I wish I could say that I thought of this leadership approach myself, but I can’t. One of my clients a few years back shared this with me, and I’ve been passing it on ever since.
It is an adage to live and lead by. So often what we tell others about ourselves is exactly what we wouldn’t want others to think. “I don’t know how I’ll get this done,” we offer. “I’m swamped and don’t know what to tackle next,” we share.
Or we make self-deprecating jokes about the things that most worry us about ourselves. “I’m so new here I’m still not sure what is going on,” one of my clients has pronounced, feeling, perhaps understandably, uncomfortable with his newness in an industry. “I got through that one by the skin of my teeth,” another has been known to announce. We announce these things so often that we come to believe them – so much so that they become self-fulfilling and self-limiting. One of our blog posts from last year, Self promotion is a good thing, focused on this issue. It offers you even more reasons to stop saying things about ourselves we don’t want to be true.
What we ought to do is the opposite – present ourselves in a positive light. If that seems difficult to do, perhaps pretend it’s “opposite day” like on SpongeBob, and condition yourself to think one thing and then turn it around before you say it out loud. Instead of “I don’t know how I’ll get this done,” how about “I have a plan in mind for getting all of this done?” Rather than “I got through that one by the skin of my teeth,” how about “That was quite a challenge and I’m glad it worked out so well” instead? After all, we want our colleagues (and competitors) to see us as under control, thoughtful, intelligent, knowing what we’re doing…the list goes on. And in order for them (and actually, for us) to see ourselves that way, that is the description we need to share.
I’m not suggesting we go through our lives and our work bragging, I just think we should all be careful what we announce to the world about ourselves, because what we put out there is how we’re viewed, how we’re treated, and what we get back.
What do you think?