Many truly great leaders have a trigger that once tripped eradicates composure, reduces executive presence, and strips effectiveness as a behavior they don’t want to exhibit takes over.
That behavior could be getting emotional, lashing out defensively, crusading offensively, withdrawing in defeat and others. At this point you are off your game and people not in this fight-flight-freeze trap can manipulate you if their motivation serves them to do so.
Everyone has a trigger. It’s where we feel most vulnerable - most hurt, sad, angry, undervalued, small, at risk, ineffective. In a nut shell it’s where we feel most alone. It’s like being immediately thrust to the edge of a cliff with a herd of rhinoceroses charging you and nobody there to throw you a rope.
Great leaders lean in not out from this feeling. They sense it coming, get curious about what the vulnerability is trying to teach them, nurture it like a puppy, throw themselves a rope...
We all have to-do lists, project objectives, metrics and planners to help keep us on track in our daily lives. Each year we set high expectations and even with these tools we find ourselves frustrated because we don’t have the structure, systems, or accountability in place to achieve our goals. Couple that with doubt and indecision and you have a perfect recipe for anxiety. In the worst case this leads to action paralysis.
Let’s talk about the best case. Most people know what they need to do to be happy, effective and thrive just not how to do it or what to do with doubt and fear. We spend enough time telling ourselves how we are not equipped to succeed and armoring up against failure by being risk averse. We wallow proficiently on what it is we need to do but spend less time feeling what it would be like to actually live the dream and executing a plan to get there. Guarding against danger is how we have evolved as a species and not become extinct.
We are Jedis at...
People ask me all the time for my best tip for career advancement. It isn't who you know or what company you work for. It isn't what title you have or what social group you belong to. It is unequivocally the ability to self-regulate your emotions in real time so that you exude the executive presence that draws a loyal following. Period. There are plenty of smart people who don't advance and it isn’t because they aren't capable.
At any moment you may be called on to have confidence to risk, to have candor to create connections or calmness to cool fury. They don't teach this in business school because it's personal to you.
This graphic illustrates one process my clients work on to build executive presence. Become good at untangling life messages that are really only assumptions. You assume you will be judged when in all truth people want you to succeed. You assume you'll be overwhelmed when forging ahead has served you before. You assume your idea isn't important yet when...
This week a very capable client was struggling with some of the work I am having her do around ‘doubt’ and ‘letting go.’ She said she “came up blank” on what she was angry about, what she can terminate right now, where she feels shame and what she feared.
Questioning our thoughts and feelings often uncovers that they are assumptions and not true at all. These questions help you get deeply into the thoughts and feelings that hold you back - keep you guarded, resentful or powerless. Nobody wants to face them. But, if we don’t they chase us down the rest of our lives. Think of the last time you lashed out, withdrew, or quit something. What FEELING was at the heart of the behavior? I want you to be able to re-examine that feeling as to whether it is an assumption or really true. (This photo shows the process of finding the pause moment to accomplish this strategy.
She then shared that she does feel shame around weight and being...
It’s human nature to look in the mirror and compare ourselves to the images our culture throws at us every day. Being young, successful, body beautiful and wealthy are what our society thrives on, reminding us of what we should aspire to be. And so, we invest in expensive products, clothes, gym memberships, degrees, makeup, youth enhancements and the like grasping to experience what these images project - happiness. Yet the U.S. remains the most depressed and overmedicated nation in the world.
When we look outside ourselves for acceptance and don’t find it we reach for control as a lever of hope. A plethora of industries are happy to take your money to feed your need to belong among ‘the pretty people’ yet after you buy the Prada handbag, MBA, Rolex watch and Mercedes as a solution to the void you feel and the initial thrill subsides you are still left with the same feeling of not being enough. More purchases of the same only leave the hole emptier. So, then...
New SMART Leaders ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS. You know that risk you’re avoiding because it makes you uncomfortable and you’re really unsure about what will happen if you take it? Maybe you should pay attention to that.
Get curious about it. Is now the right time? What would change if you waited another month? Is it really an either or choice? What other options might there be? Who might be good counsel on this? How can you be gentle with yourself as you vet the decision?
Trust your gut and ask questions. Your pinhole perspective will start to open. You’re head is too analytical and you heart is too emotional. Trust instinct and challenge assumptions. It’s how we’ve stayed alive as a species for centuries. It will serve you in doubt.
Check out my latest column for The Ladders - $100,000+ job site here.
P.S. Feel free to send this link to someone who could benefit from it. We are all walking down the same road in...
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