Communication Mistake #3: Not Protecting Your Time

If time is infinite then why does it seem like we never have enough of it?

My new e-Book goes live Aug 1 and I thought I'd share with you one of the mistakes I see women in leadership make when it comes to the issue of time.

As I was sitting here reflecting on this summer, I've celebrated an anniversary. I've celebrated my oldest's birthday. And school will be starting before I know it. Time flew. At the beginning of the summer of was determined our family was not going to be busy this summer. I was not going to sign my kids up for a lot of VBS or day camps. I wanted us to enjoy each other's company and bond as a family.

Well you can't make a goal like that and not be tested. It was tested. I had to say no to activities (good activities mind you) in order to protect the decision I made of not being too busy.

I share this with you on the eve of my eBook launch because one of the communication mistakes I see women in leadership make is not protecting their time.

I have yet to work with a client who does not have an issue with time. We feel like we just don't have time to fit it all in, right?

I disagree. I have been living by the following mantra all summer and I love what it has done for my attitude and my energy. The mantra is: 

"There is always enough time to do what is important."

That is the mental shift I needed to make and reinforce when I felt like things were getting out of hand. In every day, there is always enough time to do what is important. I firmly believe that. The key is defining what is important. 

My faith, my family, my health, and my business are important. When I defined what activities corresponded to keeping those 4 pillars paramount, I had time EVERY DAY to do them. I admit I was shocked.

In my eBook I say, "Don't find time. Make it" because how you live each day is a choice. It is time to stop being thrown into a tail spin by whatever pops up. It is time to examine those misplaced obligations. It is time to be purposeful about how we use the time allotted to us. 

So let's do an activity that I do with my clients called "The First 5". 

Picture your calendar right now.Take note of what it feels like to see it stuffed full of stuff. Now, take the magic eraser and clear it off. Take note of what it feels like to have it completely clear. Next, ask yourself as you stare at the blank calendar: What are the first 5 things I want to add back? Take note of what it feels like to have those 5 things on your calendar first!
This activity shows you that YOU are in control of what goes on your calendar. It also reveals what is really important to you. Even if you can't come up with 5, the items you put on the calendar indicate their importance in your life.

My brand new e-book goes live tomorrow! I am so excited! 

Would you like a FREE copy?

All you have to do is subscribe to my new "BRAVE Unlimited" e-newsletter. 

When you subscribe to BRAVE Unlimited, you'll not only get a FREE copy of my e-book but you'll also get:
  • personal notes and inspiration from me,
  • news of products or services, 
  • case studies,
  • articles about women in leadership, 
  • book summaries
  • and more.

I promise I won't bombard your inbox. I sincerely want to connect to the women who believe they are called to leadership in the workplace. I am here to stir up your call and give you the tools, structure, and support you need to fulfill that call. 

Though the e-book is not available yet, you can SUBSCRIBE NOW to the newsletter. When the e-book goes live August 1, you'll automatically get it.

As a bonus, if you subscribe before August 1, I will offer you a FREE 30 minute AWAKEN your Brave strategy session. You will walk away from that session knowing exactly what is stopping you from being the leader you want to be now and what you can do about it right now and what specific things you can do now to see the change you want. 

Subscribe now if you know you are called into leadership and you want to completely fulfill that purpose.


5 Reasons Why You Are Working Harder Than You Need To

photo credit: Jillian Corinne via photopin cc
If you ask the average person if they work hard, the responsible ones will usually say yes. But have you ever questioned whether you are working harder than necessary? 

Sure...when you are asked to redo something for a frivolous reason, or someone wastes times...sure you might think you are working harder than necessary.

Larry Page, the CEO of Google, caused a company wide, and subsequently a nation wide discussion when he said "We all might be working harder than necessary."

Have you ever really stopped to think if you are working harder than necessary?

In order to answer that question you have to be clear on one very important definition. What is necessary?

I read an article recently called Here's Why People Work Like Crazy Even When They Have Everything They Need.

Naturally I was curious. I had my ideas about why people work like crazy. Money. Prestige. To buy stuff. Retirement. But this article pointed to a study that said if given the choice, people will "forego leisure to work and earn beyond their means." The researchers call this "overearning" and said people do "mindless accumulation" just because we can.

The experiment for this hypothesis was simple. Participants were given the choice to listen to soothing music (which represent leisure) and dissonance music (which represented work). When they choose noise they received a chocolate but they couldn't eat the chocolate.  The people who "earned" more chocolate than they could eat were considered "overearners". It's an interesting study. Go read the original study here.

But back to you and my question. What is necessary? The 5 reasons people work harder than they need is based misunderstanding the definition of need.

5 Reasons You Are Working Harder Than You Need To

1. You mistake busyness for accomplishment.

Everyone is busy these days. Kids are busy. Adults are busy. And leaders are definitely busy. But busy doesn't mean you are productive or accomplishing anything. You can spend a day, month, or year on busy work that never produces lasting results. As the leader of my company, I have to be careful of this as well. I can get so busy with researching, marketing, or administrative tasks that I am not being productive in advancing the mission of BRAVE. The deception about busy work is that it feels like real work. You are doing something. But by merely doing "something" doesn't necessarily mean you are accomplishing. Take a look at your schedule. If you are constantly feeling like you wasted an entire day or more, you are trapped in this cycle.

2.You have become used to frantic and anything less feels weird.

We get used to a fast pace of life and therefore think it is the norm. If we deviate from the norm, it feels weird. Have you ever met a woman who just can't seem to relax? She is always running around doing something...and those "somethings" aren't really important tasks. Are you that woman? There is a running joke in my family about my mom. She can't NOT do something (double negative intended). If she sits down for a minute, she'll inevitably say or think "there is something I can do". Drive and ambition are great traits in a leader. But your drive and ambition has to have a greater purpose...and only you can define that purpose.

I recently went on vacation. It took a full 2 days for me to ease into the slower pace I intended. You can have a life less frantic but it won't happen by accident.

3. You have no vision for what success is.

Unless you are crystal clear about what the end looks like you'll forever strive and never arrive. That is a frustrating way to live. You have to have a clear vision for what success looks like...for you. You have to define success for yourself. That way you'll know what it looks like when you get there. When you get there you can stop striving.  With no vision, you are just aimlessly wandering about. Great leaders aren't aimless. 

4. You have no idea what enough is.

This is similar to the previous reason but it is different enough to add it separately. Enough indicates a stopping point. Having a clear definition of enough lets you know when to stop. It is a boundary issue. We all need boundaries. Defining your "enough" is putting a boundary in place so you won't waste time. What is enough? What is that number? What is that level? What is that accomplishment? If you don't know what "enough" is, you will never reach it. Think about your bank account, the pace of your life, the call on your life, the way you want to contribute in the world, and the way you like to express yourself creatively. What is "enough" to do those things? No one can define that for you. As a coach, I help my clients all the time define and then redefine enough. Enough at 25 looks completely different than enough at 45.

5. Everyone else is doing it.

Peer pressure is a powerful thing...even after you're out of your teens. I remember when I was expecting my first child. The peer pressure to buy a Britax car seat was everywhere. It had the highest safety rating. It was most recommended. All the mommy bloggers and some friends were talking about how it was the safest car seat in the world. The problem was all that safety had a price tag of close to $600. It would still get spit up, Cheez Its, and french fries stuck in its crevices just like its cheaper counterparts. I was torn. Good moms bought their kids the best, fed their kids organic homemade food, and never ever let their kids eat sugar or fast food, right?  In order to keep my sanity (and my budget) in tack, I had to let go of what everyone else was doing and find my own path. I think many women in leadership struggle with this same issue. They look at what other successful women are doing and think "she made it doing X, so I have to do that too". When I was an intern at a global manufacturing company, the intranet posted an interview of one of their only female executives at the time. The interviewer asked the woman how she managed her work life balance. The female executive blatantly said. "You don't. You can't balance it." She went on to insinuate that in order to reach her level as a woman, you have to work all the time. I was very disappointed. When I was offered a full time position from that company after my internship, I declined. Even back then, I had made up in my mind that I would not dictate my work based on what everyone else was doing. Little did I know that was a decision I would have to repeat again and again my own life.

So there you have it 5 reason you are working harder than you need to. What would you add to this list?

Are you tired of feeling like you are being pulled in a million different directions trying to satisfy other people?

I know you are. 

It is time you be BRAVE enough to decide not only what you do, but how you do it. Align your work with your calling and personal values. Define for yourself and your organization what is necessary. Doing so will help learn how to stand your ground. By doing so you can say no and say yes based on strategy not whimsy.

By doing this you can almost guarantee that you will not work harder than necessary. Just imagine how awesome that will be.

If you are ready to set your own definitions of success and start leading the way you know you are called, then schedule an FREE Awaken Your BRAVE Strategy Session with me so we can set you on a path to winning that feels right for you. Click here to schedule your 30 minute session now.


Are You Presenting Insecurity?

photo credit: One Candle Photos via photopin cc
In the medical field, doctors diagnose disease based on how the symptoms "present". They say, " the patient presents symptoms of malaria." The word "present" means to show up as. It means the patient is displaying signs of a ailment, infection, or disease. 

In your leadership, do you present the symptoms of insecurity? Could someone diagnose you with insecurity based on the symptoms you present?

Let me explain why I am bringing this up. Shortly after a coaching session with a client, her boss sought me out. He was very pleased with the outcome he saw from that session. He then said something that prompted this post. He went on to say how happy he was to see her "that confident" because "she is insecure and has no reason to be."

Would your boss say the same about you? What about your employees? Customers? Colleagues?

Her boss didn't believe in her insecurities, he believed in her strengths and was finally happy to see her believing in them too. 

You are a capable, talented, and performing woman. But are you "presenting" to others that you don't believe in yourself? 

What Is Insecurity?

According to Wikipedia insecurity is a "feeling of general unease or nervousness that may be triggered by perceiving of oneself to be vulnerable or inferior in some way, or a sense of vulnerability or instability which threatens one's self-image or ego."

What Causes Insecurity?

There are many causes of insecurity but one devotional I came across summed them up nicely.

  • Feeling unaccepted or rejected
  • Traumatic experiences
  • Poor self image
  • Feeling overshadowed by others
  • A series of failures

In her article, The Tradegy of Insecurity In Leadership, Lisa Pitrelli, made a simple yet poignant observation on the origin of insecurity.

"Insecurity blossoms when we hold on to a failure or loss that we experience and then internalize as “unworthiness.” We think we’re unworthy of success or respect, of that raise or promotion, or worse, of love. Instead of understanding the failure or loss and forgiving others and ourselves in order to move through it and past it, we hold it and all of its toxicity." 

Toxicity has a way of leaking out. That's why you might be "presenting" insecurity.

How To Stop Presenting Insecurity 

To be fair, everyone has some level of insecurity. And just because one "presents" insecurity, doesn't mean one is insecure.

If you have the goal to be a more competent and to be seen as less insecure by your leaders, those you lead, and your peers, then there are probably specific actions you are doing that you need to stop.

First, find out what your doing. Getting feedback from others is critical in knowing this. We need to verify if the problems we think we have are really the problems we have. Relationships are great for giving us this type of feedback. Ask your upline, side line, and down line for feedback. Great questions to ask are. In what ways do I come across unsure of myself? What do I do that makes you wonder if I am insecure in my work?

Second, listen for the data. There will be an emotional response when you get the answer to those questions. But the act of asking them will improve you and it gives you valuable data. Insecurity is associated with actions. The answers to the questions will tell you the behaviors you do that communicate insecurity.

Third, create a strategic plan to change. Notice I didn't say change. I said create a strategic plan to change. If you change without a plan in place, you'll end up deepening your insecurity. Leaders don'e react to stimuli. Leaders respond...strategically. Create a plan where you look at the data, evaluate where you want to go, where you need to go, what you need to do to get there, and the why behind all of it.

I am almost finished with my new e-book, 7 Communication Mistakes Women In Leadership Make. The premise for the book is simple. Our behaviors communicate a lot about us. Are your behaviors communicating what you want? Everyone makes mistakes. Mistakes are not the enemy. The enemy is doing nothing about the mistakes once you realize you make them. Fixing the mistakes, not just knowing they exist, is what separates good leaders from outrageously great leaders.

You want to be outrageously great. You don't want a "but" behind you accolades, you want a period.You don't want people to say 

"She is great, but...". 

You want people to say, 

"She is great." 


Let me be clear about why I am challenging you this way. I struggled with my decision to work exclusively with women because I didn't want to be seen as a femi-nazi. I also didn't want to be seen as a pusher. That is one who tries to convince women to take on roles or shoot for positions they don't really want just to further the cause of female empowerment and equality. That's not me at all.

My message is for the woman who knows deep down that God has called her into leadership in the workplace for specific purpose. She may be scared to step into that calling. Or she may be in leadership but is not seeing the impact she desires and thus questioning that calling. Sometimes our calling gets buried in deadlines, employee conflict, family tension, poor performance, and yes, insecurities. No matter how deep that call is buried, my goal as a coach is to help women AWAKEN that call again, align their behaviors, see results, and leave a legacy.

You know your leadership call is connected to something greater than yourself, but if you keep presenting symptoms of disease, whether you have them or not, your impact will be stifled. You will be frustrated and you will mismanage the call.

There are very specific steps you can take to stop them right now.

My e-book will be available August 1, 2014 and it will be available FREE when you subscribe to my new "BRAVE Unlimited" e-newsletter. 

When you subscribe to BRAVE Unlimited, you'll not only get a FREE copy of my e-book but you'll be getting:
  • personal notes and inspiration from me,
  • news of products or services, 
  • case studies,
  • articles about women in leadership, 
  • book summaries
  • and more.

I want to connect to the women who believe they are called to leadership in the workplace. I am here to stir up your call and give you the tools you need to fulfill that call. 

Though the e-book is not available yet, you can SUBSCRIBE NOW to the newsletter. When the e-book goes live August 1, you'll automatically get it. 

No more "presenting" insecurity. Present what you truly are instead. Called. Capable. Outrageously great. Period.

As a bonus, if you subscribe before August 1, I will offer you a FREE 30 minute AWAKEN your Brave strategy session. You will walk away from that session knowing exactly what is stopping you from being the leader you want to be now and what you can do about it right now. Not tomorrow. What specific things you can do now to see the change you want. 

Subscribe now if you know you are called into leadership and you want to completely fulfill that purpose.


Why Women Don't Invest in Themselves

Do you have a problem investing (money) in something for yourself?
photo credit: Surat Lozowick via photopin cc

If you have an issue, investing in your professional development, there might be a limiting belief lurking. Earlier this week, I wrote about the limiting belief that was lurking in my mind and probably yours too. It was really good. Click here to read that. 

Recently, I came face to face with this issue and wanted to share it with you.

I decided I wanted to go to a conference. I searched and found a conference I wanted to attend. The registration fee was affordable. The speakers and break out panelists were appealing. The location was nice. The date was clear on my calendar. I looked at my budget and I could cover it. The hotel, registration, and plane ticket.

Then I started overthinking. Would I really benefit from it? What if the speakers, most of whom I didn't know, turned out to be duds? What if there is an emergency that will pop up and I'll need that money? How could I spend that much money on myself?

It was as if I was trying to talk myself out of going. I had all the green lights and it almost seemed too easy to go. 

Do you experience this kind of thinking when you are considering investing money in yourself?

I went through this same experience when I decided I wanted to sign up personal training lessons. I have always wanted to do it but never did because of the money. How could I spend that much money on myself?

When it comes to this struggle, the good news is that we are not alone. The bad news is that not many women are brave enough to do something about it.

Kathy Caprino, career coach and Forbes.com contributor, wrote an article called The Top 5 Reasons Women Resist Investing In Themselves And How It Is Hurtting Them . Go read it.

One of the reasons she lists includes:

The fear the money should be used for their families or others.
" Finally, woman after woman has shared her guilt, shame and worry that perhaps she should not spend this sum of money on herself, but put it towards others (her children, the house, etc.) instead. "

That's were I was. Have you been there?

When I talk to women about investing in coaching for themselves they love the idea of the work we can do but resist investing in doing it. 

5 Reasons Women Don't Invest In Themselves, according to organizational psychologist, Judi Pears include thoughts like: 

1. I'm not sure it is the right time
2. I am not sure what I want
3. I think I am not good enough
4. I am scared of success
5. I don't think I deserve it 

Why did I search for a conference to attend in the first place? I recognize that to get to the level I want to go, I have to surround myself with people who also want to go there. I have to learn new things. I have to do new things.

If you want something you've never had, you have to do something that you've never done.

The Danger of NOT Investing In Yourself

You've heard birds of a feather flock together. It was time I began to find my flock. If I am networking with like minded people it will help me grow. If I am taking the time to hear about the latest struggles in my niche, it strengthens my marketing approach. If I am seeing myself networking with people I once found intimidating, it boosts my confidence.

What message are we sending to ourselves when we say we can't afford to invest in ourselves? 

I am not talking about you literally can't afford it. I have been there too. There was a time I couldn't afford personal training. There was a time in my business where I couldn't afford to attend a conference. Thank God I can now. So what's stopping me?

More importantly what's stopping you? If it is in the budget and you know deep down you will benefit, even if you can't pinpoint exactly how, why not do it?

By not investing in your development:

1. You reinforce your fears
Fear is comfortable. We get so used to it that we just keep it around because, well, it has always been there. We regard it as our closest "frenemy" (friend+enemy). You don't get rid of your fears by reinforcing them. You get rid of fear by disproving or confronting them. Read my post on fighting for your limitations.

2. You stifle your growth
You were never meant to be a self enclosed know it all. One of the reasons I am so passionate about healthy relationships is because I believe God gave us relationships to help us heal and grow one another. 

The very answer you are looking for might be in the head or heart of another person--a person you can only meet as you step out of your comfort zone. 

The inspiration you are looking for might be at that event or in that program you have to invest in.

Recognize your worth my dear and go for it.

What investment have you been putting off making?

Maybe you have been thinking about investing in coaching, contact me for a FREE strategy session to see if working together would be a good fit for us both. Click here to schedule your "Awaken Your Brave" strategy session.


The BIG Mistake Women Make When They Get Busy

You could probably list three things that are important to you, yet  despite their importance, when you get busy they are usually the first things to suffer.

I can relate. As I have been growing my business, my to do list got long. I mean really long. I am excited about the new things I am planning but they will require a lot of work on the back end. 

As you know some projects, be they new, on-going, or going poorly, require a lot of attention. So we tell ourselves that some things in life will have to be neglected for a little while in order to keep up.

As I started to list the things that I could neglect, I noticed they all had the same thing in common. They all were all things instrumental in helping me become the person I feel called to be.

Wait a second! Why am I so willing to sacrifice stuff first? 

It was because I had a pesky limiting belief lurking in the recesses of my mind...and I wonder if it is lurking in yours. 

What are limiting beliefs? Limiting beliefs are ways of thinking that dictate our actions, usually in a restricted or limited manner. They keep us from seeing alternate possibilities. 

This particular limiting belief stated: If something or someone has to give, it should be me or what I like to do.

Women think this way because we conditioned to be considerate of others.

Out of balance, this is harmful destructive thinking. It leads to a countless number of women who outwardly are happily working or serving but are inwardly bitter, resentful, and deflated. 

Does that describe you?

Three signs this limiting belief is alive and kicking in your life

1. When you automatically start thinking how to rearrange your schedule to accommodate others.

2. When you feel mad that others aren't as considerate as you are.

3. When you are willing to sacrifice things that are important to you for fear of inconveniencing others

Most women operate from this limited belief all the time. In fact, if you are a parent, this limited belief is heralded as good parenting (but that's a topic for another day).

How does this belief show itself at work?

You have a big project coming up. You are, either directly or indirectly, asked to put in more hours. You begin to stay later. You miss your workouts. You eat fast food at your desk to keep the momentum going. You spend your weekends working. You skip your Sunday morning worship experience (just this once) to get ahead. You tell your kid you can't make her game because you have to work. While you are working hard, you feel resentful, guilty, and proud all at the same time. Then you feel guilty because you kinda like the fast paced, go get'em action your are exhibiting right now. 

But what happens if this project lasts longer than a week or two? Will you still feel the same. Can you sustain that for a month, 6 months, a year, or 3 years?

How are you going to sustain this pace over a long haul when you have systematically cut out all the things that energize, focus, and refresh you? 
It just doesn't make sense.

How you conquer this limiting belief and regain your power

First, list your values and them rank them.

Then, check to see if the way you spend your time is align with our ranked values.

Last, be brave enough to do something about it. If they don't align, change! If they do align, be brave enough to put protective measures in place.

I went through the same process. I love my work. I love the ways I get to witness people, especially women, grow in confidence and execution. But in order for me to do my work at my optimal level, I can not sacrifice all the things that refresh, energize, and cause creativity in me...and neither can you!

I love to nap in the afternoon. Naps refresh me. Some think it is a little weird that I schedule my nap times. I need them. When things get busy, my naps were the first things I used to sacrifice. 

Once I identified that limiting belief and adjusted myself, I started napping again on purpose. I embraced all the quirky little facts about myself, like my naps, and they no longer became a secret symbol of shame. They became the latest way I was embracing my brave...or embracing my values. 

Do you know what happened when I did that? I GOT MORE DONE!

My attention wasn't divided. My emotions weren't divided. I was focused because I knew I was working in alignment. 

What would working in alignment look like for you?

If you are ready to set your values and make sure you are working in alignment, contact me for a FREE "Awaken Your Brave" strategy session. Click here to schedule that.


15 Differences Between A Leader and A Manager

There is a severe lack of wisdom in our society. One of the reasons I choose to focus on leadership and executive development coaching is because I've noticed this alarming trend among leaders. Conventional leadership development programs don't actually teach leadership development. They teach people how to be better managers. 

Photo Credit: ArtJonak via Compfight cc

Managers are people who "manage" processes and operations so that the system runs smoothly. Managers ensure that the mission of the organization is reached with measurable results. Most business schools and leadership development programs focus on the skill sets needed to be good managers. 

Leadership includes another set of skills. Leadership and wisdom go hand in hand. Wisdom is taking all the knowledge, insight, experience, and understanding one has acquired and making smart choices on how to make decisions.

To be clear, according to Alan Murray, The Wall Street Journal Guide to Management, "leadership and management must go hand in hand. They are not the same thing. But they are necessarily linked and complimentary."

Warren Bennis is credited with listing the differences between leaders and managers in his 1989 book On Becoming A Leader. 

15 Differences between a manager and a leader

The manager administers; the leader innovates.

– The manager is a copy; the leader is an original.

– The manager maintains; the leader develops.

– The manager focuses on systems and structure; the leader focuses on people.

– The manager relies on control; the leader inspires trust.

– The manager has a short-range view; the leader has a long-range perspective.

– The manager asks how and when; the leader asks what and why.

– The manager has his or her eye always on the bottom line; the leader’s eye is on the horizon.

– The manager imitates; the leader originates.

– The manager accepts the status quo; the leader challenges it.

– The manager is the classic good soldier; the leader is his or her own person.

– The manager does things right; the leader does the right thing.

In this article by Changingminds.org the writer includes another  difference

– The manager has subordinates; the leader has followers.

In this Harvard Business Review article, the author adds two more differences

The manager counts value; the leader creates it.

– The manager creates circles of power; the leader creates circles of influence.

Some look at this list and think it's just semantics. I argue that the true differences between managers an leaders is wisdom. 

One of my favorite ways of highlighting the difference between a manager and leader is in the life of Jesus.

Before the time of Jesus, Jewish people had the law of Moses to guide them. The Law was like a manager. It kept the status quo. It kept people in line. It was a set of rules to follow and when those rules were followed things tended to go well. But when Jesus arrived, He showed how to be a leader using wisdom. 

The law was still relevant but Jesus was an original that showed how to take the law and not rule over people but to love and transform people from the inside out.

I am preparing to write a book. The focus is on leadership development,as Bennis outlines, for women . With the popularity of books like Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg and Thrive by Ariana Huffington, and the distrust of top down traditional models of leadership, there is a shift in what leadership and executive development programs need to look like for the future. 

Good management skills will still be necessary. But leaders of the future will need to learn how to practice true leadership skills like:

– Innovation
– Forecasting
– Talent development
– Distraction proofing
– Global trending

This is why the coaching industry is growing so quickly. Leaders, like you,  are reading about leadership concepts that are speaking to your heart and spirit, not just the bottom line. Yet, with every ounce of knowledge gained, inwardly you long to begin to incorporate those concepts in your life but don't know how. There is no strategy. It is just hit or miss application which doesn't produce lasting results. A coach can help.

If you, like most leaders, are consumed with the latest fires of management, how can you possibly find the time to begin to incorporate the changes you want to make? It just seems too overwhelming. My coaching programs are designed to help you manage your management AND show you how to strategically develop your leadership skills. 

If you want to see how, let's set up a 20 minute FREE consultation. Click here when you are ready to schedule that. 

This list is by no means exhaustive. Is there a difference between a manager and leader in your opinion? If so, what would you add to this list?


5 Ways to STOP Overthinking!

Leaders must make decision but often too many overthink those decisions. Overthinking is a condition where people think too long and too hard about a decision that needs to be made. Are you guilty of doing that? If you are, here are 5 tips to help you to get your mind under control and move into action.
Photo Credit
Before I share those tips, allow me to share with you my most recent excursion in overthinking. I spent the last few months working on a new marketing plan for my business. I have been doing a lot of things behind the scenes to grow my business. Growth requires decisions.

It also means that I have spent many days and nights overthinking certain decisions. For example, I spent a full 30 days, yes, a full month trying to decide if I should narrow my niche. The type of clients I usually attract are women in leadership who are faith and family focused.  No matter the industry, I attract women who know it is there call to be in leadership in their for profit or non-profit work place. They seek to answer their call without sacrificing their faith or their family (fur babies included).

It seemed very evident that by targeting that type of client, I could better serve her. I could better tailor my message to reach her. And I would get the most enjoyment out of helping her.

But it seemed simple enough but it wasn't. My overthinking mind began to spiral out of control.

...if I focus on women in leadership will people think I am a femi-nazi?
...if I focus on women of faith will I alienate those who don't profess a faith?
...if I focus on building my coaching business will I miss opportunities to sell my training programs?

Have you ever gone through a similar process of questioning and re-questioning yourself until your head hurts, your heart is heavy, and you just want to crawl under the covers and not come out?

The problem with overthinking is that we can't recognize its debilitating effects on us. One University of Michigan psychology professor found that overthinking in women leads to depression, the inability to move forward, and poor emotional health.

We erroneously think that we are doing our "due diligence" by thinking a thing to death. But we aren't. 

Overthinking magnifies a problem so much that the solution is nearly impossible to see. TWEET

I was stuck for a month on this decision. Then I implemented these 5 steps to get out of my rut.

5 Ways to STOP over-thinking

Distract yourself
If you tend to overthink, once you get in the habit it is hard to get out. Distractions are a great way to change your perspective. We tend to think that we have to trudge through the muck and mire of mental clutter until we come out on the other side. That's not true. The longer we walk in the mental clutter, the longer we stay, and the deeper we sink.

Distract yourself. Change locations. Go for a walk with someone and don't talk about your decision. I find being in nature helps me simply.

Think about what could go well
Overthinking is a form of worry. Do you usually worry about what can go well?No! We worry about the bad stuff. The unknown, the fearful, the frightening things. Force yourself to think about what could go well. 

What life changing, God-honoring, destiny-fulfilling change could happen as a result of this decision? What benefit will it bring to you? Your work? Your family? Your calling? The answers to those questions will lift your spirits 

Act quickly
The result of overthinking is inaction. I read somewhere (wish I could find it to give him or her proper credit) that overthinking is a habit that is probably formed as a defense mechanism to the possibility of failing. In other words, it is a delay tactic.

Making decisions quickly is a skill set that every leader needs to be comfortable executing. If your like me, there are some decision you have no problem making quickly. Then there are others that challenge you. So in order to avoid the supposed negative consequence, you delay.

Acting immediately will put an end to the overthinking downward spiral. Make a decision based on the best information you have, based on your core values, and your organizations mission. Then let it go. Determine to learn from whatever happens next. 
Talk Back
Don't be a victim of your thoughts. Just because you thought it, doesn't mean you have to own it. One scripture says that we have the ability to take thoughts captive and make them obedient. Image a negative thought comes in, you put that thought in a "holding cell". You examine it to see if it should be allowed into your precious thought space. If found wanting, you turn it away. If found favorable, you let it in.

You can talk back to the thoughts you have to remind yourself that they aren't automatically accepting them. 

Get help
You've heard the term "Can't see the forest for the trees". It means you are so consumed by the details that you can not see the bigger picture. This is a sure sign that you are overthinking. When that happens, it is best to get help. 

Seek out a person, like a coach, to help you find your way back. Notice I didn't say seek out a friend. A friend is more apt to tell you what you should do. They'll see you in "pain" and want to help alleviate it as quickly as possible. While it might be tempting to take the proffered advice, it will only increase your anxiety...because you'll overthink whether you should have taken said advice.

A good coach is skilled at helping you find your own way and giving the tolls so that if you go there again, you can find your way out. 

Let yourself off the hook. Overthinking is a habit and it can be changed. It takes effort but it can be done. I did every single one of these steps to help me. Some of the steps I had to do repeatedly. But now I have a process I can use to help me overcome ovethinking. 

What do you do to stop yourself from overthinking?

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