Once you accept a leadership role, you start a journey that requires you to be more. Being more, is not only about what you learn, but who you become in the process. To successfully initiate a difficult conversation, you have to be more than your discomfort. To set a vision, you have to be more than your fear of failure. The barriers to being more are not just a limited mindset. Real barriers from the environment are always lurking: government regulations, the difficult employee with tenure, and the unrealistic expectations from corporate headquarters. Regardless of your external barriers, here five ways to elevate your leadership.
1. Create a Vision
Decide who you could be if you were living and leading from the best version of you. Get the image clearly in mind. What would you start doing? Would you be more organized? Would you listen more? What would you have to stop doing? Would you quit blaming the company? Would you stop letting employees complain endlessly? How would you feel? Energized, joyful, confident? How would people respond to you? Now, pretend the barriers have dissolved. Would you start listening and stop reacting?
2. Notice Your Thoughts and Feelings
We human beings think about 60,000 to 70,000 thoughts per day and 70 percent or more are either negative or repetitive. Every thought sparks an emotion. For example: The thought, “Generation Y doesn’t have a good work ethic” leads to the emotion of anger and resentment. Emotions are the body’s reaction to the mind. With enough effort, you will look for evidence to support your story. This is referred to as confirmation bias in psychology.
3. Notice Your State of Being
Patience, impatience, joy, overwhelm, and anger are states of being. Notice how you are “being” in the moment. Your state of being produces behaviors. Becoming aware of your state of being improves your ability to notice your thoughts and feelings. For example, when you are impatient, chances are your inner dialogue is about time. Someone is wasting your time; there’s not enough time; or even time is money.
4. Close the Gap
Now that you have increased your awareness by noticing your thoughts and feelings, and you notice who you are being, it’s time to revisit your vision so you can begin to align with your highest vision of yourself. Who would you be if you weren’t obsessed about time? How would you inspire your Generation Y workers if you were curious about their values instead of certain about who they are?
5. Get Uncomfortable
The process of change is uncomfortable because you have to give up your emotional addictions. You have to give up your need to be right about all the stories you tell yourself. You must increase your awareness to bring the unconscious beliefs and behaviors into your consciousness. You must learn to use your conscious mind to think bigger than how you feel. Part of the discomfort is that we become addicted to the emotions of blame, resentment, worry, and frustration. You have to reprogram your body and mind to the new vision you have for yourself.
Remember that person you said you wanted to be? No matter what obstacles you face, every barrier is your opportunity in disguise, to question negative beliefs, to think bigger than what you feel, and to reinvent a new story for your leadership legacy.