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Creating Successful Leaders

Category Archives: Changing Your Life

We’re told to “make hay when the sun shines,” but what if the sun never comes out? What if conditions remain overcast, at best? Sometimes, we have to adapt, re-strategize, and move forward anyway. Sometimes, we simply have to act.

Rarely will conditions be 100 percent perfect. If you’re looking for an excuse to put something off, chances are you’ll find it. There’s always a reason to not take on that challenging work project, write your novel, have a child, travel abroad, start your own business…the list goes on. Sometimes, you just have to jump in with both feet and figure things out as you go.

Additionally, it’s impossible to plan for every bump in the road. You will run into unexpected obstacles, experience temporary setbacks and all-out failures, and take unexpected twists. When this happens, it’s import to roll with the punches and adopt a growth mindset (more on growth mindsets in last week’s post).

When you’re on the brink of a major decision or action, try to keep the following 8 tidbits in mind:

  • Progress is not achieved through inaction.
  • You can still succeed if conditions are not perfect.
  • Others have risen above adversity when the odds were stacked against them. For example: After someone stole his shoes, Native American track and field legend, Jim Thorpe, found two shoes (of different sizes) in a trash bin, put them on, and won two Olympic gold medals.
  • No one achieves greatness or makes positive change through inaction.
  • Your actions don’t have to be unsupported. Leverage whatever resources (others’ expertise, databases, classes, grants, a mentor’s advice, etc.) are at your disposal.
  • You are adaptable and resilient enough to overcome adversity or setbacks.
  • Inaction is often just an excuse; don’t give in to your fears!
  • It’s okay to figure things out as you go.

If you are delaying taking action on something, I urge you to ask yourself why. Face your trepidations, strategize as best you can, and jump in! You’ll rarely find the perfect conditions to act, so you might as well plow ahead using whatever resources are available. Even if things don’t turn out as expected, you can still hold your head high knowing you had the courage to act.

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. 

HER NEW EBOOK IS CALLED A QUICK GUIDE TO COURAGE
CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE.

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For many of us, creating art feels like a leisure activity that we simply don’t have time to do. Who can devote 17 hours to making a vase? Or spend weeks painting and repainting a canvas. And then there’s learning a new skill (photography, calligraphy, needlework…). How many hours does that take?

While it doestake time to master an art form, that’s not necessarily the goal of creating art (especially if you’re doing it for enjoyment, rather than earning an income). The important thing is the action itself, not perfection. The simple act of making art (no matter its form) can be a wonderful and welcome escape. Even doodling in a notebook counts! You don’t have to make something to hang on the wall or display in a case (though you could!). The point is simply to DO.

The act of creating art can have remarkably positive side effects. Some of these include the following:

Stress Reduction

Art, in its many forms, has been known to lower stress. Studies have shown that creativity can increase dopamine levels—a neurotransmitter that is known to increase happiness and stave off feelings of anxiety, stress, or even depression.

I suggest picking an artform that comes naturally to you—watercolor, pencil drawing, molding clay, knitting—and engaging in that activity throughout the week, especially when you’re feeling stressed. What do you noticed when you do this activity? How does it feel to let your mind drift as you’re creating art?

Increased Optimism

When you actively make art, your spirits lift and you tend to feel more optimistic. Artwork can spark creativity and inspire hope. The same goes for looking at certain pieces of artwork. If you’re beholding a rugged mountain landscape or a serene forest path, you may begin to feel inspired or comforted. What inspires you? A blooming flower? A lake in the middle of a dense forest? Abstract colors and shapes? Photos of the galaxy? Either create it or view it.

Better Problem-Solving and Focus

Professor and art therapy researcher Girija Kaimal says that “making art should induce what the scientific community calls ‘flow’ …It’s that sense of losing yourself, losing all awareness. You’re so in the moment and fully present that you forget all sense of time and space.” When you allow yourself a moment to get creative, your concentration improves and you equip yourself for problem-solving.

Kaimal also states that art could serve an “evolutionary purpose” by helping us “navigate problems that might arise in the future.” When we choose to let our minds wander, they can go to incredible places and, perhaps, even aid us in problem solving.

Improved Self-Esteem

In addition to the many neurological benefits I’ve mentioned, art can also act as a confidence booster. How? Positive accomplishments (even small ones, such as creating a doodle drawing or sewing on a button) give us a jolt of dopamine. One study examined the effects of participating in a creative art program on a group of women with Multiple Sclerosis. The study found that participants experienced “significant increases in self-esteem” after joining the art program.

Art is tangible, and creating it allows us to feel a distinct sense of accomplishment. That, alone, can give your confidence a boost.

Even if you’ve never considered yourself artistic, you might find enjoyment, relief, and clarity through art. Pick something you enjoy (or you think you’ll enjoy), start engaging in it regularly, and get into the habit of creating art. The potential positive effects are numerous.

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. 

HER NEW EBOOK IS CALLED A QUICK GUIDE TO COURAGE.

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If there’s anything the last few years has taught us, it’s that life can change at the drop of a hat. Many people had to transition to a work from home environment with little notice, meetings were suddenly virtual, and kids were learning at home instead of in a classroom setting. Now, with the Great Resignation still in full swing, employers and business leaders are having to adapt and adjust to the needs of their teams. Life is fluid, and if you don’t want to be swept up in the current, you need to be flexible and adapt a growth mindset.

The term “growth mindset” was coined by psychologist Carol Dweck, who described two main mindset categories: growth and fixed. Those with a growth mindset often see opportunities to learn, grow, and develop. They believe they can change when they need to and actively work toward making those changes. On the other hand, those with a fixed mindset generally believe they are unable to change, adapt, or evolve. They are more easily defeated by failures, and they tend to firmly resist change.

If you’re sometimes guilty of having a fixed mindset, that’s okay! It is possible to develop a growth mindset. It only takes time, tools, and the willpower to do so.

Let’s talk about 4 ways to develop your growth mindset…

1. Pay Attention to Your Thoughts

We all have an inner voice. It may be positive and encouraging, or it may be telling you things like, “You can’t,” “You’re not good enough,” or “This is just the way things are.” What is your inner voice telling you? If it tends to be more negative and defeatist, that’s a good sign you tend to have a fixed mentality. Once you’re aware of that, you can begin to talk back to your inner voice and begin to take on a more positive, growth-oriented mindset.

2. Reframe Failure

It’s easy to feel deflated by failure. No one likes to fail. However, it is possible to reframe failures as opportunities. Next time you’re faced with failure—a work project that flopped, a client that went with another company, an idea that didn’t get picked up—think about what you learned from the failure. What went wrong? How can you do things differently next time? Use these moments as chances to learn, redo, and move on.

3. Embrace Brain Plasticity

We used to think adult brains were somewhat rigid and fixed, but recent studies have shown that that’s not at all true. The brain is still malleable, even as an older adult. Even those who have experienced extreme brain trauma (such as a coma or major concussion) can retrain and essentially rewire their brains. That is the power of neuroplasticity, or the brain’s ability to adapt and reshape.

4. Use the Word “Yet”

Next time you catch yourself doubting your abilities or lamenting failure, add the word “yet” to the end of your sentence. For example:

I don’t understand computer coding…yet.

I can’t operate this machinery…yet.

I can’t speak Spanish…yet.

I haven’t reached my sales goals…yet.

This simple word connotes opportunity and helps you get in a positive frame of mind. Instead of feeling defeated, you give yourself a glimmer of opportunity. Maybe you haven’t achieved something yet, but success could be on the horizon.

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. 

HER NEW EBOOK IS CALLED A QUICK GUIDE TO COURAGE
CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE.

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