Leaders: Hold Onto Self

I remember being repeatedly urged to submit a proposal for a speaking engagement. I could already envision the event, the techniques I would share, the insight my audience would take away. Instead, my proposal was ignored. Finally, I was told that the organization already had speakers lined up for a whole year! As thoughts of not being good or smart enough attacked me, I felt my energy slowly being drained.

Sometimes, when we are confronted with hurdles to our professional success, doubts, criticism or limiting beliefs may sap our confidence, energy and passion. Have you ever had your inner flame almost extinguished because of criticism or rejection?

In the last article, “Leaders: Honor What Is,” I shared the most significant characteristics of the first Change Proficiency, “honor what is.” In this article, I will introduce the second Change Proficiency tool, “hold onto self,” to guide you and those you lead through business or professional changes and everyday challenges.

What Does It Mean?

To “hold onto self” is to mentally and physically anticipate and prepare for challenges you may encounter before you face them. Picture an international leader being challenged as they begin to implement a monumental decision. They are qualified and prepared. However, if they allow objections or obstacles to create waves of doubts and negative self-talk, it might weaken their resolve and sabotage their objective. We face a similar situation.

Why Must We Do It?

Whenever you reach for or are encouraged to go beyond your comfort zone, you must be prepared to face rejection, opposition and obstacles. You may encounter many “no”s before you get your “yes.” To accomplish your goal, you must have the fortitude to persevere or rebound quickly through turbulent times.

When uncertainty surfaces, “hold onto self” helps you regain your footing by switching your focus to indisputable evidence from your previous victories. This technique works like a protective barrier that protects your mindset, productivity and energy from being corrupted by doubts or disapproval.

How Do You Do It?

“Hold onto self” is a four-step process designed to cut off toxic attitudes that undermine your efforts and replace them with evidence-based thoughts that prove you will succeed. First, you have to gather your evidence; collect, analyze and write down events in your life that directly relate to times you achieved a goal despite doubts or uncertainty. For example, it might have been your first job, a request for a promotion or raise or when you took on more demanding leadership roles. Include relevant personal victories, characteristics, talents and skills. This evidence collectively acts as proof and confirmation that you will succeed in current or future endeavors despite hurdles.

Second, when challenged, immediately and systematically search your database for a similar experience in which you were victorious. Your evidence must be quickly accessible to mount a defense against poisonous beliefs. Third, extract the lessons. Analyze how and why you were victorious and apply that knowledge and insight to the current challenge. Finally, use the new understanding you have gained from your past to develop and apply an action plan to create the future you envision.

One of my clients recently used the “hold onto self” tool to deal with a situation at work. Over several years, she had repeatedly asked for a raise. For a variety of reasons, none of which had to do with her performance, the company denied her request. After her last request, questions, such as: “What did I do wrong? Maybe they don’t think I am qualified? Maybe I am not qualified?” could have infected her confidence and energy. Those beliefs could have caused her to give up on one of her goals. Instead, as soon as she recognized her thoughts were impacting her energy, effectiveness and happiness, she began to apply the “hold onto self” tool by reciting the facts that proved she was qualified for the raise.

Previously, the combination of her doubts and others advising her not to push the issue had kept her tied to a position where she was overworked and underpaid. Now, she was prepared to tackle the problem — the company that did not value her contribution. The result was she pursued and obtained a position with a new company and increased her income by 50%. 

When you “hold onto self,” you reclaim your power, regain courage and momentum and plunge forward prepared to conquer whatever external and internal obstacles lie ahead successfully.

The next article will introduce the third Change Proficiency tool, “be present.”

Donna Johnson-Klonsky, MBA, PCC

DJ Consulting Services, Inc.

East Fishkill, New York 12533

(845) 447-1037

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