If you don’t back your decisions no one else will. As I support others to take and make big and bold decisions in their lives, I hear a lot of ‘I want to be more decisive’ or ‘I just can’t seem to make the big decision and it’s holding me back’. Four years ago, I gave up a senior government role to pursue my aspirations as the MD of my own consultancy coaching practice. It was a big decision I worked up to after taking a series of small decisions. I had to back myself and make decisions others didn’t support. When you take real ownership of your life you become less bothered with seeking the approval of others. How do you make decisions? When making big decisions it’s worth remembering that sometimes it’s better to actually delay it (making a choice) until you’ve made the decision (doing your research and giving it the due consideration). But sometimes you just have to get on with it make a decision, review results then make another decision. (‘Better Decisions’ Chris Grant). Make the decision! One of the big failings in leadership is when decisions are not taken. Even if you make the wrong decision by taking a decision early enough you usually have enough time to correct the decision. When my brother (in pic) and a mentee recently asked for my advice on making a decision I love asking the killer questions and witnessing the ‘A ha…’ moments of clarity as they emerge. #MooreofYouTips: Back yourself 100% and take the decision, own the consequences and stop seeking validation.
In my work I love getting feedback so I know if I’ve done a good job but mostly because I always want to improve my performance for the next time. My sporting mindset is always looking for the extra something for future success. Finding ways to be confident enough to own your success can at times be tricky and especially when wider social societal conditioning can result in some of us feeling as if we have to play down our achievements out of fear of being deemed ‘too much’ or some kind of ‘show off’. I come across this a lot in my coaching work. I was in the not wanting to be perceived ‘as too much’ camp for a long time but with age and experience this has changed. Taking control of my narrative and owning and standing in the light of my success as Nelson Mandela tells us ‘As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same’ (based on Marianne Williamson original quote) has been an important part of truly owning my success. For me I now see sharing my success as a responsibility. When I won The 2016 Precious award of ‘Outstanding Woman in Sport’ I was astounded at how many women in my network were so proud and happy for me, one of them shared with me how they felt as if they had won. The inspirational effect and power your visible success can have on others can never be underestimated. Recently I’ve received lots of positive feedback for my work and I have had to resist the fact that a part of me wants to be dismissive jumping to what I could’ve done to improve as opposed to just revelling and standing in the light and joy of achievement. So I’ve decided to stand still and own it and writing this post is a part of that. How often are you truly and deeply owning your success?
What do you stand for? Our values describe what is most important to us and what we stand for. Naming your values can help you make tough decisions and keep you grounded in your integrity. My question to you and myself is – How do we really live into our core values? Having clarity about your values can make life easier especially when your values are not upheld whether that’s in a work meeting or in communication with a friend. When our values align with others, we can find joy and transformation. Some of my core values include justice, courage, and integrity. In my career I’ve been in environments that have refused to validate and acknowledge my contribution because I’ve stood firm in holding and articulating my values. It was a lonely experience, and my values became my anchor and so I held on as tightly as I could as these felt like the only true things. I wasn’t going to wait for permission to lead and it was my values that provided me with the inner strength to understand this. I learnt that I had to lead from the very position I was in regardless of my then current status or perceived lack of authority held by others. Leadership can take place upwards, sideways and in all kinds of ways. I used my values like they were my own superpowers by walking my talk. When you live out values, you’re demonstrating the best kind of authentic and conscious leadership for yourself and others. What are your top three core values and how do you enact them in your life? #MooreTips: Get clear on your core values, live them out and lead with your values from where you are.
What do you see?
I recently had minor eye surgery. It was tough (I do have a low pain threshold) having two needles stuck into your eye ironically reminded me to see myself more clearly. The whole experience showed me how I continue to play into my default ‘Be strong’ default mode I’ve developed over a lifetime. I was calm and confident prior to the procedure but failed to grasp some of the realities of the situation. I was too focused on appearing strong and even in the midst of the treatment I was telling the doctor I could cope and refusing my sister’s support because I thought I could handle it. Thankfully my twin sis can read through my words and quickly appeared and I’m grateful as she endured me squeezing her hand with a fearsome grip she recounted past times of resilience providing me with evidence that I’ve endured painful times before. The whole experience got me reflecting on how many other times I’ve defaulted to my ‘Be strong’ mode in my professional and personal life. In this particular case I thought I was protecting myself but in reality, I was making it harder for myself. The irony of this is not is lost on me as somebody in my work as a coach mentor who does a lot of rescuing and when I need rescuing, I don’t recognise it for myself even in extreme circumstances of pain. The problem with playing into this kind of role is the assumption that others then develop of you. There in is the rub especially if you’re from a marginalized identity. I thought about whether or not I should share this experience but think it might help at least one person to reflect on the stories and labels they might be projecting on themselves that may not be helping them. Are you in this crew?#MooreTips: Owning my vulnerabilities, asking for helping and continuing to increase my self-awareness are lifelong lessons which I was painfully reminded of from this whole experience.
The Power of One
A single person with a clarity of conscience can create big change in the world. When you use the power of your voice and express your vision with precision and transparency to challenge the status quo you can inspire and create change in all kinds of ways. From Malala’s education campaigning to the sports activism of Colin Kaepernick, the world is full of those that embrace this approach. The key is not to underestimate opportunities YOU have (even if they are small), but to train your “courage for challenging convention” so this muscle becomes stronger. This comes from not waiting for someone else to speak/act first but by using your courage and agency to advocate for a new and better way. And from feeling the fear and choosing to forge ahead anyway by applying sustained focus and determination to find your own way to challenge the status quo. This reminds me of the African proverb – ‘Small Axe’ popularized by the great Bob Marley in his 1973 song of the same name: “If you are the big tree, we are the small axe.” Meaning that even the mighty can be brought down by small and sustained action. Where can you apply the Small Axe philosophy in your life? Is it finding the courage to have that tricky conversation or prioritising your self-care as an act of resistance in the pursuit of equality? Find your voice however quiet it is, use it, own it and share it with the world. #MooreTips: Find your voice, train your courage and use your agency. Pic of me doing all three co-curating a sports conference in 2015 at the University of Texas.
Do you sit in the front row or are you a backseat observer? What do you do when opportunity present themselves? Do you choose to sit at the back of the room and let life happen to you or do you march to the front and take up your space ready for the opportunity? If you choose to sit at the back too many times you may miss opportunities. We do this because of fear, and a lack of confidence which can lead to feelings of missing out be it the job promotion, a media opportunity or going on that hot date! Increasing self-confidence in those moments is about taking action, despite your fear, it’s about playing out the worst-case scenario and deciding if you can live with the consequences. The moore you back yourself to take up your space the more your confidence increases. Sometimes opportunities come along that challenge your resilience and sometimes you have to pass on the opportunity. I know this from personal experience as I’ve done this and being intentional about this is a powerful choice. If you’re waiting for somebody to open that door it may never happen so you have to make a conscious choice to back yourself so you can find and walk through your own doors of opportunity. One time I arrived at an event and there was one chair left on the backrow. I carried the chair to the front of the room and placed it at the end of the front row and sat down. Opportunities arose from that tiny action. What are you doing to create your opportunities? Wherever you’re sitting, own it and make it work for you. I love this from Sahil Lavingia ‘Don’t think you deserve the job? Apply for it anyways. Don’t think your article is good enough? Publish it anyways. Don’t think they’ll reply to your email? Send it anyways. Don’t self-reject’ #MooreTips: Confidence is about taking action whilst feeling fear, reframe fear by deciding what consequences you can handle and take up your rightful space.