I get paid to lead and have been in a leadership position for years. However, prior to being in an official leadership position, I exhibited leadership qualities and led from whatever positions I’ve held.
In my personal life and as a Christian, I follow Jesus Christ’s example and live my life by his example, teachings, and principles. This carries into how I lead in a professional capacity and in my home.
My husband and I are in covenant partnership in our marriage, and there are certain aspects where I follow his lead and some aspects where I lead. Twenty-six years of marriage, and it works for us.
My work trip to Rockville, Maryland, and Washington D.C. was productive, invorgorating, and most of all, enlightening. It was an exercise in learning new information, applying this information, and collaborating with others to plan for our state. The depth of work we did would not have been possible without meeting in person. This was my first work travel trip since the pandemic, so it’s been over three years. This trip was enjoyable, which is saying a lot for a state employee attending to state matters.
Three days, two nights, and I barely took photos on this trip, but after all, it was a work trip. However, one night, I had the pleasure of enjoying Ethiopian food for the first time with 5 of my colleagues, and it was amazing. I took photos. I kept wondering, “Where have I been to be living this long and just now partaking of this delicacy?”
Actually, every meal I ate was delicious, including my vegetable plate of grilled cauliflower steak, green beans, and mushroom risotto for day one’s dinner at Founding Farmers in Washington D.C. I just forgot to take photos. It occurred to me a few hours before our flight back to Texas that the seafood in this region had to be delicious considering the Atlantic Ocean in its backyard.
With any trip where I travel overnight, when I return, I do the things that bring me back to equilibrium. Think about it: the hustle and bustle to and from the airport, the traveling in unfamiliar places, eating different foods (albeit tasty), sleeping (if I manage to do that) in an unfamiliar bed, and not drinking as many fluids as usual….all of these activities and more take my body out of equilibrium.
One of the first things I do is get a relaxing, steamy shower and good night’s sleep. My husband, Bryan, got us home after midnight early Thursday morning. Remember, we had a late flight. I was grateful that I took the rest of the week off, so I slept in later on Thursday morning. I usually unpack my bags quickly, but I took my time on Thursday.
I was craving my nutritious foods, so I began prepping for my green smoothie and some fresh juice.
Usually, completely unpacking helps me feel accomplished after a trip, and I tend to do it the day I return. This time, I didn’t completely finish unpacking until Friday morning. I put a few items back throughout Thursday. I took my time and didn’t feel rushed.
I spent the weekend filling my belly with nutritious foods, tending to my plants, doing a little work catch up, and nesting with my family! I’m refreshed for the week ahead.
This week, I’m in Washington D.C. for a work conference. It’s hard to believe I haven’t traveled for work in 3 years, but it’s true. The pandemic has changed our lives so much, particularly my work life, because I’ve also been teleworking for 3 years. Never would I have imagined myself as a “social” worker, enjoying working from home, but alas, here I am enjoying it.
I’m in D.C. with about 7 other colleagues and my boss representing Texas. We arrived yesterday on different flights. Considering the time I arrived, I didn’t get to see any of the sites. My last trip to D.C. was in the nineties on a high school field trip. At that time, I saw the Washington Monument, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Lincoln statue, we drive down Embassy row, and maybe a few other sites.
The conference agenda is pretty jam-packed with activity, so I’m not sure if I will get out to explore the city today. However, I will try depending on how I feel. I’m going to get a quick workout in before I start the day.
Intention for the week ahead: May I be in the moment and observe and absorb as much as I can, may I smile and breathe as often as possible, may I not hesitate to speak my mind, but also listen, may I pace myself, may I stretch morning and night, and may I enjoy my stay in Washington D.C.
God has put an assignment on my life and it is time I let go of the guilt for choices I make to honor my assignment. My assignment is this: CARING FOR MY FAMILY. That’s it. Several years ago, I attended a church service where a pastor first introduced me to the idea of God giving us assignments. Assignments can be people or causes or whatever God has called you to do. You can also have more than one assignment though I’m not sure if it would be feasible to manage multiple assignments simultaneously. I’ve known since I had children, my family is my main assignment. I love this beautiful family of mine, who God entrusted me with, and I am going to do whatever I can to make them feel loved, nurtured, and cared and provided for.
When my husband, Bryan, had brain surgery due to hydrocephalus in 2016, we thought we had passed the worst of it, not knowing he would decompensate the following year, which entailed even more hospitalizations and treatment. I knew with my background in mental health and working directly with clients and helping them navigate through life (including medical appointments), it prepared me to attend to Bryan. It is difficult for the average person to navigate the medical care system, let alone experienced professionals. Even with my training and experience, I would get frustrated with the process of it all. Bryan is doing so much better and I have been grateful to be his advocate, case manager, and caretaker. I feel sorry for those who do not have this level of support.
My son, Caleb, started struggling in middle school due to difficulty focusing. I made sure I attended all the school meetings regarding his learning and attempted to implement protocols at home to keep him organized. I typed “attempted” because they didn’t always work, especially if Caleb didn’t keep up with them. Bryan was the homework parent, and I was the organizer, scheduler, and shopper. In addition to emotional support, it was also important to me that my children had healthy, homecooked meals because I wanted to provide them with this type of nurturing. Therefore, I made sure I purchased healthy food options and I spent my weekends cooking.
For years, I have mentally tortured myself for spending most of my weekends prepping meals, cooking, attending to my family and home, playing with my children (when they were little), and doing some self-care activities instead of catching up on my never-ending work to-do list. I cannot pinpoint when, but I came to the realization I was deliberately choosing to focus on caring for my family, my assignment, rather than doing work activities. And this realization occurred over a period of time. Why would I feel guilty about that? It would have made more sense for me to be give myself some grace for all I was doing. However, internal and external forces made me feel like I wasn’t doing enough.
Since teleworking for over 2 years now due to the pandemic, I continued to bear this guilt. The lines between work and home are even more blurred working from home. I would spend my weekends attending to my assignment, all the while with the anxiety of “work” looming in my head. It was like background noise I could not turn off. Then Sunday night would inevitably arrive, and I realized I did not have time for work. But interestingly, that is when I would let it go and proclaim, “tomorrow is a new day”. Why can’t I start my weekend consciously saying I am devoting my weekend to my family (aka my assignment) and myself and be satisfied with that?
Earlier in the summer, a pastor at my current church preached about people being so stressed today and how we need to go back to some basic principles such as recognizing Sunday as being a day of rest. I knew that message was for me. I felt convicted as I listened. He did say to work hard Monday through Saturday. I left church promising to adopt this in my life. In honesty, I have slipped a few Sundays by doing some work, but the same degree as in the past. And for clarification, the commitment I made was not to do work for my place of employment on Sunday and to do most of my weekend cleaning and tiding up on Friday and Saturday. I don’t necessarily view cooking as work.
Another aspect where I find myself feeling guilty is when it comes to maintaining friendships. My life is plenty full, even with my children growing up. I have prioritized caring for my assignment. There are some people I stay connected with, but I realize there are many people of whom I do not due to the extra effort it takes. Aside from attending to my assignment, I value my peace, so I set boundaries which usually means less people around me. Plus, I am an introvert at heart so I am energized in small groups such as the size of my household (4) and in solitude. I will also add that long term friendships ebb and flow because we all have our assignments and things going on in our lives.
If you struggle with any of this, I hope you take what you need from my post, but mainly allow yourself some grace. The main thing I am doing is changing my mindset. I have already been practicing this. Rather than focus on what I don’t accomplish, I focus on the conscious choices I’ve made to attend to my assignment, what I did accomplish as a result of my choices, and then I give myself a mental high five for following the commitment to my assignment. That’s it.
For example, I started Saturday morning with attending a Zumba fitness class which was super fun and checked the self-care box. Afterwards, I went to the grocery store to pick up a few items for the household and it was nice to get there early. Then at home, I prepared a delicious lunch of leftovers. I then cleaned my bathroom and was pleased that a new product I tried removed the soap scum and hard water marks. I changed my bed sheets, did some laundry, dusted two ceiling fans. swept the floor in the main areas, wrote two work ideas down on my dry erase board in my office, watered, pruned, sprayed my indoor and outdoor plants, washed my hair, and polished my nails. I started this post before midnight on Saturday, which is another score for me. It was a very productive day for sure. Great job, Lucrece!
What is there to feel guilty about? If anything, I need to process more deeply what about my work environment causes me to feel guilty when I’m unable to work on my off days. What is it about me that requires me to believe I SHOULD be able to do it all when in reality, it is not feasible. And I’m working on removing the word “should” from my vocabulary because it’s like setting limits on yourself. Prioritizing my family (and my self-care) when I’m not scheduled to work is what I need to be attending to on my off hands. For limited time work projects that require a little extra work on my off days, I’m willing to accommodate, but not like I used to. This is coming from a recovering workaholic.
The light lessons for this post are: 1) deliberately change how I view the situation by acknowledging the choices I am making; 2) committing myself to those choices; and 2) praising myself with positive self-talk. If I go even further, I could maintain a journal or phone log of choices/accomplishments I’ve made for the day. I did try this for a few weeks and didn’t keep up with it. I just might pick it up again.
If you struggle with work guilt, mom guilt, friend guilt or just general guilt, I’d love to hear how you handle this. Drop a comment if you feel so inclined. Until next time.
My previous boss gave me this book as an early Christmas gift in 2019 and I devoured it. It’s filled with so many valuable nuggets in a light, digestable style of writing. I knew at one time I was a BADASS, but something happened months into COVID causing me to doubt myself. A large part of it had to do with burn out from chronic stress and life demands. BUT in the last 11 months or so, I’ve been finding myself again and I’m back to believing I’m a BADASS. Sometimes the obstacles of life can make you doubt yourself and your path. However, I’m here to tell you to keep going. Struggles, obstacles, challenges, disappointments, disasters, and defeats come with the human experience. Don’t be so hard on yourself. It will turn around.
If you’re not in a struggle now, you’re coming out of one or are headed that way in the future. But don’t fret! Struggles strengthen your muscles (i.e., character, spiritual, resilience, emotional, mental, financial, intellectual, integrity, professional, parenting, friendship, etc.), depending on what lessons you’re meant to learn. I can’t say I enjoy my life’s struggles yet, but I’ve learned so many lessons from them and from the strong women in my life.
In this post, I will share some of the BADASS women leaders who’ve impacted my life the most. I’m fortunate to work in an environment with a diverse group of exceptional women leaders. Several of them are African American. The strongest traits I see in them are articulating thoughts precisely, saying the hard things, encouraging others, providing constructive feedback, taking the time to learn, adjusting, and bravely making hard decisions on a daily basis. I’ve had examples of strong, badass women leaders my whole life.
My mom, Solange, immigrated to the United States from Haiti and she was a package of strength and vulnerability. I was perplexed by this combination for a long time. She raised 4 children on a meager salary as a single mother for years (before she married my stepfather when I was 16). I don’t know how she did it when I learned her salary amount. I made more money than her in my first full time job.
Solange was strict and had high standards. She instilled her work ethic into each of her children. My work ethic is why I’m in a leadership position. My work ethic is why I push myself so hard as an overachiever. Overachieving comes with some drawbacks as you’ve seen me blog about previously. I’m in a constant battle of doing and being okay with not doing. Therapy is helping me to unpack this.
The other BADASS woman leader I grew up with in my own home is my older sister, Gina. Growing up, she was the one everybody (or at least I did) called “bossy”. Naturally, most people have a problem with the “bossy” ones because they don’t want to be told what to do. However, she was practical and had an organized sense about her.
As it turns out, people who are bossy make great leaders and she’s been in leadership roles at various jobs starting at an early age. I’ve always admired Gina’s ability to speak with confidence and articulate what she meant. Gina is direct and honest. I’m grateful she’s one of my resources for feedback in managing certain matters at work.
Then, there was my older cousin who is so smart. I’m purposely not typing her name. There’s a lot of pressure in Haitian culture to do as your parents plan for you. From my perspective, as the middle child, my cousin learned to be a great neutralizer and negotiator in the family. Gina has these traits considering she is also the middle child. Middle children are known to be great negotiators.
My observation is my cousin maintains relationships with everyone, even if those individuals who don’t get along with each other. She’s the common denominator. They all get along with her. I’ve also watched her achieve her goals and meet high standards she set for herself and standards her parents set for her.
The traits I admire in women leaders don’t come easily – articulating thoughts precisely, saying the hard things despite the audience, constantly learning and adjusting, negotiating, managing personalities successfully, offering constructive feedback, bravely making and standing by hard decisions, and managing work and family life simultaneously. Women of color particularly have it hard when you factor living in a world where there is racism, in addition to sexism, ageism, and all the other isms. Being able to lead through the sociological muddiness impresses me even more.
The title of the book is fun, but I will add I personally tend to be humble despite the wisdom I’ve gained from my experiences. So basically, in real life, I don’t go around telling people I’m a BADASS. I got the humility trait from Solange and I can’t help myself. I do think it’s healthy to reflect on things you like about yourself and your accomplishments. This gives you CONFIDENCE and the courage to keep striving.
As a start to another week, I hope you remember you are a BADASS because you made it to see another day. Keep working on whatever it is your working towards. And why not let the other BADASSES in your life know how much they mean to you.
Hello world. In my almost 5 weeks of recovery from surgery at the end of January, I’ve been healing wonderfully. I’m proud of myself for taking time for the rest my body desperately needed. Rest does not come easy for many people and that needs to change. And technically, I’m still healing, but I’ve made some great progress. I can honestly say this surgery (hysterectomy) was one of the best things I’ve done for my body! Remember, I was suffering from heavy bleeding, fatigue, and anemia. The only complication from the surgery is the stuttering (mentioned in 4 Week Post Surgery Update), but it’s occurring less often. I’ve been monitoring it.
So far, the only menopausal symptoms I’ve noticed are some occasional mild night sweats. At 48 years old, I view menopause as another passage of life. The most significant passages in my life (from my experience not my mom’s 😊) were my teenage years, becoming an adult, working towards my education and career, getting married, and having children. I see menopause in a positive light. (Look at me sounding like I’ve got this all figured out! Ha!) In some regards, it is scary to charter into this unknown territory, especially at a relatively young age, but I hope to THRIVE during this phase.
Once I got through the initial 2 weeks post-surgery (the most critical time), I took advantage of the down time and did some much needed self-reflection. I mentioned in my post How it started vs how it’s going: 2 weeks post surgery that I developed a plan for how I will manage menopause. My plan includes living a healthy lifestyle through eating mostly plant-based foods (not dieting), exercising, meditating, practicing deep breathing, getting ample sleep, and reducing stress. I could have started with reducing stress because I believe it’s had the most negative affect on my mind and body. I’ve struggled with stress for years and I’m determined to manage it much better.
A true sign of progress is last week my gynecologist approved me to return to work on March 2. And because I’ve enjoyed the less stressed, more centered person I’ve been for the past 5 weeks, I want to maintain this state of homeostasis (as my therapist calls it). My job and work environment are the greatest sources of stress in my life and I am determined to not let it erode my progress. Therefore, I wrote a SELF-CARE work plan to manage my work days moving forward. I also worked with my therapist on a plan for how I transition back to work. For example, I spent only 30 minutes Sunday, 30 minutes on Monday, and 1 hour on Tuesday catching up on the nearly 1,000 new emails in my in-box. In the past, I probably would have spent 2-3 hours per day, over several days reviewing emails until I had read them all. My therapist practically scoffed when I suggested 2 hours. The objective is not to get sucked back in and wear myself out. Not to mention, it’s not realistic.
I also created a template in a Word document for my direct reports to provide their updates and asked them to complete it by Monday, so I can know what transpired and what I need to prioritize. This was a much better approach. I will be catching up for a couple of weeks, but at least I won’t go into my first day completely blind. This process may not work for everyone. Some people working in certain establishments may not need to do this sort of preparation, but considering the fast paced environment I work in, I feel more in control when I return to work armed with information.
I used to despise the saying, “work smarter not harder” because in my current work environment, the expectation is that you work hard. In fact, working smart and hard go hand in hand. After all, I work for state government and resources have always been scarce in my area. However, I’m changing my perspective on this. Working smart means using all the resouces at my disposal and setting boundaries.
The main light lesson from this post is to be PROACTIVE. You do have control of your health. You can change (add, omit, modify) things that are within your control. Seek the help you need. Create processes that work for you. Do the things to ensure the best quality of life outcome for you. That’s it.
I’m ready for work today. Thankfully, my commute is a walk into my home office. I’ll keep you posted on my progress.
This is a true story from a few years ago, but still resonates today. I stood in the hallway of an unfamiliar building, not sure which direction my meeting was. No one was around. “Darn it! I don’t want to be late. Managers get to meetings early.” As I shuffled through my notebook to find the printed Microsoft Outlook invitation with the room number, I saw a sentence instructing attendees to plan to provide a one minute introduction about themselves. “Great (insert sarcasm)! How did I miss that? I didn’t prepare anything. I’m going to have to wing it AGAIN. It’ll be ok. One minute isn’t long. I’ll think of something on the elevator ride up.”
I got off the elevator to find 3 familiar faces and each appeared lost. No one knew how to get to the conference room. I felt relieved I wasn’t alone. After a few minutes of confusion, another familiar, smiling face appeared and guided us to our destination. At the entry to the room, I laid eyes on the many professionals: managers, directors, and officials. “Do I belong here? Absolutely.”
There were about 30 of us crammed in a small conference room. This was the first meeting of its kind. The introductions commenced, and to my dread, they were starting at my table plus we each had to stand up. As an introvert, I’m usually uncomfortable talking about myself. I decided, “I can do this” as I have many times. However, the stakes were higher this time because of who was in the room. I recalled my boss telling me in the past, “It’s time to shine.” I always resented her telling me that because I shine on my own accord, not by command or pressure. My boss was in the room, at my table. Even though I had my elevator speech ready, thankfully, the facilitator decided to go to the other tables, so I would almost be the last person to speak. I claimed my stake and told myself I would be relaxed and make an impression. As I listened to the years of experience, wit, and honesty, I began to feel inspired and privileged to be in the room.
With each person who spoke, I’d think of something else I wanted to say about myself and add it to my imaginary list. By the time it was my turn, I was poised and relaxed. For a moment, I questioned my attire, particularly my top, because when I stood up, eyes seemed to have laid on the tie at the base of my denim blouse. I was imagining curious looks. I knew I needed to call attention to my words not my attire so I amped it up. I blocked out the thought about my blouse because let’s face it, I couldn’t do anything about it at that point. It was cute. It just didn’t look as conservative as shirts other people were wearing. I said a couple of things that made people laugh, even my boss. I allowed myself to be vulnerable. I felt exhilarated after the meeting.
The meeting lasted four hours. I’m sharing because I want to emphasize how important positive “self-talk” is. Do you hear what you are telling yourself? I too have moments of insecurity and doubt, but I’m actively working on being more self-compassionate and putting less pressure on myself.
I believe most people wouldn’t tell their best friends the negative things they say to themselves so why do we do it? For some, it can be oddly comfortable wallowing in negative emotions and self-talk. They might not even notice the negative mumbles, which is why it takes self-awareness and intention to do the work of change. It also takes courage.
If the voice inside your head is mostly negative, then it’s time to change that.
These three words have been ringing in my ears: “DO HARD THINGS”. I know it’s easy to do “familiar things” and “comfortable things” but what about “hard things”? Well, silly rabbit (nod to the Twix cereal commercial from back in the day), there’s a reason why doing hard things is hard, but there are also benefits.
What comes up often in my job is being asked to present to groups of various sizes and audiences on programs I oversee. This was a task I could delegate to someone on my team though public speaking is one of my responsibilities. Like many people, I do not enjoy public speaking because I’m mostly an introvert, preferring to be behind the scenes. However, I’m strong in representing my programs so when duty calls, I often perform.
There are people on my team who don’t like public speaking even more than me. I decided I would do the presentation with backup. As I was reviewing the presentation content with my backup, I literally said “it’s because I do hard things”. I don’t recall the exact thought that led me to say it, but she agreed, with relief. Otherwise, she would be the speaker for the presentation.
Some may think it’s not difficult for me to do public speaking because I do it well, but OH CONTRARE. I’ve learned long ago if I wanted success as I’ve defined it for myself, then I had to do things I didn’t necessarily want to do. This means I do activities to ensure I have a successful outcome such as preparing and practicing. Doing hard things doesn’t mean it gets easier over time either. Sometimes it does, but sometimes it’s hard EVERY SINGLE TIME.
Deciding to undergo a major surgery with the hope that I’ll have a better quality of life on the other side of it is a HARD THING. The anxiety, the pain, the discomfort, the lack of control, are what I’m working through now, I believe it will be worth it. (See more information about my surgery in the post Fight).
As you embark on this day or week, think about what hard things you will tackle. The hard things may be just what you need to boost your confidence so you can do more hard things.
This blog is an extension of me being trained in social work, working in an administrative leadership role, and wanting to share some wisdom with you. Social workers are change agents, fighters of social injustices, and are advocates. I’m my biggest advocate.
So as is true in life, it’s not all fun and games. This post isn’t about food or a recent adventure. I want to share some points that came up for me regarding leadership. I hope you pick up some light lessons as you read.
I’ve been told (and have heard) I’m viewed as calm, sharp, a person who can have hard conversations, I have good ideas, I’m a person of few words, and I’m the voice of reason. In one instance, the “calm” characteristic came up because I’ve had poignant discussions with some team members recently. My mentee asked me, “how can you be so calm?”
I’ve learned to harness my anxiety over the years. When I tell people, I struggle with anxiety, they don’t believe me. The first thing they point to is my calm demeanor. Yes, I’m an anxious person, and as I get older and learn more through working in public health, about trauma and its impacts on people, I can appreciate how my early life circumstances contributed to my anxiety.
I’ve been working on self-compassion and I think it’s lifelong process. You can’t always foresee triggers that spark the anxiety, or may not even be aware of specific triggers. Yet, these triggers can set the stage for some much needed work to get through issues that seemingly pop up randomly.
I’ve been reading the book Rewire Your Anxious Brain and have been learning about two parts of the brain, the amygdala and the cortex, and how they can trigger anxiety. I’ve learned that anxiety stemming from the amygdala can have triggers you have no control over. Anxiety stemming from the cortex are the result of faulty thinking patterns. There are various approaches to managing anxiety for each. When I complete the book, I may blog about what resonated with me. So far, it’s a very informative read.
One major way I’ve harnessed anxiety over the years is exercising 6 days a week. I exercise mostly for the brain boost of endorphins. I absolutely love my cardio, dancing, and free weights but core exercises…not so much. My blood pressure is a “dream” for many as I’ve been told by my doctors for years. In addition to calmness, the other fruits of my exercise are peace, contentment, confidence, happiness, and ARM MUSCLES.
In terms of calmness as it relates to my leadership style, one particular class in graduate school made a significant impression on me. In this class, our professor invited a different leader from a different agency to speak to the students on a regular schedule. One particular leader was the head of a major federal department. During his leadership term, a catastrophe occurred that resulted in the loss of life….many lives. It was mind blowing. It was an unrelenting mess for years. What he said got him through was an expression I had not heard or used before. He said the biggest lesson in that circumstance was to “stay above the fray”. It was a phrase he’d learned while being a pilot in the military.
“Staying above the fray” in my opinion means to stay above the chaos. Don’t let the chaos seep inside of you. Don’t contribute to the chaos. Otherwise, you may lose your objectivity and problem solving sensibilities. The leader should have the level head. The leader should have the calm demeanor. It doesn’t mean you don’t feel emotion or empathy, but you’re not taking it in. There is strength in being calm, especially for people you are leading. Calmness means not overeacting, which may contribute to someone else’s anxiety. Calmness allows for quick and nimble thinking.
My calmness doesn’t mean I’m going to blow up once I get through whatever it is either. You may have heard the expression “calm before the storm”…? That’s not me. My calmness doesn’t mean I’m not anxious on the inside. Again, I intentionally harness my anxiety, so I can operate in calmness.
The light lesson here is to protect yourself from taking on other people’s anxieties, problems, etc. You have your own stuff. For whatever situation is going on…”stay above the fray”. And invest (time, money, effort) in doing the mental, spiritual, emotional, and/or physical work needed that will allow you to function at optimal levels.
How do I get women to have the courage to be bold, confident, and work in their own power? It’s not by coincidence I’m asking because not only have I struggled in the past with this personally, and quite frankly, I still do in specific situations, but I oversee a team of mostly women. I see women struggling with confidence and speaking their knowledge with authority. Some goals I have for women are to be empowered to share their ideas with confidence, to stop second guessing, to step out of their comfort zone, and to speak with authority.
I propose the following strategies (in no particular order) to help women gain more confidence in the work place and in life:
Do your homework- Educate yourself on the topic at hand. In my work environment, the core workforce are called subject matter experts (SMEs). SMEs learn everything there is to know about their particular program, including learning what other states are doing. I’ve found the more I learn about a topic, the more confident I become.
Practice – When I was in high school and college, I used to rehearse my presentations with other students, or solo by looking in the mirror and literally reciting my script out loud. In my line of work, these techniques haven’t gone away. I make lots of presentations and still need to rehearse, but not to the same degree as I did when I was a student. For group presentations with my team and/or others, we plan on who will say what. You might even record your voice and listen later to hear how you sound. You might want to rehearse asking for a promotion, for a job interview, and for delivering bad news.
Believe in yourself through positive self-talk – We all have the inner critic in our heads judging everything we do. Train your critic to be your cheerleader. It takes practice, but replace, “I can’t do this” with “I will”. I’ve trained my inner voice to be kind and it speaks to me as if I were a friend. That’s not to say the critic doesn’t come out every so often, but I work hard to make my cheerleader my main voice.
Make time to do things you enjoy – my love of exercise and Zumba fitness, on the surface doesn’t appear to impact my job, but the energy, calm, and joy I draw from these activities, spill into other areas of my life. In fact, becoming a Zumba fitness instructor, and the act of dancing in front of others has boosted my confidence in ways I couldn’t have imagined. That boldness has helped me in my current leadership role, which leads to the next strategy.
Set goals for yourself – As you accomplish your goals, you’ll develop more confidence. I had the goal of completing the training to be a Zumba fitness instructor for my 40th birthday. That was five years ago. I also had goals of earning advanced degrees, losing weight, spending more time with my family, etc. The more goals you accomplish, the more your confidence increases. Keep setting new goals.
Just do it – This Nike slogan has been one of my favorite mantras. Sometimes, you’ve just got to put yourself out there and “do the darn thing”. It won’t be perfect. It may not be as rehearsed as you would have liked, but put yourself out there. Take a chance. We only live once. I work in a fast-paced environment where we often sacrifice 100% quality for getting it done and out the door. If perfection is holding you back, let it go because nothing is perfect. I, myself, am a “recovering perfectionist”.
Channel all parts of you – I’m a parent, wife, daughter, sister, friend, aunt, cousin, niece, manager, mentor, exercise enthusiast, cook, reader, etc. As a parent, I’m used to raising my children, being nurturing/loving, setting boundaries, and teaching and directing them. Parenting is hard, but I’m confident that I’m raising my kids the best I can. I channel the parenting part of me in my role at work. I’m confident in my relationship with God and His purpose for my life, which I channel in my work. The confidence I’ve developed in the various parts of my life adds to my overall confidence bucket and greatly impacts how I demonstrate my confidence to the world.
My assumption in writing this post is that women are working in environments where they are expected to share ideas and contribute knowledge which will ultimately impact a company’s bottom line.