mindset

Develop a Possibility Mindset

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Mindset is such a critical part of self promotion and career advancement, that I include it as the first in my Seven Vital Components to Subtly Powerful Self Promotion keynote

If you think you can or you think you can’t, you will definitely be right.

Embracing a possibility mindset is the only way forward.

I challenge you to accept the POSSIBILITY that you'll be able to self promote effectively and powerfully without feeling like you are bragging, within the year.

There are four provisos:

  • Be prepared to make mistakes

  • Be prepared to feel uncomfortable (remember that's where the magic happens)

  • Be prepared to do the work

  • Be prepared to get out of your own way.

It's not just self promotion where a possibility mindset is helpful. Your entire career success may just depend upon it.

What tactics do you use to keep yourself self promoting strategically and powerfully?

#executivebranding #selfpromotionmatters #standoutcareer

Need help? Curious - check out the events page for an intro session near you or book in for a 30 min intro call to learn more

 
Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months

Why some executive women win

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In the last couple of months so many of my clients have had seriously big wins. I am so incredibly proud of them as they achieved –

  • BIG salary negotiations, renegotiations on negotiations, or even negotiating for the very first time (did you know that, according to Glassdoor, less than 68% of women negotiate on initial offer?)
  • Tackling bigger projects or career goals than ever before
  • Award nominations and wins
  • First time C-suite and CEO roles
  • $25K-$150K+ salary increases, and
  • Feeling like they are on track with their career again.
You were born with wings. Why prefer to crawl through life?
— Rumi

I get goose bumps just thinking about it!

But it made me wonder – why does it appear to be easier for some than others?  

To help everyone who reads my blog, not just the ones who work with me, I’ve examined the commonalities of those kicking major goals.

What is common amongst these women? 

1. They have an attitude of positivity, possibility and optimism. They're able to park their "critic" and the “cynic” at the door, to embrace new ideas and tactics and then simply get on with the business of being great. They also have a YES, AND approach. If I say “jump”, they say, “YES, AND how can I take this even further?”. If I saw "try this", they say, "YES, AND I also want to try this. What do you think?"  Does this mean naïve? Not at all. Does this mean they always win? No again. But action creates momentum and a positive mindset helps build resilience.

2. They are proactive, deliberate and strategic. They take proactive action - with minimal hesitation - and most importantly, in the direction of their choice. When faced with an obstacle they find another way – smarter, simpler, easier. For some this is the first time they've aimed at a role and tried to create/land/win it. Recently, two clients wrote out their ideal Job Description when they first started with me - and now both have created those roles. One created her new role from scratch, the other won an existing role. Either way, this has significant WOW factor.

3. They’re not afraid to ask for help. They ask smart questions to get the right information that will help them with their goals.  And instead of suffering in silence, wondering if they are on track, they reach out for additional support sooner rather than later. A fiercely, independent blueprint might sound good in theory, but definitely has it's downside.  It’s not weak or wrong to ask for more support. It’s human and can also trigger serious momentum.

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4. They get out of their own way – and don’t sweat the small stuff. They have been able to park the small me that will try and keep then safe. And they only worry about the things that matter most.  The down side of playing a safe game is that it's frequently also a small or comfortable game. And as the saying goes - “worry is like sitting in a rocking chair – simply rocking backwards and forwards going nowhere.”

5. They trust their gut. They’ve learned to trust their own judgment - how to discern the difference between excitement fear v's terrified fear, feedback v’s gaslighting or personal attack and good v’s bad advice, even if the bad advice is delivered by someone who is more mature, more authoritative etc. They know how to navigate through it and get to what's important. 

So excited! So proud.

A Winning Case Study

One wonderful client was feeling overwhelmed, as she prepared to go on holiday. She suggested to me that she would mothball nominating for an Award until 2019.  Others around her were all in agreement, because it was true. She was worn out. 

You can imagine my response.

There had to be a smarter way.   Old thinking such as working hard, brand busy and relentless execution will only get you so far and will keep you worn out. What about a new and easier way of tackling this?

As a result she has now not only effortlessly nominated for one Award, but found another Award opportunity while she was away, and felt so good about herself after the process that she created two more Award nomination opportunities upon her return.  All this while lying poolside on a drop and flop holiday!

I’ll keep you posted on how she goes. Wish her luck!

Here's the Twist - These Attitudes Also Keep you Younger Longer

These attitudes that my clients are displaying may also keep them younger longer. Researchers are finding that your mental patterns could be harming, or helping, your telomeres — essential parts of the cell’s DNA — and effecting your life and health, according to Nobel-winning scientist Elizabeth Blackburn and health psychologist Elissa Epel.

The tops three issues that that damage your telomeres and contribute to you aging faster?

  • Cynical hostility 
  • Pessimism 
  • Worrying 

Not only will all three take years off your life, but they will also keep you playing small.

So ditch the negativity and rumination and adopt a more positive approach and you win hands down. And to borrow a phrase from a catchy ditty from the 80’s – “Don’t worry, be happy”.

And if it hasn't happened to you yet, it will. Keep the faith.

► YOUR THOUGHTS?  Have you noticed a more positive mindset helps with your career, health and happiness? And what do you do to maintain that positivity? 

 

#MakeABiggerDifference #FeminineAmbitionRocks #WomenOfImpact 

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Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months

There has to be another way ....

There   had   to   be   another   way.

I was imagining the worst all the time and I wasn’t sleeping.

I was almost ready to throw it all in and get another job!

But that would have been quitting far too soon.

It was in early 2015, just a few months after I launched my own business.

My life was high on volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity, and low on safety, security & comfort zone.

Then something shifted.

I adopted a morning gratitude practice. 

Of all the things I do to support wellbeing, physical & mental health (and I do a lot) ….

this was a game changer 

-    keeping me focused on possibility rather than fear or what wasn’t working. 

Now I've added this to my evening rituals as well plus my husband Russ plays along too. 

Most of us have a lot to be grateful for in our lives life and it's handy to remind ourselves. 

The punishment for thinking negatively is thinking negatively.

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The reward for thinking positively is thinking positively. 

I’d far rather be the one who has already finished the champers, while everyone else was debating whether the glass was 1/2 empty or 1/2 full! 

Wouldn’t you?

When you’re in the middle of executing bold, bodacious & brilliant career moves 

An attitude of gratitude delivers a huge ROI.

Here’s to a bold, bodacious, gratitude filled & brilliant 2018! 

Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months

7 signs you suffer from conditional success - and what you can do about it

Sometimes we treat success like it’s an If This,Then That (IfTTT) piece of software.

  • Awesome when you are focusing on productivity, efficiency or behaviour change (such as if I have a chocolate bar, I have to go to the gym (thanks Matt Church))
  • But lousy when it’s about making your success conditional on something that you may or may not have much control over. and
  • Extremely lousy when the very thing that you are restricting yourself from might actually be the catalyst for big change.

Here are some typical thought patterns that indicate you suffer from conditional success - 

  1. I’ll apply for my dream role after I've proven myself
  2. I'll put my hand up for that opportunity when I feel better prepared
  3. I'll ask for a raise only when I've finished delivering on this project 
  4. I'll change jobs after I finally turn the organisation / department around 
  5. I'll invest in a coach once I get a raise 
  6. I'll take a grownup gap year when I've got enough years under my belt 
  7. I'll hang in a bit longer yet and only take that holiday with my family, once I feel really worn out.

Well tomorrow never comes. And if you’ve done #7 then you probably spent the first week on annual leave recovering from a cold anyway. Plus there is far too much evidence available that supports the notion that successful people do it the other way around. They back themselves and invest in themselves pre-emptively then they become successful. 

So maybe it’s time to rethink your approach. 


WHEN THE CONDITIONAL APPROACH DIDN'T WORK


I heard a story the other day about an executive who waited until after they won a new role before they booked in with an Executive Coach. In their mind, the coaching was a reward for winning the role. Nice.  

However, during the course of salary negotiations for the new role, their new employer had negotiated the package down by a significant amount from the originally advertised offer, with cunning arguments and compelling tactics.   Not so nice.

For the executive, who now feels slightly ripped off but determined to do better at the next opportunity, a more confident, strategic and proactive approach might have been ...

"I've got the opportunity to really springboard here and negotiate the best salary possible for myself.  So instead of trying to puzzle it out myself, why not get support in advance to maximise the amount I'll be able to negotiate for myself in this transaction?"

Yes, it's a risk. But only in the short term. In the long term it is a smart 'n savvy investment in yourself.

FEELING LUCKY?

Sometimes we think that some people are lucky when they are successful. But I dispute that. Maybe instead of lucky they are incredibly focused and invest heavily the right things.  After all, as the old saying goes, luck is what happens when planning meets opportunity. And as Shonda Rhymes famously said - “I’m not lucky ..... call me badass”. 

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MAKE YOUR SUCCESS UNCONDITIONAL


Don’t make your success conditional. Instead build in mechanisms that support your success preemptively - just like eating healthy, getting lots of sleep or exercising are preemptive support for your wellness and long term good health.  

So next time you hear your own mental rationale of "I'll do this once I've achieved that" start getting curious at your conditional thinking. And quite possibly you'll find you're putting the horse in front of the wrong cart entirely.

And one final point for you to remember, success is an inside job - if you wait until you feel successful enough you'll be waiting a lifetime.


Feminine leadership superpowers + unconditional success = priceless
 


Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months

Executive women challenging the C-suite to embrace "yes and" thinking

Last week I emceed the Aventage Women in Leadership Summit in Brisbane. The line up of speakers was great - a veritable smorgasbord of who's who in Queensland business and government - CEOs, CFOs, Directors and COOs.

As always, there were a couple of standout performances including two women from the defence force whose stories were enough to make your toes curl - and almost want to make you sign up to be a pilot in the airforce! I hear they are recruiting.

And delegates weren't afraid to ask curly questions of the panelists and speakers.  (For those looking to increase your visibility in industry - asking questions from the floor is a great first step. Then getting on the panel circuit is the next step. Pop me a note to learn more...  )

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Targets and quotas vs cultural change
One of the issues that came up time and time again was the topic of quotas. Should we implement quotas and targets to help us achieve gender balance?

Interestingly, most of the female speakers and panelists saw them as an important tool to redress the balance, implemented for a period of time. The biggest opponents of targets and quotas were the male business leaders - some of whom were Male Champions of Change. Nearly every single one said they'd rather use cultural change to effect change.

Fair enough. No-one would dispute the benefits of cultural change and to quote Peter Drucker:
 

Culture eats strategy for breakfast”

But even in the Peter Drucker world, the debate goes on to qualify that you don't want to disconnect the two. Cultural change can, and should, be linked intimately with strategy.

So here's a radical thought - why don't we implement cultural change PLUS quotas and targets?

  • Why does it have to be either/or?
  • Why can't it be yes/and?
  • Surely a combined approach would deliver better benefits far faster?

Dualistic thinking
Most of us tend to think dualistically:

  • Either/or,
  • Good or bad,
  • Black or white,
  • This method, or that method, or even ..,
  • This year we'll go on the cruise of our dreams or we go to the retreat in Bali.

This old school type of thinking comes from the rigour of scientific experiments where we eliminate one method before we test another in order to work out which is most effective.  It also driven by scarcity thinking where we think we should only have the luxury of one option at a time.

A more contemporary approach (thanks Ros) would be to implement a "yes and" approach, where we try a range of methods, all at once.

Obviously this would mean we might not be sure which part of the program worked:

  • Was it the targets or quotas?
  • Was it the cultural change program?
  • Was it something else entirely?

But who cares?  We now have mountains of evidence and research backing up the business case for diversity.  Organisations are leaving money on the table by going slow on diversity measures. Surely organisations and governments should be using a range of mechanisms to bring balance into workplaces - and not one or the other?  


"Yes and" thinking and your career

"Yes and" thinking can be applied in a range of situations. With the rise of popularity of people owning up to be multipotentialites "yes and" thinking is incredibly liberating. To quote Emilie Wapnik on TED, a multipotentialite is a person who has many different interests and creative pursuits in life. Multipotentialites have no “one true calling” the way specialists do.

Some of my clients get really excited about the possibilities that "yes and" thinking brings up for them as well as they head toward a world of the portfolio career.

I'm sure that there are organisations out there who have seen the light and are implementing multi pronged "yes/and" type approaches, and if yours is, I'd love to hear.

I'm even sure that most of us would benefit from laying a "yes and" lens across a range of areas of our lives, and finding options that make it more fulfilling as well.

Let's ditch professional silos and competition between business units and embrace a smorgasbord of inclusive thinking, collaborative problem solving and cross functional, holistic, change management instead. After all - individuals and organisations who do are going to be relevant far longer than those who don't.

Would love to hear your thoughts. Drop me an email and get in contact.


Vive la révolution!
#ambitionrevolution #LookOutCSuiteHereSheComes #feminineambition #careerfutureproofing #visibility

 

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Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months

Whether you think you can, or you think you can't you are absolutely right

Last year I accepted a couple of seemingly impossible challenges.  My mentor challenged me to grow my LinkedIn connections from 1K to 3K in a few months. Plus a fellow speaker had challenged me to grow my Twitter following from 200 to 1K. All in the same month.

As you can imagine the itty, bitty, shitty committee inside my head did a number for a while - with language like "impossible", "as if!" and "never be able to" featuring frequently in it's vocabulary! However, never one to shirk a challenge, I accepted - and then got on with it - and the results speak for themselves:

  • Twitter: 200 to 1K followers within the month then 14K within the year (because I could)
  • LinkedIn: 1K connections to 3K connections within 4 months and 6K connections within the year
  • Why? Because in a modern hyper connected world where influence and credibility rule - social proof counts. And in order to help more women into leadership roles, I need to continue to build my credibility and influence.

So what did I learn from these seemingly impossible challenges?  

  • "If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right." - Henry Ford

  • What seems impossible, is only impossible if you allow - there is always another way

  • Focus and attention are like money in the bank

  • Necessity truly is the mother of invention

  • Learn the rules so you can get creative and bend them more easily (and keep out of Twitter or LinkedIn jail)

  • When there is a really big incentive for achieving something, whether that's fear of public humiliation, or reward of some sort, there is great motivation.

The value of impossible challenges

I was recently inspired by an article about an organisation who implemented a 5 hour working day. Go figure. But what they found was that despite the staff working fewer hours, the company results improved along with staff morale and productivity. Seemingly impossible but they did it. Because there was so few hours in the work day, every minute mattered, so time management and productivity became a challenge. And by creating scarcity (fewer hours in the day), the organisation had to innovate in order to deliver results and meet customer needs. What an amazing case study.
 

So my questions to you are:

  • What sort of impossible challenges are you setting for yourself on a regular basis? 
  • What out of the box thinking might give you the kick up the butt you need right now?
  • What could you implement that would shift your focus to credibility and performance - as opposed to hours in the office?
  • What Award nominations are you hiding from?
  • Does your role make you shiver with excitement in the morning?
  • Are you aiming high enough with that next job application? And does it make you scared (the good kind) enough?
  • When you apply for promotions are you aiming for inside your comfort zone or out there where the magic happens?  And where the magic happens is the right answer.

Ditch underestimation

We know that women tend to underestimate their own future performance. So get out of your own way, ditch the underestimation and 'level up' more easily.

Three provisos:

  • Don't hang yourself out to dry. Put mechanisms in place to ensure you are successful - coaches, mentors, champions, sponsors and a cheer squad
  • Eliminate temptation - after all, there's no point trying Dry July and then purchasing the Wine Selectors special of the month! (social media black holes, trashy tele and even trashier novels)
  • Enjoy the ride. Then tell me how you went.

If you enjoyed this please share. I love receiving emails from you with your own insights and stories. Do keep in touch.

 

Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months

Beware your scarcity scripting - are you enough?


As a former not for profit executive, I've lived and breathed scarcity for years. There was never enough and even if there was, there was a fine line between the perception of not for profit and not for loss that was sometimes challenging to navigate.

But I'm sure I'm to the only one. Right now with Australian elections looming, the media are sending messages of scarcity, doom and gloom - and those feelings of lack and scarcity are really hard to avoid. Nearly everyone I meet is talking with scarcity scripting!  And it goes like this:

Busywoman
  • Not enough time
  • Not enough money
  • Not enough daylight (yes it's mid winter in Oz) 
  • Not enough energy
  • Not feminine enough  
  • Not masculine enough
  • Not confident enough
  • Not slim enough
  • Kids not well behaved enough
  • Not strong enough
  • Not enough control  
  • Not good enough............ and the list goes on ....

Sound familiar? 

Yet, when we all know that when focus on what we don't have - we not only set our selves up for failure - we also undermine our best attempts at having it all anyway.

Research also tells us that as women, we have a tendency to underestimate our own future performance - which also feeds the not good enough beast and gets in the way of you stretching and simply going for what it is you really want - those big, hairy, feminine ambition goals.

When we focus on being enough, having enough and doing enough, life becomes far less struggle street and far more easy street.  It's just like a weight off your mind - letting go of your need to be in control once more, yet putting you back in the drivers seat.

So once again, let's flick the switch:

  • From "there are not enough hours in the day" to "there's plenty of time"
  • From "money's a bit tight" to "why is it that people just keep on giving me money?"
  • From "I'm not good enough" to "you should be so lucky!"
  • From "I'll never be enough" to  "I'm more than enough to learn how to deliver those results".
  • From scarcity to abundance

It might take a little time and focus, but with routines, discipline and attention both your personal and professional life will become a whole heap easier.  And that fast track into the C-suite? A whole lot closer than you might imagine.

Vive la révolution! #ambitionrevolution #feminineambition #LookOutCSuiteHereSheComes

 

Other articles:

AmandaBlesing
  • 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 smart, 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 are struggling to do so.

Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months

From Zero to Hero in Five Easy Tactics

I was recently interviewed by LinkedIn blogger Tony J Hughes. He asked me to reflect on what drives me to encourage women into the C-suite (Step Up, Speak Out, Take Charge),. He asked me what sparked my initial interest in the topic, and also my top tactics or advice for women who think they are ready to take the lead.  Here's what I told him - plus a few extra tidbits that came up after his publishing date.

My mission in life is to help women to play a much bigger game – change the world if you will – and do so with big ideas, big vision and big, audacious bucket loads of confidence.
— Amanda Blesing


My mission is pretty clear and it started well before anyone might imagine. Yes, you may already know that I observed the different ways that men and women tackled ambitious goals and projects while working alongside various professions during my time in the Association sector.

But in fact it probably started in high school as I headed to boarding school at a newly co-ed school (at the time) that was still predominantly male.  There was a pretty clear distinction in who dominated the power base at the school and ...... I didn't enjoy being relegated to playing second fiddle purely based on my gender, one little bit. Yet I wasn't quite "ready" to challenge the status quo either.

While I didn't know what to do about it then, it certainly sparked an interest in seeing women tackle exciting and meaningful work - with strategies to work through those roadblocks, brick walls and glass ceilings of bias, discrimination or even leaning out behaviours, that sometimes get in the way.

I immersed herself in the works of Sheryl Sandberg, Lean In; Tara Mohr, Think Big; Katty Kay & Claire Shipman, The Confidence Code and Carol Dweck's Mindset as a starting point.  I also drew upon the latest research and findings in neuroscience to try and understand exactly what is it that keeps women "mired in middle management".

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And finally, I examined the more unsettling research around gender bias and unconscious bias that keeps women out of leadership despite concerted efforts by women, business and governments to meet gender diversity targets.

Then voilà!  The Ambition Revolution was born - one-on-one mentoring for professional women – to assist them with confidence, to help them remain strategic and focused on the end goal – elevating themselves more easily to “expert status” and enabling them to more easily execute those bold, audacious moves required.  

It's your turn now

So if you're thinking about tackling something big, bold and audacious in the new year - maybe a promotion, maybe a career change, or maybe you want to head out on your own in a new venture - here are my top five tips for both men and women.

1. Stop being busy and start being strategic: As women we derive a lot of value in being busy. I suspect that sometimes being busy helps us see that we’re adding value and makes us feel less like a fraud. So we’ve polished up “busily doing the job well” to within an inch of it’s life and we imagine that it’s a sure-fire track to success. One of the key learnings is that being busy is going to make you miss the woods for the trees. Being busy keeps you side tracked. Being busy also wears you out. Work out ways of delegating, automating and systematising so that you can create time for strategy. And not just strategy in your work but being strategic about your career and leadership journey.

2. Put your hand up BEFORE you feel ready: The reality is that by the time we feel ready, it’s frequently too late.

  • We know statistically that there are more women undertaking post graduate education than men, and yet it’s not translating to more women in leadership or increased salary for women. And the studying is just one aspect of where we over prepare.
  • Remember the old Hewlett Packard internal research where women will only apply when they meet 100% of the criteria where as men are more likely to apply even if they only meet 60%? Yep, there it is again.  
  • We also know that, on average, women ask four times less frequently than men for a raise!! Yep, there it is yet again.
  • Remember back in primary school in year 1 or 2, when the teacher would ask a question of the group? The boys in the class would all shoot their hand up to get the teacher’s attention even if they didn’t know the answer. Somehow they knew even then, that it made you look better to be proactive and have your hand up, rather than wait around until you thought you knew the answer. Perhaps they realised that by the time the teacher got around to asking them for the answer, they might have had the chance to puzzle it out or even if they got it wrong, there were no serious consequences. They might have looked a little silly (to the girls) but they actually didn’t really care about that either.

So volunteer for projects and roles slightly beyond your comfort zone and expertise. Just in time learning is equally valid as any other form of education and sometimes far more relevant. The entire discovery learning model is predicated on it! Don’t dismiss it.

3. Get comfortable with discomfort: We know from the science of training for any athletic challenge, that the training will be hard work and will possibly hurt. Whether you like “Biggest Loser” or not, it’s a great example that if you want to achieve great results you need to not only do the work, but put yourself out there.

Is it that the female risk brain is more sensitive and finely tuned? Is it that young girls are protected and nurtured, where as young boys are (figuratively) thrown out into the wilderness to fend for themselves? Or is it something else entirely?

Get comfortable with discomfort because it’s from that discomfort that you will learn a heap about yourself and grow.  And the reality? Our brains light up like a Christmas tree when we achieve great results that we’ve had to strive for.

4. Learn the language of value: When many women describe their professional performance they frequently use language such as “loyal”, “hard working”, “thorough” and “diligent” – even at a senior level. Remember how we like to think in terms of doing good work and doing it well? The reality is if you can’t communicate in language that the C-suite understands, connecting with overall results, drawing parallels and linkages to the organisation's overall strategy, or even as to what keeps your CEO awake at nights, then you’ll be bypassed. This means thinking in terms of big picture and context and helping people to see how what you do contributes in those big picture ways.

Susan Colantuono, a career coach for women based out of the USA, talks about the critical “missing 33%” in female business education:

  1. Strategic acumen,
  2. Financial acumen and
  3. Business acumen.

Once again, don’t wait to learn it. Teach it to yourself. Learn the language of value and start using it immediately.

The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.

— Amelia Earhart

5. Don’t just sit there – do something.  While strategic action is better than frantic action, some action is definitely better than no action. No action creates inertia and keeps you stuck in a rut.

It's just like a well worn track in the bush.  It's much easier to stay in the rut than forge new pathways.
  • Action is the fix for low confidence. 
  • Action is the fix for frustration.
  • Action moves you in some direction and creates momentum. Even if it’s the wrong direction you can change course.

Many years ago someone gave me the advice that no decision is a decision. At the time I took this to mean that delaying on a decisions that was okay. Yet the reality is that action in any direction will cause new information to come to light and it's far easier to course correct (in most circumstances) than get out of a state of inertia.

So why is all this important?

Because Feminine Leadership is said to be the leadership style of the 21st Century. Collaborative thinking, emotionally intelligent approaches, looking at old problems in new ways, transparency and non linear approaches are all part of this.

Women—and the men who can think like them—are creating a future we’ll all want to inhabit
— John Gezerma, The Athena Project

So sometimes as women we need to "Step Up, Speak Out, and Take Charge" whether we feel ready or not, whether it's easy or not and maybe whether we like it or not.  Because it's far easier to create a future you actually like, from the front, not the back. And its also far easier to change something once you actually have a seat at the table.  

If you don't have a seat at the table, BYO chair!
  • 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
Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months

Is your All or Nothing Thinking Holding you Back?

Last month I attended the League of Extraordinary Women’s Run the World Conference in Brisbane (next one scheduled for Melbourne). And while I thoroughly enjoyed the lessons shared by inspiring entrepreneurial women  - I made a really interesting observation in particular when talking with others about what we would take home from the event.

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In the course of several coffee break conversations I heard the same sorts of from comments from different people and I had a huge "aha" moment - because I used to be that way (and to some extent probably still am especially when tired or run down).  But because of work with coaches/mentors, reading Mindsets by Dr Carol Dweck, along with Dr Daniel Amens reflections on ANTS (automatic negative thinking) – to put it dramatically – has set me free.

So picture this – your new conference buddy is amazingly talented, incredibly skilled and is thinking about going out on her own. She mentions that that the work of one of the speakers in the NFP space really inspired her, but when we asked if she too might work in that area, she said “No, because I’ll never be able to do it as well as what’s already out there, so I’ll not do it at all”.

Her “all or nothing” thinking(if I can’t do it well I won’t do it at all) closed off any possibility that there might be an opportunity worth exploring.

On the same weekend I was speaking with yet another attendee about successful social media strategies and referring to one of the speakers use of Instagram – and the response from this attendee was, “Well Instagram works for them because they are a fashion label, it will never work for me like that”.

In this instance it was “always thinking” (a milder form of catastrophising ) closed off any possibility that there were any transferable lessons or insights despite the differences in products.

In both instances the individual might have been right, but the dominant negative thought patterns of “always”, “never” or “if I can’t do it well I won’t do it at all” definitely means these individuals won't even give it a try or bother to explore. My new friend who is wary of Instagram will never find out whether or not it might work because her mindset closes her off to even finding out how to use Instagram for other things.

Beware automatic negative thoughts

Dr Daniel Amens is the author of several books including Unleash the Power of the Female Brain. However in some of his earlier writing he talks about ANTS – Automatic Negative Thinking and the examples above are classic examples.

All or nothing thinking – its either all in or all off, there is no mid ground. This really fits in with the perfectionist thinking and we’ve read before about how perfectionism holds women back.  “If I can’t do something properly or well, then I won’t do it at all.” So how on earth did you learn to drive? We certainly didn’t come out of the womb knowing how to walk and talk already.  Most importantly this attitude or way of thinking yet again, keeps us playing small and safe.

Always thinking -  or in my own language “catastrophising”. I was raised by a long line of catastrophisers – and while I hate to admit it the old fairy tale of Henny Penny The Sky is Falling probably wasn’t funny to me as a kid. I excelled at catastrophising all through my 20’s and 30’s.  I used to disguise it socially by saying “never let the truth get in the way of a good story”. 

Look for dramatic language such as:

  • “My boss always micromanages me”.
  • “My team are always late in the morning”. 
  • “My business is failing because I didn’t get the email newsletter out on time.”  
  • “This entire article/report is rubbish because of the typo near the beginning”.

With this sort of thinking dominating then we miss out on so much that might actually be good.

Develop a growth mindset

Dr Carol Dweck talks about mindsets – fixed and growth. When we have a fixed mindset our view of our talents, capabilities and possibilities has an upper limit.  On the other hand if you have a growth mindset then your view of what’s possible has no upper limit – you know that you anything is possible and you can learn to do anything, with the following three provisos:

  • You need to be prepared to be uncomfortable,
  • You need to be prepared to fail at times, and
  • You need to be prepared to do the work.

When we feel tired, stuck or frustrated, I reckon our thinking become more negative and we are more prone to a fixed mindset.

 And the best bit is that they are all easily remedied.  All you need is willingness to observe, reflect and learn - plus remember the three provisos.

 Start observing yourself in meetings or when you are out with friends.  Do you use language like “its always like this”, or “my husband never does this even when I ask him”, or “if I can’t do the 90 minute yoga class, then I’m not going to any yoga at all today”?

 Once you’ve noticed this start questioning yourself – are you actually right? Or is it that you have become so used to using always language or all or nothing language.  Surely 30 to 60 minutes of yoga is better than no yoga? And in fact there is some evidence available that suggests 10 – 15 minutes of yoga 3 times per day is far more beneficial than a 90 minute class anyway.

 With regard to career goals – all or nothing thinking will definitely keep you playing a much smaller game.

  • “If I can’t land that promotion easily then I won’t even bother applying.”
  • “I’ll never be as good as (insert incumbent’s name) so I won’t waste anyone’s time in even going for it.”

Tara Mohr in her research into why women only apply for roles unless they are 100% qualified, talks about people not apply for roles because they don’t want to waste anyone’ time including their own. 

 “I didn’t think they would hire me since I didn’t meet the qualifications, and I didn’t want to waste my time and energy.”

 And I think that if you are prone to all or nothing thinking, always thinking or perfectionism then this would be skewed even more.

Because if you don’t put your hand up, if you don’t give it a try because there is a glimmer of a chance, if you don’t throw your hat in the ring because you think you  aren’t already perfect for the role, then no one will even begin to know that you are looking for a new opportunity. You certainly won’t get any job application experience or interview rehearsal time and you will stay stuck in a rut of your own making.

They way we do anything is the way we do everything.  What else are you missing out on because of negative thinking or a fixed mindset?  So, time to audit your thinking so you can get ahead more easily.   

What do you think?  How does this play out in your world?  Comments below.

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  • 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

  • Call 0425 780 336 or email ablesing@amandablesing.com to learn about how mentoring can help you make a bigger difference.

Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months

The Power of a Possibility Mindset (or are you creating your own roadblocks?)

When I’m working with clients, depending on where they are up to in their own personal journey, I sometimes hear a lot of  “that’s not possible for me” or “I don't know how to do that”, or “that’s fine for some people to afford, but not for me”.  I call this roadblock behaviour and the science is now in - it won't get you very far.  

 We all do it at times and it's not gender specific, so if you can hear yourself in these phrases (and I hear myself too), don’t worry – it's just a phase, and you can move on from there. 

But let's be clear, when it's time to step up, speak out and take charge we need to go into this with a possibility mindset as opposed to a roadblock mindset.  We need to go wide before we go narrow.   We need to be open to all ideas, because it might even be a combination of 10 ideas that sparks the one thing that  lights your fire.

Mindset impacts emotion, which alters biology, which increases performance. Thus, it seemed, by tinkering with mindset—using everything from physical to psychological to pharmacological interventions—one could significantly enhance performance.
— Steven Kotler, The Rise of Superman

A possibility mindset means that when a new idea is presented, we see a range of possibilities that might potentially be available, options, variations, a light at the end of the tunnel.   It’s a bit like having rose tinted glasses. And the good thing? Recent research is proving that this type of positive thinking, seeing the good not that bad, actually changes your brain in positive ways. In fact - it's entirely possibly to change yourself from being a pessimist to an optimist in just 8 weeks!

Possibility

The flipside is a negativity (or roadblock) mindset that just shuts down any idea before its fully teased out and explored, keeping you feeling stuck, frustrated and playing small.

I remember years ago when I first started to “amp my own smart and savvy” with a mentor of my own and we were exploring options.  I felt stuck and frustrated in my role but couldn’t see a way forwards. It was a good role, had lots of development opportunities but I’d outgrown it somewhat. "Where to next" was totally beyond me and I couldn’t see the wood for the trees so to speak – hence me working with a mentor.  I’d even read What Colour is your Parachute in a desperate attempt to crack it on my own – but still wasn’t any closer to an answer on how to see myself differently or how to see the value in what I added rather than describe the specific work I did.  

So my mentor started to get me thinking about all the things I loved doing, challenges I relished tackling, problems I liked solving and people I liked helping. Then she told me a story of someone she had known who got creative with her approach to job satisfaction and remuneration.

Picture this – a stay at home mum who in a previous life had been a copy writer. She was bored but more importantly wanted to bring in an income stream to help look after her family. So she became what’s called a “professional comper”. Professional comper I hear you ask? Yes. Professional comper. She used her copy writing skills to go in lots of competitions that asked for a response “in 25 words or less” or there abouts.  If and when she won a prize (and she won a few), then she would auction the winnings off on Ebay. Now don't quote me but I heard that she was bringing in $60K per annum doing this, give or take.

Now I have no idea if this person was real or imagined or even if her approach was legal or not. However what I do know was that this story (true or false) really appealed to me – and instead of seeing roadblocks I started to see other ways of solving my own problem. If one person could be creative then so could I. 

In the example above the woman had small children and:

  • Couldn’t leave the house (roadblock) so she solved that by working from home (possibility)
  • Couldn’t work regular hours in an office (roadblock) – so she did her work at any time of day or night (possibility)
  • Didn’t really need the prize winnings (roadblock)– so she sold them on Ebay and turned her winnings into things she did like (possibility)
  • Didn’t win anything at first (roadblock) – so it became a numbers game and an opportunity for growth until she developed enough skill and technique to win enough prizes to bring in a reasonable income (possibility).
  •  Didn't want to do this for the rest of her life (roadblock)-  but used it as a spring board for down the track when she had more personal freedom (possibility).

So what roadblocks do you put up when someone presents an idea or opportunity to you? When do you shut a conversation down because you can’t see the road from A to B as a straight line or it doesn't fit with a predetermined reality you had imagined for yourself?  If a promotion  or business opportunity comes your way but it's not perfect, do you say "maybe and if this part was changed I’d love it so lets start talking"? Or do you say "no way, I’d hate that part of the job so the whole thing is not for me"?

Some changes look negative on the surface but you will soon realize that space is being created in your life for something new to emerge.
— Eckhart Tolle

So the lessons for me?

  • There is more than one way to solve a problem,
  • Success doesn’t happen in a straight line and frequently doesn’t happen over night,
  • If you keep an open mind then you will see more opportunities than others,
  • Don’t let a job title, a salary band or peer expectations pigeon hole you and keep you narrow,
  • Don’t let notions of right or wrong, good and bad, best and better get muddled up with what makes you happy, what brings meaning to your life and doing big, important work.

Your thoughts?

Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months