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Creating Successful Leaders

If you’ve been following my blog or are familiar with my business, you’ll know that I am a licensed practitioner of Insights Discovery. Insights is a science-based program that is meant to develop self-awareness and improve interpersonal relationships and communication.

Unlike many other assessment programs, Insights uses simple, approachable language to discuss prominent traits in individuals. The Insights color wheel is divided into four colors (red, yellow, green, and blue), each other describing the characteristics of a specific personality type. For example, those who lead with red energy tend to prefer direct communication and rapid action. Those who lead with blue energy tend to be more analytical and like to mull over all options before proceeding.

If you’re not familiar with Insights, you might be thinking, “Wait a minute! That seems like an oversimplification of someone’s personality. Can we all really be reduced to four different personality types?!”

You’re absolutely right.

It’s impossible to fit all people into four neat boxes. That’s why Insights Discovery emphasizes the fact that people’s personalities are multi-colored, and most of us can tap into all the colors on the Insights color wheel. Those who are mostly “red” have the ability to tamp down their natural impulsiveness and embrace their analytical “blue side.” Those who are mostly “blue” can tap into their “inner red” and make snap decisions in a pinch.

Not only that, we might fluctuate from day to day. Those with “sunny yellow” personalities might have days when they’re feeling less social and more introverted. It’s normal and natural to have a dynamic personality that changes from time to time.

That’s why Insights uses the term “leads with” to describe someone’s tendencies. Someone who “leads with” yellow energy is often extroverted, social, and enjoys working with teams, but they may also have a strong blue side that compels them to be analytical as well.

Humans are dynamic. We can adapt to certain groups and settings. That doesn’t mean we’re disingenuous; it simply means that specific situations require us to behave in certain ways. Understanding the Insights color wheel and our ability to embrace other colors is empowering. We’re not stuck in a personality rut—we can grow, adapt, and change when we need to. Not only that, we can actively work on developing other colors of our personality if we feel one or more are lacking. For instance, someone who leads with red energy can attempt to build their empathy and patience by tapping into their inner green energy.

Which colors are prominent in your personality? Which traits would you like to develop? The Insights Discovery color wheel can help! Get in touch if you’d like to learn more.

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY (AND DEEPER DISCOVERY) LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 
CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE. 

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You’re feeling exhausted or lethargic. Work, and life in general, holds little interest for you. You dread checking your email in the morning. You’d rather stay in bed than get up to face the day. Perhaps you’ve picked up unhealthy habits to cope with stress, irritation, or low productivity.

These are all signs of burnout.

Though burnout has always been an issue in the workplace, its presence has dramatically increased over the past couple of years. In an international survey, 90% of participants believed that their work lives were getting worse, and 60% were experiencing frequent burnout. Those figures are troubling, to say the least!

Burnout can feel heavy or stressful. It can dim your usual joy. How can you cope with such a troubling emotion? Try these 6 approaches*…

*If you’re coping with something more than burnout, please seek consultation from a licensed therapist or other mental health professional.

1. Pinpoint the source

It’s difficult to deal with burnout if you don’t fully understand the cause. “Work” might be too general to blame on burnout (maybe you love or enjoy certain aspects of your job). Whenever you’re starting to feel anxious, stressed, or exhausted, think about why that is. Do you feel this way whenever you need to check in with a certain co-worker or superior? Does a certain task make you feel drained? Pinpointing the source of your burnout can help you figure out solutions.

2. Know your limits

For many people, burnout occurs when we take on too much work or when we agree to do things that are well outside our abilities or scope of interest. When you’re overloaded or you’re asked to do something outlandish, say no. It is possible to decline with grace (more HERE), and offer other potential solutions for the task at hand.

For example: “This assignment is well outside my skillset. Have you considered approaching Beth about it?”

Or: “I have a full plate right now and adding one more thing is simply not feasible. Can we push this back to next month or shuffle around some of my other assignments?”

3. Create healthy boundaries

With so many people working out of a home office, it can be easy to blur the lines between work and home. Commit to only working or answering emails within a certain time frame. Stick to a routine and do your best to separate your professional world from your private one. You might even get dressed for work in the morning and go on a walk as a kind of “commute.” Whatever it takes to get in the work zone!

4. Take a meaningful break

At times, we simply need to step away from work for a while and take a break. See if you can get away for at least a couple of weeks to rest up and rejuvenate. Make the break a meaningful one. Don’t answer calls or check work emails. If finances are a constraint, take a “staycation” and practice your version of self-care (reading, catching up on sleep, painting, mountain biking…).

5. Unwind with a hobby

One way to combat burnout is to pick up an after-work hobby. You might choose to do something calm and relaxing (yoga, cooking classes, photography) or something energizing and invigorating (spin classes, training your dog in agility). Your meaningful hobby can be a kind of oasis—a getaway that you can regularly look forward to.

6. Simplify

Ask yourself: Is there any part of my life that I can simplify? Is there any task I can cut out or assign to someone else?

At work, look for ways to make your day more efficient. Could information be conveyed through a simple phone call, rather than a back-and-forth email chain? Are you reporting the same information to different people, when you could loop everyone in with a single Zoom meeting? Is there anything that makes sense to delegate to someone else?

In your personal life, is there anything you can hire out to someone else (lawn work, cleaning, car repair, meal prep)? Is there anything you can cut out?

Burnout is an epidemic, and it’s time we all dealt with it. There are certain steps you can take on your own (the above list is only the tip of the iceberg), but burnout is also something that should be considered at an organizational level. If you feel comfortable doing so, talk with superiors about ways to prevent employee burnout. If you’d like ideas on how to frame such a conversation, send me a note.

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY (AND DEEPER DISCOVERY) LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 
CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE. 

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To be human is to change.

As we go through life, we experience countless changes—some physical (our health, our appearance), some professional (transitioning careers, changing professional goals or roles), some relational (friends moving away, relationships ending). We might not notice the changes day to day, but over the years most of us change quite a bit.

How often have you heard someone remark on how “naïve they were in their twenties” or “how much energy they used to have”? Or, maybe you’ve heard someone remark on their appearance (“When did I get so many wrinkles!”) or comment on how their industry has changed throughout the years.

Here’s the bottom line: Change is inevitable, and it’s a good idea to make peace with it. In fact, it’s an even better idea to plan for it.

Of course, you can’t plan everything. Sometimes, all we can do is go with the flow and adapt as best we can. However, we can pave the way for our “future selves” in some ways.

Take your career aspirations, for instance. How often do you pause, examine your current state, and ask yourself what you’d like for yourself in the future? Do you think much about the next steps in your career? Or are you typically so bogged down with daily tasks, that you rarely look ahead to the future?

I challenge you to set aside some time this week to simply examine where you are now and think about where you’d like to go. Spend time reflecting, jotting down a few notes, and truly digging in to your current state of mind. Are you relatively content, or itching for a change? Is your path clear, or is it a bit murky? Is there anything that’s been weighing you down lately?

These moments of examination and reflect are vital for both professional success and overall happiness. Sure, you might be making progress every day…but are you heading down the right path?

During this reflection time, spend some time visualizing “future me.” What does your future self look like? What are you doing? What are you accomplishing? How did you get to this ideal future state? Visualization is a powerful tool (used by everyone from professional athletes to Oprah) and can help you to begin seeing your future success as a reality.

So, block off some time on your calendar (even half an hour!) and commit to reflecting on your current circumstances, your goals, and your “future me.” You, and your career, are worth making this time investment. It could make all the difference.

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY (AND DEEPER DISCOVERY) LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 
CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE. 

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