As strongly as I believe in the inherent value in each and every one of us – our creativity, power, and purpose –I also know we are flawed. Our humanity works for and against us. There is, as we know in theory, a “dark side” to even the most admirable trait. We reference this truth in common phrases like, “You can have too much of a good thing,” and “There are two sides to every coin.”
One challenge with human nature is our inability to clearly see our shortcomings, and, what’s more, to perceive when those shortcomings are of our own making. In the corporate world, we call these “blind spots.” But generally, it’s about not only self-awareness, but also self-control. There’s what you see (assuming you see it clearly), and then there’s what you do about what you see. Both are critical components of emotional intelligence.
I’m sure you’ve been burned by a blind spot at some point during your professional journey. We all have. Since consciousness is often the best antidote, I’ve listed a few of the many barriers that get in our way and hold us back. Here’s to overcoming them!
Don’t limit yourself.
You can’t achieve big things if you have small dreams. While I do believe we can be blessed beyond our imagination, I also believe our dreams establish the capacity for that blessing. Set your bar high and cast your vision long. I’m all for the annual plan, the monthly goals, the weekly to-dos, and the daily tasks. But if they don’t somehow lead to a higher vision, you could be spending time on the wrong things. Get a vision for your life, your division, your team, and your family…and know that no one place or time defines you. You are limitless! Get that in your bones and dance with it, people!
You can’t please everyone.
I can’t tell you how much time I’ve wasted over the years trying to please people. I like harmony. I want people to get along, to help each other, and to do the right thing. Finally, I came to understand that not everyone shares my values, and my idea of the right thing is someone else’s wrong thing. Not everyone will like you or celebrate your success. The good news is, you don’t need everyone. Who do you need for your personal and professional wellness? For your health? For your happiness? Focus on those people. Release the rest…and do you.
Your thoughts create your experience.
Do you think you’re worthy of success? If so, you’re more likely to achieve it. Do you think your team is capable? If so, they’re more likely to win. Do you think your colleagues respect you? If so, they’re more likely to respond to you respectfully. If you constantly doubt yourself, your team, or your colleagues, you’re in for a rough ride. Assume positive intent, and believe the best in yourself and others.
There are, of course, times when even your highest thoughts won’t move the mountain. Don’t sit down in front of it and give up. Either walk around it, or climb that sucker.
Speaking of thoughts, don’t OVERthink.
I’ll admit, this is my Achilles heel. I’m always thinking, analyzing, and contingency planning in my head. While a thoughtful approach has served me well, this behavior has also caused me to waste thought energy on issues that weren’t even issues before I contemplated them to death! When there is uncertainty, focus on what you know. And seek to validate, or invalidate, what you think. Not everything we think is true. (Thank God!)
You are not your mistakes.
Everyone makes mistakes. We know this, but we still beat ourselves up when we fail at something we deem important. I’ve seen many brilliant leaders get stuck here. They experience failure and stop trying. They say the wrong thing and stop talking. We are “pendulum people” at times. If we run toward something and smack into a wall, we will run the other way instead of taking a step back to look more closely at that wall. You are not your mistakes. Failure can be our greatest teacher. Let it teach you, and move forward with your newfound wisdom in tow.
Our thoughts and behaviors can empower us or paralyze us. There is greatness in you and because of you. Leading consciously is the only way to maximize your impact and minimize distractions. Don’t get in your own way! Your own professional high ground is within your reach.
Tara Jaye Frank is VP of Multicultural Strategy for Hallmark Cards, Inc. and the author of Say Yes: A Woman’s Guide to Advancing Her Professional Purpose, written to help women from all cultural backgrounds chart a career course they can believe in and achieve. Follow her on Twitter @tarajfrank and Facebook at Facebook/tarajayefrank, or visit her at tarajayefrank.com.