What Defines You?

Of all the New Years Resolutions ever made “losing weight” is by far the number one resolution that people make. I guess we could hope that they make that resolution for health reasons but I’m betting most of the people who resolve to lose weight really want to look better.

Most of us are at least a little vain and our appearance matters.

What they often forget is that they are more likely to be defined by what comes out of their mouth then they are by what goes in it. I’m talking about the things you say and how you say them.

Are your words life affirming? Do your utterances create or destroy? Do you even consider that before you blurt out what’s on your mind?

No human interaction is neutral. You, yes YOU, leave people feeling better or worse about themselves and their circumstances after EVERY interaction. The difference might be infinitesimal but you’ve moved them in one direction or the other. If enough of your interactions go in the same direction then your words, and how you say them, are making a difference in that person’s life. Your words are making a difference in how that person sees themselves and their chances for success.

Your words have that kind of power.

Your words are making a difference in how people see you as well. Your words and how you say them are defining you to a much greater extent than your appearance ever will.

I fully support (other people) being careful with what goes in their mouth for health reasons. But everyone might also want to consider what comes out of their mouth too. Your diet can change your life. Your words can change not only your life but the lives of everyone you come into contact with.

It only takes a second to say something you may regret for a lifetime. It also only takes a second to stop yourself from saying it. Think about that for a second or two before you allow something out of your mouth that isn’t good for you or anyone else.

Did You Really MEAN to Say That?

Words matter. Your words matter. Tone of voice, and tone of text and tweet matters too. How you say something is just as important as the something you say.

The greater the influence you have the more your words weigh. The greater the influence you have the longer your words linger in the minds they are spoken, or written to.

The old saying, “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” is invalid these days. Actually I’m not sure it ever was valid but it’s clearly not now. And now, more than at any time in history it’s easy for people to throw words out to millions of people at a time.

That’s a lot of influence! With that influence comes responsibility.

I’m going to sound naive to some of you but I believe that the vast vast majority of people do not say things on social media with the intent to hurt others. Yet they somehow seem to forget that there are real live human beings impacted by the things they say and write. Some of those things do indeed hurt people.

I believe there is no such thing as a neutral human interaction. Every single time you interact with another human being, no matter how that interaction takes place, you leave that person feeling either better or worse about themselves and their situation. It’s always one or the other, it’s never neutral.

It may be an almost imperceptible change but it adds up. Leaving a person feeling a tiny bit worse about themselves or their situation time after time adds up. So does leaving them feeling better time after time.

Consider that BEFORE the next time you say or write something uncivil. Consider that BEFORE you say something hurtful that you wouldn’t want said or written to someone who matters to you. That person you’re saying it to may not matter to you but they most certainly matter.

Their views and opinions may seem completely wacky to you. But if you lived their life and were shaped by the same experiences that they were, you would think much the same as they do.

Their views do not make them a less valuable human being than anyone else. We seem to be forgetting that lately and we need to start remembering it before it is forgotten forever.

Here’s a good rule of thumb…don’t say mean things. If it would be mean if it was said to you then it’s going to be mean when you say it, or text it, or tweet it, to someone else. Figure out a way to say the same thing in a way that you wouldn’t consider mean or insulting (be honest) and say it that way. If you can’t figure that out then say nothing.

It’s a pretty simple rule but it can make a profound difference in the impact you have on the people you communicate with. You have the choice of being a positive influence or a negative one.

Which choice will you make?

A Self Leadership Checkup

Everybody says we need Authentic Leadership right now, perhaps more than ever before. Well it must be true since everybody can’t be wrong. But it seems to me most people talking and writing about leadership these days are missing an important point.

Before you can lead others authentically you must effectively lead yourself.

If you’re an Authentic Leader then you know the people you lead really need you now. That’s because especially in challenging times people need to be led, not managed. But you’re people too. You need leadership as much as anyone. The difference is you may well have to lead yourself.

So let’s do a quick checkup on your self-leadership skills.

You know that your people need some extra inspiration right now. They look to their leaders to provide it. But it’s pretty tough to inspire others if you’re not inspired yourself. In those quiet moments (perhaps few and far between right now) how are you staying inspired? What does your “self-talk” sound like? Are you aggressively looking for positives to keep your mindset where it needs to be.

It’s as easy for a leader’s attitude to go south as it is for anyone else. If you’re going to keep other people’s spirits up them you’ll have to keep yours up first. Find the possibilities in every challenge. Problems are an opportunity to learn and grow. They provide the chance to become better and more nimble.

Coach yourself to see obstacles as growth opportunities. Remember, your people will do what you do far faster than they will do what you say. Model the attitude and mindset that you want your people to possess.

You are the master of your emotions, no one else. If you do not make the conscious choice of a positive attitude every single day then a subconscious choice will be made for you by events and circumstances. It will not be a choice that serves you well.

Positive attitudes do not happen by chance, they happen by choice.

How are you doing with time management? If you’re suddenly finding yourself leading from home you may find that you don’t have the same level of discipline that comes with working in an office environment.

Setting daily goals can help with this. Goals create discipline. Discipline is simply choosing between what you want now and what you want most. Your goals should be what you want most. Holding yourself accountable to do the same amount of work at home that you would do in the office requires that you keep in mind what you want most.

The “work things” that you may be less accountable to accomplish right now are the means to the things you want most. When my daily work goals are achieved I allow myself what I want most. That would be ice cream! If the work isn’t crossed off my list then the ice cream doesn’t cross my lips.

It is important to remember that no one on earth has more time than you do. No matter how pressured you may feel you do not, I repeat, you do not have a shortage of time. What you most likely do have is a lack of prioritization skills.

Pursue those daily goals with the zeal of a crazy person and you’ll discover you have all the time you need to accomplish every one of your goals.

Are you carefully choosing your words? A leader’s words carry more weight. In challenging times they weigh even more. Choose your words to convey the exact message you’re trying to get across. Remember how you say something can be even more important than the something you say. Are you being mindful of your tone? It is likely you’re doing more communication over the phone than normal. People can’t read your body language so they use the tone of your voice to decipher the meaning of what they are hearing.

It is your responsibility to make sure they are hearing what you intend for them to hear.

Leading others begins with leading yourself exceptionally well. These three areas are not the only leadership skills to focus on for exceptional self-leadership but they will get you on the right path to being a leader who is prepared to lead others in turbulent times.