Gratitude Builds Courage to Confidently Turn Scary Times into Leadership Development Adventures
I often use positive “C” words in leadership development when coaching executive leaders. For example, in Millennials Matter: Proven Strategies for Building Your Next-Gen Leader, I have 3 sections:
- Confidence, and
For this SISU Courage series, I’m using the same structure.
Yet, “C” words aren’t always positive!
About a year ago, I cleared out some boxes in my office. I came across an old card with a Dale Carnegie quote, “Don’t criticize, condemn, complain.”
When I started working at Xerox Corporation, I taped this (now yellowed) 3×5 card to my desk. I’m grateful that I saved it! Now, it’s next to my printer where I see it every day. It’s there to remind me that some “C” words are cancerous, and have the potential of stealing my spiritual/motivational, relational, physical, mental, and financial energy
When our daughter, Danae, and her friends decide to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, she researches what might sabotage their journey. She learns that preparing a mountaineering backpack is critically important. Without enough food, warm clothing, and the required equipment, you are doomed.
Preparing your mental backpack is equally important. Just like mountaineers with a negative mindset are likely to fail, this criticize-condemn-complain mindset causes major problems.
That is why Dale Carnegie’s quote remains relevant, doesn’t it? Becoming part of the Criticize, Condemn, and Complain Culture sabotages your leadership impact.
That leads us to the second leadership development strategy that we learn from Danae’s research…
A negative mindset is a confidence crusher for mountaineers and leaders alike. An unhealthy Criticize, Condemn, and Complain Culture sabotages your ability to achieve your goals and dreams. It saps vital spiritual, motivational, and emotional energy. A healthy Leadership Mindset is needed to confront this cancer.
Conversely, a Criticism-Condemn-Complain mindset is a confidence crusher that sabotages momentum…
- Criticism saps your strength. You begin doubting that you have the leadership skills to climb your mountains – even when you’ve been successful before.
- Condemnation creates confusion about your vision, values, and virtues.
- Complaining crush your creativity. You lack the creativity and growth mindset to see new opportunities.
What experiences have you had that impacted your leadership confidence?
Gratitude is a Leadership Strategy to Build Courageous Confidence
Gratitude creates a healthy Leadership Mindset. Gratitude releases positive brain juices (OK, they are neurotransmitters).
These help you be creative, innovative, and open to new possibilities. You have fresh insights that turn the challenges you face into leadership adventures. Your words and your thoughts are powerful. You get to choose the impact – positive or negative. The result of positive gratitude? Courage and confidence.
Leadership gurus across the ages spotlight gratitude, a timeless principle.
It’s a Leadership Mindset that only grows more valuable during difficult times.
Check out our video: How to Build Your Leadership Influence on Character Confidence and Connection:
Danae, Kilimanjaro, and a Healthy Leadership Mindset
We’ve been following Danae and her team as they climb to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. Check the full story here. They reach the final stretch – the most grueling part of their adventure. Fatigue and a lack of oxygen take their toll. Danae’s confidence is shaking. Negative thinking infiltrates her thoughts…
Here’s how she recounts those final hours…
“The sun is rising. The scenery has changed to a steep grey wall. We’re walking at a ridiculously slow pace. I’m exhausted and I’m crying. And now my mind is playing tricks on me. Something inside me starts to falter. I’m beginning to wonder if I’m able to make it to the top.”
These climbers never would summit Kilimanjaro if they gave in to a Criticism-Condemn-Complain. Danae continues…
“Our guide is gently pulling on my hand, not allowing me to stop. Through my tears, I ask, ‘How much further?’
He shrugs his shoulders, and simply says, ‘You will make it to the top.’
He’s not answering my question. He just says you will make it! I’m so grateful to hear those words. I’ve been crying for the last three hours, and yet, I know I’m going to make it. I know I will not give up. Those words of encouragement are the boost I needed.”
Danae confronts her negative thoughts. Then, she turns them into a driving force that keeps her moving forward.
She’s grateful for the encouraging words from her guide. These words ignite her Courageous Sisu Confidence.
What might you do to nurture a courageously confident mindset?
3 Leadership Development Steps to Activate Gratitude and Courageous Confidence
As a successful leader, what might you do to deal with the negative impact of the Criticism-Condemn-Complain Culture?
A Leadership Mindset that focuses on gratitude builds your courageous confidence and…
- Spurs leadership growth opportunities to crush criticism.
- Strengthens your vision, values, and virtues to cancel condemnation.
- Sparks innovation and creativity to cure complaining.
Reflect on Dale Carnegie’s advice and consider these 3 leadership development steps.
Step #1: Gratitude Spurs Leadership Development Opportunities to Crush Criticism
Criticism can be a real confidence crusher!
As a writer, I often choose to place a manuscript or article in the hands of an editor. I await their critique of my work. There are two types of critics:
- external critics – the experts working for publishing companies.
- internal critics – family and friends – who share “helpful remarks” (that I often don’t find beneficial at all).
Ah…there’s a third critic, the worst kind:
- intrapersonal critics – that self-destruct trickster, talking in my own mind
Sometimes, the criticism pushes me into my Low Confidence Zone. I experience self-doubt and uncertainty. I call these critics my “Confidence Crushers.”
Regardless of the critic, I have a choice…I can react by feeling less confident about my work. Or, I can be grateful for the insightful comments and advice. My leadership development message is strengthened. The second option is the key to a healthy Leadership Mindset.
You also encounter criticism, don’t you?
In Danae’s story, it’s that third critic, self-doubt, that’s the troublemaker. It causes her to question her ability to push through the fatigue and lack of oxygen. But then, her guide’s encouragement ignites an immense feeling of gratitude. It is the spark she needs to regain her courageous confidence.
Top Tip: A special brand of confidence fuels your ability to push through. A courageous, Sisu Confidence! Are you familiar with SISU? If not, read more about this powerful word in my article, How Might Grit and Sisu Courage Improve Your Leadership Strategy?
Step #2: Gratitude Strengthens your Vision, Values, and Virtues to Cancel Condemnation
In the Introduction to this series, I discuss some of the challenges that we experience in this Era of Exponential Progress and Digital Disruption. It’s all nerve-racking – from the unpredictable financial markets and global conflict to the unorthodox things being taught to my grandchildren in school. Sometimes, it shakes my confidence. Dare you stand up to a Cancel Culture that attacks your vision, values, and virtues? Or should you compromise and choose the go-along-get-along strategy?
It seems like we’re living in a Criticism-Condemn-Complain Culture on steroids!
Many leaders tell me that they feel like they’ve been slammed to their knees, the wind has been knocked out of them, and they’ve been shaken to their core.
If you’re feeling discouraged, this is a great time to double-check and recalibrate your personal Vision, Values, and Virtues Statements. Reflect on your past and current achievements with gratitude. Use those insights as stepping stones for building your preferred future. For a fresh perspective, get your VVV ebook here.
Top Tip: Commit to building a healthy Leadership Mindset by refining and expanding your Vision, Values, and Virtues. Knowing who you are and what you are called to do, strengthens your courageous, confident mindset.
Step #3: Gratitude Sparks Innovation and Creativity to Cure Complaining
Danae and her friends have many reasons to complain during those final hours….
“You’re walking too fast (or too slow), the guide chose the wrong route…”
Yet, they know complaining is destructive. A negative mindset stalls their climbing ability, stealing their confidence to reach the summit.
Instead, they choose gratefulness. They are grateful for the encouragement from an experienced guide, and coach. Plus, they encourage each other. It’s a healthy Leadership Mindset of gratitude that gets them to the top!
Maybe you also have a lengthy list of valid reasons to complain about what’s going on in the world!
Personal confession: I sometimes catch myself complaining and grumbling. And, if I don’t catch myself, I have family members who love to hold me accountable, i.e. our three Millennial children. They want to make certain that Mom is taking her own medicine! When they confront me, I’m grateful for their ability to spot that it’s time for me to take a strong dose of my favorite antidote – gratefulness.
Top Tip: Complaining steals your confidence, creativity, and courage. You get stuck in fear. I discuss this alarming cultural trend in How do You Confront Fear to Strengthen Your Leadership Development? Read it for insights on how to turn fear into courageous confidence.
Gratitude Sparks the Courage to Lead with Confidence
As a leader, you are called to make a positive difference in a chaotic world. Here are some important questions to consider…
- How are “C” words impacting your leadership journey? Do they strengthen your ability to be a positive change agent? Or, are there negative repercussions?
- How are you embracing a positive Leadership Mindset?
- How are you harnessing the power of gratitude to build Courageous Confidence?
When Danae shares her adventure of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, she says… “I have always known that one of the most important attributes that distinguish those who make it to the top of this mountain, is not physical ability, but the mindset of believing that you will make it.”
Hearing those words from my daughter almost gets me jumping up and down with joy! We all need this courageously confident mindset for our leadership mountains.
And that’s why Dale Carnegie’s quote, “Don’t criticize, condemn, or complain,” still rings true today.
For mountaineers, their mountaineering backpack is critically important. What’s in your leadership backpack? Is it filled with negativity that weighs you down and steals your leadership oxygen? Or is it filled with gratitude that fuels your ability to make a positive difference?
Courageous Confidence – Counteract the Criticize, Condemn, and Complain Culture as you expand your leadership influence. Discover how a healthy Leadership Mindset of gratitude spurs both courage and confidence.
When cleaning out some Xerox files, I found that I had laminated this quote by Daniel H. Burnham. It remains an appropriate challenge for each of us in this Era of Exponential Progress:
“Make no little plans, they have no magic to stir men’s blood, and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we were gone will be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistency. Remember, too, that our children and grandchildren are going to do things that would stagger our imagination. Let your watchword be order and let your beacon be beauty.”
And, I made this Zig Ziglar quote into a poster. It is true for all leadership progress.
“When you do the things you have to do when you have to do them, the day will come when you can do the things you want to do when you want to do them.”
Your leadership matters, NOW, more than ever.
Additional Leadership Development Resources: One of the biggest saboteurs of courageous confidence, is the enemy within. That’s why I have dedicated several chapters in Millennials Matter to these important areas. These chapters are powerful resources. They can boost your leadership mindset to build courageous Sisu confidence.
- Chapter 10, Break the Chains of Negative Thinking
- Chapter 19, Develop a Disciplined Action Mindset
- Chapter 20, Use the Catalytic Question
Transforming negative mindsets into positive action expands leadership influence. In fact, one of the chapters in Millennials Matter: Proven Strategies for Building Your Next-Gen Leaders, tackles this topic – Break the Chains of Negative Thinking.
This article was featured in my 2nd March Newsletter. Here’s a link to the newsletter – there are more articles and videos you may find useful. Danita Bye March 2023 Newsletter
You can read all the articles in the Sisu Courage Series by clicking on the links below:
Leadership Development Lesson: Embrace a grateful mindset to build a Courageous Confidence Mindset. Then you will be strong enough to climb any leadership mountain.
Leadership Development Question: How do you deal with the confidence crushers in your life?