Think about a time when someone on your team questioned a decision you made. What was your reaction? Chances are, at the core you experienced fear — which shows up differently for each of us: Fear of failure. Fear of looking incompetent. Fear of rejection. Fear of being misunderstood, to name just a few.
So the next morning, you know the decision — and whether it was a good or bad one — it is going to come up. How do you prepare for that meeting? If you are like most, you spend an exorbitant amount of energy concocting an airtight defense. What is your presence in the meeting? You enter in with your armor on, defenses up, and you steamroll the team “with facts” into believing that I’m not a failure. Let me prove to you all right now why I am not a failure.
We must train ourselves to see this pattern. To increase our self-awareness and notice quickly when we are in this state of fear, which leads to rationalization.
If you’re a person with high self-awareness, how would you approach this same meeting? With confidence that you have the facts and context of what happened, courage to let everyone voice their concerns — knowing that this is not personal, it is an issue — and humility to realize you may have a blind spot. You’ll go into the meeting, address the negative feedback, state what happened, reassure the team of their good intent, and allow others to speak into the situation.
Remember, you will never have it all figured out. In fact, if you’re a true evolving leader, you will always seek out new challenges where you’re a bit over their head. People who don’t, become irrelevant quickly. (You know them by the way they refer to their past and how great they used to be.) And that means you will make mistakes, poor judgment calls, and wrong decisions.
Self-awareness is a journey, not a destination. If you truly want to grow your business, your team, and yourself, then be quick to recognize when you rationalize and even quicker to own it, adjust, and keep moving in humble confidence.
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