We hate making mistakes and it’s no wonder. Just look at two definitions:
“Some unintentional act, omission, or error arising from ignorance, surprise…or misplaced confidence.”
“An error in action, calculation, opinion, or judgment caused by poor reasoning, carelessness, insufficient knowledge, etc.”
Putting aside the damning definitions, research suggests that humans have a high addiction to being right; when we persuade others we’re right, our dopamine level goes up. Winning a point, just like winning in sports, makes us feel good. Further, our educational system is rooted in teaching about right and wrong answers; we are rewarded for “correct” answers and learn to avoid, as best we can, the embarrassment of being wrong.
So, while it’s no surprise we hate making mistakes, we rarely live a day without making at least one. Eleanor Roosevelt knew this when she said “learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.”
Hence, we focus on learning from our mistakes. Indeed, every self-improvement book you will ever read addresses this important concept. And, many rules we live by, like buckling seat belts and getting safety instructions before a plane takes off, started with mistakes from which improvements flow.
In April of this year, SpaceX’s Starship rocket exploded in its flight over the Gulf of Mexico. As covered in The New York Times, “The rocket…did not reach orbit but provided important lessons for the private spaceflight company as it worked toward a more successful mission.” That mission is estimated to cost between $2-$10 billion and thus, a lot more mistakes are anticipated!
Read my full article, "We Hate Making Mistakes" to learn five quick tips (via Arden Coaching)
A young man walks through Central Park wearing a T-shirt. It says in bold black letters, “WARNING, I’m not listening.” A touch edgy? Yes. A sign of the times? Maybe. Either way, it may work for a young man, but it won’t for leaders — the power of listening cannot be underestimated.
As Stephen Covey points out in his oft-cited book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, “comparatively few people have had any training in listening at all.” Moreover, as people rise in the ranks, they tend to do more talking and less listening. Perhaps that’s why Habit 5 in Covey’s book is “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”
Read my full article, "The Power of Listening" (via Arden Coaching)
1. Do it in real time. Semi-annual or annual performance reviews are nice but can’t take the place of prompt, on-the-spot feedback about something that didn’t go well or something that did.
2. Get enough facts so you can provide a context of what happened, with specifics. Generalizations, such as “you never” or “you always” work against you.
3. Focus more on the positives. If someone did something you like, let them know. Humans are hardwired with a negativity bias: We feel the sting of a rebuke more powerfully than the joy of praise. It’s important to overcome that with “I-love-how-you-handled-this” type of comments.
4. Listening is key as much as engaging in a discussion. As a leader, remember that you don’t know or have the solution for everything. Don’t let familiarity, power or position blind you.
5. Be a good role model. A leader might have to make some tough decisions that won’t be welcomed by everyone. But, this leader might be admired, respected, or even trusted. Feedback from such a leader will be heard. Feedback from a leader who is impatient, cynical, opinionated and late for meetings likely won’t be.
6. Ask early for genuine feedback. The higher you rise in the ranks, the harder it is to get honest feedback. People working for you want to please you, not annoy you. In a New York Times article, Leadership Means Learning to Look Behind the Mask, the author thoughtfully talks about the difficulties she had getting good feedback. It wasn’t until she announced her retirement that people felt comfortable giving her their honest assessments.
Read my full article, “A Leader Knows How to Give Feedback. True or False?” (via Arden Coaching)
In life, just as in work, we face hurdles and obstacles. They might not involve nasty lawsuits, but they include daily challenges to how we work, think, communicate and collaborate. We may want to support our team better, set clearer priorities, develop rapport with colleagues, communicate with confidence, or create more time to think about big picture items. It often feels like Scene 2, Take 146....
Read my full article, "Coaching for Resilience and 'Recalibration!'” (via Arden Coaching)
Many more people will live to 100 in the decades ahead, according to John F. Wasik:
Apart from early financial planning, this trend requires smart thinking about staying socially engaged, mentally and physically active, open to learning, and thoughtful about what lies ahead.
Whatever your life expectancy, a retirement coach can reduce anxiety and create a clear sense of renewal, joy and growth for the path forward.
Read, “If You Live to 100, You’ll Need More Than Money,” by John F. Wasik, The New York Times
Thinking about retiring? My 60-second take. Video by David Seth Cohen of Precision Pictures LTD.
Advancing your career requires more than just hard work—you need to demonstrate growth, leadership skills, ambition, and emotional intelligence. Also known as your emotional quotient, or EQ, emotional intelligence refers to the ability to understand and manage feelings in healthy, positive ways. The following guide below explains the importance of emotional intelligence and how an executive coach can help.
Why Is Emotional Intelligence Important for Career Success?How you manage, use, and respond to your emotions affects every aspect of your life. Having high emotional intelligence leaves you better equipped to deal with stressful life situations, complex tasks, and conflicts with other people.
These skills are critical for a successful career. Whether you need to navigate a major project or figure out how to communicate effectively with a new client, turning your emotions into a positive motivating force will help you excel.
Taking the time to identify and understand your emotions gives you the control you need to express them properly and recognize how other people are feeling. This can help you form stronger relationships with coworkers and clients.
How Can You Develop Emotional Intelligence?
Recognizing how you feel is a step in the right direction, but overcoming negative impulses is the biggest challenge. Anxiety can reduce the ability to think clearly and critically, causing people to make poor decisions in high-stress situations. Addressing emotions head-on to prevent them from overwhelming your thoughts gives you more control over your reactions.
Be Mindful of Others
Emotional intelligence is not just about knowing yourself; it's also about the ability to empathize. People are constantly sending out verbal and nonverbal cues. To fully understand them and their needs, social awareness is necessary.
It’s common to have a mind full of deadlines, previous conversations, and tasks you want to accomplish while at work. When having a conversation, it really helps to pay attention to what the person is saying and how they’re saying it. Picking up on subtle emotional cues and remembering important details can help you improve communication skills, understand the dynamics of any group, and build positive relationships.
Don’t Dwell on Mistakes
Everyone faces challenges they can’t always overcome. However, those with high emotional intelligence will use these opportunities to learn and grow rather than dwelling on them. Overthinking will only lead to self-doubt. Instead, consider what can be learned from the situation and move forward. Other opportunities await you!
Polar bears are rarely seen in NYC. But, thanks to someone’s creativity, four of them are firmly in place, in Central Park, sending a message for the season, if not this era or maybe this day.
I'm always cheered to see people's creativity at play. Are you looking for ways to express your creativity more?
Choosing to leave a job is a major decision that shouldn't be taken lightly. However, if your job is not meeting your needs, leaving may be the best option for your career path and personal life. If you've been entertaining the idea of leaving your current position, enlisting the services of a career advisor and using the following advice can help.
How to Know if It's Time to Leave a Job
It's Routinely Stressful or Unpleasant
Temporary stress can be a normal part of work. Preparing for a presentation or a meeting with a client or an annual review can cause some level of anxiety. However, if you have constant dread going in every morning for weeks or months, this isn't simply a temporary issue to muscle your way through. If the job is negatively impacting your mental health or personal life, then it's probably time to leave.
There's No Future
If you've been thinking about leaving, you're likely unsatisfied with the position. Have a candid talk with the manager about your future at the company and whether there are opportunities for growth.
Consider where you'd like to be in one, five, and ten years. If there's no clear path to grow your career in responsibility, pay, or position, it may be time to look elsewhere.
It No Longer Fits Your Needs
A job or company that once perfectly suited you may not anymore. You may have a new manager who makes the work environment feel toxic.
You may have children to care for and need a better work-life balance. Your job security could be threatened by changes in ownership or business structure.
How to Leave a Job
After deciding to leave or, even better, when you're agonizing over whether you should, plan the transition carefully and respectfully with the help of a career coach. Precipitous moves are rarely a good idea. Rather, have a financial strategy in mind and secure another job offer first. Saving up enough money to fund the job hunt, or finding a temporary position to pay the bills while searching for that dream job is definitely a plus.
Give at least two weeks' notice to your manager so that they have some time to find a replacement. You may need to do this with a written letter of resignation.
If you have flexibility, consider staying longer to train the replacement. Try to avoid burning bridges, even if you're upset. Your old manager could be the one to provide a recommendation that connects you with a dream job.
Understandably, what’s top of mind right now for most people is the impact of the pandemic, getting a vaccine, the new administration, and the many uncertainties that lie ahead.
In light of this, one leadership attribute which gets put on the back burner is the importance of confidence. Yet, having confidence is key to successfully doing just about anything. It lets you know that when you take off, it may be an adventure, it may be bold and scary, but you know you’ll land it.
a) How we feel, including our enjoyment of work and feelings of autonomy and agency
b) How we act, such as how assertive we are, how we seize opportunities and face risks
c) Our relationships and ability to engage with people
d) How we communicate. For example, if you lack confidence, you are less likely to speak up in meetings or may use a high voice or giggle which reduces your credibility.
With confidence, many hard things seem possible. Without it, taking care of business, let alone the next bold step, is almost impossible. A leader who doesn’t demonstrate confidence in what they say and do — which of course is different from arrogance and intimidation — might as well implement a succession plan immediately.
Three Things to Remember
1. Confidence is not a sideshow.
Many studies show that having confidence is highly correlated with being successful. People with confidence are more willing to take reasonable risks, take advantage of opportunities and be given opportunities.
2. Lack of confidence can be exhausting, frustrating and depressing
Yet, lack of confidence isn’t something you can easily talk about with your colleagues or your friends.
3. You may already be confident, but, there are people around you every day, including supervisors, close colleagues and friends, who are not.
Raising your awareness of how others may be feeling will make you a better leader, a better colleague, and a better friend.
The Four Behavioral Traits of a Confident Person:
Most people can’t swallow a teaspoon of cinnamon, sneeze with their eyes open or wiggle their little toe. If you cannot do these things now, you will never be able to. The good news is that confidence can be learned.
1. People who are confident have a growth mindset.
They believe strongly in the power of effort, that people are born to learn and that the mind is like a muscle — the more you work it, the more effort you put in, the smarter you become. Effort matters! Carol Dweck’s excellent book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, explains this with compelling research.
2. Confidence requires that we have the courage to act.
People often think of courage as being strong or macho. But courage is what allows people to do things even when they don’t feel strong. This short video embodies the idea of taking action despite fear and is worth watching.
3. A confident person has GRIT.
Grit is not just about working hard or having self-discipline. It’s about working in a deliberate, focused way over a period of time in pursuit of a goal. Colonel Sanders, the founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken, had grit. At age 62, he set out with $105 to pitch his chicken recipe to restaurants. Over 1,000 people told him he was crazy, but he didn’t give up. That’s grit! See Angela Duckworth’s book, Grit, The Power of Passion & Perseverance for research on the value of grit.
4. A confident person has self-compassion.
We live in a success-oriented, achieve-the-next-big-thing world and tend to think of failure as abnormal. But setbacks are part of being human. We misstep on a pitch for a new client, we lose an argument in court, we misread an important change in the market or fail to stay calm. The key lesson is to learn from our mistakes and move on.
Like the imposter syndrome, confidence can come and go. It affects people of all types, all ages and all backgrounds, including people in the C-Suite. If you’re feeling a general lack of confidence, it’s worth paying attention to it. You can and should work to develop it and let your best shine through. Success in your work and in life comes in many forms and — with confidence — you’re much more likely to achieve it.
I'm an executive coach who works with clients on leadership and transition challenges, including retiring with enthusiasm and ease.