November 16, 2012 00:00
By Jean-Francois Cousin
Have you found your life-purpose yet (after reading my previous column on Wednesday)? Here I assume so, and, anyway, "You have the freedom to pull-out of yourself that superstar which you were born to be," as Lady Gaga said! Now, which attitude and mindse
Attitude-wise, you must stay focused and embrace discipline, effort, accountability and perseverance. Luckily a clear sense of purpose provides you with the necessary inner-strength, as long as you take good care of your health.
Mindset-wise, fear of failure and lack of genuine self-esteem can hinder or stop your progress. Here are a few ideas to help avoid those traps.
On the way towards your purpose, you will meet many more difficulties than people who stay in their comfort zone. For starters, you will face doubt or disapproval from friends and colleagues who discourage you with their comments (“you’re crazy; this isn’t safe; it won’t work; those who tried before failed”) or indirectly. As an illustration, from one of my career-development workshops, a brave manager dared to share his career-aspiration to become a “technical director”; his peers immediately giggled sarcastically, just as kids do when hoping to discourage one of their peers from standing taller.
Beyond negative social pressure, you will also meet real challenges and risks. To overcome them, remember John F Kennedy’s words: “The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word ‘crisis’. One brush stroke stands for danger, the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger, but recognise the opportunity.”
Indeed, you will need to cultivate that mindset of tirelessly looking for opportunities through difficulties. To nurture it, a favourite practice amongst high-achievers is to reflect for a few minutes every morning. They remember their past successes with gratitude, focus on how to embrace positively the challenges of the new day, and gather affectionate thoughts about themselves. For, in the words of Siddhartha Gautama, “You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”
That leads us to the other critical component of your mindset for success: truly believing in yourself and your unique greatness. Genuine self-esteem is very rare, as most of us remain wounded by negative comments we received, earlier in our lives, from our parents, teachers or people we respected.
To increase true self-esteem, you first must fully accept who you are, with your strengths and your weaknesses, your positive side and your dark side, your successes and your failures. Because “wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are”, as Marilyn Monroe aptly said. Worst of all, wanting to be “Mr or Mrs Perfect” is delusional, and fools only ourselves.
Do you remember listening to inspiring leaders? Noticing how authentic they are, how readily they talk about their flaws and many failures? And surely they have failed more than the average man in the street, hence they learned more and excelled more.
By the way, my own way to identify high-potential employees in a group, within 10 seconds, is simply to ask, “Who has made many mistakes in their career so far?” Those who raise their hands almost immediately will be my pick of most promising talent.
Fully accepting who you are, and tirelessly looking for opportunities through difficulties are two most critical components of your mindset for success, as they will channel your energy and unique greatness into achieving your purpose. The choice is always yours.
Jean-Francois Cousin is a Global Executive Coach (www.1-2-win.net) and former managing director of a Fortune-500 company in Thailand.