For leaders everywhere life can sometimes feel like a barrage of responsibilities, commitments, and things to do. It’s easy to allow them to weigh you down, and at times they can even get in the way of your sense of enjoyment. That’s why one of the important things you can do as a leader, is to throw away the words should, could and must.
The next time you begin a sentence with one of these words, be aware that you’re implicitly reinforcing the idea that you’re not enough.
If you say to yourself “I should really work harder,” there’s an unspoken follow-up: “ . . . but I don’t.”
If you say, “I could be doing more,” the unspoken thought becomes “ . . . and I’m not doing enough.”
And if you say, “I must spend more time at the office,” the unspoken ending is “ . . . I’m not spending enough time there now.”
These phrases all have a way of making you feel inadequate by reinforcing a negative.
Next time, counteract the tendency to underrate yourself by thinking the following:
Focus on your values. What’s most important to you? What do you stand for? What are your core beliefs and principles? And, based on those answers, what do you want? When you focus on your values instead of somebody else’s priorities, it becomes easier to define the best direction for yourself. When you say no to things that matter to others, you’re free to say yes to the things that matter to you.
Focus on what motivates you. Those could, should, must phrases are disempowering and demotivating because they’re focused on external motivation. Think in terms of your own goals and motivations, and replace could, should, must with can, want, will.
Focus on being authentic. How many people on their deathbed think, “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me”? The more you live your life and leadership on your own terms, the more content—and productive and successful—you will be.
Focus on what you’ve done. Instead of thinking about what you haven’t yet done, think about what you’ve accomplished already—and be as positive and supportive as you would with a friend. Give yourself permission to say “that’s enough” before you burn out or stop enjoying something you love to do. Appreciate all that you do and be present in every moment of your life.
Lead from within: If you want to enjoy your leadership and life more, it is important to replace should, could and must with a dialogue that will lead to a kinder relationship with yourself and those around you.
N A T I O N A L B E S T S E L L E R
The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness
After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.
Additional Reading you might enjoy:
- 12 Successful Leadership Principles That Never Grow Old
- A Leadership Manifesto: A Guide To Greatness
- How to Succeed as A New Leader
- 12 of The Most Common Lies Leaders Tell Themselves
- 4 Proven Reasons Why Intuitive Leaders Make Great Leaders
- The One Quality Every Leader Needs To Succeed
- The Deception Trap of Leadership
Photo Credit: iStock Photos
Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR, Inc.com, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.