Honestly Unsuitable?

Today’s Thought: Leadership can be defined in hone word – honesty. You must be honest with the players and honest with yourself.

I had felt for a while that I was doing better with this, but just recently I can see the damage I have done by not being honest quickly enough. Problems linger; practice doesn’t improve and the outcomes are therefore poorer than the powers that be would like.

The problem I have is that I don’t always see the problems; I am so caught up in my workload that I don’t get out and about enough to check what is going on. When I do, I mostly feel everything is fine. It’s rare that I don’t. The issue is that when I don’t, I bottle it when it comes to telling the troops!

I am disappointed in myself; I recognise why I am gutless at delivering the difficult messages – I know everyone is working so hard, trying their best and I cannot stomach kicking them in the teeth by telling them it isn’t good enough. I know so much about them that I know if they are having a tough time at home or if they are struggling with their mental health and I feel so sorry for them – it just seems inhuman to bash them when they’re down.

It’s leading me to the conclusion that maybe I am just not cut out for leadership. I often hear positive comments about my leadership style; the problem is that if it doesn’t deliver the wanted outcomes then whether people like my style or not is irrelevant. I am questioning whether I want to live with the constant worry; constant self doubt and constant running to keep up with the ever changing goal posts. Maybe what I honestly need right now is the courage to make a change – a change that will lead to a happier life; a life that I find fulfilling and one that isn’t always tearing me apart.

I will continue to improve myself; improve my skills; practice delivering the difficult messages, but alongside this I will start to build a life that I want to live. A life without fear and a life more full of the creativity that sustains me and makes me buzz with the excitement that life should offer.

Honesty brings such clarity.

Honesty Vs Avoiding Confrontation

Today’s Thought: I respect people who tell me the truth, no matter how hard it is.

The institution in which I work is reaching a crucial point. Next year we will be inspected and it’s imperative that it goes well. I can feel the pressure building; the fear beginning to invade me and I wonder whether it’s all worth it. I have to make it worth is by bringing more honesty to the table.

One aspect of my role that I struggle with is giving people difficult messages about their practice. I like and respect my team and I can see how hard they try, so if they are doing something that isn’t as good as it could be, I struggle to give them the message. I know I have to change this as I am disadvantaging them. If they don’t know better, they cannot do better.

My growing courage now needs to turn its attention towards delivering difficult messages in an assertive, honest and kind fashion. For us all the be successful, I must start now.

To this end, I am going to set myself a goal for this week. I am going to deliver one difficult message and try not to cushion it in cotton wool. This is how the root of the message is lost; it’s how confusion ensues when the reality comes to light. My team will ultimately feel betrayed if I don’t start to tell them the reality of our situation now.

This aspect of being honest is less comfortable for me. My instinct is to protect others; to carry the burden and to try and fix everything myself. History shows me that this is not going to give me the results we need, so I have to change my approach.

If I can be honest with those that are superior to me and do so without the fear of judgement now, then I have to use that courage to be honest with those that I lead; ensure that they have the right weapons with which to fight and that means I need to tell them the hard truths as well as the easier ones.

Six months into my honesty quest, much is changing – some easy, some difficult but all better. I must keep this in mind as I take on this next honesty challenge.

Honestly Removing Fear

Today’s Thought: Fear has two meanings: Forget Everything And Run or Face Everything And Rise. You choose!

For so long many of my decisions have been based on controlling my fear. Most recently, my fear of asserting my true beliefs and opinions to those superior to me at work has been a major feature of my everyday life. Overcoming that fear has been key to becoming more calm.

Since I began my commitment to honesty, I have transitioned from having to think hard about whether what I was saying was truly honest to honesty being automatic. This is why my fear of sharing my honest thoughts with my superiors has been a major stumbling block – it has brought back all those feelings of discomfort that came with not being honest with myself or others. Now I have broken free of those constraints – living free of the fear of judgement and confrontation (or at least more freely), I find that I am calmer than ever.

I have faced my fear and I do feel as though I have risen because of it. Tranquility sits in my soul and I bask in its warm comfort; the fear lessens because I cannot be ‘found out’ – I have been true, so there is no fear of being caught in a lie or being found to have want of understanding. I am able to absorb constructive criticism by approaching it with assertiveness – asking questions to clarify my understanding so that I can respond with strength and success, rather than languishing in terror and hurt.

Finding this way of life requires work. No one would rescue me; I had to rescue myself and that has given me my power back.

What are you most afraid of and how will you rise above it?

Honesty, Assertiveness and Tranquility

Today’s Thought: To be passive is to let others decide for you. To be aggressive is to decide for others. To be assertive is to decide for yourself and to trust that there is enough and that you are enough.

Practicing assertiveness is transforming my life at the moment. It’s allowing me not only to be honest with others, but also be to be honest with myself. I feel more powerful and tranquil than I have before – not because I am getting what I want all the time, but because I am being listened to; because I am standing up for what I believe in and I am finding my voice.

Don’t be passive – you give away your power.

Don’t be aggressive – no one respects your power.

Be assertive – everyone has equal power.

Through this practice of honest assertiveness, I have found that taking back my power doesn’t mean that I am in total control or that everything goes my way. It turns out that isn’t what having power means. Having power just means being heard, being respected, practicing acceptance and learning to understand one another.

If only that kind of power ruled the world – it would be a very different place!

Honest Assertiveness

Today’s Thought: Take your power back by uncovering your limiting beliefs.

To help me get through this difficulty I have with my new superior, I have been working on my assertiveness and have have been trying to uncover why I find being assertive so difficult.

I have a couple of recommendations that have really enlightened me over the past few weeks: A short course in assertiveness from the Centre of Clinical Interventions. My therapist gave me the course on paper and to be honest, I was a little cynical. I felt that we had tried this before and it hadn’t made any difference. My therapist said it was a key time to try again as I was slap bang in the middle of an emotional crisis and the work would be likely to have the most effect right now. She hasn’t been wrong so far!

The other tool I have been using is a book called ‘It Didn’t Start With You’ by Mark Wolynn. This book is all about working through inherited trauma. It is fascinating and has had a profound impact on my ability to be assertive as it has helped me unlock the inherited trauma that has been holding me back. If you cannot identify where your trauma comes from or why you have certain beliefs and behaviours, then I would seriously recommend that you read this book and talk it over with your therapist – or even just a friend that you truly trust.

This week has been tough but empowering. It’s been so empowering that I am scared I will become cocky! I am waiting for the ‘fall’, when everything comes crashing down again. My therapist tells me, though, that I should live more in the moment and right now, things have been improving therefore I should enjoy it!

For the first time this week, I stood up for myself with not just one superior, but three! My team and I are really passionate about doing a new project in a particular way. My superiors have been sceptical, but we have argued our case and so far they haven’t been able to find a good reason why we shouldn’t go ahead. Another superior came to see how myself and my team had been getting on generally; I was assertive once again and challenged some of the criticisms they threw at me. Once again, the world didn’t cave in and I wasn’t sacked – I was simply challenged to prove that what I was saying was true by providing evidence. I could do this, so again they left satisfied and actually wrote a reasonably positive report on what they had seen.

In short, the fire has been lit within me and I don’t intend to let it go out!

Here is my core sentence that describes the block to me being assertive: I fear judgement of my choices as if they are judged unfavourably, I lose everything. This fear has been holding me back for years and I now know it didn’t start with me. It harks back to my father asking a judge to live with his mother and the judge disregarding that request and sending him to live with his father. He was devastated. I have been left with that terror of judgement; that distorted reality about how much power people can have over your life; that sensation that I am a child when people provide criticism over decisions I have made and that the criticism and judgement people make can destroy my life (as it obviously did my father’s).

Using the assertiveness course materials has provided me with a framework to respond to criticism within – I have already used some of the techniques during challenging conversations. Understanding where my crippling fear comes from has helped me to recognise that I don’t need to own that terror any more – I can give it back. I know that the biggest mistake I made when thinking that others had power over me was that I didn’t think I had any power myself. That is simply not true! Everyone has power of some kind; everyone has the right to have their voice heard and if you don’t use your voice, then you are giving away your power.

I might not win every battle that is to come; I will still need to evaluate criticism towards my work to check that I am not missing helpful observations, but I must also remember that I have rights and power just as strong as my superiors and that it is essential that I use my voice to ensure that I don’t give my power away!

Honest Criticism

Today’s Thought: The difference between criticism and constructive criticism is empathy.

My struggle with my new superior continues; it has felt insurmountable recently and I have sunk deeper and deeper into a quagmire of self-destruction. Not helpful; not positive and certainly not changing anything.

Working with my therapist, we talked over why this person was triggering me so badly. There are many reasons, but actually what I need to focus on is the solution: I need to change my response to this person rather than wish the person themselves will change.

One of my difficulties with them is that whenever they criticise or comment on something either to do with work I have done or with my opinion or feeling on a topic, I feel as though they are rejecting and belittling me. While this in itself may or may not be true, I must start to do two things: frame the criticism more positively and explore exactly what they mean and change my response to their words by separating myself as a person to the behaviour or work they are criticising.

To this end, I have to practice altering my response. This is not going to be easy for me as my current responses are so entrenched within my body and I am highly anxious and emotional right now. For this reason, I am going to start with changing my reaction to small things:

  1. I am going to say exactly what I do or don’t want for a meal instead of saying ‘I don’t mind, whatever you want.’
  2. I am going to ask my superior if they can clarify what they mean the next time they say something that I feel criticises me or my work. I am going to try and change it into a learning opportunity.

Starting this way will allow me to practice using assertiveness rather than passiveness. It will empower me to be a survivor rather than a victim and it will help me to realise that this person doesn’t have ultimate power over my destiny – I do!

My chosen thought of the day is a reminder to me that this superior probably doesn’t empathise with my struggles because they possibly haven’t ever experienced such crushing self-doubt. This isn’t my fault or their fault so I need to put the power back in my own hands and change my responses. I must accept that they have weaknesses just as I do and use this knowledge to learn and move forward. After all, I have a skill that they don’t – empathy – and this gives me such a huge opportunity to influence others more positively than they do. If I change my response to them, then I have the chance to prove to then exactly how effective I can be.

Finding The Honest Root.

Today’s Thought: It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.

Since this superior has come into my life, I feel as though I have been catapulted into a murky soup of confusion and fear. I feel as though I am on the outside looking in; weird; unacceptable; stupid; as though my soul is to be consumed and overpowered.

This week these feelings have led me to make the wrong decision, simply because I feared the superior’s opinion of me. My fear and the subsequent decision impacted negatively on another person and rebounded back to me as it rightly should have done. I cannot let this happen again; it is the opposite to the honest existence I crave.

Where did this all begin? All these sensations and feelings are old – they feel older than I and as if they don’t all belong to me. I recently read that who you want to be is who you truly are. I want to be free, creative, happy and caring, yet when I experience people who resurrect these violent emotions in me, I am frequently terrified, stunted, anxious and cut myself off from others.

To remove the power this superior has over me, I have to identify where these feelings originate. I have to heal and find peace.

It is time to use my honesty quest to look deeper inside; look further back and find the root cause of my fears and anxieties. If I can do this, then I will be able to remove the negative influence this person has over me and re-discover my inner-confidence.

This week’s mantra will be: ‘be who you are and want to be!’