The truth is: Belonging starts with self-acceptance.
Your level of belonging, in fact, can never be greater than your level of self-acceptance, because believing that you’re enough is what gives you the courage to be authentic, vulnerable and imperfect.
It is rare that I meet a leader that doesn’t self-identify as an achiever.
If you are reading this, I’m going to go out on a limb and make a big assumption. I assume you are an achiever. Why? Because achievers read blogs like this so you can learn, acquire new ideas, be inspired and be more than you are. Oops, I said it. That is one of the downsides of being an achiever… we are constantly in the mode of looking for the next thing to conquer. Ooh… it feels so good to conquer something.
Always seeking new challenges isn’t necessarily a bad thing – achievers do amazing things that impact people and organizations in positive ways. Yet, we can get so focused on getting to the end goal, and then the next end goal, that we often have trouble being satisfied in the moment.
When achievers lead others, we often set the pace of our team. And, this high-drive, work hard, never-say-no way of working can lead to burnout.
Here are some ideas I have heard that really resonate with me and help me to put a check on my own “achieverness” (yes, I did make up that word):
1. Enjoy the process.
Life and work are on-going journeys. Leading is never done. The work never stops coming. There is always a new goal to chase. So, slow down and be present and “satisfied” with each moment of the journey. Personally, at the end of each day I take a few minutes to consciously focus on the small things that happened for which I am grateful.
As a leader, celebrate and focus on the effort, not the end result. Notice the little things your team does to contribute, challenge, and support the work you all do. Reward the task of learning and developing. Relish the process of working together on the day to day work.
2. Give yourself a break.
It’s okay not to be amazing at everything. That would be boring. Some of the joy in life comes from overcoming, learning, expanding. Remember the joy you feel when conquering something challenging after lots of effort and multiple attempts. Oops – I’m back to focusing on the end results again… go back and reread #1.
I am surrounded by some brilliant and talented people. Sometimes I catch myself focusing on something they are skilled at that I am not. When I do this, I shift my thinking to be grateful that I can learn from them or lean on them for input and help – and vice versa.
As a leader, model for your team that you are learning and growing in your leadership skills as well. Encourage sharing best practices and lesson learned. Ask your team for help on solving tough issues and collaborate with them rather than always being the one with the answers and the plan. Ask for feedback about your leadership and your meetings – what is working and what would make them better?
3. Failure is just learning in disguise.
So, take some risks, smart ones, calculated ones… but by all means, take some BIG risks! And then celebrate your courage and jump for joy at what you learn. Appreciate your “failures” because you learn a lot more from them than from your easy successes. There is no true failure as long as you learn. You are on a journey, remember?
On the occasions where I have not been my best (and sometimes I don’t realize this until after the fact), I think about what I can do differently next time. If the situation involves someone else, I reach out to express what I learned and, if appropriate, ask to re-do or correct the situation.
As a leader, give your reports stretch opportunities so they can grow. Try new things, evaluate, adjust and retry. Encourage innovation and be careful not to punish others when things don’t work. Instead, turn “failure” into a learning moment for everyone.
4. You are enough, just as you are, in this very moment.
Stop. Reread that. Take it easy on yourself. Be your own best friend. (But not in a creepy, narcissistic way.)
I really have to work on this one. I have to catch myself when I get self-critical and give myself some grace.
As a leader, if you are consciously doing your best to lead your team, acknowledge that you are human. Your intentions are good, you are open to learn and adjust. This is enough.
5. Keep on achieving.
The world needs your great work and ideas – just balance it more with being satisfied in each moment of the process. You will be happier, have lower blood pressure and maybe even achieve more.
Surround yourself with people who will remind you when they notice you are out of balance. Sometimes they will see this before you realize it yourself. Seek out mentors, coaches and colleagues who will encourage you and support you. It’s up to you to build your support system.
My own coach said to me recently as I jumped from telling her about an accomplishment into the next thing I wanted to do, “Stop for a second. Let’s just celebrate what you just shared for a moment.” I needed that – she was right. And, it felt good to just savor the moment with someone else.
Questions to Ponder:
If you are still reading, I’m hoping that some of this resonates with you. Ask yourself the following questions to think about how you can regulate your own “achieverness”:
- What can you put in place to remind yourself to enjoy the journey?
- What is one thing you think you are not good at or you don’t like about yourself? How can you reframe that perspective to give yourself a break?
- When is the last time you “failed” and what did you learn? How will that learning be of value to you going forward?
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