Thoughts, a voice in your head, monkey brain, or mind chatter. We call it many things, but it’s all the same. It is the conversation or monolog we are having with ourselves inside our head. What you need to know about that mind chatter is this:
MIND CHATTER is there:
We all have thoughts; the majority of them are unconscious. It is the thoughts we are oblivious to, that often lead to experiencing our lives in ways we don’t want.
For example, many of us don’t realize that via our inner thoughts, we have been convincing ourselves that we can’t handle our overwhelming responsibilities, appointments and to do’s.
Yet, if you stopped and paid attention to your thoughts you might hear your mind repeating similar phrases like a broken record:
MIND CHATTER rules your life:
What you think about creates your experience of life. Or…what you expect, you get. It is those unconscious expectations that you are setting for yourself that make you feel the way you do.
In the example above, your unconscious thoughts of overwhelm gave you the experience of feeling incompetent in handling your day. When you have those repeating thoughts in your mind that are reminding you that you can’t handle it, you create your sense of overwhelm. That draws your attention to notice everything that goes wrong, every second “stolen” from you and each extra task added to your list.
You can manage your MIND CHATTER:
When you become more aware of your thoughts, you can choose what you are thinking. Those different thoughts shift your experience.
Once more, using the example above, you could begin to manage your thoughts about your day. Instead of the catastrophic thoughts that you have about your overwhelming day, you can catch yourself going down that path and turn a different way.
By choosing instead to think about your ability to handle things and to be alert for opportunities, you change your experience.
When you become more conscious of your inner thoughts and then shift them, you also find you experience your day differently. You didn’t necessarily change anything going on outside of you; you shifted your thought about what was going on outside of you. The tasks, meetings, and duties are still there; they just have less power over you. Shifting your mind chatter leave you feeling more in control and on top of the priority projects; not everything, but you know that it’s the true priorities that matter at the end of the day.
The tools to managing your thoughts:
Developing an awareness of your mind chatter helps you to manage it. When you manage your thoughts, you manage your life. It is by handling your inner world that you create the experience in the outer world that you desire. Remember, what you need to know about that mind chatter is this: it’s there, it rules your life, and you can manage it.
Pretty much, everything I teach you requires you to be aware of and often shift your inner voice. To do that, you need first to become aware you have an inner voice.
You maybe do occasionally notice it there. However, more often than not, we are unconscious to our thoughts.
Awareness and then management of thoughts is critical to self-confidence, managing relationships, staying focused, creating the necessary mindset for growth and development and so much more!
The video below starts getting you to tune in and become more aware of your inner voice. Watch it and then being paying more attention to what you are thinking and how has an effect on your life.
More to come in the coming weeks on thoughts. For now, I really need you to notice them. Start there!
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Grab Mastering Confidence: Discover Your Leadership Potential to help you get a handle on those inner thoughts!
Taking a step back, pausing or taking a break is not something most of us do well in leadership.
However, it doesn’t feel like we have the time to take a break, pause or reflect. Yet, pausing is incredibly important part developing strong confidence and strong leadership. In fact, it is the first step in increasing your confidence.
Your Inner Guidance Cycle
In this series of blogs, I’m introducing you to the steps in the Inner Guidance Cycle. I talk about this cycle in my new book Mastering Confidence: Discover Your Leadership Potential by Awakening Your Inner Guidance System. The first step in awakening that guidance system is to pause.
The first step: PAUSE
By taking this first step, PAUSE, you’ll start to awaken your Inner Guidance System. It’s that inner wise part of you that helps you to get a hold of your thoughts and then move forward with a conscious responses.
From reacting to responding
Most of us are reacting to whatever shows up. We aren’t taking the time to choose how we want to respond or even how we want to feel. Pausing is stopping, pulling back or taking a break. By pausing, we can make some choices instead of running around like chickens with our heads cut off!
Pausing is part of journeys
Think for a moment of a road trip. There are times when you are traveling that you take a break. You pull over the side the road and stop. That might be a roadside turnout so that you can stretch. You might pause your trip to stop at a gas station to fuel up. You can’t refuel, stretch, go to the bathroom if you don’t stop
Leaders need pauses too
In leadership when we pause, it gives us the opportunity to become mindful and present to what is happening. I’ve talked before about the racing thoughts we have about what’s been going on and about what is coming up. Pausing settles those thoughts. When you pause, you are not in the future or the past but here, in the present moment. It is in this present moment that you find access to your Inner Guidance System. It is those thoughts, feeling, and sensations that help to guide you forward.
The direction you are going
Learning to make pauses,a regular part of your routine takes time. Eventually, you may get to the point where there is a trigger that reminds you to do this. That trigger could be when you’re feeling:
Make pauses part of your routine
You need to schedule your pauses, in. This will help you to build a habit of pausing. So that you get used to responding to the triggers, it is important to start with establishing a routine of stopping and pausing. Remember, it's is this first step of pausing, that is going to allow you to awaken your Inner Guidance System.
Plan to make these kinds of pauses
Look through your day and decide how you can add these types of pauses:
Scheduling your pauses in
Next, do the work of actually scheduling those breaks in. Add triggers to help you remember to do them, even if you are busy.
Reminders about WHY you must schedule the pauses in
Awaken your Inner Guidance System: Step # 1 - Pause
Start accessing your inner wisdom and allowing it to guide you by pausing. By awakening your Inner Guidance System, you will be learning to get control of your thoughts and feelings. That inner control is going to help you master your confidence. Strong leaders are confident leaders. Begin to awaken that Inner Guidance System: Schedule in pauses. throughout your day.
Delaying, prolonging and stretching out tasks. We all do it. We joke about it. We tease others about it. Procrastination, however, does get in the way of our productivity.
It seems that we are resigned to dealing with procrastination. It’s just a part of life. Right? It doesn’t have to be.
Let’s look at common reasons why we procrastinate and three strategies to deal with three types of procrastination.
Which one of these is you?
The reasons we put off task are many but generally fall into three categories. Check to see which one matches your current procrastination slump and discover a strategy for dealing with it.
1. The task makes you feel uncomfortable.
In this situation, it is the job in front of you that feeds your resistance.
If the task in front of you makes you uncomfortable, “Name it to tame it.” By pausing and identifying what’s going on under the surface, you’ll be able to get a handle on your emotions that are triggering your procrastination.
It is your emotions that stop your actions.
Naming the emotion you feel, allows you deal with your resistance to the task in front of you.
2) The NEXT task makes you uncomfortable.
Try finishing these sentence
What emotion did the next task bring up for you?
It’s the subsequent feeling, about what happens next, that has you procrastinating on the current project.
Take time to recognize the links. Notice what is coming up after the task you are procrastinating on.
Make notes of your fears and what anxiety right arises in you about the next step. Then, go back to the first strategy. Name it to tame it. Naming the emotions allows you to get a handle on it. Being in control of your emotions puts you back into motion.
3) You are depleted
The most often overlooked reason we procrastinate is that we are truly depleted. We are like cell phones. We run out of charge. The problem is most of us only plug back in for a short time. Bumping back up to 10% charge doesn’t allow us to function adequately. Before long we are feeling drained again. When you’re running on empty, it’s extremely difficult to focus and use brainpower.
Employing these strategies to move through resistance will put you back in control. Noticing the emotional connection to what is going on helps you to regain momentum. Remember, name it to tame it. And, please don’t forget to recharge fully.
Reflecting. Pondering, Considering. Thinking.
Do you schedule time for reflection into your day timer? I beg you; please start to do that now!
Time to think is rare for the average leader
Leaders rarely find time to think clearly. The most impactful leaders, however, know reflection time is crucial. Rarely have time to consider options or mull over what just happened leaves you simply chasing fires. On the other hand, giving yourself time to think allows you to move from randomly reacting to everything to being more responsive.
Self-reflection can be random
Have you ever had your mind wanders and you were are amazed to see brilliant ideas you stumbled upon? That is the act of random reflection. You’ll notice you do this when you are in the shower, cooking or driving. Some of the best ideas come during these accidental thinking times. To take reflection to the next notch, you need to set intentionally aside time for focused self-reflection. This means you create a habit of scheduling in "thinking time."
Make time to think
Most of us rarely spend much time in intentional self-reflection. While we know it might be beneficial, we don’t believe we have time. I am here to tell you that you need to place it a priority and make it a mandatory daily activity, regardless of what everyone else thinks you should be doing.
Do self-reflection intentionally
This focused time might be a chance to reflect on a particular event, a conversation or a challenging situation you are currently trying to sort out. It might be planning time, reconnecting to your vision or your values. This time, might also be your opportunity to widen the gap between what just happened and how you reacted. In being more intentional during self-reflection, you can give your mind time to work its way around whatever you need to sort out. In this way, you are increasing your emotional intelligence.
What to do in your scheduled reflection time
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 intended 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.
My not so great attempt at handling it
I jokingly scolded her after the meeting. Although I tried to be funny, I meant what I was saying. Rather than owning my message, I hoped to make it easy for her, but honestly, I was using humor to make it easy to me! It didn’t work. As she left the meeting, my guess is she felt like I had just scolded her. Rather than inspired to change her behavior, I bet she felt defensive.
My random self-reflection
On my drive home, I contemplated what had just happened. I knew I had not got the effect I had desired. I realized, my ineffectiveness in getting my point across was in part because I didn’t even consider the impact I wanted before I let words fly out of my mouth.
My first lesson from self-reflection:
As I reflected, I realized what had compelled me to speak up in the first place. I wanted this person to have compassion for the individual they made the joke about. That was about as far as I got on my way home. The next morning, however, I took few minutes to include this challenge in my journaling. In doing so, I came up with the language I would want to use for this kind of incident in the future. It didn't change anything, but gave me the ability to be more responsive rather than reactive in the future
Third lesson from self-reflection
Self-reflection makes me a better leader
Had I not taken the time to reflect, to ponder and to plan, I would likely be in the same situation again within a few weeks. I would still find that I am still not sure how to deal with it. Therefore, I would once again be just reacting and letting words fall out of my mouth. Pondering widened the gap giving me increased emotional intelligence. The reflection gave me words to use in upcoming situations not only with this individual, but in many potential similar situations in the future.
Let self-reflection grow your leadership
Self-reflection allows us to be in alignment 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!
What lessons have you learned when you've taken "time to think"? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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:
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 at that moment never came to my mind. Well, violent, angry passion perhaps, but not a passion for my work. At 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 instead chosen to 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 feeling concerned about 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 sufferings, 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.
Lead with your heart
#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!
Tweaking an Eleanor Roosevelt quote
Eleanor Roosevelt said, “To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart.” I might suggest, Eleanor tweak what she said to remind us we need to lead both ourselves and others by accessing our heart more often.
Fundamental to successful leadership is the formation of a heightened level of self-awareness. Sadly, too many managers spend more time finger pointing than doing introspective reflection. It is when you spend time curiously exploring what is going on in our minds and bodies, that we are better able to respond to the intricacies of running an organization.
Getting a sense of who you really are is critical
Self-awareness helps you to explore who you are individually. Putting your attention on yourself helps you to find clarity on what is critical, meaningful and necessary for you. Further, this inner contemplation facilitates your understanding of why all of that is so dang important. Your insights into your unique traits and your individual personality guide you in being more impactful in your interactions with the world.
Self-awareness and the strong leader
It's time to explore you
Self-awareness starts by exploring what is going on under the surface. It is often the unconscious that one needs to get more curious about and explore more. This inner exploration takes time and focused attention.
To intentionally be progressively more self-aware, try to instill these three habits.
3 habits to establish to increase your self-awareness
1. Journal Daily
Stop and take time daily to reflect. Go over a situation that happened and write about it. Writing it is an incredibly powerful way to look at the experience more objectively.
2. Set reminders
While journaling is a looking back exercise, we also need to practice getting more aware in the moment. It’s helpful to catch yourself expectantly during the day to check in.
Develop an alert system that prompts you to check in with yourself to see how you are feeling, what you are thinking and how on track you are.
3. Practice Mindfulness
Installing a habit of mindful moments in your day grows your mindful muscles. Being able to focus on priorities, conversation and tasks despite environmental distractions and internal narratives takes practice. Create a habit of mindfulness activities daily to practice this piece. Here are a couple of options:
Habits that increase self-awareness = Stronger Leadership
When you install daily habits such as journaling, becoming more aware in the moment and mindfulness, you will increase your self-awareness. This improved understanding of your inner workings will support your leadership development. Knowing and having a better understanding of what is going on for you helps you to manage it and choose how you want to respond. This level of control of your emotions and actions puts you in a much more powerful place to lead and impact your team confidently.
Question for you:
I want to hear what you think. Please make a comment below,
Kathy is a leadership coach for women who want to strengthen their leadership and find balance in life. She mentors females as they rediscover their purpose, passion and persistence for life while dealing with office politics, jerk bosses and the challenges of family life. In her signature program Women with Grit: Leading with Courage & Confidence, Kathy gives her ladies the hope and inspiration they need along with a kick in the pants to make positive change in their lives.
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Women leaders often hit a point where they find themselves in over their heads and wondering if they have what it takes to lead.