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This month, I’ve been focusing on the topic of courage. I’ve released an eBook on the topic (A Quick Guide to Courage), and I continue to receive feedback about personal struggles to be courageous. If you’re struggling to find your courage, let’s talk.

When we think of courageous people, we might envision firefighters or soldiers, CEOs presenting in front of large audiences, or adventurers scaling mountains. But…what about you? Do you ever pause to consider all the mountains you’ve climbed and storms you’ve weathered? Do you recall the times when you’ve had to tap into courage—asking for a raise, giving a presentation, making a major life decision, daring to step outside your comfort zone?

You, too, have acted with courage in your life, even if you don’t often think about it. You have the capacity to taking daring steps and make courageous decisions. Don’t discount the small acts of courage you undertake each and every day. Even getting up in the morning and pulling up your email inbox can take courage! You’re opening yourself to a host of “unknowns,” and it may take mental and emotional fortitude to address the everyday problems that await you.

Even if you don’t always feel courageous, take heart in the fact that we are all capable of building and developing courage. Just as we build muscles by going to the gym so, too, can we build courage and take it to new heights. Mostly, it takes practice and persistence.

Here are 7 ways you can grow your courage every day:

Invite an acquaintance to lunch.

For many, it can be uncomfortable getting to know someone new. Dare to face that discomfort and arrange a lunch or coffee meeting with someone you’d like to get to know a little better. If it doesn’t work out, dare to ask the next person on your list!

Create healthy boundaries.

Dare to say “no” to projects that do not align with your area of expertise. Reject or postpone tasks when your schedule is jam-packed. Answer emails on your own terms, and during work hours only. By having the courage to set these healthy boundaries, you show respect for yourself and protect your mental and emotional health.

Send a message to someone you admire.

Looking for a mentor? Seeking advice from a trusted expert? Reach out and contact someone who may have the answers. Don’t let the person’s status or title intimidate you. We’re all humans, after all!

Set aside personal time.

Dare to set aside time for yourself, take breaks, and go on the occasional vacation. Too often, people are nervous about what others will think of them if they choose to take a break. It’s time to set a new standard where meaningful breaks are the norm. Be brave enough to know when you’ve reached your limit and need time off.

Say no.

If something doesn’t feel right, have the courage to say no. I challenge you to think through every task, offer, or project before deciding on your course of action.

Be a leader.

If you have an idea for a new project, a new way of doing things, or a fresh approach, it may be time to step up and take initiative. Don’t wait around for someone else to lead the charge; dare to do it yourself!

Be your true self.

Be authentic and don’t shy away from who you truly are. Of course, we all need to act appropriately in certain settings, but that doesn’t mean we have to fundamentally change who we are (just dial it back or up, depending on the situation!). Be genuine; be yourself.

Step into your day with a courageous heart and a plan to make positive change. You are in charge of your future. Dare to seize the day and make the right decisions for you, even if that can be a little scary. You’re braver than you think you are.

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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I just released my new eBook: A Quick Guide to Courage. Let’s continue our discussion of aspects of courage…

It’s easy to fall in line and do/say/think what everyone else is doing/saying/thinking. If you’re like most people, you don’t want to rock the boat; you simply want to get through the work day, complete your daily tasks, and stay employed! While there’s nothing wrong with those goals, “falling into line” could become problematic if you disagree with something or encounter a situation that goes against your values, ethics, or perspective.

In these tricky situations, staying silent is the path of least resistance, BUT it is not always the best route. Why dare to speak up and go against the grain?

  • To uphold your personal code of ethics
  • To encourage others who are feeling the same way to also speak out
  • To share your perspective
  • To spark a dialogue
  • To encourage candid communication and cooperation

Speaking up can be a good thing, but it can backfire if done incorrectly. If you are not tactful, or if you speak out of turn, you might be instantly shutdown and silenced. Instead, approach a situation with respect, calm, and thoughtful language.

Here are a few tips:

  • If you need to speak up during a meeting or group gathering, either wait for a lull in the conversation or interject respectfully.
  • Begin by clarifying what you think you heard. For instance: “I believe you said XYZ, is that correct?”
  • Give your perspective using “I statements” and logic. For instance: “Let me explain why I am troubled by XYZ. From my perspective…”
  • Offer alternatives. If you have a different course of action in mind, state it as clearly as you can.
  • Invite conversation. For instance: “Clearly, this is my take on the matter. If I am missing or misunderstanding something, I welcome any clarification.”

If you have time to step away from the situation and think about your counterarguments, that’s great! Prepare your talking points, anticipate questions, and present your case (either in a one-on-one meeting or to your group). The same basic guidelines apply—asking clarifying questions, being respectful, using logic, inviting dialogue—but you also have the luxury of gathering evidence (if applicable) and drawing up a more comprehensive counterargument.

It is often uncomfortable to go against the grain, but it is often worth it. If you present yourself and your case with tact and reason, people will likely listen to and consider what you have to say. Tap into your reserves of courage, prepare as best you can, and remember that YOU and your perspectives are worthwhile (see the affirmations in last week’s blog post). Positive workplace environments are often built by the courage of individuals.

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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With the release of my new eBook (A Quick Guide to Courage), I’m writing a series of blog posts about courage this month. Enjoy!

Not long ago, I met with a coaching client who was pretty sure she was going to lose her job. Her company had been losing business lately, and they were beginning to lay people off at all levels of the organization. She was fairly high up on the company’s org chart, but she knew cuts were being made in her department. So, she began preparing for the worst.

As part of her preparations, we talked about leveraging her severance package. Leaving a company can feel awkward, and many people are tempted to scoot out the door as quickly as possible!

However, it is actually the perfect time to be bold in your negotiations.

After all, what do you have to lose?

My coaching client and I talked about five things she could ask for in her severance package, including funds for outplacement coaching, healthcare benefits for several months, and a payout for her accumulated paid time off (PTO). We roleplayed the scenario, and my client was able to practice her asks.

Even though this is an intimidating and uncomfortable situation for many people, preparation and practice can help boost your confidence and give you that extra shot of courage you might need. To me, preparation is one of the most important aspects of the 5 P’s of Courage, since it can help you anticipate possible scenarios and consider ways to deal with them.

Another way to boost your confidence in a nerve-wracking situation such as this one is to come up with a positive, affirming mantra and repeat it to yourself whenever you’re feeling timid or unsure of yourself.

This mantra should be short and empowering, such as:

  • I am worthy and deserve respect.
  • My ideas are important and my thoughts are valuable.
  • I deserve a place at the table.
  • I am strong, confident, and my voice will be heard.

You could also ask yourself: “What’s the worst that could happen?” I address this question in a recent blog post (read more about it HERE), and encourage people to use their imaginations to picture both the worst-case and best-case scenarios. Then, think about the scenario that is most likely, which will probably land somewhere in the middle of worst-case and best-case.

Not long after I worked with my client on her severance package asks, another person approached me with a similar situation…except she had already been presented with a severance package and had not negotiated the terms. She had been too shocked and unprepared to do so. This upset her, because she knew she deserved a better package than what her company had offered.

I asked her, “Why don’t you call up the leadership team and ask to renegotiate?”

“I couldn’t,” she said. “What’s done is done.”

“Maybe so, but maybe not,” I said. “What’s the worst that could happen if you picked up the phone and simply asked?”

Reluctantly, she agreed that nothing catastrophic would happen by asking for what she wanted. After going over the items she wanted to add to the severance package, she made her phone call. And, guess what? Her company agreed to her requests!

Through preparation and reframing the situation (What’s the worst that could happen?), she had the courage to ask for what she wanted. And you can do the same.

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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