Adopt these three principles and your communication with others will be clearer, and your results will be greater. Working in tandem, they have already served me well multiple times this month. When I’ve followed them, I lead better. When I’ve ignored them, I’ve had less satisfying interactions.
These recommendations are not for the weak hearted or weak willed. You’ll have to be brave enough to make yourself vulnerable and be okay with being uncomfortable. Neither is easy; both are worthwhile.
1. Put aside your ego.
While you should always have positive esteem and self-worth, the ego I am talking about is something different. This is the part of you that is too proud for your own good. The part that feels the compulsion to be right versus the compassion to be kind. You have got to be willing to allow your ego to get bruised for the sake of clarity. Knowing the truth and licking your wounds is better than living under a cloud of doubt. Practice the skill it takes to honor and protect other people’s egos while disregarding your own.
2. Confront your fear.
Set aside the hyperbole and all the clichés about stepping outside of your comfort zone and embracing your fears. I am not talking about jumping out of an airplane or letting tarantulas walk across your face. I am talking about confronting the daily fears that quickly morph into overwhelm and freeze you with indecision and inaction. These are the obstacles to your goals. They are not typically life and death scenarios, but they can feel like it. We are afraid that people will think less of us, or consider us incompetent. We irrationally worry about all the things that could cause damage to our fragile ego. We dwell on thoughts of imagined humiliation, pain or hardship so much so that we ignore facing the core problem head on for as long as we can. We make excuses and tell ourselves elaborate stories to justify our hiding and delays, and we create a self-fulfilling prophecy, because if we do wait too long people will think less of us. You’ve got to be courageous. Have the difficult conversations regardless of how much you shake, stutter, or cry.
3. Act on your potential regrets.
The future can be hard to predict. However, you almost always can rely on your instinct and personal preferences. Our intuition is rarely wrong; the problem is, we seldom pay attention to how we feel. We second and triple guess ourselves out of making a decision and taking action on that decision. Ask yourself what you would regret more, having done something, or not having done something? Living with regrets cast a terrible pall over your living. Put it in those polarizing terms and you will suddenly know what you need to do. Occasionally you will be indifferent, or a decision may seem inconsequential. If that is the case, don’t reward it with valuable think time. Just do it, or don’t, and then move on without looking back.
Each time you face a difficult situation get into the habit of running through these three principles. You’ll grow your confidence, your credibility, your willpower, and your leadership. Most importantly you will build a life that you are happy to lead.