feedback, would leave me anxious.
Can you imagine if I hadn’t gotten over this?
Chances are, I would never have started my own business, or if I had:
(a) I would be so deep in the grip of FOPO (fear of other people’s opinions), that I’d avoid doing things necessary to build a thriving business.
(b) Been too scared to do my first webinar, which was scripted, and uninspiring, but a necessary step towards the awesomeness of webinars 10, 11, 12 and 50!
In short, I wouldn’t have a business.
We can’t link our self worth or happiness to results or the opinions of others.
Sometimes I get the contract, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I deliver an exhilarating lesson, sometimes I don’t. I’ve learned to touch the wins and the losses lightly.
It starts by accepting this idea I am sharing with you, then maintaining a poised internal environment, regardless of external factors over which we have no control. I have this quote pinned to my wall as a reminder.
“To avoid criticism, say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.”
– Elbert Hubbart
If I want to be my best in this life, I can’t avoid criticism, but I’d take that over being nothing any day.
Sam has consistently delivered solid sales results and received great feedback. She feels highly confident in her capabilities and has a strong track record.
One day Sam gets a new boss, who is interested in raising the bar. She is working on it, but hasn’t quite met her new boss’s expectations.
In her weekly 121, Sam’s boss highlights her shortfalls and in each email she receives, Sam detects an undertone of dissatisfaction.
She starts every day with the same positive attitude, enthusiastic and ready to win. Today, she is feeling good about the day ahead, and confident that the deal will be signed.
On her way to a client meeting she bumps into her boss and senses her judgement and disapproval. Her boss seems to be criticising and noticing all the things Sam is not doing well enough.
It’s all Sam can think about.
She starts to question her capabilities, even where she knows she is talented. Her optimistic mood takes a nosedive, her mind fills with doubts and her confidence crashes to the floor.
The meeting does not go well and she does not get the sale.
Sam goes home and sits down to play with her two young children, but her mind is elsewhere. She puts them to bed as quickly as possible, and pours a large glass of wine which she hopes will relax her shoulders.
She steps into a new day feeling marginally brighter, but she can’t shake the niggling feeling, the whispering self doubt.
What’s happened in this story?
Sam knows she is good at her job, has a strong track record and is usually positive and successful. Her boss’s attitude towards her is making her question everything.
Losing the sale feels like confirmation that her boss is right, perhaps she isn’t good at her job.
Sam has given her power away to her boss, the bad meeting and negative result.
Despite Sam has peers, colleagues and clients valuing her highly and Sam knowing she is good at her job, she is now questioning everything.
She is like a leaf in the wind being blown one way and then the other. If the leaf lands on the good side, Sam feels great, but if it lands on the other side she feels terrible.
She’s allowing people and events to control how she feels and behaves.
As long as good feedback and good results keep coming, Sam is ok. She still believes in her talents and continues to feel confident. However, when bad feedback, a poor results or a bad boss comes into her life, everything crumbles.
What’s the answer?
The key for Sam is to `Touch things lightly’ (Essay by Thomas Troward – Touching Lightly)
This is an exercise in mental focus.
Certainly, Sam should be aware of her development areas and work at improving them. She should understand why the sale didn’t go ahead and learn from it. What she should not do is centre her whole day, her existence and self worth on a handful of events and one person’s opinion.
You must touch good results as lightly as you touch bad results.
Your centre of control and power comes from inside of you. When this is strong, solid and unshakable, you become resilient and feel immediately at ease.
Troward says “Are we self-poised, or does our balance depend on something external?”
Where does your centre of control come from? Is it inside of you, or is it outside of you?
Don’t give your power away to other people or external circumstances!
These days I a poised and feel in control. Sh** happens, but I no longer niggle on it for days, or even hours. I can’t afford to be crippled by the opinions of others or attach my happiness solely to business success outcomes.
Every day I succeed and fail. I learned to touch the successes as `lightly’ as I touch the failures.
This doesn’t mean I think I am awesome, and that I don’t need feedback. I do something every day that makes me better at what I do, and I listen to feedback. But when it comes, I can hold it gently, pick it up and put it back down again.
I hope there’s something in here to support you to stand in your power and own each day in the way that you want. It’s your life that matters most!