I love the above sentiment because it reminds me that we have different seasons in our relationships much the same way as we have seasons in our life. Knowing the season of the relationship may help us understand and cope better when the relationship ends, but it doesn’t necessarily change the way we approach the relationship.
In my previous post, I talked about relationship capital and the importance of nurturing positive relationships This is an extension of that post.
When I was younger, I felt that relationships, no matter what kind, should last. I hated when they ended, I felt like I failed somehow. Then I saw this poem and it helped me realize that relationships have different jobs. At work it helps to get things done, in my personal life it helps to build a sense of belonging, companionship and well being plus all the other nice things that come along with positive relationships and work and personal relationships can overlap. Positive relationships are good for our mental and physical health-a human connection is built into our DNA. Enjoy the relationships you have for the time you have them.
I was listening to an interview, and the term relationship capital came up. It was explained as the opportunities that present themselves in the relationship without ulterior motives attached to the relationship,
It is the network that helps you navigate the corporate culture, understand your shortcomings, and pushes for your success. Ultimately these relationships lead to a goal of some kind, for example wealth, prosperity or success.
For me, relationship capital means building solid relationships that has led to big results. I have worked with my colleague friends on contentious issues and come out with great solutions that make the organization look good.
I remember going into an interview and being asked about how I managed stakeholders and built relationships. I was floored, not because I couldn’t answer the question, but because someone was asking it. To me it seemed like something you learned when you were growing up-like how do you make friends and keep them? I mentioned simple things like speaking face to face, or by phone, developing personal connections and following up with them after meetings if they didn’t attend, etc. The interviewers found these strategies great, they nodded and seemed to get excited. I realized at that point that building and nurturing relationships was a skill, and maybe some people just don’t have it, or they have poor skills resulting in financial losses, damage to organizational image, or loss of trust. The road to building good relationship capital requires consistency of effort and character over time.
All of this to say that building relationships and nurturing them in work and in your personal life is not intuitive or natural to some people. There are lots of courses to learn how to build good relationships to prove it.
Do’s and don’ts of building a relationship
Stakeholders, clients, family, friends, require us to pay attention to the relationship. Building these relationships takes time and effort and if it is genuine then a strong bond can form. Relationships flourish when they:
Involve mutual reciprocity or a mutual willingness to help and support one another
Respect the time needed to build trust and the relationship
Mistakes that people make in building relationships:
Premature asks (asking before there is a relationship)
Poor or no follow up
Being a champion in a way that does not fit with the organization’s brand
What strategies help to build relationship capital?
Build trust. People love this idea, but it comes with a catch-it requires action.For example, if you say you will follow up, do so, be accountable and reliable. Be honest and ethical and you will gain respect and build trust.
Communicate. I believe that most problems that arise in relationships are because of miscommunication. Just the other day, I was speaking with a colleague friend, and we agreed to a plan of action. Somehow the message got mangled, and I got a call from her boss asking for more information. If he hadn’t called me, it would have resulted in a lot of unnecessary work with possibly incorrect information. Luckily, I have a great working relationship with both, and it was easily resolved. I can call on any of my colleague friends, because I have developed a relationship with them, and they will help me, and I will do the same for them. These relationships have paved the way for many successful initiatives.
Set boundaries. Let people know what the goals are and what is at stake. Let them know what is and isn’t possible and the rest is negotiable
Let others know if you suspect a problem is coming. Those in charge don’t like surprises about projects if they are accountable-it puts them in the hot seat. If you suspect something might become a huge issue, let others know about it, so that it can be addressed. This also builds up the trust bank, when they know that you are in control of the situation.
Building relationships out of difficult circumstances:
How does it work when clients are difficult or resistant to change? Meet stakeholders/clients who are resistant to change. This is hard to do because it can feel unpleasant, time consuming, and messy and to come to a satisfactory solution. However, if it is managed well it can be really satisfying!
I have learned is to expect resistance and plan for it with any change. The following has worked for me when I have experienced resistance:
Clearly identify the problem, I am trying to solve.
Clearly state the goal.
Provide foundational information to ensure that everyone has the same basic understanding and context about why this is important.
Identify and get agreement on basic principles. These are the basis for how agreement on decisions can proceed. For example, a principle might be, “Safety is important.” When disagreement happens, go back to see how the suggestion aligns with the principles.
Identify negotiables and non negotiables to find common ground.
Listen to feedback and concerns. This provides valuable information on obstacles to implementing your plan.
Explain the decision. People will want to know what the decision is based on, and whether their feedback was considered. Not all feedback can be used, and it needs to be weighed carefully along with the overall goals, principles, etc. Honest discussions that are respectful work best in this situation.
Have a respectful discussion, they should never be personal or aggressive. Rules of engagement may need to be used if discussions are contentious, heated or get out of control. Stop the discussion and remind people about appropriate behaviour and comments. If that doesn’t work, stop the discussion entirely and have it another time.
Keep the lines of communication open.
Developing good relationships is a lifelong process that will enrich your personal and professional life.
Why this topic? This last year was full of transitions for me, and now we are entering a transition season-fall, and the beginning of the school year.
We may face one huge transition, smaller ones, or a bombardment of transitions, one after another.
This last year I had transitions that included births, deaths, retirement, an engagement and impending wedding, manager changes in the workplace and health issues. Most of the time I managed the transition well by focusing on what to be grateful about. Some transitions are definitely easier than others.
The transitions I had the most trouble with were those that involved death and my impending retirement. Why? Death of a family member was a hard transition to face because it forced me to come face to face with my mortality and loss. It isn’t something I typically think about, but when it hit me smack in the face, I had to face it.
Retirement, because it made me face my mortality again and reexamine who I was, and who I wanted to be, since my work self is changing. I never realized how closely my work self is tied to my personal self.
Death and retirement triggered a grieving process that I am still going through and coming to terms with. They made me confront my fears and my losses. These transitions are making me think about the legacy I want to leave behind. They are also nudging me to let go of the past and move forward. All of this involves a whole lot of mindset management.
Curious about transitions, I looked to see if there is something new or different that I could share-there really isn’t. I investigated how people successfully dealt with their transitions. One thing that struck me when I was doing my research, was those who dealt most successfully with transitions had the following common characteristics:
Grit/Determination: They went through the transition with sheer grit. Some of these people lost homes, family, savings and lived on the bare minimum. They determined that they would get themselves out of the situation they were in and have a better life. They set a goal, changed their mindset, and then did the work to achieve the level of success that they have. Some examples are Mary Morrisey and Victor Frankl.
Vision and Goals: They had a big vision for themselves and their family. It was the vision that helped them move forward. They figured out how to overcome the obstacles in their way.
Serve others: They used their mess to become their message. They used their journey through their transition to help others in a similar situation.
Learned from failures and mistakes: They didn’t give up when they failed or made a mistake, they saw it as a learning opportunity.
Overcame fear: They overcame their fear by going through, rather than avoiding the change.
Transitions involve managing your mindset in the midst of change. People will look at how a leader handles transitions, because it is a refection of their character and resilience. True character emerges during these times and it is what people remember about how the transition was managed-for better or for worse- character wins.
Here are my favorite strategies for better transitioning:
Plan: If you can, plan for the transition. For example, I have been planning for my retirement. I want to work on this blog and make some changes to it. I want to start a podcast, write some books and do some speaking. I have skills I would like to use in another capacity, so these things keep me going. This transition is a bit scary to me, and I know I will find my rhythm.
Take care of yourself. Do something for you. Take a walk, hug a pet, read a book, clear your mind, exercise, meditate, do something to remove the stress that has built up.
Distract yourself and keep busy. It helps to focus on something else besides your trouble. Switching gears helps us to regain control over our life. Do something fun or creative, it will help create a sense of well being.
Have a routine. It will help normalize things, give some structure to your life, and will help you to focus on other things.
Get Help: If the situation is unmanageable, seek out professional help. Some things we can do for ourselves and for other things, we need to seek professional help to get us through.
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I love that we can change our mindset to change our lives. Because we can choose how to think and react, we can have so much control over how we want our lives to look like.
For the longest time my mind was a hot mess! I used to have a lot of anxious and fearful thoughts at one point in my life. I would fret about my health, my kids, my job, my husband’s job, our finances, friends, death, etc. I would feel dread come over me for no reason at all. Sometimes the thoughts would come one at a time, and at other times they came all smushed together and I felt helpless against them.
It was a relief to discover that I could control my thinking, rewire my brain and remain in peace-game changer! Once I got a hold of how, I got rid of the mess in my head. I also learned that mastery in this one area, could lead to mastery in other areas of my life. With the mess gone, I could focus more clearly, I could lead my life instead of being led by my thoughts and emotions. I love the fact that we can have so much power over our brain.
Our brain works mostly on autopilot by creating highways (neural pathways) in our brains. When we focus on something with our thoughts, feelings, beliefs and behaviours we create these highways. Once the highway becomes well used it begins to function autopilot. Autopilot allows us to conserve our mental energy and respond quickly to life experiences.
When we want to change something in our life, the superhighway we built in our brain may no longer serve us. We will need to build a new highway (new neural pathways) to serve our new beliefs and mindset.
Example: Let’s say you want to be happier. You will have to create a new highway (neural pathway). It starts with a belief. You believe that its OK to be happy. You say to yourself that its OK to be happy. You start to feel the emotions of happiness, you start to act happy, you continue to experience happiness emotions and so on. You are happy. What happened? This new way of thinking and being has made it easier produce those feeling of happiness. And you have built a new highway (neural pathway).
The more positive emotions you have, the more neurons you use to build your new highway. Emotions and feelings are very important in this process because they act as the glue to bind you to your experiences. This emotional energy is the fuel, behind your thoughts that give power to your memories, goals, hopes, and dreams. What you focus on grows. So, if you focus on happiness it grows. If you focus on stress it grows. If you focus on anger it grows. Every thought you think and feeling you feel, strengthens the circuitry in your brain (your neural pathways).
Many sports figures have coaches to help their clients become successful at their sport. Golfers like Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and others mentally prepare for their competitions by practicing their skills in their minds first. Not only do they visualize their success, but they engage all their senses to experience the competition.
Natan Sharansky, a computer specialist was accused of spying for the U.S. and spent nine years in a USSR prison. While in prison he played against himself in mental chess. He would say “I might as well use the opportunity to become the world champion!” Remarkably, in 1996, Sharansky beat world champion chess player Garry Kasparov!
Guang Yue, an exercise psychologist from Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Ohio, was involved in a study that compared results of those who did physical exercises to the results of those who carried out virtual workouts in their heads. In the physical exercise group, finger abduction strength increased by 53%. In the group that did “mental contractions”, their finger abduction strength increased by 35% and increased to (40%) 4 weeks after the training ended.
What do these stories have in common?
These stories show the importance of the mind-body connection by linking our thoughts and emotions to actions and behaviours. Our brains are powerful tools that produce the same mental instructions as physical actions.
What the case studies above have in common is engaging as many of the five senses as possible in the visualization process. By doing this, the brain is getting trained for actual performance during visualization and building new neural pathways. Mental practices can enhance motivation, increase confidence, improve motor performance, and prime your brain for success. This practice is available to everyone, not just those in competitive fields.
These studies show that we can control what we put into our minds, and we do not have to think automatically, we can choose what we want to think about.
How do you shift your thinking? Notice-Shift-Rewire, Recognize, Refute and Rewire, or pick your own. What is important is to notice or recognize when you are beating up on yourself and stop it. Refute it or shift your thinking to something more positive. Then put in place your new message. It is simple, but not easy. It requires you to pay attention to the messages you are giving yourself and practice in rewiring your mind to the new more positive messages. It takes time and patience to build a new superhighway. Check out this video.
Coaches encourage you to engage as many of the five senses as you can in the visualization of your goal. Who are you with? Which emotions are you feeling right now? What are you wearing? Is there a smell in the air? What do you hear? What is your environment?
Sit with a straight spine when you do this. Practice at night or in the morning (just before/after sleep). Eliminate any doubts, if they come to you. Repeat this practice often. Combine with meditation or an affirmation (e.g. “I am courageous; I am strong,” or to borrow from Ali, “I am the greatest!”).
Visualization is as powerful as the real thing since you are giving brain a new reality, and it is unable to tell the difference between something real or imagined.
Meditation is a great stress reliever, and as noted above if the brain and body is stressed new neural pathways can’t be formed. It is known to reduce stress and cortisol and boost the immune system. Taking time to pause helps our bring to grow, improve our creativity, improve our mental flexibility and make neural pathway changes.
For some people when something is hard, uncomfortable, or scary, the tendency is to give up. For others it is the kick that they need to keep going because they know that the breakthrough is coming. They double up on their efforts to train the quit out of themselves and keep going.
As we enter the 2021 Olympics, we will see athletic leadership in full display in the next few days as Olympic athletes embrace the Olympic motto and build their mindset for “faster, higher, stronger.”
And theMoral of the Story is Don’t Quit!
I love this story about why it is important to keep going. This excerpt is from Napoleon Hill’s, “Think and Grow Rich.”
Three Feet from Gold
One of the most common causes of failure is the habit of quitting when one is overtaken by temporary defeat. Every person is guilty of this mistake at one time or another.
An uncle of R. U. Darby was caught by the gold fever in the gold-rush days and went west to DIG AND GROW RICH. He had never heard that more gold has been mined from the brains of men than has ever been taken from the earth. He staked a claim and went to work with pick and shovel. The going was hard, but his lust for gold was definite.
After weeks of labor, he was rewarded by the discovery of the shining ore. He needed machinery to bring the ore to the surface. Quietly, he covered up the mine, retraced his footsteps to his home in Williamsburg, Maryland, told his relatives and a few neighbors of the “strike.” They got together money for the needed machinery, had it shipped. The uncle and Darby went back to work the mine.
The first car of ore was mined and shipped to a smelter. The returns proved they had one of the richest mines in Colorado! A few more cars of that ore would clear the debts.
Down went the drills! Up went the hopes of Darby and Uncle! Then something happened! The vein of gold ore disappeared! They had come to the end of the rainbow, and the pot of gold was no longer there! They drilled on, desperately trying to pick up the vein again— all to no avail.
They decided to QUIT.
They sold the machinery to a junk man for a few hundred dollars and took the train back home. The junk man called in a mining engineer to look at the mine and do a little calculating. The engineer advised that the project had failed, because the owners were not familiar with “fault lines.” His calculations showed that the vein would be found just three feet from where the Darbys had stopped drilling! That is exactly where it was found!
The “Junk” man took millions of dollars in ore from the mine, because he knew enough to seek expert counsel before giving up.
Remembering that he lost a huge fortune, because he stopped three feet from gold, Darby profited by the experience in his chosen work, by saying to himself, “I stopped three feet from gold, but I will never stop because men say ‘no’ when I ask them to buy insurance.”
More than five hundred successful men told the author their greatest success came just one step beyond the point at which defeat had overtaken them.
Don’t quit, your breakthrough may just be three feet from gold.
Did you ever say to yourself that you’re not good enough, that you don’t belong, that you don’t deserve the job, the promotion, the book deal, the seat at the table, etc.? If you have, you are in good company.
Tina Fey: Actress and author, said the following about imposter syndrome “The beauty of the impostor syndrome is you vacillate between extreme egomania and a complete feeling of: ‘I’m a fraud! Oh God, they’re onto me! I’m a fraud!’” Women tend to explain their successes away by ascribing them to things like “luck,” “hard work” or “help from others” rather than the innate ability or intelligence than men often cite.
Maya Angelou: The prizewinning author once said, after publishing her 11th book, that every time she wrote another book she’d think to herself: “Uh-oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody.”
Michelle Obama: The former first lady has spoken and written about how, as a young woman, she used to lie awake at night asking herself: Am I too loud? Too much? Dreaming too big? “Eventually, I just got tired of always worrying what everyone else thought of me,” she said. “So, I decided not to listen.”
My friend Google, showed me that many famous people suffer from imposter syndrome, including, Tom Hanks, Natalie Portman, Arianna Huffington, Serena Williams, Sheryl Sandberg and Mike Cannon-Brookes, an Australian billionaire and CEO of Atlassian who told his story in this TED talk.
Leaders in every walk of life have experienced the imposter syndrome. How they deal with it is an important lesson in leadership and managing your mindset.
Who is Prone to Imposter Syndrome?
This syndrome was first applied to women by two psychologists in a 1978 study.. Since then, it was found to apply to anyone from any walk of life. Anywhere from 9% to 82% of people can experience imposter syndrome
Minority groups may be especially susceptible to it. A 2013 University of Texas study of ethnic minority college students found that Asian-Americans were more likely than African-Americans or Latino-Americans to experience impostor feelings.
What Does Imposter Syndrome Look Like?
A person with impostor syndrome does not internalize the positive feedback they get. They don’t see it as an accurate reflection of their abilities. Those who don’t feel like imposters, receive positive feedback, feel good about themselves and confident in their abilities.
Imposter syndrome is:
Feeling like a fraud and fearing being discovered,
Having difficulty in absorbing personal successes,
Feeling like success isn’t deserved, they don’t belong, or are out-of-place.
Feeling like an imposter can lead to a drop in job performance and job satisfaction, as well as increased anxiety and depression.
Perfectionists are prone to imposter feelings because of the high expectations they set for themselves. Small mistakes will make them question their own competence.
Experts feel inadequate if they are not fully prepared or knowledgeable before they start a project. They won’t ask questions or speak up in meetings if they don’t know the answer.
The natural genius feels like an imposter when they have to put effort into their work.
Soloists work on their own and if they need to ask for help, they think that means they are a failure or a fraud.
Superstars feel the need to succeed in all aspects of life and may feel stressed or like imposters when they are not accomplishing something.
Managing Impostor Syndrome
Re frame your thoughts
Recognize the imposter thoughts and put them in perspective. Ask yourself: Does this thought help or hinder me? Then, take action; either let it go, or take positive action.
The way to change your self-talk is to guide your own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Replace negative thoughts with positive ones or phrases that break the cycle like, “You got this!”,”Go get ’em”, or ” I can do hard things!”, You are good enough!”
Recenter and calm yourself, go for a walk, meditate, do some deep breathing or something that is relaxing. Over time, when you refute the negative chatter in your brain with more accurate and positive thoughts, your brain will become rewired to believe better.
Discuss your feelings
Discuss how you feel with a trusted friend, mentor or seek professional help. People who have more experience can reassure you that what you’re feeling is normal and knowing others have experienced it can help make it feel less scary.
Most people experience moments of doubt, which is normal. The important part is not to let the doubt control your actions. Use the information you have to remove imposter doubts more quickly. Young says. “They can still have an impostor moment, but not an impostor life.”
Write it down!
A study of over 12,000 journal entries from 238 employees found that capturing small wins helped increase motivation and build self-confidence. Write down your successes, so that you can visit them when you need to. Take time to absorb your successes.
What you are grateful for?
Successful people practice gratitude by writing down the things they are grateful for. Gratitude:
releases positive emotions,
helps to adopt the wins,
helps to deal with adversity, and
builds strong relationships.
Writing is a great remedy for impostor syndrome and has a healing effect. Write down your feelings of self-doubt. In fact, participants in a study who wrote about their most traumatic experiences for 15 minutes, four days in a row, experienced better health outcomes for up to four months later.
Writing can help you find meaning in your experiences, provide a different perspective, see the positive side of an experience, and provide lessons for future use.
Imposter syndrome is a mind game. It is a matter of who has control of your mind, is it you, or is it your thoughts?
We can be our worst enemy if we listen to our fears and limiting beliefs. Successful leaders reprogram their internal messages and mindsets to overcome fears, insecurities and limiting beliefs. They stretch themselves to believe bigger for themselves.
Changing your mindset and limiting beliefs is hard work because it takes constant attention to what you are feeding your mind. It is really building a new habit so that your actions can follow your beliefs.
essential for the leader to influence collaborators, or followers.
the leadership trait that was most often identified in a 2002 study.
developed at an early age and is influenced by others, experience, our successes and failures, and how they are interpreted in our minds.
the level of general self-confidence that we each acquire in childhood remains fairly stable over our lifetime.
formed through our successes and failures, how others react to us and what we expect of our future performances.
Axelrod in her chapter on leadership and self-confidence, discusses the idea of self-leadership to build self-confidence. Self-leadership involves changing our way of thinking to believe in what we want. She states:
“…after we fail at a task, most of us automatically berate ourselves, but if we practice self-leadership, we can observe that we failed only because it was a learning experience and assure ourselves that we will succeed next time…positive expectation helps guide our thoughts in a constructive direction and manage our emotions, so it helps builds task-specific self-confidence, which can enhance performance because people who believe they can perform well tend to do better than those who expect to fail…self-leadership may be the leader’s single most important skill, …to shape our internal life story to foster success…”
Take Risks: Leaders who are confident tend to have positive expectations and are willing to take risks. The willingness to take risks, along with believing in their own competence helps build success.
Our level of self-confidence also affects our willingness to complete a task when we fear failure. Those with a high level of confidence will adjust their goals to be more manageable and achievable.
Manage their emotions: A leader who remains emotionally stable, manages his/her anxiety and anger during difficult confrontations, and focuses on constructive language will be more successful. This self-control will put the leader in a positive light. On the other hand, lack of self control can damage trust, commitment, and the leader’s reputation.
Imaging/rehearsal: Picture the activity in your mind and what a successful outcome looks like. Rehearse what might happen, what might be said and how you might to respond to the scenarios your mind generates. This acts as a rehearsal for the real thing and prepares us for what might happen. Athletes and many who have life coaches or mentors, are coached to use this method to visualize success.
Constructive self-talk: Catch your inner self-talk to identify destructive patterns. Confront and silence the inner critic, boost your confidence, and reduce anxiety. Speak to your inner critic and tell it that it is wrong, it is a liar, you are going to send it for a time out, it is going to a parking lot, etc. A tip someone shared with me was to wear a rubber band on my wrist and snap it every time the inner critic started. Then call out the critic and re frame the thought to a more positive message. Catch it before it changes the message in your head.
Competence: Focus on what you do well; your competence and abilities. Avoid comparing yourself with others. Be proud of what you do well.
Eliminate triggers: Avoid negative thinking or spending time around things or people that can make you feel bad about yourself-anything that leaves you thinking you’re not good enough. Re-frame your thinking-change your mindset.
Bounce back from your mistakes: No one is perfect. Even the most confident people have insecurities, and there’s no one alive who hasn’t made a mistake. Don’t let one wrong turn, or even a few of them, make you think you don’t have what it takes to achieve your goals and reach your success.
Surround yourself with people who believe in you: Nothing is as powerful as people who think you’re great, who believe you can do the impossible, and who have all the confidence in the world in you. Surround yourself with those people and be intentional about maintaining those connections. Stick with the people who lift your perspective and avoid (or at least tune out) those who make you feel bad or doubt yourself.
You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.