INSIGHTS (on leadership/self-leadership)
One of the more common questions I get from leaders is, “How do I manage uncertainty?” I give them my best advice, and then I ask them to consider something that often catches them off guard. I ask them to consider their relationship with uncertainty. Your job as a leader is not just to manage uncertainty, or to be OK with it, or even to be comfortable with it. It’s to crave uncertainty – because you need it to disrupt, innovate, and push boundaries. It’s to create uncertainty, by leading change.
The best leaders know uncertainty unlocks creativity, agility, and adaptability. They know you simply cannot get to what you yearn to be, by remaining what you are. Change is the conduit, and uncertainty is the co-pilot. So don’t just learn to be OK with it. Crave it. Create it.
IMPERFECTIONS (a mistake many make)
This just in – dealing with rejection is hard. Many of us struggle with it and react in ways we later regret. But I recently came across a brilliant strategy for handling rejection, from, of all places, a High School. As the New York Times reported, teachers at Downtown Magnets High School in Los Angeles, California, hold rejection parties each April. Students are encouraged to bring in their rejection letters from colleges they’ve applied to, walk on stage, read aloud the college(s) shortsighted enough to turn them down, and then put those letters into a very loud paper shredder (to the roaring applause of fellow students). Of course, it has to be a printout, thrust into a paper shredder, because there’s no fun in just deleting an email. In exchange, they receive an ice cream sundae. The student with the most rejection letters even gets a Barnes & Noble gift card.
A celebration of rejection.
And it’s brilliant.
As Mark R. Leary, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University, who studies rejection, said: “Social media and societal norms often tell us that we should conceal rejections, leading to the false belief that there’s something wrong with you because you were rejected. But rejection parties help us realize that this is an ordinary part of life (in a light-hearted way), and they allow us to share our rejection stories.” These parties teach the kids that they will survive rejection (while also asking the kids to declare that the college they do end up going to, is not who they are).
What if you treated rejection the same way? What if, the next time you didn’t get that job, got turned down for that raise, or promotion, or date, or whatever, you decided not to be ashamed of it? What if you (metaphorically) shoved that rejection into a shredder, loudly declaring it’s not going to be the end of you? What if you took that pain, and instead of swallowing it, shared it with others, to help them see that they’re not alone, and to discover that, neither are you?
I can tell you what would happen. You’d see that rejection is a part of life, that you’re bigger than any turn down, that it happens to us all, and that even if it’s not to be celebrated (literally), it’s to be categorized – as one more thing you have in common with your fellow humans. One more “no,” that brings you closer to a “yes.” One more thing that will ultimately make you stronger.
IMPLEMENTATION (one research-backed strategy, tip, or tool)
I don’t like to repeat myself in this publication, but I do want to break form this week and re-share a magic, one-word shift that can reframe your entire day, and fill it with more joy.
I was recently waiting in an airport to board a flight. I was headed to a give a keynote to an excited client, but found myself mired down in my general distaste for travel these days. The gate was overcrowded, the flight delayed, the throng growing ruder by the moment, a 5-hour trip still ahead. It all had me feeling down about my day, not looking forward to going through it. But then I remembered a subtle shift. I went from thinking:
“I have to do this,
I get to do this.”
That one-word shift changed my entire mindset. Yeah, there was some inconvenience to trudge through, but it’s secondary. I focused on the fact that I get to be in front of an audience, sharing inspiration and insight. I was reminded what a privilege and honor it is to have this as my occupation, how lucky I am. It put into perspective how the good in my day would outweigh what I had to do.
I hope you get the power of doing this too.