The Stress to Impress

The Stress to Impress

 If you haven’t noticed, we live in a stressful world. No matter what your current situation might be, stress is no doubt something that influences you in some way. The world continues to try and control so much of what we do, who we are and where we go. Because of that we find ourselves trying to impress others. Maybe its your friends, family, teachers, neighbors, community, co-workers or boss.

As a leader, you cannot afford to lead with the only goal in mind of impressing. If you do, you will create unnecessary stress that can often lead to failure. I am not saying that you don’t want to impress your boss or your team but you have to understand how and why you want to impress them. The problem is that there is often a selfish type of feel that comes when one is trying to impress. Although we try hard to convince ourselves we are trying to impress the other person, at the end of the day we are really just trying to impress ourselves because we are looking for acceptance and validation.

It is important that we find ways to have others see that we are of value and that we can achieve results. This will often lead to impressing others but we need to be sure we are properly defining what our goals are. A good leader has the ability to know how to define these goals and what will happen when they achieve their goals. If your boss is impressed, what a great added benefit. If your team is impressed and it leads them to wanting to work harder to achieve their goals, nice. The key is that you are leading for the right reasons. Selfish leaders have a very short shelf life.

It is important to remember this concept of stressing to impress outside of the office as well. There is a statement I have heard many times and it goes like this, “trying to keep with the Jones’s.” The significance of this statement is saying that people often see their neighbor come home with a new boat so they go buy a boat. Then that same neighbor comes home with new snowmobiles so they go buy snowmobiles. They are not really concerned if they can afford this stuff, they are just trying to keep so they can continue to impress others. We see this phenomenon with teenagers and the pressures they endure daily at school. We see this with our family, friends almost any part of our life. What ultimately happens is that the stress of trying to impress leads to some unpleasant outcomes. I have seen this happen many times to people who I am close with. One thing I do know, it never has a happy ending.

As a leader you should not try and keep up with others just to try and impress others, including your boss. It is just too stressful to keep up and you will become very ineffective. What you need to do is be sure you continue to build your strengths and control your weaknesses, leaders that can do that are impressive in my eyes.

Learn to manage your stress to impress and you will achieve great things, inside and outside the office.

 Heroes don’t stress but often impress.

Perspiration, not Perception Leads to Inspiration

Perspiration, not Perception Leads to Inspiration

There is something energizing by listening to an inspired speaker or leader. As he or she stands at the front of the room sharing inspirational stories, presenting a new vision or providing ways to help improve our lives we listen, take notes and imagine the possibilities. We may even start to think things like “wow, they are so good”, “I wish I could inspire people like that”, “I wonder how they got to be like that”. Then as you watch that person when the lights are off and they are no longer on stage they don’t really do anything. In fact, they are not inspiring at all when it comes to their actions. It is almost as if they live two completely different worlds. When this happens, and unfortunately, it happens quite often, the impacts can not only be uninspiring, but negative and frustrating.

The truth, actions are what ultimately inspire others to action. Sure, inspiring leaders must have the ability to communicate in ways that give others chills and cause them to have a desire to do better. However, when we see our leaders taking action and doing the things they ask others to do is when true inspiration can take place. Here are ways to help ensure you are Inspiring through Perspiration not just Perception:

1. Don’t just help others set goals, help them achieve them.
2. Be sure that those you lead see you taking action, not just hear you talk about it.
3. Communicate where you need to go then roll up your sleeves and lead the way.
4. Be consistent and genuine so there is no reason to question your authenticity as an inspiring leader.

The reality is that it not only takes hard work to rise up the management and leadership ranks, it takes even more hard work when you are a manager and leader. There are have many inspiring leaders who have shown through example what it takes to achieve success. There have also been many “perceived” inspiring leaders only to come and find out that their words overshadow their actions.

Some of the best bosses I have had were the ones who could inspire through word and action. It didn’t mean that they stayed at work the longest or worked every weekend, it meant they knew what needed to be done and were humble enough to help make it happen. They would make calls, visit customers, stuff envelopes, run reports and vacuum classrooms. Through their perspiration they created inspiration and thus I had a positive perception of them.

One last thing, there is something very empowering when we are taking action. A great leader gets energized when they know what needs to be done.  An inspiring leader stays energized by actually doing the things to achieve desired outcomes. We all love the feeling of success and when we are working smart and putting in the effort necessary to achieve our goals, we feel invigorated and that is very important. It is impossible to push a boulder up a hill by simply saying it needs to be done. When you start to push, others will see your effort and put their efforts towards helping you move that boulder up the hill. Once you have reached the top, you can’t help but feel energized while at the same time feeling tired. You achieved your goal and inspired others to help along the way. I have to warn you, this type of leading is very addictive.

We can all inspire, we just need to be willing to perspire.

Go out and be a hero. Inspire through action.

The Importance of Feedback

Most people have been in a place where you have experienced that piercing, loud body cringing sound when there is feedback from a microphone. People quickly cover their ears and begin to look around to see what is going on. You then see the person with the microphone either step away from the speaker or other type of potential interference or they may just turn off the microphone temporarily. If we take a different view on this situation we can find one of the most important aspects of leadership.

Once the feedback from the sound system became loud enough, it caused an action. For the audience the action was to cover their ears and look around to see what was going on and for the speaker or person setting up the sound the response was to move away from potential interference or turn off the microphone. What we have here is a clear example of how important it is to learn from feedback.

As leaders develop the ability and skill in learning how to receive, accept and utilize feedback, they will begin to elevate themselves to an higher level of leadership. See, when you find a leader who is willing to not only receive feedback but accept it and then try to get better, you have found a rare leader. It is this rare leader that possesses the right balance of confidence, humility and understanding. When a leader is willing and open for feedback the lines of communication become clear. But more importantly, it allows communication to happen. As a leader listens to find ways they can improve, they are actually helping to empower the person providing the feedback. It is this empowerment that can create a culture where people can reach their greatest potential.

Here are some ways to help accept feedback better as a leader:

  1. Proactively Seek Feedback: Although some may look at you skeptical at first as you ask for their feedback on how you are doing, they will eventually open up if they know you are sincere. You must allow them to share what they need to share so they can be honest and true feedback can take place. Be specific on what areas you are looking for feedback so you can focus on the information provided to you.
  2. Don’t Get Defensive: This sounds much easier than it is in most cases. As a leader, you have to be able to separate your feelings from situations when needed. You cannot take everything personal or you will set yourself up and your team for failure. You need to have the confidence and trust that what the other person is sharing is indeed important enough to them that they felt the need to share with you. Being humble really helps to eliminate the feelings of defensiveness.
  3. Take Action: Whenever possible, once you have received feedback, take action. Nothing will show someone you value their feedback more than when you actually do something. Some actions may be simple and easy to do while others may take time. Either way, find a way to show that you actively listened to the other person and want to support them. If action is not possible, provide potential solutions or ideas and find ways to work together. This will help ensure your credibility as a leader.
  4. Be Appreciative: You don’t need to go overboard in thanking someone for providing feedback but giving thanks and true appreciation goes along way. When you do this you ensure that communication channels stay open. When you are genuinely thankful for someone being willing to provide feedback, you show that you are a team player and you want success for everyone. Maybe most importantly when you show your thanks, you truly empower others as they will feel valued.

It is important to realize that receiving feedback is not always easy. We are human and when we are told that we aren’t doing something right or that we are causing more issues by doing what we are doing, it can be tough. However, we also have to realize that without feedback we would be left up to our own perception of ourselves and as a leader that can often lead to disaster. As with the example of the feedback from the microphone, we can either learn and make changes to improve things or we can simply ignore and watch those we lead cover their ears and look around to see what is going on.

Decide now to become the type of leader that is confident and humble enough to accept feedback. You will inspire your team to greatness as you learn from them and with them. Feedback can be an incredibly positive way to ensure success.