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Creating Successful Leaders

Category Archives: Advice from a Life Coach

When things are tough, it’s easy to feel sorry for yourself. That’s a perfectly normal and natural reaction. However, problems ensue when that “woe is me” mentality becomes long-term and begins to affect other areas of your life. You might start to blame other people or circumstances for your problems while, at the same time, doing nothing to fix them.

How can you escape a “woe is me” mentality? Try the following 4 suggestions:

1. Take Ownership

Nobody likes failures, but it doesn’t do a lick of good to blame others. Take ownership for your role in the failure, even if others did contribute to it. This helps shift you from pointing fingers to problem solving.

2. Recognize That Pity Parties are Unproductive

Feeling sorry for yourself might feel good for a while (no harm in eating a few scoops of ice cream and watching a movie while you pout!), but it is ultimately unproductive. Recognize that what you’re feeling can and should be a non-permanent state. Allow yourself to experience those feelings of sadness or disappointment, and then resolve to move on.

3. Move Into Problem-Solving Mode

Though it can be tempting to wallow at times, remind yourself that you’re stronger than that. The next time you feel entrenched in sadness, challenge yourself to problem solve. This could be as simple as journaling about your situation, or as involved as creating a mind map or bringing together your team to brainstorm some solutions.

4. Focus on Your Wins

When you’re feeling down about a failure, attempt to focus on the positive. No matter how bad things get, there is always a bright side. Think about the things that have gone well recently, and how to replicate them. Remind yourself that you do experience little victories in life (landing a certain job, getting a positive annual review, earning a bonus, nailing a certain project, coming up with a creative solution, etc., etc.). Focus on those wins and use that energy to propel you forward. 

Failure isn’t forever. If you’re upset about a recent obstacle or pitfall, that’s okay. Allow yourself to feel that way for a time, and then move on. Get yourself into a problem-solving mentality and leave your failure in the dust.


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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Is it possible to train yourself to be adaptable?

While some people seem to have a natural ability to roll with the punches, almost everyone can train themselves to be more flexible. It just takes a little practice and dedication.

Why work on your personal adaptability?

The short answer:

Change is inevitable. You’re going to encounter change in all aspects of your life at some point or another—professional, interpersonal, and personal. So, why not be prepared?

The longer answer:

Lately, with workplaces adapting to a global pandemic, remote classroom learning, and working from home becoming the new norm, things are quite different than they used to be. All those changes have necessitated a good deal of flexibility, and I don’t see that going away anytime soon. This is new turf for many people (and companies). Parents are learning how to juggle work with their children’s distance learning. Managers are learning how to effectively interact with their teams when regular face-to-face meetings are no longer an option. Companies are figuring out how to create personalized experiences for customers through online platforms and other creative means.

Even when the current pandemic is nothing more than a memory, we are bound to encounter major changes again soon. Technology is changing at a rapid clip, public sentiments are constantly shifting, and societal norms are in constant flux. If there’s one thing you can count on in the future, it’s change.

So, how do you train yourself to adapt?

1. Challenge yourself every day

Routine is good, but it’s also healthy to break that routine every once in a while. Commit to doing one thing every day that is slightly uncomfortable for you. Maybe that means working in a new location—perhaps somewhere in your house where you don’t have a complete office setup. Maybe that means calling someone that you don’t know well (a potential client, perhaps) or someone whom you’ve been putting off calling, for whatever reason. Another way to challenge yourself is by learning a new skill. Take an online course or download an app to help you learn anything from film-making to Excel to a new language.

2. Practice letting go

A big part of becoming more adaptable is realizing that you do not have control over everything, and THAT IS OKAY. In fact, it’s good to rescind control every once in a while and let others (or circumstances) take the reins. If you find yourself in a position where you are no longer in the driver’s seat, take a deep breath and a step back. Trust that things will work out without your intervention.

To train yourself to become better at letting go, practice giving others assignments and letting them have autonomy over their projects. If you lead a team, let that team hold brainstorming or strategy sessions without you and trust that they will achieve results. They may not take the exact path you would have taken, but they will likely reach the same destination.

3. Open your mind

Mental flexibility is crucial when it comes to adaptability. It’s healthy to open yourself to a variety of perspectives and points of view, because (surprise!) you may not have all the answers. To increase your mental agility, try practicing active listening. Truly absorb and listen to what others are saying and challenge yourself to ask good questions. After the conversation, try repeating the information you learned to yourself.

Another part of mental flexibility is realizing that there is not usually one way to do things or one way of thinking about things. This realization requires a certain amount of humility. It also takes a curious mind and a willingness to learn. Be a little vulnerable and demonstrate that you are ready and eager to learn and expand your way of doing things.

Adaptability is a critical skill to have today, and it’s bound to be a critical skill tomorrow too. Even if you’re not flexible by nature, you can endeavor to train yourself to be a little more flexible. All it takes is a plan and your commitment.


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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I’m willing to bet you are kind to others—perhaps even people you don’t know. But are you consistently kind to yourself?

This is the question we’ll be exploring this week as we continue our “Self-Improvement Goals” series. Being kind to yourself is always important, but it is even more crucial when you’re going through a difficult time (such as the whole of 2020!). If you don’t love, forgive, and take care of yourself, you’ll be in no condition to help others, perform at your peak, or have the energy to deal with life’s stressors. It’s important to rest when you need it and don’t dwell on your shortcomings or mistakes. It’s important to be gentle with yourself.

Here are three areas where most of us could use a little self-improvement:

1. Forgive Yourself

I’m guessing you have a lot of practice forgiving others. You probably excuse others’ mistakes all time—that co-worker who missed a deadline or forgot a meeting, that child who broke your tea mug, that friend who splashed coffee on your pants. If you’re on a Zoom meeting and someone apologizes for their messy house, you likely wouldn’t chastise them. You would laugh and tell them you understand.

Do you have this much understanding when it comes to your own shortcomings?

It’s time to remember that you are human—you’re imperfect and you make mistakes. Instead of beating yourself up over your errors, try to reframe your thinking. Move from an “I’m so terrible” mindset to a “How can I fix this?” mindset. Focusing on solutions can help shift your thoughts from your mistake to a more action-driven frame of mind. And if you can’t fix something? Do your best to move on and pledge to do better next time. There is always tomorrow to try, try again.

2. Rest

Even the most powerful CEOs, athletes, and politicians need to rest. And so do you. Give yourself permission to simply step away from work from time to time and take a few moments for yourself. Take a nap, read a book, work on a crossword puzzle—whatever you need to do to rest and rejuvenate.

Sometimes, it’s a good idea to take an extended break. If you’ve been pushing yourself to the limit for too long, you’ll eventually give out. Before that happens, make a concerted effort to schedule a long break in your busy calendar. You might choose to take a four-day weekend or a couple of weeks off—whatever you can plausibly take. If taking more than a day off of work causes a fuss, you might want to seriously consider a job change (consult a career coach first, of course!).

One last note about rest: Be sure to get enough sleep! Study after study has shown that getting an adequate amount of sleep each night is crucial if you want to stay healthy and high-functioning. Start winding down your night early and get to bed!

3. Focus on Health

Your health is important. I know it’s tempting to eat junk food and sit around after a long, hard day of work, but do your best to resist! Your health is worth it. Instead, prioritize exercise, healthy eating, and stress-reducing activities. Today, there are many ways to get a nutritious meal on your plate—cook it from scratch, use a healthy-eating subscription box, or cook meals in advance and freeze them. You can download any number of apps to track your eating habits and help you course correct, if necessary.

The same is true for exercise. With Fitbits and apps, it’s easy to track how much you move around in a given day. If you’d rather track your fitness the “old fashioned way,” write out an exercise calendar and stick to it! Moving your body is crucial for your health, and it will affect every aspect of your life, from your work to your family.

Lastly, make a conscious effort to reduce stress. Excess stress can lead to health issues and can affect your night’s sleep. Try soaking in a bath, taking a quiet walk, or reading—anything that will lower your heartrate, loosen those tight muscles, and help put your mind at ease.

If you’re like many people I know, you tend to put others first. That’s an admirable trait, but you also need to pay attention to yourself. After all, if you’re not feeling both physically and mentally healthy, how can you help others?


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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