Leading from the middle isn’t easy. To do it well, you must be able to manage up, down and sideways, juggling the demands of your boss, the needs of your direct reports, and the collaboration desired by your peers. You need to understand the company vision and strategy while at the same time be able to manage the details of your department. You must handle the pressure of needing to be all things to all people and balance the competing priorities within the organization.
The key to succeeding in a middle management role is to stay focused, communicate often, and don’t take things personally. You can make a significant difference in your organization by figuring out how to navigate the ins and outs of the company structure to get things done. And when you lead well from the middle, you’re not likely to stay in the middle for long. Here are some tips.
Communication is Critical
In most organizations, communication has a trickle-down effect and the ‘why’ gets diluted the further it gets from the top. Do not let this happen to you. Great middle managers know how to ask for information and then distill it down to actionable tasks that his or her team can execute. Make sure you are on the same page as your boss, ask for advice when appropriate, and talk to your team as often as possible.
Great managers are honest and direct in their communication. Both your manager and your employees should always know where you stand. To give feedback effectively be clear, be positive, focus on the behavior rather than the person, be specific, and make it a two-way conversation.
Giving feedback is hard to do and great managers take it like a champ, making it as easy as possible on those who are forward with constructive criticism. Show your willingness to take feedback by listening closely to what’s being said. Ask clarifying questions and refrain from making excuses or getting defensive. Say thank you and then take action to show that you heard and valued the feedback.
Middle managers must be able to handle stress, uncertainty, and setbacks with grace as shifting priorities and miss-communication can put them in difficult situations. Don’t take setbacks personally...they are part of the job. Treat every problem as part of your learning process, don’t over dramatize the issue, find a positive outcome, and then move on.
Stop talking and start listening. To be a great middle manager, you need to understand what your boss, your employees, and your customers are truly saying so you can make better decisions. There are nuisances in every conversation and if you catch them, you’ll be better able to navigate office politics. Pay attention to your employees’ feedback and suggestions; act to show that you can effectively solve problems.
As management guru and author Kenneth Blanchard said, "The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority." To get things done, you must be able to influence those around you. While being a manager gives you a certain amount of influence, you can be more effective if you take the time to build trust and prove that you want to help others succeed. To cultivate influence, learn about others’ working styles, goals, and priorities, be personable, and listen mindfully. Get out of your office and engage.
Great middle managers know that they must work well with their peers to break down silos and get big projects done. Forging ties with management peers enhances individual success and improves the company’s bottom line. Seek out opportunities to connect with your peers, bridge gaps between departments by being helpful, share information and follow up often.
Do Your Work with Integrity
Effective leadership is all about getting results the right way. Do your work with impeccable integrity and intention. Don’t cut corners, cheat, violate values, or step on others to get the job done. If you make a mistake, take ownership of it. People who demonstrate integrity draw others to them because they are trustworthy and dependable.
More than ever, great managers are needed at every level of an organization. Be bold and accept the challenge of middle management. You’ll emerge a far better leader and you’ll create new opportunities to stretch yourself and your team.
As always, thank you for reading! I welcome and encourage likes, shares, and comments.
I love riding my Peloton spin bike. I’m addicted to it. Not only are the classes challenging, I am inspired by the instructors’ moving stories and thought-provoking comments. A recent ride on the Peloton taught me a new acronym that I can’t stop telling others about…and applying to my daily life with diligence.
W.A.I.T: Why Am I Trippin’?
I like to think of myself as a positive, optimistic person, but I often find myself getting frustrated, or annoyed...and sometimes even angry. I am good at letting things go quickly, but if I’m honest with myself, I probably let unimportant things get to me too much.
Hence my new mantra: W.A.I.T.
As soon as I feel my temperature start to rise, I pause and ask, “Why am I trippin’? Is feeling angry and annoyed worth it? Can I change anything about this situation? Does getting angry serve me well? Does it help me show up as the positive, optimistic person I believe myself to be? Is acting this way helpful to me or anyone else?”
I have found is that 99% of the time, the answers to these questions are NO; they just aren’t that big of a deal. Seeing this has helped me change my mindset and my reactions. Instead of letting the annoyance ruin the moment, I let it go. Instead of complaining or criticizing, I respond in a positive, more inspiring way.
And it’s working! I’ve been applying W.A.I.T to my life for the past few months and the results are remarkable. I feel happier. I’ve had more meaningful interactions with everyone around me. I am better able to defuse emotional situations. I am more accountable.
I share this with you in hopes that you, too, can find it to be a powerful tool to create a happier, more fulfilling life.
Thanks for reading and as always, I appreciate comments, shares and likes!
I recently found myself in a situation where I needed to apologize to someone I hurt. I was conflicted, my thoughts filled with self-justifying righteousness, “I am right, and I am hurt, too!” Yet at the same time, I was filled with regret, choking on unfinished words and self-reproach. “This isn’t turning out the way I want it to,” I said to myself. Ugh…the only way to get myself out of my self-inflected situation was to say, “I’m sorry.”
Apologizing is difficult, especially when the stakes are high and the hurt runs deep. It’s easy to let yourself off the hook, blaming the other person and minimizing your role in the situation. When you finally bring yourself to say the words, stress hormones flood the body creating fight or flight responses. Your brain screams, “Don’t do it! Run!” or “Get mad! Don’t go down without a fight!” It’s takes everything in your power to go through with it. Your mind spins as you think of the million ways to express yourself. But in the end, it’s worth it. When you apologize, it allows space for both you and the other person to move forward, to let go, to forgive. It will make you and the other person feel better.
So how do you apologize the right way?
Write Down the Outcomes You Want
Before you go into a high stress situation, know what you want to get out of it. Write down your desired outcomes and keep them handy during the conversation; it will help you stay on track if the person responds emotionally and you can review them if you find yourself getting emotional or making excuses. Examples of outcomes might be to repair a damaged relationship, defuse an emotional situation, or simply to own your part in a conflict.
Check Your Emotions. Choose How You Want to Feel
Emotions don’t have to dictate your feelings and reactions. Even when they are strong, you can still choose how you want to feel. You can choose to feel compassion, relief, or ownership. Or you can also choose to feel angry, justified, or shameful. It’s up to you to determine your outlook on the situation, so check your emotions and choose to see the bright side of apologizing.
Apologize. Own it. Don’t Over Explain Your Actions
It’s best to just say, “I am sorry; I own what I did.” Most people don’t want to hear excuses because they water down the apology and make it feel insincere. Sometimes though, it may be appropriate to explain your side, but only do it to help the person forgive, not to minimize your role in what happened. Over explaining sounds like excuse making.
Express Regret, Be Specific
In addition to saying, “I’m sorry,” you should express regret for hurting the other person. For example, “I regret hurting you; it was wrong of me to blame you and it damaged our relationship. Our relationship is important to me and I understand that I have to earn your trust back.” This validates the person’s feelings which is what most people want out of an apology. Being specific brings a tone of sincerity and it shows you understand how your actions affected the person.
Ask Questions and Listen
Remember, the person you are apologizing to isn’t there to only hear you out. Give him or her the opportunity to respond. Ask questions to draw out meaningful dialogue, listen carefully and don’t get defensive.
Make Commitments and Keep Them
After you’ve apologized and expressed regret, make a commitment to change your behavior. Outline what you are going to do differently and follow through. Everyone makes mistakes but there is nothing worse than repeating it because you didn’t change your behavior. Trust can be rebuilt quickly if you demonstrate that you’ve learned from what happened.
Smile, Say Thank You and Leave
At the end of your apology, smile. Smiling makes everyone feel better and it releases tension. Thank the person for listening and then leave. Most people need time to process and hanging around afterwards doesn’t allow the space required to do so.
Following these steps will help you deliver a sincere, meaningful apology and will start the process of forgiveness. As famous cartoonist Lynn Johnson famously wrote, “An apology is the super glue of life. It can repair just about anything.”
Thanks for reading and as always, I appreciate comments, likes and shares!
Human nature drives us to avoid situations that feel scary; fear and anxiety overwhelm and we hunker down, looking for relief from uncomfortable feelings. Yet, to reach our full potential, we must overcome the instinctual urge to fight or flight and challenge ourselves to do new and bigger things. We must get outside our comfort zones.
What does getting outside your comfort zone mean?
Your comfort zone is defined as a place or situation where you feel safe or at ease and without stress. It’s a cozy place, but if you stay too long, you’ll miss out on valuable opportunities to grow. You have to take some risks, try new things, and push your boundaries. You must embrace discomfort and shove fear aside.
Why is getting outside of your comfort zone good?
Let’s say you want a promotion but you are worried about failing. You have two choices: 1) take on a high profile project that, if successful, could catapult your career but is risky because it’s outside your area of expertise and failure is a possibility; or 2) play it safe, put your head down, and do your daily tasks in hopes that someone will see your potential and give you a shot. The first option creates an opportunity; the second option leaves that opportunity in another’s hand. Being willing to get outside your comfort zone allows you to create a better life. You won’t get a promotion, leave a bad job, gain a new skill, develop a meaningful relationship, or build your confidence if you always avoid discomfort.
What holds people back from doing it more often?
Fear of failure causes us to doubt our ability to take on a challenge and succeed. We create stories of doom and gloom that make us want to retreat to the warm cocoon of predictability and ignorant bliss. It’s scary being out on a limb. But if you are honest with yourself, how many times did the doom and gloom turn out to be as horrible as you anticipated? How often did you rise to the challenge when you pushed yourself to do something new? When you failed, was it really that bad? Didn’t you learn something incredibly valuable? Don’t let a false narrative hold you back.
How do you get outside your comfort zone?
The only way to get out of your comfort zone is to, well, get out of your comfort zone. Yes, it’s obvious and yes, it’s the only way. Stop listening to the voice telling you dreadful stories of failure and humiliation. Ask yourself these questions: if I take this risk, what’s the worst that can happen? What’s the best that can happen? What’s most likely to happen? This process helps you see a ‘middle of the road’ outcome that is not total failure but also doesn’t leave you disappointed if you don’t achieve your highest expectations. Another way is to be vulnerable and share your fears with someone else. You’ll find courage by connecting with others and hearing how they overcame self-doubt. Other ideas? Change your morning routine, sign up for a class to learn a new skill, read inspiring books, hang out with people more successful than you, take on a new project at work, or give someone candid feedback. There are a million ways to push yourself; you just have to do it.
What happens if you are always outside of your comfort zone?
Many of us have been living perpetually outside of our comfort zones for some time now; I know I’ve been. The chaos of fast moving change, increased demands on time, and the pressure to deliver results and perform can be overwhelming. While it’s good to push yourself, doing so for too long can lead to burn out. “When demands become too great for us to handle, when the pressure overwhelms us, too much to do with too little time or support, we enter the zone of bad stress,” author Daniel Goleman writes in Psychology Today. “Just beyond the optimal zone at the top or the performance arc, there is a tipping point where the brain secretes too many stress hormones, and they start to interfere with our ability to work well, to learn, to innovate, to listen, and to plan effectively.” If you find yourself in this state, step back, ask for help, and take a few days off. It may seem impossible, but you’ll find that you will feel refreshed and able to take on more after some down time.
While staying in your comfort zone may feel predictable and consistent, in the long run you’ll lose out. Taking on challenges and being open to new experiences create opportunities that can take your success to the next level. Think about the last time you did something you were proud of? Were you pushing yourself or on autopilot? Don’t be afraid of getting to close to the edge of your perceived limitations. If you walk right up and look over, you’ll see all kinds of paths that lead you to a more enriched and engaged life.
Thanks for reading! As always, I am grateful for your shares, likes, and/or comments so please do so if you feel inclined!
Did you know that being kind inspires kindness in others? Numerous studies show that when someone shows you kindness, you are likely to pay it forward. Think about it…when a person holds the door for you and smiles warmly, you tend to want to reciprocate. You find that the next time you can hold a door open for someone, you do so with pleasure. It feels good to be kind.
While it seems unassuming, being kind is truly powerful. Think what we could achieve if we chose (yes, it is a choice) to be kind to everyone with whom we interact. The world would immediately be a better place for each of us. Rather than feeling judged, shamed, shunned, or ignored, we would feel seen, appreciated, accepted, and respected. Since our moods and emotions tend to be contagious, we would be spreading happiness rather than yuckiness.
Always being kind, no matter the person or situation, is a simple way to dramatically improve our world. The best thing about it is that being kind requires no rules, laws, or government regulation. It’s a way for humanity to take back…well…our humanity. We as individuals can lead by example and maybe, just maybe, those who lead our communities, organizations, and countries will follow suit, showing that in the end, all that really matters is how kind we are to each other.
Here are some easy ways to start being more kind. They take no extra investment, just a conscious mindset shift and purposeful interactions.
Smile and Make Eye Contact
Show people that you see and appreciate their humanity no matter where they come from, what their belief system is, or what the situation they find themselves in. Smile and make eye contact with everyone…your coworkers, your children, the homeless guy on the corner, the clerk at the grocery store. You’ll receive smiles in return and you’ll instantly feel better, as will the people you smile at.
Being polite is simple yet respectful. Say “yes please”, “no thank you”, and “I’m sorry” often. Let someone else go first, hold the door open for others, and acknowledge people with a smile. When conversing with another, be positive, refrain from gossiping, and for goodness sake, put your phone away.
Random Acts of Kindness
I’ll never forget one morning when I walked into my office and found a little slip of paper with the words “You Have a Nice Smile” typed upon it. This little slip of paper made my day; I had a spring in my step for weeks because of this simple, anonymous acknowledgment. It’s still taped to my monitor today. Spread joy by doing small things for the people around you. Buy a stranger a cup of coffee, leave a note of appreciation on a coworker’s keyboard, send flowers to a friend, randomly leave Hershey’s Kisses on peoples’ desks, pick up litter in your neighbor’s front yard…it’s the little things that can make a person’s day and performing a random act of kindness increases the chance that others will pay it forward, too.
Being helpful is an easy way to show kindness. Take a moment out of your busy day to give a stranger directions, aid someone in picking up the papers he dropped, make eye contact and engage when a coworker asks for your assistance, and help your spouse load the dishwasher. It only takes a few moments to be helpful and it can make a big difference in a person’s day.
Reach Out to Someone Who is in Need
We all go through tough times and it’s nice to receive kindness when you’re down in the dumps. Call a friend going through a divorce, hug a coworker who just lost a loved one, send a note to someone going through a hard time to let her know you are thinking of her, or give a tissue to a crying stranger. Don’t be afraid to reach out; just a simple acknowledgement of someone’s pain can help ease the feeling of loneliness and despair.
Send a Nice Email to Someone Everyday
It stakes 60 seconds to send an email expressing gratitude and appreciation; those 60 seconds can go a long way to spread kindness in the world. Make sending a sincerely kind email to friends, coworkers, community leaders, etc. a daily habit.
Drive with Kindness in Mind
Be a kind driver; let some enter the lane in front of you and don’t tailgate or speed up quickly behind a slower driver. Don’t get angry when someone cuts you off; instead smile and wish him a nice day. Choose to be a non-aggressive driver. You’ll not only be happier but you’ll also inspire others to be kinder drivers and you’ll improve the safety of everyone on the road.
Find Something to Appreciate About Those Who are Different Than You
I like Heineken’s “Worlds Apart” commercial; it shows how two strangers with very different views can find commonalities that unite them rather than divide them. Yes, this ad simplifies the issues causing the mass polarization of humans today, but if you pause to consider that those you dislike may not be all that different from you, you might be more inclined be kinder to everyone. And really, what life improvement comes from hating someone who believes differently than you? All it does is bring self-pain and self-suffering while the rest of us go on being who we are, not really thinking too much about why you hate us; we are too busy focusing on our own life issues such as why it’s so hard to find a good paying job, affordable housing, a loving relationship, and someone to watch our children without breaking the bank. Sound familiar? Yeah, I thought so. We aren’t so different after all.
Science and psychology show that humans tend to mirror each other; we reflect what we see in others. This is especially true of our leaders as we tend to emulate them the most. Choose your actions and your corresponding reflections carefully as they can make a profound difference in the happiness, kindness, and generosity in others. Choose to use this wonderful superpower we all carry within us to change the world for the better.
Thanks for reading. As always, I appreciate comments, likes, shares and retweets; please do so if you are inclined.
Whether you are a leader, manager, or an employee who wants to be a high performer, there is almost nothing more important than creating more time to think. It may seem next to impossible in this fast paced, constantly-plugged-in world, but it must be a priority if personal and professional growth are important to you. Why? Because if you aren’t making time to think through problems, the future, and your role in what comes next, you will always be reacting. If you are constantly reacting, you aren’t giving yourself time to see the possibilities, think through potential consequences, calm down, and ultimately, make better decisions. I don’t know about you, but I like making good decisions, therefore I make time to think.
Respond vs reacting
First, let’s consider why responding is so much better than reacting. When you find yourself in a situation where you must react, fight or flight mode kicks in. Stress hormones wash through your body and you feel compelled to say or do something that you may later regret. Reacting is a natural urge, it happens automatically and it must be consciously resisted. Instead of reacting, choose to respond. You can do this by taking a breath (literally) and giving yourself time to reflect on what’s happening in the moment. This pause can be a few seconds, a few minutes, or a few days and it will allow you to observe what’s going on inside and out, making it easier to gain control of your emotions and decision making process.
Stop Wasting So Much Time
Facebook, Twitter, news feeds, television and other distractions should be reduced to a minimum if you want to create a more time to think. These things diverts precious time and creates background noise that clogs your thinking. Do you actually do anything with the steady stream of content that comes from these sources anyway? When was the last time you had a profound, personally life changing realization from a tweet or an Instagram post? Never? Me, neither. So shut it down and fill your new found time with things like reading thought-provoking writing, writing your personal vision, thinking about how to best achieve your goals, and brainstorming ways to improve your relationships. There are so many meaty things to think about…things that could change your life…if you would just stop and think about them.
"The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything." This quote by Warren Buffet pretty much sums it up. The busier you are, the less time you have to think. The less time you have to think, the harder it is to be really successful. Buffet continues, “I insist on a lot of time being spent, almost every day, to just sit and think.” It’s hard to argue with one of the most successful people on the planet. Simplifying will help you focus on what’s most important. Here’s an exercise: write down all the things you feel are priorities in these categories: work, family, personal wellness/fulfillment. List at least 20 items in each category. Then force yourself to pick the top three in each category. Don’t do anything else but these 9 things until you’ve mastered them. Now that’s simplifying! Focus is the key to success.
Another way of simplifying your life is to delegate. Are you really THE person who MUST do all the tasks on your list? Hire a someone to clean your house; have groceries delivered to your door; make your kids ride the bus to school; ask a coworker to help you with a task; approach your boss about getting administrative support on a big project. If you are a manager or a leader, make sure you hire people you can delegate to and empower them to take on challenging assignments. Give them projects that you might normally do yourself. When you find yourself performing tasks that are in the weeds, ask yourself, “should I be doing this or managing this?” If the answer is managing it, delegate it.
Being disorganized is a time suck. Plan your day so you don’t waste time looking for items that should be handy, doing things twice, and working on unimportant tasks. Be disciplined; make a daily agenda that lines out your day. This list shouldn’t be too long and should include a block of time used to think as well as the three things you must do to move the ball down the field on your most important priorities. I love this new Self Journal; I just started using it and it’s working well for me. I also you Evernote to track my to-do lists.
Take a Lunch Break
Resist the temptation to work while you scarf down a sandwich; lunchtime is the perfect time to ponder. Step away from your desk and breathe deeply. Jot down new ideas in a notebook; reflect on your day and come up with ways you could be doing things better; consider what you might be missing when tackling a big problem at home or work. Better yet, take a walk and let your mind wonder; be curious as to where your thoughts take you. Use this 30 minutes to get away from the grind and think.
Find Your Method
There are lots of different ways to do your best thinking. Mine happens when I am exercising. The trouble is that I forget everything as soon as I stop, therefore I use notetaking and audio recording apps so I can capture ideas as I work out. Pausing during a run to type out a few ideas isn’t ideal but it works for me. I also frequently read and listen to audiobooks and I use the same apps to record ideas sparked from consuming thought-provoking content. Writing is a great outlet whether it be expressing an idea to a colleague via email, journaling, outlining your thoughts on paper, or writing a draft memo to your boss. Other people do their best thinking in the shower, while walking the dog, during long flights, or when laying on the beach starting at the ocean…find yours and do it as often as possible. The outcome will be better decisions, more intentional responses, a clearer pathway to a fulfilling life.
As always, thanks for reading! Please like, share, and comment if you are so inclined. Click here to sign up to receive my blogs in your inbox.
Promotions are not given; they are earned.
There is nothing more important to remember than this statement when you are looking to grow within your organization. If you are being passed up for promotions, there is a reason why. Rather than blame your “playing favorites” boss or your “brown nosing” coworkers, take responsibility for what you can control which includes your attitude, performance, and teamwork. Then follow these steps to work your way into a new role.
Develop a Good Relationship with Your Boss
Your boss should be your biggest supporter and he or she can’t be this unless the two of you have a strong relationship. How do you build a strong relationship with your boss? Remember the universal truth…all managers want people on their teams who make their jobs easier. Do your best to make your boss look good; it usually pays dividends. Produce quality and timely work. Look for ways to help her achieve more. Ask for feedback and take action on it. Be forthcoming about ways she can successfully manage you. Build rapport by learning more about him. Put effort into understanding his personality traits and triggers. There are many ways to build a relationship with your manager; it may take some trial and error as you learn what works and what doesn’t, but it’s worth the effort….there is a good chance that he or she will be the one promoting you.
Be an Expert at Your Job
The fastest way to get a promotion is to be a rock star in your current role. Sure, there may be things you don’t like about the job you have now, but so what? Do all parts of your job well; become an expert at it by learning as much as you can, read books and other publications on the subject, ask for more training, acquire new skills and knowledge, and always produce high quality work. Remember, you will never get a promotion if you aren’t doing a great job in your current role.
Add Value and Help the Company Execute its Strategy
Make sure you are working on the right things…things that help the company meet its goals and execute its strategy. If you’re not sure how your job ties to the strategy, ask. Always prioritize your work and do what’s most important first. Don’t let yourself get distracted by things that don’t matter.
Be Seen as Helpful
Being a team player builds your credibility throughout the organization and will make you the go-to person when a tough problem needs to be solved. Put the team first, help out a struggling coworker, give credit to others, volunteer to help at company events...there are a million ways to exhibit helpfulness and be a true team player. Remember, though, that perception is reality; it doesn’t matter if you think you are a helpful teammate, what matters more is that others think you are.
Be a Problem Solver
People who expect “management” to fix all the problems in the workplace aren’t typically seen as helpful nor are they often promoted. It takes everyone within the organization to create an effective work environment so if you see a place where the organization can improve, develop some solutions to address the issue and discuss them with your boss. Volunteer to be part of a team tackling tough interdepartmental problems. Proactively address a communication issue with a coworker rather than triangulate through your boss; challenge yourself to achieve a positive outcome. Suggest a better process to ease frustration on a project. In short, be a problem solver, not a problem creator.
People with a positive attitude are generally easier to work with, hence more promotable. Keep your head up in the face of adversity, meet tough challenges head-on with a smile on your face, and view problems as opportunities to make things better. Be friendly, help others, smile more, and complain less. Commit to having a positive effect on everyone you interact with.
Look and Act Professionally - Always
If you want a promotion, look and act the part. Dress professionally, be well groomed, communicate clearly and articulately, use proper grammar, refrain from swearing, don’t gossip, don’t complain, ask questions, smile, and work hard (i.e. while at work stay off of Facebook, don’t text your friends, and refrain from chit chatting endlessly with coworkers). Choose a professional role model and emulate what he or she does.
If those doing the promoting don’t know about the good things you are doing, you won’t be on the radar for a promotion. Self-promotion is an art…it has to be done in a way that balances talking about yourself with humility. You don’t want to be perceived as bragging; that’s just obnoxious. First, make sure your boss knows your career aspirations and engage him or her in creating a career development plan with you (having a career plan is crucial to growing within your organization). Ping your boss regularly, giving updates on progress you’ve made. Keep your boss and peers informed on major projects and broadly share the team’s accomplishments. Bring attention to a big win by asking your boss if you can celebrate by taking the team to lunch. Approach your boss with a solution to a tough problem and ask him or her for support as you take the lead to fix it. Develop a relationship with a mentor higher within the organization who can sing your praises. Well executed self-promotion is subtle, tactful and highly useful.
These are my tips for getting a promotion. While doing these things don’t guarantee a promotion, you increases your chances by doing them well. On the flip side, here are some surefire ways to NOT get a promotion:
Hopefully this article sends you in the right direction…one that places you in the “indispensable” category and helps you achieve the next step in your career. There is almost nothing more rewarding than being recognized for a job well done with an opportunity to grow via a promotion. Remember…
“Do your best, and be a little better than you are.” - Gordon B Hinckley
Good luck and thanks for reading. As always, I appreciate likes, shares, retweets and comments. Please do so if you are so inclined. Click here to sign up to receive my blogs in your inbox.
References: Change Anything: The New Science of Personal Success by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield. Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler
We all screw up. Finding a person who hasn’t made a big mistake is like finding a purple unicorn bathing in a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow; it won’t happen. And if you have yet to royally screw up, don’t worry, you will. It’s bound to happen; you haven’t fully lived life until you’ve done so.
While making a massive mistake can cause you to want to crawl under a rock and never show your face again, it can also teach you a profound lesson. Screwing up can dramatically change your life for the better…if you choose to embrace the painful experience, for better or worse.
So let’s say you’ve really stepped in it. Now what? How can you embrace your screw up and move forward?
Don’t Dig a Deeper Hole
It’s easy to allow one bad decision to lead to another. You don’t have to keep digging yourself a deeper hole. From this moment on, stop the cycle, climb out of the hole, and commit to doing whatever it takes to fix the mistake.
Don’t Make Saving Face Your Priority
It’s natural to want to save face and minimize the reasons why you made the mistake. Remember, justifying is just a way of making excuses. Don’t defend, downplay, or omit parts of the truth. Truthful accountability is the only option and it’s far more honorable to fully own your screw up than to try to diminish it. Instead of trying to save face, make repairing the damage you’ve done your top priority.
Say You’re Sorry and Mean It
A heartfelt and authentic apology can go a long way to fixing the damage that occurs after a big mistake. While it doesn’t make the situation go away, showing honest regret gives people more space to forgive you. When offering an apology, be specific and ask for feedback. There is nothing worse than apologizing for the wrong thing. But remember, no one wants you to apologize incessantly; he or she only wants to see results, so apologize once (maybe twice) and then prove your remorse by taking action.
Make and Execute an Action Plan
Don’t let yourself off the hook after an apology. If there is no action…no notable change…then your apology is moot. Before putting a plan of action into place, dig deep as to why you screwed up; understanding your motivations, fears, and decisions is the key to not making the same mistake twice. Once you have a deeper understanding of what went wrong you can develop a plan to repair the damage. A good plan should address the root cause, not the symptoms. Don’t be afraid to ask for help; sometimes a path forward isn’t clear and seeking advice, counseling, and/or coaching can shorten your bounce-back time.
Keep Your Commitments
Do what you say you are going to do; hold yourself accountable to your action plan. The only way to revive your reputation and to bounce back is to follow through and keep your commitments.
Let it Go
Nothing good comes from beating yourself up over and over again. Negative self-talk keeps you stuck in the shame spiral. Embrace your screw up. Learn from it. Vow to never let it happen again. But let it go. The only way to move on is to allow yourself to move on.
Let Your Mistake Make You a Better Person
Making mistakes will keep you humble and will teach you all kinds of ways not do things in the future. Screw ups keep you grounded and (hopefully) cause you to be more forgiving of others because face it, none of us are perfect. Overcoming a face plant makes you stronger and more resilient. Embrace your screw up so that someday you can look back on it with gratitude; trust that what you learn from it will make you a better person.
While following this plan won’t take the embarrassment of making a mistake away, it will allow you to hold your head high as you gracefully and authentically handle the aftermath. Remember, you are not alone in screwing up; we’ve all done it and we will all do it again. The real growth comes from what you do after the damage is done.
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“You're always you, and that don't change, and you're always changing, and there's nothing you can do about it.” - Neil Gaiman
There is only one thing that’s certain in life and that is that things will change. No matter how much you deny, resist, or ignore it, the unfolding of life brings new challenges and experiences that you must adapt to, one way or another.
Each of us experience change constantly yet react to it in many different ways. While some of us embrace change and even drive it, most fall into the “change resistant” category. Our brains expect certain things to stay the same and when they don’t, the information we trusted breaks down causing us fear over what comes next. What we don’t know tends to scare us and change creates a lot of unknowns. Even positive change comes with challenges and discomfort. Change. Is. Hard.
In today’s fast-paced, quickly-evolving world, it’s important to develop your ability to handle change effectively. While it’s never easy, here are somethings you can do to adapt to change with a bit more grace.
Freak Out For a Minute, Privately
There’s nothing wrong with being scared of change, especially when it blindsides you, so go ahead and freak out for a minute. Just do it privately. Negative reactions on public display almost never produce good outcomes. Go for a walk alone, vent to someone you trust, write in your journal, scream into your pillow…let it out in a private place to release pent up emotions and then start focusing on how to deal with the change.
Give Yourself Time to Process
When change hits hard and fast, it can feel overwhelming. Your brain starts racing, making up a story which usually concludes with the world as you know it ending. But if you think back on all the times you freaked out over change, how often did the story end the way you first imagined it? Probably never, if you are like me. That’s why it’s good to give yourself time to process the change. I can promise that tomorrow, it won’t seem nearly as bad as it did today, so think it through and come up with a plan after sleeping on it.
Be Honest About Your Feelings
It’s easy to focus on the situation or person, blaming and barraging the bringer of change or the change itself. Don’t do this. Be accountable and own your fears and other feelings. Look inside to understand your resistance so you can clearly articulate why you have such strong feelings. Put words to your feelings by asking yourself questions and answering truthfully. Why do I feel this way? What am I afraid of? Why am I resisting? If I embrace this change, what’s the worst that could happen? What’s the best that could happen?
Get More Information
Don’t assume the story you told yourself about why the change is happening is true. It’s probably not. Ask questions and do more research so you understand why something is changing. The deeper your awareness, the faster you can settle your mind, fine tune your response, and adjust to the change.
Give Your Opinion
It’s okay to want to influence the outcome, especially if you feel passionately about something. Consider what you want to achieve, be conscience of your tone, listen to others, and then give your opinion. Always look for a positive solution; a win-win may not be possible, but you’ll feel better once you’ve expressed yourself.
Accept the Change
Life is so much easier when you stop resisting every little change, so pick your battles carefully. Sometimes change is worth resisting and sometimes you just have to accept things as they are. Resisting can make you miserable and you risk damaging relationships and your overall happiness. Take a deep breath and give yourself permission to surrender every now and then. Stop complaining about it to others. Look for the positive and give it some time. Before you know it, you’ll have adapted to the change and it’ll be a distant memory that doesn’t seem all that bad.
Change is what makes life interesting and amazing. It teaches us profound lessons and promotes growth and wisdom. It can take us to faraway places or deep within ourselves. It creates exciting opportunities and yes, sometimes it breaks our hearts. It’s what weaves the tapestry of our lives together, creating a colorful patchwork of experiences, emotions, thoughts, and relationships that make up our existence. Embrace it and do your best to enjoy the ride; if properly harnessed, change can inspire you to be the greatest version of yourself.
“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance” – Alan Watts
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A few months ago, I wrote a blog about how we should all make 2017 the Year of Going Big. Why not? Sure, the turmoil and uncertainly in the world may be frightening but now is not the time to hunker down and make yourself as small as possible. Big change can (and needs) to happen.
So you’ve made a bold, courageous resolution and you are ready to pursue it with gusto. Now what? As famous French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery said, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” If you don’t know how to get to where you going, how do you ever get there?
I’d like to share a take away from the book “The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results.” It’s an exercise on how to put together a plan of action to reach a big goal. This exercise is similar to developing a marathon training plan. You know you need to be able to run 26.2 miles at the end of 20 weeks. You also know that you can’t start with 20 mile runs in week 1. Therefore you must develop a plan that works backwards week by week, lining out how you will log your training miles. This is the only way to keep yourself on track to the build motivation, strength and stamina required as you increase your mileage each week. Without this kind of plan, you may run too much too early and hurt yourself or you may not run enough and fail to cross the finish line. The plan is key.
You can use the marathon model to plan any goal you want to achieve. Let’s say that your goal is to get a promotion at the end of the year. You have 10 months to earn it; how do you get there? Start planning backwards. It looks something like this…
This is a simplified example, yes, but you get the idea. I recently did this exercise for a 16 year goal I’ve set for myself and it was incredibly eye-opening and helpful. I feel empowered and excited because I have an outline for success. There is no way I could achieve a goal that's 16 years out without a solid plan now.
You may find that you need to deviate from the plan you’ve created and that’s okay; course correcting along the way is necessary to achieve a goal. This exercise merely helps you think through all the things you need to do to get to where you want to be. Make adjustments as you execute your plan; use this as a tool to ensure you are working on the RIGHT things and taking the RIGHT actions to reach your “big thinking” goal.
Good luck and go for it!
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A Quick Blurb on what this blog is about.
Welcome to my blog! My name is Kerry Siggins and plain speaking, honest leadership is my mantra. My intention is to help those who lead (or want to lead) become better at saying and doing what needs to be said and done in a way that it can be heard and seen, one person at a time.