In the movie “We are Marshall”, there is a scene where the new head football coach comes to recruit an assistant coach to join him as they rebuild a football program after a horrible plane crash that devastated the entire community. The asst coach being recruited was having a hard time and felt hopeless since the crash while working on his house. While the new head coach was there, he heard a train whistle and asked if that was the same train that went off the track years ago. Then followed up to let the asst coach know it was “back on track”.
Many times, we get stuck in our careers because of ambiguity… uncertainty, unsured-ness, doubt, feeling unimportant… and on and on. Believe it or not, this is a common trait with most everyone, but high performers are able to quickly get back on track before you realize they are dealing with it.
This reminds me of a story Jesse Itzler once shared about “Billy the Bully” in his book “Living with the Monks”. Billy the Bully represented “doubt” and “fear” and “Billy” would always show up when he was trying to achieve something great like taking on a new role, or writing a book, or trying to get healthy, , etc… and how “he” always made him feel a sense of struggle and doubt and fear and made him think/feel… you can’t do this – you shouldn’t do this – nobody cares – and on, and on, and on!
But how can we get through it?
We have all doubted ourselves or felt unsure or unwanted at some point in our career…I’m raising my hand! So, how do we kick “Billy the Bully” out of our head and create momentum in any role?
Go back to our “WHY”! When I wrote my first book – I was fortunate to have a friend tell me that you have to know “why” you are doing this. It’s your anchor! If not, or your why is not big enough – you’ll quit! The WHY creates clarity around value and pushes us through tough times.
Stay in pursuit of GOALS – What are your company goals? Are you in alignment? If you don’t know where you are going, the destination will be anywhere. Know this – it’s your compass!
Focus on SERVING others. When I speak to big groups, I used to get nervous because I would think about how people would view me or maybe they might even disagree about what I had to say. It created doubt and uncertainty environment - because I thought about me. When I turned the focus on serving others, the uncertainty and unsured-ness went away. Yes, I still get nervous which helps create energy. BUT, I remind myself that some of the things I am going to share will help others though my experiences, and the doubt goes away. Turn everything away from you to serving others with your experiences and how it can help them and it will create great clarity!
Be INTERESTED – I once heard a story about a company that had a president that was retiring and the company had hired a new President. There was a lady that had worked for both at one point in her career. When people found out, they asked her about the difference in the incoming and outgoing leaders. She said, “the outgoing president was an interesting man… but the incoming president is very interested in me. Focus on listening and being interested.
Be MISSION DRIVEN. Many times, when we get in an organization, we get overwhelmed by many projects. The more projects, the more people, the more stress, etc… The key to success is to keep perspective and focus on the mission of the organization. Talk to other department leaders and find out how you can help them achieve success. Make sure it’s in alignment with company goals and you will be able to keep on track – even during challenging times!
I once heard former singer/songwriter Charlie Daniels being interviewed on Dan Rather’s “The Big Interview” TV show, when he was asked – “what advice would you give to others coming up behind you in the business?” Charlie Daniels responded without pausing, “don’t ever look at the empty seats”. Too many times we focus on who didn’t show up, who didn’t like our decision, or who isn’t listening to our ideas… when we should focus on giving 100 percent to the people that show up and to the projects that can move our organizations forward… Use these strategies to kick “billy the bully” to the curb, and get back on track. You will then soar as a leader while helping your organization soar too!
“Start with why.” - Simon Sinek
Take some time to reflect on the strategies above. Go back to your why, confirm goal progress and consider things to be more interested and a better listener in the workplace. Do this and you will quickly build momentum in the workplace and become the leader with purpose you are striving to be!