If you want to feel more competent, capable and sure of yourself in your leadership, you need to increase your self-confidence by learning to manage your thoughts.
To bounce back time and time again when the $#!t hits the fan 😩 you need a system that will help you regain your whirling thoughts and, thus, your confidence when you falter. We've been covering that system the last few weeks as you've been learning about pausing, pondering, pivoting and proceeding.
Leaders who can navigate the busy, stressful and difficult times AND come out on top rely on something inside of them. Their inner wisdom 🦉provides strength, insight, and stamina, not just to survive but to thrive.
Successful and confident leaders access that inner wisdom
by consciously tuning in to it.
The problem is we aren't taught this stuff
Unfortunately, many of us are too busy or have never learned how to tune into our inner wisdom. As new leaders, we learned about scheduling shifts, what forms need filling out and when and how to do cover off.
We were not taught what to do when we were uncomfortable addressing something going wrong or how to deal with our emotions during a team meeting when everyone seemed to hate us. And many of us assumed it was something wrong with us. We weren't cut out for leadership, were doing something wrong or alternately blamed it on the crappy staff we had.
❌ None of that was probably true, not completely.
We need to learn how to access our inner wisdom
What may be more accurate ✅ is that we have yet to learn how to communicate effectively as a leader, what to do with the voices in our head that doubt we can handle it or what to do with the anger when a comment at a staff meeting triggers us.
To help us learn that, we need a system to allow us to access our inner wisdom.
☑️ When you are about to enter a tough conversation and want to maintain your composure, your thoughts will help you do that.
☑️ When you struggle to get your work done and feel pulled in many directions, your inner wisdom will help you focus on what matters most when it matters most.
☑️ So you can convince yourself it's ok to walk away from work and find balance with your life.
If you want to learn a system to help you tune into your inner wisdom, something you can use anytime and anywhere, then keep reading 👇🏻
It's time to find your internal compass
Leaders that learn to tune in and manage their thoughts and emotions develop courage, strength and skills to leave effectively and impactfully by accessing their inner wisdom or The Inner Guidance System.
Your Inner Guidance System is your internal navigational structure. Think of your Inner Guidance System as your personal GPS or as a compass 🧭
Know Your Leadership Destination
But where are you going? 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:
Your destination is about who you are becoming
More than organizational goals, your direction is about becoming the type of leader you want to be.
The difference when you use your Inner Guidance System
👎🏻 Without tuning in, accessing your inner wisdom and using that internal compass to guide you, sadly, you'll be stuck on completing your to-do list, attending meetings and returning emails instead of being your best self while doing all those things.
👍🏻 But when you tune in and access your inner wisdom, using that internal compass to guide you, you'll be your best self 🙌🏻 when you complete your to-do list, attend meetings and return emails.
Follow the steps of your INNER GUIDANCE CYCLE
To access your Inner Guidance SYSTEM, follow the steps of the Inner Guidance CYCLE. The four steps, when repeated again and again, help you to make use of your internal wisdom. The steps of the INNER GUIDANCE CYCLE are as follows:
When you do the steps repeatedly, they provide insights that you need to move in the direction you want.
The Inner Guidance Cycle at work:
To begin getting acquainted with your wise inner self, PAUSE and start paying attention to what is happening inside you.
Consider or PONDER what thoughts and feelings you have about people, challenges or outcomes you experience.
You'll also notice that those thoughts and feelings may be accompanied by certain sensations in your body, for example:
Your thoughts, feelings and sensations are signs of your Inner Guidance System at work. They are clues🕵️ to what is going on and how to regain your composure and become your best self.
Accessing the wisdom inside - An example
By tuning into what's happening, you can shift how your thoughts or perspectives about the situation, how you handle it and how you feel about how you handle it.
👉 For example, perhaps you have a tough conversation coming up.
When you paused and tuned in (pondered), you may have noticed:
But that isn't the end of The Inner Guidance Cycle
The next step is the PIVOT step.
This step is about shifting your perspective. You shift your perspective by getting curious and asking yourself questions. You may ask yourself questions like:
The answers you come up with could be something like:
This new insight helps you move forward or PROCEED
Accessing your inner wisdom via The Inner Guidance Cycle will help you navigate your to-do list and relationships while you manage your emotions and be your best self. To learn more about each step in The Inner Guidance Cycle, dive deeper with this article.
How nonprofit leaders can lead with courage and confidence
In the last few weeks, we've been diving into the steps of The Inner Guidance Cycle. You may have made some realizations and know it's time to take action, but...
Confident leaders keep moving
As you build your leadership confidence, you'll need to continue to move forward despite challenges. That level of confidence comes from mastering your thoughts when things get rough. It's when you dare to make a decision, communicate it and move on. When you learn to master your inner chatter, you'll set boundaries, speak up and open up hard conversations, even though it would be easier not to do those things. The way to move forward, even when it's uncomfortable, is to follow the steps of the Inner Guidance Cycle.
When you connect to your inner wisdom or Inner Guidance System, managing your thinking is more doable. Thus, taking action is more even when you would rather not but know you should, is more doable.
Inner Guidance Cycle
To help you manage your thoughts, I've been teaching you to use the Inner Guidance Cycle.
Accessing your inner guide can help
When you follow the steps of the Inner Guidance Cycle, the final step is to PROCEED. However, getting back into motion after pausing, pondering and pivoting can often be the hardest step.
Q.Why is taking action the hardest step?
First, you've paused and then pondered
Something has happened, and you know you need to get ahold of your thoughts before they drag you off to the land of doubt, frustration or shutting down. So you PAUSE, step back and become more mindful of what is happening.
Pausing allowed you to move to the next step and PONDER. When you ponder, you begin to notice what has been going on around you and inside of you. You examine your thoughts, feelings and body sensations. Reflecting on your inner and outer experiences gives you insights. By pausing and pondering, you are awakening your inner guide or your Inner Guidance System.
A little shift now by pivoting your perspective
By awakening that Inner Guidance System, you evaluate your thoughts. Insights, ah-has and a willingness to examine thoughts, beliefs and judgements often shift your thoughts, views or opinions. That takes you to step 3 of the Inner Guidance Cycle; PIVOT.
Pivoting means seeing things in a different way
When you have new perspectives, you often need to change, turn or pivot how you handle things. As a result, you feel prompted to take different actions or respond in a way you usually wouldn't. Alternatively, a new way of seeing things may lead you to inaction where you had previously planned to act.
That new action or inaction may contradict what you are used to doing. It may also be far from what those around you are accustomed to expecting from you. That could be uncomfortable for you and them. Think about how it feels to:
Discomfort can be paralyzing
Even though you may have gotten to the point where you need to do something differently, doing it differently is a whole different beast! So insert step # 4 - PROCEED.
👉 AKA - having the courage to proceed.
All of the examples above can be very uncomfortable. Discomfort can paralyze us. We freeze, not wanting to go to the next step. So, it feels better to stay right where we are. It does until you look at what staying here means.
The deception of our comfort zone
Staying here, in our comfort zone, isn't really all that comfy. No, it actually sucks. For many of us, our comfort zone means we've given in, blended in or conformed. It feels a bit like defeat!
Settling for the mediocre life, the ok job, or the tolerable work environment isn't comfortable. It's painful. And not addressing staff issues, continuing to work way too many hours and being too embarrassed to ask or help are anything but comfortable.
Dealing with the pain of the comfort zone
The problem is we don't usually deal with the pain of the comfort zone in healthy ways. Instead, we numb the pain and try to pretend it's ok. So we:
Numbing the pain keeps you from experiencing pain in the moment. But the discomfort is still there.
We've just masked it.
Change is necessary
The bigger problem is that you are not reaching your full potential as a leader by staying in your comfort zone. No one ever changed the world by living in their comfort zone. No one ever grew, developed, or achieved anything by numbing the pain and playing safe. Organizations don't make a big difference in the lives of their clients by playing it safe. Instead, change is made when we get out of our comfort zone.
Getting back into motion: Proceed
To grow your leadership, enjoy your job, and live a full life, you must move forward instead of continuing to play it safe.
Q: Why is taking action the hardest step?
A: Moving forward moves you to a place of discomfort.
It's time to get back into action and PROCEED by doing the right but uncomfortable thing.
Two strategies to make proceeding easier
💪🏻 Strategy # 1 - Start with courage
Confidence begins with courage. To become more confident in yourself, you need to be more courageous.
Courage and confidence go hand in hand.
Each time you take a courageous act, your confidence soars.
Each time your confidence rises, you feel more courage to try different things.
Having courage and confidence gives you the elements to survive and thrive in leadership and life.
Strategy # 2 - Get the momentum going
An object at rest stays at rest. Conversely, an object in motion stays in motion. Therefore if you want to move back into action, you have to get the ball rolling.
One way to make this easier is to break it down into tiny steps and identify the first next step, and then proceed by taking that step. For example:
You may have realized you DO need to have THAT conversation.
Pause, ponder, pivot and then proceed forward
As a nonprofit leader, I know you know there isn't only one way to see things. There is no perfect way to handle a challenge. There is not only one description for a person. We live in a world of many perspectives, viewpoints, possibilities and opinions.
But sometimes we forget that when we are in our head!
However, applying the truth that there are multiple perspectives to how we tackle leadership can help you be a more confident and effective leader.
So let's learn how to pivot your thinking ??
Your Inner Guidance System Via The Inner Guidance Cycle
In the last couple of weeks, I walked you through the first two steps of The Inner Guidance Cycle to help you access your Inner Guidance System.
1 - When you take the first step and PAUSE, you create space to notice what is happening around you and inside you.
2 - The next stage, PONDER, is about getting curious about your thoughts, feelings, and sensations.
? When you observe and connect with your thoughts, feelings and body sensations, you gain access to your inner wisdom or your Inner Guidance System.
? Increased awareness helps you develop confidence, manage your emotions, and much more as a leader.
3 - Today, we are moving on to the third step, PIVOT, which is what to do with what you discover when you've spent some time reflecting.
It's time to shift from unconscious to conscious
The first two steps of the Inner Guidance Cycle have helped you to turn unconscious thoughts into conscious thoughts. We are usually so unaware of what is going on inside us. Because we have not noticed what's happening inside, we also don't realize how our feelings and thoughts impact our confidence levels, our ability to manage our emotions or how stuck we are in a particular perspective.
First, be wary of looping thoughts
Being unaware of repetitive looping thoughts such as, "I can't handle this," allows the idea to become an ingrained belief. Becoming aware that we've had the same thought ten times in the last 3 minutes makes it possible to examine the idea more carefully.
Conscious thoughts will help you'll start to have insights
When we become more mindful of the fact that we repeatedly have this thought, we can inspect it. Is it true? Maybe not. Or, it is partially correct. You can then ask yourself what parts are true. For example, "It is true that I can't handle it all alone."
Awareness helps to shift our thinking.
It's time to pivot your thoughts
This change in thinking allows us to see the problem and ourselves differently. Rather than the repetitive thought of; "I can't," we pivot to; "With help, I can handle this."
Suddenly, the load seems a little lighter and our confidence increases.
Turing to new ways of thinking and being
Pivoting is turning. It is shifting how we see a person, problem or project. It is changing our perspective. But, the mental shift can do more than just shift our thoughts. Changing our perspective helps us to choose alternate responses, change how we engage with others and sometimes take different actions.
Understanding your perspective
In Mastering Confidence, I describe our perspective as follows:
? Our perspective is our view or our point of view.
It might be our attitude about something or our opinion of someone. Our perspective is the current place we are looking from. It's our vantage point.
We see situations, people, and challenges from different vantage points that can change daily, depending on a wide array of things, including how well we slept the night before to an email we just opened. In the same way, we will see situations, people, and challenges much differently, perhaps than a co-worker, boss, or subordinate. So it's important to recognize that there are many different perspectives that we, or anyone else, can have.
The challenge arises when we aren't open to how others see things. Equally challenging is when we resist changing the way we see it. Most of us have tunnel vision. We want to see it only our way. We think our way is the best, the right, or the only way.
Truthfully, though, our view is only one view of everything. No two people have the same view of anything. Our outlook can change dramatically from one day to the next or in a split second. It all depends on what we are thinking. Pivoting requires us to change our thoughts.
How To Pivot
To change your thinking, you'll need to examine your thoughts consciously. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to help shift your thinking.
❓ Is this thinking getting me to where I want to be?
❓ How else could I look at this problem, person or project?
❓ What is in my way of seeing this differently?
❓ What would move me forward on this?
❓ Where/who could I ask for help?
Making Your Pivot
Pivoting allows you to get from where you are now, which is often stuck, to where you want to be. Think of it as an intersection.
1 - PAUSE when you get there
2 - Tune in and PONDER for a moment
3 - PIVOT by Looking at the direction you are going. Consider the alternatives.
If you want to be a strong and confident leader, you can't rely on someone else to tell you what to do.
To be socially intelligent and understand what's going on with your team, take action when someone isn't measuring up, or be decisive, you'll need to access your inner wisdom. That's the part of you that knows and guides you, even when the road ahead is bumpy.
? Access your inner wisdom by Pondering
You'll find access to your inner wisdom when you PAUSE and then PONDER. Pondering is when you:
PONDERING helps you consider what is going on inside of you! Pondering is the opportunity to tune in and consider the following:
When you ponder, you will connect the dots ✍?
When you pause and ponder, you'll start to consider how your thoughts, feelings, and sensations are connected to what is happening outside of you. You'll then be able to use this information to awaken the inner wisdom that can guide you forward.
Awakening your Inner Guidance System
When you ponder, you get insights from your wise self. Pondering is listening to the inner wisdom of your Inner Guidance System. The insights gained by pondering can support and guide you.
? Accessing your inner wisdom is instrumental in mastering leadership confidence.
Step # 1 is to Pause
Taking the time to PAUSE and PONDER helps you see things you may have missed in the hustle and bustle of the day.
Remember, to access your inner wisdom or Inner Guidance System via pondering, you first need to pause. Repeating the cycle of pausing, pondering, pivoting and proceeding are the steps of the Inner Guidance Cycle.
Step # 2 Pondering allows you to see the whole picture
Once you have PAUSED, stepping back, you can move on to this second phase; PONDER.
Pondering allows you to notice and observe things you would have risked overlooking without consciously exploring your Inner Guidance System. In addition, pondering enables you to pick up on subtleties during interactions such as:
? Someone said something that left you:
? Perhaps an email you received sent you to:
? Your staff's blunder may have you:
? Your thoughts may be about someone else or the situation
You'll start to get insights from within
The awareness of these thoughts, feelings and sensations and how they connect to your world can provide surprising insights.
This new understanding of this inner wisdom is your Inner Guidance System in action. Understanding what is happening under the surface can prompt you to shift what you are doing, how you interact with others and, even more importantly, what you say to yourself.
Your confidence begins to grow
Your inner dialogue contributes to your confidence. Thoughts that empower you, inspire and boost you up will increase your confidence. Changing your thoughts starts with awareness of what you are currently saying to yourself. That is where pondering comes in.
It's worth it to pay attention to what is inside
When you've taken the time to pause, then start to notice.
? Go within and pay attention for a minute to
become more aware of what is happening.
❓What is going on?
❓What am I thinking?
❓What feelings have I been experiencing?
❓What's been happening in my body?
Warning! Don't be judgmental
Notice that I did not suggest you judge or criticize your thoughts, feelings or body sensations. This is not the time to beat yourself up. It is not another opportunity to berate yourself for screwing up, missing something, or telling yourself what you feel is wrong. It's simply time to notice.
Put a name to it
As you ponder, identify those feelings, thoughts and sensations, attaching names or labels to them.
Put your Inner Guidance System to work
Pondering is the reflection portion of the Inner Guidance Cycle. It is the gathering and input of data into your Inner Guidance System. Remember, you are assembling the following:
Extra credits for going into detail
Over time, when you practice following the Inner Guidance Cycle, you will get better able to pull the pieces apart. You will become aware of the stimulus and the subsequent reaction. In time, rather than reacting, you'll be able to choose a response to what is going on in your life.
Consider the following example:
⚪️ The stimulus
⚪️ The thought you have about that stimulus
⚪️ The feeling you had
⚪️ What sensations were happening in your body as a result of the feeling?
⚪️ What reaction did you have as a result of the stimulus, the thought, the feeling, and the sensations?
Pause and then ponder.
All of this information gets put into yourInner Guidance System so that it can give you direction.
In the next stage, PIVOT, we will learn what to do with the information you have gathered. But, for now, PAUSE and PONDER. Look at what is happening inside you. Increase your awareness of how thoughts are connected to feelings and sensations. This increased awareness alone will evoke your inner wisdom and help you to increase your confidence levels!
Grab your copy of Mastering Confidence today and learn to ponder more effectively!
If you are like most leaders, you spend a lot of time running. We go from one meeting to the next with barely any breaks! As a result, we never have time to go to the bathroom, eat our lunch or let everything catch up with us.
The problem is that it is hard to do the work of great leadership when
you don't have time to PAUSE, slow down and tune in.
Effective leaders need time to think, ponder and tune in. However, many resist pausing, stopping, or taking a break despite being overloaded, overworked and overwhelmed.
Most of us say it's because we don't have time to take a break. Yet, pausing is essential to developing confidence and becoming a stronger leader. You can't wait for time to pause. You need to make time for it!
Learn to access your Inner Guidance System
In this series of blogs, I'm introducing you to the steps in the Inner Guidance Cycle, which gives you access to your Inner Guidance System. Your Inner Guidance System is your inner wisdom. If you've been around for a while, you've heard me talk about the steps often, but it might be a good time for a review.
There are four steps in the Inner Guidance Cycle. They are
The first step: PAUSE
By taking the first step, PAUSE, you'll start to awaken your Inner Guidance System. It's that wise part of you that helps you to get a hold of your thoughts and then move forward with a conscious response.
From reacting to responding
Most of us are so stressed that we react to whatever shows up. However, because of our stressed state, we can't think clearly. As a result, we don't take time to choose how we want to respond, engage or the kind of leader we want to be at this moment.
Pausing is stopping, pulling back or taking a break. When we PAUSE, our brain and body begin to relax, allowing us to get out of stress mode and think more clearly. Being more relaxed will enable us to respond and make conscious choices instead of reacting to every fire that pops up.
Pausing is part of journeys
Think for a moment about a road trip. Often when you are travelling, you take breaks. You pull over to the side of the road and stop. That might be a roadside turnout so that you can stretch. You might pause on your trip to stop for fuel. The point is that you can only way to refuel, stretch, or go to the bathroom if you stop.
Leaders need pauses too
In leadership, when we pause, the pause allows us to become mindful and present to what is happening. Rather than being present, most of us have a ton of racing thoughts whirling about in our heads. Those racing thoughts are usually about a future worry or passed incident that we are still stewing about.
Pausing settles your racing thoughts
When you pause, you are not in the future or the past but in the present moment. At this moment, you will find access to your Inner Guidance System. When you mindfully tune in to those thoughts, feelings, and sensations, you will find the inner wisdom that helps to guide you forward.
You won't always remember to pause when you need to
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 pause. That trigger could be when you're feeling:
Those might be signals to go for a little walk, take a deep breath or spend some time trying to figure out why you are so agitated. But often, we ignore those triggers. We push them aside because we have too much work to do. So, for now, don't wait for the trigger. Instead, schedule the time in to pause.
You'll need to prompt yourself to take pauses
You need to schedule your pauses in. Creating breaks in your schedule 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 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:
??♀️BODY BREAK - Having a physical break to go to the bathroom, for eating and move your body
? SOUL BREAK - A mindful moment to take a few breaths, meditate or sit in peace
? MIND BREAK - Time for self-reflection. Effective leaders need time to think, ponder and tune in. Self-reflection is the time for leaders to ask themselves:
Scheduling your pauses in
It's time to schedule those breaks in. I recommend adding triggers to help you remember to do them, even when busy.
? Block time off in your schedule or day-timer. If you think you'll remember to do it, guess what? You won't. Schedule it in.
?️ Set reminders to notify, encourage and motivate you.
Reminders about WHY you must schedule the pauses in
? Because you will only do it regularly if you schedule it.
? Because even though you mean to, you'll get busy and forget
? Because it takes longer than you think to establish a habit
? Because it tells those around you that you value balance
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 internal control will help you become confident in your leadership abilities, bounce back when adversity hits and be your best self. Begin to awaken that Inner Guidance System by scheduling pauses throughout your day.
P.S. If you are ready to dive into all four steps of the Inner Guidance Cycle and use it to boost your confidence, grab Mastering Confidence: Discover your leadership potential by awakening your inner guidance system
If you've been dealt another blow like staff shortages, funding cuts, dealing with disciplinary action, or general overwhelm, you might start to feel negativity wash over you.
You know that negativity can spiral if you don't catch it so you might be wondering:
How can I stay positive?
Questing how to stay positive is the theme of my clients this week. They want to know how to stay positive and motivated, and move towards their goals when they feel tired, overwhelmed and challenged.
One client is working on a certification process. She is studying for the next level exam. Yet, time is already running away from her. She is quickly becoming stuck in not-enoughness.
Another client is in the process of starting a new program and isn't sure if she can pull it off within the deadline. Self-doubt has crept in and is robbing my client of her confidence.
A third client was dealt a nasty blow at work. She's feeling insecure about her future. It's hard not to be negative and sarcastic. "Why bother trying so hard?"
The message we hear is to keep our chin up.
Social media posts, motivational books and well-meaning peers tell us:
Heck, I preach positivity too. I am constantly working with my clients to help them see the positive, be confident, and believe it is possible. However, how do you do that in the face of so much challenge?
The secret isn't to focus on what we are experiencing.
It's to focus on what we are thinking.
You can learn to focus on the positive
It is not what you see that makes up your reality but what you think about what you see. We all experience similar events but react to them differently.
Suppose you have a message to call your kids' teacher because of missing assignments.
Think about the thought accompanying each of the above parents' emotions.
Our inner voices are powerful. They impact our emotions and our experiences. The messages we tell ourselves about our events create our reality of the event.
Our inner dialogue controls our outer experience.If I tell myself leading my team is hard, I will notice all the hard things I experience daily.
If you tell yourself the day started bad, is getting worse and going to be a gong show, guess what you'll experience?
The secret is getting control of what is going on in your head.
You can use The Inner Guidance Cycle to get control of your thoughts.
Here's how 👇🏻
Step back from what you are doing, take a deep breath, or grab a piece of paper to write on.
You'll never shift your thoughts if you stay stuck on the hamster wheel.
Start becoming aware of your inner dialogue.
When you are frustrated, unenthusiastic or cynical, start to notice what is happening in your head.
Notice your thoughts. Becoming aware of the constant stream of thoughts helps to manage them. You'll likely notice a running commentary of your day going on in your mind. Most times, it's rambling on, and you aren't controlling what you are thinking.
Try consciously listening to your inner dialogue rather than having it run in your subconscious. The more you notice it, the more aware you will become of what you are telling yourself.
Start to shift your thoughts by examining them.
Perhaps you think, "This is the worst thing that could happen."
Is it? My guess is it could be worse.
Maybe you repeatedly say, "I don't know if I can pull this off."
Notice how that allows doubt to creep in.
Once you consciously shift your thoughts to the ones you want to be thinking, you can get back to "work."
Shifting thoughts isn't necessarily easy. It takes practice and discipline.
For example, changing "I don't know if I can pull this off" to "I can do this" isn't a one-and-done process. However, when you slip back to "I don't know if I can pull this off ...
You can learn more about The Inner Guidance Cycle in
Mastering Confidence: Discover your leadership potential by awakening your inner guidance system
Staying positive requires willpower
Positivity isn't a magical pill. It's work. It's choosing what you think, what you focus your thoughts on and learning to manage your thoughts. That process all takes willpower.
Willpower is also known as self-control or discipline. Using your willpower to train and control your thoughts requires the same energy you would use to resist the donut and stick to your workout schedule.
It's also the same energy you use to stick to responding to an email you've been avoiding, staying focused on the annual report despite your cell phone notification calling you or biting your tongue when someone irks you.
Willpower is a powerful tool for leaders. It's willpower that helps you stay positive, productive and poised.
If you want o learn more about using willpower in your leadership, check out the Willpower Essentials course here.
Shifting thoughts is a lifelong process. It's called Inner Work.
Learning to choose thoughts, managing thoughts and changing thoughts IS the inner work of a great leader. Do the inner work. It's worth it!
Are you a nonprofit leader who loves learning but doesn't have much time? If so, podcasts are a great way to get snack-sized bites of wisdom during times when it's "ok" to multitask. There are many valuable podcasts for nonprofit leaders. If you have a favourite, comment below so we can all learn from each other!
Did you know that I produce a podcast? I do! However, it's been on hold for a few months, but guess what? The latest episode of the podcast is out 👏🏻
It's been seven months since I released the last podcast episode. I certainly did not expect to take that long of a pause. However:
The first lesson I learned is that things often take longer than expected. I, of course, thought it would only take a couple of months, but it did take a little bit longer 😉
There are four other lessons I take away from the extended pause that I share in this week's episode of the podcast.
🎙 To hear those four other lessons, tune in here.
Catch up on the faves
If you are new to my work or have yet to listen to other episodes, below are some that you might be interested in.
Podcast Episode Favourites
One of my favourite conversations was with Elizabeth Bishop
# 45 - How to regain your passion for your nonprofit work
One of the top listened-to episodes is
Episode # 42 - How to have brave board conversations with Heather Terrence
And another favourite of listeners is
Episode # 33 - Permission for Ambition with Anna Gordon
If you are having a crazy day, try this one:
Episode # 26 - Wellness Tips for Overloaded & Overwhelmed Women Leaders
The most listened-to series of episodes:
I'd also love to hear what you would like me to share in future podcast episodes.
And in the meantime, happy listening!
p.s. Don't forget to share your favourite podcasts below
As a nonprofit leader, you've probably struggled with your emotions during a meeting. And, you know that feeling of being about to lose your composure is not fun! I've been there too, and it sucks!
When we are out of control, we are often reacting to what's going on:
All of these are examples of losing control. In these situations, we feel powerless to hold onto our feelings and behaviours. We simply react.
Are You Playing the Blame Game?
Many of us blame that reaction on other people around us or the situation. Those darn Kleenex commercials always make me cry. My daughter tells me it's my fault that she cries. If I cry, it makes her cry.
We do the same in business settings.
We Give Our Power Away
When we hand our thoughts and feelings to other people or the bigger "world," we give our power away. So, in essence, you are saying. I am not in control of my emotions, or I am not in control of the way I act.
It's that belief that makes you feel powerless.
When you feel powerless, you certainly don't feel confident!
Who's fault is it?
It's not anyone's fault, but we look to lay blame somewhere. Really, is it the rain's fault that you feel sad? No. Nor is it your boss's fault that you feel overwhelmed. And it's not the employee's fault for questioning something in a staff meeting. I know it sure feels like it. But hear me out for a moment.
Regain Your Sense of Control
When you gain access to what is going on inside of you, you can regain your sense of control and power.
We can see rain as a pain in the butt or a blessing. We can enjoy the sprinkles as we take out our umbrellas or grumble and groan at how it's wrecking our plans. It's up to us how we see it. In the same way, when we do self-reflective work, we can begin to feel grateful for the disgruntled staff member. They are growing our conflict resolution.
Take Back Your Power With This Tool
Here is the tool to gain back that control and increase your confidence. Using the Inner Guidance Cycle, you can shift from giving your control away to taking your power back.
There are 4 steps to the Inner Guidance Cycle: Pause, Ponder, Pivot and Proceed.
Let's use the example from above to see the Inner Guidance Cycle in action.
🛠 The Tool: The Inner Guidance Cycle in Action
PAUSE: Stop and take a deep breath.
When your boss hands you another task, and you begin to feel overwhelmed, then PAUSE. Often, our first reaction is to direct frustration and anger at our boss. That gives power to them. They are in control of how you feel if you let them be.
When a team member asks a pointed question at the staff meeting, you may feel triggered and put on the spot. You know they said it to make you look bad. Your automatic reactionary response is to lash back at them. Before you react, pause!
Take a deep breath and begin to tune into yourself.
PONDER: Reflect on what is going on inside of you.
Take time to check your thoughts, feelings, and body sensations. These are the parts of your Inner Guidance System. Just like a compass, they can guide you. Take time to PONDER and reflect. They help you identify your triggers.
Do you think your boss is a jerk? Perhaps you are wondering how you will ever be able to handle the workload. You might be thinking that you have to do it immediately. But, on the other hand, you could be telling yourself how unfair this is.
Do you believe this employee is trying to get you fired? Do you want to squash them, quiet them or put them in their place? Just notice the thoughts.
Are you experiencing a sense of overwhelm? Anger? Frustration? Despair? Incompetence?
3️⃣ Body Sensations:
These are often the clues that tell you what you are feeling. They help you become smarter about emotions and better able to name and tame them in the future.
Start to reflect on what set you off. You're still PONDERING at this stage.
🤔 What was the trigger?
Take time to consider what caused you to react strongly and quickly.
When a team member asks you a question at the staff meeting, and you immediately feel your composure slipping, consider the trigger.
Example of triggers
Our triggers are often around "not enoughness."
You may also be triggered by
💭 What mistaken beliefs do I have?
"I have to do this now."
Do you really?
"I have to do it perfectly."
What does good enough look like? What is the real expectation versus my own "perfectionist" expectations?
"I can't say no."
"I need to have an answer."
"They are out to get me."
💜 What values are not being honoured here?
Perhaps your value of family time is being squashed because you will now have to work late. Maybe you feel that you will have to rush this project or another one now, and that impedes your value of doing good work. Perhaps you are not feeling respected or appreciated.
This whole reflection piece in the PONDER stage of the Inner Guidance Cycle serves to awaken new insights. This awareness is what allows you to take back control.
As you sift through all of the stuff inside you, you'll see the mess of thoughts, feelings and body sensations begin to settle, and you'll often be left with a clearer picture. It is that clarity that can make you do a bit of a shift in your thoughts and feelings. That is the PIVOT stage.
PIVOT: Shifting how you see things
When you see things in a new light, you shift your perspective. PIVOTING allows you to head in a different direction. Perhaps instead of feeling out of control and angry with your boss, you take a deep breath and ask if you can have a moment of their time.
PROCEEDING back into action
When you are proceeding, you are taking your finger off the pause button and PROCEEDING back into motion. You might ask if you can renegotiate the deadline. You might suggest splitting the task between you and another person. You might say no. Any of these actions put you back in control and feel an increase in confidence.
By moving through the steps of the Inner Guidance Cycle, Pause, Ponder, Pivot and Proceed, you begin to take back your inner power. Instead of feeling out of control, you begin to regain a sense of power. But this time, it is internal power.
It isn't your power over the situation or power over another person. Instead, you've found your voice. You've connected to what is truly important and discovered your strength from within. That's the true meaning of being in control. This inner power is your inner confidence.
To be in control of yourself, do the inner work. Connect to your Inner Guidance System. You'll be glad you did!
Jennifer recently came to a coaching call infuriated with her boss. Jennifer was a middle manager and found herself entangled in a triangle of sorts with her boss, herself and her team.
Often her boss would undermine Jennifer in meetings. Without knowing all the facts, he would make a decision and announce it before conferring with Jennifer.
By the time we got onto our coaching call, the above scenario had happened numerous times. Jennifer noticed how it triggered her anger and prompted ineffectiveness in the team. The team didn't know whom to believe anymore. It was all a big mess, and Jennifer felt undervalued and unsupported. However, Jennifer hadn't had the courage or understanding of how to address the issue with her boss. Therefore, she'd been avoiding it.
Have you ever avoided a tough conversation?
We have all done it, but avoiding tough conversations does not resolve them. On the contrary, it only worsens them and often leads to deteriorating your team's effectiveness. Jennifer had realized that. It was why she'd brought the issue as a topic for our coaching call.
Jennifer started with why it was important to figure out
Through coaching, Jennifer was able to get reconnected to why she needed to engage in this potentially intimidating conversation with her boss. She was passionate about her staff members being supported and wanted them to have solid supervision. In the end, addressing the conflict with her boss would be better for her and her team. Even though it would be difficult, it was worth figuring out.
Take the first step to resolve the issue
Jennifer realized that in a "perfect" situation, her boss would recognize incongruences in messaging and deal with them himself. However, life isn't perfect. Jennifer knew she needed to be the one to tackle the problem head-on. She did just that. Jennifer took the first step and arranged a time to meet with her boss and then shared her concerns.
The result isn't always perfect, but it's a movement forward
Now, of course (remember, this isn't a perfect world), he didn't quite see the story like Jennifer. He did, though, become more aware of checking with Jennifer before he issued new standards of practice. As a result, Jennifer felt more confident and sure of herself. By stepping into the difficult conversation, Jennifer discovered she could fight her own battles rather than hoping they would magically disappear.
What is the tough conversation you need to have?
Perhaps you've found yourself in a similar situation, sandwiched between frontline staff and management. Other times you may have found it is the supervisor who isn't dealing with their team, and you see the mistakes happening. In that place, the tough conversation needs to happen with your subordinate, encouraging them to handle their reports more effectively. It could also be peer-to-peer where your co-worker is stirring the pot, causing havoc on the team.
When you realize a storm is brewing and know it's not going away, it is probably time to wrestle the tough conversation yourself. Below find the steps that will assist you in moving through the challenge.
Your 3 step plan to help navigate your nonprofit leadership challenge
1) Identify the issue
Notice that you may have been avoiding or hiding from the issue. Perhaps you push it away, praying someone else will deal with it. You've probably noticed, unresolved, that the issues continue to rise again and again. Each time you become aware of it, you probably tense up, get a knot in your stomach or feel anxious. By noticing when something is off, you help identify the problem that needs to be dealt with clearly.
Jennifer recognized the challenge was when her boss skipped over her role and function and did her job. She would have preferred that here and her boss discuss the issue before communicating them to the team. But instead, she identified the problem as feeling undermined.
This step is about getting clear on what precisely your challenge is so that you can communicate it.
2) Take responsibility for moving things forward
Stop pushing the problem away and blaming others for not fixing them. Instead, recognize that it is your job as a leader to resolve the issue. No, it may not be your problem but acknowledge that it is your responsibility to lead your team into a more effective, cohesive working environment.
That may mean that you need to be the one that grabs the bull by the horns. Jennifer did just this when she initiated a conversation with her boss.
3) Create your plan for dealing with the challenge
When you realize the problem is not going to go away and no one else will deal with it, it's time for you to address it. The best way to move through the muck is to be clear about what you will do it.
Dealing with challenging exchanges is not always easy but worth it
Even though they are tough, I encourage you to take the initiative to have tough conversations. You will find your confidence and courage increase the more often you tackle them. As a result, your team will be more effective, and you will also discover that you can enjoy your work more.
If you need more help planning for your tough conversation, try this.
Do you wonder how to be the best leader you can be? One who makes a difference, has a great team and finds some balance in life?
Unfortunately, it's not the easiest thing to do. One of the reasons we struggle is that we don't see a lot of other women doing it, so part of us doesn't believe it's even possible. We need more women mentors. I keep looking for them and sharing them with you so we both have more inspiration.
Let me introduce you to Yvette Vargas.
I was listening to an interview with Yvette, Head of Development at Citizen's Bank in the states. Yvette was part of a Women in Leadership conversation series for LHH, an organization that focuses on recruitment, assessments, coaching, and career transitions.
I found Yvette's story, persistence and intentional personal and professional growth as a woman leader inspiring. So many of the suggestions she made for women in leadership had me thinking of the four fundamentals I teach leaders.
Let's dive into them together.
The four fundamentals of leadership:
Lead with Authenticity - Be yourself
On Citizen's Bank website, Yvette is quoted as saying, "I used to have separate selves — mother to my children, wife to my husband, caretaker to my parents, employee and friend. I thought that compartmentalizing my 'different selves' would help me manage each relationship better," she said. However, it's only by working to integrate her selves — and finding a job that allows her to bring every aspect of herself to work — that she's found true meaning in her career.
This quote speaks to the authentic nature that we need to lead with. We are not separate people in different aspects of our lives. We are one person doing various things. The more authentic you are, the more confident and comfortable you will feel, and you'll make a more considerable contribution.
To help you lead your best, I encourage you to identify your strengths, gifts, and personality traits. Then, do the work to figure out who you are and authentically be who you are daily.
Continue to grow yourself personally and professionally - Develop yourself
Intentionally developing yourself is critical to becoming the leader you want to be. Yvette spoke in the interview about being very intentional about this. She indicated you need to develop your growth plant and intentionally spend time working on yourself.
"The amount of time you spend on something is a manifestation of what you value."
If you value your growth and development, you'll put time into growing and developing yourself.
Be a balanced leader - Take care of yourself
4️⃣As I listened to Yvette, I could tell she has drive. That's different than being driven. When the work drives you, it becomes a problem. When you drive the work, you do that with intentionality. You also need the energy to do that! That means you need to take care of yourself.
But Yvette wasn't always that way. She tells the story of needing to shift from being driven by her career to intentionally creating her life and career simultaneously—that required intentionality and self-care.
Taking care of yourself it's not something you do just outside of work. It is something you do all day long. Start by adding teach micro-moments of wellness into your workday.
Be a leader, teacher, mentor and coach - Teach others to do the same
I love Yvette's story of supporting other women to grow and pulling them up as you advance. She learned this early on from her mother and sisters. She's been clear about continuing to do it throughout her career. She sees a large part of her role is developing others.
When we teach others to be themselves, develop themselves and take care of themselves, we do this through mentoring, guidance, coaching and leadership. Our job as a leader is not always correct and fix employees. Our job as leaders is to help our employees reach their full potential.
The four fundamentals of leadership:
What strategy, suggestion, or idea will you begin with today? Hit reply and tell me where you are starting and what you are inspired to awaken in yourself after listening to Yvettes' story.
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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.