-Let enthusiasm and self-belief be your guides.
You can’t wait for people to recognize your talent or desires. Being reserved doesn’t win you any points. It often gets you overlooked and creates frustration. On the other hand, shameless self-promotion is a turn-off. The sweet spot between the two is enthusiasm for what you want and belief in yourself.
Enthusiasm is energy and eagerness about something that keeps you committed even when you come up against obstacles. It can mean the difference between landing a job or starting a business and succeeding. Believing in yourself is confidence in your abilities and the resourcefulness to learn and figure out what you don’t know.
Too often we shy away from what deeply excites us, especially if our dreams differ from those in our circle. We’re afraid to look foolish to those we seek validation. You may get a passing frown from those closest to you. However, the truth is they will shift their focus back to themselves soon enough.
When choosing the road less traveled, let enthusiasm and self-belief be your closest friends. Eventually, others may see that you made the right decision for you. If they don’t, it could be because it hurts to see someone spreading their wings while theirs stay pinned down.
A true story.
Years ago, I was the publisher of a yachting magazine owned by a large firm that published dozens of magazines in different industries. As the leader of a global advertising sales team, I became interested in mindfulness as a practice to help me focus amid competing priorities and day-to-day pressures.
Eventually, professional and personal development became a passion. As I looked ahead, I didn’t see myself staying in my current position in the marine industry. However, another magazine in the firm’s group focused on holistic well-being piqued my interest. I had an idea for a spinoff magazine on mindfulness in the workplace to increase employee productivity and wellness. I was excited at the prospect and began working on a proposal.
I took the idea to my boss, who was not as thrilled as I was. He told me senior management of the parent company wouldn’t be interested. Putting my pride aside, I pleaded with him to ask despite his hesitation. I persuaded him that if it worked, he’d be the one to take the glory for being innovative. It took some convincing, but he finally agreed. To his surprise, they decided to meet with me.
Incredibly, they liked my idea and allocated funds to test the new magazine. I was the publisher of a brand-new magazine!
The story doesn’t end there. I worked on this project for less than a year before being hired by a mindfulness start-up that was delivering online mindfulness training for employees. Eventually, this led to my decision to enroll in a professional coaching program at the University of Miami and ultimately to create my executive coaching and development firm.
And now you’re reading my coaching newsletter.
This journey started from my enthusiasm and self-belief. I had no official mindfulness or human resource credentials. I only knew how critical it was to be a more mindful and empathic leader in the highly competitive advertising sales industry.
What could you do?
Where are you in your career at this moment? Do you have ideas or inspirations about what you can create or achieve? Are there people who can’t see what you do or are fearful of change and disruption?
I often talk about leadership as being more than an official position. It’s a quality of being. It’s an enthusiastic state of mind and belief in self that gives you the courage to follow a vision without seeking anyone’s permission.
If you’re inspired to do something different or try something new, allow yourself the space and time to nurture it. I worked on my proposal for a couple of months before presenting it to my boss. I had the best time doing it! On nights and weekends, it was my little pet project. I researched to learn what I didn’t know and spoke with trusted associates who helped me refine my ideas.
How to start.
Enthusiasm and self-belief need cultivating. Keep a journal, notebook or online document of your ideas and inspirations. They can be anything from creating a new product to overhauling your career in a new industry. The purpose is not to magnify potential roadblocks like finances, time or disappointing others’ expectations of you.
Instead, it’s how you commit to seeing the upside of what you want to do. Many people and experts are ready to explain why your aspirations aren’t feasible. And in their current form, they may be right. Most ideas can and should be tweaked to fill a need correctly. However, the incubation stage is not the time for this.
Regularly showing up to your journal helps you gather the necessary momentum to break free of the status quo. This habit will help you build up the energy and eagerness needed to strengthen yourself against other people’s objections, often created by their unacknowledged limitations.
How it ends.
The day I pitched my idea to the senior leader, I never imagined I would have a thriving coaching business nearly ten years later. That’s the beauty of walking the road less traveled; you never know where you’ll end up.
Sometimes you have to take the safe route, which everyone else says is wise. I understand this and have done that too. Other times, you must break free and walk the path without guarantees.
When you’re ready, let enthusiasm and self-belief take you there.
Work Your Authentic Genius.
- How often have you yearned to do something but didn’t because you thought it was foolish or unworkable?
- What’s your opinion of enthusiasm? Self-belief?
- Would you be willing to start a private journal of your secret hopes and dreams for your career and life? If not, what are you afraid might happen if you do?
Thanks for reading. Stay authentic. It matters.
Til next week…
Jo-Aynne Von Born, Leadership/Executive Coach