Last week, I discussed how “the pause” is a powerful tool for building awareness and perspective, and is the first step to unlocking your full leadership potential.
The next step is what you decide to do with that awareness and perspective. Inspiration for change might be personal or it might be professional. The change could be big or small. But whatever your vision, it requires action.
Let’s take a familiar example: The New Year’s Resolution.
Resolutions begin with awareness. We use the turn of the year to “start fresh” and make some positive changes.
But, we all know that many resolutions fail pretty quickly because they are typically goals that lack a strategy. Today, though, I assume that you have a strategy.
The challenge we must overcome at this point is how to deal with the new feedback we get from important people in our lives, and the world at large.
When you told people about your resolution and started to engage in those new behaviors, you began to express yourself and interact with the world in new ways. By extension, those people and the world started to interact with YOU in new ways.
This entirely new type of feedback pushes us even further out of our comfort zone.
This new feedback is the first stumbling block on the road to your goals.
The desire to fit in and the desire to stay within our comfort zone create powerful resistance change. This temptation to retreat back to our comfort zone and old patterns will show up again and again.
As a result, the self-expression component is quite possibly the most difficult part of EQ development. However, that also makes it the most important. Feedback is an opportunity for enhanced perspective, for more learning, and for improvement and refinement.
So, when you are faced with this challenge, and you want to rush back to your comfort zone, remember these tips:
1) Remember your "WHY". Stay focused on the goal and why you chose to pursue it. The reward will be greater than the discomfort you experience along the way, but that doesn’t mean that this will be a smooth, linear process. Growth never is. But you are resilient and committed to your goal!! You won't allow some challenging feedback to derail you!!
2) Stay objective. In the face of new feedback, we must fight the urge to take things personally. Some feedback will be fantastic and act as a spring board to further action. Other times, feedback is going to cause discomfort. Don’t react!!! Pause, and reflect on that feedback in an objective way so that you use it to improve your plan. If the feedback has no objective value, simply discard it.
3) Consistency always wins. Setbacks happen, but persistence and consistency are unstoppable forces. High-impact leaders get knocked down, but they always get back up.
Like anything else, your new behaviors and handling the feedback they generate will get easier with practice. So, consider starting out small (if your goal is really big, break it into smaller components), celebrate those small wins, and celebrate the new feedback as an opportunity to make your strategy even better.
Finally, remember that feedback isn’t always about you. Sometimes, negative feedback occurs because people don’t want you to change. They like the status quo because it is comfortable, or because it benefits them. Negativity could also arise because someone is envious of the courage it took for you to start this journey.
Facing adversity with courage and determination is foundational for high-impact leadership. This is leading by example.
So, when it gets difficult, come back to this post. Stay the course, continue your ascent. It is worth it.
About the Author:
Matt Beckmann is the Founder & Managing Director of Ascent Consultants. In addition to experience as a former Chief of Staff to the Missouri Auditor and as a Corporate Vice President and General Counsel, he has advanced training and certifications in law, business, coaching, athletics, and the EQ- 2.0 Leadership Assessment. His blog content, inspired by his deep passion for unlocking his reader's best potential, consistently equips business owners and individuals with the knowledge and resources to overcome obstacles that may be hindering growth.
Ascent Consultants provides business and project management consulting services, and executive and leadership development coaching. By converting client growth goals into an actionable "game plan," we help companies and individuals deliver extraordinary outcomes.