Giving ourselves time to think is one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves. Most of us rarely spend much time in self-reflection. While we know it might be beneficial, we don’t believe we have time. In fact, what we tend to do is we often blame others for not giving us time to think.
Playing victim does not win you time to self-reflect. It just makes you crazy.
Do Self-reflection intentionally
The random reflection is important. To take reflection to the next notch though, you may want to intentionally set aside time for focused self-reflection. This might be time to think about a specific event, a conversation or a challenging situation you are currently trying to sort out. In being more intentional during self-reflection, you can give your mind time to work its way around whatever you need to sort out.
How to do Self-reflection
Here’s an example of how I used self-reflection to sort out my dilemma
I was at a meeting the other day and someone said something offensive to another member of the team. The comment was meant as a joke, however, it was grossly inappropriate. As one of the leaders in this group, I felt it was my responsibility to address it.
I want to have something to say that will not only stop the negative behavior but also inspire the individual making the inappropriate comment to consider their impact and become more conscious in how they say things. It is through my self-reflection that I can get my desired outcome.
Let self-reflection grow your leadership
Self-reflection allows us to be aligned with our purpose and values. It can have us become more intentional in getting the impact we desire and going in the direction we want to go. We have to, however, make the time to do it. Add self-reflection to the top of your To Do list today!
Let me help you out with some regular reminders about slowing down.
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What is the point in you being in a Leadership role?
You might be shaking your head right now, saying, “I have no idea”.
Are you lost?
Leaders of all kinds get lost. They loose track of where they are, what they are supposed to be doing and for what reason. If you are one of these lost leaders, you might notice you spend more time running around putting out fires, rather than on what you "should" be doing. Leaders who are lost seem to miss the priorities. Because of this they often burn themselves out. If you are lost, you might feel, well actually, you might feel lost!
My clients say things to me like:
When a leader looses their way, they become bitter, agitated and not very much fun to work for.
The whole point of leadership is that we are going somewhere
The reason we have leaders in leadership is for some specific reason and because of that reason, people will follow us.
So what is your purpose?
What is your point or your purpose in leading this organization?
That question may be harder to answer. Yet when you find the answer(s) and identify your core purpose, it’s easier to lead and people will follow you more willingly.
Your purpose may seem to change over time
I found that my purpose seemed to changed many times in my duration as leader. At times my purpose was to get my team through accreditation, contract negotiations or proposal writing. I had the purpose many time of getting new programs up and running. At other times, the purpose in my role was to build a strong team after some challenges. Now though, looking back, my overall purpose I see was to grow the staff that reported to me. It was to leave a legacy of leadership.
Now looking back, I consider the staff that used to report to me. I see where I gave them skills, tools and confidence to step into their leadership. I wish I’d seen that more clearly back then. I believe it would have allowed me to get clearer with them, provide them with more opportunities and training.
What about you? Are you running around like a chicken with your head cut off, not knowing where you are going? It might be time to find some direction.
#leadwithpurpose means you have a clear sense of what you are doing and where you are going as the leader of your team and of the organization.
Finding your core purpose
So how do you find your purpose? It’s not a simple, two-minute exercise. It is a mindful process that takes some time. If you want to get clear on your purpose, intentionally set aside some time to go through the process of review, reflection and identification.
Have some conversations. Talk to you staff, peers, colleagues, family and perhaps a Coach.
It’s also great to do this kind of work in a group. Work together with some peers to mine for the gold!
Start somewhere with identifying what your core purpose it. You may alter it and tweak it as time goes on to get the words right.
If you are looking for some help to find your core purpose, you might want to consider my Growing Great Women Leaders training. Together with a group of women, you will reflect and learn to become the leader you want to be. Yes, you will come out with identifying your purpose.
Sitting at my desk, I was livid! Now, looking back I couldn’t tell you what had made me so angry, but I remember that I probably could have spit nails at the time. A particular staff had once again done something that pushed me so hard that:
a) I wanted to throttle her and
b) I had the urge to run and never come back.
Yet, I had to start the weekly staff meeting in 5 minutes.
I tried to mask what I was feeling
What did I do? I pushed down the anger as far as I could. I went upstairs with a pasted smile on my face and sat at the head of the table with my group of staff. I then pretended to be polite while I was seething inside as worked my way through the items on the agenda. It was a pretty tense meeting if my memory serves me correctly!
I was focused on making her look bad
Passion and compassion in that moment never came to my mind. Well, violent angry passion perhaps, but not passion for my work. In that moment, I had very little desire to connect to the core values of what we were doing or, to the clients we were serving. In fact, my mind was racing with ideas of ways to get back at the staff that had hurt me so much. I was trying to figure out how to make her look bad, instead of me
I wish I could go back in time and try this instead
If I had chose in that moment to instead follow my #leadwithyourheart mantra that I now regularly use to guide me, I suspect things would have been different.
I might have authentically started the meeting with “Something happened this morning that has thrown me off my game. I’d like to do something that reconnects not only me, but all of us to why we do this work.”
Here's another way
Or ... I may have sat for two minutes in silent reflection before heading up to the meeting and accessed compassion. But I would have not only found compassion for the person who had made me so angry but also for myself and the situation that I found myself in. That doesn’t mean I would have said “oh poor me” or “oh poor her”. Compassion is about sympathy for another’s misfortunes, but it is also quickly followed by a desire to alleviate their suffering (or my own).
Finding alignment works better
By accessing compassion for a moment, I perhaps would have found where the other person and I aligned. We may both be fighting for the same side; our client. We both may have been concerned for our own work-life balance. We may have had seemingly opposing views yet strikingly similar ones when I stood back and looked at them. A colleague of mine often said we are “violently agreeing”. That may have been the case here too.
Connecting to core purpose and values feels better
By doing this, being compassionate and having the desire to alleviate both of our suffering, I perhaps would have found a different way of approaching things. Rather, I spend my energy trying to figure out how to get back at her.
#leadwithyourheart means that you connect to what is important to you. It is about realigning with your core purpose and values. #leadwithyourheart allows you to slow down and access your intuition and inner guidance. It also pulls out others passions and purpose so that together you align and move forward.
#leadwithyourheart is connected to my other mantra #leadyourway. I am a compassionate person. By trying to stifle that, I didn't come across as authentic!
I challenge Eleanor Roosevelt...
Eleanor Roosevelt said, “To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart.” I might challenge Eleanor and say I think we need to lead both ourselves and others by accessing our heart more often.
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This month I am sharing with you the four main ideas, concepts or ways that I work with individuals and teams. First up, #leadyourway.
Leading is not managing
Leadership is about having a dream and getting people to follow your dream. Management is getting people to do things. That is a whole different topic. But having said that, you won’t need to manage as much if you learn to lead more powerfully.
Who do you follow?
Think of someone you follow. It could be a celebrity on tv, a motivational speaker or writer on Facebook or an insightful leader or even perhaps a politician that you believe in.
Why do you follow them?
You follow them because they are unique. They don’t do, act, and say the same boring things as everyone else. They have a unique way of getting their point across. If you are into inspiration maybe the booming voice of Tony Robbins is your thing. Perhaps instead you prefer the quiet often humorous style of Eckhart Tolle. Maybe you are an Oprah fan and then again, maybe not.
The point is your follow people because they have style, personality and a way of being that fits for what you are looking for.
What does #leadyourway mean?
The same is true in leadership. People follow someone because as Simon Sinek says, they believe in what you believe. How though will someone know what you believe if you don’t say it and/or demonstrate it. How will someone know they want to follow your cause, if you don't stand up for what you believe in?
Who are you any way?
#Leadyourway begins with the concept of figuring out who you are.
You started this in high school when you picked out your clothes to fit in with a particular group, styled your hair in a certain way and listened to a particular genre of music. You were trying to figure out where you fit and you were trying to find out your own identity.
Somewhere in college and into adulthood your blending in got less overt. Instead of dying your hair pink, you just started to nod more. You spoke out less. You found the politically right things to say. You learned what leaders wear and you bought those outfits. You listened to the news and found out what the arguments were for your organization and you used the right language. You took training on how to manage, how to lead, and your followed your mentors lead. That is if you had a mentor. You conformed. Now, you fit in. But are you comfortable? Are you your authentic self?
What do you believe?
In my work, I help people reconnect with what they believe and identify what they stand for. I help leaders come back to who they are, at the core of their being. There is no point in pretending to be something we are not. The rest of the world can sniff a faker out in a heartbeat.
If I try to pretend that my heart doesn’t live on my sleeve, the only way to do that is to become unfeeling. Cold. That is certainly not me! I cry at every commercial and X-Factor video. That’s who I am. When my client, on the other end of the phone, tells me a story about her pain, I often have to swallow and take a moment to ask the next coaching question, because I am so moved by their pain. That is who I am. That will come through in my leadership as well.
. My passion also shines through with my energy and enthusiasm. This is something I tried to tone down for many years. This left me appearing flat and boring rather than alive and passionate. Wouldn’t you much rather have someone lead you that is passionate and alive?
1. Look back on peak moments in your life and in your career.
Those times when you felt amazing, on top of your game and were achieving the results you wanted.
Look for themes. Identify when you were most authentically you.
2. Review the assessments you’ve done in your career
Look again for the themes that come out in them.
3) Consider when you feel most authentic and in integrity in your leadership.
4) Make a list of who you are when you are at your best.
Then be you more often!
I lead a full life full of love, adventure and growth. Check out my latest thoughts here.
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