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Category Archives: Changing Your Life

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It’s been a rollercoaster year and, if you’re like me, you’ve oscillated between feelings of frustration, joy, hope, anger, and sadness. Though it may be easy to fall victim to your negative emotions–to let them pull you into despair–that doesn’t have to be. Instead, you can use those emotions to fuel action.

1. Catch Your Emotions

First, it’s a good idea to pay attention to what you’re feeling and when. What sets off your feelings of frustration? What makes you deeply sad? When do you feel most joyful and at ease?

These are the areas that can inspire action. Lean on these intense feelings of joy/anger/frustration to make positive change.

2. Establish Your Scope of Control

Focus on what you can control and what, potentially, you can change. You may not, for instance, be able to singlehandedly stop the wildfires raging along the Western U.S., but you can donate to organizations that are either fighting the fires OR working on rehabilitating the forests or damaged properties. You can also make an effort to learn about fire prevention and the best practices you can take in your own life.

This is just one example of establishing your scope of control. Focus on the small things you can do to help better a situation, such as donating time or money, volunteering, taking an active role in a local organization, or spreading the word via social media. Small efforts can lead to big change.

3. Learn to Let Go

While you can establish control over some things, it’s useful to recognize that other things are simply out of your hands. You can’t, for instance, change everyone’s mind through social media posts (but you might be able to sway a few people through meaningful one-on-one conversations). You also can’t bring people back from the dead, change the past, or have conversations with people who don’t want to listen.

When it comes to these kinds of things, it’s best to let go. Understand your limitations, and don’t let yourself become frustrated by what you cannot do. Be gentle with yourself and learn to shift your focus to the areas you have power over.

4. Burn Energy

If you’re full of pent-up emotions, you might consider taking action in the physical sense. Go for a bike ride, do video workout, practice yoga, go for a walk–exercise can help to clear your mind and get you into a more positive frame of mind. There’s no harm letting your rage or frustration fuel your workouts. Burn off those harmful emotions, and carry on.

There are many ways to respond to your emotions. Do what works for you–whatever makes you feel the most healthy and productive. And, when you recognize that things are beyond your control, do your best to let go.


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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depressed man on couch

We all have an inner narrative. It’s the little voice that lives insides us, cheering us on…or telling us we’re not good enough. It’s the voice that says, “Your opinion matters. Speak up!” Or the voice that says, “You don’t know what you’re talking about. Keep quiet.”

For many of us, it’s easy to tune into the negative messages—to believe that we’re not smart enough, talented enough, thin enough, strong enough, or capable enough. I call this negative voice your “saboteur.” It’s that weight that hangs around your shoulders, dragging you down and preventing you from rising to your potential. I have found that women, especially, have a constant self-saboteur—a persistent negative narrator that causes us to shrink into the shadows, rather than taking a risk, stepping forward, and speaking out.

Michael Singer, author of The Untethered Soul, talks about this tendency to talk down to ourselves. He describes the voice as your “negative roommate,” the naysayer that is constantly spouting pessimism. Singer advises us to “monitor the roommate” by externalizing it. Give your inner voice a body and start talking back to it!

For me, the idea of giving your inner voice “a body” is another way of saying, “be mindful of your thoughts.” Monitor them. Start keeping tabs on the narrative you’re telling yourself. This mindfulness is the first step in flipping your negativity around and freeing yourself from your saboteur.

When you catch yourself thinking pessimistically, pause. Refocus. Think of positive outcomes and possibilities instead of focusing on the negative. If your little voice is telling you, “You can’t do it. You will fail during your presentation at today’s meeting.” Tell it, “No, I won’t. I will succeed. I will speak eloquently and clearly; I will keep people engaged.”

Then, repeat. Continue to redirect your inner voice so you’re focusing on positive results. After a while, you’ll find that this redirection will become second-nature. You’ll begin to think of yourself and your abilities in a more positive light.

Grab a hold of your life’s narrative and tell it how to behave! That’s the surest way to boost your confidence, reduce stress, and reject toxic negativity. Start back-talking to the nagging saboteur in your head and discover what a difference it can make in your life and happiness.

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Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

Amidst this pandemic, it’s been difficult to stay motivated. When I get in a rut, I’ve found that watching a TED Talk can pull me out of it. Recently, I watched a TED Talk by psychologist Dr. ANGELA LEE DUCKWORTH on the subject of grit. She first noticed a correlation between success and grit when she was working as a school teacher in a difficult neighborhood. A child’s scholarly success was not necessarily related to their IQ; more often than not, it was related to their dogged perseverance, or grit. As we drudge through the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us are beginning to understand just how much grit it takes to keep going.

In her TED Talk, Duckworth discusses the origins of her studies on grit. She noticed the difference between natural talent and grit as a teacher, which led her to pursue a career in psychology and make grit the subject of most of her research. She studied diverse groups of people—from military cadets to students to sales people—and, time and again, observed that grit was a key attribute to success.


THE PEOPLE WHO KEPT GOING DESPITE FAILURES OR SETBACKS, THE PEOPLE WHO WERE COMMITTED TO A JOB OR TASK FOR THE LONG-TERM, WERE THE ONES WHO USUALLY SUCCEEDED.


With unemployment rates at an unfortunate high and people constantly grappling with anxiety from all the uncertainty, grit is as important as ever. How do you foster grit in your own life and your children’s? Duckworth admits that the research is lacking, but a few interesting ideas have risen to the surface. One study shows that developing a “growth mentality” helps create a gritty personality. A growth mentality has to do with the belief that failure is NOT a permanent state. Rather, failure helps us develop and equips us for future success. 

Keep in mind, grit isn’t directly related to talent. A big part of success is perseverance and having the tenacity to follow through, no matter what. You may have already developed perseverance simply by way of survival, or you might have to learn it. Fortunately, it IS something you can learn. Start pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, commit to your goals, and have patience with yourself. You’re not going to learn perseverance and grit overnight.

Since we’re far-removed from our previous routines, it’s important to realize that it takes grit to be where you are now–to be present and forge ahead. Surviving during a pandemic is a challenge on its own, and on top of that we’re forced to deal with changes made at work that can include physical distancing, budget cuts, or lay offs.

Success and failure work hand in hand with learning and growing. Picking yourself back up after an attempt gone wrong is the easiest way to learn from your mistakes. Building grit now can strengthen your character and help you achieve your long term goals, even after the pandemic has long passed. 

For Dr. Duckworth’s full TED Talk, please click the link below:


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. 
NOW LIVE: CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE.

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