Imagine you're about to miss your monthly sales targets, you do not get a crucial contract signed within an agreed timeframe, you've forgotten to answer an urgent request from one of your key customers, your boss has been calling you three times in the past two hours to get a super urgent analysis for his board meeting from you, or something went wrong which seriously affects your business and those closest to you outside of the workplace.
In today's fast changing and highly complex (business) world, this can happen all to easily. Occasionally, it all comes to a head and you are left feeling like you are not good enough. In times like these, it can be difficult to gain the perspective you so sorely need to pull yourself out of that terrible slump. As leaders we need to be able to identify this that both for ourselves and in our team members.
So how do we fix this? The following is not a panacea, it is some reflections from personal experience as a leader and of some of the help others have given and helped me. I hope they can help you also.
Celebrate your failures; they are a lesson
Recently was talking to some colleagues and we were reflecting on how failure in business is viewed differently in the USA compared to here at home. The view across the Atlantic is that failure is an essential part of reaching successful outcomes, we seem to have the opposite view. Winston Churchill is famously quoted as saying “Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is courage to continue that counts.” When terrible things happen (either of our own doing or otherwise), it can be difficult to see the forest for the trees. However, in every failure or negative moment, there is a lesson to be learned. Take heart, and have faith in the fact that thanks to this experience, you will be better equipped to deal with whatever life throws at you next.
Progress trumps perfection, every time
It is so easy to get caught up in others’ expectations that we forget that perfection is an unrealistic (and frankly, boring) ideal. By shooting for perfection, you are setting yourself up for negative feelings and unnecessary pressure when you inevitably fall short. Progress, on the other hand, is a better measure of how brilliant you are and how much you and your organisation has grown. Celebrate every small step forward, innovate and evolve building momentum at every opportunity.
Your mind can be cruel; don’t always take it at its word
We are often our very worst critics. Even if we are kind to others, it can be hard for us to be nice to ourselves. We tend to judge ourselves extremely harshly, whether we’re aware of it or not, simply because we’re conditioned by society to believe we need to look or behave a certain way. When we don’t conform to these impossible standards, it’s easy to slip into negative self-talk. Be aware of this and don’t believe everything you think.
There is always a way to get unstuck
No matter how desperate the situation, there’s always something you can do to move forward. You may not see it right in the moment, but you will uncover it eventually, either on your own or with the help of your friends. In that “aha” moment, you’ll come to realise how close you were to the solution all along. Hindsight is always 20/20, isn’t it? Don’t lose hope; the answer you’re seeking is out there.