Most of us are really good at seeing the negative, pointing out potential flaws or things that might go wrong. And if someone pays us a compliment we’re usually the first to demure.
“Oh it was nothing, I was just doing my job. The whole team helped out too. And did you see that in February the project nearly came to grief? But we got there in the end."
If you’ve heard me give a talk lately you know what it sounds like, and you laugh along too, because you’ve heard yourself and others respond in a very similar manner. Whether it’s because we’ve been socialised to be humble, demure and not brag, or we simply don’t actually see the positive, no one is really certain. But that very collection of sentences and phrases in the face of a compliment from a colleague, boss or Board member just diminished your credibility all in one.
Ironically, we're brilliant ....... at seeing our own mistakes! Even when we collect feedback from others about our leadership capability we may even have a tendency to focus mostly on the improvement areas.
Some of us even pride ourselves on our ability to be at self aware, yet sometimes we can take it too far. Self flagellation via self awareness is probably yet another tactic that gets in the way of simply getting on and doing great work, creating a career that counts or making a bigger difference. And while leadership requires a degree of self awareness and a willingness to work on ourselves, the main component of leadership is... well ..... leading - rather than continually preparing ourselves to lead.
Making the shift from good to great more easily
So how do we move from:
- feeling defensive, to feeling self assured?
- feeling like we need to prove our worth, to knowing our worth?
- needing to convince people we are right, to simply having quiet confidence and conviction in our abilities, capabilities and opinions?
Step one - learn to accept compliments gracefully
Did you read my article Language Warning! Four bad habits that undermine your credibility? If not, head on over and read that now because when you start stepping up, speaking out and taking charge, you’re going to be accepting compliments fairly frequently. Because getting noticed for doing great work, taking ownership and being willing to accept responsibility is part and parcel of being an Ambition Revolutionary.
“Thank you” is my suggested response. Pure and simple. Nothing more. No including others. No demurring.
"Thank you. And then get on and do it all again.
Step two - learn to see the good.
Sometimes though we come from a world of worry, navigating rabbit warrens of what if’s and what might go wrong. We’re stressed, we’re worried and we feel uncomfortable out there doing big bold brave new things. We need to start to train our brain to find positive evidence, train our thought patterns to see the good, and train ourselves to recognise our wins and achievements.
I recently came across an app called WinStreak which “is a simple tool for making sure that, at the end of every day, you feel positive about your accomplishments and excited for the next day. “ How cool is that! They encourage you to get in charge of your own story, rather than the story driving you.
If you don’t want an app then you can do this yourself.
- Morning routines inducing gratitude meditations or journalling are a great way to start the day.
- Take time at lunch to “smell the roses” so to speak. Get out of the office and go appreciate the day even if its just for a few minutes.
- And finally at the end of each day be sure to make a list of your wins. I use this particularly if I’m feeling down or blue.
As the Buddha says
As Amy Cuddy says
So make today a new way of collecting positive evidence. Because if there is a chance that you become what you think, then wouldn’t it be better for all involved if you became something great? Ultimately leaving you with more energy and capacity for getting on with the important business of making a bigger difference.
Have you got any tips, tools and suggestions that you could share to help others see the positive? Comments in the box below. Thanks for sharing!
- I am the creator of The Ambition Revolution – the science and art of amping smart and savvy.
- I mentor busy professionals to ensure they remain strategic, agile and focused on the bigger game.
- I also work with organisations who are trying to increase the profile of women in leadership, but struggling to do so
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