Updated: Sep 11, 2018
I was speaking to a leader in New Zealand recently who took me aside during our retreat and explained the challenges he was having in his senior position. He shared that some of his staff were doubting his leadership and some were actively trying to make things hard for him. As the conversation went on, he started to express doubt in his capability as a leader and was finding it difficult to generate solutions and actions in his thinking to make things better for himself and his team. I could see him go into a downward spiral; his current thinking was allowing him to beat himself up and remain stuck.
I shared my version of a Mark Twain quote with this colleague, something I have told myself and others many, many times. This quote has changed my life: “I have experienced many horrible things in my life…a few of which actually happened.”
He stopped and looked at me. He instantly got it. He wrote it down. The next morning when we kicked off the day sharing insights, he shared the quote. He related that how he had been thinking about the problem was the problem and how overnight he had changed his thinking about what might be happening. The next morning, another leader quoted him and thanked him for giving him insight into his similar thinking. They understood that most of their worry and doubt were not real unless they made it real by thinking about it and holding that in their experience. They understood that that type of thinking could be a choice.
I want you to imagine that everything in your life right now—yourself, others, home, work, health, money—is sitting on a shelf. You are looking at the shelf and you have a labelling machine in your hand. And it is up to you to write out a short description of the quality of those items on the shelf. For each one, your mind on default may have convinced you that there is only one appropriate label for each of these parts of your experience. But, in fact, you have endless label descriptions you could plug in. For example, for work you could put “so stressful”, “character building”, “career refining”, “grit building” or “values realignment required.” For your intimate relationship you could put “routine”, “dedicated”, “deep partnership” or “opportunity for me to step up.”
Everything is neutral until we put a label on it. Do you know how much control you have over the label?
Small Extraordinary Action: Choose one thing in your life right now that you know you have a negative label on. Then ask yourself these two questions:
· What is it that I actually want here?
· What label would I put on this that would take me closer to that?
You have more choice with what you think, focus on and feel that you could ever imagine. Is that something at which you would like to be masterful?
The Field runs a leadership development program called ‘The Extraordinary Minds Program’ for organisations who believe that their people will always be their greatest success story!