If you are in the middle of something and it’s hitting you big time, you’d probably rather not be at work. The dread of this particular challenge is dragging you down. You feel it in your body, and you hear within as your thoughts, that echo around the common theme, “I can’t handle this anymore!”
You are feeling incompetent, overwhelmed and perhaps, fear that your credibility is slipping.
What if I told you, you can instead, feel more confident right now? In this article, you will learn the one question to ask yourself to remove that self-doubt and instantly feel surer of yourself.
If there were such a thing as a Leadership Doctor, they’d diagnose you with failing confidence. The one telltale sign, without the blood work or body scan, would be your negative mind chatter. The doctor could tell what the issue was, as soon as you mentioned to them that your thoughts were full of:
What do you think about yourself?
Confidence is what you tell yourself. Nothing more. If you think you can, you can. If you believe it’s possible, you’ll figure out a way to make it happen. If you trust you will handle it, you’ll handle it. Confidence is a belief in your abilities, of your potential and of your faith that you can learn or figure it out. Confidence is an inner game.
Are you worried about what others think about you?
Where many women get stuck is that they wait for something to happen, someone else to do something, say something or offer them a better option. If you doubt, hesitate, hold back, or find you are afraid to say something, it could be because you want the go-ahead from someone else.
Their opinion won’t make you feel more confident
Sadly, most women leaders rarely hear words of encouragement like that from their boss, their board chair and probably even rarer still from their employees or colleagues. Praise, accolades or encouragement just don’t show up. But here’s the funny thing…even if it did, it still wouldn't make you feel any more confident. Because it doesn’t matter what they think, it only matters what you think!
Your confidence rises or falls based on what you think about your capabilities
You become more confident when you shift your inner dialogue. When your thoughts rotate around reflections about what you can do, instead of what you can’t, your confidence rises. To feel increased confidence, work to have these kinds of thoughts yourself:
To feel more confident, tame your inner dialogue
To be a confident leader, you need to be the encouraging voice inside of your head. Instead of the negative mind chatter, you need to:
Tame your inner dialogue
Confidence is what you think you can do. The challenge is most of our thoughts are unconscious. Learning to change your inner dialogue takes time. It helps when you develop a system for checking in frequently with your thoughts and adjusting them as necessary.
The proven technique: Install a system to help you manage your thoughts
A system that helps you to pause your thinking and checking in with your thoughts is the first step. Once you pause, take a moment to ponder. Ask yourself if your current thoughts are moving you towards the feeling and outcome you desire. You may find as you reflect that your thoughts are keeping you stuck in feeling incompetent, overwhelmed and lacking creditability.
Ask yourself this question to instantly feel more confident
If your thoughts are negative, focused on what’s not working or circling around who needs to say or do something before you can feel sure, try asking this question.
To feel more confident right now, what do I need to be thinking?
The act of pivoting your thoughts to the future, to confidence instead of lacking confidence changes how you feel.
When you shift your thoughts, you proceed forward with increased feelings of confidence. You once again feel more capable, because you are thinking about all the experience you have, what you’ve done before and how much you believe in your project.
When you manage your thoughts, you feel more confident
You can overcome self-doubt and feel a surge of confidence by following the system to regain control of your thinking. Every time you are struggling, or you hit a wall, come back to pausing. Stop long enough to reflect (ponder). Ask yourself: To feel more confident right now, what do I need to be thinking? Shift your thoughts (pivot), and take the next action step forward (proceed).
2 Immediate Boosts of Confidence
Sometimes though you need an immediate boost of confidence to handle a tricky situation. You can find 2 immediate confidence boosts here to get you through today’s challenge.
Spending your entire leadership day with your head down, pouring over only what’s in front of you, won’t get you very far. Effective Lady Leaders regularly lift their head up, look around from side to side and peer off into the future. They are “systems aware.”
It’s time to take a look at how you can expand your awareness to this broader and longer view of your work.
Excellence in Leadership Series
This is our second week in the Excellence in Leadership Series, which is looking at the skills needed to be an A+ Lady Leader. I am pulling these essential skills from The Leadership Circle Profile - TLC. TLC is a tool I use with the ladies in my Women with Grit program to help them become exceptional leaders.
This week in the series, I am focusing is on the skills of broadening and lengthening our view. That expanded view is what systems awareness is all about.
When you are cognizant of the systems around you, you lead with the bigger picture in mind. Instead of the tiny microscopic scene of the daily crises, the fires that pop up and the problem of the day in front of you, you adopt a macro perspective. Rather than using a microscope to dissect the immediate future, think of using a periscope and a telescope to look around you and ahead of you.
A community focus considering your long-term legacy
The first thing this expanded perspective allows you to do is reawaken your concern for the welfare of the community you serve or the larger global community you are connected to. Next, it helps you to then connect your day-to-day work to the long lasting legacy you leave on that community. You start to consider how your leadership and the work your team does is of service to future generations?
When you are NOT Systems Aware
To put the skill of systems awareness into perspective, let's look at where many leaders are now. Instead of this long and broad view, many of us have a very tiny view. We adopt a short-term focus. So many leaders live in reactive mode, solving whatever problem pops up, putting out fires, looking for quick fixes or Band-Aid Solutions
Slow down and lift your head up
Instead, when you hone the skill of being more focused on the bigger systems, you widen your view and focus on the impact you have on the community, over the long-term. This requires you to step back from the urgency to fix the current crisis and lift your head up. It is about slowing down, looking around and then choosing a response rather than reacting.
3 skills to enhance
The three skills associated with increasing your system’s awareness are developing what is called community concern, focusing on being able to sustain your productivity and examining how systems are intertwined which is being a systems thinker.
Grow your Systems Awareness Skills
Becoming systems aware helps you to lift your head up and take a look around. Looking up and around helps you to both keep your eye on the prize (your vision) and help you know what’s going on, that can either help you or hinder you on the way to that view way far off in the distance.
Hone the skills of:
Want to learn more?
You can learn more here by listening to this session on how you can increase your skills to increase your systems awareness.
Then, get awaken your systems awareness, download the guide below which will help to broaden and expand your view of your work.
When you pause and notice what you are actually thinking, you may have realized that the thoughts you are thinking are not exactly helping you get to where it is you want to go. AND you may have realized that you are not quite sure what to do about that. I mean really, it’s not as if you just snap your fingers and they are changed forever. I wish!
The trick is to change your perspective. It is to alter the lens through which you are viewing the challenge in front of you, the relationship that is frustrating you or changing how you see yourself.
Shifting your perspective takes a bit of practice. Once you train yourself to alter how you see things, you’ll get better at doing it more quickly. There are two things you need to have when you want to start changing the perspective of your thoughts
You need to hope you can change your thoughts and you need to develop a plan to do that. Let’s break that down more.
Before I explain a bit more about hope, let me first let’s define optimism. We often get the two confused. When you are optimistic, you believe that your future will be better than your present. It’s good to be optimistic
When you turn optimism into hope, you take it one step further. Hope is not only believing your future can be better than your present. Hope is also understanding and accepting that you have a role in making your future better than the present. Rather than just waiting to see what happens, hope helps you to make it happen.
3 parts to HOPE
To cultivate this kind of hope, there are 3 parts to consider; goals, confidence, and pathways.
First, identify your goal.
Your goal is your future desire. But it’s less about out there…and more about inside of you. What is the different inner experience you are looking for? In the context of what we have been talking about for the last few weeks, your goal is to have different thoughts. You now know that when you change your thoughts, it will change your experience of things.
In the second example above, the goal is not a rain free adventure. That is something that is outside of your control. Instead, your goal is to feel a sense of joy when you and your family are at the park despite the rain. The goal is inside of you: joy.
Next, consider your level of confidence in yourself.
Do you believe in yourself and your abilities to change how you think so that you will get a different experience?
Can you find joy despite the rain? Can you create fun and enthusiasm in those around you and turn the puddles into games? The question is, do you really believe you can change your thoughts and that by doing so you will change your experience. If you don’t believe that, you are not going to find that sense of joy you are looking for.
Finally, plan your pathway.
What route are you going to take to achieve that goal? What will you need to do, again, think inside of you, to get there?
Your plan might be that before heading out on the trip, you dig out the rubber boots. You may also pack and an extra set of clothes. But it is more than the outside planning here; the key is to plan how you will change your thoughts. You could design a shift in thinking from “This is not going to go well” to “What can make this fun for us?”
he “If/Then” Plan
As you look at your pathway to get to that different experience, you may notice some potential bumps along the way;
When you are planning this shift in thoughts and experience, take those potential obstacles into account and plan for them.
If my child gets cranky, then I will remind myself to take a deep breath helping me to respond more calmly rather than reacting with frustration.
Use the If/then formula to plan ahead for how you will respond (conscious choice) rather than react (getting hijacked by emotions and events).
If this happens... then I will…
Let’s look at the scenario of a meeting with the annoying co-worker.
Hope + A Plan = The Ability to Change Your Thoughts & Thus Your Experience
Cultivating hope and developing an if/then plan are important factors to building the skill of shifting your perspective. Remember, this takes time and practice. When you start to change the filters through which you see problems, others and yourself, you will start to experience them differently. Define the outcome you want, your goal. Believe you can, your confidence. Decide what you will do, if something goes wrong, your plan.
Hope you can change your future, by taking back reasonability for your thoughts. One-step at a time my dear, one step at a time!
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.
Almost 70% of the workforce is either disengaged or actively disengaged. That means they either just don’t really care and are putting in time or they are purposefully making things worse for those around them.
That leaves just over 30% who are enthusiastic, engaged and energized by their jobs. Not only do they love what they do, but they also go the extra mile to make a difference in their organization.
Which one are you?
Your experience of engagement is probably mixed
Perhaps a mix of both. Some days you love to be there, but most days you are dragging your butt out of bed and resenting having to the office.
Which group would you place most of your employees in?
Perhaps a mix of both as well. Some days they seem keen on helping out and supporting others. And at other times they appear fixated on making your life hell.
But what if, you could change it? What if you could both increase your engagement at work as well as the level of engagement for those around you?
And truly, it doesn’t take much work. What it takes, is a mindset shift.
To re-engage in your work, you need to decide you will. That means you actively
Don't expect overnight miracles
Yes, everything around will be the same as it’s always been, at least initially. But gradually, your attitude will rub off on those around you. Gradually is the key word. The second key word was your attitude.
Change your attitude my dear
Mindset. Attitude. It’s the same thing.
Your outlook on your job and your view of the people you work with profoundly impacts your experience of work.
Wayne Dyer said,
“Change the way you look at things and the things you look at start to change.”
What is your view?
Consider these examples. Do you stop at the first part of the sentence or shift your attitude and add an alternative?
Shifting your experience starts with shifting your attitude
Gallup has identified 4 ways to improved employee engagement. But before you pop over there and read that article, check in to see what your attitude is.
Inspiring enthusiasm starts with you
On last week’s FB Live session I talked about Inspiring Enthusiasm in Yourself and Your Team. We took Gallup’s measurement for engagement and flipped it around. Rather than waiting to see what others will do around you to make your work environment different. What are you doing to make that shift? Watch the live session here and don’t forget to grab your free guide here.
Engagement is an attitude. It’s your attitude or your mindset. If you want to feel more enthused and engaged at work and you desire if for others, it starts with you!
Watch last week's FB Live session below:
Learn more about shifting your mindset and attitude here
Increasing your confidence as a leader is critical to both performing strongly and to feeling good. Confidence comes from inside of you rather than from external sources.
You don’t become more confident as a result of what others say to you.
Instead, your confidence increases when you tell yourself you can and when you then believe you can. That means if you want a greater level of confidence, you need to grow it from inside.
To help you out with your thinking, I’m sharing some confidence hacks. The 1st Hack was Know You Can. If you can’t do it, no amount of thinking you can do something will give you the feeling of confidence. That means you may need to take some training, read a book or practice a skill to become more proficient, adept or able, thus more confident.
Confidence is what you think you are capable of doing
This week we are moving on to the 2nd confidence hack: Believe You Can. This hack is all about shifting your mindset.
I think I can…I think I can…I think I can…
Do you believe you can? If you don’t, I’m sorry to tell you, but you are in for some big challenges! If you don’t believe in your ability or skill, you will hit internal resistance. That inner voice will tell you to should step back. It will suggest you let someone else take the reins. That whisper in your mind will caution you, that you aren’t quite ready yet.
Believe You can
The confidence hack "Believe You Can" is about change your thinking. Your thoughts can either propel you forward, cause you to freeze or to make you pull back. If you want to increase your confidence, you’ll need to become aware of those thoughts and possible alter or tweak them. Sometimes it doesn’t take much of a shift in the words you are thinking. This powerful example from Alicia Keys reminds us of how quickly changing one word can impact us.
Shifting from “If I…” to “When I…” is an incredible tweak!
Here are 2 ways to tweak your thoughts to have the most power over your confidence levels.
Use Your Inner Guidance Cycle
Using the steps of the Inner Guidance Cycle (pause, ponder, pivot & proceed) will help you to become aware of your thoughts. The cycle gives you access to your Inner Guidance System, which is that inner wisdom. That internal insight allows you to notice the thought and then determine if what you are thinking is going to be helpful in getting you where you want to be. That awareness can help you to fine-tune the thought.
When you think, “I’m not ready yet.” You tend to stay quiet at a meeting. Noticing the precise words you are thinking, lets you step back and perhaps alter the what is going on in your mind. If you’ve been practicing public speaking (Remember Hack #1 was about increasing your competence so that you Know You Can), you may then adjust the thought to “It’s not going to come out perfectly, however, if I keep practicing I’ll get better. Speaking up now is an excellent opportunity to practice public speaking in real time.” This transformed thought boosts your confidence and helps you to speak up.
Develop a Growth Mindset
A fixed mindset keeps you stuck in a particular belief. When you have a fixed mindset, you don’t trust you can change or grow. You think you’ll never be smarter, more talented, a better speaker or good at conflict. The result of holding the belief firmly is that becomes an ongoing attitude of “Why to bother trying?" This stance kills your confidence.
Instead, when you develop a growth mindset, you become open to possibilities. A person with a growth mindset knows that it will take effort and time, however, that it is possible to change themselves.
Grow your growth mindset
To adopt a growth mindset, get better at asking
Believe You Can = Increased Confidence
Shifting your mindset and the way you think can have a profound impact on your confidence level. First, use the Inner Guidance Cycle to become more aware of your thoughts. Then develop a growth mindset that keeps you open to change and possibility. That increased awareness and a mindset shift will heighten your confidence, so you can both have a greater effect on your leadership and feel good in the process.
Do you ever wish that you could pause a situation, rewind and pull back what you just said or did? There are certainly days that I wish that I could reverse time and have a “do-over” of a conversation or situation. Sometimes words seem to fall out of our mouths, and we wish you could grab them back. What if you could prevent this? Read on!
While we can’t change the past, we can slow down upcoming exchanges and events to avert some of the blunders that inescapably take place. How do you slow time? If you have been following the last few of my blogs, you know that it takes Emotional Intelligence.
Emotional intelligence is when you become aware of your emotions and manage your emotions. Emotions are what dictate how we feel and subsequently what we say and do. Becoming progressively more astute about what you are feeling requires that you “slow down time” and widen the gap between what happened and your reaction to what happened.
The gap you say?
Yes, there is a little space that I want you to check out. You want to scrutinize what transpired after an incident and before a reaction. That minuscule second of time between the two is the chief segment of time that we want to examine.
Find your false story in the gap
When examining this chunk of time, you are looking to deduce what happened after an incident and what story you made up about that incident. It is that story that resulted in the feeling and then the reaction that you next had. I use the word “story” for a reason. Some may say, truth. However, it isn’t the truth. It is only our truth. It is the story we make up.
Let's break it apart a little bit further
Part One – The incident
Part Two – Enter into the gap – The thought
What we mistakenly think happens after the incident is that we have a reaction. What is more accurate is that there is a gap of time after the incident, but before the reaction. In that time, much transpires inside your mind and through your body.
When that thing occurred;
Usually, it’s not a conscious thought. In most cases, you aren’t even remotely aware that there was anything going on, but trust me, it's there.
During this gap you have thoughts such as:
Part Three – Still in the gap – The feeling
The thought about the incident then creates the feeling. You experience fear, anxiety, or frustration. That feeling is felt in your body.
Part Four – The reaction
It is the thought and the feeling about the incidence that dictates the way you respond or react. This includes what you say and what you do.
A reaction is unconscious.
A response is conscious
Those times when the words fall out of our mouth, and we wish we could grab them back are usually reactions. When we get angry over someone’s insensitive comment, it’s usually because we weren’t able to process the thoughts and feelings attached to that hot spot they just hit. Thus, we lash back hurtfully.
REDO of Part Four – The response
When we widen that gap of time between what happened and our subsequent actions, we can first get clear on the story we are making up in our head and our feelings attached to that story. When we do that, we have a choice to believe that story or alter it.
The same could be true at work. Perhaps you feel that your boss is attacking you and your feeling backed into a corner. The reaction might be to get angry and come out fighting. Instead, by widening that gap, your subsequent thoughts and feelings can be different.
A person with high Emotional Intelligence might notice:
"I’m feeling attacked and notice my body getting into fight or flight mode. Wait a minute. I know I’m a good person. I think maybe what he’s really trying to say is more about the project and not me. It might be his fear of failure coming through. We are actually on the same side. I sure as heck don’t want this project to fail at this either."
Our response, after this thoughtful pause in our minds, will across more in control than with fists flying. The words that consciously come out of our mouth, rather than fall out, will serve to move the project and the relationship forward.
Increase Awareness Means Increased Control
When you are more aware, mindful and conscious, you get to choose your response. This increased awareness and choice of action is Emotional Intelligence. Not only are you aware of your emotions, but you are managing them. This increased awareness allows you to examine your thoughts and feelings and decide if they are true. Then, you can change them in you want. What you’ll find if you do this more and more, is that a lot of your thoughts and feelings are very unhelpful, and you’ll want to do some work on changing them!
Mediocre leadership sucks for the mediocre leader
Simply going through the motions day-after-day can make anyone want to crawl back into bed when the alarm goes off. I’m going to let you in on a little secret: If you are looking for a different experience of leadership, it starts with you.
I had some vanilla days
There were days when I supervised that I simply want just to get by. I’d watch the clock and pray no new fires would start. I wanted to fade into the woodwork.
I had some butterscotch ripple days
There were other days that I was on top of the world and loving what I did. Looking back, it was when I figured out something new, had a positive experience of dealing with staff or gained new insights into my leadership style that I felt high-spirited. When I was acquiring new skills and insights and developing myself were the days when I was high on life. Those days were obviously way more enjoyable.
We tend to hid
The difference is when we are on top of our game, when we are pushing ourselves and excelling is when life is much more satisfying. Too often what we are simply looking for instead, is to get by. We’re hoping no one notices us. We’re hoping to fly under the radar.
Yet, we hate not being noticed
When we do, and we get passed over, neglected or ignored, we are frustrated. We complain that no one encouraged us to apply for the new positions or take the trip to promote the company. It’s crazy isn’t it? We want to hide out unnoticed, and we want to shine all at the same time.
Hiding creates misery
In reality, it is when we camouflage ourselves at our desks hoping no one will notice us, is when we become miserable. Remember the song in Sunday School: “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine?” That is the secret to fulfillment in leadership. You find way more delight in leadership and in life when you shine.
The way to love leadership is to shine
Outstanding leadership is when you become your best self. When you are absolutely in love with what you are doing the exasperating and maddening times are way easier to manage. They are not easy. There is some satisfaction in getting through them. It’s because you know they are pushing you to grow and develop even more.
Consider the Olympian
Think of an athlete who is running through drills, challenging themselves with growing new muscles in their body and mind. The competitor must avoid the chocolate cake and go to bed earlier. All of this is not always easy for them, but because they’re passionate and actively engaged in what they’re doing it somehow seems more manageable.
You are in training
When you embrace excellence, you see your common duties and the mundane day-to-day jobs become your classroom. The desire to outshine yourself and endeavor to better than you were the day before, infuses life with a little bit more excitement. Rather than “What will I have to face today?” you’ll awaken with an attitude of “What will I learn today?”
Becoming the master
The best way to consider this is to think about becoming a master. Right now you’re likely an apprentice. An apprentice is learning. They are watching others so that they can gain new skills. A trainee makes a lot of mistakes. However, they take the time to learn from them. As a student, they are continually trying new things because they want to become more and be more skilled.
Move from apprentice to expert
The apprentice watches her master asking questions, learning and accepting guidance. Gradually the apprentice becomes the skilled worker. Over time, they become the one that everybody looks up to. After years of work, they transform into the expert. Eventually, they become the master that others look to for wisdom.
Adding color to life and leadership
The apprentice continually grows and develops which means, no more mediocre. It is the addition of color and flavor. It requires the apprentice to step outside their comfort zone and learn new things. What do you need to do to move from the newbie to the master, from the apprentice to the expert? You need to practice outside of your comfort zone. You need to try new things. You need to learn.
Experts put their time in
Research has shown the experts are made not born. It takes about 10,000 hours, ten years or a decade. But not a decade of doing the same thing over and over and over again. It is 10,000 hours of stretching outside your comfort zone. If you want to become an exceptional leader you must work at learning new skills constantly.
From apprentice to exceptional leadership
If you want to move from a mediocre experience of leadership to an exceptional experience of leadership, you will need to grow your skills. Consider what it is you need to learn to be your best. Find it. Practice. Step outside of the camouflage and shine!
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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.