Do you like to read? The ladies whom I recently finished a six-week Mastering Confidence book club with were a group of leaders who, readers or not, wanted increased confidence. They read the book and worked through additional exercises to build their confidence over the weeks.
At the end of the final session, I asked them to come up with three summary points of what they had learned. Here is what they came up with.
How to master your confidence in 3 steps:
Step # 1 - AWARENESS
Step one is to become aware that you need to build confidence in a particular area of your leadership.
Without awareness, you keep settling, putting up with and feeling uncomfortable. Increased awareness of what area you need to grow confidence in starts you on the journey.
Answering those questions gives you increased awareness.
Step # 2 - Pause and Ponder
The second step to increasing your confidence is to pause and become self-reflective because confidence is not about what other people think you can do. It's what you believe you are capable of.
You need to examine your thoughts, beliefs, emotions, values, and perspectives to shift your confidence. Therefore, the second step to building confidence is to change what you're thinking and experiencing inside you so that your behaviours change outside of you.
One of the reasons the book club members identified pausing as a critical step is that it starts the process of examining your thoughts. It's the first step of the Inner Guidance Cycle, which I teach in the book.
What do I believe about my capacity, competence and confidence levels?
Answering these questions will help you feel more competent, capable and lead with confidence.
Step # 3 - Build your support team
The ladies in the Mastering Confidence Book Club quickly realized how similar their challenges, stories and solutions were.
The final point that the Mastering Confidence book club members identified is that you need to create a support network. You are not the only one who has struggled or is struggling with your leadership. Leaning into others on the journey or who are a few steps ahead of where you are can be incredibly helpful in navigating the journey.
When you connect with others, you can share a human experience with many striking similarities and learn from each other.
When you create your support team, you will find confidence-building becomes easier.
BONUS Step - Teach what you learn
Watching these leaders grow over six weeks is a powerful experience for me.
I experienced a lack of confidence in my leadership multiple times in my career. As I learned and grew, I taught others. First, it was my team leads and my program managers. Now my students and coaching clients. As I teach confidence, I learn more about it, become more confident in new areas and expand my comfort zone.
Mastering Confidence is about the journey to mastery. Masters know they are never really masters. As I said in the book:
Mastering your confidence is a transformational journey. You will realize that, in many ways, there is no endpoint to your trip. You won't "get confidence" one day and be done.
Instead, you will continually strive to find this place.
Then, just when you think you have, you will find that something happens, and you lose balance, feeling unsure again. As you go along, you'll discover an inner process, the Inner Guidance Cycle, to keep you growing as you move forward and bouncing back each time you get knocked down.
Inside the book, you get access to a free course. You can join it now!
Join the free Mastering Confidence Course.
What makes a world of difference is when you turn around and teach what you know. Teaching others helps you grow even more, and your confidence builds exponentially.
When you find the answers to those questions, not only will you be helping someone else build their confidence, but you'll also be mastering yours!
📙 If you want additional help that, grab Mastering Confidence.
👭👫 If you'd like to build confidence in your leadership team and would like to do a six-week book club with your team, message me, and I will make the arrangements. It might be good to do before summer hits, and it might also be a great Summer experience for your team.
✏️ ☕️ If you want to join The Training Library and join us for the monthly Coffee at the Library calls, you can join here and find more details about the Zoom calls here.
You've got this!
Confidence for you and your team is yours!!! Become aware it's time, and then do work to make it happen!
p.s. When you grab Mastering Confidence: Discover your leadership potential by awakening your inner guidance system, you get access to a free online course!
Nonprofit work can be incredibly fulfilling and impactful, but it can also be exhausting, overwhelming, and lead to burnout. Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion that occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands. Sadly burnout is far too common in the nonprofit sector, where overwork and lack of resources are common challenges.
The problem is many of us continue to work through burnout, either not recognizing it or not feeling we can take a step back to deal with it. That's not ok for you, your team, your clients, or your family, and it's certainly not ok for the nonprofit sector!
It's important to note that burnout is a gradual process and doesn't generally happen overnight. It's essential to pay attention to warning signs and take action before you hit burnout. Robert Cole, an American psychologist, wrote The Call of Service, which discusses the path to burnout.
The first step to prevent burnout is to increase your awareness of what it is and recognize the warning signs of when you might be headed there.
According to Cole, we move from weariness to cynicism. Next comes despair and, following that, bitterness. We then slip into depression before we hit burnout.
I remember the first time I was on antidepressants. It was right before I almost quit my job. I'd hit burnout and had trouble even remembering what I'd once loved about the work. I'd become so embroiled in conflict, toxicity and negativity.
Looking back, I now see that the weariness, cynicism, despair and bitterness were all there before that. I just tuned them out, assumed black humour was part of the job, and every leader is exhausted. I didn't know that those were not the mark of strong leadership. Instead, they were signposts along the way to burnout.
Look at the following stages on Cole's pathway to burnout. Do any of these sound a bit too familiar to your daily experience?
If so, stop and acknowledge that. Just pause and be aware that while this may seem "normal" in our sector, that doesn't make it "right." It's not ok, either. There is another way. It begins with choosing a different path.
I want to insert the original version of the serenity prayer here.
Father, give us courage to change what must be altered, serenity to accept what cannot be helped, and the insight to know the one from the other.
Notice that the prayer asked for courage first. And that courage was for things that MUST be changed, not things that simply can be changed. I believe we MUST change how we experience leadership in the nonprofit sector. But there is another way, and it will take courage from you, me, and a few other brave souls to start the tides of that change.
When I was aware I was burning out, I went to the doctor, who prescribed antidepressants. That isn't the path for everyone, and I don't know if I'd take that path again now. But it was the best I could do at the time.
I also did several things that boosted my confidence (You can find 4 of those confidence boosters here). The confidence boost helped me return to leadership with my head held high and ready to reengage intentionally and with passion.
It started with awareness, then took courage.
If you are on the path to burnout and want to rekindle your passion for nonprofit work, you might be interested in the 5-day challenge I created to help you rediscover your passion and purpose in your work.
Join the 5-Day Challenge: Conquer your love-hate relationship with your job.
March 20 - 24th
Are you tired of feeling stuck in a job that no longer excites you? Join the upcoming 5-day challenge and shift your mindset to reignite your passion for your nonprofit leadership role.
It's time to shift your mindset and reignite your passion for your job.
How it works:
When you sign up, you'll be invited to join each day to gradually make shifts that will rekindle your passion for your job.
No goals yet for this year? It's not too late
It is the third week in January already, and perhaps you are one of the ones who have yet to set your goals for the year. I have many clients in your shoes. They need to find the time to draft their goals but are struggling. But rest assured. It is not too late to set them. Now that the dust of the holidays has settled, you may be in a better place to do that.
Setting goals is essential to leading a nonprofit organization but also essential to the development of your capacity to lead. Yet, it can be challenging to find the time and focus on doing so amidst the busyness of day-to-day operations. Below you'll find easy strategies to help you develop goals that will build your competence and confidence as a leader this year.
You do need goals
First, let's get clear. You do need goals. As teleological beings, we perform at our best when we have targets to work towards. You know this if you say you do your best work at the last minute. A looming due date is a fabulous target to motivate most of us.
Without goals, you wander in circles
Without goals, we can quickly feel like we are just going through the motions and not making progress. Without targets, you are wandering aimlessly. That is why you may feel like you are just going in circles!
With goals, you are intentionally creating your leadership experience
Are you taking an active role in shaping your future? You are if you are intentionally creating life, days, your career and your personal life as you choose.
When you are intentional, you create your leadership and life experiences by reflecting, deciding, setting goals and planning, all before you take action.
The easy goal-setting method
Whenever anything comes to mind about your goals, jot it down on a sticky note or digital file. Your brain is always thinking, and you have ideas, awarenesses and ah-has. Those are important to capture.
Schedule time to review last year
As little time as 5 minutes will do. Begin by reviewing the past year and reflecting on your strengths, areas of growth, and accomplishment. Here are some prompts to get you started:
Create a future vision
Knowing where you are going will help you get there. It would help if you had that target to aim at. Craft a quick vision of what you want in your future by answering these questions:
If I have the "perfect" life, career and relationship:
EXTRA HELP: Most nonprofit leaders miss this step critical step when setting goals
Rough out your goals
Consider the steps you need to take this year to move closer to that vision. Draft 2-3 goals to help you achieve that vision. They don't need to be perfect, SMART or finalized. Draft is the important word here. You'll continue to refine them as you work on them. Just get something down on paper as a starting point.
Expand the goal into a plan
Once you have your goals, develop a plan to achieve them, including specific actions, practices, and training.
Consider what habits you need to develop to maintain your goals over the long term.
EXTRA HELP: Create your plan to ditch "Survival Mode"
An example of how it works:
Perhaps you imagined yourself as a courageous leader. You visualized how you are stronger, more assertive and more confident. You got a sense that as you grew, you could feel yourself doing tough things like addressing issues, setting boundaries and being true to yourself.
Your goal could be to increase your confidence level in your leadership role.
Your plan could include:
The bottom line
Taking the time to set goals and create a plan to achieve them intentionally can significantly impact the success of your leadership and personal life. By being intentional and self-reflective, you can progress toward your desired experience of blending life and career. Regardless of the time of year, it's always possible to start creating the future you want.
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 courageConfidence 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 goingAn 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
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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.