Do you like roller coasters?
I like roller coasters. Not everyone does, but I do. The ups and downs, the ins and outs. The steep climbs and the sharp drops. I like roller coasters.
Literal roller coasters, that is. I’m not a big fan of emotional roller coasters, and I’m not a fan of the roller coaster of self-confidence that I see a lot of leaders riding.
This self-confidence roller coaster explains why some leaders consistently produce great results under pressure, while others fold — or, at best, produce sporadic results.
Here’s what the roller coaster looks like. Imagine a leader; we’ll call him Kyle. Kyle is a competent leader, but his self-confidence rises and falls based on his last victory or defeat. If Kyle’s last project was a success, then he is one confident (but not arrogant!) leader! He’s eager to take on the next challenge, he’ll work through the obstacles, and he’ll be assertive with his actions and decisions. He’s the very picture of inspiration!
But if, for whatever reason — including reasons that may be completely out of his control — Kyle’s project fails, or is less successful than he hoped, then Kyle’s self-confidence takes a nosedive. And because of this, he’s less inclined to seek out another high-pressure challenge. Until he scores another victory. Then it’s game on!
Now, let’s compare Kyle to Shari. Shari has a consistently high level of confidence. Does that mean that Shari never experiences failure? Not at all. But here’s the difference. When Shari experiences a failure, her self-confidence only takes a small, temporary hit. She doesn’t experience the huge peaks and valleys in her confidence that Kyle does.
The result is that Shari consistently produces better results under pressure than Kyle.
So what does Shari know that Kyle doesn’t. More to the point, what does Shari know that you may not know?
Shari knows that confidence is not about reality; it’s about our perception of reality.#Confidence is not about reality; it’s about our perception of reality. #leadership #producingunderpressure #pressure #stress #performingunderpressure Click To Tweet
Shari knows that confidence is about what we choose to focus on. And this is what separates the Sharis from the Kyles.
See, in the face of a failure, Kyle focuses on things like:
- how he screwed up
- what others around him will now think about him
- the fact that it was a failure, failure, failure!
Shari chooses to focus elsewhere. Shari realizes that, in nearly every failure, there are things that went well, things that she and her team did right. So, while Shari doesn’t ignore the things that went wrong, she also takes time to think about what she did right, what her team did right. And she allows herself to congratulate both her and her team for these “mini-successes” within the failure.
As a leader, you’re going to experience failures. They’re inevitable. (And, if you don’t experience failures, you’re not stretching yourself enough.) But never forget that within nearly every failure, there are mini-successes. And if you can allow yourself to focus on these mini-successes as well as the reasons for the failure, your confidence will take a mild hit, rather than a terrifying plunge.Within nearly every #failure, there are mini-successes. #success #leadership #stress #producingunderpressure #performingunderpressure #pressure Click To Tweet
That may make for a boring roller coaster ride — but a much more successful career!