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Creating Successful Leaders

Tag Archives: How to Boost Self-Esteem

PowerPose_inline

I learned early on that school just cannot teach you the “unspoken” rules of business conduct, such as how you present yourself, the words you use, and the manner in which you handle relationships and situations. All these things take time and real-world experience to truly gain mastery over.

Nowadays, I’m comfortable engaging others, speaking before large groups, and assuming roles of leadership because I can look to my past experiences for guidance and confidence.

For those of you who do not yet have this experience to draw confidence from, I recommend faking it until you make it, an often quoted phrase that may be a bit cheesy, but really works.

Case in point: social psychologist Amy Cuddy explains the science behind the power of strong body language.

To summarize, she says that there are two hormones at play here. Testosterone is a hormone that naturally occurs in animals that are dominant in their pack. Cortisol, known as the stress hormone, makes it harder for us to deal with stressful situations, and consequently when there are higher levels of cortisol in our system, we tend to be more timid.

Cuddy wondered, what if we tricked our bodies into thinking that we were “dominant” in situations where we really felt small and afraid?

She found that when you pose in a powerful stance, your body actually increases its testosterone levels. On the other hand, when you pose in a small, submissive way, your body increases cortisol levels.

Conclusion: faking it until you make it is backed by science!

As with anything, this takes practice and consistency. But the more you make a point to appear confident, the more you will feel confident.

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David and Goliath

 

In his new book, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants, Malcolm Gladwell focuses not only on dispelling the fears attached to being an underdog, but even goes so far as to show how in many cases, being the underdog gives you an advantage. He summarizes some key points in his New Yorker article:

“David’s victory over Goliath, in the Biblical account, is held to be an anomaly,” he writes. “It was not. Davids win all the time.”

He highlights research conducted by political scientist Ivan Arreguín-Toft, who looked at all the major wars fought in the last two hundred years, paying close attention to the underdog of each conflict. His findings were surprising: roughly one in three wars were won by a nation that was way out of its league.

That’s a staggering stat on its own. Conventional wisdom would tell us that the underdog should never win, and when he/she does, it’s a fluke. But Arreguín-Toft’s study shows that underdogs win all the time. And that’s not even the most surprising finding.

In the David and Goliath story, David first tries on armor and a sword in preparation to face Goliath. But he’s not comfortable in heavy armor and a big sword. He’s familiar with stones, a sling, and his plain clothes. So he opts to use what he’s most used to, and we know what happens from there.

Similarly, Arreguín-Toft wondered what happened when the underdogs in his study “acknowledged their weaknesses and chose an unconventional strategy,” as Gladwell puts it. “He went back and re-analyzed his data. In those cases, David’s winning percentage went from 28.5 to 63.6. When underdogs chose not to play by Goliath’s rules, they win.”

The Takeaway

1. It’s okay to be the underdog. Own it. Use it to your advantage. Don’t be discouraged when you feel out of your league. Everyone feels this way from time to time.

2. Underdogs win all the time. And it’s not a fluke. Think of all the successful people and businesses that started out with an idea or vision that everyone around them laughed at. There are too many to count. They were all the underdogs at one point.

3. Use what you’re comfortable with to succeed; don’t play by the giant’s rules. Be aware of your unique strengths even in the face of a daunting challenge. Don’t ever let your self-saboteur tell you that you aren’t good enough for the task. It isn’t true.

 

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I caught a great snippet on the radio in the car the other day. The TED radio hour showcases a wide array of innovative and interesting ideas, and in this case, the program talked about how we define and achieve success in our lives.

Life coach Tony Robbins gave a TED talk asking us to identify our inner drive in life. If you have the time, it’s worth checking out the full talk here.

 

Otherwise, here are a few stand-out points he makes:

-Don’t think about life in terms of success and failure. Think about what brings the most meaning and value to your life, and chase after that.

-Don’t settle. If you don’t like where you’re life is headed, make a change.

-“Lack of resources” is not an excuse. What it really boils down to is a lack of resourcefulness.

Stay tuned for the month of April, as I’ll take a deeper look at what success is, and how we attain it.

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MicroManager

Actions speak louder than words. And even if you might tell them otherwise, a sure-fire way to demonstrate that you really don’t trust your team, that you really don’t think they’re capable, and that you’d rather just do the work yourself, is to constantly look over their shoulders and second guess their performance and commitment.

As you can imagine (or, have experienced yourself), we don’t respond too well to this type of management. In the book, So Good They Can’t Ignore You, author Cal Newport argues that people are more fulfilled when they get the time and space to master skills of value, and have a sense of ownership of these skills which they can then contribute to a greater cause.

A few ways to create this sort of environment in your business:

1. Set the parameters early on

Your team are a bunch of grown-ups. They should know what’s expected of them. Be clear about your expectations in the beginning. If they are the competent, intelligent people you know they are (why else did you hire them?), you won’t need to remind them.

2. Allow for flexibility when you can

Some people work best in the early morning, while others are night owls. Cater your management to the needs of the team. Let them make their own hours as much as possible. However, there are some jobs, like retail, that simply can’t accommodate much flexibility.

3. Trust your team to get the job done on time

With the parameters set, trust that your team possesses strong time management skills. Think innocent until proven guilty–if it turns out that some of your people may need extra management, then intervene and help them, but only once it’s clear they need the help.

 

In every case, be the voice of clarity and encouragement when you manage. The goal should be that everyone knows exactly what they are doing, and why, and that they feel motivated and trusted to do their best work in the way that works best for them.

 

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building-blocks

For those of you just getting started on your career, or for those who may be in a transitionary period, you may be running up against the “catch-22” of the job hunt. You know what I’m talking about, that annoying part of a job advertisement that says “entry level position,” followed directly by “three years of experience required.”

Here are a few tried-and-true ways to get the career ball rolling. Remember, the beginning of anyone’s career is often sluggish, so it’s imperative that you follow the Three P’s, and stay patient, persistent and positive.

1. Take Any Opportunity That Comes Your Way.

Even if it’s volunteer work or an unpaid internship, if it has anything to do with your field, say yes. You can’t afford to be too picky at first. Any experience looks great on a resume, but more importantly, any experience equips you with the confidence in yourself to meet your career goals.

2. Be Conscious of Your Personal Brand.

What are your strengths? Where do your interests lie? How do these apply to the field you’d like to break into? How will employers perceive you, and more importantly, how are you demonstrating your skills and strengths? These are questions that you must be able to answer in order to be a competitive prospective employee.

3. Network, network, network!

Do informational interviews. Follow up on leads. Keep your LinkedIn profile and your resume current. You never know if and when you’ll encounter the big breakthrough, so be ready at all times.

4. Don’t Be Discouraged.

Sometimes the market is just plain old tough tough, and that’s not your fault. All you can do is your best. Don’t let a bad economy make you feel like you’re not qualified. Staying proactive even in when jobs are scarce will show employers your resilience, which will help you land the job when the time comes.

5. Take Advantage of the Internet.

We live in a unique time: the information age. There are countless online resources at your disposal, including social media sites, job listings, blogs, and event notifications. Keep your eyes peeled and learn all you can.

Good luck!

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better than yesterday

We show our true colors when things don’t go as planned. It’s easy to be kind, confident and happy when everything goes our way, but not so much when we encounter that unavoidable road block.

If you have a pulse, you’re going to hit road blocks. So how do you prepare yourself to deal with failures and letdowns with grace and character?

1.  Take a step back.

Think of all the times in your life when you thought it was the end of the world. How often did that turn out to be true? I’m guessing never, since the world is clearly still here. It’s easy to get trapped in doomsday thinking when you run into a real problem. The truth is, it’s almost never as bad as you think it is at that given moment. When you learn to reinforce this while you’re brain is in crisis mode, you’ll be able to take a step back and see the situation more clearly.

2. Don’t give up.

Your self-destructive voice in your head I like to call your saboteur will take every stumble as a chance to encourage you to throw in the towel. Don’t listen!

It takes thousands of hours of work to reach success and mastery, and nobody gets it the first time around. Be patient with yourself, and keep plugging away.

3. Reach out.

Letdowns, failures, and detours can be embarrassing. The last thing you may feel like doing is going to someone else for help and support. But just remember, there’s no shame in failure, only shame in not trying in the first place. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how happy your friends and family will be to get behind you. You need only be humble and honest about your situation.

4. Revise your plan of attack.

If you’re constantly failing at the same task or project, there’s a good chance you need to change your plan altogether. The definition of insanity, after all, is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. Take hiccups as a chance to reassess your strategy. What’s not working? Why? How can you make it work? You may need to reign in your goals a bit, and this is okay. It’s better to make incremental steps forward than to have grand plans that you’re unable to reach.

Take comfort in the fact that setbacks are part of the process, and keep plugging away!

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Run_With_Perseverance

I’m sure you’re familiar with the feeling of excitement we get when we decide, gosh darn it, that we’re going to go on a diet, or get in shape, or work our way to our dream job. It’s a great feeling, isn’t it? It’s a relief to know you don’t have to settle for less.

But if you’re anything like me, you’re also pretty well acquainted with the feelings that begin to creep on in the following weeks. You begin to rationalize: “I’ve been doing so great with this diet, I’ll allow myself some ice cream as a reward.” Or how about this one: “Well, I’ve had no luck getting interviews so far, and the job I have now isn’t so bad, so I’ll just stop looking and keep on doing this.”

Then you look back on the excitement you had only a few weeks prior, that eagerness to make a positive change, and you become discouraged when you realize you haven’t really changed at all. That’s when you’re saboteur, that voice of constant self-doubt, takes over. “You were never going to make that change. You’re just a mediocre person. Leave the big goals for the big people.”

Lies, lies, lies!

If you’re serious about achieving your goals, you need to understand that it won’t come right away. It’ll take work. Merely getting excited after deciding to make a change is great, but it takes more to achieve your goals.

It Takes 14 Days To Break A Habit

Keep in mind that you are used to living a certain way. If you let yourself, you’ll easily slip back into your default lifestyle. Part of achieving a new goal means intentionally behaving differently everyday until the new behavior sticks.

With bad habits, like overeating, smoking, or too much drinking, expect a voice inside you to tempt you to “reward yourself” by falling back into the very patterns of behavior you’ve worked so hard to alter. Think about the absurdity of that notion: that’s like saying to someone who is learning how to walk again after an accident, “As a reward for doing all this agonizing work to regain use of your legs, how about you take a break and stay in the wheelchair indefinitely?”

You Won’t See Results Instantly

Doesn’t matter. You resolved to make a change, so take that seriously. Your saboteur will try to tell you that it’s pointless, that you just aren’t cut out for this. It’ll use every setback as a way to try to convince you to go back to your old ways.

This is because it’s scared of your progress. It likes complacency. Ignore the negative voice in your head and keep doing what you know you need to do.

There’s Virtue In Following Through On Your Goals

Even if you don’t see results right away, you should be proud of the fact that you’re living according to your own personal standards. You’re taking away all the ammunition the saboteur uses against you. Besides, you know going in that there will be setbacks. You know what your saboteur will try to tell you. You’re prepared. This is just part of the journey.

Making A Change Isn’t A One Time Decision. It’s A Daily Resolve

Because of this, be sure that your goals are realistic going in. Will you really be the next U.S. President? Probably not. Focus on things you know you can do, and take steps forward daily

What are your goals? What’s holding you back? What is your game plan?

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