I have been away on the most incredible holiday I have ever experienced.
When I got on the plane on Friday, 13 December, I could not have anticipated the experiences that were about to unfold for me. Most were happy and created a joy in my spirit that makes me smile to think of them still and yet others were terrifying and life-threatening and created a deep angst that has yet to leave me.
Through all these experience, I am left with the profoundly simple acceptance that I am a person of value who is loved and who loves deeply and that at the end of the day, it’s the relationships in our lives that matter.
No matter where you are at, I welcome you to 2014 and I hope you will embrace and come with me on the leadership journey of discovery I have planned for you in this very special year!
Without a doubt, we are who we are because of how we think and what we believe. Over my Christmas period spent with family and loved ones, I learnt all over again the joy that comes from connecting with people who know you through a long period of time. They are my inspiration for our 2-week list of leadership learning. I hope you get as much from this 2-part series as I did from putting this series together.
This first week looks at you as a leader and encourages you to build your self-awareness and resilience. Next week we will look at how to build relationships that last.
Leadership Challenges to get you Thinking…
How often do you find yourself making a decision and then 5 minutes later rethinking it? When you make a decision, learn to live with it. Don’t go back and second guess yourself or the decision. It’s a waste of your time and your energy.
Fear is Condition Normal
I am learning that I am not alone in experiencing fear in new situations. At 12:50am after spending an exhausting few hours getting my father treatment for his serious health conditions, I had to leave a hospital in a very bad part of Johannesburg in order to get home. I was terrified that I would be jumped by someone in the poorly lit car park or followed and targeted on the way home. With my gut churning, my head full of anxiety, I took a deep breathe, told myself, “It’s ok Kerry, take a moment to think of a plan and you will get through this.”
I called my brother and told him the route I would be taking and gave him a time frame for when I would be home and if I deviated from that, to come and find me. My fear kept me totally present and in the moment. I made it home in EXACTLY the time I had given my brother. I realise that fear does not have to be debilitating, it should and CAN move you forward positively in any circumstance.
Learn to Love your Life
How many of us look at others and think longingly of being able to do, be or have what they do? And yet, when we get to know them better, we find out that they have stuff in their lives that they are dealing with, often difficult and challenging? I love how all of us have a story to tell.
Why not embrace, accept and love who you are; the story of your life that has made you who you are rather than envying others? We will never get another chance to live this one and only life we have been given. Why not do it with hearts full of celebration for what and who we have in our lives, no matter our circumstances?
Patience through Quietness
The first part of my holiday was spent with my husband and little girl. The second part he departed to the far shores of Europe so it was just myself and Clara. I found that I have wells of endurance and patience that I did not know I had when it came to managing the complexity of juggling multiple friends and family schedules around Clara’s sleep times, trips to the hospital to feed and support my father and managing the politics of family life.
I don’t know if I would have been as patient if my husband and supportive partner had been there. I found that I to have quietness and alone time in order to find my reserves of patience, which I don’t always find I have in the busyness of everyday family life. Prioritise quiet and alone time for you each week to build your reserves.
Learn how to Sell Yourself
Moving from Johannesburg to Brisbane has been a life-changing event for me and over the past 7 and a bit years of living in this beautiful city, I have often felt down and compared myself against a standard that I believe I would be achieving if I had stayed in Johannesburg. What I realise is just how much this thinking has been limiting my ability to sell myself and recognise the value I bring.
Identify and analyse your thinking, your dress, your hairstyle, your language and assess whether this is what and how you want people to view you. Learn to sell yourself the way you want to be seen and experienced by those around you – you hold the key, no one else can be you quite like you….
Confidence Creates Success
If you can learn to sell yourself, you will probably find this tip easy. Confidence comes from being authentically you. If you believe in you, you come across as confident. It shows.
Identify your core values and put them up on your mirror or laptop/pc screen today. Every time you brush your teeth or look at your laptop/pc, you reinforce who you are by saying these out loud. E.g. Fiercely loyal, Dynamic Professional, Approachable Leader
Embrace Sadness as much as Happiness
Life is hard. There is no getting away from the fact that there are ups and downs in our lives. During my time away, our little Jack Russel, Suhzie had to be put down. She had been very sick for a long time, but it still does not lessen the sadness I hold in my heart. Thankfully, I had made arrangements with our vet that if the worst happened that they would keep her for us so that we could collect her when we came home to be able to bury her.
And so, last week Thursday we buried our loyal, faithful and tenacious canine child in our garden next to our garden seat so we can always sit and be with her when we are in the garden. I cried buckets of tears and our little girl was upset by Mommy’s outpouring of emotion. I tried explaining to her, “Mommy loved Su so much. I am crying because of the sadness that Su is in heaven and not here with us.”
Mourn when you have to, laugh, cry, do what you must. And then, when the time is right and you are ready, then come back into the light. Sadness reminds us of the love we have for those we cherish.
We are all so busy. In fact, this is the first excuse most people use for not getting things done, “I am so busy”. However, if we do not take the time to reflect and review, we cannot formulate strategies to learn from mistakes and move us forward. Take time out to reflect each day, even if it’s a 5 minute reflection in the shower.
Focus on the Positive
Most of the media’s focus is on all the horrible things happening in the world today. Our brains are wired for threat rather than reward to keep us alive. So, as leaders we have to make a concerted conscious effort to focus on the positive in each situation rather than the negative.
Focusing on the negative causes more negative emotion and prevents us from moving forward whilst focusing on the positive allows our brain free reign to creatively solve problems and challenges. It also releases endorphins which are good for us and make us feel better about ourselves and others.
Stay in the Moment
You have a fight with someone. You feel angry and hurt. Do you hit back or do you retreat?
Either course of action will not move you forward.
The key is to stay in the moment, positively. Stop, think about what has been said, and think about the behaviours or actions that would be useful to both of you. If necessary, take a time out, and come back and discuss and resolve. Running away never resolves the issue and can result in further relational problems down the line.
By identifying and working on 1 or 2 of these items going forward, you as a leader start to lift your leadership game. I encourage you to take 20 minutes for yourself today. Sit down and think about what your leadership expectations for 2014 are. Write them down. Every one of them. Then, prioritise them in order of importance to you. Then, once you have done that, print them out and put them up in places you can see them. You cannot achieve leadership goals you can’t remember or don’t focus on!
Watch out for next week’s post on how to build your workplace relationships in 2021.
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Stay positive and focused,
See you at the top,