If you want to feel more competent, capable and sure of yourself in your leadership, you need to increase your self-confidence. To be able to bounce back time and time again, when the $#!t hits the fan, you need a system that will help you regain your confidence when you falter.
The system that powerful leaders everywhere rely on is a system that is inside of them. I call this your Inner Guidance System. Leaders who can navigate the busy, stressful and difficult times AND come out on top, rely on something inside of them. This inner wisdom provides strength, insight, and stamina, not just to survive but to thrive.
Your Internal Compass
Let me introduce you to your Inner Guidance System. Accessing this system will help you master your confidence. You’ll discover more about this in my upcoming book: Mastering Confidence: Discover Your Leadership Potential by Awakening Your Inner Guidance System. For now, though, let me give you an overview.
Your Inner Guidance System is your internal navigational structure. Think of your Inner Guidance System as your personal GPS or as a compass. Your Inner Guidance System points you in the right direction.
Know Your Leadership Destination
But where are you going? Yes, that is a crucial part of the equation. Leadership is about taking people someplace. It is about moving your organization from here to there. That is your vision or destination. The destination could be something like:
For you, as a leader, to take your team there, you need to be able to respond in a certain way, make some tough decisions and fan the flame on that dream of what is possible. With everything going on some days, that can be hard! It’s easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day work. One can get frustrated, overwhelmed and discouraged by the things you have to deal with.
Where many leaders find themselves in the face of all this, is:
Even the best leader can find their confidence wavering. To combat this, one needs to have a system in place, to bounce back. A strong leader needs a system to help them regain footing, find stability and once again move forward confidently. That system is your Inner Guidance System.
Confidence comes from within
Many leaders are looking for more confidence in their leadership. Confidence comes from what you think you’re capable of. Therefore it is by activating this wise inner self that you can begin to feel more confident. By tuning into your Inner Guidance System, you find your thinking changes and thus, your confidence levels increase.
Get acquainted with your inner wisdom
Your Inner Guidance System is made up of your:
When you tune into your Inner Guidance System, it helps you identify the direction you need to go as well as the action steps you need to do to get moving in that direction.
Follow the steps of your INNER GUIDANCE CYCLE
To make use of your Inner Guidance System, you need to follow the steps of the Inner Guidance CYCLE. These four steps, when repeated again and again, help you to make use of your internal wisdom.
The steps of the INNER GUIDANCE CYCLE
The Inner Guidance CYCLE involves four steps that I want you to master through lots of practice so that you strengthen your confidence:
When you do the steps repeatedly, they provided insights that you need to move in the direction you want to go. In the upcoming blogs and videos, I will go more in-depth into each of these steps.
Notice your THOUGHTS
To begin to get acquainted with your wise inner self, start paying attention to what is going on inside of you.
Consider what thoughts you have about situations.
Notice your FEELINGS
Identify your feelings about people, challenges or outcomes you experience.
Notice body SENSATIONS
Begin to pay attention to the sensations in your body. For example, notice when:
Tune into your INNER GUIDANCE SYSTEM
All of these, thoughts, feelings and sensations are signs your Inner Guidance System at work.
Stay tuned for the next blog, where I will walk you through the first step of the Inner Guidance CYCLE, which is the pause step. You will learn not only the value of pausing but how to do it more often.
Distractions and disruptions can mean disaster for big projects!
Don’t let that happen to you. If you focus on the following three tips, you’ll find you can ditch distractions, diminish the disruptions and delight in what you can accomplish.
I was afraid I wouldn't get it done
I am working on finishing up my first book. I wrote it in between traveling, speaking, coaching, and teaching as well as my day-to-day tasks of running my business. The fear that I was going to be able to pull it off with such a full schedule prompted me to develop a completion strategy.
To finish the book amidst potential derailment from everything else going on, I needed to be focused. That meant I had to hone in on the productivity strategies I teach. The book I am writing means too much to me, I could not let it linger on forever. I knew it was time to practice what I preach.
To Do Lists Don't Work
I wish I had known more about this kind of productivity when I was in management. Back then trying to get through proposal writing, preparing for accredited reviews, completing a performance appraisal, or trying in vain to get through an overhaul of our orientation manual meant putting it on my to-do list. The problem was, just because it was on the top of my list didn't mean it was first to get done. My list didn’t help me stay focused. When someone else thought his or her demand of my time was more important, I tended to react to their petition. (read more about ditching ginormous to-do lists)
3 Tips to help complete BIG projects
If you have experienced similar challenges, here are some productivity hacks that will help you out immensely.
Blocking off large chunks of time and communicating to your team what you are doing is the first component to completing big projects. Don't stop there, though. Stay focused on the project by eliminating the distractions. Remember, you are your worst enemy. Keep the phone and the guilt as far away from you as possible. Eat healthy, move your body and get a good nights sleep. Mastering the basics gives you the edge you need to dig deep and get er' done.
Having the determination, persistence and perseverance to stick to doing the work that matters, to fight for what we believe in and to stick it out for the long haul can be gratifying and grueling.
Staying the course when you:
Do you know that you don’t have to do it alone right?
Having someone alongside you to help you get through this, is precisely what you need.
But I'm supposed to be independent
We were taught independence from the time we were little. You can do it. We learned asking for help was a sign of weakness. Oh, you can’t do it? There is a sense of failure if we have to ask for help.
While there is truth in that some things need doing alone, there is also great wisdom in knowing when to ask for help.
Signs it’s time to ask for help:
Places to ask for help
1) A loyal friend or family member
Talk to someone close to you about your desire to grow, be stronger and more on purpose to what truly matters to you. Find someone who will come along side you as you get fired up to make some changes. When you find that person, it is like having your own cheerleader in your corner.
I remember years ago, I was going through some challenges with staff at work. I was feeling discouraged about relationships, yet determined to work through it because I was committed to the work we were doing. My husband came home one day, sat me down on the coach and said, listen to this. The sounds of Enrique Iglesias filled our family room. As the tears slid down my face, I knew that my husband believed in me. He was there for me. He was my shoulder to cry on, but would also stand me back up, turn me around and send me back off to the office. He knew I was meant to do that work.
The support and motivation that I get from Ernie are what has gotten and continues to get me a long way in my career.
2) Make developing Grit part of your performance plan at work
Talk to your boss, your manager or your HR person about what skills and traits you desire to grow. Ask for opportunities, training and support to develop this determination and commitment in yourself. You may choose to share only a part of it or much of it, depending on your trust level in your relationships with these individuals. But the truth is in most organizations your supervisor wants to see you develop and grow your skills. They will be willing to help in whatever way they can, you simply need to show initiative and ask.
When I began to work on my degree, I was the first one in the organization that committed fully to doing it. Following me, many others have since taken the same program I did and graduated from it. I applaud them for it. It wasn’t an easy track working full-time. When I decided this was what I wanted to do, I asked my boss to commit, not to the whole degree, but to one course at a time. Honestly, that was all I could commit to as well. But one by one, year after year, I kept plugging away at it (do you sense my grit here) because I knew it was necessary for my growth and my ability to make the desired impact I wanted on my teams and in my field. My organizations supported that and each year, it was part of my performance plan.
3) Look for outside support and training.
Depending on how you’ve narrowed down what you need to work on, there are a vast array of things you can do to get outside support to grow you. Some of that, your organization may help with, others you may simply do on your own. Consider the following as some options:
It's time to develop your GRIT
Developing your grittiness is critical in really doing meaningful work, finding balance and enjoying what you do more. I won’t lie though; it takes a lot of effort. You must be determined. You need to connect passionately with what is important to you. You must also be willing to work at it for a long time.
Grow your Grit
Spend time connecting to what’s important to you and find the motivation to stick with it, despite the setbacks and challenges you face. Get serious about it by developing a plan to help you and reach out for assistance to do that. It will be worth it, trust me!
I’m late in sharing goals setting I know. It’s already close to the end of January. Most of you have got your goals set for the year. Or do you?
In a poll today on my Goal Setting Webinar, 100% of the attendees did not have any goals set for this year.
Wait a minute!
Are you just floating along, aimlessly a victim of whatever happens in your life?
Are you intentionally creating life, days, your career and your family life as you chose?
Newsflash: You can create your life experience
How did you ask?
By being intentional. You create life experiences by reflecting, deciding, setting goals and planning, all before you take action.
Here is your homework:
1. Set aside time
Yes, this takes some time. 30-minutes is a good place to start if your time deficient.
2. Vision what you want in your future
If you had the “perfect” life, career and relationship:
3. Write down those things
Journal of that future vision for a few minutes.
4. Develop a goal
Consider what you would need to do this year to move you closer to that vision. Develop your goal as specific as you can.
5. Expand the goal into a plan
If you want to achieve that goal, what do you need to do to get there. This expansion may include action, practices, and training.
6. Create a habit
Consider what you will need to do for the rest of your life to maintain that goal. What actions will you have to take daily to ensure you stay on track? How will you instill those into your daily routine?
Taking 30 minutes out of your day, to intentionally create your future could have a crazy positive impact on how 2016 unfolds for you. Deliberately cultivating your life experience can help you find you achieve more of what you want. You'll be clear, and you will consciously know what you need to do to get there.
You can learn many lessons from the pages of Little House on the Prairie. The main one is to be gritty. In other words:
• dig deep,
• for what you care about
• and do it again and again, and again.
Ma fought battles to raise her girls and keep her family safe. While Pa was out and about, Ma would feed the livestock in frigid temperatures. She packed away food for lean times. She also worked to keep a positive mindset in the face of daunting circumstances.
Ma saw setback and failures as opportunities to learn lessons, develop strength and to deepen one’s faith. Ma Ingalls demonstrated grit daily.
Grit in Leadership
It took me 8 years to complete my degree. I was working full-time and raising 4 kids. After supper, my husband would do the dishes and get the kids ready for bed while I buried myself in textbooks and fought to master APA format. Each time I finished a course it felt like a giant step forward, and yet, I knew it wasn’t the end. I’d have to dig out the outline and look at what course was next.
If I completed the coursework, there was the lure of a raise. To me, it was more than that. Attaining my degree was about growing my skills as a leader. It was about getting that piece of paper that would say “You stuck it out, Kathy! You finished it, despite the odds.” That motivation kept me going. I was determined.
Grit kept me going
What I was exercising was GRIT. I persevered. I persisted. I did this for a long time because it was important for me. It meant a lot to me to have my degree.
Grit is perseverance and passion for long-term goals. Research shows that GRIT is a core indicator of success.
Look at those who have made it
Dig into the back-story of some of the most successful people out there and you’ll see that they were not overnight successes. Most of the individuals that have "made it big", like Oprah, Steve Jobs, Reba McIntyre, Jack Canfield, Tony Robbins, Louise Hay, had a long history of failures. They spent many years being determined to figure it out. It required them to fail, fall and get back up, again, and again. It required GRIT.
Think about your challenges
As a leader, you already know, that it is not easy! Each project, program, client, and employee requires a measure of effort that extends over time. You have to dig deep to get through some of the chaos, challenges and stress. And, you must do this over and over. You are much more willing to do this when you care a lot.
What do you care about?
This question about what matters to you is critical to getting gritty. The definition of grit includes two “Ps”: persistence & passion. To be gritty, you must care about your tasks and the eventual outcomes of your work. It must be significant to you. It has to matter. Grit requires a measure of passion about what you are doing.
Grit was instrumental in my success
I worked hard to get my degree because it mattered a lot to me and. Therefore, I was willing to work on it for a lengthy period. Grit, perseverance, and passion for long-term goals got me through the course work.
Why is this important in leadership?
To be an exemplary leader, you know it takes hard work. You know you are much more willing to work hard if you care about the work you are doing. Finally, you know you’ll ensure that hard work over the long haul. That’s GRIT.
The 3 reasons you should lead like Ma Ingalls
They are the three components of Grit.
1) Ma was determined to be successful. So you should you be persistent and strong-willed.
Determination gives you capacity to:
a. face challenges
b. Dig deep during tough times
c. Get you through big projects
d. Handle tough conversations
e. Stick with things that matter
2) Ma cared deeply about her family. She devoted herself to their well-being. So you should fire up the passion in your work.
Connecting to your passion means:
3) Ma stayed the course despite adversity. She endured for the long haul. So you too should be practicing endurance.
Enduring helps you to remember:
Let Ma be your mentor
By following Ma Ingalls example, you will be a respected and sought after leader. Not only will your leadership flourish, but you will find yourself much happier.
Become a gritty leader:
Do you ever watch athletes and wonder - How? How the heck do they get where they are?
How do they go in front of thousands of people and perform while you struggle to get the words out in a meeting of 10 peers? An athlete seems to bounce back after they lose. You, on the other hand, would like to stay home the day after you say something less than eloquent at a business meeting..
The trick you can learn from athletes is this:
Do not be afraid to fail.
Athletes see success as a process
They can’t always win, especially in the beginning. Athletes must work their way up. High performing athletes view failure as opportunities for learning.
What does an athlete do?
If you were to apply these same lessons to your leadership, consider what you might get.
You might decide on one skill you are working on each month and work hard at it. Perhaps it is patience, planning better for meetings or staying focused on a task. The practice you put in will result in a better performing you.
Get back up
When something knocks you down, rather than wallowing in it, you’d get back up. No need to complain about it at the water cooler. Just bounce back and keep moving forward.
One of the things we often do is resist the feedback in our performance appraisals. I mean the stuff we don’t like. Instead, we might be more open to what we hear. By getting curious about feedback instead of resisting to it, we improve our performance.
Learn from our mistakes
The key to learning from mistakes is to look for the lesson and then apply what you learned. Perhaps you neglected to complete the written part of formally disciplining an employee. Then, similar incidents happened. Because you didn’t have the documentation for the last two, you can't move to dismiss them the 3rd time around. The lesson is to keep your paperwork up to date. But if you don’t do anything different in your processes, it means you didn’t apply the lesson. A new system or habit for documenting would need to be embarked.
Look to others for guidance
Do you have a mentor, a guide or a coach? You should. These are the people you go to for learning? We all need a wise, experienced person to point us in the right direction.
Try again and again with perseverance and passion to meet your long-term goals. This is developing your grit.
Grit is perseverance and passion for long-term goals. Grit is the ability to dig deep, even when the going it tough. We all could benefit from more of that.
Applying these lessons in leadership
When you put all of this into practice, you will find you have more courage to step into some of the more uncomfortable places you may find yourself. But in doing so, you will find more courage and thus be more confident. The more self-assured you find yourself, the more boldly you’ll step out next time. Courage and confidence go hand in hand.
Athletes know they need to trust the journey and have faith in the process
It’s a learning adventure. Mistakes and failures are a part of it. But with the mindset to learn and grow and access to wise guides along the way, the journey is far easier. You'll find this too when you apply these lessons to your leadership journey. You'll have more courage to be your most powerful self.
All of us have done the mindless clicking from our inbox to Facebook, back to our inbox. It’s not Facebook’s fault. We got distracted long before social media existed.
The reason we are clicking away mindlessly is not because we get distracted. It is because we are avoiding something.
I was a master at avoiding
Before the Facebook days, I would water my plants, re-organize binders of information I’d never look at again or chit chat with an employee about the weather, our kids or the latest community gossip. All the time, I had work to do. I was doing other things, simply to avoid the work I didn't want to do.
I didn’t want to:
• Complete the dreaded paperwork.
• Have a conversation with staff about their performance.
• Write the report, proposal or contract that was on my desk.
To get at all of those tasks required a measure of self-control. I had to be disciplined. I needed to exercise my willpower.
We need to exercise willpower
Willpower is the age old skill of self-control, restraint, strength, and determination. Willpower happens in your head. Our mind-chatter tries to get us to avoid pain. That inner dialogue suggests to us, subconsciously, that doing the work will hurt. Our inner voice says, that somehow if we do the task in from of us, it will be painful, hard or troublesome. So instead, that little gremlin inside suggests we scan the newsfeed instead.
We must be determined to stay on task
It takes a level of resolve to push past that and get to work, especially agonizing jobs. To stay on task, get done the important work and leave feeling productive at the end of your day, you must activate your willpower.
The research on willpower can help us
There are three parts of willpower according to willpower researcher Kelly McGonigal; I will, I won’t, I want.
Get clear on the big picture and what's haunting you today
Many people tie the I want element to something grandiose such as, “I want to live a long healthy life”. This is important, but only part of the puzzle. You must also look at what the smaller parts of the I want element to help you when the donut is right in front of you.
Instead, when we get really clear about why we want it in the nearer future or in a smaller, more meaningful way, it’s easier to be strong-willed. For example, I might avoid the donut today because I want to fit into that dress next month.
Applying willpower at work
Now let us tie willpower back to day-to-day work. What are you trying to accomplish at work? Let’s look at my examples from earlier.
Practicing willpower makes you happier
When you practice accessing your willpower, you will find you are better able to get through some of your more challenging work. It will engage your inner desires to do important, meaningful, but sometimes difficult tasks. In doing so, you will feel more accomplished and confident. Activation your willpower finds you being more productive and going home at the end of the day, a happier person.
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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.