INSIGHTS (on leadership/self-leadership)
To overcome setbacks, first understand that they’re triggers. They’re an interruption you weren’t expecting or were hoping to avoid, a wrinkle in your plan, which provokes something in you. The question is, what will it provoke? Will you react, or respond, to the setback? The two choices produce very different outcomes.
Reacting to adversity means attention goes to emoting, emotionally carrying yourself in a (most often) unhelpful manner. You put your energy into being exasperated, lamenting that you’re exhausted, getting stuck in “it’s not fair,” feeling like a failure, or catastrophizing (exaggerating the negative impact of the setback).
Responding to adversity means focusing on taking action. It’s minimizing your emotional reaction (we’re not robots, after all), accepting where you are, knowing the pain is temporary, and putting your energy into, “What should I do next? How can I move forward?” It means saying “not yet” versus “I failed,” and getting back to work on what it will take to get there.
Bottom line, react vs. respond is about self-awareness. The idea is to avoid triggering emotion, and instead trigger action.
IMPERFECTIONS (a mistake many make)
What’s the biggest mistake people make in giving feedback?
Doing so with a lack of benevolent bravery.
Here’s what I mean. First, the lack of bravery part. It’s the failure to be honest with people, not giving them the feedback they need to hear (holding it back). It also looks like sugarcoating (burying the feedback in superficial praise), or backtracking (unwinding the feedback you gave at the end of the discussion, in a desire to end things on a positive note, thus confusing the recipient).
By lack of benevolence, I mean when you are forthright, you deliver the feedback in a cold, non-empathetic way.
You owe people the truth. Period. Anything less is a disservice. But that doesn’t mean you have to deliver truth in a harsh manner. So how to ensure the right balance? Try this powerful test (inspired, in part, by Brené Brown).
You know you’re ready to give feedback with benevolent bravery when you’re ready to sit next to the person to give it, versus across from them. When you’re ready to put the issue in front of you, versus between you.
Think about it. Picture sitting next to someone to have a discussion versus across from them. It forces you to have a different tone, with different body language. Sitting next to them instinctively brings out respect, empathy, and curiosity (that you genuinely want to understand and help). So, while giving feedback, even if you aren’t physically sitting next to the person, imagine that you are.
IMPLEMENTATION (one research-backed strategy, tip, or tool)
Worn down by that employee who is overly focused on getting promoted, or on getting the highest “rating” (if your organization has a rating system)?
Try focusing them on improving, not proving. As in, draw their focus away from trying to prove they deserve to be promoted or to get the best rating, and focus them instead on improving, making progress relative to their own potential – because that’s what they can control.
Here’s a trick to help. Have them think of the promotion or high rating as the North Star – some agreed upon standard that performance is measured against, the thing they want to generally navigate towards. But the lighthouse, the thing that keeps them off the rocks and guides them more directly, is the comparison to themself. Are they improving? Are they better versions of themselves today than they were yesterday? It’s a reframe that’s keeps their energy, and your relationship with them, in the right place.