Stepping outside your comfort zone and giving it a go!

We do this in our daily lives without even flinching yet when we set ourselves an objective, a clear goal that articulates that powerful message of needing to step outside our comfort zone…..we panic, our knees buckle, the pressure becomes too much to bear, the fear overwhelms us and the desire to be, to follow our dreams fades into a distant memory.  Well I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be this way!  It shouldn’t be this way!

I’d like to share with you all my journey this week which put me well and truly outside my comfort zone!  Public speaking……just mention these two words and my anxiety kicks into overdrive. So what better way to tackle it, then joining the gurus in public speaking, Toastmasters.  Joining the club was by far the easy part, then the induction material came along and yep I freaked out and thought to myself why are you doing this to yourself?  The negative self talk was doing its job of giving me every excuse under the sun to just give up before I’d even given it a go.

The first class came along and I was petrified, I sat there praying to god that no-one would call me up to do a talk.  I’d made it through the hour long session without being called upon but the agony I’d put myself through during that hour, seriously left me with the biggest migraine and stomach ache ever.  The good news was that there were several inspiring speakers I’d heard that morning so the desire was well and truly still there.

I took a few deep breaths as I walked into my second class as I knew I had to do a speech.  So I just resolved to go with the flow and give it my best shot.  I was determined not to let my fear control me.  Instead I focused on my desire to be a great public speaker and the benefits Toastmasters would bring me in order to live my dream.   Yes the nerves were still there and the fear of making an absolute idiot of myself was freshly engrained in my brain.  So the moment of truth as my name gets called up……. I’m literally shaking and having an internal meltdown as I head towards the podium.  With all eyes on me I felt so intimidated and exposed.

Enter the power of positive self talk….you can do this I said to myself, this is easy, this is so easy Lil just say something, anything.  As I stood there before my audience I’d resolved to just be myself and walk my talk.  So I spoke about my passion for informing and educating women on the importance of making a good first impression which took away most of the fear.  By being genuine and authentic I was able to talk freely and connect to the audience who equally felt my passion throughout the room.  In a nutshell it wasn’t as scary as I’d convinced myself it would be.

To think that I might have never given public speaking a go is so ridiculous to me now.  When it comes to our desires it’s almost essential to go back to our childhood to remind us of the ‘what ifs’.  What if we gave up learning to read, to write or to ride a bike?  How much fun would you have missed out on?  We didn’t learn to read over night and it sure took us a number of bruises before we got the hang of riding a bike.  Our dreams are no different.  We cannot expect to get it right the first time but we need to be committed to giving it a go and that requires courage.  As Michael Jordan puts it “If you accept the expectations of others, especially negative ones, then you never will change the outcome”.  The same applies to your own expectations, the only person stopping you is YOU.

Getting yourself back on track!

Is as easy as checking in and reflecting whether you have been living up to your values.  Whenever you are feeling down or overwhelmed and in need for some inspiration, take an opportunity to call upon one of your values to help guide you and get you back on track.  I’ve certainly had to call upon my values of persistence and determination in order to get me through a very challenging week of juggling work, study, family and exploring new career opportunities.  The bottom line is don’t give up, you must not give up!  There are many challenges we all face each day, some more serious than others, but that doesn’t give us the ticket to quit.  Even if we fail it’s still worth the lesson learned.  “To avoid criticism – do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.” – Elbert Hubbard

Bring on the criticism, we need it in order to grow!

It’s time for managers to start managing

Different employees have different expectations, some are used to being directed every step of the way and others like to work autonomously. Regardless of the employees needs, you as the manager must manage and create a team environment rather than passing the ‘blame game’ when the job doesn’t get done.  Treat all your employees fairly and give everyone a chance.  If managers started thinking and behaving this way, they would be amazed at the level of engagement and quality of work their employees would deliver.

Like the rest of humanity, employees like to be heard just as much as they like to feel important.

Leading by example

Unless you lead by example you will struggle with employees aligning to your organisation. If its good enough for your employees, it should be good enough for you!  If you’re not prepared to follow a policy/process you implemented, why should anyone else be prepared to do so?  Once again a clear abuse of power  at the expense of high turnover.  I’d rather be well respected by my employees and walk my talk any day!  Loyalty starts with trust and trust is built on mutual understanding.

Being savvy about the workplace

Knowing how to play the game in the corporate world does come with experience.  Imagine if what you know now, someone told you when you entered the workforce?  How empowered would you feel?

So what can you expect?  Well there are a number of things but you should start by understanding and making yourself aware of the following:

  • The culture – the different behaviours that make up ‘how things get done in an organisation’.  Since culture is set from the top down (i.e. CEO/Owner) you don’t really get dibs on this one.  So if you find yourself in a toxic culture that is sucking your will to live, it’s well and truly time to consider getting off the bus!  Toxic cultures created by self absorbed leadership, is the biggest catalyst for our disengaged workforce.  I strongly believe that nothing happens without a motivated and aligned workforce!
  • Organisational values -v- your own values – this is critical and will impact severely on your attitude towards your work and commitment to the organisation.  For example, if an organisation values innovation yet stifles creativity this would undermine your value of needing to express creativity thus bringing about a lack of commitment as a result of not being able to live through your values.
  • Reporting structures: functional and hierarchical (teams/silos).  If you enjoy being part of a team, understand that whilst most employers preach and post on their websites the importance of their people, they rarely if ever, involve employees or give employees the opportunity to be part of a change process or to provide feedback.  You need to understand and not get frustrated by leaders in hierarchical organisations who need a constant reminder of the biggest flaw associated with such a structure – lack of communication.  Reducing the communication transparency by limiting information flows, is a severe weakness.  Your failure to understand this weakness, has the potential to bring about enormous amounts of stress and frustration as a result of poor leadership which cannot direct and set clear expectations to its employees due to lack of clear communication strategies otherwise known as ‘implementation plans’.