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Creating Successful Leaders

Category Archives: Advice from a Life Coach

If you’re like many people I know, you have high expectations for yourself. You are likely more critical of your own mistakes and flaws than those of anyone else. You probably also find yourself wishing you could do more and be more on any given day. You’re constantly raising your personal bar and looking for your next mountain to climb.

Sound familiar?

If so, you just might be an over-achiever and a perfectionist. And that’s fine! There are a lot of us out there. We’re constantly trying to be everything for everyone. But that’s just not possible. And even if we’ve learned how to NOT spread ourselves too thin, there’s still the danger of constantly raising our personal expectations.

How can raising the bar be a bad thing?

On the surface, it’s perfectly fine to regularly raise our personal standards. Companies do it, so why not individuals? As you learn new skills and develop your talents, you’ll naturally start to improve, and when that happens, it’s logical to raise the bar. That’s all well and good—raising your personal bar keeps you constantly learning and improving—but this can turn into a problem if your bar-raising gets out of control.

For one, you might increase your personal expectations so much that they become nearly impossible to obtain. That, or you might find yourself toiling for extra hours or taking on more and more work to achieve your new standards. There’s a difference between a healthy challenge and a crushing workload. If you’re constantly feeling frazzled, anxious, or overwhelmed, your personal bar might have risen beyond your grasp.

The other part about bar-raising that can be damaging is failing to recognize your achievements. If you don’t take the time to occasionally pause and reflect on how much you’ve accomplished and how far you’ve come, you will always be feeling like you’re falling short. And I’m sure that’s not true! Think about everything you’ve learned and achieved over the years—all the projects you’ve completed, bridges you’ve built, and skills you’ve mastered. Think about where you are today compared to where you were five years ago. I’m sure you’ve grown and changed over that time, even if you can’t see the growth on the day-to-day.

Instead of constantly raising your personal bar, take the time to 1) reflect on and CELEBRATE your achievements and 2) set reasonable goals for the future. Take the future one step at a time, rejoice in your victories, and don’t let that bar get too far out of reach.

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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dessert road and sunshine

“I’ve had a lot of worries in my life. Most of which never happened.”

Mark Twain

“Worrying only means you suffer twice”

Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Worrying is part of the human existence. We worry about our children, our relationships, our work performance. We worry about finances and health. We worry about the future. This tendency to worry is part of what makes us human. It’s natural to fret about the wellbeing of ourselves and those around us. However, if we worry too much, it can become debilitating.

What percentage of your day is spent fussing about the future or dwelling on past events? If you’re like most people, it’s probably quite a lot. And, here’s the thing: worrying about something doesn’t help the outcome in the least. We can’t improve a work project by fretting about it. We can’t fix something harmful that we did or said through worry.

If worrying doesn’t solve anything, why is it a human emotion in the first place?

The possible answer is that worrying can prompt us to act. It isn’t useful on its own, BUT it can act as a catalyst—a bit of fire under our shoes.

Worried about your upcoming presentation?

Let that be motivation to thoroughly prepare and practice.

Worried about your current physical health?

Let your worry drive you to go to the gym and eat a healthier diet.

Worried about finances?

Use that emotion to create a better savings plan and spend a smaller portion of your income.

Worried you offended someone?

Leverage that worry by 1) apologizing and 2) learning from your mistake and vowing to not say or do the same thing again.

The above examples have one important thing in common: they all involve action. If you’re going to fret anyway, let your emotions be a motivator. Don’t stew in your misery; act instead!

We could all use a little less worry in our lives. It doesn’t do to sit and dwell on either the past or the future. BUT, if you do find worry surfacing in your life, know that you don’t have to let it consume you. Instead, use it as a catalyst to take action, forge ahead, and make positive, meaningful change.

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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People talking around a table

As a professional, there are times when your integrity and values will be put to the test. Though it’s usually a good idea to be agreeable and go with the flow, there are moments when you should stand your ground and dare to have a differing opinion than others. These moments can be challenging (or downright frightening), but they are worth it.

If you feel strongly about something, it doesn’t pay to keep quiet. You’ll end up stewing about the situation, losing focus, and respecting yourself a little less for remaining silent.

I encourage you to speak up.

Keep in mind, it’s possible the rest of the group has simply glossed over something you find important. Maybe you have a different perspective than everyone else due to your age, race, gender, or background. Maybe you’ve been in a similar situation in the past, and the outcome was less-than-optimal. Whatever the case, it’s best to speak up and voice your concerns. Your perspective will help open others’ eyes to something potentially problematic and, at the very least, will establish that consent is not unanimous.

You might choose to voice your concerns in a group setting (at a team meeting or conference, for instance) or privately (to a team leader, co-worker, or other decision-maker). Though expressing yourself right away can serve to immediately add another perspective to the conversation, you may not always feel comfortable doing so. Sometimes it’s better to clarify your thoughts, write out what you’d like to say, and schedule a one-on-one meeting with the person/people in charge of the initiative. Try to make your case with both emotional and logical appeals (“I feel______ about the initiative because_____).

It may be uncomfortable to disagree with the majority of the room, but sometimes it is absolutely necessary. If you perceive something to be offensive (regardless if others realize it or not), if it violates your code of ethics, or if you are simply seeing a flaw that others are failing to notice, SPEAK UP. Be bold and dare to be the lone dissenter. If, for some reason, you get in trouble for speaking out, it’s entirely possible that your core worldviews do not align with your company’s, in which case it might be time to talk with a career coach…


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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