When the Garbage Stinks, Take it Out

There’s a garbage can in your head that’s stinking up your leadership.

Garbage is your inclination to pretend you’re less than you are by clinging to old ways of thinking about yourself.

Garbage does one thing, and one thing only. It makes you matter less. 

It’s time to take out the garbage.

clinging to old ways of thinking about yourself make you matter less than you could

The story:

While driving to a meeting, I thought about ways to affirm two leaders I work with. One is tougher than he thinks. The other is braver than she thinks.

While mulling over a way to affirm them, I wondered about questions that would:

  1. Affirm their progress.
  2. Challenge them to reach higher.
  3. Enable them to see themselves in new light.

Three questions to take out the garbage in your head:

#1. What old ways of thinking about yourself do you need to let go?

Garbage makes you live like someone you aren’t.

You might smell inadequacy and pretend you’re more than you are. You puff yourself up. Bravado and posturing are compensations for inadequacy.

Others might smell old ways of thinking and pretend they’re less than they are. False humility is a protective shield that lowers expectations.

Garbage always makes you matter less.

#2. If you let go of those old ways of thinking, who would you be?

I wanted them to see themselves in new light.

When I asked them the second question, they talked about who they wouldn’t be. That’s normal.

Listen to negatives, but always press toward positives.

I asked, “How can you say those negatives in positive ways?” Don’t tell me who you aren’t. Tell me who you are.

#3. What would people see in you, if you embraced that new person?

Find new ways of expressing the person you’ve become.

Old ways of thinking about yourself anchor you to a past that doesn’t serve you well today.

(I asked the three questions. The conversation is private.)

How might leaders release old ways of thinking about themselves?

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