As we start another new year, I find myself wanting to take a step back from the usual goals I work with leaders on – getting promoted, expanding their influence, maximizing impact and shifting the focus on the approach and mindset as opposed to specific tactics.
2020 was one heck of a year and we’re not out of the woods just yet. As we transition into this next phase of our journey back to a new normal, let’s begin with our internal process and mindset.
When we set goals to accomplish and achieve big things this year, can we come from a place of self-love and compassion? We all know to be kind to each other, and I believe that’s our natural instinct, but can we turn inward and apply that kindness to ourselves? In other words, can you take a perspective on yourself as you would to a close friend or colleague if they were facing a difficult challenge and need your support?
For those of you that are used to being really tough on yourselves – I’ve probably turned you off. But, hear me out.
The resistance to the concept of self-love is the belief that if we are nice to ourselves and accepting of our flaws, we will no longer be able to achieve the kind of success we have earned or be capable of truly reaching our potential. Research shows that the opposite is true. Self-compassion is the foundation for resilience and helps you develop the courage to face times of uncertainty and disruption. And frankly, after over a decade of working with leaders to get to the next level, I’ve seen far more success (with the process and outcome) when they show themselves some grace vs. negatively pressuring themselves to get there.
In this new year, I invite you to experiment with trying things a little differently. Strive for the big goal without talking down to yourself or beating yourself up about it. Motivate yourself from a positive place instead of a negative one. If for no other reason, try it to make life a little more pleasant. There are plenty of other people and events that can still bring the negativity that are out of your control – just don’t add to it.
The goals can still be big – in fact you can make them BIGGER. The same principles still apply. Take small steps, consistently. BUT, do it from a place of accepting where you are now, being kind to yourself, being curious with the process when things don’t go according to plan (because that will happen). Instead of getting down on yourself, Ask why did the unexpected happen? What could I do differently? What is another approach to take? Why didn’t this work? Vs. I can never do this. I just suck at this. I’m going to make myself do this.
A critical component of being an effective leader is having the empathy and compassion for your colleagues and your teams. I’m telling you that it starts with YOU. You need to learn how to put on your oxygen mask first. I am not asking you to be soft. I’m asking you to be kind. And kindness is not a weakness but a strength.
So, set a big goal for 2021. But make your resolution be to become kind to yourself. Then let’s see what amazing emerges.