Is your first day at work — after a long break — the beginning of a new era?
You’re rested and ready to get cracking. You’re committed to be as positive as you can.
1 week later. The holiday “feel-good effect” feels like a distant memory.
Sound familiar? Want to know how you can hang onto the post-vacation energy boost?
Easy: use better mind space and higher motivation to build up the right habits. A routine that will support sharp focus or higher self-mastery. The practice that will boost your self-leadership for the next few months to come.
Here are 10 mental shifts to boost your inner strength.
1. Pick your battles
Think back to a moment before a long break. How many times in a single day did you have to shift to troubleshooting mode?
When your weeks are packed with crisis-mode work, you end up working with emotions more than reflection. You can’t find your way to motivation and get easily confused.
Over time, reaction becomes the norm.
When you react, you use the first set of thoughts made available to you. Bad news, they come from your reptilian brain, not the logic part of your brain. Result: you get short in response, be it intellectually or emotionally.
No work is deprived of challenging moments. But can you detect when your emotions take over? Do you have a simple way to reset your emotional reality? Can you work with fewer options and get greater clarity? What would happen if you’d simply let go of the conversations where you don’t really need to be involved?
Leaders who pick their battles do nothing else other than setting healthy boundaries. They cultivate self-mastery. And that’s the secret sauce to boost your inner strength, lead with peace of mind and make decisions with clarity.
2. Befriend change to boost your inner strength
We all love innovation.
But fear the path to get to the realisation of a new idea.
Disruption is the norm across all industries. These days, success comes to risk takers and change-makers. Because leaders don’t “do” things. They change things.
Whatever your position or seniority, you have a role to play in the future of your company. Do you need to boost your inner strength to make those plans real? Then ask yourself this one question: what are you using change for?
Are you fixing something? How “different” is going to be “better” in the long run? What would be the final outcome? Can you move away from “what it is” and work with “what it means” for the team, yourself or the company?
3. Keep your word
I recall a team where the boss was super strict on working hours… only to have flexible ones herself. What do you think the team’s opinion was when they were asked: “Do you trust your boss?”?
It’s never easy to be 100% diligent and impeccable with your word. But you can boost your inner strength and decide to make an effort to respect the rules you want others to follow.
Responsibility comes in many forms, firstly by being responsible for your words and your course of action. It is to be a model of accountability, introduce vulnerability to your own behaviour and apply high standards to yourself first.
In short, it is to lead by example.
4. Tell the truth (even if it’s difficult)
Yes, habits of authentic leaders do work. Especially when you have to stand up for your team, your ideas, or your way of doing things.
Yet, many people freeze when speaking their truth is needed. Fear of judgement takes over. They forget that leading people is not as bad as they think and they compromise ideas, values or messages.
Authenticity is an important step to boost your inner strength. But it’s not about you making a point. It’s about you role modelling a culture where it’s OK to be transparent.
Paying lip-service to protect whoever from the horrible truth does not pay off. First, it creates an atmosphere of second-guessing and separation between leader and teams. Second, people can sense it.
If a difficult conversation needs to take place, have it. With transparency, compassion and respect.
5. Treat others with dignity and respect
Did you know that half of all American workers have been affected by workplace bullying, either as a target or a witness?
Many people think respect and dignity are about the way you convey messages or behave. And they are.
But if you really want to boost your inner strength, then it’s time to look into gratitude and recognition. Which is to respect the efforts someone put in to achieve a piece of work.
When work is publicly appreciated, team members feel valued. And motivational benefits aside, it becomes a way to enforce a culture of positive contribution. When contribution is at the heart of a team, you make happy at work possible.
6. Inspire others by challenging yourself
As innovation becomes the one currency that runs the world, anyone needs to be comfortable trying different things (and failing on most of them).
That’s one to boost your inner strength, for sure. But what if you’re not so sure about risk-taking? Here’s the trick: when you engage your rational thinking to overcome a problem, there’s less space left for your brain to send emotional information.
A good place to start is to reframe the whole thing: are you risking it all or exploring your full potential?
Then, learn to gain confidence when stepping into the unknown. How far are you willing to go? How much can you take in? You’d be surprised by the number of options you open up just by answering those two questions. Suddenly, you don’t jump in the dark. You make a choice on your next step, even if you don’t have full visibility.
How do you think successful start-up founders get sufficient inner strength to land their product on the market? They try, they learn, they do things differently. And they discover the importance of failure.
7. Limit your options
Who doesn’t want to make impactful decisions (and fast)?
If you came back from your summer break with the intention to boost your inner strength and put an end to procrastination, good news: you can take it easy. Don’t try so hard to get it right first time. It could be that several decision points will be needed to see the bigger picture. Use building blocks. Move forward with 70% of the answer and then iterate.
Albert Einstein said many times that preparation is 95% of the work. So examine the quality of preparation you put into the decisions you make. What do you need most to make your next step: to collect data points or to connect them? Which ones?
But don’t forget, too, that there’s rarely one single answer to a problem! A leader who can involve others to get a different perspective is both a master of co-creation… and a wise owl who addresses the elephant in the room way before it even showed up!
8. Follow your North Star: work with the end in mind
Do you know the story of the guy who was sweeping the floor in the White House when JFK stopped by, asking him what he was doing? The cleaner answered: I’m helping people land on the moon.
Visionary leaders have that long-term perspective that can turn them into oracles! But what if you find it hard to connect the “top of the house” message to the mundane reality of the day-to-day?
Do you remind yourself frequently of why you do what you do? What is the long-term benefit you’re looking at?
When you remember that even a small achievement contributes to a long-term strategy, you create a sense of direction. That feeling is important for motivation because it makes strategic progress meaningful. Suddenly, work does make a difference.
9. Strong body and mind
Your performance is directly linked to what’s going on in your wider life. After all, there’s only so much you can achieve by ignoring your own warnings and pushing full force anyway.
What are the healthy habits that nurture you? Do you exercise regularly (or try to?) Do you have a self-exploration routine? Do you schedule breaks to avoid cognitive overload? What about your diet? Your sleeping patterns? Your hobbies? Your social life?
If there’s only one area you can explore to boost your inner strength by improving your work-life alignment, emulate the Obama’s. They always made their family the most nourishing element in their life. So once in a while, go back home early and give your loved ones undivided attention!
10. Christmas is only 3 months away!
Sometimes, you just need to put things in perspective to boost your inner strength and get energy, motivation and grit back.
Do you have a set of things or events to look forward to? It doesn’t need to be a luxurious holiday or something way out of the ordinary. Just as little as having a coffee with a good friend, a sunset walk with the dog or taking your kids out for an ice-cream are useful anchors to remind you that outside of the stress of the daily grind, life goes on.
What are your positive habits that help you feel more confident, more resilient or support your sanity? Share your best advice in the comments!