Category: Confidence

What are you waiting for?!

By , March 20, 2013 7:01 pm

iStock_000015337955Small“How much of human life is lost in waiting”.

—Ralph Waldo Emerson, Lecturer and Poet

What are you waiting for just now?

  • The perfect client to walk through the door
  • That promotion I was promised
  • The right person to come into my life
  • The right time to leave my current job
  • For someone to notice the great work I’m doing
  • One more course or workshop that will teach me how to be a ……….

…These are just a few examples.

When you think about it we are ALL waiting for something…

I remember walking Belle the black labrador with my Dad on the beach at Alborough as if it were only yesterday (The reality is it was probably 25 years ago!).

We’d often talk about the children stories he was writing and how all the characters (The Camblesforth Bunnies) were getting into mischief! He talked about how One day he’d publish these books. One day he’d find out what needed to be done. One day he’d share them with the world.

My Dad was in a waiting room that lasted the rest of his lifetime.

These stories are still in a folder waiting…

He’d written and illustrated a series of short stories. One day as we were walking he told me that he was waiting for the right person to come along to give him the nudge and make things happen.

That person never showed up.

Sometimes the person you’re waiting isn’t going to show (they might not even exist) because the only person you are really waiting for is YOU.

I was coaching an executive this week whose long-term dream was possibly coming true: Her boss had been preparing her to step into his shoes. Suddenly he had decided to leave. This was the director’s role she’d always wanted. She now needed to step out and demonstrate that she was ready to secure the  secondment as a director. It was everything she’s been working towards.

You’d think she’d be excited and buzzing…

Now, she faced her own resistance of self worth and self-doubt and her confidence dipped. As the fear of stepping up became real, she started to push the role away…

Sometimes we create a false ceiling to hold us back because we just might actually pull it off! Fear kicks in and we create limiting beliefs that get in our own way of success. Gay Hendricks in his book called the Big Leap – calls this an Upper Limit Problem. We sabotage our own success because of our discomfort of a hidden fear inside that wants to keep up playing small. Our Lizard Brain is working overtime to protect us!  This is the last obstacle between you and success.

I believe that my Dad had an upper limit problem with his books. He’d got so far, then he got scared. The fear was enough for him to put the idea a side and allow himself to be distracted by something else.

What are you waiting for just now?

What would it be like if you decided to stop waiting and take a step towards what you want to create or have in your life?

I see opportunities as grains of sand in an hourglass… The hourglass turned when you were born and the grains of sand are falling through and slipping away.

Life is short and it’s easy to put things off because we believe that we have all the time in the world and we can come back to it and do it later.

…All you have is NOW… Now is where you can make things happen.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  1. What are you waiting for just now?
  2. Why are you waiting?
  3. What is holding you back (is it real or perceived)?
  4. What would it be like if you decided to stop waiting and take a step towards what you want to to achieve in your life?
  5. What is the very first step you could take today?

You can choose to leave your waiting room – Reach through your fear to find the courage to take your very next step.

Remember… Courage is ALWAYS waiting at the other side of fear.

Don’t waste your life waiting…

Take a moment to think about this today…

 

 

How to be YOURSELF – Even when talking to important people!

By , February 27, 2013 2:34 am

Be Yourself“Leadership is not about holding on to territory, it’s about letting go of ego, bringing your spirit to work, being your best and most authentic self.”

~ James A Autry, The Servant Leader

Why are people sometimes so afraid to be themselves?

One of the key principles of self-leadership is the importance of being you.

However, some of us hide who we really are and instead present an image of how we think the other person wants us to behave in the hope that we will be accepted or liked.

I see this happen a lot in business, especially when leaders are stepping out of their comfort zones to play a bigger game. In corporate you might be attending a meeting with senior managers. As a business owner, you might be meeting an influential client or someone who is a role model and you feel star-struck to work with them.

Whoever the person, it’s easy for us to feel small, unworthy, inferior, or of lesser value. We perceive them as being so much more important and fall to pieces in these situations instead of being our normal, confident and articulate self…

Our internal thinking has a huge impact on our confidence and self worth. Our social and parental conditioning is against us being authentic and over time we have created rules, such as:

  • It is disrespectful to disagree with our elders, seniors or those more important than us.
  • Only speak when you are spoken to: We are taught what to say, when to say it.
  • Who you are is shaped by those who have influence over you. (You hand over your power to them.)
  • Don’t brag about what you’re good at as it might make other people feel uncomfortable. Push it down… (This is why most of us struggle to talk about our own successes.)
  • You have to be submissive with people more important that you.

Society creates ‘norms’ and we measure ourselves to them. We are under pressure to fit in. So here’s how we respond:

  • You want to keep the peace and hope they like you. So you say what you think they want to hear in order to become a people-pleaser.
  • You believe that your opinion is of lesser value and doesn’t count or it doesn’t matter. You perceive the other person’s opinion is of far greater value.
  • If you challenge or disagree with something, then you’ll be shot down or seen as difficult or negative.
  • You should keep your head below the parapet and blend in.

We live up in our heads most of the time, believing our thoughts to be the truth (you literally are what you think!).

Most of us go through life not knowing who we are or what we want. We settle, survive and keep our heads down. This is easier than trying to be yourself. Being real exposes you to vulnerability and judgment – this is scary.

The perception that someone is more important than you is often based on old concepts of power, especially in business. We try to work out where we fit in in the hierarchy.

True power comes from your personal power as a human being. By building trust and support you naturally attract other people.

Here are some tips on how to be you:

1. STOP WORRYING about what other people are thinking about you. You have no idea what they are thinking. These assumptions aren’t real. They are probably not thinking about you at all! This distraction only makes you get your own way of success. Instead of worrying about what to say, or how you look, focus on your intention for the meeting. Be 100% present for the person who is talking.

2. KNOW YOUR VALUE – Be useful as a leader to those you serve. Know WHY you’re attending the meeting.  Understand the value that you bring. You are there to provide information or  expertise so that others can make an informed decision. You are helping them to understand and make sense of things and prevent them making mistakes: Here’s how I can help you…

3. BE AN EQUAL –As human beings we all have the same worth and dignity. We are all equals no matter what role we play. See yourself as a consultant, not as a sub-ordinate. Let go of ego (theirs and yours) – it’s a distraction. Understand that some personality styles are different to yours. They package their language in a different way. It’s normal, not personal.

4. ALWAYS BE YOUR REAL SELF – Be the same person at home as you are at work… because you are! Be your authentic self – It’s who you really are. You have the same values whatever role you are playing. You already know how to interact with people at other levels – This is no different – Just be YOU. Find the language to help you say what you want to say.

5. FIND THE COURAGE to be you. Learn to listen to your heart as well as your head. People want an honest opinion, not ‘lip service.’ Be authentic and respond assertively, even if it is a difficult message. Remember, you are just talking to another person – we are all the same.

Be the person YOU want to be… from today!

It’s really okay to be YOU – Take yourself to work!

 

Do You Know Your Own Value?

By , February 6, 2013 8:33 pm

“Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of thinking that their price is too high when, in reality, the value communicated is too low.”

 ~ Seth Godin, The Bootstrapper’s Bible.

While this quotation focuses on entrepreneurs, I think it’s safe to say that most of us aren’t good at knowing or promoting our own value at work or in our lives.

Most of us don’t know how to market ourselves to others and it’s easy for our strengths and talents to become the best-kept secret in the organization we work for or the business that we’re trying to create. If you’re a business owner, you’re charging less than you should. If you work in corporate, you might be waiting in the shadows hoping that your boss (or someone else) will notice you.

I’ve met leaders and business owners who have amazing talent doing the work that they love. I’ve listened to them play down their own value and dismiss their work almost trying to convince me that they’re not really THAT good or they are just ‘lucky.’

Because what you do is easy to you, doesn’t mean that it’s easy for others. I’ve worked with clients who have felt guilty about doing work that they love and are passionate about. Isn’t work supposed to be hard?

There’s no guilt associated with being on purpose and sharing your brilliance with the world. I see it as your true purpose for being here!

I think some of the challenges around knowing and leveraging our value is cultural. We are taught to play things down because we’re frightened to appear pushy, sound desperate or ‘full of ourselves.’ Our early conditioning might teach us: Don’t stand out – Blend in. So instead, we learn to hide our light and keep our true value a secret locked inside.

Here’s how I see it…

To be successful you have to own your value and brilliance and learn how to communicate it authentically to others.

The most important part of knowing your value is getting out of your own way!

The voice in our head warns us against promoting our value with others because we feel like we are selling ourselves!

This is not true…

You are selling a solution, a different approach, an experience or your expertise and advice. You are providing benefit to others to help them move forward, make change or achieve a successful outcome.

People perceive the value of others directly from the benefits that they can receive from working with them. Think about someone you admire or perceive to have value. What difference have they made to you? For example, they helped you to see something that helped you to be more successful in a situation.

It’s true that you often see a glimpse of your value mirrored back in the gratitude from the people you are helping or serving. I know that over the years my clients have taught me my value, through feedback and gratitude. This is a gift and not something to be pushed aside quickly because we’re too embarrassed to hear it.

My mentor taught me to listen to this feedback and TAKE IT IN…

This helps you to see your value through the lens of others. You start to believe in yourself and get out of your own (Ego’s) way! This is a great gift from those who we serve.

Sometimes it’s hard to know how to value our work, or how to charge people.

Here are a few places to start…

Know your strengths – What are you good at? What do you enjoy doing? Take time to get to really know yourself. Make a list of things that you’re good at – Don’t hold back now! Ask other people to share their observations of your strengths. Start to see yourself in the feedback and gratitude that people share with you. Own it! A great book to get you thinking about your strengths is StrengthFinder 2.0 

You bring more than your credentials – Qualifications can sometimes be important in your work. But it’s not just having the qualification – It’s the application of it! You also bring a combination of your unique experience in the world. In other words, you bring everything you are to your work. One of the best coaches I’ve ever worked with has no coaching credentials. She brings an abundance of experience, intuition, authenticity, passion, and results. She lives what she teaches. This cannot be learned in a classroom. This is life experience!

Share your strengths with others – Walk in your power and own your brilliance. It’s a waste NOT to use the unique gifts you have been given. Through using them you are helping others to be more successful. If they don’t know about your strengths, they won’t be able to find you. You are providing a valuable service by letting others know what you have to offer. You’re helping them get clear and make a decision.  People who stand in their power share why they love what they do… they don’t try to tell you why YOU should love it!

Set your thinking for success – You are what you think and your value and your pricing reflects this to the outside world. So others pay you a reflection of what you think of yourself. Your playing small could be limiting your beliefs and holding you back from promotion or diminishing your value and stopping you charging what you are worth. People who admire you (and a great coach) can help you to see your value in yourself.

I have value do you want some? Remember that you are providing solutions for others, giving them hope, so they can be more successful. You’re helping them achieve more by communicating what you do and offering to help. Validate your gifts and stop playing small. Practice how you communicate this and your message will become stronger and clearer. You are doing a dis-service to others by not sharing what you can help them with.

What value are you sharing with the world?

Are You Challenging Your Coaching Clients Enough?

By , January 16, 2013 10:42 pm

 “Effective coaching is about challenging assumptions, examining habits, overcoming barriers, and embedding change.”

~ John Blakey & Ian Day – Authors – Challenging Coaching – http://challengingcoaching.co.uk/

 

A few of my professional coaching friends and I were talking recently about a common coaching challenge:

Why do some coaches shy away from holding up the mirror to show a coachee something that they might not want to see and may be avoiding about themselves?

Have you ever finished coaching someone and then wished that you’d been more direct during the session because you recognised the core issue was but too scared to give feedback or challenge them? So the issue takes up space and is not dealt with directly.

One of the common disappointments about coaching is that the coachee isn’t challenged enough by their coach (according to my Masters Research).

Sometimes coaches need to move beyond supporting to give feedback and challenge their coachee to move to a deeper level of self-awareness, helping them to be more accountable. This is hugely important if the coachee wants to break through blockages to achieve their goals.

The coachee may be following a textbook of what they need to do in terms of a step strategy for their business or how to lead a team, but they are still not getting the results. Things aren’t working.

Getting great results is not just about the knowing WHAT needs to be done… it’s also about HOW you do things.

Your coachee might be following the process and doing everything right, however, it is their personality or behavioral traits that are actually holding them back. For example, they might be overplaying a strength and getting in their own way of success.

I call this the Human Factor – how you show up and interact with others is so important. Yet this can be the one thing that stops you getting clients or commitment from your team. It’s also a difficult and sensitive area to coach.

Of course, no one wants to hear that their own behavior is pushing clients away or upsetting their team. Especially when they are trying so hard to make things work…

But who’s going to want to tell you that your behavior is stopping you from getting clients or from effectively influencing your team??  Some coaches are too frightened of upsetting you. After all coaches are meant to be supportive right?? And giving this kind of feedback doesn’t feel supportive.

Here’s the thing…

Whether you coach people for performance as a leader in an organization or you run your own coaching business, you’ve probably learned to coach from a traditional supportive stance. Most coaching books heavily focus on this approach for success.

I agree that being supportive is important for building trust, respect, developing rapport and for creating a safe environment to grow. This environment enables individuals disclose their private thoughts and feelings and develop their self-awareness.

Sometimes being supportive isn’t enough and you need to help your clients reach a deeper level of thinking that takes them out of their comfort zone, holds them accountable, makes them face those issues and roadblocks and take risks to courageously achieve their goals.

Great coaches intuitively know how to challenge and hold the tension until the pressure point is opened up and resolved. It’s like when having a back massage, you feel the tension of the masseur applying some pressure to a specific point, then they hold exactly the right amount of tension waiting for those knotty bits to move (I’m sure there’s a technical term for this!). It almost feels painful, but the relief releasing those knots is worth all the discomfort!

It’s the same with deep coaching…

As a coach, you have to be okay with challenging and pushing self-awareness to a deeper level for your coachee. You hold up the mirror and apply tension through feedback, challenging them to be accountable and take them out of their comfort zone into what Cranfield Business School calls the ZOUD (Zone Of Uncomfortable Debate) so you can get to the core of the issue and resolve it.

Applying and holding tension isn’t always pretty because you are creating discomfort. It might initially create a reaction of tears, anger, anxiety, worry or the coachee may feel tense and stressed.

Intuitively you need to recognize this and apply your supportive coaching skills to re-create a balance, by tapping into their feelings, taking a breath and re-grouping before stepping back into the ZOUD and working through it together. You have to believe that this will lead to a breakthrough for your coachee and provide positive supporting skills to face rather than avoid the issue. This can be a challenge for you as the coach to stay in your power and push further than before.

Working through the knotty-bits can take time, but the release of pressure and clearing the block can create transformational shifts for your coachee.

Staying stuck in a solely supportive style doesn’t deliver the full potential of coaching for your coachee. Going deeper has a much greater impact -increasing self-awareness and creating upleveled performance and results.

I ALWAYS want my coach to challenge me so I can live outside of my comfort zone.

If you coach people – Are YOU challenging them enough?

 

How to Improve YOUR Emotional Self-Awareness

By , July 3, 2012 3:36 pm

“No creature can fly with just one wing. Gifted leadership occurs where heart and head – feeling and thought – meet. These are the two wings that allow a leader to soar.”

Daniel Goleman, Author

Many years ago I worked as a Management Development Manager for the chartered airline of a large holiday company in the UK. One day I was asked to coach a manager (John) who’d been accused of bullying his staff. He seemed confused by the whole thing.

On further investigation I realized what had happened…

John was asked to be a leader and given a team of engineers to manage.  He was ‘promoted’ to management because of his amazing technical expertise as an engineer. He knew everything about the aircraft he worked on and was a point of reference for others. John had great value as a technical expert. He loved his job.

…Then he was promoted to leader… No one had taught him how to manage people. He was used to managing aircraft…a totally different skill-set! During his entire career John had been taught how to develop his technical expertise – now he had to deal with humans! He had no frame of reference and didn’t know how to do it.

Knowledge, skills, technical ability, conceptual thinking, clarity and intelligence are often seen as the key characteristics for leadership.

However, this is only half of the picture…

You may have great knowledge, skills and technical experience but this alone won’t make you a leader. You might have the best ideas in the world, but if you can’t execute your vision by guiding, inspiring, motivating, listening, influencing, and engaging others your ideas will stay just as ideas… no one will listen.

Self-awareness is often ignored in the business world. It’s not seen as important because we are often too busy doing the work and being busy to stop, recognize and understand our own emotions or the impact that they have on our actions and results. Intellect rules in the business world!

Unfortunately sometimes these actions and results have a negative effect on your relationships or job performance. You are oblivious to your own feelings and unaware of how other people might feel. Unknowingly you let anger build up until it reaches boiling point – then you lash out at someone. This is what happened to John – he was doing the best he could with the resources he had. He’d learned all about leading with the head and thought because his technical career guided him down that route alone.

If you are unaware of your own emotions you can’t manage them and this distorts how you view and respond to situations. If you lack self-awareness then you are oblivious to your own feelings or those of others around you. You are unaware of how your emotions affect your job performance.

Self-awareness has a critical role to play in leading a successful life. It influences our behaviour (what we do, what we say and how we act).

Becoming self-aware means that you are in tune with your inner signals:  you connect with yourself from the inside out.

Here’s what having self awareness means…

1. You have a deeper understanding of YOU – You can recognize your own emotions, values and motives. You know how your emotions can trigger and impact your behaviour. You know what motivates you and you move towards it at work or at home. You have a passion for your work and enjoy it.

2. You are more realistic – Perception is reality. We judge other people by their actions; we judge ourselves by our intention. People who have high levels of self-awareness are more realistic because they are honest with themselves and others. Their actions match their intentions. You know your limitations and play to your strengths.

3. You are less critical of YOU – Awareness brings honesty. People who are self-aware don’t take things personally and get defensive. They are able to laugh at themselves and be more forgiving. You embrace being imperfectly perfect! You speak openly about your emotions. You demonstrate a grace when learning about areas that you need to improve on and encourage feedback. You ask for help.

4. You have vision and focus – You can articulate your goals, values and dreams. You know where you’re headed. You know your WHY… You know what matters the most and have a clear map to build your future.

5. You are connected to your intuition –You are tuned in to what feels right and this helps you in your decision-making because you are aligned to your values. Attuning your feelings helps you find meaning and make better decisions. You make time for self-reflection and to think things over. You respond, rather than react, to your surroundings.

Having self-awareness enables you to consciously act from a place of authenticity and conviction. Understanding your emotions and having clarity of purpose help you to focus and achieve your goals.

How to BE the person you want to be… NOW!

By , May 23, 2012 11:55 pm

 “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”

 Walt Disney

Sometimes growing involves stepping forward into the unknown and doing something  outside of your comfort zone. It can be scary to change direction or decide to take a new path in your career or your life. You have to be brave and take some action towards your intention. My mentor taught me that courage is all about being courageous and not waiting for it to happen.

Instead of waiting, it’s about stepping into your power and ‘being the person you want to be…Now!’ Whatever the situation or role you’re intending to be, you have to claim it for yourself and start living from that place where you want to be.

I’m often reminded of this when I’m coaching leaders to deliver presentations. Speaking to an audience, as you may know, is scary. Just the word presentation is enough to fill a person with dread and fear.

One of my coaching clients was waiting to develop into a confident speaker. She’d framed it in such a way that she held her intent on the outside and didn’t step in to claim the role for herself. She didn’t believe that she was a confident speaker… so she was waiting to become one… and she was still waiting. Because she believed that she wasn’t confident she wasn’t there yet. This was a limiting belief.

Believing this affected her confidence and ability to perform. She’d hesitate and become nervous. The voices in her head reminded her that she was a fraud and she didn’t know what she was doing!

When transitioning into something new you have to “Be the person you want to be…” before you actually become that person! In other words, you have to start being that person from today and embody it.

 You begin working on this from the Inside. Yes… There is an element of ‘fake it until you make it.’ Your mind and body are connected, so if your mind is focused on you playing small and being nervous, your body will respond in perfect alignment and it will be so!

So you have to start by creating a recipe for success and begin to act as if you already are a:

  • Confident speaker
  • Sought after business coach
  • Senior manager
  • Published author

Here’s how to begin:

1. Create your own recipe for success – Write down what it would feel like to be someone who… (insert the role here). What behaviour does that person demonstrate?

a) What are they saying?

b) What are they doing?

c) How do they act?

2. Step into the role – Set your Intention to deliver an engaging presentation or coach an effective session. Create a mantra and frequently repeat this to yourself: ‘I am a confident speaker’ or ‘I am an awesome coach.’ Using this recipe, you can step into the role and act like a confident speaker or an awesome coach.

3. Claim your power – Step in and claim this for your own! BE that person – NOW. Decide that this is what you want and become it, through your actions and words. Grow into it every day.

4. Practice it – in your everyday life… Be that successful coach in everything you do. Be a successful author while writing a chapter of your book. Practice makes it happen. Play with being whatever it is you want to be. This is a little like playing mental dress up. The more you practice walking and talking like the person you want to be…the more you’ll grow into becoming that person congruently.

This really works!

Who do you want to be?

 

 

 

It’s okay to do things badly at first…

By , February 29, 2012 5:53 pm

“Anything worth doing well is worth doing badly in the beginning.”

Marshall Thurber, Business Consultant.

Sometimes when we’re learning something new we feel awkward, very conscious and uncomfortable. We want to be perfect straight away. We might give up (or not even begin!) because we’re not willing to pay the price of putting extra time in to break through the awkwardness.

Success is all about persistence, practice, discipline and sacrifice.

My Dad taught me how to drive. I got my provisional driving license on my 17th Birthday. The day after, I had my first driving lesson.

The first time I sat behind the wheel of a car was an amazing experience. It was a dark January evening and I was so excited. Although I’d never driven before, I’d eagerly watched my Dad drive and learned the theory of driving from the passenger seat.

That night I drove almost perfectly, changing gears with confidence as if I’d been driving for a while. It was amazing! When we arrived home my Dad proudly told my Mum that he thought I was a ‘natural’ and I’d easily pass my test!

After this lesson I thought that driving would be easy.

The next time I got in the car I was crap! For the next month my driving sucked! I was nervous, grinded the gears, mounted the curb and my confidence was soon reduced to zero. Learning to drive was overwhelming it seemed that there was so much to think about and do all at the same time.

I’d NEVER pass my test… I dreaded my lessons.

I was so frustrated. I’d driven well before, WHY couldn’t I just do it again?

I was frightened of making mistakes and compare myself to THAT first lesson when I drove really well – I didn’t want to learn how to drive anymore! The memory of that experience started to destroy my confidence.

Here’s what this experience taught me about learning:

1. Give yourself permission to feel awkward – In order to learn something you have to give yourself permission to do things badly, screw up and be imperfect. Understand in advance that this is an essential part of learning and accept that this will happen sometimes as part of your learning journey. Let go of trying to be perfect and let yourself feel awkward. It’s okay! There’s a kind of innocence about it.

2. Competence = Confidence = Control – You have to pass through the feeling awkward stage before you start to develop some competence. Practice, patience and persistence help you to develop your competence. Competence allows you to feel more confident and feeling confident ultimately allows you to feel in control of the situation. You have to work through all three stages of this cycle and as you continue to learn, these elements become stronger. 

3. Create Momentum – You have to be willing to show up on a bad day as well as a good day. You have to keep going despite looking silly or feeling very conscious of how stupid you feel. After a while competence kicks in and the awkwardness falls away. Persistence is the key!

Allow yourself permission to feel awkward…

It can be quite liberating!

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