Today’s Thought: A clear conscience is far more valuable than money.
This week I realised that I had made a mistake at work. It was a genuine mistake, but it affected someone else greatly. As soon as I realised what I had done, I felt that stab of panic: ‘Oh no! This is my fault! What can I do? I don’t want to have messed this up for that person!’
For about a minute, I sat at my desk, penning a short email to the person who had reminded me of what I was meant to have done (the thing I had forgotten all about)! I initially thought I could write a half truth, claiming that I had only remembered to do part of it. Maybe saying that would enable the person impacted by my mistake to be less affected. I wrote the email and immediately deleted it. I wrote it again; I deleted it again. Something was telling me that this wasn’t the way to deal with this situation – an invisible Jiminy Cricket whispering in my ear!
I took a deep breath and went to find the person who was about to feel the impact of my mistake and asked to speak to them. I told them what I had forgotten to do and apologised and told them what I needed to do to put it right. I could see they were upset, but they didn’t shout at me and, just as important, I wasn’t sweating with the pressure of a half truth being told (and nor had my nose grown Pinocchio style)! Despite being genuinely sorry and embarrassed about my mistake, I felt confident in the conversation I was having.
As soon as I had finished confessing, I emailed the colleague who had pointed out my mistake and owned up to them as well. They didn’t admonish me, they simply asked me to keep them updated.
I was honest and the sky didn’t fall in, no one shouted and the problem was solved far sooner than if I had chosen to take the dishonest path.
Honesty – a magical and powerful character trait to calm anxiety and solve problems!
Today’s Thought: The moment you feel you need to start proving yourself is the moment you need to be silent and walk away.
I have a break coming up and I am going to use it as time to become more comfortable with who I am. I am going to define my core values and begin the practice of living by them.
A lot of what I do revolves around trying to prove myself to others: prove that I am clever; prove that I am organised; prove that I have read the latest document or research; prove that I can use the right buzz words; prove that I can lead others and have an impact. No wonder I am exhausted.
All I really need to do is be myself; do my best and be kind. If that’s not enough, then maybe I don’t want to be that other person. If I cannot be who I honestly am, then I am living a lie and that doesn’t meet one of my core values – to be honest.
I have a challenge coming up tomorrow: I need to work with someone who I feel challenges my honesty value – I think they are better than me and they have a fierce nature at times and my natural default setting is to avoid confrontation, so I find myself bending to their will or being manipulated and I dislike the way it makes me feel. I feel twisted and concertinaed and ultimately unhappy with my choices and actions.
If I am going to practice my core value of honesty, I need to be ready to stand firm in the face of confrontation. I cannot let fear rule my decisions. I want to be a strong, honest and kind person – it should be easy, but it isn’t and I just have to accept that, put on some armour and get out there and fight for my core values so that I can be the person I truly am.
Today’s Thought: A life spent seeking the approval of others, is a life spent without joy.
I have ended up in a job that destroys be because I have constantly sought approval of others. I do the job less well than I could do, because I constantly seek the approval of others. I have ignored opportunities that would have made me happier, because I constantly seek the approval of others. I am literally paralysed by the fear of disapproval.
Over the next few weeks, I am going to work hard to approve of myself. Whenever that familiar feeling of discomfort creeps in; the one where I feel the terror of disapproval (that I am sure didn’t originate with me; I am sure it belongs in the past with an ancestor or two), I am going to stop, breath and see whether I am doing anything that really does warrant disapproval.
Seeing as I am doing my utmost to lead an honest and kind existence, there should be little that I disapprove of. I am hopeful that this will help me to build up my self-approval and in turn my confidence and courage to follow my dreams. The dreams that make me vibrate with excitement for the joy that they would bring – not just the dreams coming true, but the action of working towards them instead of living a half life governed by fear.
If you feel the disapproval of others and the restrictions it can bring, I urge you to analyse where the disapproval comes from. Is it valid? Obviously there are clearly actions and thoughts that it is appropriate and important to disapprove of – anything where another person can be hurt or belittled or tortured or marginalised in relation to things they cannot control or for the pleasure of others should quite rightly be disapproved of. However, if you feel disapproved of because you want to do things differently or be a different person to the one you are now, then that may not be valid disapproval. It’s OK to fight it – it may bring you freedom and best of all acceptance of who you are.
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.
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.
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?
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:
- 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.’
- 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.