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Dec 2, 201310:45 AMOpen Mic

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5 leadership secrets you can’t ignore

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I talk about 20 core leadership secrets in my executive coaching, speaking, and writing. But if someone asked me to name the ones that can make the most immediate impact, I would pick the practices I rely on for countering setbacks.

All of us have had (and will continue to have) some professional setbacks — prospects breaking off at the last moment after a seemingly agreeable interaction, clients refusing to renew, etc. In both our personal and professional lives, we frequently face setbacks as we strive to achieve our transformational goals.

How does an effective leader respond to setbacks? While I can’t say that I am totally immune to the vagaries of rejection and setbacks, here are five simple and quick daily practices I use that have helped me and can help you as well:

1. Budget discrete time for disappointment. While I believe in positive psychology, I don’t really believe in ignoring reality. I acknowledge the sinking feeling I get in my stomach when negative events occur! I know that it will make me feel discouraged and disappointed. What I have taught (and am constantly teaching) myself is to put a discrete timeline in my mind and tell myself that I will stop ruminating over the event after that arbitrary limit. Where you set that limit is up to you. The sooner the better, obviously. But you’ll get better at it as you practice this behavior.

2. Go back to your personal mission statement. The personal mission statement is one of my centering tools, and I like to go back to it when I encounter setbacks. Do the “whys” still hold true? Am I doing what I’m doing for the right reasons? Do they align with my personal and professional themes for the year/future? This exercise serves to firm up my spine and point me back in the direction I should head. Do you have a personal mission statement?

3. Rapidly accelerate. I shift up my “MPH” — “magnificent performance horsepower” — to a different gear and focus intensely on my activity plans. I have found that nothing accelerates outcomes better than positive action. The time after a setback is the second-best time to accelerate (the best being when you succeed), so focus on action more than ever before. It is quite common to have doubts, of course, especially after a setback, which is why it is important to have a framework for action. I prefer to practice a weekly leadership ritual that gives me a discrete foundation for action. What about you?


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