How I Take Action When I’m Overwhelmed

How I Take Action When I’m Overwhelmed

I love the feeling of dominating my to do list. When I am organised, taking action and achiveing consistently I feel unstoppable. I know I’m not the only one who’s heart flutters when a tick box is able to be ticked, or a task can be crossed off, and I’m sure I’m not alone when I say “productive” is not and has never been permenant state of being for me.

So the question for me has always been, why is motivation inconsistent? Why do we conquer some days and hesistate and procrasitinate on others? How can we manage the indecisvness and the paralyses when they quickly blind side us so easily? When we’re overwhelmed, how do we still do the things and tick the boxes and cross of the tasks?

I have no idea (anticlimactic I know, I’m sorry), but I have found a way to trick myself into taking action when I am feeling this way. When the youtube video below popped up on my explore page, it was a game changer.

The method Jessica describes in the video is below:

Step one:

Write down everything you need to do. This part is easy. It’s your classic to do list. Get everything that’s poking around in your head onto a peice of paper. Don’t leave anything out.

  1. Walk the dog
  2. Call mom back
  3. Finish first edit of research paper
  4. Finish passport renewal application
  5. Mail passport renewal application
  6. Fold laundry
  7. Buy friend birthday present
  8. Look into hotels for holiday this summer
  9. Go grocery shopping
  10. Go through closet and discard old clothes

Step two:

Grab 3 markers (or coloured pencils, crayons, etc.) and colour code the tasks on your list in terms of urgency.

Red tasks are the priority. These tasks cannot wait and must be done today.

Yellow tasks need to be done within the next three days. You may want to get them done today, because they are important, but it’s vital to be realistic about the deadline. Could you delay this to a few days from now if you had to? If yes, it’s a yellow.

Green tasks do not need to be done within the next couple of days. Maybe these need to be done next week, the week after, or next month, but they don’t have a real urgency at this moment.

  1. Walk the dog
  2. Call mom back
  3. Finish first edit of research paper
  4. Finish passport renewal application
  5. Mail passport renewal application
  6. Fold laundry
  7. Buy friend birthday present
  8. Look into hotels for holiday this summer
  9. Go grocery shopping
  10. Go through closet and discard old clothes

Step three:

Rate each of your tasks in terms of the effort it’s going to take you to complete them. I like to think of effort as a combination of time and concentration.

5/4 stars are the hard ones. These are likely to ones you procrastinate the most. It’s the stuff that will take at least a couple of hours of your time and your concentration.

3 stars will take either less time or less concentration, but will be heavy on the other. (For example, going to the store to get get some food probably doesn’t need a lot of concentration, but may take a fair amount of time.)

2/1 stars are the things you could do in your sleep. For me this looks like mindless activities that are boring: folding laundry, doing dishes, etc. (If I can do it while watching tv, it’s probably a 1 or 2 star. If it will take me less that 5 mintues to do, it’s probably at 1/2 star.)

  1. Walk the dog (* * * 2 Stars)
  2. Call mom back (* * 2 Stars)
  3. Finish first edit of research paper (* * * * 5 Stars)
  4. Finish passport renewal application (* * * * 4 Stars)
  5. Mail passport renewal application (* * * 3 Stars)
  6. Fold laundry (* 1 Star)
  7. Buy friend birthday present (* * * 3 Stars)
  8. Look into hotels for holiday this summer (* * * * 4 Stars)
  9. Go grocery shopping (* * * 3 Stars)
  10. Go through closet and discard old clothes (* * * * 4 Stars)

Step four:

Now that you’ve got some more information on what you need to do, how urgent each task is and how much effort is required for each task, you can decide on a plan of action.

There’s no right or wrong way to tackle this. If you have a lot of red items on your list, then you know you need to do these things today, so it might be easiest to start with the one that’s going to require the least amount of effort to start building momentum. Or maybe you want to start with the task that’s going to take the most amount of effort to get it out of the way, and then you’ll know everything gets easier from there.

The point of this is to clarify what you need to do, acknowledge the urgency of each of the tasks, and being reasonable with your efforts. I’ve used this exercise through periods of depression when it can be really difficult to do even the smallest things, like taking a shower or calling someone back. It also helps me to be realistic about the timelines of tasks I might be worried about. As soon as I write it down and color code it, I realise that actually none of the things I was worried about were urgent, and the anxiety lifts allows me to be present in the day. This is also how I keep the small, mindless tasks at bay and not allow them to overload us by consistently checking in.

Whatever you think will work best for you, probably will, as long as you decide on a plan and then take action.

I’m Courtney and I write about Leadership and Self-Awareness. Thank you for taking the time to read post.

If you would like to connect, please don’t hesitate to reach out via instagram or email.

Drop me a line
hello@smartstyleleadership.com

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Your Priorities vs. Your Actions

Your Priorities vs. Your Actions

During lockdown, I feel like I’ve gone through every emotion under the sun. Every feeling, every thought, and ambition has washed over me as I continue to ride this roller coaster that is “the world being paused for who knows how long”. During the first lockdown, I was determined to use this time to my benefit. I’ll finally be able to do all of the things I want to do, but don’t have time to do. Very quickly I realised that no matter how much time was available to me, I did not want to clean, or do life admin, or be productive every second of every day. 

Now, on my third lockdown, it is still tempting to plunge myself into a pool of expectations. My brain goes there naturally, especially when I’m feeling out of control, but I’m learning how to balance this. I’m learning how to be kind to myself, and realistic with what I am going to be capable of, regardless of the amount of time I have available to me. 

This time has also allowed for a lot of reflection.  I’ve been contemplating my priorities recently, and not only is it interesting to observe what I instinctively say is a priority, but then how I act because of or despite these ideas. 

There’s an exercise I’ve tried recently which has helped me to make more sense of my priorities vs. my actions. 

To start, name the top 5 priorities in your life right now

These should be as specific as possible. Instead of saying “family”, for example, you might say “to nurture my relationship with my children” or “to contribute to my family by being a supportive wife”. You might say “to be able to do 50 pushups in a row” or “to stop drinking soda” instead of saying “to get healthier”. The more specific you make your priorities, the better. 

If you’re having trouble pinpointing what your priorities are, think about what goals you currently have, what you want to accomplish in the future, or what is good in your life right now that is important for you to maintain. 

An example would look like this:

My Priorities:

  1. To save money in order to move house
  2. To run a marathon in 2022
  3. Spend more quality time with my husband
  4. Finish my L & D qualification
  5. Spend less time on devices and more time being creative

Now, think about how you spent your day yesterday. 

What did you do for the first hour after you opened your eyes? What did you do after that? And after that?

Start from the beginning and write down exactly or as much as you can remember of how you spent your day. 

An example:

My Actions:

08:00 – 09:00 woke up, made coffee, watched the news

10:00 – 11:00 scrolled through instagram, called a friend, made breakfast

11:00 – 12:00 worked out, took a shower, answered emails

12:00 – 13:00 got dressed, went to the post office, picked up groceries 

13:00 – 18:00 did some work, made and ate lunch

18:00 – 19:00 watched tv, spent time with my husband

19:00 – 20:00 cooked and ate dinner, watched more tv

20:00 – 21:00 finished up more work, cleaned the kitchen

21:00 – 23:00 got ready for bed, scrolled through my phone, went to bed

Now compare the two. 

How much of your time yesterday was put towards the things you say are a priority in your life? 

In the examples above, “spending less time on my devices and being more creative” was a priority, but what is reflected is there are no actions backing that up. “Run a marathon in 2022” is also listed as a priority, but there aren’t any actions showing that is more important than watching tv, for example. 

If you have found an inconsistency with your priorities and actions, what needs to be questioned is whether or not the things you wrote down are actually a priority. What I love about this exercise is that our actions do not lie and ultimately, how we spend our time will show us what our futures look like.

If your priorities and actions are not aligned, you have two choices: You can either get realistic about your priorities, maybe dropping or swapping a few, or you can start putting more action in towards them.

Let it go or make it work.

Maybe you really want to make something a priority, but you’re struggling with making time for it. I get it, but what I would suggest is finding 15 minutes a day to put towards it. If something is actually a priority in your life, surely you can find 15 minutes per day to focus on it. If you can’t find 15 minutes, I’m sorry to say, you need to take it off your priority list until you have time to focus on it consistently.

(Don’t think 15 minutes per day is enough time? After one year, that’s 5, 475 minutes – which adds up to about 91 hours, almost four whole days of focus on a single priority!) 

Allow this exercise to give you room for some gentle, honest, adjustment and reflection. 

If you are consistently in a place where your time is spent in alignment to your priorities, you will undoubtedly be making progress on them or maintaining them. With discipline, there is freedom.

I do want to stress that the point of this exercise is not to berate yourself but instead to open yourself up to your truth. It may require a frankness with yourself that you are not used to, but alignment between your thoughts, beliefs and actions are an important step for living an authentic and successful life. 

Try this exercise, and let me know how it goes in the comments below! 

Did you find any inconsistencies between your priorities and your actions? 

What adjustments do you need to make and what will you continue to work towards?

x

Speak To Yourself Like This

Speak To Yourself Like This

How often do you speak negatively to yourself or about yourself? 

How often do you speak positively to yourself or about yourself? 

Which question was easier to answer? 

My sister used to say something whenever I said anything mean about myself. It usually went like this:

Me, “I look ugly in this shirt”. 

Her, “Don’t talk shit about my sister like that.” 

The first time she said it, I had to pause and think about what she had said. Then I laughed. Whether she realised she was doing it or not, very subtly she was bringing my attention to the words that were coming out of my mouth. I was “talking shit” about myself without even realising. Would I let someone call my sister ugly right in front of me? Hell no – but look how casually it could creep out my mouth about myself. 

We live in a world where #selfcare is translated to lush bath bombs and face masks (and not that there’s anything wrong with that), but there’s more we should be doing to take care of ourselves

Speaking kindly to ourselves and about ourselves will make more of an impact on our mental health (plus it’s free)!

Why do we let those words slip out of our mouths in the first place? 

Is it a defence mechanism? I’ll say it before they do. 

Is it fear? I’ll say it because they’re probably thinking about it anyways. 

It is just familiar territory? I’ll say it because it’s comfortable to believe it

Most of us probably don’t even notice it. It’s likely just the reaction born out of an interpretation our brain has created of an event that has happened.

Or more simply put, Event —> Interpretation —> Emotion —> Response.

Using this framework, you could see how this would happen:

Event – You completed a work assignment and submitted it to your boss who then asked you to redo it because it wasn’t done correctly.

Interpretation – All of your hard work was for nothing because you have had to redo it. Your boss doesn’t think your work is good enough, so you must not be capable of your job.

Emotion – You’re frustrated with yourself because you now have to revisit something you thought was finished. You don’t feel confident in your ability to do the task because you tried and were rejected.

Response – You say, “I’m horrible at this, I’ll never be able to get it right.”

Whether you believe it or not, it all stems from low self worth. And the way to change it starts with the voice in your head. Start paying attention to this voice, and work to change the message to something more kind, and more realistic. 

Using the example above, just because your boss has asked you to redo something does not mean that you’ll never be able to learn how to do it. In fact, studies show you will learn more from failing than from succeeding.

So what should you say instead in this scenario? What about, “I’m upset that I have to redo it but I’m still learning.” 

You can also work to change your negative self-talk by viewing it from another perspective. 

“I’m grateful my boss is giving me a chance to redo this. If it’s not correct, I want to learn how to do it properly.” 

Change your negative self-talk by being more objective. 

Below are some examples of how to flip the script in your head from negative to objective. 

“I’m never going to be able to do this.” -> “I’m struggling to do this and could use some help.”

“I’m so stupid.” -> “I do struggle with math, but will try my best.” 

“I’ll look disgusting in that shirt.” -> “That style usually doesn’t suit me as well as others.”

It is a process to notice and start correcting these patterns, but awareness is the first step towards change. If you’re struggling to see it in yourself, start with paying attention to the way other people talk about themselves. You’re likely to see a pattern with those who are confident and self assured vs. those who are not – the more fragile their state is, the more likely they are to have negative self-talk happening.

Remember, if you wouldn’t let others say it about your best friend – don’t say it about yourself.

Self care = self esteem.

Keep Reading LWLW

Why self-awareness will make you a better leader.

Why self-awareness will make you a better leader.

Why is self-awareness important in leadership?

To understand this, let’s first understand leadership – what is it and what is its purpose? This could vary in complexity depending on who you ask, but the answer should always come down to getting results. A leader’s job is to guide a group of people to a final destination – or to achieve a final goal.

The Results / Final Destination / Goal

This part is really important, because if you’re a leader, you should know where it is you’re leading your team. If you work in the private sector, then the final destination would probably look like making sure your team or department is contributing to the bottom line of the business, however, in a non-profit sector, your final destination might look like a more service based goal. 

Example: The final destination (goal or results) of someone who runs a kitchen in a restaurant might look like a safe kitchen that turns out delicious food in a reasonable amount of time, which also makes a profit for the restaurant. 

Regardless of what the final destination is, there is always going to be a leader who is helping those around them to get there. 

But Then There’s Bad Leadership

Have you ever had a boss that you couldn’t stand? You probably know what Bad Leadership looks like then. It may look like someone who does get the results – they will get their team to the final destination – but what did they exchange for it on the way? What have they lost as the result of their expedition? It’s usually either one of two things. 

The first would be the respect of the people they are leading. A leader must ask themselves this question – are people following you because they want to or because they have to? If it’s the ladder, there is some work that needs to be done to improve your relationships with the people you are leading. It’s also important to recognise that once you reach your final destination, you then have to stay there. If you’re using bad leadership, you won’t be there for long. There’s now multiple studies proving a healthy working environment (aka how happy and safe do your teams feel) is conducive to production. 

The second thing that could have been sacrificed to get to the final destination using bad leadership was their own sanity, and health. If you play the martyr role and are constantly sacrificing in order to get your team to where they need to be, you’re running the risk of burnout and exhaustion. You shouldn’t have to forgo your own happiness in order to get the results, and if you do, there’s work that should be done around pleasing people and boundaries with work. This will ultimately pay off for you and your team in the long run.

So, how do you create a positive, safe environment for you and the people you’re leading? This is where self-awareness comes in. 

Once upon a time, there was a woman who was leading her team to their final destination. The journey was long, and the path was narrow, but she was certain she could get her team to where they needed to be. She was motivated, confident, and had walked this path before with a different team, so she had no doubts in her mind about where she was going. There was a problem, however, because this leader had really poor eyesight, and as a result, she would misstep and run into her team a lot. She would step on their toes, run into them, or stop along the way and trip on things on the path, holding everyone up even if it was very cold. 

After a while, her team started to get frustrated with her. They begged and pleaded with their leader, “We want to follow you, but you keep stepping on us, and it’s starting to hurt. You keep tripping and holding us up in the cold, and we don’t think we can keep walking with you if you’re going to keep stepping on us like this.” 

The woman listened to her team’s pleas with empathy, and she promised she would watch out for these things. Very quickly, she realised, though, how difficult it was to watch out for her team’s feet. It wasn’t that she wanted to step on their toes, it was that she couldn’t see in order to not. The longer they walked, the more she stepped on them, and eventually she resigned to the fact that this is just what it would have to be. The woman decided that it was the team who would have to watch out for her. This added extra pressure on her team. Not only were they trying to get to their destination, but now they now had to watch out for their leader so they wouldn’t get stepped on and held up. 

It was a stressful journey, and many people decided it wasn’t worth the trek any longer. 

Hopefully you can see where I’m going with this – all our leader needed was glasses to see, and all of this would have been avoided. Because she couldn’t see what was in front of her, her and her team suffered.

Self-awareness is your glasses, and developing self-awareness is not only important for your own confidence and resilience, but is vital to understanding how you are contributing to the world around you in order to build stronger, healthier relationships. 

Self-awareness is our ability to notice and monitor our inner-world – our thoughts, feelings, emotions – but also how others are receiving us. Both parts are critical for effective leadership. 

If you’re aware of the negative emotions you may have in regards to a task you have to complete, but aren’t aware of how this affects those around you, that’s a blindspot. You may be stepping on someone’s toes, making it difficult for them to journey with you, and not even know it. On the other hand, if you’re overly sensitive to how you are affecting those around you, you may be tuning out your own feelings and emotions. It’s been said that only 10 – 15 % of people are actually self-aware, which leads us to believe that it’s a lot harder than it seems to strike the balance. 

Luckily, like any skill, it’s something that can be practiced and improved on. If you’re reading this, it’s like because you’ve taken an interest in developing self-awareness. Being honest with yourself about what you need to improve on is always the first step towards change. 

Two things you can do to start improving your self-awareness today:

  1. Seek feedback about what your blindspots are from those who would have your best interest at heart. Be mindful of those you chose to get your feedback from. Ensure they are people you can trust, but also that they themselves have good values which are aligned with yours. 
  2. Start reflecting. If you notice you’re having an off day – ask yourself what happened. (avoid asking yourself “why”, as research shows that too much introspection, and this question specifically, can actually be counterproductive, instead ask yourself “what”). Be specific, and be honest. You will start to notice patterns in your emotions in correlation to circumstances and incidents happening in your life and throughout your day. You can then dive deeper into how to manage these triggers, and your emotions which follow. 

Thank you for reading, here’s where you can read More On The LWLW Blog:

Stop giving your peace away.

Stop giving your peace away.

There’s one thing that is always going to come with work life, and that’s having to interact with people who will try to take your peace. Conversations with these people may feel exhausting. Knowing you have to speak to them and work with them may fill you with dread. Even a text or email from them can feel like an attack – they aren’t in the room with you, but somehow, they still manage to affect you. Your mind is the battlefield and they’ve got missiles. They take up your time, physically, mentally, and spiritually. How do you protect yourself from this?

Have you ever found yourself in the shower, defending yourself in an argument that hasn’t taken place yet? Or cooking dinner, but in your head, you’re going over a situation that happened yesterday? Have you ever reacted to someone in a way that haunted you later, because you know it was out of anger? That’s your peace being taken away from you, and it used to happen to me all the time. Whether it was a direct report with an attitude, a manager with a conflicting agenda, or a customer seeking justification, I was giving my peace out in spades. 

The first thing I had to do was understand that the way to keep my peace has nothing to do with the people who are stealing it. 

This can be hard to come to grips with. You are probably justifying how difficult it is in your head right now, running through why they’re so difficult to work with. You probably have specific examples of times they were too stubborn, or manipulative. I know how difficult it can be, but the reality is, you are giving them the power they need in order to affect you in the way that they do, which means you are giving them more power than they actually have. It’s like a deflated balloon – it exists – but it only gets bigger if you put air into it. Recognise that every thought, word, or action that is directed towards this person is giving them air to become bigger in your life. It’s YOUR breath that’s giving them life, not theirs.  

Stop projecting.

It’s also time to confront the fact that you can’t predict the future. You can’t predict what this person will say, do, or feel tomorrow. As obvious as that may sound, it’s funny how often we still get caught up doing exactly that. Let’s say you find out a piece of information that may affect this person, so now you spend the rest of the day constructing situations in your head about what this person will say, how this person will react to this news, what might happen based on this reaction, etc. How much time have you now spent worrying about something that A. doesn’t exist (this situation you have imagined only lives in your head) and B. you can’t do anything about anyways (we can’t control other people’s reactions). By assuming you can, you’re giving more of your energy, more of your peace, into the balloon and allowing it to get bigger.

Keep your yard clean.

For analogy purposes, your yard (or garden for my english folks) is made up of your words and actions. Feelings stemming from resentment and fear are likely to rise often with this person, but if you act on them, it will only come back to haunt you later. When you need to speak to this person, check that what you’re saying is in line with the following: is it kind, is it necessary and is it true? Anything that is not in line with these fundamentals would be the product of your ego getting in the way. Our ego tends to create situations for us that seem satisfying in the now, but will hurt our character in the long run.

“If someone treats you rudely, and you respond with rudeness, you have not done anything but prove to them that they are justified in their actions. Instead, today, let’s seek to be better than the things that disappoint or hurt us. Let’s try to be the example we’d like others to follow.”

Ryan Holiday, The Daily Stoic 

This idea will cause us to pause before we react. It’s not always easy, but it always pays off. Living with conscious intention means you’re aware of what you’re doing when you’re doing it, and you’re doing it on purpose. If you’ve ever found yourself firing off an email with a tone you regretted later, or word vomiting because you felt overwhelmed, you would benefit from learning to pause and then checking if what you have to say is kind, necessary, and true (KNT). When we are living in regret of something that we said or did, that’s more energy, more breath, more peace we’re giving away.  

Let go of your expectations. They are the root of all your heartaches. 

You may argue that there needs to be a base level of expectation in the working world, and I would agree with you, but what I believe is vital is where these expectations are rooted. For example, you may have a very reasonable expectation that your team needs to be on time, and let’s say that doesn’t happen one day. If this expectation is rooted deep in yourself, it’s likely to really hurt when it’s not lived up to. You will feel frustrated, disappointed, angry, because you’re holding the expectation so close to your heart. However, if you hold this expectation a bit further away from you, detached from you, you won’t be affected when it bursts, and the thing is – it will burst. When it does, what you can control is how you respond to it in a way that addresses the problem, if that’s what you need to do (but also ensuring that you’re keeping your yard clean, and speaking with KNT). 

There’s also the need to let go. Let go of the need to change people. You won’t. Let go of the need to control. You can’t. Let go of this idea that your life should be a certain way and everyone around you should just play their parts, what you’re doing is setting them and yourself up to fail, because they will let you down. 

Some practical tips to help you stop giving your peace away today:

  1. Use an affirmation every time you find yourself projecting:

“I hold onto my peace by staying present in this moment.”

“I cannot and will not try to predict the future. Everything will happen exactly how it should.”

“In this moment, I am (insert the task that you’re currently doing), and my peace belongs to me.” 

  1. Recognise the people that are the opposite of peace stealers – the people who love you and big you up. Make time to connect with these people every day. 
  1. Try to pause and count to three today before each interaction and think about what you’re going to say (remember – KNT). Do this especially with people who you struggle to keep your peace around. At the end of the day, note down what went well, and what didn’t go so well.

Understand that this is not something that will be easy to do all of the time. It takes practice. It takes time. It takes honesty, awareness, and goodwill. When you allow someone to affect you, it’s because you may be gripping too tightly on the idea that you can control them. Let go, and your peace will come back to you. 

Read More on The Live Well / Lead Well Blog

Do not work more than you live.

Do not work more than you live.

Yes, I’m talking to you.

You’re ambitious. I know. You have the desire to create. The desire to inspire. The desire to improve. And you’re doing it. You’re finally where you’ve always dreamed you would be. Or maybe just on the horizon. You can see it. You can taste it. You feel and hear it. You’re here.

But you’re tired, and deep down, you can feel it’s not enough.

You don’t want to admit it. You don’t want to say the thing out loud that you know deep inside of you. You don’t want to surrender to the quiet voice in the back of your mind. You can’t bear it – the truth that this life, this dream, this job is not what you thought it was going to be, and something is wrong. You don’t feel grateful to have the things you worked so hard for. You don’t feel inspired to keep going. You wonder if it will always feel this way. You wonder if it was worth it, or if it will ever be.

I’ve experienced this. It’s called burnout. 

One day, I had a job that I loved and was passionate about. I felt like I had to grip it so tightly, take such good care of it, or it would slip out of my hands and I would lose it forever. Two years later, I woke up and realised it was consuming my entire identity. It happened so subtly, and so quickly, that I didn’t have a chance. It disguised itself to me as ambition and achievement, but looking back, I can see it was actually obligation, compulsion and a lack of self awareness which brought me to my knees one morning. 

I was tired, and deep down, I could feel that it was not enough.

When you’re underneath the water, it’s hard to recognise that you’re soaking wet.

If you can identify with any of this, you may need what I needed, and that was to realise that my relationship with work was taking over my life. It wasn’t easy (surrendering rarely is), but once I let go, I finally had the strength to pull myself out of the water and dry myself off.

Three things you can do to start your journey to fighting burnout today:

  1. Realising you need help is the first step. Take a deep breath and know that you’re going to be okay. It’s not the actual work which is the issue, but your relationship to it. The good news is there are plenty of groups, programs, and people that can help you uncover the root of where your burnout might be coming from. All you need to do is ask for the help that you need.
  2. Make time every day for the things that bring you joy and only joy. This is important – it is not the things that bring you money, not the things that bring you titles, not the things that bring you physical results, but instead the things that fill your heart up in a way only you would know.
  3. Start setting small boundaries at work and keep them. Leave on time. Don’t answer emails after 6pm. Don’t volunteer to do more work than you need to. Even if it’s just once a week for now, pick one of these and stick to it. Any progress you begin to make is a win, so don’t worry about going big. Small steps are all it takes to get to where you want to be.

Eventually, your life will start to take shape into something that you have control over again, but even better – your life will start to feel like your life, and you’ll be safe and dry on the shore.

More on the Live Well, Lead Well Blog:

This is why you’re afraid to lead.

This is why you’re afraid to lead.

You love leadership because you love the combination of helping others and managing yourself in a way that inspires results.

You love the giddy feeling you get when an idea you’ve been expressing finally lands with someone else, or vice versa. Or that moment when you realise a team’s impact has become greater than their individual strengths, and together, they reach a goal. You love that sweet combination of feeling of accomplishment and belonging.

But you’re afraid to lead because you’re unsure of how to do it.

You’re afraid to lead because you don’t trust your abilities to build relationships or to produce results.

You’re afraid because you don’t think you’re good enough. You’re afraid because you think you’re too good. You’re afraid because you won’t be able to control anything. You’re afraid of other people’s expectations. You’re afraid you’re unlikable. You’re afraid you’re too shy. You’re afraid the industry isn’t right for your style. You’re afraid there already is a leader.

You’re afraid of being misunderstood. You’re afraid you won’t be able to relate to others. You’re afraid to put in the work. You’re afraid to show people who you are. You’re afraid of being rejected. You’re afraid of not getting results. You’re afraid of change. You’re afraid of what will happen to your relationships. You’re afraid you will be judged. You’re afraid if you do. You’re afraid if you don’t.

But what if your fear is wrong?

What if it all works out?

What if a year from now, you look at this list of fears and smile, grateful you did not let it hold you back?

What if the small voice inside of you and the feeling deep in your tummy is right?

What if you do know exactly what you should be doing and you for once decided to go for it?

What if those scary thoughts, screaming of fear, eventually became quieter, and visions or joy and transformation became louder?

What if, because you decided to do it, you made a difference in one person’s life?

What if, because you decided to do it, you made a difference in ten people’s lives?

What if the impact you make because you chose to step up reaches farther and wider than you even could have hoped for?

What if you listened to the voice that said “You Can, and You Should”?

What if you started today?

And what if today, you focused on what you can control?

What if today, you took the first step?

What if you were so much more powerful, loving, creative, productive, and enchanting than you realised?

Read More On The Live Well, Lead Well Blog

Getting Clear: When Purpose Gets Foggy

Getting Clear: When Purpose Gets Foggy

You’ve done it. You’ve sent in your resume, researched the company, made it through the interviews, and landed yourself the job. You feel excited but also completely terrified. Now what? I’ve been there. It’s normal to be overwhelmed during times of change. There are probably a lot of expectations involved too. Maybe you’re not starting from scratch at a new job, but you’ve been promoted, or maybe your workload is being added to. Maybe you’re finally stepping into the leadership position you’ve hoped for, but why does it feel so scary?

Don’t worry.

You’re not alone.

What you need is to give yourself the chance to reconnect with what your purpose is in this role. We can get caught up with the nitty gritty details of our day to day that we forget to zoom out. We forget to see the big picture, and we forget to recognise it’s not just the individual pieces we pick up that makes the puzzle work, but the picture itself, as a whole – that’s what we’re working towards.

This guide was designed to remind you of the big picture.

As leaders, it’s important for us to consistently reflect on our whys. Without inspiration, purpose, and motivation, our daily intent will lack authenticity, and our effectiveness in our roles (personal and professional) will suffer.

Are you ready to get clear?

All you need is 15 – 20 minutes to answer 10 simple questions. Let the clarity begin.

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3 Practices To Help You Manage Your Emotions

3 Practices To Help You Manage Your Emotions

Do you feel like you’re constantly spending time and energy in an emotional state you don’t want to be in? Do you take the time to fight these feelings or is there a process in which you acknowledge them? 

When you’re feeling happy emotions, you probably realise that you’re able to perform better. You’re more likely to engage with others, and more likely to choose productive activities. On the other hand, a negative emotion can cause you to withdraw from your team, and lead to procrastination. 

These negative emotions are probably draining your energy, and are then causing friction in your relationships at work. Stress, unexpected demands, and challenges can cause us to slip into these negative emotions daily, sometimes multiple times. Without recognising what triggers them and how to manage our emotions, we can stay in the fight, flight, or freeze reaction for much longer than we want to or is good for us. 

You can’t be in control of what you do not know. This is why becoming aware of your emotions is the first step in managing them. Whether it’s overwhelm, anger, or self- pity, we can spend precious time and energy fighting these emotions, and allowing them to become bigger. Without the ability to recognise our emotional states and how it affects others, we lose the chance to recognise them coming in the future, and change our habitual reactions to them. 

Another reason to be aware of your emotional reactions, and managing them effectively is because of emotional contagion – it’s the phenomenon of having one person’s emotions and related behaviours directly trigger similar emotions and behaviours in other people. This is why it’s hard to be in a good mood if you’re talking to someone who is going through a rough time. It’s also why we’re more likely to get impatient at a bus stop if other people are acting impatiently. If you’re stressed, and aren’t able to recognise, and adapt your attitude quickly, you can “pass” this feeling to your team and co-workers. 

Below are some practical ways you can start to recognise, and manage your emotions.

Deep Abdominal Breathing 

Simple, and effective. The fastest way to signal your brain to turn off the fight or flight response is to take a few deep breaths. The next time you recognise a negative emotion come on, take five minutes to breathe. Inhale for five seconds, exhale for five seconds. It’s free, it’s quick and it’s powerful. 

Fuel Positive Emotions

Another way to push out the negative emotions is to fill our heads up with the positive ones. You can do this multiple ways: a gratitude practice, reciting affirmations, speaking to loved ones, or even exercise are all great ways to conjure up positive emotions. The trick is to choose this practice. It may be easy for us to retreat into fight or flight (biologically, it is our default when feeling threatened), but that doesn’t mean we don’t have a choice. Practice doing the opposite and see how quickly you bounce back. 

Track and Reflect

Keeping a journal and reflecting often on what it was the made us feel reactive is a great way to build awareness of our emotions. Take five minutes before bed to note down the following:

  • What negative emotion did you feel?
  • What brought it on?
  • How long did it last?
  • What effect did it have on others?

The last question may be one of the most important. As managers, or even co-workers, we must realize the impact we have on each other. Most professionals spend more time during the week with their co-workers than they do with their families, and if we want to add value to the workplace, looking at how we manage our emotions is a great place to start. 

Keep It Simple. Keep It Selfless.

Keep It Simple. Keep It Selfless.

It’s Sunday night and I’ve got my eye on the clock. In ten hours, I’ll be walking back into work. Dread and anxiety used to follow a realisation like this. I love my job, but the pressure and expectations can become heavy, and the weight can feel impossible to ignore. The resentment and fear would get big, and usually there wouldn’t be a clear explanation of where it was coming from. I can recognize now that this is when I’m usually tip toeing around the “ME” trap, and the best way I’ve found to avoid this is to reframe my thoughts and zoom out. 

So, what am I going to do in ten hours when I walk into work? Instead of focusing on the meetings I have, tasks I need to get done, or problems that don’t have solutions yet, I keep it simple and break it down. Tomorrow, I’m going to go to work and help people. The complicated details about what makes the Sunday Scaries seem so real – the endless who, what, where, when, whys – all fall into place when I can focus on a bigger picture. Obviously, I’m still going to be in the meetings, get the tasks done, and try to solve the problems, but if I reframe this all in a way that’s less about me, and more about others, it feels easier. It feels simple.

However, if you’re stuck in the “ME” trap, it might not feel so simple.

The “ME” trap might sound like: “What is going to serve me?” “How does this task make me feel?” “I’m going to have so much to do tomorrow, how could I possibly have time to help anyone else.” “Why can’t everyone else think like me?” “I’m going to be so busy tomorrow.” “I don’t have time for this.” “But, who is helping me?” 

Sound familiar? The “ME” trap is deep and can leave you feeling resentful, stressed, and overwhelmed. Paradoxically, when looking from this point of view, your needs will never be met, and you will never be fulfilled. The trap is governed by your ego, and your ego can never get enough. Your ego’s job is to keep you separated, and as long as you stay in the “ME” trap, you’ll feel slighted, ungrateful, and you’ll forever be wondering when it will get better. 

To escape the “ME” trap, you need to turn your focus towards Selfless Support. That might sound like: “How can I help my team?” “What support does my coworker need right now?” “How does my colleague feel about this?” “What does my boss need from me today?” “What would make this customer’s day better?” 

Thinking of others, and acting on those thoughts, builds connection. When we are connected, we feel positive, and we feel useful, which will help to build self-esteem and improve relationships. 

It’s important to note that there’s a difference between Selfless Support and People Pleasing. There should be a solid understanding of what you’re capable of doing for others without taking on too much. Boundaries need to be in place, and it’s also important that you’re not doing work which steals an opportunity for challenge, growth, or empowerment for someone else. If a coworker asks for support, and you don’t feel like realistically you could help, be honest, and ask if there’s anything else you might be able to support with. 

Selfless support means supporting others without expecting anything in return. You are taking the self (or the ME) out of it, so keep an eye out for your ego when offering help, or looking for opportunities to support. If you notice any deeper expectations for a thank you, credit, or recognition, the act is not entirely selfless, and you may be dancing around the “ME” trap again which will leave you feeling disappointed. 

What about in your role? Are you not sure how to do that? Try to show up and see what happens. Make helping other people your main focus, and see what opportunities present themselves. 

Is it easy? No! But practicing Selfless Support daily has brought me closer to my team, my coworkers, and brought me more clarity, emotional intelligence, connection, and self esteem. I find that the less I think about myself, the better I feel. So, make it your mission to find ways that you can be useful. Look for opportunities to help others. You’ll sidestep the “ME” trap and walk straight into Selfless Support. 

Three things to try this week:

  1. Speak to others with kindness (regardless of the situation).
  2. Ask a co-worker how you can help support them this week. 
  3. Keep track of the “ME” thoughts you have. When you notice them, try to direct your thinking to supporting others and see if you notice a difference.