Small steps BABY

This series of BLOG’s were designed to help you understand more about confidence, and more importantly, help you become aware of the factors and situations that influence your confidence.

Remember, the route to confidence is not a sprint. Instead, consistently take small steps to reclaim the natural confidence you were born with, and strengthen your situational confidence, and you’ll feel your MOJO rise!

You don’t have to wait for a summer day, a new client, a call from a “certain someone” or praise for a job well done. Simply visualize yourself as That Girl or That Guy. See yourself managing whatever curve balls life might throw your way. See yourself competent, capable, and confident. Feel the energy of what is now possible. When you do that, don’t be surprised if you suddenly have a lift in your spirits, a smile on your face and a bounce to your step as people see you walking down the street and say:

“I like his MOJO!”

or

“Look at her, she’s got MOJO!”


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Baby Steps Baby

As you may recall, last week, in my newsletter, I shared the five common situational confidences.

Hopefully by now, you have a better sense of what causes your confidence to go up and down like a roller coaster. You can be on the top one minute, and feel your confidence sink the next.

To stay more even-keeled, think of confidence like a bank account. You want to make regular deposits into your confidence bank, so you can stay positive when people and situations make withdrawals on your confidence.

The key to having a more sustained level of confidence is to make more deposits. The ways you can make deposits into your confidence bank account are numerous. Here are a few you might try:

  • Project a positive presence. This goes beyond good grooming (but does include good grooming). A positive presence is projected through good posture, a smiling face, and a quick and light step. If you don’t believe this, then try this experiment:
    • Walk into a convenience store with slumped shoulders, eyes diverted, feet slow. Pay attention to how people react to you – if they even react at all. You may feel that you are invisible.
    • Now walk into a convenience store with a positive presence – good posture, light step, smiling face. Hold the door for someone. Look them in the eye and say “hello”. Now, how do people respond to you?

One of the take-aways from this experiment is this: When you project a positive presence, most people respond to you in a positive way. That in turn gives your confidence a boost. When you have a bland or negative presence, most people ignore you – and that in turn diminishes your confidence.

  • Make a list of things you like about yourself. It’s okay to be a little egotistical here. Include in this list the positive things your friends and family say about you. Not only is it important to like yourself, it helps to be aware of your positive attributes. Keep the list and refer to it prior to going into situations that seem intimidating. You will be reminded that you have value!
  • Pay attention to your self-talk. Is it negative? Critical? Blaming? Hurtful? If so, switch the language to positive comments. You have wonderful qualities and you also have some “needs improvements”. Yes, you may be disorganized at times AND you also do wonderful things for other people. You are a blend of your positive traits, sprinkled in with a few areas that may “need improvement”. Seek self-acceptance, not perfection.
  • Recognize your mistakes for what they are. Most mistakes can be defined as mistakes of ambition. This means that you are trying something new, solving a problem, working too hard, or trying to do more than you are actually capable of accomplishing given your resources. You will make mistakes. And when you do, take responsibility. Raise your hand and say, “I goofed.” Then, seek a solution, learn your lesson, and move on.
  • Be supportive of others. People who are overly self-critical are usually critical of others. When you put yourself in the position of helping, not judging, you will find that you judge yourself less.

Confidence can be developed. Sure – it seems that some people were born with a leg up in life. We all know people who started life in a supportive, nurturing family that provided the opportunities for them to get ahead. But many, many successful people have had to pull themselves up by their boot straps and go it alone. They took responsibility for their lives and you can too.

Stay tuned for the final week: Is confidence a sprint or a marathon?


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My Confidence is Gone

Do you ever find yourself feeling really confident in some situations, and nervous and uncertain in others? This happens for one of two reasons:

The first reason is that our confidence is directly related to our ability to predict the outcome of a situation. In circumstances where we know what to expect, and we have had prior or similar experiences, we are naturally more confident. It’s like driving through a well-known part of town versus being in an unfamiliar city, full of road construction. On the well-traveled route, you can drive with confidence and not worry about losing your way. However, in new territory, you might find yourself anxious, hesitant, and unsure – questioning every turn especially if you lose the signal to your GPS.

In situations that are unknown, like the first day on a new job, we have to figure out how to belong to the group, learn everyone’s name, learn how to get around, and how to perform the tasks of our job. It takes time to “get our bearings”.

Familiarity breeds confidence. In new situations, or situations where you cannot predict the outcome, here are a few tips to help you feel more confident:

  1. Project as much confidence as possible. Think of the old adage, “Fake it till you make it.”
  2. Pay attention to others and adjust your behavior accordingly. For example, if the group is more subdued and formal, avoid being overly gregarious and comedic.
  3. Connect with one other person as quickly as possible to begin establishing a relationship.
  4. Give yourself positive messages, even a simple mantra that you use when you are feeling anxious or uncertain.

The second reason we feel our confidence fluctuate is related to specific situations in which we find ourselves. This is referred to as situational confidence.

Listed below are the most common types of situations where confidence – or lack of it – shows up. As you read the list, assess your confidence in each area. Prepare for the next time you find yourself in these situations and make attempts to raise your level of confidence.

  1. Social confidence – People with social confidence have the ability to interact naturally and easily with others. They have empathy for others. They are friendly and easy to talk with. They are aware of moods and feelings. People with strong social confidence are accepting of themselves and are willing to reach out to others regardless of traditional social barriers. They are comfortable with new people and new situations.People with low social confidence find themselves awkward around other people – especially strangers. In order to develop your social confidence, you might want to learn how to start a conversation, practice with a supportive friend or engage the services of a coach.
  1. Physical confidence – People with physical confidence project a commanding presence (regardless of their size). They carry themselves with more robust energy. They walk tall which often causes them to appear taller than they are. They hold their heads up and their shoulders back. They smile and make eye contact with others. They even engage in friendly conversation.People notice when physically confident people enter a room. Physically confident people garner attention without using a lot of verbal language. People with physical confidence are often seen as more gifted or skilled than others. They are usually quicker to get promotions or special attention.Pay attention to your posture. Practice walking tall with your shoulders back and your head held high. You will be surprised how people respond.
  1. Peer independence – People with peer confidence have the ability to resist peer pressure. They are often described as marching to a different drum. They are not unduly influenced by the group and remain true to their values and beliefs in spite of the group’s behavior. These people often become leaders and can struggle as followers. They will challenge the status quo. Peer independence gives you the confidence to try new things, trust your own judgment, and live with less anxiety about fitting in with a certain group.Pay attention to different situations to determine if you “go along with the crowd” more often than you like. Do you keep your opinions to yourself? Are you afraid to speak up because everyone will think you are different? And most importantly, do you fear being different?If you do, don’t worry. We all have experienced the need to fit in and belong at such a level that we give in, even when the situation does not feel congruent with our values and beliefs.

    By paying attention to these types of situations, you will be able to gauge your confidence level of peer independence. You can start small by learning to express yourself in small ways – choose the restaurant, decide not to participate in something you don’t enjoy, share your opinion without apologizing for it.
    If peer independence is a challenge for you, you may want to take some courses or work with a coach on language skills that help you assert yourself when you do not agree with others.

  1. Stage presence — If you have stage presence, you do not mind having the “spotlight” turned on you or stepping up to the role of leader. Stage presence is not about acting in a role. It is about being able to easily express opinions and thoughts in a natural, confident manner. It is the ability to speak up during meetings, stand before a group to present, and step into a leadership role when appropriate. It is not about dominating, but about articulating.It is not unusual to fear speaking up in a staff meeting, making a speech, giving a report, or even delivering a toast at a wedding. Stage fright is common to many people – none of us want to appear or feel foolish in front of others.A confident stage presence is necessary for many career advancements. It is equally important for people who are passionate about specific causes. The ability to raise money, garner attention, and persuade others can make the difference in many social causes.

    If you find that you are lacking in stage presence, there are several things you can do. First and foremost, take baby steps. The more preparation you do and the more you practice, the less likely you will feel intimidated when called on. Here are some options to consider:

  • Make a short presentation to a small group of people.
  • Force yourself to participate in group meetings.
  • Make an effort to speak to people in public that you do not know.
  • Take a course in public speaking.
  • Participate in a tele-series for presentation and speaking skills.
  • Work with a speech coach or personal development coach.
  • Join Toastmasters®.Learning to express yourself with confidence is important. When you do, you can articulate your beliefs and knowledge, influence others, and literally change the course of your life.
  1. Status confidence – If you have status confidence, you are unaffected by others’ social status. For people who have lower confidence in this area, they experience their confidence waxing and waning based on the status of the people they are around.
    Think of how tongue-tied you might feel if a celebrity or someone of importance was suddenly seated next to you. You might second guess everything about yourself from the clothes you are wearing to the words you speak.On the other hand, if you were suddenly in a room where your status was considered “superior” to those around you, you in turn might have the confidence to dominate. To make this concept even more real, think of a work situation and the organizational chart. Entry level employees typically experience less confidence in the presence of company leaders and therefore do not assert themselves. The same can be true in some families where certain members are considered “favorites” or superior to others.If you lack status confidence, you have probably been taught to “stay in your place,” or “don’t try to act above your raising.” The important thing to understand here is that we are all worthy and deserving. Learning assertiveness techniques and continuing your work on confidence development would serve you well.

Becoming aware of your confidence levels in different situations is a very positive step to developing more confidence. Changing your behavior will take practice, but remember the more you practice something, the better you will be. And when that happens, your confidence will surely grow.

Be sure to stay tuned for Part 4 of 5 next Friday.


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STOP Being Negative

By now you probably have a better sense of what causes your confidence to go up and down like a roller coaster. You can be on the top one minute, and feel your confidence sink the next.

To stay more even-keeled, think of confidence like a bank account. You want to make regular deposits into your confidence bank, so you can stay positive when people and situations make withdrawals on your confidence.

The key to having a more sustained level of confidence is to make more deposits. Here are a few ways you can make deposits into your confidence account:

  • Project a positive presence — This goes beyond good grooming (but does include good grooming). A positive presence is projected through good posture, a smiling face, and a quick and light step. If you don’t believe this, then try this experiment:
    • Walk into a convenience store with slumped shoulders, eyes diverted, feet slow. Pay attention to how people react to you – if they even react at all. You may feel that you are invisible.
    • Now walk into a convenience store with a positive presence – good posture, light step, smiling face. Hold the door for someone. Look them in the eye and say “hello”. Now, how do people respond to you?

One of the take-aways from this experiment is this: When you project a positive presence, most people respond to you in a positive way. That in turn gives your confidence a boost. When you have a bland or negative presence, most people ignore you – and that in turn diminishes your confidence.

  • Make a list of things you like about yourself. It’s okay to be a little egotistical here. Include in this list the positive things your friends and family say about you. Not only is it important to like yourself, it helps to be aware of your positive attributes. Keep the list handy and refer to it prior to going into situations that seem intimidating. You will be reminded that you have value!
  • Pay attention to your self-talk. Is it negative? Critical? Blaming? Hurtful? If so, switch the language to positive comments. You have wonderful qualities and you also have some “needs improvements”. Yes, you may be disorganized at times AND you also do wonderful things for other people. You are a blend of your positive traits, sprinkled in with a few areas that may “need improvement”. Seek self-acceptance, not perfection.
  • Recognize your mistakes for what they are. Most mistakes can be defined as mistakes of ambition. This means that you are trying something new, solving a problem, working too hard, or trying to do more than you are actually capable of accomplishing given your resources. You will make mistakes. And when you do, take responsibility. Raise your hand and say, “I goofed.” Then, seek a solution, learn your lesson, and move on.
  • Be supportive of others. People who are overly self-critical are usually critical of others. When you put yourself in the position of helping, not judging, you will find that you judge yourself less.

Confidence can be developed. Sure – it seems that some people were born with a leg up in life. We all know people who started life in supportive and nurturing families that provided opportunities for them to get ahead. But many, many successful people have had to pull themselves up by their boot straps and go it alone. They took responsibility for their lives and you can too.

Watch for next week’s newsletter as it is part 3 of this series on Confident You.


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Your Confidence is GONE

Part 1 of Part 5

Do you remember the last time you felt on top of the world? You felt invincible – ready to take on whatever life would throw your way. Perhaps it was the perfect spring day, sun shining, breeze softly blowing, and flowers bursting into bloom. Your mood matched the moment. You felt capable, positive, and alive!

Or maybe you just landed a new client, got a call from a “certain someone” or received praise for a job well done. Just thinking about those moments can cause a lift in your spirits, bring a smile to your face, and a bounce to your step.

That’s mojo! You know what it is. You’ve heard the phrases, “He’s got his mojo back.” “My mojo’s working!” “Watch out, she’s got mojo!”

And we know exactly what the feeling and words are all about. But just in case you don’t, according to the urban dictionary, mojo is a slang term used to describe self-confidence or a belief in one’s self in a situation. Mojo is also the belief in your ability to bounce back after life throws you a curve ball – and we all know that life will throw us an occasional curve ball.

This week’s BLOG is Part one of a four-part series and is designed to help you get more mojo in your life – or recapture it if yours has gone missing. We will take a look at confidence; what it is and what it isn’t. We will explore the difference between natural confidence and situational confidence, and how to gauge your confidence level and improve it. And finally, we will talk about how to make deposits in your confidence bank account.

Confidence – What Is It Really?

In 1966 a new television series aired and was an instant success. Marlo Thomas starred as Anne Marie in the weekly sitcom, That Girl. The show was historically significant because it was the first time in television that a young, single, career woman played the lead character on a television program. But, the most important thing about the show is that Anne Marie was portrayed as a confident, independent, single woman. Most females on television up to that point were dependent on a husband, boyfriend, or friends to carry the story and were secondary characters. Not That Girl. Sure, Anne Marie did have a great haircut, was physically appealing, and, of course, was a fictional television character. But what she represented was something that spoke to the hearts of a new generation. That Girl was confident. She defined her life instead of letting life define her. She liked herself and was true to herself. And she had her share of foibles, failures, and flukes. But when it was all said and done, she smiled at the world, and with flair her persona shouted, “I’m going to make it! I can count on myself. I am okay!” She had mojo! She had confidence!

Confidence is about letting go of the need to be what others want you to be and becoming who you are destined to be. Confidence is about being comfortable in our own skin. We are confident when who we are on the outside is congruent with who we are on the inside. It’s about experiencing self-worth – knowing that we are valued and valuable. Confidence is the belief that whatever comes our way, we can handle. It is like an aura that surrounds us, making us aware of what we can do and giving us faith in our ability to try.

Our inner most desire is to be accepted for who we are – to be okay. But for many of us, somewhere along the way we went from being a celebrated infant and toddler to being told what to do and who to be. Here’s a story that says it all:

Zeke was a typical 6-year-old boy — full of life, laughter, and mischief. As adults are prone to do, someone asked him one day, “Zeke, what do you want to be when you grow up.” He looked up excitedly and replied, “Zeke!”

Now fast forward several years. Someone asks him again, “Zeke, what do you want to be when you grow up.” His reply, “I guess I’ll be Zeke, that’s what people call me, anyway.”

As you take time to think about this story, you can see the profound implications. As children we lose bits and pieces of who we are, thinking that we must become the person that others want us to be.

Then we grow into the tumultuous teenage years, trying to differentiate ourselves from our parents by becoming carbon copies of our peers. And self-esteem is determined by how much we “fit in.”

We eventually outgrow that phase (hopefully) and as young adults begin to realize and appreciate our uniqueness. Yet, we continue to struggle with meeting a certain standard and measuring up to a specific image. If we are not aware, life becomes a contest of comparing and competing. We look around a room to see if we are the smartest, the healthiest, the most popular, the wealthiest, or the best dressed. The old adage, “The one with the most toys, wins!” can easily make life more about having and less about being. Self-worth is the recognition that who we are defines us – not what we have.

Stay tuned for next week to learn why your confidence goes up and down.

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Happiness Comes from Love and Gratitude

Every day, people buy too much stuff, eat too much food, and waste away their hours chasing after happiness…to no avail. They may find excitement or satiation, but TRUE HAPPINESS still eludes them.

Fortunately, happiness is really inexpensive and pretty simple to find, but that doesn’t mean that it comes easily. However, if you’re bold, and truly willing to commit to a few simple steps, happiness will be yours. Try this:

  1. Quit Complaining.

The first step to finding happiness is to stop trying to find what’s wrong with the world around you. There’s plenty to complain about, but if you focus all of your attention there, you’ll never see the good stuff.

  1. Choose to Live in Love.

Falling in love with the world (and people) around you is a sure step toward happiness…and it’s easy. Simply accept people for who they are and choose to see the good in them. Don’t expect it…CHOOSE it…then express it.

  1. Appreciate Everything.

Start expressing your gratitude every day. If you’d like, keep a gratitude journal and write down at least 3 things you’re grateful for every morning. Before long, you’ll have more things to appreciate than you can count.

Becoming happy may mean “looking silly” sometimes or changing A LOT of your current habits, but I promise you…it sure beats the alternative.

What can YOU do to create more happiness in your life TODAY?


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Happiness Is An Inside Job

No matter what happens in your life, where you go, or whom you encounter, the common denominator is always YOU.

It may seem that the outside world has a big influence on your happiness, but the fact is that there are blissful people living in abject poverty, and miserable wrecks living in penthouse apartments with all the material comforts the world can offer.

This goes to show that happiness is truly an inside job.

If you are struggling to find happiness in your life, here are three simple tips to help you shift your perspective and move toward happiness at a moment’s notice.

  1. Eliminate negative self-talk.
    Our thoughts seem to have a mind of their own, and if we are not monitoring them, they can take us down a dark and dreary path. Before we know it, we are feeling bad about ourselves and life in general. Notice what your self-talk is saying to you. Is it condemning or criticizing you? Or is it building you up and encouraging you? More often than not, it is the former. By simply catching the negative voice and re-framing it to a positive one, you can get back on track to happiness.
  1. Openly express gratitude.
    When you speak your appreciation, you not only improve your disposition, but you will improve someone else’s as well. And when you’re surrounded by people filled with gratitude, the world is a lot more fun…and it only gets better.
  1. Go to your happy place.
    Meditation and visualization have been proven over and again to stimulate the parts of the brain that govern mood and improve overall human performance. Take a mini-vacation by closing your eyes, taking several deep breaths and imagining that you’re on a sunny beach or near a mountain stream. Stay there for 2-5 minutes, then open your eyes.

There’s enough misery in the world. Do your part to tip the scales toward love, acceptance and true contentment, and you’ll be happy no matter where you are.

What will YOU do to generate happiness for yourself today?

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Your Emotional Dream Team

Emotional Intelligence is one of the most fruitful traits you can cultivate in today’s world. Thanks to the internet and the resulting global market, we have more connections than ever before, most of them digital. However, one thing we still can’t get from our all-powerful devices is human connection.

And in a world dominated by technology, a never-ending to-do list, and the convenient separation that results from abundant individual wealth, it seems that human connection is the very thing we long for and seek out above all else.

We all want to see and be seen, to be heard and understood. We long to feel our feelings and know that someone gets us. And to connect with others on a more meaningful level. This is the essence of Emotional Intelligence (EQ).

While some people certainly seem to be gifted in empathy and connection, EQ is absolutely a learnable skill. You don’t have to be born into a family of therapists to know how to read someone’s emotions and respond appropriately.

But ‘family’ does help. The number one best thing you can do to start cultivating your own ‘family’ of support is to surround yourself with emotionally intelligent people. As the old saying goes, if you’re hanging out with 4 awesome people, you’re likely to be the 5th.

Look around your communities, pick out the good listeners, and start developing relationships with them. Find the people who don’t redirect conversations when they get uncomfortable, but rather lean in and ask questions. Pursue those who are on their own quest toward personal excellence. Engage with those who are attuned to their bodies…dancers, yogis, massage therapists. And while you’re at it, you might even want to hire a good coach or therapist – emotional intelligence is their job, after all!

As you build your emotional dream team, remember to cultivate your own listening/feeling abilities so that you can more easily connect with them. Practice active listening…it’s a defining trait of people with high EQ’s. Strive towards becoming your best you. And above all, be easy with yourself in the process. You’re learning something new, and that takes patience and compassion.

Who Comes to Mind When You Think about Building
Your Emotional Dream Team?

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Learning to Live With (and Love) Yourself

Mary thinks she’d be happy if she could just change her weight, her looks and her job. Sean believes that he’s an okay person except for certain personality traits, such as anxiety, impatience and his quick temper. Yolanda’s shelves are bulging with self-improvement books; she’s read them all, and she still hates herself.

Who among us doesn’t believe that with a little tweaking, we could be just right—self-realized, self-actualized and self-helped to “just” short of perfection? But, the problem for many is that all the books, self-improvement tips and positive affirmations don’t seem to make us any happier. Worst of all, the minute we “fix” one ugly piece of ourselves, another nasty monster rears its head and starts screaming for attention.

When does self-help become self-hell? What would happen if we started realizing how wonderful we are already?

As the pioneering psychologist Carl Rogers once wrote, “The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”

“Believing that something is wrong with us is a deep and tenacious suffering,” writes Tara Brach, in her book, Radical Acceptance. “The more we anxiously tell ourselves stories about how we might fail or what is wrong with us or with others, the more we deepen the grooves—the neural pathways—that generate feelings of deficiency.” She lists common ways people try to manage this pain of inadequacy:

  • Anxiously embarking on one self-improvement project after another.
  • Holding back and playing it safe rather than risking failure.
  • Withdrawing from our experience of the present moment.
  • Keeping busy.
  • Becoming our own worst critics.
  • Focusing on other people’s faults.

“Convinced that we are not good enough, we can never relax,” Brach writes. “We stay on guard, monitoring ourselves for shortcomings. When we inevitably find them, we feel even more insecure and undeserving. We have to try even harder.”

Accepting yourself does not mean self-indulgence or being passive. Rather it means turning off the shameful, negative, self-loathing tapes within you and just relax.

The blaring voices of our culture certainly don’t help, with promises that buying something, owning something, achieving something will make us better people, that success is measured by looks, wealth or possessions. A healthier life finds deeper meaning and greater satisfaction in self-love, compassion, intuition, taking responsibility and forgiveness (particularly of oneself).

Sometimes it is our so-called faults that can actually lead us to a healthier life. Pioneering psychologist Carl Jung called it our “shadow side,” that part in all of us we are ashamed of and that we often reject. Understanding and accepting that shadow side can lead to enormous freedom and self-acceptance.

Science and research has revealed much about what we can and cannot change about ourselves, according to Martin Seligman, Ph.D., author and Director of Clinical Training in Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. “Some of what does change is under your control, and some is not,” he writes in his book, What You Can Change and What You Can’t: The Complete Guide to Self-Improvement.

Seligman lists some characteristics that are easier to change, such as everyday anxiety, specific phobias, panic, anger and certain beliefs about life. He advises people to discard the notion of changing that which hurts the most (for example, your extra weight) and instead concentrating on those parts of yourself that will respond most successfully to your efforts to change them (for example, your shyness or impatience with your spouse).

In the end, all the energy we put out to change ourselves may just take us back to where we started—to ourselves. And if we can truly accept ourselves as we are, that’s the best place to be.

Five Ways to Love Yourself

1. Stop criticizing yourself. When you criticize yourself, your changes are negative. When you approve of yourself, your changes are positive.

2. Be gentle with yourself. Praise yourself and support yourself. Have compassion for yourself.

3. Love your negatives. Acknowledge that they fulfilled a need and now you don’t need them anymore.

4. Take care of yourself. Take care of your body in ways that please you.

5. Do it now. Don’t wait until you get well, or get sick, or lose the weight or get the new job or the new relationship. Begin now. And do the best you can.

—from Heal Your Life by Louise Hay

Yellow Brick Road Coaching, LLC used under license, © 2008 Claire Communications


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Risk-Taking: The Courage to be Authentic

What could be riskier than diving out of an airplane or climbing a glacier-covered peak or accelerating a race car into a curve at the Indy 500?

For one person it might be quitting a secure, well-paying job to go back to school. For another, it could be deciding to leave a marriage after 20 years or reporting that the company they work for is endangering the environment or people’s lives.

Though it may not appear so at first glance, psychological risks that summon us to put our personal values and beliefs on the line may ultimately feel more dangerous than those of physical derring-do. Yet, these are the challenges we are asked to face time and again if we are to continue to grow as individuals. Each time we take a risk that contributes to our personal growth or enhances our self-esteem or enriches our lives, we make the choice to stretch ourselves, knowing there are no guarantees and chancing possible failure.

Growth-producing risks generally fall into three categories.

Self-Improvement Risks

These are the risks you take when you want to get ahead, learn something new or make a distant dream a reality. You take on the venture with hopes of enriching your life. Maybe you want to change careers, or take singing lessons, or learn to speak French. On one side of the risk is the person you are and, on the other, the person you want to become.

Commitment Risks

All commitment risks have emotional stakes whether you pledge yourself to a person or a relationship or to a cause, a career, or a value. According to Joseph Ilardo, author of Risk-Taking for Personal Growth, if you avoid making emotional commitments, you all but guarantee that your emotional growth will be stunted.

Self-Disclosure Risks

Communication risks fall into the category of self-disclosure. Anytime you tell someone how you really feel you’re taking the chance of self-disclosure. When you open up to others and reveal who you really are, how you feel and what you want and need, you make yourself vulnerable. It is impossible to be assertive without doing so.

All risks carry with them the possibility of failure. Often significant sacrifices must be made before any real benefits are realized. Routines may have to change; the familiar may have to be released. You may be rejected or humiliated. In the case of commitment to a value, personal safety may be in danger. Consider those who stand up for what they believe in or put their own health and well-being on the line in the name of a cause. Challenging yourself is often the key to personal growth and development.

Are you a risk-taker? Ask yourself the following questions:

• Does every decision involve endless debates with yourself?

• Do you accept less than what you should because you’re afraid to speak up?

• Do you have difficulty making emotional commitments to others?

• Do you make up excuses that stop you from taking advantage of opportunities for self-improvement?

• Does fear of disapproval keep you from doing what you’d really like to do?

A “yes” answer to these questions indicates a reluctance to take risks, which may mean you tend to play it safe and reject change.

Consider this: to fulfill your potential, to discover your real self and live an authentic life, you must take risks. And while security may appear to be the absence of change, the only genuine security lies in taking risks.

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Yellow Brick Road Coaching, LLC used under license, ©Claire Communications
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