You can either move into a leadership position, or you can keep plugging along where you are and maintain some resemblance of balance in life.
But you can’t have both.
It’s either a career or balance. You decide!
Hidden Messages Plague Women
How many times have you heard that you can't have both? Probably not always outright, but if you read between the lines, it’s there.
We do it all
So they don’t have to decide either a career or balance, women try to do it all:
Setting the pace for the day, we open our email before the sleepy crust is out of our eyes. The speed quickens as we scurry around to get the dog fed and the kids out the door on time. We respond to everyone else’s needs all day jumping from meeting to email to conversation. The race continues into the evening as we dash through errands, supper, laundry and whatever event is scheduled that night. To catch our breath, we decide to unwind in front of the TV. However, we still have our email open, trying in vain, to catch up before the wheel begins to spin again tomorrow.
We are anything, but balanced!
Missing the meaningful things
I know that women leaders spend their days chasing fires and solving everyone else’s problems. At the end of their days, thought, they feel as though they didn’t get anywhere.
But, there is always tomorrow, right?
Change your tomorrow!
Darn right! Tomorrow is another day. I believe that women can choose to change their tomorrows, given the opportunity, support and information. The catch is they have to decide to make the best of opportunities when they are presented.
Choose a different way
Choosing something different isn’t easy, in fact, it can be painful!
Some days, I chose puke
My babysitter Faith was amazing. But that didn’t stop the tears from rolling down my cheeks, as I drove away after dropping off my vomiting toddler at 5:45 am so I could catch the plane to the city for that “big” meeting. It was a choice I had to make. Barfing child or a conference with the big wigs. That day, I prioritized my commitment to my clients and the work our team was doing. On other days, I elected for scrubbing puke off the coach.
Don't live in default mode
Again and again in my leadership, I was presented with opportunities to make choices. How I made my decisions, was the crux of building the life I wanted. If you want to stop choosing between career or life, you have to get good at making other choices. Living your life in default mode and letting others make the decisions for you, creates frustration, bitterness, and resentment.
Nothing will change if you never choose
I doesn't have to be either/or
I believe a woman can move into leadership positions and at the same time, find a decent amount of balance in their life. To do this, they need to develop the confidence to make good choices. That confidence is the thing that will help them, do the inner work necessary for compelling leadership. By developing themselves, women develop their character and strengthen their integrity. These are the two fundamental traits needed for credible, competent and effective leadership. They are also the two qualities that help women to lead full and rich live both at work and beyond.
The 3rd Option
I want women leaders to know they don’t have to decide anymore. They have a 3rd option. Women can have both a career as a strong and impactful leader and at the same time, have a level of balance in their lives. I grow courage and confidence in women leaders so they can make good choices. I give them the inner and outer tools to move from just surviving to thriving.
Develop your confidence so you can make good choices
Did you know that your body posture speaks to you? Yes, I know, it sends messages loud and clear to others also. And, while that is important, it’s not what I want to you think about for this moment.
Ask yourself: What is my posture telling my brain and my heart right now?
How you hold your body sends messages to you about your level of confidence
When you tighten up, fold in or hunch over, your body is a protective mode. The physical state of your body sends messages to your brain that say “protect me!”. So it does. Your posture causes your brain to react to the perceived threat. Adrenaline is released preparing your body for a fight or flight response.
You are not a cave woman
The problem is that you aren’t a cave woman who is protecting her babies from the wild beast. Instead, on the other side of the desk is your demanding boss, the staff member that always pushes your buttons or the funder that is threatening the existence of your program. Getting defensive at this point isn’t probably your best tactic.
Confidence comes when you are relaxed
If you are looking to engage confidently in a conversation or to adequately address a particular situation, you want to respond with confidence, not aggression. That confidence comes, when your body feels sure it can handle things. Your posture is a critical component of those, often unconscious, messages to your brain.
When your body is erect, open and expansive, it tells your brain everything is ok. That impression of safety, rather than a threat, evokes the relaxation response instead of the stress response. Endorphins are released. Your body relaxes.
Respond with confidence
In a more relaxed state, your body will be able to access parts of the brain not readily available in fight or flight mode. Instead of reacting to what is going on, you’ll be better positioned to respond thoughtfully and powerfully. You will be more mindful of what you are saying, how you are saying and the tone of your message. You’ll feel better to say what you really want to say. You will find the courage to address tough issues. Your body will allow you to act with confidence, thus feeling more confident.
How to STAND with CONFIDENCE
Stand with confidence means holding your body in a position that feels more confident. It is expansive and open, meaning you take up a lot of space. Although I say stand, the same applies to sitting. Follow these suggestions for confident body posture.
Learn from the body posture expert
Learn more about how powerful your presence is to those around you, but more importantly to you in Amy Cuddy’s Ted Talk or, in Cuddy's book Presence. See what she means by power posing by checking out this image.
Adjust your posture to increase your confidence
Learn to watch your posture and adjust it when necessary! Holding your body in a power position, one that is expansive, open, taller and takes up more space, changes your body’s chemistry. That releases the hormones that give you confidence. Stand like you can, and you will be able to more confidently deal with the next challenge that comes your way.
Did you miss the other Confidence Hacks?
I've been reviewing 4 Confidence Hacks these last few week so you can increase your confidence. If you missed them, find the links here:
Imagine a cartoon character standing at the edge of the river of life. As the frames progress, you see her still lingering on the riverbank while everyone else is jumping in. Each sketch shows others diving into school, relationships, and careers. But this particular little one, however, seems to be stalling, as she waits for something to happen before she takes the plunge.
What is she waiting for?
As you studied the cartoon, you'd likely realize that she is waiting for something to mysteriously overcome her that will make her feel better, surer or more capable. She is waiting for confidence. But if you look carefully at the other characters, you would see that they got that inner glow after they courageously took their leap. Their confidence grew after they acted like they could handle life.
Are you waiting?
Many of us are like that character in the cartoon. We wait to feel confidence before we do something.
Feeling comes AFTER action, not before.
The shift in the way you feel comes after you take action to illicit that feeling. Consider the following examples:
Act with confidence and you'll feel confident
Just as in the above examples, the feeling of confidence comes after acting with confidence. When you perform with confidence, such as by voicing your opinion at a meeting, you begin to feel more confident to do it more frequently in the future. However, the action comes first. To take that initial response often requires a level of courage. You gain that courage by first, knowing you can, increasing your competence. Then shifting your mindset to believing you can. When you've taken those first two steps, the courage to act comes easier.
My lack of confidence
I think back to when I started Toastmasters. I hated standing up at the beginning of each meeting to introduce myself. I fumbled over my words, said “um” a zillion times and raced as fast as I could to get it over. I was certainly not confident.
I acted with confidence and became confident
The change came over me when I acted as if I was speaking confidently. It was the weekly act of bravely rising and presenting myself to my peers that gave me the feeling of confidence. Each time I did it, I felt better about it. My confidence grew with bold action.
Acting with confidence requires leaving your comfort zone
To act like you can, you will need step outside of your comfort zone. That isn't always easy to do. The following 3 points will serve as reminders about why, despite how hard it might be, you still need to move outside of your comfort zone.
Act like you can
When you step outside of your comfort zone, your will feel more confident. That is going to allow you to do more and stretch further. Before you know it, you will be not only introducing yourself at staff meetings with more confidence, but you’ll be doing presentations with increased confidence as well.
Follow the first two confidence hacks: Know you can and believe you can. Then it's time to Act like you can do it, even if your nerves are frazzled and your inner voices suggests your crazy. Do it. The more often you do, the better you'll feel. The more confident you'll become.
The solution for “I hate my life”
The problem is you are unhappy with your day-to-day life, but you don’t know how to change it.
The consequence of staying trapped can be stagnation, frustration, and bitterness. It can become quite unhealthy for you, your team and your family as the effects spill out around you. Perhaps you’ve already noticed this. Especially, if you, like many, have been bogged down for weeks, months or even years.
THE SIMPLE SOLUTION: The solution is to change it. Getting from where you are now to where you want to be is quite simple, right? You just figure out where you want to go and start moving in that direction. It sounds simple perhaps in theory, but we all know, it is not always so easy in real life. At times, getting there can seem downright impossible.
I know that place of stuck all too well. Time-and-time again I have found that I am once again feeling stalled. I realize I’ve been working hard, but getting nowhere, except worn out. You know that feeling too right?
I learned that instead of staying stuck forever, it was when I paused long enough to realize what was going on that I had some great insights. Through conscious pondering, I was able to figure out what I needed to do to get from where I was, to where I wanted to be. Giving myself that time to think allowed me to do a little bit of a pivot in a new direction.
That slight shift of direction helped me to create a new strategy to accomplish what I was looking for. With that plan in hand, I was able to proceed forward, despite challenges, opposition and with the fear and doubt that are ever present.
THE COMPLETE SOLUTION:
The key to success has always been a plan. It is the deliberate understanding of what I need to do next, and perhaps even after that has gotten me, and can get you too, through the challenges that are inevitably in front of us when we want a different experience of life going forward.
A plan is a roadmap that helps you to move from where you are now, to where you want to be. Think of it as your guide that shows you the next step when you get lost or disoriented. Without it, you might just end up going around in circles. In fact, I believe many of us do that daily. Around-and-around the hamster wheel of life we go, never really getting anywhere.
A plan isn’t just simply saying I don’t want this, but I do want that. A well thought out, comprehensive plan includes the steps you need to take and addresses potential challenges and roadblocks that you will face. The truth is, it going to take time and effort to get to your destination. You will need to work at it step-by-step. To be successful, you need to build a thorough plan.
DEVELOPING YOUR PLAN:
Moving from the trapped place of overwhelm, doubt or spinning your wheels to feeling happy, confident and advancing forward each day with purpose, takes effort, time and persistence. It is not easy. The truth is, it can be quite difficult. What makes getting back into motion easier, is one secret ingredient that is often missed. Wishing, hoping and begging will only take you so far. To get the rest of the way, you need that plan.
If it’s time for you to jump off of that crazy hamster wheel and move forward, then it’s time for you to develop your plan.
DON’T GET CAUGHT IN THE HAZARDS:
If you are like many women, you develop a plan to change your life, only to have it all fall apart just a short time later. That’s because you likely made one of the critical mistakes most women make when trying to develop a plan to change their life.
I want to make sure you are successful moving forward. To help you out with this, I’ve developed a list of the 5 mistakes women make when trying to change their life. I’ve also included the “fix” to those mistakes, so you don’t get caught. To get those 5 mistakes, just click here, and I’ll send you the report.
Remember, the plan is critical. However, it must be a comprehensive plan to work. Take the time, don’t make these mistakes, and build your plan today! When you do, you’ll find yourself getting unstuck. Instead, you will be moving forward with clarity and purpose.
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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.