Have you noticed how women excel at justification? We are absolute masters at convincing ourselves of the value behind that expensive pair of shoes, yoga class, summer vacation, dinner out, new décor for the family room, etc. However, this talent doesn’t extend to all areas of our lives. When it comes to our abilities, we seem to second guess ourselves more often than we practice justifying our strengths. We tend to assume that everyone else around us is more self-confident and has a better handle on life than we do. Essentially, we sabotage ourselves with our own internal thoughts of self-doubt.
We all possess the capacity to act as leaders at work, at home, in social situations, as volunteers, etc. Basically, the option is there in every encounter we have with others. However, we also make the choice, consciously or not, to move forward with confidence in our abilities or to become victims of our own self-defeat.
In light of this topic, I recently gave myself an assignment. I decided that I would pay strict attention to the thoughts that were crossing my mind throughout the day. Every time any type of self-doubt surfaced in my mind, I would do two things:
- Question, “Why?”
- Halt the thought and hit reverse, starting over in a more positive light.
I note that before I took on this challenge, I considered myself to be a fairly self-confident woman. However, as the day progressed, I was surprised at the number of times I had to put my plan into action. It seemed constant. It wasn’t just in meetings or scheduled interactions either. More often than not, it was during the moments when my mind was idle or when I unexpectedly met someone in the hall and found myself wanting to offer them a small quick smile and then look the other way. My internal thought was, “I don’t know them that well and they probably don’t remember me.” Really? In this seemingly insignificant moment, I questioned my ability to take a risk and say hello. Try again, please!
As I realized the large number of self-defeating thoughts that were playing in my head each day, I also began to understand how unnecessary they were. I just couldn’t justify any of them and it seemed silly to attempt to do so. As I stamped out the negative thoughts, the positive and more self-confident thoughts made me feel less stressed and more relaxed. I was listening more, asking better questions, looking for more creative solutions
and generally enjoying the day. Because I wasn’t allowing any self-doubt to creep in, I was more effective as a leader, a mother, a friend, a colleague, etc.
The bottom line? The first way we can choose to exercise effective leadership in our daily lives is to listen to our own internal thoughts. I challenge you to give yourself this assignment and then reflect on the results. Bring your thoughts to consciousness, squelch any internal conversation of self-doubt and change it to an internal conversation of self-belief. You might be surprised.