INSIGHTS (on leadership/self-leadership)
Want to accomplish more, and foster positive impressions of you?
Don’t underestimate the power of being underestimated.
We’re all underestimated at times. I have been my whole life, to be honest. In high-school, college, the corporate world, as an author, as a speaker, as a columnist, as a course creator, in my efforts running a keynoting/training company. I think it has to do with my unassuming nature, but whatever the reason, it never gets me down. It drives me. I revel in it.
When people underestimate you, they’re giving you a gift. You become unburdened by what they think. The pressure is off, so you can focus on doing your absolute best. You can take risks you might not otherwise take, try things others won’t. You have everything to gain, nothing to lose.
And here’s the thing. Unburdened by expectations, when you deliver the goods, you create memorable surprise. People are forced to reevaluate you, an exercise that creates impressions that stick, and that forces them to pay attention.
It’s an intensely personal, and powerful, motivator. So, ask yourself, “Where am I being underestimated in my life, right now?” Embrace it, and use it as fuel to achieve something important to you, which will also leave an impression on others (if that’s important to you).
IMPERFECTIONS (a mistake many make)
An important reminder:
And yet, it’s all-too-easy to lose sight of who you are as you strive to adapt, survive, fit in, achieve. But amazing things happen when you focus on your strengths, rather than trying to be something else.
A surprising example comes from, of all places, the independent bookstore. This Fast Company article highlights the story of Daunt Books, in London. It’s an independent seller that’s thriving, despite the massive Amazon factor. Daunt doesn’t try to be Amazon. Instead it organizes books by country, based on the insight that people like to be armchair travelers, exploring the world through reading. It abandons the traditional subject categories. There are no science fiction books, for instance, because you can’t organize them by country. The small chain encourages bookstore managers to curate their collection based on their own personal tastes and the composition of the surrounding area and its needs/tastes. It creates more engaged workers and more interesting stores.
It’s working so well that the founder, James Daunt, was hired as CEO of Barnes & Noble to rethink its strategy of trying to compete head on with Amazon (and losing, badly). It’s working. B&N is adding 30 new stores this year, even taking over locations shuttered by Amazon’s attempt at a brick and mortar bookstore. Allison Hill, CEO of the American Booksellers Association, which represents independent bookstores in the United States, says Daunt is thriving for the same reason smart indie bookstores have always thrived – “they’re focusing on their strengths, rather than trying to be something else.” Daunt himself adds, “The general principle is whatever you choose to do, do it well.”
The key is to choose to do even more of you at your best, then do even better.
So, keep your strengths top of mind, call on them repeatedly, and build on them before focusing too much on your shortfalls and how you need to change.
IMPLEMENTATION (one research-backed strategy, tip, or tool)
Research shows the most stressful time of day on average is 7:23AM – when all the morning stressors have kicked in (you’re scrambling to get ready for work, trying to feed the kids, worrying about the day ahead and all you have to do, and so on).
In my popular course One-Minute Habits for Success, I share a 3-word strategy for having a good start to your day:
Ditch, switch, enrich. I’ll explain.
Start your day ditching, or leaving behind, unhelpful thoughts or hang-ups that have been weighing you down. What must you move on from that keeps distracting you, aggravating you, or causing you to feel bad about yourself?
Then switch to something more positive by asking yourself, “What’s the most important thing to accomplish today that will move me towards my goals?”
Now, enrich. Commit to learn something that day, to experience something new, to enrich yourself. Commit to read just a few pages of a book that interests you, read one article during lunch on a topic you’re trying to build expertise on, or ask a colleague to tell you more about their job. You get the idea.
So remember, ditch, switch, enrich. A three-word morning ritual for more success, less stress.