Marshall Goldsmith is one of the most influential leadership trainers in the country. I have taken his course and am a certified leadership counselor through his organization. I based my book Top Down Leadership for Women Lawyers on much of what I had learned from Marshall.
Below are excerpts from one of his recent blogs on his website. The gist of it is that what you say about yourself through your behaviors and your speech determines whether you receive positive or negative recognition and how successful you will be.
Here is a summary of what Marshall has to say:
My mission is simple. I want to help successful people achieve positive, lasting change in behavior; for themselves, their people, and their teams. I want to help you make your life a little better.
Start by refusing to define yourself as a jerk. Here’s how it happens.
We all have that relative who is always late. She comes in and says, “Oh I am so sorry, I am always late.” Or, we hear another relative who always makes embarrassing gaffes. He excuses himself saying, “I always say the wrong thing.”
In reality, these people who “admit” their mistakes are setting themselves up for a self-fulfilling prophecy. In fact, they are giving themselves permission to always say or do the wrong thing.
The fact is that what we say about ourselves, both positive and negative, defines who we are.
How about the boss who, on the positive side, says things like… “I am usually able to figure these things out,” or “I am dedicated to outworking the competition.”
On the negative side, the boss may say things like…”I am a bad listener” or “I am not detail oriented.”
These little sayings add up to your definition of who you are. They are a group of behaviors that you define as “me.” The more we talk, the more we define our unalterable essence.
Well. Let me alter your perspective.
If we buy into our behavior definition of “me,” which most humans do, we can learn to excuse almost any annoying action by saying, “That’s just the way I am!”
As you read this column, think about your own behavior. How many times does your “need to be me” get in the way of building positive relationships with the important people in your life? How many times have you rationalized inappropriate behavior by saying, “That’s just the way I am!”?
There comes a moment for all of us when change becomes possible, when we realize that stern allegiance to our chosen behavior is pointless vanity. We realize that we are hurting our chances for success.
Shedding the “excessive need to be me” is a defining moment. It’s an interesting equation: less me + more them = more success as a leader.
Keep this in mind the next time you find yourself resisting change because you are clinging to a false, and/or probably pointless, notion of “me.” Free yourself from those behaviors to reach your full potential.