Brenda's Blog

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Incredibly honored to receive a plaque of recognition from Singapore President Halimah Yacob for my volunteer work as a speaker and coach with UBS’s Camp Vision.

Incredibly honored to receive a plaque of recognition from Singapore President Halimah Yacob for my volunteer work as a speaker and coach with UBS’s Camp Vision.

Camp Vision is a great organization that helps marginalized Singaporean youth develop self-confidence, leadership, and communication skills. It was a joy to see how much the youth had developed over the past several months!

Learn more about Camp Vision here: https://campvision.org

Are you doing enough of “this” to build your inspiring leadership brand?

This year marks 25 years since I moved overseas. It was 1994, and although I was still fairly young in my career, my employer Procter & Gamble (“P&G”) had asked me to move to Warsaw, Poland where my mission was to help establish and grow leadership brands for the company in the newly opened Central European region. The Berlin wall had fallen only a few years before, so all eyes were focused on that critical part of the world.

I had been warned that living in Central Europe back then was going to be challenging (for perspective, part of my expat package was flying to Frankfurt so that I could buy canned goods, clothes, etc.). But I had no idea of the difficulties of one particular aspect of living there: How problematic – and expensive – it would be to connect with others. A phone call to my family in the U.S. cost me $4.50 USD per minute, and there was no spontaneity to business calls – they had to be scheduled days in advance so that the line could be put through by an operator.

Fast forward to 2019 and, as a human race, we are more connected today than ever in the history of the world. We live on a truly hyper-linked planet and, thanks to modern technology, those connections actually cost very little, or even nothing at all.

So, we are connected, for sure… But are we really connecting? And what is the impact of that on your brand as a leader? More importantly, what can you do about it? That’s the subject we’ll explore in this blog post.

One additional point worth sharing on the topic of connecting:  Read below “A fascinating new way to connect with others at a much deeper level” for a surprising approach to relate to people. I only learned about this in the past 2+ years, and I’ve found it to be a true game-changer in terms of better understanding colleagues, bosses, direct reports, clients, and loved ones, too.  I hope you will find it as amazing and impactful as I have. 

Finally, I want to stay connected with you! In addition to remaining in touch via this newsletter, here are some ways we can connect via social media:

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Are you doing enough of “this” to build your inspiring leadership brand?

We are living in unprecedented times. We are more connected now than ever in the history of the world. In the last 20 years alone, our ability to link to people around the globe has exploded. 

  • Through the internet, we can text/chat, join groups, or email anyone in the world.
  • Cellphones allow us to talk to anybody anywhere, no matter where we are.
  • Social media allows us to stay completely up to date with what is happening with friends, family, college pals, and colleagues.
  • Not only can I stay in touch, but where I used to pay $4.50 USD per minute to make a phone call from Poland back to my native U.S., smartphones now make it simple and accessible to connect with anyone – even for free – and use video while I’m at it. That would have been unimaginable not all that long ago.

So, it really is miraculous how modern technology allows us to be connected, isn’t it? But, in the process of all this … how much are we really connecting?

I was shadowing a meeting at a client site a few months ago. Seated at the back of the conference room, I couldn’t help but notice that, when participants of the meeting showed up early, instead of using a few minutes to talk with their colleagues, everyone was checking emails on their phone or texting – no one spoke to each other directly. I see this in our personal lives, too. Recently while out at dinner, there was a family of four (mother, father, son and daughter) sitting at a table not too far away. The parents were both scrolling through their phones and the two children were playing games on their iPads. Not a word was being said to each other.

I’m not judging here – I’m simply observing – and honestly, I’ve found myself doing this on occasion, as well. (Maybe you, too?) As a result, when clients ask me for advice on how to build a more inspiring leadership brand for themselves, I encourage them to return to the fundamentals and focus on making authentic connections with others.

To bring this topic to light, I developed a series of videos sharing some powerful coaching tools to help YOU™ connect better and become a more inspiring leader – whether you are leading yourself or others. I’ll be adding more videos to this series over time but, for now, the first few videos cover the topics of:

A fascinating new way to connect with others at a much deeper level

There is one tool in particular that I share in this series that deserves a special shout-out. I only discovered this myself a little over two years ago, but it has helped me to build instant and more authentic connections. It’s surprising, unusual, yet incredibly powerful – and it’s written on your face.

To find out more, watch this video:

Click here to find out more about The Power of Face Reading

The rest of the story…

To cap off my experience of working in Poland, I ended up living there five years in total, and to say I gained a lot during that time would be a major understatement (I also met my husband there, a fellow American who was also working in Warsaw at that time.) But one of the key learnings I took away was the importance of staying connected – truly, genuinely, authentically connected. It’s a message that applies to our world today and that will likely continue to apply to our world in the future as well.

What will you do in the coming month to foster deeper connections? I look forward to hearing about it.

Busy? Here’s a great way to stay connected!

I’m working on my next book right now, so my free time is quite limited. But I hate turning down “let’s get together” invitations that come in from friends and colleagues. My solution?  “Virtual drinks.” Agree on a date and time, send a video call invitation, we each show up to the call with a drink in hand – and voila!  We can take a break and connect for about 20-30 minutes or so, without having to leave the office.

If you’re strapped for time, too, and haven’t reached out to key contacts in a while, try a virtual drink – it’s a great way to stay in touch!

Does negative feedback really work?

When it comes to leadership, there is one topic that most people either love or hate.  What is it?  That ever-so-dreaded, eight-letter “f” word – feedback (~smile~). In fact, pause right now and reflect on how you feel about feedback, either giving or receiving it …. Where do you place yourself on the love-it-hate-it scale?

The aspect of feedback that  leaders often dread most is having to give “negative” feedback to someone who just isn’t performing at the level needed. How do you get that person to deliver what is required while still helping him or her stay motivated? That’s key to strengthening your brand as a leader. But…. how can it be done?

Here’s a story from my own past about trying to correct poor performance through feedback and what did – and did not – work. 

Pam was a team member who worked for me for many years. A multi-talented individual, she was creative, diligent, fun to work with, and capable of visualizing the big picture. All in all, Pam was a joy to have as an employee.

Unfortunately, though, Pam was challenged in one area that was important for her job: She lacked good attention to detail. She regularly made a number of small mistakes that added up to a big problem for me, given the time and attention those errors and the resulting rework caused.

Not wanting Pam’s lack of detail to derail what was otherwise a stellar performance, I tried many ways to help Pam develop in this area. She showed a strong willingness to do whatever it took to improve, so I coached her quite frequently on this improvement area. This went on for a long time, but those attempts didn’t seem to be working.

An Out-of-The-Box Approach

I finally sat down with Pam and said, “We’ve tried a number of approaches, Pam, but they haven’t worked. Be honest – what would you do if you were in my shoes?”

After a brief pause, she responded, “Well, I’m motivated by money,” she told me, “so why don’t you charge me $5 for every mistake I make? Keep track of the mistakes, and I’ll actually pay you for them.”

Surprised by Pam’s unique suggestion, I asked, “Are you sure? After all, I am supposed to be paying you, not the other way around!” We both chuckled, but Pam assured me she wanted to pursue this approach.

I offered to reduce the penalty to $1 per mistake instead, but Pam was adamant: “The stakes need to be high for my motivation.” She said, “Let’s keep it at $5 per error.”

It was the beginning of a new calendar year, so Pam and I agreed to try this error-tracking system until the end of the first quarter. Per Pam’s request, I set up an Excel sheet and tracked her mistakes for the following three months.

“Money Motivation” Failure

The results? In a word: disastrous. Pam ended up making even more mistakes than usual that quarter, and by the end of the 90-day period, she owed me close to $400!

When I shared the results with Pam, she was crushed and even shed a few tears. But she was also very determined to prove that she could bring down that amount in the coming quarter. So, I agreed to keep tracking mistakes for another 90 days.

Unfortunately, at the end of that second quarter of the year, Pam had made even more mistakes and owed me an even larger amount of money than the previous quarter. Once again, this was a big disappointment for both of us.

By this time, I was more frustrated than ever with Pam’s performance. She was not only making more mistakes, but now, she was also more demoralized than ever, too. For me as a team leader, watching for mistakes had created far more work for me than it was worth – I definitely didn’t like my role as “error-tracker.”

Pam and I sat down to discuss. “Clearly, this isn’t working,” I shared with her. “We can’t keep this up. How about we give this a rest?” We both gladly agreed and said that we would talk about it some more later on.

A Critical Shift

When I look back on it now, surprisingly, Pam and I never really discussed how to move forward after that. We both got very busy and forgot about tracking errors. I just embraced what Pam was doing well and – even more than normal – let her know how much I appreciated her good work and all of the qualities that made her a great team member.

Suddenly, three months had gone by and – guess what? – Pam had only made a few minor mistakes. Fast forward to yet another three months after that, and Pam hadn’t made any mistakes at all! So, as we closed out that calendar year, the back-half represented six whole months of mistake-free work. It was a complete turnaround!

What had happened to cause that shift? I sat back and reflected.

The Futility of Negative Feedback

Why didn’t the mistake-tracking system work to prevent Pam’s errors? Because it forced us both to focus on the negative aspects of Pam’s performance rather than on the positive.

It was a testament to the adage: What you focus on grows. Subconsciously, Pam knew she was being watched and that she had the $5-per-mistake penalty hanging over her head. She knew that she was being judged and that the two of us were focusing on the errors she was making. This moved her into a place of fear, her confidence dropped, and that caused her to stop believing in herself. It became a negative spiral.

As a leader, I also ended up in that same spiral because the more I looked for Pam’s mistakes, the more mistakes I expected, and – sure enough – the more mistakes I found.

Lesson Learned

This experience reinforced an incredibly important lesson for leaders to keep in mind:

Negative feedback never works.

Only forward-focused, constructive feedback works.

When both Pam and I shifted our mindset toward concentrating on what she was doing well, she let go of her self-judgment, and I stopped judging her, too. As a result, she began to make dramatically fewer mistakes.

Certainly, if an employee needs to improve in a specific area, it’s important to address it. But I encourage leaders to start by focusing on what the team member is doing right. Then, when you bring up an area that needs developing, do it without placing blame or finding fault. Be objectively curious. Ask questions. See the development as an opportunity to improve rather than a problem that “has to be fixed – or else.”

Remember: What you focus on grows, so focusing on the negative will only ever bring you more negativity, which is counterproductive for everyone involved. When you place your attention on what’s going well, you’ll have a much better shot at helping an employee improve performance.

I am excited to share that I have been ranked #7 among the Top 30 Executive Coaches worldwide and #4 among the Top Branding Gurus worldwide!

This year’s Global Gurus’ results have been released, and I am excited to share that I have been ranked #7 among the Top 30 Executive Coaches worldwide and #4 among the Top Branding Gurus worldwide! Feeling very honored to be included along with such outstanding coaches as Marshall Goldsmith, Tony Robbins, and Jack Canfield. A percentage of the final ranking relied on community votes, so THANK YOU for your support – I sincerely appreciate it!https://globalgurus.org/coaching-gurus-30/ https://globalgurus.org/brand-gurus-30/

Build your brand as an inspiring leader – in 3 minutes or less

As we head deeper into the year 2019, I have some exciting news to share with you and a thank-you gift, too!

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First, the news: The 2019 Global Gurus lists have just been released, and I am happy to share with you that I have been ranked #7 among the World’s Top 30 Coaching Professionals and #4 among the World’s Top 30 Branding Professionals. Wow!

It is such an honor to be in the company of amazing coaches like Marshall Goldsmith, Tony Robbins, and Jack Canfield, and I am beyond grateful to you for your votes and for your ongoing support through the years.

I genuinely don’t know how to thank you enough.

As one way to show my appreciation, I wanted to share a dozen, short-duration video clips that have just been posted – each 3 minutes or less. These videos are excerpted from an interview I did last year, addressing the topic of how to be an inspiring leader of others and build a strong brand for yourself.

So many of my clients say they want to learn and grow as leaders, but how do you do that while facing a seemingly constant shortage of time?  I hope these short, to-the-point videos will not only help in that regard, but that they will also serve to inspire you.

How to build your brand as an inspiring leader – in 3 minutes or less

Time, time, time.  We save time, make time, find time, waste time. We say “time flies.” And most leaders tell me they are seemingly always short of it – they never seem to have enough time.

In the middle of all that, you still want to grow and learn as a professional and to build a strong brand as an inspiring leader.

So, how do you do that, given limited time?

In response to that, the team here at Brenda Bence International has put together a series of 12, short-duration videos.  In these 1-3-minute videos excerpted from a recent online interview with Sha Nacito from the HR Summit Global, I share many simple yet powerful tips, tools, and techniques to help you build an inspiring brand for yourself as a leader.

Chock-full of learnings I’ve gained through almost two decades of working with hundreds of successful leaders, you’ll hear answers to questions such as:

Thank you again for your support, and I hope you will find these videos both helpful and inspiring!  I’ll be posting more videos through the year, so feel free to subscribe to my YouTube channel, if you’re interested.   I look forward to hearing from you.

Seven Ways to Make Sure Your Vision for the Future Becomes Reality

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Happy 2019! At this time of the year, most of us think about what we want to achieve in the coming 365 days. Where do YOU™ want to be by December 31, 2019?

One of the key ways to get from where you are to where you want to be is to be crystal clear on your vision for the future – not just in terms of your career, but in all areas of your life. That’s why a part of my Executive Coaching program involves helping senior leaders gain clarity on what they really want their future to look like.

To do this, clients create what I call “A Day in the Life.” As a result of this exercise, clients walk through, then capture in writing, what their ideal day would be like once they have achieved their coaching goals.

I’m sure you’ve heard of visioning exercises similar to this, and maybe you’ve even tried one or two. Perhaps they didn’t work for you, so you’ve decided it’s not effective at all. I hear that often: “I tried visioning, Brenda, but it just doesn’t work.”

That’s not my experience. Countless numbers of clients have seen their visions come to life – in every detail, word for word. So why do some people succeed at visioning while others fail?

In this post, I share how you can make your vision come true, too.  This is key to strengthening your leadership brand and to setting yourself up for even greater success in the future.

I’ve learned through years of working with clients that the reason some people succeed in achieving their visions and some don’t is all about how the vision is crafted. If you don’t create your vision properly, you’ll struggle to turn it into reality.

Below are the seven most common mistakes I see clients make while in the visioning process. Avoid these, and you’ll be on your way to turning your vision for the future into reality.

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The 7 Most Common Visioning Mistakes – and How to Avoid Them

 Mistake #1: Creating your vision in future tense, rather than in the present tense. Words like “I will,” “My life will be,” “I hope to,” or “I anticipate” only create more hope and anticipation. Instead, use phrases like, “I am” and “My job is…” When you create your vision as if it’s already a reality, before you know it, it will be.

Mistake #2: Focusing only on “doing” and ignoring feelings. Most visions I see reflect what people will “do” in their ideal state – the activities they’ll undertake. But it’s critically important to focus as well on how your vision day makes you feel when you’re experiencing it.

  • You don’t want a promotion simply for the sake of a promotion. You want how that promotion makes you feel.
  • You don’t want more money just to have those pieces of paper with numbers on them. No, you want money because it helps you feel more secure, gives you a sense of freedom in order to do what you love to do, etc.

So, the key is to focus on what you are feeling when you are living your ideal life. What emotion do you experience when you wake up? When you walk into your office? When you observe your dedicated and capable team doing their jobs with excellence? Add feelings to every step of your ideal vision – it’s a vital part of the process. After all, we are not human “doings,” we are human beings, and we experience our work and life through feelings.

Mistake #3: Talking about others’ feelings but not your own. When creating visions, don’t fall into the trap of thinking about others’ emotions, such as, “My team feels great” or “The Board is happy with my contributions.” Instead, your vision can reflect how others are showing you how they feel. Do they smile more? Is there more laughter at work? Have you received a congratulatory note from a Board member? Once you’ve defined that, add in how these experiences make you feel.

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Mistake #4: Stating your vision with the absence of a negative rather than the presence of a positive. “I leave work early without feeling guilty” is an example of a vision statement sentence which focuses on the absence of a negative. In this case, you’re trying to avoid the negativity of guilt. Instead, turn things around, and state your vision with the presence of a positive: “I leave work early with a sense of peace, knowing that my team has everything under control.” Here are other examples of negative-versus-positive vision sentences:

  • Negative: “I don’t have to micromanage my team.”
  • Positive: “My team members handle their tasks expertly and independently.”
  • Negative: “I don’t have conflict with my peers.”
  • Positive: “Interactions with my peers are harmonious and easy.”

Mistake #5: Only including your business or professional life in your vision, leaving out your personal life.  A great leader is well-rounded, so it’s key to include all the various aspects of your desired life in your vision. What do you want for yourself personally, as well as in your career? Some of my clients, for example, will leave out important personal steps, beginning their day in their vision by going to work. But what about family interactions in the morning before leaving for work, or connecting with friends after work? Be sure to include your life mate/spouse, family, friends, hobbies, charity work, etc. as an integral part of your ideal day.

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Mistake #6: Struggling to make your vision truly “ideal.” Living your ideal reality may seem so far off that it’s hard to even imagine what such a future would be like. I see that in phrases such as “only a few mistakes are made by my direct reports,” or “I start my day reading emails.” Is that what you really believe is “ideal?” Wouldn’t you rather envision no mistakes made and/or starting your day with a reflective walk in the park? Check yourself if you start to make your vision less than perfect. This is your chance to create a future that you truly desire.

Mistake #7: Not stretching your vision enough. If your vision only brings incremental improvement instead of significant improvement, it’s time to stretch yourself more. Go for the career and life you really want. Make note of everything that has changed in this ideal life, including what you’re doing that’s very different from today, how you relate to others differently, how different work and life feel, and how others relate to you. Do you have your usual work meetings, or does your ideal vision mean you can skip certain meetings? How many hours do you spend at the office? Be specific and stretch yourself.

Make Your Vision Come to Life

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You’ve written your vision according to these guidelines above… now what? Here are a few simple starter tips for how to turn your vision into reality:

  • Carry your vision around with you at all times. Keep it in your pocket or your purse as a constant reminder of what you are aiming for.
  • Read it at least every other day, but don’t just read the words. Take time to let the vision sink in, and remember to feel what it’s like to live this, day in and day out.
  • Act, react, look, sound, and think as though that visionary life is how your life is now. Live your vision. Embody it 24/7 – now.

If you avoid the seven most common mistakes in crafting your vision and follow the simple tips outlined above, you’ll soon find your vision has turned into your life.

I wish you a 2019 filled with the joy of possibility.

 

 

In 2019, will you let this anchor hold you back?

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Do any of these situations sound familiar to you?

  • Deepa kept going back over something she had said to her boss, reliving it again and again in her head, caused herself angst, and beating herself up relentlessly about it.
  • Wang Wei had a bad experience presenting to the Board of his company and had convinced himself that they thought he was incapable and that he would never do well in front of the Board again.
  • Sarah had made a poor investment choice and, since then, continued to believe she was bad at managing money, to the point where it consistently and negatively impacted her financial situation.
  • William was in a car accident which resulted in bad back problems, and he complained about it so often that his brand at work had become “the guy with the bad back who always complains about that accident he had.”

If you can relate to any of the examples outlined above, you may be letting a past situation keep you stuck, well… in the past! I’ve seen this occur in many coaching clients over the years.

Here’s a powerful truth about the past: Can you change it? No. Yet every time we go back to something that happened in our history – every time we let a memory of some long-ago situation cause us angst or worry – we are actually “honoring” that experience. Whether it happened last week, last month, or even several years ago, every time we relive it or refer back to it, we are further ingraining that experience into our system. In doing so, we are allowing that experience to serve as an anchor, keeping us stuck in the past.

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What’s the implication? As long as we are doing that, we can’t truly move forward to the future. Constantly referring to your past is like having a ball and chain permanently clasped around your ankle.

And, just who is this bothering, really? No one else knows you are going through this private angst, so the only person these past regrets are keeping up at night is you… keeping you in fear and frustration, anger and irritation, regret and sorrow. I ask sincerely: How is that serving you?

The Case of Jacob

Jacob was a client who, years ago, had gotten fired by a disgruntled boss. Jacob was ashamed – mortified even – about the experience, so he kept his past firing hidden, a secret that he hadn’t even shared with his wife or family. And he certainly hadn’t let any of the bosses he had had since then know that he had been fired.

In the years that followed, Jacob had actually become a good performer. He had been hired by a couple of great companies and was offered promotions and increasingly higher salaries along the way.

But there was always a fear lurking in Jacob: Would he be fired again? As a result, Jacob was letting that past situation anchor him, always worried that – at any moment – he could suddenly lose his job.

He came to me, saying that he was tired of the constant worry, the angst. He realized it wasn’t serving him and wondered how to let it go.

The Process of Releasing Past Anchors

“First, Jacob,” I said, “let’s make a list of all the ways your past firing has made you who you are today. Don’t overthink it.  Let the list roll off the top of your head.”

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It took him a while to get started, but then Jacob surfaced a few points. Getting fired in the past had made Jacob…

… stronger in character, which he pointed out was key to success in today’s ever-changing world.

…more resilient, realizing now that he could handle anything that came his way.

…clearer about the kinds of jobs he wanted, ultimately leading to greater success.

…smarter in his choices about the types of bosses he wanted to work for.

…more determined to succeed and to demonstrate to himself and others that he was good at what he did.

“Excellent start,” I said. “Now, keep this list handy and continue adding to it in the coming days. Your goal is to make the longest list possible of how the experience of being fired has helped shape who you are today.”

Jacob kept adding more points over the next couple of weeks, until he couldn’t think of anything more. When he and I reconnected, he handed me his list, which had grown considerably.

I read out loud to Jacob the points he had written, emphasizing clearly each benefit. When done, I asked him, “Hearing all of the ways being fired has made you better, Jacob, how do you feel about that experience now?”

“Honestly, I’m amazed,” he responded. “I realize now that being fired really did help shape who I am today. I would never have thought of it that way.”

“Consider this: How would you be different today if that firing hadn’t ever happened?” I asked.

Jacob paused. “Whoa… now that’s a new way to think about it,” he said slowly. “Well, if I hadn’t been fired, I wouldn’t be as strong, capable, nor as successful as I have become.”

I paused to let that soak in. “And all of that comes from something you had thought was a bad situation. With that in mind, Jacob, what is one word you would use to describe how you feel now toward the experience of having been fired?”

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It didn’t take Jacob long to respond. “Grateful,” he replied, “and almost … well, ‘fortunate!?’ That seems so hard to believe, but it’s true.”

“If that past experience were a person, what would you say to that person today?”

“Thank you,” he responded, then added with a twinkle in his eye, “and good riddance!”

Jacob’s firing had served its purpose. It was time to appreciate all of the learning gained from that past scenario so that he could focus solely on the future – on the joy of what “could be” rather than on the regret of what “had been.”

Let’s Apply This to YOU™ ®

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It’s rare to find someone who doesn’t have some negative experience that they relive over and over again. Pause right now, and be honest with yourself: What is one negative situation about the past that you keep replaying in your mind?

As we approach the end of 2018, I encourage you to let go of that experience, once and for all. How would 2019 be a different year for you if you were to completely release that negative from your past?

If you’re ready to drop-kick something that happened to you in your history, walk yourself through the same approach I used with Jacob. Because the best year-end gift you can give yourself is the gift of learning from – and letting go of – the anchor called “the past.” That’s what will allow you to approach 2019 focused on the joy of what “could be,” not the ball-and-chain of what “was.”

 

 

The Power of Your Thoughts, as a Leader

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I am fascinated by just how easily most of us dismiss the power of thoughts. How, more often than not, we are unaware of what we are thinking or believing at any given time – and therefore also unaware of the tremendous impact those thoughts and beliefs can have in the way our jobs, our careers, and our lives unfold.

Take for example an incident I experienced while I was living and working in Poland a little over 20 years ago. I was a brand leader at Procter & Gamble (“P&G”), and it was an amazing time to be in that part of the world. Not long after the wall had fallen in Berlin, I had been tasked with helping to establish P&G’s Eastern European operations. My job was to launch and grow key brands and to develop people. Given the circumstances at that time in history, “leading people” essentially meant teaching ex-communists to be capitalists. (What an experience that was!)

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On this particular morning, I was rushing to get to the office for an important meeting that was scheduled to start at 9 a.m. Due to bad traffic, I arrived ten minutes late – and I hate to be late! So, I rushed straight into my office, grabbed the materials I needed, and headed to the conference room to join the meeting already in progress.

Two hours later, as I returned to my office, I found one of my direct reports, Nadia, waiting for me.

Based on her red nose, large, swollen eyes, and facial tissues she was clutching in her hand, it was obvious that Nadia had been crying – a lot.

By way of background, Nadia was my shining star – one of the smartest, most capable and enjoyable team members I had. She embraced a positive attitude and was always focused on winning.

But “that” Nadia was not the clearly upset, nose-blowing Nadia who sat in my office that morning.

I immediately pulled up a chair across from her, sat down, leaned in, and said, “Nadia, what’s wrong?”

Through her tears, she managed to get the words out, “Why are you firing me?”

I was shocked. “What?” I replied.

“Why are you firing me?” she repeated.

I was dumbfounded. Where was this coming from?

As it turns out, in communist-Poland times, if a boss was going to fire someone, the boss would walk past that person on the morning they were to be fired, without saying hello.

In my attempt to get to my meeting on time, I had apparently rushed right by Nadia and had not even realized it.The result? Nadia had read that as a sign of her impending unemployment – resulting in her losing an entire morning due to confusion, panic, disappointment, and grief.

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I learned so much from that experience (for one thing, focus on relationships more than tasks!). Mainly, this incident illustrated for me just how important ingrained beliefs are. Think about it: All that turmoil for Nadia was caused by one single belief – just one simple thought.

And what had “really” happened? I had simply walked by Nadia without saying anything (I honestly hadn’t noticed her!). It was the interpretation of that action – the belief that Nadia held about that action – which caused her an entire morning of angst.

Does this sound familiar to you? Have you ever heard something secondhand at work – you either misunderstood what you heard, or what you were told was misrepresented – and, as a result, you were full of worry, upset, anger… only to find out later that you were completely mistaken?

As leaders on the job, we are being driven by hundreds of assumptions every single day, and they can often steer us incorrectly.

It all comes down to the way we think as leaders – the underlying ingrained beliefs we have. And these beliefs are fueling us all day, every day. They impact the way we feel, which in turn impacts the actions we take, and – ultimately – drives the outcomes we get.

resolutions

Yet we often ignore thoughts and beliefs, simply because they are intangible. In general, we pay more attention to behaviors and words. “But those are just thoughts,” clients will tell me. “It’s what I say or do that matters most, right?”

No. I believe we underestimate and underutilize the tremendous power and the amazing impact that our thoughts and beliefs carry.

So, if you are not already doing so, as a coach I encourage you to watch your thoughts like a hawk – and with objective curiosity. Look at what you are thinking as if you were an objective outsider, as if they were not “your” thoughts. Is what you are thinking really serving you? If not, choose to change those thoughts. Because what you think – and believe – is ultimately driving the outcomes you get. And that is what will help you be a better self-leader and a greater leader of others, which of course will help you build a strong brand as a leader on the job.

We are launching two books in 2019!

We are launching two books in 2019 – one which requires a “sketched” drawing of me (instead of the typical type of photo). So, here it is – what do you think? Artwork by: Raden Muhammad Norfiqri