1 September 2020
For many people, a leader is often perceived as a person who exudes confidence, emotional intelligence, and is always in control. What most people don’t consider is that all leaders, just like you and I, are humans and face no exemptions when it comes to challenges of self-doubt and uncertainty.
Last Tuesday night, YWCA Canberra presented our She Leads workshop on mastering self-doubt in leadership presented by mindset trainer and high-performance coach, Angie Ford. On this night, participants were invited to learn about the science behind mindset and develop tools to help them counteract feelings of doubt throughout their leadership journey.
To kick us off, Angie started with an exercise to help ground ourselves in our surroundings. This activity introduced us to the idea of ‘space’, an important concept revisited throughout the workshop, to help us understand where we are and what we want to achieve at various moments in our lives.
Following this activity, Angie then proceeded to jump straight into the science behind mindset. The first item on the agenda, was the concept of neuroplasticity. “Neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain to change itself through experience and what we notice through an experience”. We were encouraged to think of the brain as a malleable tool, able to shift and change depending on how we experience an event or situation.
This set us up for the next exercise, where we were all asked to focus on the red items located around the room. This activity aimed to demonstrate the function of our reticular activating system, the part of our brain that engages with our focus. After closing our eyes, Angie then proceeded to ask us to recall everything that was green. We were completely thrown off, with many of us having difficulty recalling anything at all. This taught us about the power of our mind, and why focusing on one thing can often hinder you from seeing the bigger picture.
As the night progressed, we were then introduced to the mindset tool of, “good catch”. To open this segment, Angie showed us a photo of a dog catching a frisbee, which she described as ‘good catch’. She explained that this image acted as a metaphor for when you catch yourself thinking in a negative mindset. A perfect example Angie shared with us was the concept of imposter syndrome. “[Good catch] is a great tool to interrupt your pattern of negative thinking and allow you to make space to pivot”.
From here Angie shared with us the impacts of negative bias. “The brain is wired to focus on the negative experiences as if you are in survival mode”. She encouraged us to see mindset training as a form as self-care and to give ourselves time to acknowledge our feelings because they are valid.
Often throughout the session, Angie emphasised that she did not want to change us, but rather offer ways to help us by providing tools to reduce feelings of self-doubt. “You’re the pilot and I am the co-pilot. You are in control and I am just helping you by sharing my tools and observations”.
Angie then explained that leadership is a choice, and self-awareness is where leadership begins. “What I love about mindset training is that it focuses on decisions. For example, everyone here has made the decision to attend tonight’s workshop.”
Moving onto the next segment, Angie introduced us to the concept of the Circle of Influence. She explained that it was an extremely useful tool that helps to determine parts in your life that you can and cannot control. For example, you cannot control the weather, but you can control what you wear. You cannot control the traffic, but you can control what time you leave and what route you take.
After explaining the different tiers of the circle of influence, Angie explained that when your brain is in stress, you tend to think of things that are out of your control. “Stress responses often cause your brain to think and focus on things that you cannot control and influence.”
The idea of separating situations into parts that you can and cannot control will help you decide where you should and should not invest your time and energy. This is to raise your awareness towards the things you can influence to best suit your outcomes. “When you feel pressure, and acknowledge the things you cannot influence, you can give yourself the space to change direction and pivot”.
Another point Angie made during this discussion, was that the fact that stress can take many different forms in the body, from a physical feeling to overwhelming negative thoughts. In any moment you feel stress, it’s important to acknowledge your body’s response and to give yourself time and space to pivot and counteract these negative feelings.
“Validating your feelings creates space for realignment. Stop questioning the feeling, and instead respond in a proactive away.” To help with this, Angie taught us about the tool of physically slowing down your body. She explained that it is very hard to slow down your thinking by thinking, and that physically slowing down your body, such as breathing slowly, is a great way to reset your thoughts.
To conclude the workshop, Angie left us with one final note, which was to embrace our values. She encouraged us to seek guidance in our values and use them as a foundation for our decisions. She shared that talking about our values with ourselves and others can help pierce through feelings of doubt, as they provide a point of motivation. Even though they may not be the truth for others, they are still great guiding cues for life.
For years, Vanessa has built a well-deserved reputation for supporting hundreds of women in their leadership journey. In this workshop, Vanessa will teach you how to plan and manage difficult conversations, communicate confidently and effectively during a difficult conversation, and how to deal with your emotions.
For more information and to register, please visit our event page here.