3 Things I Had To Learn To Be A Better Leader

  1. Life IS Fair!   People have said to me,  “ I can’t believe this happened to you, life just isn’t fair sometimes.”  Guess what?  Life is always fair, I have so many blessings and a great life. I could believe it happened to me. Why not me, bad stuff and good stuff happens to all of us, the trajectory of your life just depends on what you look at; the good things or the bad stuff.

I had spent so much time in “venting” so many times with friends complaining about life, our husbands, what was wrong with our businesses, how hard life was and I always focused on what I needed to improve. What was wrong with my husband & my marriage, Then I had this stretch of time when I literally could not remember a single thing that I would change about him after he was gone.  All I could see was his greatness and the things I would miss for the rest of my life.  I vowed at that moment to never again focus on the “what was wrong”.  I would only focus on what in my life I would miss if it were gone.  I would spend every day walking in the light of gratitude.  This whole idea is the first step in an exceptional life.  

The point is you see what you look at.  We get to choose what we see in our lives, we can choose to focus on what we would miss if we didn’t have it, couldn’t do it, etc. or we could just see all the hassles, all the people who aren’t doing it the way we want to do it.

Wallace Wattles who wrote The Science of Getting Rich said in that book, “You cannot exercise much power without gratitude because it is gratitude that keeps you connected to your power.”   I’ll buy that.  When I am grateful and focusing on the positive in my life I feel so powerful.  If I have been given, created, and been responsible for maintaining all of this, I must be pretty full darn powerful.

I certainly can trip up here, we all can.  I have days were I have a pity party and I literally have to employ the pennies in my pocket game to feel grateful.  I start the day with 10 pennies in my left pocket and every time I feel grateful for something or am counting a blessing I move a penny to my right pocket.  By the end of day all 10 have to be in my right pocket. Sometimes it is simply being glad I didn’t fall when I tripped over the curb to get my brain to start noticing the positive.  I start everyday by thinking about what is good in my life.  Before I even get out of bed I set the tone for seeing what I would miss.  Then I end each day with a gratitude journal, just a quick note to fall asleep remembering the greatness that came out of today. 

  1. Be Strong like Clay not strong like a Rock.  This is the difference between being hard and impenetrable vs. vulnerable – being authentic, transparent, & sharing weakness is actually true strength.  

I had to be strong – I over-functioned my butt off. I tackled that everything like I was executing an event.   If I started to feel some grief, anger, guilt or sadness – I thought of something else I needed to do or check off.  I refused to think about it, just think about something happy.  Be happy and keep on truckin’.  If I stopped. Felt the grief, I might fall down crying and they may have to scrape me up off the floor and put me in the mental ward because I might not be able to stop crying and get back up.   I had to be strong because my kids couldn’t end up orphans.  Then my therapist said, “Define strength”.  I said strength is a mountain it is like rock.  She asked, “what happens to a mountain if it is broken?”  I had the aha at that moment.  If I thought of myself as a rock and I broke and fell apart I could never be a mountain again, I would never be strong again.  My counselor said, how could you redefine strength.  I stated, “I want to be strong like clay.  I want to be able to break into tiny pieces smoosh into a puddle and when I want to get up again, I will just reshape myself”.  

Think of some modern examples where we have seen people being vulnerable and are seen as heroes and respected for sharing in a vulnerable authentic way’  Like Ellen Degeneres coming out publicly so she could be herself and ended up being a champion of a cause and living a life as a role model.  Her vulnerability was a risk, but we all see it as strength.  Oprah Winfrey sharing her story of childhood sexual abusive changed the conversation forever and allowed so many others to come out of their own shame to heal.  Brene Brown says, “Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen”.  Marcus Lemonis from The Profit,  the guy that is a business genius and goes into small businesses as the fixer. He says, “The truth in life is connecting to people through vulnerability.  Life is not and business is not – just about business, it’s really about people.  It’s about establishing relationships in a vulnerable way.”

Now, my modo is if it scares me I need to run to it as hard and fast as I can.  If it feels hard or scary it is the path I am destined to work towards. If I fail,  I try to do it quickly so I can pick up the fallen pieces to remold myself.  Sometimes I am scared to be myself or share how embarrassing it is that I feel jealous or scared or whatever, but every time I do I make a connection, solve a problem, or gain a friend.

  1. Map of Me –  Changing furniture in a new house, changing jobs, careers, going on vacation are all exciting right?  But can be a bit disorienting and we wouldn’t do these things without making a bit of a plan.  For vacation we have to decide, where we are , how we are going to get there, and what we will do when we get there.  To furnish a new home we take measurements, choose a theme or color.  To change jobs we must weigh the schedule, pay, benefits, etc.  Yet we tend do most of life and the decisions we make by going through the motions, not with any real intention or purpose.  We just make decisions from one of two lanes.  The first from limiting beliefs, control, fear or ego, what we should do because it is expected of us.  Or the other lane from our place of power, of knowing our strengths, our unique gifts, our vision and mission.  Where are you making your decisions from?   For me, I have defined what it looks like when I am in a place of limiting beliefs, or in fear, etc.  and I do not do anything important, I chill and only work on getting myself out of that lane.

 So to create a map of myself took 3 years.  I want to save you all some serious time, therapy bills, etc.  

Basically I encourage you to start by taking some assessments.  I encourage DiSC which you can purchase in te store on my website www.dawnabbott.com.  Also take and read about; Enneagram, Strengthfinders, Myers Briggs, and APEX.  We all have individual strengths, ways we process information, how we prioritize our energy, etc.   It is my opinion that when we know these things about ourselves we can change the way we live on this planet and how to leverage who we are for the very highest and best use of who we are.  

What I learned is how I process info, why I get up each day, how I prioritize my energy and focus.  I learned my strengths.  I decided to focus my energy and make all decisions through this map.  Asking myself questions like, “does this align with my values, will this move my vision forward, does this allow me to use my strengths?  It became clear that my weaknesses were unimportant when I focused on what I was good at.  I stopped running away from and started running towards.  I was self-conscious in an industry full of outgoing party loving extroverts, I was a shy introvert that hated networking.  I beat myself up and tried to fix my flaw.  I took courses, read books, practiced small talk, etc.  When I learned my strengths, confidence wasn’t a problem when I was using learner and relator.  I now choose to seek out people in a room and learn all I can about them and relate on a deeper level as soon as I can,  I work on having 1-2 meaningful interactions that fill me up versus making sure I make small talk and exchange business cards with a minimum of 20 people.  Neither strategy is right or wrong, but I run towards how I can use my strengths now that I know what they are rather than focusing on what I am not good at which doesn’t serve my purpose on this planet.

Have you seen the movie about how Women describe themselves vs how others describe them to a police sketch artist that draws both versions.  Google “Dove real beauty sketches” It is a very poignant example of how hard on ourselves we are.  It is my opinion when you get to know yourself you can love yourself.  Loving yourself is the very best way to live an exceptional life with purpose and passion.