Pretty much, everything I teach you requires you to be aware of and often shift your inner voice. To do that, you need first to become aware you have an inner voice.
You maybe do occasionally notice it there. However, more often than not, we are unconscious to our thoughts.
Awareness and then management of thoughts is critical to self-confidence, managing relationships, staying focused, creating the necessary mindset for growth and development and so much more!
The video below starts getting you to tune in and become more aware of your inner voice. Watch it and then being paying more attention to what you are thinking and how has an effect on your life.
More to come in the coming weeks on thoughts. For now, I really need you to notice them. Start there!
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Grab Mastering Confidence: Discover Your Leadership Potential to help you get a handle on those inner thoughts!
Taking a step back, pausing or taking a break is not something most of us do well in leadership.
However, it doesn’t feel like we have the time to take a break, pause or reflect. Yet, pausing is an incredibly important part developing strong confidence and strong leadership. In fact, it is the first step in increasing your confidence.
Your Inner Guidance Cycle
In this series of blogs, I’m introducing you to the steps in the Inner Guidance Cycle. I talk about this cycle in my new book Mastering Confidence: Discover Your Leadership Potential by Awakening Your Inner Guidance System. The first step in awakening that guidance system is to pause.
The first step: PAUSE
By taking this first step, PAUSE, you’ll start to awaken your Inner Guidance System. It’s that inner 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 reacting to whatever shows up. We aren’t taking the time to choose how we want to respond, or even how we want to feel. Pausing is stopping, pulling back or taking a break. By pausing, we can make some choices instead of running around like chickens with our heads cut off!
Pausing is part of journeys
Think for a moment about a road trip. There are times when you are travelling that you take a break. You pull over the side the road and stop. That might be a roadside turnout so that you can stretch. You might pause on your trip to stop at a gas station to fuel up. You can’t refuel, stretch, go to the bathroom if you don’t stop
Leaders need pauses too
In leadership when we pause, it gives us the opportunity to become mindful and present to what is happening. I’ve talked before about the racing thoughts we have about what’s been going on and about what is coming up. Pausing settles those thoughts. When you pause, you are not in the future or the past but here, in the present moment. It is in this present moment that you find access to your Inner Guidance System. It is those thoughts, feeling, and sensations that help to guide you forward.
The direction you are going
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 do this. That trigger could be when you’re feeling:
Make pauses part of your routine
You need to schedule your pauses in. This 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 is 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:
Scheduling your pauses in
Next, do the work of actually scheduling those breaks in. Add triggers to help you remember to do them, even if you are busy.
Reminders about WHY you must schedule the pauses in
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 inner control is going to help you master your confidence. Strong leaders are confident leaders. Begin to awaken that Inner Guidance System: Schedule in pauses throughout your day.
Delaying, prolonging and stretching out tasks. We all do it. We joke about it. We tease others about it. Procrastination, however, does get in the way of our productivity.
It seems that we are resigned to dealing with procrastination. It’s just a part of life. Right? It doesn’t have to be.
Let’s look at common reasons why we procrastinate and three strategies to deal with three types of procrastination.
Which one of these is you?
The reasons we put off task are many but generally fall into three categories. Check to see which one matches your current procrastination slump and discover a strategy for dealing with it.
1. The task makes you feel uncomfortable.
In this situation, it is the job in front of you that feeds your resistance.
If the task in front of you makes you uncomfortable, “Name it to tame it.” By pausing and identifying what’s going on under the surface, you’ll be able to get a handle on your emotions that are triggering your procrastination.
It is your emotions that stop your actions.
Naming the emotion you feel, allows you deal with your resistance to the task in front of you.
2) The NEXT task makes you uncomfortable.
Try finishing these sentence
What emotion did the next task bring up for you?
It’s the subsequent feeling, about what happens next, that has you procrastinating on the current project.
Take time to recognize the links. Notice what is coming up after the task you are procrastinating on.
Make notes of your fears and what anxiety right arises in you about the next step. Then, go back to the first strategy. Name it to tame it. Naming the emotions allows you to get a handle on it. Being in control of your emotions puts you back into motion.
3) You are depleted
The most often overlooked reason we procrastinate is that we are truly depleted. We are like cell phones. We run out of charge. The problem is most of us only plug back in for a short time. Bumping back up to 10% charge doesn’t allow us to function adequately. Before long we are feeling drained again. When you’re running on empty, it’s extremely difficult to focus and use brainpower.
Employing these strategies to move through resistance will put you back in control. Noticing the emotional connection to what is going on helps you to regain momentum. Remember, name it to tame it. And, please don’t forget to recharge fully.
Reflecting. Pondering, Considering. Thinking.
Do you schedule time for reflection into your day timer? I beg you; please start to do that now!
Time to think is rare for the average leader
Leaders rarely find time to think clearly. The most impactful leaders, however, know reflection time is crucial. Rarely have time to consider options or mull over what just happened leaves you simply chasing fires. On the other hand, giving yourself time to think allows you to move from randomly reacting to everything to being more responsive.
Self-reflection can be random
Have you ever had your mind wanders and you were are amazed to see brilliant ideas you stumbled upon? That is the act of random reflection. You’ll notice you do this when you are in the shower, cooking or driving. Some of the best ideas come during these accidental thinking times. To take reflection to the next notch, you need to set intentionally aside time for focused self-reflection. This means you create a habit of scheduling in "thinking time."
Make time to think
Most of us rarely spend much time in intentional self-reflection. While we know it might be beneficial, we don’t believe we have time. I am here to tell you that you need to place it a priority and make it a mandatory daily activity, regardless of what everyone else thinks you should be doing.
Do self-reflection intentionally
This focused time might be a chance to reflect on a particular event, a conversation or a challenging situation you are currently trying to sort out. It might be planning time, reconnecting to your vision or your values. This time, might also be your opportunity to widen the gap between what just happened and how you reacted. In being more intentional during self-reflection, you can give your mind time to work its way around whatever you need to sort out. In this way, you are increasing your emotional intelligence.
What to do in your scheduled reflection time
Here’s an example of how I used self-reflection to sort out my dilemma. I was at a meeting the other day, and someone said something offensive to another member of the team. The comment was intended as a joke. However, it was grossly inappropriate. As one of the leaders in this group, I felt it was my responsibility to address it.
My not so great attempt at handling it
I jokingly scolded her after the meeting. Although I tried to be funny, I meant what I was saying. Rather than owning my message, I hoped to make it easy for her, but honestly, I was using humor to make it easy to me! It didn’t work. As she left the meeting, my guess is she felt like I had just scolded her. Rather than inspired to change her behavior, I bet she felt defensive.
My random self-reflection
On my drive home, I contemplated what had just happened. I knew I had not got the effect I had desired. I realized, my ineffectiveness in getting my point across was in part because I didn’t even consider the impact I wanted before I let words fly out of my mouth.
My first lesson from self-reflection:
As I reflected, I realized what had compelled me to speak up in the first place. I wanted this person to have compassion for the individual they made the joke about. That was about as far as I got on my way home. The next morning, however, I took few minutes to include this challenge in my journaling. In doing so, I came up with the language I would want to use for this kind of incident in the future. It didn't change anything, but gave me the ability to be more responsive rather than reactive in the future
Third lesson from self-reflection
Self-reflection makes me a better leader
Had I not taken the time to reflect, to ponder and to plan, I would likely be in the same situation again within a few weeks. I would still find that I am still not sure how to deal with it. Therefore, I would once again be just reacting and letting words fall out of my mouth. Pondering widened the gap giving me increased emotional intelligence. The reflection gave me words to use in upcoming situations not only with this individual, but in many potential similar situations in the future.
Let self-reflection grow your leadership
Self-reflection allows us to be in alignment with our purpose and values. It can have us become more intentional in getting the impact we desire and going in the direction we want to go. We have to, however, make the time to do it. Add self-reflection to the top of your To Do list today!
What lessons have you learned when you've taken "time to think"? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Sitting at my desk, I was livid!
Now, looking back I couldn’t tell you what had made me so angry, but I remember that I probably could have spit nails at the time. A particular staff had once again done something that pushed me so hard that:
I tried to mask what I was feeling
What did I do?
I pushed down the anger as far as I could. I went upstairs with a pasted smile on my face and sat at the head of the table with my group of staff. I then pretended to be polite while I was seething inside as worked my way through the items on the agenda. It was a pretty tense meeting if my memory serves me correctly!
I was focused on making her look bad
Passion and compassion at that moment never came to my mind. Well, violent, angry passion perhaps, but not a passion for my work. At that moment, I had very little desire to connect to the core values of what we were doing or, to the clients we were serving. In fact, my mind was racing with ideas of ways to get back at the staff that had hurt me so much. I was trying to figure out how to make her look bad, instead of me
I wish I could go back in time and try this instead
If I had instead chosen to follow my #leadwithyourheart mantra that I now regularly use to guide me, I suspect things would have been different.
I might have authentically started the meeting with “Something happened this morning that has thrown me off my game. I’d like to do something that reconnects not only me but all of us to why we do this work.”
Here's another way
Or ... I may have sat for two minutes in silent reflection before heading up to the meeting and accessed compassion. But I would have not only found compassion for the person who had made me so angry but also for myself and the situation that I found myself in. That doesn’t mean I would have said “oh poor me” or “oh poor her”. Compassion is about sympathy for another’s misfortunes, but it is also quickly followed by a desire to alleviate their suffering (or my own).
Finding alignment works better
By accessing compassion for a moment, I perhaps would have found where the other person and I aligned. We may both be fighting for the same side: our client. We both may have been feeling concerned about our own work-life balance. We may have had seemingly opposing views yet strikingly similar ones when I stood back and looked at them. A colleague of mine often said we are “violently agreeing”. That may have been the case here too.
Connecting to core purpose and values feels better
By doing this, being compassionate and having the desire to alleviate both of our sufferings, I perhaps would have found a different way of approaching things. Rather, I spend my energy trying to figure out how to get back at her.
Lead with your heart
#leadwithyourheart means that you connect to what is important to you. It is about realigning with your core purpose and values. #leadwithyourheart allows you to slow down and access your intuition and inner guidance. It also pulls out others passions and purpose so that together you align and move forward.
#leadwithyourheart is connected to my other mantra #leadyourway_. I am a compassionate person. By trying to stifle that, I didn't come across as authentic!
Tweaking an Eleanor Roosevelt quote
Eleanor Roosevelt said, “To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart.” I might suggest, Eleanor tweak what she said to remind us we need to lead both ourselves and others by accessing our heart more often.
Fundamental to successful leadership is the formation of a heightened level of self-awareness. Sadly, too many managers spend more time finger-pointing than spending time doing introspective reflection. It is when you spend time curiously exploring what is going on in our minds and bodies, that we are better able to respond to the intricacies of running an organization.
Getting a sense of who you really are is critical
Self-awareness helps you to explore who you are. Putting your attention on yourself helps you to find clarity on what is critical, meaningful and necessary for you. Further, this inner contemplation facilitates your understanding of why all of that is so dang important. Your insights into your unique traits and your individual personality guide you in being more impactful in your interactions with the world.
Self-awareness and the strong leader
It's time to explore you
Self-awareness starts by exploring what is going on under the surface. It is often the unconscious that one needs to get more curious about and explore more. This inner exploration takes time and focused attention.
To intentionally be progressively more self-aware, try to instill these three habits.
3 habits to establish to increase your self-awareness
1. Journal Daily
Stop and take time daily to reflect. Go over a situation that happened and write about it. Writing it is an incredibly powerful way to look at the experience more objectively.
To get access to many journaling worksheets check out the free guides here
2. Set reminders
While journaling is a looking back exercise, we also need to practice getting more aware in the moment. It’s helpful to catch yourself expectantly during the day to check in.
Learn more about this strategy on page 130 of Mastering Confidence
Develop an alert system that prompts you to check in with yourself to see how you are feeling, what you are thinking and how on track you are.
3. Practice Mindfulness
Installing a habit of mindful moments in your day grows your mindful muscles. Being able to focus on priorities, conversation and tasks despite environmental distractions and internal narratives take practice. Create a habit of mindfulness activities daily to practice this piece. Here are a couple of options:
Learn more about this in the Breath Magic webinar in The Training Library
Habits that increase self-awareness = Stronger Leadership
When you install daily habits such as journaling, becoming more aware in the moment and mindfulness, you will increase your self-awareness. This improved understanding of your inner workings will support your leadership development. Knowing and having a better understanding of what is going on for you helps you to manage it and choose how you want to respond. This level of control of your emotions and actions puts you in a much more powerful place to lead and impact your team confidently.
Question for you:
I want to hear what you think. Comment below,
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Do you ever wish that you could pause a situation, rewind and pull back what you just said or did? There are certainly days that I wish that I could reverse time and have a “do-over” of a conversation or situation. Sometimes words seem to fall out of our mouths, and we wish you could grab them back. What if you could prevent this? Read on!
While we can’t change the past, we can slow down upcoming exchanges and events to avert some of the blunders that inescapably take place. How do you slow time? If you have been following the last few of my blogs, you know that it takes Emotional Intelligence.
Emotional intelligence is when you become aware of your emotions and manage your emotions. Emotions are what dictate how we feel and subsequently what we say and do. Becoming progressively more astute about what you are feeling requires that you “slow down time” and widen the gap between what happened and your reaction to what happened.
The gap you say?
Yes, there is a little space that I want you to check out. You want to scrutinize what transpired after an incident and before a reaction. That minuscule second of time between the two is the chief segment of time that we want to examine.
Find your false story in the gap
When examining this chunk of time, you are looking to deduce what happened after an incident and what story you made up about that incident. It is that story that resulted in the feeling and then the reaction that you next had. I use the word “story” for a reason. Some may say, truth. However, it isn’t the truth. It is only our truth. It is the story we make up.
Let's break it apart a little bit further
Part One – The incident
Part Two – Enter into the gap – The thought
What we mistakenly think happens after the incident is that we have a reaction. What is more accurate is that there is a gap of time after the incident, but before the reaction. In that time, much transpires inside your mind and through your body.
When that thing occurred;
Usually, it’s not a conscious thought. In most cases, you aren’t even remotely aware that there was anything going on, but trust me, it's there.
During this gap you have thoughts such as:
Part Three – Still in the gap – The feeling
The thought about the incident then creates the feeling. You experience fear, anxiety, or frustration. That feeling is felt in your body.
Part Four – The reaction
It is the thought and the feeling about the incidence that dictates the way you respond or react. This includes what you say and what you do.
A reaction is unconscious.
A response is conscious
Those times when the words fall out of our mouth, and we wish we could grab them back are usually reactions. When we get angry over someone’s insensitive comment, it’s usually because we weren’t able to process the thoughts and feelings attached to that hot spot they just hit. Thus, we lash back hurtfully.
REDO of Part Four – The response
When we widen that gap of time between what happened and our subsequent actions, we can first get clear on the story we are making up in our head and our feelings attached to that story. When we do that, we have a choice to believe that story or alter it.
The same could be true at work. Perhaps you feel that your boss is attacking you and your feeling backed into a corner. The reaction might be to get angry and come out fighting. Instead, by widening that gap, your subsequent thoughts and feelings can be different.
A person with high Emotional Intelligence might notice:
"I’m feeling attacked and notice my body getting into fight or flight mode. Wait a minute. I know I’m a good person. I think maybe what he’s really trying to say is more about the project and not me. It might be his fear of failure coming through. We are actually on the same side. I sure as heck don’t want this project to fail at this either."
Our response, after this thoughtful pause in our minds, will across more in control than with fists flying. The words that consciously come out of our mouth, rather than fall out, will serve to move the project and the relationship forward.
Increase Awareness Means Increased Control
When you are more aware, mindful and conscious, you get to choose your response. This increased awareness and choice of action is Emotional Intelligence. Not only are you aware of your emotions, but you are managing them. This increased awareness allows you to examine your thoughts and feelings and decide if they are true. Then, you can change them in you want. What you’ll find if you do this more and more, is that a lot of your thoughts and feelings are very unhelpful, and you’ll want to do some work on changing them!
Do you sometimes find that your emotions sneak up on you suddenly your afraid of losing it? Either the tears threaten to leak out, or the anger boils over before you can control it. You are not alone. Many women have had the experience of being hijacked by their emotions. But here is the thing, It's not about having emotions, it's about not being able to control them. What you need to learn is to recognize your emotions and then manage them. You need to develop your emotional intelligence.
Become aware of and then manage your emotions
Emotionally intelligent managers kick butt over their unaware and knowledgeable deficient peers. These aware leaders not only know what their emotions are, but they can manage their emotions. That means they are in control of how they feel versus their feelings being in control of them.
Emotional Intelligence increases leader effectiveness
An individual who is high in EI rarely has their thoughts hijack them. Emotionally Intelligent Leaders don’t lose it when someone says something that sparks their anger or annoyance. A leader who is in control of what’s going on inside of them will be aware they are irritated, but be able to catch themselves before they roll their eyes, let out a sigh or have a sarcastic comment slip out.
How do you learn this?
Individuals that have high EI are incredibly aware. They know what triggers them. They are clear on what is going on inside of their head. They can identify thoughts and feelings. They name them. You my dear, need to become aware of what's going on inside of your mind. To increase your level of EI, you need to become aware of your thoughts.
Two Steps to Emotional Intelligence
Step 1 – Recognize emotions
Step 2 – Manage emotions
Do you know what your thought was?
It’s the thought part we want to drill down deeper into and see what’s going on there. That thought is dictating your emotion. We want to get to the point where you are aware of the thought and able to change it if need be.
Getting clear on your thoughts
To get a better understanding of what you are thinking, you have to slow down time. You have to widen that gap between the stimulus and the consequential feeling. It’s is like putting a magnifying glass on the event and your emotion and see if you can see in between the two. You want to detect what thought was there in between the event and the emotion.
It starts with reflection
To get awareness of what is going on in that gap requires intentional thinking. You must create a routine that has you look daily at that space between what happened and how you reacted. It’s hard in the moment. You will get there over time. Initially, though you will want to look back at what has happened and reflect on it.
Start with journaling
The best way to get this slow-motion replay effect is to spend time journaling. When you set aside a few minutes to let your thoughts and emotions flow on paper, you’ll start to see more of what is there. Doing this writing without judgment is critical. You must let your pen just flow. To get to that uninhibited place will take time and practice. It's worth the effort to do that.
The 6 tricks to rewarding reflective journaling
Do the work - Make the effort
Working on this first step of bringing awareness to your emotions and feelings can be hard work. We don’t naturally go there. It will feel weird and awkward perhaps for a while. In doing so, though, you will automatically become more aware of what’s going on inside of you that is controlling what is going on outside of you. Gradually you’ll gain back the control and learn to manage your feelings and responses to people and events. It takes time. Be patient with yourself. When you do, you’ll find it was worth the effort and commitment.
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Do not, under any circumstance, show emotions at work. Zero emotions are important for Leaders!
You’ve heard the adage: don’t let them see you sweat. Similarly, we learn, don’t let them see you angry, don’t lose it and certainly don’t ever cry. Perhaps a few “good” emotions are ok, but only in moderation. Heaven forbid we are called soft. Does this sound familiar?
We all have emotions
We cannot stop feeling. In truth, we do feel angry on occasions. Sometimes we are embarrassed, annoyed, frustrated, irritated, or feel hurt. At other times, we are excited, overjoyed or thrilled. Then there are the times we feel frazzled, overwhelmed or panicked. In any given day we could have hundreds of feelings pass through us.
These moods, sensations and thoughts impact our work
Most of us have been trained to push those emotions down. Perhaps not consciously, but subconsciously we’ve learned to set aside how we are feeling and just get the job done. We’ve been trained not to show what we are feeling.
We put fake smiles. We armor up with a mask to prevent people from seeing what’s going on inside. We push down the rage, the sadness, and the fear.
We can't hide emotions
Nevertheless, our emotions are often as plain as the nose on our face. The way we feel oozes out of us. Our anger seeps out. Our rage drips through the sarcasm in our voice. The irritation is visible in her eyebrow raises and our audible sighs. Everyone around us clearly knows we have feelings; the challenge is that we are not clearly expressing our emotions.
You need a higher EI (Emotional Intelligence)
Emotional intelligence is not only becoming more aware of your emotions but managing your emotions. It is the managing part that is extremely critical in leadership. But it starts with awareness. You need to know when your buttons are pushed and catch yourself before you react.
Awareness prevents knee-jerk reactions
It all starts with being aware of your emotions
To be aware of your feelings means that you:
Your assignment then is to start with working on increasing your awareness of your emotion
Emotions aren’t bad or wrong
Emotions are necessary. It’s important to become aware of your emotions and manage your emotions within your work environment and in life. Next week I will talk more about the managing part but for this week simply focus on becoming more aware of what is you’re feeling at any given moment.
Rid your old thoughts
Remember emotions aren’t bad or wrong. They are necessary. It’s important to become aware of your emotions and manage your emotions within your work environment and in life. Next week I will talk more about the managing part but for this week simply focus on becoming more aware of what is you’re feeling at any given moment.
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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.