Be YOU, Magnificently. The journey to aligning with these three simple words has been paradoxically one of my greatest challenges! What began with the grounding of my branding message from idea to form turned into what has felt like a testing of my courage and commitment to my life purpose. I had no idea really of just how much armor I was still carrying around my heart when I first decided upon choosing these three words for my tagline a few years ago. Talk about living into your brand ! I must say it’s not been easy yet it’s been soooo worth it. If I never share my decades of lessons learned from my ‘shero’ life journey, which includes my professional/business journey, my own personal development has greatly benefited.
Would it be helpful to you if you could shift your feelings toward confidence and joy ‘on demand’ like changing the cable channel? How about dialing up gratitude or self-love in a way that feels genuine, not just disingenuous platitudes? There is already objective research proving that when we change the meaning assigned to an experience, it can turn off our fear provoking amygdala area of our brain. The more we practice this, the more confident and resilient we can become.
You may be thinking, Of course my reality is real, I’m looking right at it; seeing is believing. Well, I know that’s the only part we’ve been generally taught. Yet, behind this is a deeper truth; believing is seeing. This is the essence of perception we see what we believe. How we focus matters. We find what our brain perceives to be true often based upon past conclusions drawn, accurate or not. What we focus on expands. Neuroscience evidence supports this concept now.
Gosh, what a stupid mistake I made. I’ll never be able to_________. I’m too old to learn ________.
Have these or similar thoughts ever run through your mind before? Do they happen on a regular basis? If so, you may want to learn how to, Reign in Your Brain. Self-talk is essentially the inner dialogue we have with ourselves that can be either positive or negative, though unfortunately it seems to be typically not very self-supportive for many people.
Is the strong tendency to resist change just the way we are? Are we just born that way? Are our brains, just made that way? Simply put, the answers are no, no and no. Now I know there are those who will dismiss this as just B.S. in a derogatory way, but I would argue that if it is B.S., the B.S. should stand for Belief System. It is our belief systems that wire our brain and mind in the manner that leads us to generally fear and run away from change.
Women do have an advantage in leadership style in today’s workplace, not simply because we are women, but more so because heart behavior, such as showing another person empathy or exercising better listening skill is becoming more socially acceptable as exemplary leadership behavior. Yet, do not men have a heart as well? Judy B. Rosener in the Harvard Business Review article Ways Women Lead postulates that characteristics generally considered to be feminine accounts for why women are succeeding in the 21st century workplace. Macho male leadership styles tend to lead to disengagement in today’s world.
News Flash: where your mind is set mindset is not permanent. Your brain is flexible; you can learn throughout your life. Science calls it “neuroplasticity.” I call it, “NeuroReInvention.” The belief that:
- I am stuck
- This is just the way I am
- I can’t change
- I’m not good enough
- I’m always right; this is the way life is
!is really simply B.S. and by this I mean it is a Belief System. You could also say it is due to blind spots in your life’s field of vision. It is my experience that we can change our B.S. Fortunately we now also have neuroscience for our skeptical, fearful-of-change logical brain. We can stop telling ourselves self-limiting stories that keep us from performing at our best at home and at the office. We can change our perceptions that interfere with harmonious relationships, our finances and our health. We can re-create our belief systems.
An important ingredient to this is to begin to understand that your personality and your potential are moldable. Your gender, race, creed or color doesn’t define the totality of you. In fact, whatever definitions are given are someone’s, somewhere subjective opinion and definition. Even your definition of yourself is subjective. You can stop believing it; you can change how and what you think. You can change how you feel. Perception is not objective.
Living with purpose – on purpose, requires clarity of values, what matters to you. To perform at your best you need to make conscious choices about what really matters to you. Without a definite purpose it is all too easy to be distracted by the latest greatest thing. It requires a decision to focus yet at the same time having an open mind to filter through relevant insights, information and opportunities. It requires an expanded vision to live an inspired and creative life.
This will require not only a higher level of self-awareness, but also mental agility. Adaptability. Confidence. It is not likely to be the most popular way of living as unfortunately, the masses of people live overcrowded or externally directed lives. Unfortunately, Henry David Thoreau’s words still ring true that,
The mass of men live lives of quiet desperation
Meaning can’t be found outside of ourselves until we go within to feel into our heart – our passion. With all the fear and noise around us, we have to find our passion, which is likely to be buried under a mound of negative feelings. We can intentionally shift from worry, anxiety and mediocrity when we make up our minds – and heart – to do so. Sometimes we can’t find our passion unless we actually acknowledge, what really makes us angry? Not in a self-righteous way, but in a way that shows concern for a cause greater than just us.
We will have to ask some questions if we want new answers, questions such as,
1. Where do I want to go, to experience? Why?
2. What do I really want?
3. Can I envision it in my mind’s eye?
4. Can I communicate it !to myself?
5. Who or to what cause do I want to serve?
Leadership and the workplace are evolving rapidly. Daily life in general is moving faster than ever and how we experience it is contingent upon how we view ourselves relative to our environment. We can view ourselves as helpless victims of circumstances or as capable human beings able to learn, grow and adapt successfully to our challenges. Our inner self-image has never been more important, especially as leaders.
It’s not often addressed, yet how we see our self is reflected in our chosen leadership styles, our choice of clothing and even they way in which we communicate and connect to others. Self-esteem or how we esteem ourselves affects confidence and decision-making. Sometimes we overcompensate by being pushy and aggressive and sometimes we shrink back into our shells.
An interesting fact is that, neuroscience reveals what I figured out a while ago – that our level of self-esteem and confidence is changeable and evolves according to our own self-perception.
To the degree that you make time to reflect on where you are, you can move yourself from a victim mindset of, that’s just the way I am, to a victor’s mindset of taking the reins of your life and personality into your own hands.
You have more control than you probably realize.
In the meantime here’s some perspectives on self-esteem – how you esteem your self, the who you think you are, versus confidence – the ability to do, to take action, to engage. Self-esteem highlights your inner feelings regarding worth of your self, confidence expresses your ability to accomplish or do something. As a leader, these two factors can influence your performance and ability to lead. As a human being, it impacts your relationships on every level. Here are five ways that self-esteem and confidence can show up within the context of life:
Truth is, it takes courage to change your mind. Particularly when we live in a culture that expects us to have all the answers and make no mistakes. We hold ourselves to an impossible standard and then we wonder why change is so difficult. Many if not most people, are standing like deer in the headlights when it comes to making changes in their behaviors that are no longer serving them. Why?
In order to see change in your life, you have to make changes in your way of thinking and feeling – first. The fact is, who you think you are, what you think you can do, be or have is a story.
Our brain forms, autobiographical memory – the story or narrative of who we think we are. The good news is that thanks to neuroplasticity – the ability of our brain to rewire and change itself literally – we can change our story on demand the more self-aware we become. The bad news is, if you don’t have the courage to trust yourself, listen to your own heart and feel the need to be validated by the so-called experts, you may live and die with the greatest parts of yourself locked deep inside, never to be shared with the rest of us. Now that’s unfortunate.
I had an interesting conversation with someone recently whom I greatly admire. He’s a person of integrity and he speaks his truth, which I admire. I’ve asked him to always tell me his truth, and don’t worry about how I’ll take it. I like honesty and I can learn by listening and becoming self-aware of my blind spots. In a nutshell, because he, like probably most people, didn’t realize that an eye surgeon (an M.D. medical eye physician) has professional training in the brain and nervous system in order to do their job, he made an erroneous assumption, that I’ve come to realize is not unique to him. I took note; perhaps I need to be more explicit. The upside of this is that it made it loud and clear how important perception is, so perhaps I can help some people to get out of their own way by educating them on the fact that neuroscience is a part of my training as an eye surgeon as it relates to the message I share. I’d say most people have been conditioned to believe that nearly everything we do has to have validation by an institution.
This need for institutional validation is the point I want to focus on in this article and why we need to change our story about this constant need for external validation. There is some value to this, yet we have taken it to ridiculous proportions in many cases.