Thinking positively is hard.
Shit. See what I mean? That’s a negative statement about something positive.
As someone who is achievement oriented with a high need for productivity, I have a tendency to focus a ridiculous amount of energy on the next goal that hasn’t been accomplished, the deal that hasn’t been landed, what isn’t happening fast enough…I think you get the picture.
This drive is good for me as an entrepreneur – it keeps me from lying in bed all day, bingeing Netflix or mixing a gin and tonic at three in the afternoon. But it can also suck. When I reflect on my day, I typically only remember the things that didn’t go well.
In my book and speeches on stress and resiliency, I talk about our primitive brains’ hardwiring to be negative and always assume the worst. They’re also designed to pay more attention to negative events. It’s the part of our brains I call ‘Sneaky Pete’. This biology has been helpful as an evolutionary survival tactic: focusing on the potential dangers and downsides of every event keeps us safe and alive. But in everyday modern life, it’s a drag.
We are our thoughts. Our thoughts become our reality. I don’t want to live my life being negative, full of self-doubt and focusing on things that aren’t working. I don’t want to feel unfulfilled.
In a serious attempt to override my brain’s primitive hardwiring, I’ve been journaling under the heading “Positivity Practice”. Each day I have to list things that are going well professionally. While it’s been fairly easy to come up with some “wins” each day, by the time I’m only half way through writing the first sentence, Sneaky Pete has already snuck in like a thief, trying to steal my happiness and self-worth.
For instance, I was just writing about a speaking event that checked all the boxes for what I define to be a big success. Before I could even finish the second sentence, Sneaky Pete interjected “But these don’t happen often enough.” Ugh. I refocused and tried again. I wrote about how the best part of the whole experience was the book signing afterward that allowed me to meet and connect with people. Sneaky Pete blurted “The only reason there were that many people in line is because they got a free Hit the Deck if they came over.”
He can be the biggest A-hole! If we’re not conscious and careful, Sneaky Pete can fill our lives with doubt, negativity and a constant desire for more. His definition of success typically has to do with perceived popularity, money, status, looks – and the fear of not having enough. There will always be someone who has more.
A great way to kick him out of the conversation (and in the goods) is to connect with our beliefs. Do I believe I did the best job I could? Do I believe I showed up wanting to be of service? Do I believe I made a difference in someone’s life? The answers are all yes. And they’re how I define a truly successful event.
Beliefs dispel doubt and anxiety and instill a sense of confidence and completeness.
The next time Sneaky Pete tries to have his way with you, reflect on your belief system. Ask yourself if you’re acting in accordance with those beliefs. Are your behaviors an expression of what you believe? Define success on a rating system that really matters to you, and Sneaky Pete has very little ground to stand on.
At PowerHouse Performance we offer keynotes, half- and full-day programs in addition to one-on-one coaching to help leaders and employees improve resiliency, performance, confidence and health. Please let us know how we can help your organization.
Ladies, Hard Work Will Not Get You To the Top. Three ways to stop working harder and start working smarter.
I recently spoke at a women’s leadership conference and instead of having to get in, out and on to my next event, I had time to participate as a learner. The loudest message I repeatedly heard from several successful females in the business world was this: hard work will NOT get you to the top.
As women, many of us believe if we work hard it will be noticed and we’ll be rewarded and promoted for it. I have to say I’ve been operating under this belief my whole life. One of my strongest core values relates to working hard for the things I want, and I’ve prided myself in being a hard worker.
A frustrated, exhausted and often burned out hard worker. Ugh.
It’s time to work smart AND hard.
Here are 3 ways to have more success without having to grind so hard:
- POSITION AND PROMOTE YOURSELF
As a Minnesotan, I was brought up under the strong social norm of not talking about yourself too positively or too much – it’s considered bragging. If you want to be liked, you don’t do it. I get really turned off by people who talk too much about the great things they’ve done, then get even more irritated by them being rewarded for it. Ha! Joke’s on me!
- No one is going to toot your horn for you – they’re too busy honking their own. Assume most people in your organization or business have no idea what you do. Make your value and contributions clear, as well as how they benefit the organization.
- To not sound like a total self-aggrandizing ass, use both “I” and “we”. For instance, “Because of the market research I did, we were able to save $100,000 on the project.”
- BUILD STRATEGIC RELATIONSHIPS AND CONNECTIONS
As a speaker, it’s unrelenting hard work finding the next client. I have a group of other speakers I’m close with and we regularly recommend each other to our contacts and clients. It’s “free” work we didn’t have to hustle for and makes all of our lives easier.
Ladies, we need to stop getting more mentors and find those who can actively promote us. “The Old Boys Club” still exists for a very good reason – it works. Men understand the power of relationships and a network to get them the jobs, titles and power positions they want.
- Who are the decision-makers and stakeholders that can help you? Who will advocate for you? Suggest you for the promotion? Introduce yourself. Let them know how your value can help them. Relationships are two way streets and it’s not just about you getting what you want, but how you can help each other.
- Build these relationships in a way that works for you. If being out on the golf course is not your thing, find other ways to connect. Do your research and find out what you have in common and what problems you can help them solve.
- HAVING ALLIES IS IMPORTANT
Allies are more “relaxed” professional relationships and are sources of information, feedback and support. Allies have your back. They find opportunities to publicly call out your accomplishments and offer help and encouragement when you need it.
- Cultivate diversity. We need allies outside our own groups. Women need allies who are men. Minorities need allies who are in the majority. As part of the GLBT community, having the rights I have now never would have happened without straight allies.
- Foster relationships in all levels of the business: leadership, management, support staff…they can be valuable champions, sources of information and access.
- It’s a quid pro quo relationship – you’re in it to help each other. Reach back and pull other people forward and don’t forget to always “send the elevator back down”.
Ladies, I’m a continual work in progress and I’m curious to learn from you. Would you please share in the comments how you successfully promote yourself, build strategic connections or use allies?
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