Do Leaders Feel Like Imposters?

Photo: Kyle Glenn, Unsplash

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.

Valerie Young, expert and author of, The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women, found the following patterns: in those with imposter syndrome:

  • 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!

Your successes

  • 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,
  • improves health,
  • helps to deal with adversity, and
  • builds strong relationships.

Your self-doubts

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.

Takeaways

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?

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Believe Better

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.

Try it and see what happens!

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The Self-Confident Leader

What is it about self-confidence that is so appealing?  

  • We are drawn to people who believe in themselves.
  • Confident people are simply happy with where they are in life and believe they are capable of reaching their goals.
  • Confident people seem to know what they want, and are not afraid to ask for it, or go after it.
  • They’re typically comfortable in their own skin and well-adjusted.
  • They have a sense of ease which is appealing.
  • They are not afraid to express themselves.
  • Confident people transform the energy in the room.
  • They are authentic, they do not try to be something or someone else.

Think about someone you know who is confident. What is it about that person that says confidence? Then think about someone you know who lacks confidence. What is it different about the two?

The person who comes to my mind that exudes confidence is my husband. Why? 

  • He is confident about his abilities and is comfortable with who he is.
  • He is decisive, takes action, and follows through.
  • He is a positive person and tries to find the positive in all situations.
  • He values integrity and honesty above all things.
  • He isn’t afraid to try new things. He sees it as a challenge and is willing to work to master it.
  • He doesn’t worry about what others think about him.
  • He has a positive energy that transforms the room.

How did he get this way? Part of it is personality,part is hard work and taking calculated risks, facing his fears and building upon his successes.

Self-confidence is:

  • an individual’s level of certainty about their ability to handle things.  
  • 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…”

Leaders

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.

Are Authentic: When leaders reach a level of success and seniority, they may have to take a stand about their personal values, beliefs and principles. This may attract criticism and polarize people. When faced with harsh critics, the best advice is to ignore them if your decisions are ethical, and principle based. Don’t let them get in your head, if they do, banish them like you banish your inner critic. 

Takeaways to Build your Self-Confidence

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.

Jim Rohn

Take pride in yourselfSome people think that taking pride in yourself means that you can’t be humble. You can recognize and appreciate who you are and what you’ve accomplished without being arrogant. Sometimes it’s the motivation we need when things get tough.

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Get Organized to Improve Credibility and Reduce Stress

Photo by Serpstat from Pexels

Organizing things is one of my ways of coping with stress and it is how I remain productive.

  • Organization and time management skills are life skills that can be developed and maintained.  In this study, 67% of high school teachers surveyed, viewed having organizational skills as critical to student success. The same principles that prepare for student success can be applied to work and personal success. Realistic time management and organization skills can improve productivity and the quality of your life.
  • On the other hand, disorganization can lead to a negative impression about your abilities, competence, reliability and credibility.

Factors that Lead to Disorganization

Disorganization may be a result of procrastination, attachment to things, or lack of skills. Those who want to develop or improve their organizational skills, may need to change their mindset and their expectations.  Before people make a change, they need to have a reason to change, and this means a mindset shift. Think about trying to lose weight, eat healthy, or have a fitness regime, etc., first you need to be committed to doing it, and then you need to follow through. Unless you accept that it is a process and will take time, you may become discouraged. For some, getting organized may sound good for about a day until your mind goes back to, its too hard, too much work or it takes too long. You may start to feel guilty, give up and end up back at disorganized and overwhelmed.

Disorganization may be due to a mental health condition. Depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), hoarding and other mental health issues can make it difficult to develop and maintain an organized environment. If this is the case, then it is important to get professional help. Get a diagnosis from a professional in the mental health field and appropriate support like, medication, therapy, coaching, organizing, education, etc.

Ditch the Guilt and Stress

Do only what is comfortable for you to do and manage. Take small steps that you can do consistently over time. Ask for help.

Common Elements

I sifted through information and advice on this topic to find the common elements. The good news is that the basic components of organization and time management are the same for work and for your personal life. They are:

Priorities

  • Prioritize your activities for the day, week and month. Some of them may be able to be automated and some may become habits. According to a study from Duke University, around 45% of our everyday actions are made up of habits.
  • Do the urgent and high importance tasks first. Some things may be urgent but not important, so learn the difference.
  • Write down your bigger goals (life goals). Then break them down into manageable pieces.

Planning:

  • Bigger or more complicated projects requires some thought and preparation. Break large projects into manageable pieces. Delegate whenever possible.
  • Build in a back up plan. Think through “what if” scenarios. This will help avoid being late on projects or not having enough money or other resources.
  • Poor planning will create additional stress and cause you to go back to either refinancing, removing some aspects of the project to complete it or be on budget, or negotiating for more time to complete the project.
  • Ask for someone else to review your plan.

Process:

  • For Work: These are activities that can be automated, like automatic calendar reminders for meetings or appointments, or templates and processes for activities that come up frequently.
  • Personal: Tasks that can be automated or delegated, like organizing your house. For example, having bins for mitts, or hats, a place to put your keys, a grocery list that everyone can write down what is needed, or paying your bills automatically by setting up an account.  
  • Work and Personal: Block off time to do the important things that need some thinking or do-not-disturb time. Some online calendars have features that allow you to show that you do not want to be disturbed. If you are at home and don’t want to be disturbed turn off your phone or put it on do not disturb. This feature will allow only certain calls to come through. Tell those around you that you do not want to be disturbed. Lock your office door.
  • If you have children that need watching ask a friend, neighbor, parent to babysit for a few hours to complete your work.
  • Designate a time to review email. This way you won’t be distracted by incoming emails.
  • Don’t multitask, it is too easy to get distracted.

Making the Change

Making a change is hard, you have to be intentional about the change and fight the stumbling blocks that come up to block your progress, such as procrastination and perfectionism.

Decide what you would like to organize, then:

  • Take a small step-a micro step. According to B.J. Fogg, Director of the Behavior Design Lab at Stanford, and author of “Tiny Habits, The Small Changes that Change Everything,” it means making the change as small as you can. To create a new habit, simplify the behavior, make it a tiny behavior that is easy and fast to do.
  • Apply the change consistently, it means doing the same steps repeatedly (daily) until they become habits.
  • Organizing one area of your life can lead to organizing other areas of your life. This will make you more productive and increase your confidence.

Project Killers

  • Procrastination: If you keep stalling a project then the project isn’t important to you. If you want to hang on to it, start taking micro steps. If it is important, and you keep stalling, someone else should take over.
  • Perfection. Some people will fiddle with a project to make it perfect. It will never be perfect; it should be a quality job and never sloppy.

Takeaways

Some of my favourite organizational tools:

  • For work: I love mind mapping because it helps me see the whole picture, organize components and see relationships all at once. It makes the mess a message.
  • For my personal life: My phone is my organizer. I use notes, voice memos, camera and calendar features to keep me organized, remind me of meetings and on-the-run notes or memos. I use the camera on my phone to take pictures of where I parked (parking level, parking number, landscaping ideas, etc.)

Good organizational skills matter because they:

  • Help you become a problem solver, something that the world is looking for.
  • Help you be more efficient, productive and successful.
  • Help you achieve your goals faster.
  • Help other have more confidence in our abilities.

For every minute spent in organizing, an hour is earned

Benjamin Franklin

Successful Leadership Problem Solving

Photo by Olav Ahrens Røtne on Unsplash

Good leaders have a problem solving mindset which makes them so effective, have better control of their lives, and have more success.

Successful problem solving happens when you are clear about what your problem is. Correctly identifying a problem is critical to solving it.

  • It sounds so basic, but some problems are not easy to identify, which makes it more difficult to solve them.
  • Sometimes people have a solution, before they understand what the problem is. 
  • Sometimes the problem is so complicated that layers must be peeled away before you can get at the root cause.
  • It is a trap if you think that defining the problem is easy. In all my years as a policy analyst, defining the problem is the most difficult part of policy work because you need to get to the root of the issue. If you can’t identify the problem, you won’t be able to fix it, or move on.  

Problem Solving Steps

The problem-solving process is the same no matter what the problem is:

  1. Identify the problem(s): It may help to talk it out with someone. 
  2. Gather information: interviews/talking with others, research, data, internet reviews, annual reports, other reports, minutes, etc.
  3. Analyze your information: Use the information gathered from step two and begin analyzing and synthesizing the information.This includes identifying options or choices and what to consider before you make your best choice. Often step 2 and 3 go together.
  4. Put together an action plan: What are the steps you need to take to make it happen?
  5. Review what you learned:  Once you have implemented your plan, you may want to review the process, (immediately, so you can document what worked and what didn’t at various intervals, 6 months, 1 year, etc.)

Example:  Having a difficult conversation

The Context

A golf trip is being planned by a group of golfers once travel opens from COVID. Some golfers are concerned that not everyone is immunized or will be before the golf trip. The immunized golfers are hesitant about having non-immunized golfers join them, but are afraid to raise it for fear of offending the non-immunized golfers. They are also afraid that by socializing with the non-immunized golfers, they could potentially infect their close family members once they return home from the trip. (Partners were not invited).

Identify the Problem:

Do I have this difficult conversation about what to do about the immunization issue, or do I let it go?

It may be helpful to talk it out with others to clarify the problem. 

Information Gathering and Analysis:

Identify concerns of the golf group both immunized and non-immunized. 

Identify what is non-negotiable.

Identify logistics of lodging, meals, golfing, local rules and requirements, etc.

Find out what the safety risks and requirements are for the immunized and non-immunized, including risks to family members. Many of the golfers have family members with chronic and respiratory illnesses that could put their health at risk.

What are the requirements if someone gets the virus? What is the impact to the group? If quarantine is necessary, are there other arrangements that need to be made?

What happens if someone is hospitalized with COVID or becomes ill? Would someone have to stay with them until they were better?  How will that situation be managed? Would medical insurance cover them? Will someone from the family be able travel to be with their sick family member? 

All these items need to be thought out and planned for.

Action Plan:

Plan for the difficult conversation. Identify how and when to have the difficult conversation. Plan what to say and how to say it:

The leader of the golf trip started the conversation by admitting to his non-immunized friends that this was going to be a difficult conversation and that he was taking a risk with the friendships by doing so. He indicated that his safety and the safety of his family was the most important thing to him.

He acknowledged that his friends had a right to choose not to be immunized. He also acknowledged that as the leader of the event, he had a right to protect his family and others on the trip. He mentioned that others were concerned about how this would affect them and their families.

The leader laid out all the information he gathered and all the questions that needed to be answered. As they began discussing the issue in a calm and rationale manner, it became clear that the non-immunized golfers had not considered all the “what if’s” and had more to think about. The non-immunized golfers went away to consider the discussion and the potential scenarios.

They had a follow up discussion a week later and the non-immunized golfers decided that vaccination was the best option for them and their families. (They had been thinking about getting vaccinated, and the questions raised made them do their own research and reach this decision-no strong arming was involved).

The discussion ended with a temperature check on the relationships. The leader asked how the non-immunized golfers felt about the issue, discussion and relationship. The response was: “All is good.”

Learnings:

Leaders don’t step away from a difficult conversation but find ways to manage it. This real-life example is relevant because difficult conversations happen in the work environment and in a personal environment.

It was an awkward situation and an uncomfortable discussion that brought out all the issues into the open and “cleared the air”. They were fully discussed so that everyone could move on.

Thoughtful problem solving played a key role.

Having a difficult conversation can be productive, calm, rationale and without drama. 

Fully displays leadership skills and character traits such as communication, integrity, honesty and compassion.

Takeaway

This is an example of excellence in leadership problem solving: All of us will run into messy people problems based on emotions, principles, or politics. Most people want to run away from these kinds of conversations, it is an act of courage to face the problem directly.

  • This method of problem solving is a time-tested process that works no matter what the problem is.  
  • Sometimes as a leader you have to do the hard thing. Do it as compassionately as you can.
  • This also serves as an example of how to have a difficult conversation, whether in your work life or in your personal life.
  • Every decision you make has a consequence, be ready for the consequences.

Be brave enough to start a conversation that matters. Quote Master

Be the Leader of Your Own Life First!

Being the leader of your own life means taking control of your decisions, thinking, emotions and actions. It is inside out leadership.  

Today’s society is looking for a different type of leader than in the past. People want a leader who is willing to listen and learn from others and from their own successes and failures. It takes a learning mindset; someone who is willing to be a leader of their own life.  Focus on the things that will make you a better leader at home, this will then make you a better leader at work.  When you can effectively lead your own life, you can do a better job of leading others.

A Leadership and Life Skill: Decision Making

Photo by Ivan Aleksic on Unsplash

In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.

Theodore Roosevelt

Have you ever met a person who couldn’t or wouldn’t make a decision? How did it feel?  For me, someone else’s indecision is frustrating because there is nothing, I can do about it – it is beyond my control.

I had a boss who was afraid to make decisions and to give direction consistently. It was frustrating.  I used to mutter under my breath, “just make a decision.”  I wanted to make the decision for him. I wanted his boss to make the decision for him. I just wanted somebody to make a decision!! The inability to make a decision meant that my work and work of others was delayed and this created more last minute stress to get the work done to meet deadlines.  

Usually, I am pretty good at decision making and I have been told by my family that sometimes I make too many decisions that they then have to implement!  However, there have been some decisions that I have had a tough time making. What if there is no best choice? Then the decision becomes harder to make. What to do?  At some point you have to make a decision, or it will be made for you. Just make a choice and follow it though, you can make it right. You will learn from the tough decisions.

Making decisions is a necessary life skill. Everyone has to make hundreds and thousands of decisions in day, at home, at school, at work, with friends and in the community. Making decisions should start a childhood, babyhood even. Simple decisions that build to more complicated decisions. For some it is easy, for others it is paralyzing.  I share some of my tips on decision making in the takeaway section.

Cornell University research shows that the average adult makes “about 35,000 decisions each day, children make about 3000 per day.” Interestingly, an average of 226 decisions are about food. We should be really good at making decisions after one day!

Getting good at decision making helps us cope with anxiety, it empowers us, builds self reliance and self confidence. On the other hand, if you don’t have good decision-making skills you will be more anxious, dependent on others and lack self confidence.

Making a good decision takes mental energy, so save your hard decision making for when you are at your peak mentally and emotionally. A study, of prisoners who appeared early in the morning before a judge received parole about 70 percent of the time, while those who appeared before the same judge late in the day were paroled less than 10 percent of the time that’s because the judge succumbed to decision fatigue.

Learning from your decisions good or bad

How do you get good at decision making? Good leaders will learn from their mistakes, failures and successes. They will analyze their decisions; what worked and why, and what didn’t work and why.

In most cases a poor decision can be changed to a better one with time and effort. Reviewing your decision doesn’t usually require hours of thought, it is a simple exercise that takes minutes. Writing down your analysis will help and serve as a resource in the future, but it doesn’t even need to be written down. It helps when you face a similar situation, you can apply your learning to it. When you make a great decision, it is empowering and confidence building. For those not used to decision making, it will give you a rush when your decision turned out the way you hoped it would. That success will help you to make more and better decisions.

Families, businesses, friends depend on making decisions. Leaders get good at making decisions because they must make so many and mostly they make more good ones than regrettable ones. They have overcome issues like, fear of the unknown, the paralysis of too many choices/ information overload, procrastination and trusting their instincts.  Why? Because they have taken the time to learn from their decisions and they haven’t let the fear of decision making stop them from making a decision.

Managing your decision making process

  1. Accept that making a decision means you have to make a choice, you will need to choose one thing over another, you can’t have it all. Make a choice.
  2. More thinking is not always better thinking. Get enough information to make your best choice, so that you are not making an impulsive or an emotional decision. Listen to your intuition- then choose.
  3. Don’t defer decisions endlessly. When you don’t choose someone else will choose for you and you are stuck with their decision and the consequences of your indecision. Be in charge of your own life, make a decision.
  4. Some decisions don’t work out as expected; this doesn’t mean that you did anything wrong or made a bad decision. Sometimes life happens and the unexpected happens. It’s OK, you can still make the decision work for you.

Takeaway

When I get stuck about a decision:

  1. I talk it out with someone; it helps to bounce ideas around and helps me see things in a different way.  
  2. Sometimes I make chart and look at the pros and cons.
  3. Sometimes I do some mind mapping (this is my favorite way of thinking, organizing and making a decision) for more difficult or complicated decisions.
  4. After the decision is made and with really tough or complicated decisions, I take the time to review what happened, what worked well and what didn’t, and what I would change. I used this same process with my kids when they made a decision that was a tough one or had a bad day at school or when they had trouble with a friend; What did you learn from this? Would you change anything?
  5. I take a break from thinking about it and do something else that fully occupies my time, listen to music, go for a walk, exercise, gardening, etc.  Once my mind has had a break the answer will come.

Decision making is such an important skill that those who don’t get good at it will get passed over and end up living someone else’s life. Don’t let the fear of decision making be your boss.

Sometimes you make the right decision, sometimes you make the decision right.

Phil McGraw

For the Leaders at Home: Thank You!

Today is Mother’s Day. It is the day we take to honour mothers and thank them for all they have done for us. Mother’s (father’s your turn will come) are the everyday leaders at home.  They are the ones who make a difference every single day with the lives they touch by shaping the next generation leader-it is a daunting task.

Parenthood doesn’t come with a manual. There is no succession planning. There is no salary for being a parent. You make the best decisions you can, learn from your mistakes and hope that the balance of probabilities is in your favour; that you do more good than harm.

I remember when my daughter was born, and I became a mother.  We brought my daughter home, and all was good for about an hour.  Then my daughter cried. My husband and I looked at each other and he said, “why is she crying, what does she want?” Like I knew!

We are both bright and capable people. But this little bundle of 7 lbs. 11 oz. humbled us. We knew at that moment we were completely alone and that this was going to be a journey of trial and error. We were in it for the long term, and we would have to do the best we could.  We didn’t have any of our immediate family around us to help, it was just the three of us.  Each day we learned something new and became more confident parents.  I would say our parenting style was a team effort. We made joint decisions and we shared parenting responsibilities. It made it easier to be a mom, but it was still tough for the two of us, so I have the utmost respect and admiration for the single parent moms.

Sometimes when I had a minute to think about it, I second guessed our decisions-did we do the right thing?  Are we teaching them to be independent, to be their own person?  We knew that our mission was to equip our daughters to be successful at life, in all areas, physical, mental, social and with their work life. 

At times being a mom was bone weary exhausting, but I knew I had to keep going. At other times it was head popping off moments, where I just wanted to be somewhere else. Then there are the times of heart bursting pride. Yes, motherhood comes with its challenges and rewards.  Holding the long term view is hard, now I get to see how the hard work has paid off and am reaping the reward on this side of being a grandmother.

I also learned that what we do matters so much more than what we say. This is the crux of leadership at home. This is the influence you have.  Don’t get me wrong, what you say is important. I have written about the consequences of negative speech.   My daughters have watched my words and actions. They have called me out when my actions didn’t line up with my words.  They have also called me out when my words hurt. They have learned as have I ,about the good, the bad and the ugly of parenting. They have taken what they have learned and are forging their own way.  I am happy that they have grown up to be lovely, strong, capable and caring young women. 

My oldest daughter is a first-time mom and I see her finding her way. She is braver than I was and has fully embraced motherhood.  I see my granddaughter watching and learning from her parents.  It is a miracle and a wonder at the same time.

Mothers, know that your small steps and consistent actions pay off over time.  You are raising a new generation of leaders.

If you know of a mom who needs to hear about how important her job is at home, please share.

Thank you and Happy Mother’s Day!