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Embracing Grace and Celebration in Your Growth Journey

#corevalues #criticalthinking #intentionaloptimism #leadership #personalgrowth Sep 04, 2023

You know, it doesn't matter how long you've been on a personal growth journey. If you’re a leader who is interested in making any kind of impact, you’re ON a personal growth journey whether you think you are or not. 

I can’t tell you how many women I’ve met who think that mastering the technical skills of their profession constitutes the entirety of “professional growth.” 

To be fair, I was one of those people - and in our defense, that’s what we’re taught!

My clients tell me they’ve got the technical knowledge to do the work, but find themselves floundering when it comes to leading people or projects, communication, setting boundaries or balancing their personal and work lives.

Today, we’re looking at the hard truth that there are no shortcuts to success - you have to do the work on both sides of the equation.

When it comes to leadership, there are none, no free passes whatsoever. 

I even had a client who said, “man, this was a bad time for me to read that chapter in the book!” I responded “well, I'm sorry, that's how it worked out, but sometimes we have to learn to confront the hard things even when the timing stinks.”

I’ve learned this lesson the hard way, and I hope today’s topic will help you navigate the process with confidence. 

My own personal growth has included a very intense process of deconstruction and reconstruction of my personal faith, cultural lens and understanding the assumptions and the conditioning that I've accumulated over the last 50 years or so.

And the truth is, it’s an on-going process. As soon as I think I’ve “dealt with an issue” or learned a lesson, another one pops up, and I’m at it again. It’s like an arcade game we played as kids - Whack-A-Mole. 

Why is it every time I think I've dealt with all of the conditioning or all of my preconceived ideas or assumptions, a new one pops up that I absolutely have to deal with right now? Because I'm not exempt. Nobody is.

The difference is that in personal growth, you don’t just whack them down over and over. You grab them, deal with them and move forward. 

Here’s  the main overarching principle. If you are on a true personal growth journey to be a leader, if you wanna make any kind of impact, lead any kind of team, start your own business, even lead well in your family or community, all your conditioning, every assumption you've ever made, everything you've ever been taught is going to be challenged. They may be challenged by someone close to you or by society, but trust me, somebody or something is going to challenge who you are. That's what it means to be a leader.

I want to encourage you with some practical advice on the process, beginning with what I used to do… and wondering if this is where you are now.

What I Used To Do:  In the past, whenever one of my A,B,C’s (Assumptions, Beliefs or Conditioning) was challenged, I’d react in one of three ways.

  1. Why Me? Ah, the victim mentality… just why is it you’re picking on me? Are you out to get me?
  2. Run Away! Yeah, I don’t like confrontation at all. So if I was challenged, I just took off. Even if it meant I went totally silent in a group of people. 
  3. Got Angry… this one is so prevalent today. It saddens me to see how much anger is out there over the inability to see another perspective, or the inflexibility that comes with a need for certainty. 
  4. Denial: Nope, that’s not even close to me. At all. Full stop. You hear this one all day long in race conversations. 

Do any of these resonate with you? I’ll bet you have others that come to mind. I encourage you to take a beat, any time one of these reactions or thoughts come up for you, and ask yourself what it is that’s being challenged. 

That’s where leaders begin their growth.

What To Expect From The Process: As a leader, expect the challenges, and know that as you start to pay attention, you’ll find they are happening daily. Even 30 years into my own personal growth journey, they happen every single day. Here are some tips for how I deal with them as they come up.

First, recognize that when one of your A,B,C’s is challenged, it’s an opportunity for you to examine it and decide if you want to keep it. Yep. You might discover you don’t want to keep that particular belief. Or you might realize that continuing to live inside that conditioned response isn’t serving you or those you lead. 

Second, understand that the change process will involve grief. Big or small, when you leave behind a pattern, allegiance, understanding or behavior that you’ve integrated into your daily life, there will be some type of letting go that must happen. My own deconstruction journey was a huge grief process for me. Not just in my personal faith, but in the way I do community, the way I interact with my culture. All of it. That grief was over the way I’d allowed myself to be, think or believe up to that point. Smaller changes - like changing my behavior with my teenage son incur grief on a smaller scale. But it’s still there.

Third, give yourself a little grace. I can’t even count how many times I remind both myself, and those around me, to just cut yourself some slack. You know what you know, when you know it. Not even one second beforehand. A little grace goes a long way.

Fourth, celebrate the fact that now you do know, and determine where you’ll go from here. Give “tomorrow you” the gift of dealing with this particular “whack-a-mole” today, and move forward. This is where living with Intentional Optimism, especially the tent of Present, really makes a difference.  When these hard things come up, it’s important to remember that you only have right now and you need to be present in this moment, especially for yourself. Then celebrate the fact that you’re continuing to grow. 

That is a celebration every single day.

If you want to be a leader, if you want to make an impact on your family, your job, your team, the culture that you're in with your business, you have to know yourself. You must be willing to allow these assumptions that you've always made and allow the conditioning that you've received and that you've participated in, to come up, to deal with them and then celebrate the fact that every time they do, that means you're growing. 

If you're dealing with yet another preconceived notion or assumption or conditioning, celebrate that you are leading and becoming a woman of impact.

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