Your self-talk influences your career

How you talk to yourself, you will speak to your people. If your self-talk is harsh, unloving and strict, it will shine through in your team communication.

Negative, destructive words feel awful and have the power to destroy self-esteem. If you have heard all your life, that you “cannot do anything” or that you are worthless, most likely you will act upon it and not trusting yourself to accomplish anything good or meaningful.

Unluckily those negative words from others can become part of your inner voice – echoing the destructive patterns again and again. Very often you won’t even be aware that this self-talk exists as you are so used to it.

So let’s examine your self-talk a bit. What do you think about yourself when you fail in a task?

“Clearly. This is me. I am a failure.”

“Must have been a bad day. Next time I’ll be better.”

“I was unlucky.”

Your thoughts reveal patterns that run unconsciously. And these underlying thoughts will determine whether you will try the same thing next time or whether you draw away from opportunities.

Let’s use another example: What do you think when your friend got a present?

“I never get a present.”

“Wow, that’s cool.”

The situation is about a friend. And yet, it is possible that your self-talk can only involve yourself. It reveals wishes (I would like to have a present, too), fears (I don’t have anyone who gives me a present) or envy (I am jealous that my friend got a present). All this self-talk is not bad per se. It is a key to your inner wishes and longing. You can use that self-talk to examine what you really want.

In addition, you can evaluate whether these sentences benefit yourself or make your life harder. Check on your self-talk and the situations it unfolds and be honest to yourself: Do you want to keep thinking that way?

Since you are a human being, you can actively choose and change what you are thinking. You can change. And by changing your thoughts, you will generate an impact on your speech, behavior and choices.

Especially in a leadership position it is crucial to check on your self-talk from time to time, because you will speak and act based on your personal perception of the reality. If you have given into a self-destructive thought pattern, the result will be visible in your leadership behaviour.

Your list of „Why not“ kills your career

How do you like people telling you first thing why your ideas and plans won‘t work?

While a reality check is quite healthy from time to time, way too often people rather think of „why not“ instead of „how“. I see this daily with my clients and some of my colleagues. Instead of being the driver of change, they know all the reasons and risks why an idea will fail.

But guess what … you are not being paid for listing all the „why not possible“ points. Your boss employed you to solve problems. And that is basically why your clients pay your company, too. You solve a problem for them, they cannot solve on their own.

Whether you are providing a service or a product – at core, you are adding value to your clients lives. And if you don’t add value, you are – quite frankly – useless.

If you are self-employed, you see the effects in your sales numbers immediatly. The bigger the organization you are working for, the effect of your problem-focussed mindset will be less obvious. Maybe you wonder why you don‘t get the promotion you are longing for. Maybe you are not asked to work on the interesting assigntments.

Check on your words for a while. What are you talking about when asked? Are you the one that knows all the „why not“ or can you improve ideas by adding potential „how to“?

Challenge yourself a bit and start thinking in new ways. If you are very trained in thinking and speaking „why not“ this will feel wired – maybe even unrealistic. But keep in mind: unless you are not precisely asked what the risks of an option are, you will be perceived as a stumbling block to the idea and people will take you out of scope.

Instead, if you can add value by bringing up some ideas how things can work, you stay in the conversation. And when the reality check is due, you can add all the relevant risks that you see.

You see, it is not about leaving all „why not“ out of consideration. But it is about timing. New ideas need some space to evolve. The reality check comes in later.

Build the workplace of your dreams

„You can do this“, a glimpse of encouragement runs through her mind while she is facing her challenge. Despite her fear she lifts her chin and takes the next step. „You can do this“, she recalls the words of her friends and family. Confidence rises. „I can do this“, she speaks out loud and takes the leap.

Independent whether you need to make a decison, want to face your fear or take the next step in your work, encouragement will always lift the weight of insecurity and worry. Life gets easier when you have the courage and vision for the path ahead.

Same is true in your working environment. Each day you face new tasks, projects or people. Having a voice of encouragement around will increase your mood and things will work more smoothly.

Encourage [en-kur-ij]

To inspire with courage, spirit or confidence

Dictionary

Encouragement literally means to inspire someone or oneself with courage. By speaking words of encouragement to someone you actually speak courage and confidence in that person`s life. For people these positive words are like water to a plant. It is a necessity to grow.

The beautiful truth is that you can be an encouragement to your clients, colleagues and bosses. Every day you can decide whether you want to water the souls of the people around you. By speaking words of encouragement people around you will start blooming – giving you the possibility to work and live with people that are happy and courageous.

I am convinced that you can build the team of your dreams when you start speaking positive affirmation to the people around you. Be aware: It requires you to take control of your thoughts and words. If you think shit all day, probability is high that you will speak shitty, e.g. destructive comments or gossip. But if you master your thoughts and direct your words to the uplifting of people, you will see an effect in the people around you within weeks.

Same is true for your boss. People in leadership roles hear very seldomly positive talk. This is due to their role; when all is well, they won’t get involved in the matter. But when there are problems, they are the adress of escalation, leading to a lot of negative topics on their table. Ideally they are mature enough to handle the negativity; reality is that they often push down their negativity on the team. Take advantage of such behaviour and invest encouragement into your boss. Be the one with joy at work and give your boss a good time talking to you – which doesn’t mean to avoid the hard topics. It just means that you speak hope and confidence when it is appropriate.

Who will you encourage today?

A good leader can admit failure

People love leaders who bring in their whole self into their leadership role including their flaws and failures – at least when they are capable of admitting them.

Can you think of a situation when you admitted you had been wrong? Have you ever apologized to your team taking a wrong decision in the past?

If those questions irritate you, it is a good moment to think. I have met a lot of people in leadership positions who I never heard apologizing. Having even talked to some who were convinced that being wrong is a weakness one should not show.

But be honest: Even the most thoughtful leader will make a weak decision at one point. We are all human beings. Independent from our best intentions we will fail.

Based on what I have seen when leaders actually were apologizing, one could say: the credibility of a leader is increasing when admitting a mistake.

Why is that? Admitting a fault shows that you can reflect on yourself and your behaviour. It gives your team the freedom to fail, too. It opens up for honesty and giving grace to one another.

Having said that, be precise when admitting a wrong decision. As a leader people need to trust your decisions. If every decision you take, turns out to be wrong … well, people might question whether they should keep following you. Nevertheless, you are a human being. Admitting flaws and failure adds to your personal side in the role of leadership.

Why being UNHAPPY is actually great

First day of the week. Hitting the office right on time, starting your computer, getting the first cup of coffee, checking your email while trying to enjoy the first zip. The routine is killing you 15minutes into the new working week.

And yet, you keep getting back at this desk every day. Emotionless. Unhappy. But steady and on time.

I know why. The paycheck is convenient. It pays your rent. Your family. Puts money into your bank account to pile up for the future. The future… you are convinced that it will be brighter than today. Just a few more office days like these and then…

I had lots of talks like this with colleagues over coffee. Being unhappy, yet neither willing nor able to change.

Truth is, my mornings look quite the same. Yet, I am looking forward to each one of those working days, loving what I do – although I most certainly don`t like each moment of it. Where is the difference?

The greatest traveller is he who has been able once to take a tour around himself.

Confucius

Conficius is talking about taking new perspectives of oneself. Once you are able to change your thinking and getting a new mindset, you become aware of who you are and who you are not. You challenge all those “I cannot, because…” and start questioning “How could I …?” You get bold in questioning all your assumptions, e.g. “I will never be…”, “xy is impossible because…”. And while you are taking a tour around yourself, you might realize that you actually don`t need to travel away from your current location, but rather from your current mindset.

Here is an example: I know that I am most happy, when I can be a blessing to other people. I feel fulfilled when others are having a good time talking to me. [Will I get this right every moment of my life? No. But I am trying. I decided to bring the best version of me into conversations.] Therefore, I asked myself “How can I be happy at work?” Answer: By being a blessing for my colleagues. And while I bring the best version of myself to work, I experience a lot of positive moments, making others – and ultimately me – happy. I realized, I don`t have to change my job. I rather have to change my mindset and attitude. And all of a sudden everything falls into place and I am happy.

If you are currently in this unhappy place, be bold enough to check on your assumpations and narratives. Coaching can be a tool that is helping you getting your thoughts around the important stuff that matters. Be asured: there is absolutely no reason why you should be hating your life. Unhappiness is just a great indicator that it is time to think about yourself and start travelling around yourself.

Get ahead between years by reflection – a practical guide

As the year is coming to an end it is a good opportunity to take some time to reflect. In this article you will find inspiration on how to use your reflection time well.

Before starting to reflect set aside some undistracted time. Spend this time with a long walk or in a peaceful place in the house or your favourite cafè. Helpful can be to take a piece of paper and a pen. If you choose walking, make sure that you have a time afterwards to take notes of your thoughts.

Very often when we want to get into moments of reflection, our mind is still spinning. Thousand thoughts of to dos are coming up. In order to calm that storm in your head write all important to dos on a piece of paper – in order to solve it later. Tell your brain that it has been taken care of and it won’t be forgotten. But for now, you want to concentrate on the reflection. Start inhaling and exhaling slowly. Use your full lung capacity to fill yourself with fresh air – and let go of all worries while exhaling.

Depending on how experienced you are with reflection times, this process of letting go of unnecessary thoughts can take a while. Walk through it. The results coming from a good reflection session are amazing.

When you are ready, walk through the questions of the three sections. At best, you already take notes while you are thinking. It reduces your thought speed leading to deeper understanding and new insights. For sure you can also just think about them without writing. You don’t need to take all questions. Rather take one and really think and reflect.

The Past

  • What happened the last year?
  • What were your highlights?
  • What/Whom did you lose?
  • What/whom did you win?
  • What memory do you want to keep?
  • What are you thankful for?
  • What will you leave in the past?

The Present

  • How are you feeling?
  • Is anything hurting?
  • Whom in your environment do you love?
  • Are you happy?

The Future

  • How do you want to be feeling?
  • What are the problems you want to solve?
  • Who do you want to have with you?
  • What are your life goals?
  • What makes you happy and satisfied?

Usually you will gain clarity during the answering of these questions. If you hit any topic that cannot be ‘solved’ by this one reflection, write down all questions and feelings that are running through your mind. Sometimes topics get started by a reflection but need more time to be cleared. Don’t push the topic away. Rather hold it in your mind and wait for clarity to come. Some stuff needs time.

If you want to intensify this reflection, take a coach. With a coach you will start with one of those questions and then go deeper. A good coach will stretch you by asking thought-provoking questions and providing observations. You will get new insights and gain clarity on what to do next.

Why are you such an asshole?

What makes people turn into their worst version in the workplace?

I guess, no one starts in the job with the intention to become a management asshole. Nevertheless, when listening to young professionals and checking on organizations a lot of assholes can be found.

But when almost none wants to be an asshole in the beginning, how come that so many assholes can be found in management positions? What happens along the way? Where is the transition point where assholes are made?

The Start

The term ‘asshole’ is emotionally loaded, and it depends massively on the perspective whom one would classify to belong into that category. Still, if you walked into a group and asked, “who is the asshole?” – most likely all fingers will point to particular people. Therefore, it is worthwhile to check on the defining traits of an ‘asshole’.

An asshole believes the game of business can be won

An asshole is someone who believes he/she can win the game of career or business. Simon Sinek describes this mindset as a finite mindset – believing that career or business is a game with a finite end that can be won. But that is not true. Business is an infinite game that will continue even when we retire. The only question is, in what shape do we leave the company!?

With a finite mindset people will always try to win single battles – believing it leads to an ultimate victory. Truth is, the battle will harm a lot of colleagues – you might even “win” the next promotion – but the distrust and hate resulting from that behavior in your peer slowly kills the company.

An asshole believes that values are bullshit

Usually a company defines values. When these values are not put into action people will feel that they are shallow. It gets worse when people – especially the ones in leadership – start making fun of the company’s values or actively act against them. A mindset often displayed is “I do my own rules”.

There is something about leadership where we expect leaders to align their behavior with the company they are representing. And when they are undermining the company’s values by speaking or acting against the common values, the impact on the staff is much higher than of a regular staff member.

When talking to leaders they often express that they don’t understand why their behavior is even relevant to young professionals – referring to themselves as normal staff members. Unluckily they are not common staff members, but their organizational role adds a certain visibility and role model function to them. They are perceived as part of the brand young professionals work for. Therefore, when these role models act against company values, they are perceived as assholes.

An asshole believes “I” is more important than “we”

While students and young professionals are trained to work together and finding win-win-situations, the asshole puts “I, myself, me and mine” first. It is not about “us” working together, but about “me” who is doing a career. When this mindset comes into play, soon collaboration collapses.  

An asshole believes that quitters are weak

Part of the asshole’s personal narrative is being special strong when ‘surviving’ in a toxic environment – instead of changing the environment for the better. Hence, a high attrition rate fuels the misperception of being special strong because he/she is ‘surviving’. You can easily tell whether someone is believing in this narrative by listening to their wording – very often they will refer to their work environment as hard. One must be very special to make it in there. Warlike wording is very common in such communications.

The Transition

Having examined some of the defining traits of an ‘asshole’ let’s have a look when the transition from “collaborative young professional” to “management asshole” is happening.

When talking to young professionals in their second or third year they are already complaining – about colleagues who take advantage from collaboratively produced results, about bosses who shy away from communicating tough decisions or about backbiting in the department.

They are hurt. They are disenchanted. They have to make a decision.

Without realizing you get into these defining moments where you need to decide how you handle your emotions. Will you let disappointment, sadness and disillusion manipulate your inner compass?

Truth is you can only take care of your own mindset and actions. Some of your colleagues will decide to take that advantage, mistreat project members, lie in order to be well-positioned. But how will you react? What kind of leader do you want to become?

Whenever you are hurt by a colleague or boss, ask yourself whether you want to turn into that type of person. Actively think and decide. Because it is always easier to put yourself first instead of the team, hold a grudge instead of forgiving or bullying others instead of speaking friendly when you are angry.

Becoming an asshole is the easiest of all choices. It is following your ego and emotions without reflection. Going in for revenge, holding that grudge, giving backbiting room in your behaviour. And all of a sudden you are the asshole you never wanted to become. Unluckily your team members are most likely too intimidated to tell you – and so you get lonely without knowing why, telling every quitter that he/she is too weak to ‘survive’ in this job.

Ideally there are already some leaders with integrity in place who can serve as examples and be an active corrective towards misbehaving colleagues. Being in such an environment raises the probability of having less assholes in management.

Nevertheless, even if there is little leadership around you, you can decide for yourself. You are aware of the asshole behaviour. If you want to change your environment, don’t become one!

The Future

Independently from the status quo you can decide to be part of the change. Whenever a society should have been changed in the past, every leader started investing into the next generation. In people whos mindset still can be formed or at least changed. In Business context this ‘next generation’ is not limited to age but rather to mindset and personal narrative.

Therefore, first check on your own mindset and self-believes. Are you the leader you would like to follow?

If you are, watch out for leaders, peers and team mates who have the same mindset. Huddle together, align on values and step out boldly as leaders of the new generation. Create the working environment for which people stand up an hour earlier. Build that team which people don’t leave even if they get a higher paycheck offered. Design that trusting team that clients cherish and love to have on board.