Think about your personal path to achieving the professional success you have experienced thus far. What attributes or characteristics are you most proud of that got you here? What abilities do you have that allowed you to separate from your peers over the years?
Second question: Is there a chance that those very same characteristics that rewarded you so well are the same characteristics that can hold you back in the future?
You are quite patient and empathetic, and others rely on your guidance and council throughout the day. However, your fear of being unavailable causes you to work late nights and weekends because the days have been spent solving other people’s problems.
You are incredibly detail-oriented and meticulous, and your dedication to perfection has served you well. However, if you aren’t willing to relinquish some control, you will never be able to handle other responsibilities because nobody can do them as well as you.
You are a “do-er” and complete more work throughout the day than some do in several. You don’t have time for small talk, which allows for a high level of efficiency, but true leaders need to build personal relationships and connect on a non-work level with others.
You are a gifted orator and can inspire a crowd, sell to the masses, and have an intrinsic ability to create a path that others will naturally follow. However, you are so comfortable hearing yourself talk that you forget that others may simply need you to listen.
It is not realistic for a person to be all things to all people, or to be perfect in every facet of life. But sometimes, we sense deep inside that there is something else waiting for us. We just need to be courageous enough to create a little space to discover what it is.
Sometimes, you must release your grip on your current identity in order to allow yourself to transform. You simply cannot be the person you want to be and the person you currently are at the same time.
You have to determine for yourself whether you’re willing to let go of who you are to become the person you want to be.
What holds most back from creating this space is that it will result in change, and most people react to any change with fear. Change shifts our comfort zones, where we find security and stability, so fear is a naturally occurring reaction. Fear gains strength when you focus only on the negative possibilities of a situation or event. The answer is to concentrate on just two or three changes at a time – perhaps only just one! As your new habits embed themselves into your personality and habitual behaviors, you can add additional changes to your routine. This creates a managed process of change.
It is okay to change, grow, and try new things that you will not be as good at as the things you have done for years. The key to freedom is allowing yourself to crack open and evolve.
To begin to impact change, think about what got you here:
- What has contributed to your success so far?
- How do you compare with others within your organization or industry in similar roles? What separates you from the average performer?
- How have your responsibilities changed and evolved as you’ve grown in this past year, as opposed to a year ago?
- When you are working, what activities make you lose track of time? Why?
Now, where do you want to go?
- What strengths do you have that can also at times be a weakness?
- Think of others within your organization or industry you respect; in what ways do you want to be more like them?
- What are the differences in responsibilities or strengths/skills between yourself and the person you report to? How can you start to take on those responsibilities or learn those strengths?
- Is there anything in your life that you should walk away from completely?
- What of your habits are you truly prepared to change?
- There will be some things you won’t be good at for a while; what are they?
- What do you finally need to delegate to others?
- What issues are you prepared to tackle now?
The next question: Why don’t we do it? It’s simple: the rewards of these changes are in the future, when the discomfort and discipline are right here and right now. When there’s an absence of a compelling reason, or drive, you will be a thermostat. You’ll work as hard as necessary to keep the temperature comfortable – and when it reaches that temperature, you’ll turn off until needed again. Discussing change and goals can be inspiring, energizing, and stimulating! Yet it feels tough, awkward, annoying, frightening, and completely unpleasant to discuss the discipline needed to reach those goals. There is no shame in being average or competent if you are unwilling to pay the price of excellence! Simply ask yourself if you are willing to pay that price, and what the price looks like for you.
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– Karen Schmidt