Skip to content

UXL Blog

Creating Successful Leaders

A while back, I introduced my “5 P’s of Courage,” which are: Prepare, Pep Talk, Power Pose, Project Energy, and Plan B. If you’d like an explanation about all five, read this article. Otherwise, I’m going to focus on the first of the five P’s: Prepare.

It is difficult to overemphasize the importance of preparation. Whether you’re planning for a job interview, thinking about going on a long hike, or creeping up on your annual review, preparation is key. Though some of us are lucky, luck “favors the prepared.” If you practice and plan long enough, you don’t need luck on your side at all. Even if things don’t go perfectly, you’ll be prepared enough to muddle through.

Preparation is an essential career skill—perhaps one of the most important there is. With enough foresight and planning, you can do just about anything! You can pull off a successful speaking engagement in front of 250 people. You can nail your team meeting. You can earn a raise or promotion. You can tactfully field a difficult conversation.

Preparation isn’t always easy. It takes time (e.g. putting together notecards or a PowerPoint presentation) and practice (standing in front of a mirror and going over what you’re going to say). You might have to engage the help of others, or you may have to do a bit of research. However, your preparation has the potential to pay dividends.

Aside from readying yourself to face a particular situation, preparation also has a fortune side effect: it gives you a boost of courage. If you know you’re prepared and know your stuff, you’ll inevitably feel more confident than if you were unprepared or underprepared. Not only that, you’re less likely to be ruffled if someone throws a curveball at you or something goes wrong. It’s your secret weapon when it comes to acting and feeling more confident.

In short: it pays to prepare. Why lean on luck when you can make your own?

Looking for a job change? Or, hoping to accelerate your current career? Check out the career resources (both FREE and paid) on my website!

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: , , , , ,

friends having coffee

Let’s say you’re sitting down with a few friends over cups of coffee. One friend is sharing the details of a recent trip she took with her family, and her story is reminding you of a trip you took not long ago. Instead of listening to your friend, your mind drifts to your own vacation and you begin thinking of all the details you want to share. As soon as there’s a lull in conversation, you jump in and begin telling about your experience.

When the coffee date ends, you head home and your significant other asks, “So, how did it go? How is everyone?”

“It was fun,” you say. “Sam went on vacation recently to the Maldives…or was it Morocco? One of the kids fell ill from…food poisoning, I think? Or maybe they caught a bug on the airplane? Umm…anyway, everyone’s fine and it was nice to catch up.”

Then, you whisk away before your significant other can ask any more questions!

If you find it difficult to recall details of conversations, your memory might not be at fault. Rather, you might need to tune up your listening skills. Active listening takes work. It’s a skill that many people lack these days (likely thanks to our short attention spans!), but it has always been a worthwhile skill to have.

If you’re wondering if you are, in general, a good listener, it’s a good idea to ask yourself one key question:

“Do I truly listen, or just wait to speak?”

If you’re crafting a response in your head, you’re not really listening. Instead of focusing on what you’ll say next, commit to being fully present for the speaker. Put away your distractions and think about what they’re telling you.

It helps to ask questions, too. You might ask a clarifying question or ask for a few more details. If you want to develop an even deeper understanding of what is being said, try asking a thought-provoking question that goes beyond a yes/no response (How did you feel when_____? What was it like to______?)

Another technique for practicing active listening is to repeat back some of the information you’ve learned and then, perhaps, ask a follow-up question. For example: “Wow, Sam, it sounds like Sophie was pretty sick in Morocco. Was any of the trip salvageable? Do you think you’ll go back for a “do over”?

Above all, you have to want to listen. Listening is a humble act. You have to be okay with not being the center of attention and investing your time and attention in others. So, do others a kindness: practice active listening!

Looking for a job change? Or, hoping to accelerate your current career? Check out the career resources (both FREE and paid) on my website!

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: , , , ,

tea cup and blanket

Many of us live packed-to-the-gills lives. We bustle around to work, soccer practice, meetings, and doctor appointments. We do our best to keep our homes clean and our appliances in working order while trying to juggle careers and families. On average, Americans are 400% more productive today than they were in 1950…and our salaries are not keeping pace.

Amid all the hustle and bustle, it’s important to squeeze one more thing into your schedule: “Do Nothing” Time.

If scheduling in swaths of free time sounds radical or even absurd, hear me out. Those periods between your commitments—the times when you allow yourself to simple sit and think and be—are incredibly important for creativity and future productivity. These are times when you can let your mind wander to wherever it wants to go. You are free to recuperate from the constant barrage of activities and de-stress.

If sitting around doing nothing seems uncomfortable or awkward at first, that’s okay! If you’re used to constant activity, it can be a little strange to suddenly step away from it all. To transition into your “do nothing” time, you may want to start slowly. Find a quiet spot and jot down your thoughts in a notebook. Go on a walk and take in your surroundings. As long as you’re not bombarding yourself with media (phones on airplane mode!), that’s a good start.

If you’re still not convinced that “do nothing” time can help generate creativity or replenish your tank, look no further than some of the greatest thinker and inventors in the past century: Albert Einstein and Steve Jobs. Both of these highly influential, bright men were adamant about creating down time for themselves. Einstein enjoyed riding his bicycle through the countryside, and many of his most profound thoughts happened while perched on the seat of a bike. He simply needed the time and space to let his mind meander to wherever it wanted to go.

Next time you pull up your calendar, commit to scheduling in a little “do nothing” time. You might choose to pencil in a little time each morning, or a few hour-long chunks during the week. Even a half-hour is good start. By taking the time to simply be, you are not only giving yourself a gift, but also aiding your future productivity and creativity. In the end, you’re really not doing “nothing.” You’re investing in the future.

Looking for a job change? Or, hoping to accelerate your current career? Check out the career resources (both FREE and paid) on my website!

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: