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Owning Your Power From the Inside Out

*Originally Posted on Women's Insurance Network*

There are a million different pieces of advice for women in our industry. We hear things like - dress to impress, come early and stay late, be first to a meeting - the list goes on and on. I find that the best advice should guide you to be introspective and evaluate growth from the inside out. Here are a few pieces of advice that have really made an impact on me, personally and professionally.

Double Down on You

It is so easy to get bogged down with all the things we have to do. And often, that means putting ourselves last. This is a critical misstep. Taking time to invest in your personal growth and development has to be a priority. Ask yourself, how do I want to grow for the next 90 days? Look for opportunities to take live or online classes or attend webinars that expand your knowledge. Go to lunch and learns, sign up for a class at your local college or university. Go after opportunities to dive deep into your passions. The second we stop learning is the second we start becoming complacent. I love to learn new things, whether it’s learning a new organization trick, studying up on new legislation affecting our industry, or expanding my knowledge on WWII with a great book. Investing in your knowledge will help you with your future. Don’t let the chaos of everyday life stop you from investing in your personal growth.

Take it On

In order to grow, you have to be coachable. One quality I really look for in people I work with is the ability to take feedback and grow from it. When people give you feedback, don’t be defensive or be offended. Instead, take it on. Try it out to see if any part of what they are saying might fit. Are they giving you a clue as to some insight that if you were to be open to it, you might be able to transform? Consider that even if you don’t necessarily agree with all of it, there may still be something to gleam from listening without judgment. The second we start to get defensive is when we start to lose credibility. It’s all about the way we react to things. Whether the advice is pertinent or not, always try to learn something from it. It is okay to be uncomfortable with this practice at first, but rest assured, it will get easier.

Put Your Ears On

My PawPaw used to tell me to “put my ears on” when he wanted me to pay attention to something he wanted to tell me. The biggest difference I have seen with authentic and successful leadership is the ability to listen….really listen. Listen for the gold, listen for the conflicts, listen without being in your head, listen from a place of nothing. By becoming a good listener, we have a better perspective on the people around us. Listening helps to build better relationships and enhances your communication skills. Sometimes we need to read between the lines of what people are telling us, and being a careful listener will help you do that.

Zoom In

We deal with so many people throughout the day. Colleagues, family, friends, clients, and strangers. How often do we just observe what is happening around us? When you zoom in to what is happening around you, you can start to see communication and behavior through a whole new lens. You may see things that words can’t explain - contradictions, confirmations, non-verbal communications. This means that you have to step away from your phone, your ipad, your computer, social media, and really take in your surroundings. By observing, you might discover how the people you want to meet behave. What do you like? Dislike? Pay attention to things like body language, appearance, and mood. When you make an effort to be in observation mode, you make intentional decisions about how you interact and connect with others. This will take some practice, but well worth it to develop this incredibly powerful skill.

Follow the Golden Rule

Don’t forget to bring compassion to your interactions with others. Brene’ Brown, Ph.D., L.M.S.W, in her book Rising Strong, suggest that people may be doing the best they can. You never know what people are going through, so be willing to not expect perfection. Including with yourself. Give people the chance to make a mistake, and approach these situations with thoughtfulness and grace. Follow the Golden Rule with the people in your unto others as you would have done unto you. Connecting with people in your life in this way, creates a bond of common humanity and kindness. If you want to transcend your relationships with other, practice compassion and gratitude.

When taking in any kind of advice, it’s important to figure out how to make it work for you personally. Everyone is different, so be introspective, and remember the difference is found in who you are being, not in what you do or have. As Jim Carrey says, “The effect you have on others is the most valuable currency you have.”

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