Skip to content

UXL Blog

Creating Successful Leaders

orange shoes walking up stairs

This past year, it’s been difficult to feel in control of anything. Work situations have changed, family dynamics have been altered, and our basic lifestyles have had to adjust. We’ve had to rethink even our most basic activities, such as going to the grocery store or sending our kids off to school. With so much out of our control, let’s take a moment to focus on what is within our control…namely, YOU.

No matter what the year ahead will bring, we can always focus on self-improvement. This way of thinking is not selfish—it’s essential. If we do our best to be our best, everything around us tends to improve: relationships, workplace interactions, productivity. Thus, self-improvement can (and often does) actually lead to vast improvements in our external world.

Where can you focus your attention?

Here are five different ideas. Over the next five weeks, I’ll be covering each area in greater depth. For now, a summary:

1. Improve Self-Awareness

You may think you know yourself fairly well, but we all have blind spots. Digging deep into your strengths, communication preferences, modes for interacting with others, areas where you’re struggling, etc. can help you become more confident, productive, and efficient. Not only that, improving your self-awareness can also help you better tune in to the needs and preferences of others.

Begin your self-awareness journey by taking a recommended assessment test (my favorites are Insights Discovery® and Insights Deeper Discovery®), talking with a career coach, reading books that discuss self-awareness, or simply making a concerted effort to pay attention to your thoughts and actions, and the motives behind them.

2. Own Who You Are

As our work patterns and lives have changed, other sides of ourselves may have emerged. Perhaps you’ve surprised yourself with how you’ve adapted to this year’s many changes . Maybe you’ve found that you enjoy working at home or, on the flip side, maybe you’ve realized that you enjoy the company of co-workers more than you realized!

Regardless of how much you have or have not changed over the past year, one thing is certain: You are multi-faceted, and it’s a good idea to learn to embrace all sides of yourself. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to improve in certain areas (there’s always room for improvement). What it does mean is that you shouldn’t shy away from your true self—the person at the core of your being.

3. Practice Self-Kindness

You likely have a lot of practice in forgiving others for their mistakes. If someone is late for a Zoom meeting or has to bow out of a commitment, we tend to forgive them and move on. If a friend is struggling to keep their house clean because they simply have too much on their plate, we laugh and say, “That’s okay! I understand.”

Are you as forgiving with yourself? Or do you beat yourself up over the little things? It’s time to be kind to yourself. Forgive your small mistakes, take breaks when you need them, and don’t worry about falling short of perfection. 

4. Get Flexible

No, I’m not talking about stretching and doing more yoga (though, that couldn’t hurt!). This year, we’ve all had to stretch outside our comfort zones, and I see no sign of that stopping. Workplaces will continue to adapt, relationships will evolve, and technology will constantly change. Are you ready?

The more willing you are to be adaptable and roll with the punches, the better off you’ll be. No one can predict what’s next, but one thing is certain: Change is inevitable. To get yourself comfortable with change, practice putting yourself in new, uncertain situations. Challenge yourself and make a concerted effort to grow. This might entail signing up for an online class, attending a virtual webinar with a group of strangers, or taking on a project that will have to stretch your skillset.

5. Improve Communication

One of the great lessons of this past year is that communication is essential. For many of us, we’ve had to greatly alter the way we interact with others. Instead of popping into a nearby cubicle and asking a question, we have to set up meetings or write emails. Instead of dropping by a friend or neighbor’s house, we’ve had to be intentional with our get-togethers and respectful of boundaries.

But how much have you actually thought about the ways and methods of your communication? Are your communication systems working like a charm? Or, could they be improved?

It’s possible all those video chats aren’t necessary. It’s also possible (probable, really) that some people will prefer one style of communication, while others will prefer an entirely different style. It helps to pay attention. When is communication flowing smoothly and the conversation is bearing fruit? And when does it feel forced and counter-productive? It could be time to rethink the frequency and modes of communication between yourself and others.

Let’s start the new year off right. Take the time to focus on improving yourself, your interactions with others, and your adaptability. Even small changes can make an enormous 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.

Tags: , , , , ,

%d bloggers like this: