To Compete or to be Complete … that is the question

To compete or be complete

In the quest for success or fulfillment – are we competing against others to make our mark? Or are we competing with ourselves?  Do you sometimes ask yourself the question “Why do they get the opportunity and not me?” Even though you are on the path to creating your own destiny, you still doubt and want what others have.

You are where you are today because of the choices you made along the way.  And you also got here by sheer determination and a want.  When you thought about doing what you are doing now, didn’t you have a permanent smile on your face, get excited, talk louder than normal and talk about it to everyone and anyone you came across?  Didn’t the people you shared your dreams and goals with encourage you along your path, instill confidence in you by telling you, you can do it?  So why the doubt?  Why question yourself and your abilities? No one said it was going to be an easy ride – no one ever achieved success or their goals by having a smooth ride.

We will go through the downs in our life, we will cross hurdles on the way, we will make mistakes, we will fail, we will lose – the question is, how do we go from there?  Do we just sit back and say “That’s it.  I can’t do this.  It is not working.  It is not happening quick enough.  What was I thinking?” Turn all those negative and doubting thoughts ino positive ones.

There are many things you can do that will make you feel better or lift your mood in the moment (and I know it works for me) – going for a new haircut or hair colour, having a manicure or pedicure, putting some make up on, dressing in something more appealing, colourful.  I also find going to a movie just takes my mind off what was worrying me and I feel so much better afterwards – I can look at the problem and come to a more positive way to handle it and move forward.

  1. TRICK YOUR BRAIN 

Think positively – wow that sounds crazy but you will be amazed at how it can work.  If you find yourself saying “Heck I’m so fat”.  Stop right there.  Reframe.  Say it again and this time think “I’m unhappy with my weight.  What am I doing about it?” This doesn’t mean to say it is going to be sunshine and roses.  Not at all.  You just have to be less hard on yourself.

Positive thinking leads to a positive, more confident disposition.  You know that when you start thinking negatively about yourself, it becomes a habit and then before you know it you are thinking negatively about everything.  You start to gossip, complain, find fault.  Is that really who you want to be?  I don’t think so.

Be grateful – Start being grateful.  The more things you realise you have going for you the more you can then sit back and say “It is not as bad as I thought”.  And sadly, we tend to forget just how good our lives are and how blessed we are with what we have.  I mean seriously, your arms, fingers, legs, toes all work don’t they?  You have clothes on your back, you have food to eat.  There are many people who love you.  You have a future.  And that is just the beginning.  Most people have that – so what else do you have that is unique to you?

Smile – Your mind takes cues from your body.  So start tricking your mind and smile. Smiling releases endorphins and serotonin.  If you force a smile, you will literally be happier.  Not just look happier or seem happier but be happier.  Smiling also reduces stress, lowers your blood pressure and ups your immune system.  Smiling also makes you more attractive to others.  Yes it does.  Happier people are generally more confident. Aren’t you drawn to someone who smiles?

Change your environment – Think about the kind of person you are when you are at home, the person you are at work, the person you are at your favourite cafe or restaurant. Are you the same person everywhere?  Probably not and the odds are that there are one or two places you don’t feel comfortable and  confident.  Get up and move.  So the next time you are not feeling so great, think about where you are.  Try it!

Visualise and breathe deeply – This is a more-in-the-moment scenario.  When you are getting ready to speak to your boss or a colleague or you are preparing to give a speech – that is when you need to …

  • Visualise yourself doing awesome and doing it well.  When you expect success, you might just get it.  However when you expect to fail, you will.
  • Take a deep breath.  When we breathe too quickly our heart rates go up and our brains start thinking “fight or flight”.  You are making yourself more nervous.

Self talk – Take a look at yourself in the mirror and persuade yourself that you are you, and that you ARE brilliant.  Convince yourself you don’t have to hide from anything except yourself.  Make fierce and confident poses in the mirror, this will make you think positive. (It will probably make you laugh at yourself too for doing this).  I personally find myself talking to myself and saying “What advice do you give others in this situation – give yourself the same advice!”

2. WORK FROM THE OUTSIDE IN

Dress for success – If you went to the mall or a shop dressed in your drab bulky casuals, no make up, having a bad hair day – you find you bump into everyone and anyone when you don’t want to and you probably feel self-conscious and awkward.  Am I right? So how about dressing up, put the make up on, get your hair done and I bet you will feel so much better and more confident.  Now I know clothes don’t make a (wo)man but they can make you feel like a million dollars.  It is so much easier to feel good about yourself when you think you look good.  I know it is probably a girl-thing to say, but it works.

Be aware of your posture – 9 times out of 10 you walk into a room full of people and you can pick out the people who are not confident.  They are a little slouched over or they are looking down.   Keep your chin up, throw your shoulders back and walk like you own the place.  Also, if you are preparing to go into that room full of people and there is someone in particular whose attention you want to catch, do exactly that and of course, remember to  smile.  It works!

Work out – I am afraid it is true – when we work out, we do look better.  And when we look better, we feel better.  Working out also releases those happy endorphins, makes us feel more productive, increases our energy levels and puts a pep in our step.  I am not saying go and run the marathon.  Just exercise 30 minutes a day – at a gym or at home – that is all it takes.  And the best thing is even if you don’t feel like, once you have done it – well, what more can I say – you feel great!

Wear colour – There is a reason people wear black when they mourn – it definitely reflects their mood.  Humans associate a lot with colour.  So when you are feeling down, throw on something bright.  Just that little pizzazz could be all the confidence you need.

3. PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE

Do something you are good at – Oh yes you can.  You are good at something – could be baking, public speaking, training.  And you know you are good at it, don’t you?  When we do things we are good at, we feel a sense of pride and accomplishment.  This is where your confidence comes from.  So don’t just do it, do it often.  It is a reminder of how awesome you really are.

When we do something good and master that skill, it gives us personality, gives us something to talk about and makes us interesting as also gives us a sense of fulfillment. Did I forget to mention that doing what we are good at is fun?  So what are you waiting for – go out there and do your thing!

Talk to everyone – A part of lacking confidence comes from not understanding people.  So to get around this, start talking to everyone.  Even if it is a remark about the bus or something, just talk to everyone.  You will learn that –

  • Most people are friendly enough.  They are not there to judge you.  In fact, they will probably enjoy talking to you and you to them.
  • Most people don’t like initiating conversation either.  They will open up if you make the first move.  They are just as nervous as you are.  So put yourself out there.
  • People get cliquey.  They generally stick to what they know and don’t like to deviate much.  Boring!!!!!  Don’t do that.  You learn so much from people who are different to you.

Keep on talking to everyone – Absolutely!  The more you talk to people the less scary it gets and the less concerned you will be about what they think of you.  The less you think about how great everyone is, the more you will realise that most people are completely average. If no one else is a big deal, you don’t have to care so much about how you come off.

The more you talk to people, the more you will get to socialise more easily.  Yes it can be intimidating but once you have done this over and over, you will be great at it.

Compliment others – Ever heard that “giving is better than receiving?”  It feels great when someone makes you feel good and it feels even better knowing you helped someone else feel good about themselves.

And don’t forget to accept compliments graciously too.  (Hmmm, that is an area I struggle with believe it or not).  A simple “thank you” is the best way to do this.  Don’t hum and haa or make excuses when someone is nice to you.  That just being modest and not really kind to the other person.  Imagine if they gave you a gift and you turned round and said “No, no I don’t deserve this, take it back”.  Ouch!  Whether you deserve it or not, it is the heart and the thought behind giving that gift that makes all the difference.  And if you are going to give a compliment, make sure it is genuine.  Don’t say it if you don’t mean it.

Observe yourself and everyone around you – Here are two reasons why this statement is so true –

  • Observe yourself and others instead of judging – when you stop judging, the negativity stops.  Your mind opens up and you can learn.
  • Observe yourself and others so that you can learn – what makes others seem so confident?  What makes you feel confident or not confident?  What are your trigger patterns?

Find role models – Oh yes, so important.  Having someone inspire you and your confidence, can be a great boost.  Makes sure that the person is real.  Aiming to be a Kim Kardashian is not a good idea.  You want a source of positivity you can tap into when you need it.

Having a good role model or mentor is great, also keep a positive crowd of people around you.  Being around people who just bring you down whether intentionally or not – not a good thing.

Be true to YOU – It is very hard to be confident when you are trying to be someone you are not.  Besides remembering to come off confident, we have to remember who we are trying to be.  That is hard work.  Just be YOU.

So stop trying to compete with someone else or be like them or be at the level they are now.  You are on your own path, you are successful in your own way, you have your own strengths.  Remember that and if you forget, find that someone who can help you refocus and stay on the right track.

DREAM IT – your dream is your dream – run with it

BELIEVE IT – believe in yourself and believe in your dreams and they will definitely happen at the right time

ACHIEVE IT – you can achieve anything you set your mind to – be positive

Well I feel a whole lot better now – how about you?

 

THINK before you talk

Tip 3

How many times have you reacted in anger?  How many times have you sat and judged or perceived someone in a certain way without having met them or knowing what their situation is?  How many times do we actually listen to someone when they are talking to us? Do we hear them? How many times have you complained to someone about a friend or colleague or family member and yet you haven’t spoken to them personally regarding your problem or issue? Have you assumed that by the silence of a friend or colleague, you have done something wrong?

According to a quote by William Paisley “Communication is the fuel that keeps the fire of your relationship burning, without it your relationship goes cold”.  Isn’t that true? Without communication your relationship goes cold – and that is with anyone. Whether we are talking or writing via mail, letter, social media – we should keep the communication flame burning – and it should be a positive flame.

Before you speak to someone or want to bring up an issue, THINK first.  Is what you are about to  say to the other person true?  Make sure it is not secondhand information you have heard (or hearsay).  Check out your facts first (unless you know and are absolutely sure of your facts) before you approach the other person.  If it is not true, this can result in an argument, the other person immediately becomes defensive and reactive no matter what you say after you have accused them or questioned them.  And they will stop listening to you, they will be focusing on what you have accused them of or labelled them as.

When you approach the other person, are you doing this to be helpful?  Or do you go in their guns blazing and ready for an argument?  If you are going to be giving someone feedback, you need to ensure that it is helpful – that it will benefit the other party – this will depend on your tone and how you present your case to them.  Remember to remain calm (no matter how angry or upset you are feeling inside) make sure you have thought about it first and about how you want to approach this person and are you prepared for the response?  How would you respond?  You want to ensure that you both walk away feeling good.

Are you in the habit of uplifting or inspiring someone?  You should try it.  And in the same way, when you are speaking to someone, make sure your message is an inspiring one – not one to break down, or belittle, or degrade.  When you inspire you bring a smile to that person’s face and they will be more accommodating and willing to hear what you have to say.

Is what you have to say to this person really necessary?  Is it beneficial to both parties if you speak to them about the problem?  Is it going to solve matters going forward for both of you or your company?  Sometimes, it is best not to say anything.  If it means avoiding an argument or confrontation or making the person feel down and degraded or belittled, you will walk away feeling rather bad inside – you want that person to grow and believe in themselves.  So if it is absolutely necessary to talk about an issue, do it in the right tone and in a calm way.

Make sure you are kind when speaking to someone.  Kindness never killed anyone or ruined a relationship.  Kindness goes a long way .

Dale Carnegie wrote, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you”.

When you are speaking to someone, make sure you listen to them too.  Be interested in what they are saying and try to understand their approach – and don’t be tempted to interrupt.  Your turn will come to give them your feedback after hearing them out.  Don’t think about what you want to say either, listen intently and with earnest and after they have finished, give them your response.

If you have to apologize to them – do so.  It doesn’t mean you were wrong and they were right.  It means that you value your relationship with them – more than your ego.  Even if you walk away feeling you have not won that argument – so what?  There will be another time, another place, another way you can get your message across and both of you will walk away smiling.

Dale Carnegie also said, “Don’t criticise, condemn or complain”.  And you know, this is so true.  People who do this usually push others away.  They are negative, nothing is ever right and someone else is always to blame except themselves.  I personally avoid being with people who criticise, condemn or complain – it brings me down, it depresses me – and have you noticed, these people never smile?  Such a pity.

Leo Rosten quoted, “Behind the need to communicate is the need to share.  Behind the need to share is the need to be understood”.

This is so true.  The only reason you are communicating is you want to share with others. And through sharing you want people to understand you, know who you are, know what you are all about.  The same applies to the other person who is communicating with you.

And of course, the most important things to remember when communicating is to hear what isn’t being said.  That’s right.  The other person may not be talking to anyone, keeping to themselves, not answering you when you greet them – they could be engrossed in whatever they are doing or they just didn’t hear you.  Or they could have had some problem at home before they left and it is worrying them or playing on their mind.  There could be a million reasons why people don’t respond to you – just take the time to let it be for a while, and maybe at the right moment, approach them and see how they are doing. Don’t jump to conclusions and assume they don’t want to talk to you or they are angry at you – that in all probability is not the case.

And when you are listening to them with their complaint or issue – what are they really trying to get across to you in amongst all their talk?  It is important to hear what they are saying and how they are saying it.  Their body language could also tell a story.  The fact that there is no eye contact could be they are embarrassed or lying or they are trying to put their message across in the best way possible.  In most cases, there is more to the story than what we hear.

In all situations, show respect even to the people who don’t deserve it.  Not because it is a reflection of their character, but because it is a reflection of yours.  Respect is earned – it is not something just given or expected.  And respect is earned by what you are projecting – what your brand is projecting – by your character – by the way you treat other people – consistently.

Go out there today and make someone’s day!  It is worth it.

 

 

 

 

Assumption gumption

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People continually jump to assumptions before finding out what the real message is or whether their interpretation was justified.

A few years back a colleague came over to me and said that she thinks Anna (we will call her Anna for the sake of my story) is cross with her.  I asked her why to which she replied “I greeted her and she didn’t even acknowledge I was there”.  Now Anna (1) may not have heard her, (2) Anna may have been occupied with something else and didn’t hear her, (3) Anna may have been on the phone talking at the time, or (4) Anna was so deep in thought that she didn’t even register my colleague was greeting her.

Instead of my colleague going to find out if anything was wrong, she chose to assume Anna was cross with her.  Silly, silly, silly!  In this instance I think fear of what the answer may have been caused her to think the worst.  The question is, did she do or say anything to Anna to warrant her silence?  It could have been her conscience worrying her to assume the worst.  Just saying.

We often misinterpret one another and add all kinds of meanings that were never intended in the first place.  Why?  If the  person doesn’t want to talk to you, leave them. They may come around later.  We eventually take ourselves down a path of distrust and disloyalty which is so unnecessary.  Don’t worry – been there – got the Mickey Mouse badge and much more.

If a client calls the office and complains that a person on your team did not get back to them.  What do you do?  Do you go straight to the blame game – confront your colleague and ask why they didn’t call the client back?  Or do you go to your colleague and genuinely ask what happened?

Your beliefs play a part in the way you react to a situation.  Everything that happened on that day was impacted by your opinion of your colleague, the client and all the factors together.

Let us take a look at 3 ways we can try and avoid jumping to conclusions:

Assess your beliefs

It is important for you to just step back and take a seriously deep look at why you believe what you do about a person or situation.  See where your assumptions are coming from – is it from a past experience?  Your personal opinion?  Your gut feeling?  (My gut feeling always works for me – and I think all 3 scenarios I can identify with).  It is not nice being on the receiving end of an assumption.

You need to know this because it is the only way you can get involved in situations authentically and grounded.  By doing this, you are setting an example for others who do the same thing.

Ask questions first

Questioning is the opposite of assuming.  It is being open and curious instead of passing judgement.  When in doubt, always ask.  Go into the situation without judging or with any pre-conceived ideas or expectations and really want to be informed. (This is not easy, but believe me, it helps).

This is the best way to get a deeper understanding of what the driving factors were that you did not know before.  And when the table is turned – you will definitely appreciate it if you got the same treatment.

Look for multiple perspectives

It is important to get a couple, sometimes opposing, perceptions of reality in order to really understand what is going on.

By practicing this, you will gain more knowledge about the situation and people will respect you for wanting to learn what their view is from where they sit (that’s right, not from where you sit- take the focus off yourself.  It is not always about you).

It is dangerous to assume things – this causes conflicts and upsets where, had the situation been resolved by two people sitting down and talking to each other and understanding and respecting each others opinions and views, this could have been avoided.

To ASSUME only makes an ASS out of U and ME.

Know of anywhere that you can practice not jumping to assumptions?

2016 Michele Thwaits

 

 

 

 

 

 

Patience is a virtue

Besides being a role model and inspiring Administrative Professionals all over the world, I do have another job – Chairperson of our Trustees Committee.  Yup for my sins I was voted in a second year in a row – supported by an amazing group of individuals who share the same vision and dream for our complex.

I know that dealing with municipalities and government in general is rather trying and requires tact and some serious patience.  It doesn’t help to get upset when you say one thing and they understand it in another way.  That is enough to drive one dilly.  My secretary usually ran with anything to do with Johannesburg Water or JRA.  He just couldn’t anymore and I watched how this poor man shook when speaking to these people and getting so frustrated.

So I stepped in and took over the reigns on that project.  I found that just by talking and trying to understand where the problems were in communication, what their understanding was as opposed to what we understood should happen, we managed to find a solution to the problem that has been going on for well over a month now.

After many emails and phone calls, we have finally finished with this project.  I just found that talking to them like people, not expecting anything much, but just listening to them, reasoning with them to a point where we both understood each other perfectly.  I got to the point where I wasn’t asking anymore, I stipulated by when I wanted the task done and dusted and I said that I would really appreciate it if they could get this done for me by when I asked for.

Today, they called me to show me what had been done and that all is finished.  Now most people would be sarcastic and say statements like “It’s about time” or something to that effect.  I turned around and said how happy I was that “we” managed to get this job done by today.  I told the Foreman how much I appreciated him getting this done quickly and asked him to thank his team for me.  This was also followed up by an email to thank all parties and departments involved and to mention the two people I dealt with personally for their understanding and speedy service.

That does a lot for one’s soul.  When I need something done again in future, I know that I will get priority because I had patience and took the time to make them feel like they were important and saved the day.

Sometimes, we just have to give a little more of ourselves even though we are busy and haven’t got time to sort out stuff.  We need to make the time, because it is important for all of us to work in harmony and to achieve the goal together.

 

 

To be or not to be …?

Ever wanted to follow your dream or your passion?  Don’t you wish you could be doing something you want and love instead of sitting in the job you don’t really want to be in?

There are many people out there stuck in a profession or a job which they don’t really want to be in but it is all they have.  They are too scared to make the move, they doubt their capabilities and have no self-confidence to just get out there and do it.

I was in that position.  It took a retrenchment last year in December to get me to do what I have always wanted to do.  And it wasn’t an easy decision either.  I questioned a lot of things – my reasoning, my worth, my ability, am I doing the right thing?

Thankfully I have a great support system, a network of people made up of friends and family and influential people in my life.  These are my “go to”people.  And believe me, they are not all like me.  Some are younger, older, voice of reasoning, voice of encouragement,  straightforward, to the point, no holding back point of views.  All different but needed to make an intelligent decision.  And they have helped me stick to my guns and pursue my dream of working for myself.

No one said it is easy.  A lot of hard work to market yourself, talk about yourself to others, remind others who you are and what you do, encourage people to take a chance on you and just keep plugging away and moving forward, all the time.

And slowly the business starts to take shape and things start to happen.  Yes, I have my down times.  Yes, I have my doubting times.  Yes, I wonder where the next job is coming from.  I am human after all.  And yes, it may take time and some more hard work to make it happen.

I am not sorry for making this decision to change direction in my career.  Less stress (and the stress I do have now is positive), relaxed, no interruptions or office politics to deal with, meetings take place outside in the fresh air and not confined to a 4 x 4 office or meeting room.  I still put in the time I would have at the office – you need to have your mind right to make your business from home successful.

I am pursuing my dream – are you?