The power of self-leadership can drive personal and bottom-line growth for you and your team.
But you know those times when one thing goes wrong, then another, then another that can pull you off track? It’s the domino effect and the law of attraction and the “when it rains it pours” effect all wrapped into one. This can take a toll on your self-leadership and outward leadership. But just as easily as challenging times can strike, so too can the great things in life. In the blink of an eye, things can turn around. If you stick to a few simple self-leadership rules you can skyrocket the speed and ease of the flip from negative to positive.
Recently I went through one of those awful stretches of tough stuff. I experienced some big-time business growing pains. I went through the process of releasing some volunteer board and networking things that were no longer serving me professionally or personally. I suffered the breakup of a romantic relationship. Plus I was dealing with major physical exhaustion and burnout. It seemed like one thing after another kept popping up to take me down.
As a dedicated practitioner of mindfulness, manifestation, and positive thinking for the last 10 years since being widowed while in a high-pressure corporate leadership role with a new baby during the economic collapse (that taught me some stuff!), I kept wondering what I was doing to attract what was happening to me. It couldn’t possibly be the Haagen-Dazs tangerine shortbread ice cream I was devouring by the tub at the daily pity parties I was throwing for myself could it?
WHAT SHOULD I DO?
Throughout the few months of struggle, despite my sometimes less-than-ideal habits, I knew that I had to up my game. I started by taking care of my health, working hard on my business goals even though they felt futile, keeping my heart and mind open to opportunities, and trusting that the Universe would take care of me once I had learned the lessons I was meant to learn.
I often meet busy professionals who are going through similar rough patches in their work and home lives. After years of research on professional success, stress, leadership, and change, there is a definite profile of those who are able to weather the storms and come out stronger for themselves and their teams and those who get stuck and let the challenging times define who they are and how they show up in the world. This commitment to drive yourself forward even when things suck a little (or a lot) is the ultimate definition of self-leadership.
Here are five of the most powerful ways to master your self-leadership that can help you be a more influential leader at work and positive, motivating presence in all areas of your life. Not only will these positively impact your own performance, but you can share them with your team so everyone benefits.
1. AMP UP YOUR SELF-CARE.
Stress does massive damage to our bodies and brains. During tough times you must be gentle with yourself and do things that support your physical and mental processes. As I was dealing with the stress and physical exhaustion during my rough patch, I knew that I had to continue my health habits even though I just wanted to lay in bed and binge on Netflix while eating tubs of that previously mentioned Haagen-Dazs tangerine shortbread ice cream. I forced myself to exercise almost every day. I minimized my alcohol intake knowing that would only make me feel worse. I added some extra vitamins and supplements to support my body as it healed. Even though I’m not a great sleeper in general, I made sure I was sticking to an early bedtime so at least I was resting. As the fog started to lift and I could see the light again, my body was stronger and my mental fitness was top notch too – simply because I didn’t let my health habits slide during what felt like a scary downhill screeching crash into a brick wall.
ACTION STEP: I wrote out a list of things I love to do just for the fun of it and did one of them every single day. It made me smile and feel like I was making progress on feeling good even if in very small steps. You can do the same thing with your fun list – just be sure to schedule them and DO them.
2. KEEP YOUR EMOTIONS IN CHECK.
This ensures you are perceived positively by others even when you’re going through challenges. If you want to be seen as a leader by others, you need to demonstrate the qualities of a great leader. If you are snapping at people, cranky, scowling, or acting like a general jerk, you will alienate people and hurt your own reputation. It’s critical that you are aware what energy you are putting out into the world moment to moment so your own inner struggles don’t become an outer manifestation of negativity. I meditate regularly during good and bad times – but it’s even more important when things feel hard or overwhelming. But don’t be scared of the concept of meditation like it requires boatloads of time sitting in a dark room chanting. Even a minute or two of deep breathing and focused awareness can help you shift your feelings and behaviors so you don’t alienate others.
ACTION STEP: If you’ve seen me speak on stage, you know about my pee-time is me-time concept that people all over the world at all levels of leadership have used for greater focus and positive presence. Learn more about it in this video at about the 7:30 mark.
3. BE BRAVE.
When you know things will be okay even though they suck right now, it can take away a lot of the pain, worry, and over-analyzing that dominates your thinking. But embracing this mindset isn’t easy. It requires absolute trust that the Universe, God, the powers that be, or whatever you believe is working on your behalf is going to show up for you. It requires massive bravery to let go of expectations and just continue to forge ahead with grace and gusto when you just feel like curling up in a ball and eating tubs of Haagen-Dazs tangerine shortbread ice cream (again).
ACTION STEP: One way to be just a little bit more brave is to write out a list of all the things that are great about you and read it regularly. This may sound simple but when you reinforce the amazing things in your life and the gifts you have it reminds you why you should fight and grow and courageously move through your challenges – and that you have the right magical mojo to make it happen. That is true bravery that every leader should model.
4. BE A ROLE MODEL.
As you go through hard times, others see how you deal with them and naturally mirror your behaviors. If you go to work and act like a jack-donkey, your team will mirror that and put out negative behaviors too. When you’re crabby at home, your family and friends are more likely to respond by being crabby too. But when you can fake it ‘til you make it and master your moods for positivity, those around you will rise up to meet you.
ACTION STEP: Every time you’re in the thick of stress, ask yourself if what you’re doing or how you’re behaving is how you would want your child or a team member or your partner to act. If you wouldn’t want those important people in our life to behave as you are (like eating tubs of ice cream in the dark), it can be a powerful motivator to not do it yourself because they are learning from you and mirroring you for their current and future habits.
5. IT’S A STAIRCASE, NOT A ROLLERCOASTER.
I recently met with Jennifer Kern Collins, an author and expert on drama and emotional mastery. I was feeling sorry for myself and complaining about the non-stop rollercoaster I felt like I had been on – and doing a mighty good job of reinforcing my own sob story in how I was talking about it. She gave me some of the best words of wisdom I’ve ever received. She said that the ups and downs of life aren’t a rollercoaster. If you tip it up on the diagonal it is actually a staircase leading you up and up and up and up. What an a-ha moment! I realized that every time I was at a low point (or what I perceived as a low point) was actually a learning point. Every single time.
ACTION STEP: Every setback has a lesson in it. Look back on a recent tough time in your life and write down a lesson you learned from it. You may have to think hard – but there is always something that can make you stronger, better, and more resilient for your next battle. Challenge your team to find their lessons too through ongoing mentoring, at staff meetings, and in trainings.
The self-leadership techniques listed above will instantly translate to outward leadership of your team, your network, and your loved ones – and this will dramatically impact your personal and bottom-line growth. And did I mention it will save you lots of time and money searching out, buying, and devouring all those tubs of Haagen-Dazs tangerine shortbread ice cream!
TALK TO ME: What one small thing will you do today to elevate your self-leadership?
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Kristen Brown was recently named one of the top 20 trailblazers in the meetings industry by Meetings Today magazine because her programs are interactive, entertaining, and actionable. She is a former corporate leader and award-winning industry expert who worked for 15 years with big brands like Sony, Disney, Walmart, Best Buy, Target, and many more. Today she is a funny, insightful, and engaging speaker who motivates people to be high-performers, embrace win-win leadership, and provide top-notch sales and service. She started her business after she was widowed unexpectedly with a 10-month old baby during the economic collapse and a challenging job situation. Some past speaking clients include Retail Value Chain Federation, General Mills, Nielsen, Target, Cargill, Regis, Cox Automotive, and more. She has been seen on national media sharing insights from her bestselling books and in-depth research including Live with Kelly, HLN, Fox, Forbes, Psychology Today, Working Mother, and more.