As we reflect back over our working careers, we can definitely attribute some of our successes and failures to certain individuals who helped to shape and build us up as a person and others who ridiculed and cut us down to size.
In retrospect, I believe that both types of individuals, the uplifting and inspirational as well as the negative and hostile one’s played a significant role in helping me learn life’s valuable lessons in my work place.
The ones who led by exerting fear and control probably landed up stunting my personal growth and self-confidence. However, I also learnt from these very individuals that managing people incorrectly can prove to be futile, ineffective and a waste of time.
On the flip side, there were those who I can affectionately call the lighthouses. These optimists really helped me to navigate the working life’s uncanny dilemmas and challenges. Connecting with such positive individuals who were full of benevolence and dynamism is really what helped to disarm the negativity and confusion that I often experienced in my early career – a time of discovery and exploration about the complex and fascinating intricacies of the business world.
I believe that at times I faced misconceptions about the perceived reality of my working environment which made me question: What if there was someone who told me how to deal with a certain situation by sharing their wisdom when I needed it most? Don’t we all tend to go through similar situations in life? If I had to learn certain truths earlier in my working career, I believe I would have felt more enlightened, connected and empowered.
Wouldn’t we be able to make more sense of our situations by gaining insight from someone who has travelled that road already? I believe that this is not only liberating but also speeds up our ability to understand and interpret the meaning of things, giving us a better perspective on life by putting things into context. We then become more efficient in our work because we adapt much quicker and easier to our environment.
I don’t know about you, but people who openly share their knowledge with me, help me to perform with more conviction and motivation. I’d like to share some self-defeating beliefs that I think we all need to be aware of to avoid career stagnation. Overcoming these false beliefs also helped me to function with more confidence, motivation and adaptability, often required in the grueling and unpredictable working climate:
Watch out for these: 1. Letting other people’s opinions and comments define who you areas a woman. Don’t let other people’s comments define who you are (especially your manager, superiors or colleagues). Remember that they are only commenting on what you are producing and not on who you are as a person. We are all unique in our own way with special gifts and abilities. There is not a single person who can truly understand your full potential (not even your parents or partner) and who you truly are, so logically speaking, you simply cannot give that person any power of you. That would be nonsensical. You are the only one who can give someone permission to have control over how you feel and how you see yourself.
2. Being afraid to make mistakes. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and more importantly learn from them. If we think about this in rational terms, the only way we really grow in life is by making mistakes and then learning to do things differently the second time around. I also believe that the greatest inventions and discoveries were made through trial and error. The more comfortable we become with experimenting, failing, tweaking, adjusting and trying again, the more I believe we will grow as individuals. Fear is something I believe we need to eliminate in order to tackle new projects with more enthusiasm and anticipation, knowing that failure can actually play a positive influence in our working lives.
3. Limiting your participation and self-expression for fear of judgment and rejection. I have noticed that many people with innovative ideas, creative thoughts and valuable insights simply don’t think that their contribution and participation is worthwhile. I think this is deeply rooted in low self-esteem and negative thinking patterns. You are uniquely designed and created, and your thoughts and ideas are worthwhile just because you are alive and breathing – that’s reason enough. There are so many bad ideas out there, that people who have truly smart ideas are greatly in demand because the need to positively influence and inspire others will never go out of fashion. It’s also important to remember that by not sharing your thoughts with others, you are ultimately robbing and withholding a talent that is given to you by a higher power. This can be equated to someone giving you R1000 so you can invest it and multiply it. Instead you bury it in the ground and forget about it. What use is that to anyone?
4. Becoming discouraged if someone doesn’t give you the praise you are expecting. Yes, it is very important for leaders and managers to provide their employees with recognition, affirmation and positive feedback so that they feel valued and appreciated. This is directly linked to increasing productivity. However, many work places are filled with manic bosses who are so busy trying to generate money for the company that they simply don’t get to think about rewarding their staff for positive attitudes and great work performance. In such an instance, it is time to do your own self-assessment. If you feel that you’ve completed a job that delivered great results or the desired outcome, then tell yourself that you’ve done well and if someone doesn’t notice it, don’t wait for a pat on the back. You can affirm your actions by reminding yourself about the great results you have achieved and do some positive self-talk in the process by internalizing your thinking. This keeps your confidence levels up and motivates you to continue putting 100% effort in future. You can also set small goals for yourself or targets that you strive towards to keep yourself motivated as you move forward.
5. Becoming idle and bored if you are not sufficiently challenged. Once again, your boss is not always going to be aware of your disposition and where you are at with your progress at work. Sometimes we all get incredibly busy without realizing how important it is to put aside time for redefining our role and purpose in the workplace. If you’re feeling that your day to day tasks are simply becoming routinely and not challenging you enough, then create a new set of responsibilities and tasks for yourself that will positively challenge and stimulate you in your area of responsibility. Set up a meeting with your manager and suggest that you’d like to become more involved in new areas where you believe you can add value to the company. There really shouldn’t be a reason why your manager or boss should be against this if this is going to benefit the company and extend your responsibility in the process. You will also be displaying initiative and a fresh thinking approach to something that your manager might have neglected to notice. The point is, you are now empowering and challenging yourself as a person, instead of waiting around for someone to do it for you. Don’t leave your fate in the hands of others. Create your own destiny and make it exciting!!
6. Settling for what you are currently getting and not setting higher goals. I’m a firm believer in setting goals so that we are constantly striving towards something and by doing this, creating meaning in our day to day existence. If we don’t set goals, we tend to lose focus of our objectives and risk losing meaning in what we’re doing which leads to discouragement. We often subject ourselves to accepting things as they are and admittedly say to ourselves that our current circumstances won’t change anytime soon. The fact of the matter is that the only one who can change your circumstances is you. If you’re unhappy with your current salary because you’re not reaching the goal of buying a better house or donating more money to an organization that’s close to your heart, you need to ask yourself: What can I do to change the situation? How can I move closer to my goal? In most cases, our goals are very closely linked to our work because we live in a material world and require finances to launch most things into action. So, perhaps you need to chat to your boss about a salary increase, or maybe you need to look at alternative ways of making money. Maybe you need to invest more money in yourself and in your skills so you can make more money in the long run?
Whatever your desires and ambitions may be, remember that whatever is stopping you from achieving what you want is not impossible to overcome. Simply ask yourself the right questions and start cultivating a mindset of overcoming false and self-defeating beliefs that stunt your growth, steal your joy and make you feel inadequate.
Written by: Lidia van Wyk
Lidia is passionate about digital marketing, online marketing strategy, social media engagement and developing insightful content that is focused on marketing advice and tools, business as well as personal opinion pieces. Her background is in PR, writing, communications and online marketing. You can follow her on Twitter: @Lidz1 or connect with her on Linked In, http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=70411473&trk=tab_pro
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