Exclusive Video – Comfort Zones and Leadership
More from my series of exclusive videos for my newsletter subscribers only
Some learning on the link between when and how you need to be in or out of your Comfort Zone, and how you lead others
More from my series of exclusive videos for my newsletter subscribers only
Maybe I should start with a confession.
By nature, I’m actually a fairly nervous, cautious and uncertain person. People who know me well get this, and they also know that:
People who don’t know me that well tend to assume that I’m extremely confident because I choose to trust my instincts, I don’t let anything stop me, and I’ll take appropriately-managed risks in pursuit of what’s important.
But this is all learned behaviour for me.
I’ve written before about imposter-syndrome, about dealing with your gremlins and about other related topics. Explore my blog and you’ll see that this is an important area for me. Not just because it’s something I need to consciously and consistently manage myself but because it comes up again and again in my clients. Often people who are attracted to work with me because of the perceived confidence they see.
Helping people to trust themselves is a core part of my purpose.
I’m especially interested in helping those people to whom others look for inspiration. Call them leaders if you want (they rarely tend to use that term themselves, even when it’s on a nameplate outside their door). It’s just that there’s something extra about the need and responsibility to take charge of your own self-doubts when other people are depending on you. If you don’t do this, people will unconsciously sense it. They’ll be puzzled by inconsistencies in your behaviour, they’ll hesitate when you ask them to do something stretching, and they’ll be less compelling in their interactions with your clients, customers and colleagues.
If I could conjure up some kind of holy-trinity of ways to take charge of your own self-doubt, it would be the three, deceptively simple things I’ve set-out for you below. Of course there are other techniques and tools and ways of dealing with what is a natural part of the human experience, but if you can get on board with these three, nothing need ever hold you back again.
Also, I’ve set these out fairly simply, without much exposition or argument because I really want them to stand out as self-evident truths.
What I’d most like is for you to test them out in real life.
Take a couple of weeks to monitor the level and kind of self-doubt you’re experiencing. Score your self-doubts on a 1-10 scale, keep a simple journal or log, and see if your experience changes once you adopt these ideas.
Rule One: Self-Doubt has an important purpose; it’s meant to keep you safe
Your experience of self-doubt is a perfectly natural part of being human that evolved with us for a very good reason. It’s meant to keep you safe. To stop you from doing stuff that might get you killed or injured; or to stop you being ostracised from the support network of your friends, colleagues and family.
You are not wrong, stupid, weak or inadequate for experiencing self-doubt.
Rule Two: Self-Doubt is largely physiological and your body is the best tool for dealing with it
There are brain chemicals that mediate the functioning of our guts, our perceptions of the resources available to us and our moods – all at the same time. Each element of our mind-body system interacts with the others. The food we’ve eaten (or not eaten), the amount of sleep we’ve had (or not had), the movement of our bodies, the amount of oxygen in our bloodstream. It’s all in a complex and largely self-regulating system. Because of this, very simple physical changes on our part can shift our self-doubts extremely quickly. A brisk walk. A glass of water. Lifting the head. Looking at the sky. A simple meal. A few deep and controlled breaths. A chat with a friend.
If you’re experiencing self-doubt and want it to change, always, always, always start by shifting something physically.
Rule Three: Self-Doubt doesn’t go away, so learn to walk alongside it
I’ve heard people say stuff like: “You have to kill your doubts”, “You have to get rid of them, once and for all”. But if you understand the origins of this process (see Rule One, above), you’ll know that killing your self-doubts or trying to permanently get rid of them is pointless and even counter-productive. I believe it’s much better to treat your self-doubts like a kind of nervous friend. Someone who really has your best interests at heart, but maybe doesn’t quite understand everything that you want to do or achieve in your life and work.
I sometimes imagine I’m out on a hike with this friend and they’ll often point out where we might get lost, or where we might slip over. And because of them I’ll see the bit of tricky navigation, or notice the rough ground when I might not have seen or noticed that before. Then we can choose to carry on with the hike if we want to. Just helping each other out as we go.
Thank you for reading this. There is so much to be done in the way that some people lead and run businesses and organisations, that it really needs folks to spread the word about how things could be instead.
So many times I’ll be sitting in a work-group observing, or be finding-out second-hand about something a leader has said or done that just makes me cringe: “Ouch! Why did they need to say or do it that way?” You’ve probably seen or heard about something similar yourself?
I just looked back through my notes over the last few months to find these ten examples of what I reckon are the most important differences between Smart and Dumb leaders – it wasn’t hard to find these!
Please get out there and spread the word. Let’s have much more smart leadership.
|Dumb Leaders:||Smart Leaders:|
|Pretend to know all the answers||Are brave enough to ask the tough questions|
|Struggle to hide their weaknesses||Use their vulnerabilities as a chance to learn from and develop others|
|Never stop to see themselves how others see them||Take the time to walk in different worlds and explore multiple viewpoints|
|Inflict their mood-swings on everyone else||Successfully manage their emotions, to help read and influence the moods of others|
|Always look for the heroic, Hail Mary long shots||Make sure the daily grind is being done well, to make the most of the right opportunities|
|Will happily, noisily and frequently tell you what they think – and even what you think||Apply the principal of one mouth, two ears – seek to listen and understand before being understood|
|Don’t care who you are nor what’s important to you||See each team member as an individual deserving of their attention|
|Slap-down ideas and actions that don’t fit into their way of doing things||Encourage creative thinking and prudent risk-taking|
|Keep their plans secret||Know how to use their vision of the future to motivate and inspire people|
|Have low standards for their own behaviours and will justify doing as they want, when they want||Role-model the kind of high ethical behaviour that instils pride and earns respect and trust.|
These are some fairly basic tactics for the leaders’ kitbag. Six ways that you should be able to apply day-to-day, even moment by moment, to help the people around you feel inspired.
Click the image above for a full-size version and/or right-click it to download a copy.
If you notice that you’re making excuses or feeling unable to apply any of these, in general or with specific people, it’s worth asking somebody else to apply them to YOU first of all. It may be that, as the leader, you’ve lost sight of your own capabilities or resourcefulness, aren’t really feeling the ‘why’ at the moment, or just need to hear something inspiring yourself first.