Question: Are you stressing about a heated conversation you had with a colleague, struggling to let things go?
Do you find that you just can’t seem to get over that stupid mistake you made last week?
Maybe you feel like you’re walking on eggshells or can’t bear the thought of conflict at work?
Whatever it is that’s eating you up, it’s probably making you drained and clouding just about everything else you do.
This, my friends, is leadership.
…Or, at least, it’s what we think comes with the territory.
Leadership and letting things go
As a leader, you deal with the weight of others’ tasks, take heat when things go wrong, and probably don’t feel like you can take a day off to decompress. After all, if you want to inspire a committed team, how could you possibly take a break yourself?
And still, through all this, when you’re the boss, you somehow have to maintain your role as someone to look up to, someone to make all the decisions, and light the path ahead with stars and lollipops.
Yikes, no wonder people who lead tend to be more stressed out.
When you can’t let something go, or something is stressing you out, the consequences can feel even bigger when you have a team counting on you. This, of course, leads to more stress, which eventually — if it goes unchecked — leads to burnout.
Ah, burnout. You might know it: It’s when you suddenly got sick after a big project at work or developed a health issue and have no idea why, or when couldn’t get out of bed for three days that one time.
People like to say that burnout is our body’s way of telling us we have to slow down, but we believe it’s actually our body’s way of telling us we should have slowed down three weeks, three months, or three years ago.
So, why can’t you just let things go, anyway?
As leadership coaches, we teach our clients that letting things go isn’t about waving a magic wand. It’s not about hitting any reset buttons and suddenly, voila!, everything’s different. We show our clients that in order to avoid holding on to things that cause more stress, you have to lay the groundwork.
When you struggle to let something go, whether it happened this morning or months ago, it’s a sign that you’re holding on tightly to the way things “should” have gone, the way they “should” have turned out, the things someone else “should” have said.
If you could eliminate the “shoulds” in the first place, though, things might look a lot different, right? You have to lay the groundwork to create a foundational sense of self so you are agile enough to bounce back from anything that challenges your expectations.
In other words, get rid of the “shoulds” by creating a strong sense of self.
How to lay the groundwork
We have a secret trick that we teach our clients. Actually, it’s not really a secret, but it’s the key ingredient that makes all the difference for leaders who are stressed out.
It’s called confidence.
You know what confidence is, sure, but did you know how it helps you lay the groundwork to avoid stressful situations and thought loops?
So often, we think of confidence as a feeling. It’s why we think we can talk ourselves into being confident. You got this! You can do it!
But confidence isn’t actually a feeling. It’s a state of being. It’s the state we’re in when we face decisions, interactions, and relationships with a foundation of support, compassion, skills, and a strong sense of self.
What is confidence, really?
Confidence is like a collection of muscles that we build as we learn and practice and grow. These muscles then help us out when we face challenges.
If you’re having trouble letting go of past decisions, mistakes, conflicts, or conversations, the solution lies in flexing your confidence muscles. Doing that helps you glide through challenges with strength and grace and not get stuck.
Leaders will want to master confidence to lead well, with the compassion and care we need more of in the world today — and do it without burning out. You can discover that confidence within themselves; it’s there but sometimes hidden deep within.
Next time, we’ll share with you how to tone your confidence muscles.
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