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Tag Archives: Margaret Smith Minneapolis career coach

How do you feel when you know something is a “sure thing?” When actions are familiar and easy—driving a car, making a familiar recipe, doing a daily task at work—you do them almost automatically. You know you’ll achieve what you’ve set out to do. These everyday, routine tasks can be thought of as wins—tiny victories that are a sure bet.

But what if we dared to believe that other, bigger actions were also wins? What if we assumed we will give a flawless presentation, sign on a new client, or solve a problem?

There’s a certain amount of swagger and confidence that accompanies this “I already won” mentality. If you’re certain, for instance, that you’re going to sign on a new client, your body language, tone, and the content of your speech changes. You convey that this action will happen. It’s inevitable.

Using the above example, you might start speaking to the potential new client using different language and terms. You might say, “When we start working together,” instead of “If we end up working together.” Or, you might say, “You’re going to love X, Y, and Z,” instead of, “If we work together, you’ll enjoy X, Y, and Z.”

Using stronger, more confident language is only one positive side effect of an “I already won” mentality. You’ll also find that your body language changes. You may become more relaxed and less anxious or tense. You won’t sound desperate to land the client or nervous that you said the wrong thing. When your body language relaxes, you’ll end up seeming more approachable and inviting—qualities people tend to appreciate.

When you’re confident that you will achieve a certain victory, you start moving beyond the stage where you worry and fret about the outcome and begin thinking about what you will do once you’ve accomplished what you’ve set out to do. This way of thinking is productive and forward-looking.

And what happens if you DO fail?

It’s bound to happen at some point, but my best advice is this: Don’t dwell on it. It likely wasn’t your confidence or approachability that was the problem; it was something else. Maybe a potential client simply couldn’t afford your offering. Maybe you didn’t get that promotion because you needed to have a certain certificate. Whatever the case, it’s best to pick yourself up, re-strategize, and keep moving forward.

With confidence.


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Old hands and cell phone

Showing an ounce of compassion can make an enormous difference, especially during this unusual, unsettling time. I wanted to write this post as a reminder that your efforts to reach out and check in with others will not go unnoticed. Even if you are struggling lately, asking about others’ wellbeing is still a good idea. Helping and reconnecting with others will also give you an emotional boost. There’s something about solidarity that is inherently comforting.

If you want to check in in a meaningful way, go beyond asking, “How are things?” during a group Zoom chat. Most people will answer, “Fine,” and proceed with the meeting. Instead, communicate one-on-one, either through email, a phone/video call, or even a hand-written letter. Private communication shows that you care enough about that person to take the time for personalized interaction (no matter what form it takes).

When you’re connecting with others, open the door for meaningful conversation by giving context to your questions. Instead of saying, “How’s it going,” try something like this:

Hi Sam. I know many people are struggling to keep their concentration (and our sanity!) as we continue to work from home. How are you handling things? I’ve personally found it difficult to juggle childcare and work. I know you have two kids. How has that adjustment been?


By adding some context to your questions and opening up about your situation, you create a pathway for a meaningful conversation. Entrusting “Sam” with a little information about yourself also demonstrates vulnerability and encourages Sam to follow suit, if they so choose.

When you’re considering checking in with others, think about who might need to hear from you most. Perhaps one of your co-workers lives alone and may be dealing with feelings of isolation right now. Maybe someone else has a newborn child and is potentially struggling to juggle parenthood with work. Outside of a workplace context, it’s possible you have older people in your life who feel cut off from others.

Make a list of the people you’d like to prioritize and check in with them first. Then, move on to others (even if someone seems fine on the surface, they may not be).

If you do discover that someone genuinely needs support, it’s a good idea to regularly connect with them. However, it’s important to recognize when a person needs more support than you can offer (especially when it comes to mental health). Instead of trying to be a psychiatrist on the side, (gently) help that person find the assistance they need.

In this uncertain and often troubling time, I encourage you to keep connected with others and reach out whenever you can. You never know when someone could use a personal note, asking how they are doing.


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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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