Stop Negativity. Gain Momentum. Use Leadership Skills.
Millennials Matter – Proven Strategies for Building Your Next-Gen Leader, Chapter 10 (updated): Break the Chains of Negative Thinking.
“Throw in the towel, Danita. Give up.”
On December 3 (many years ago), I felt devastated. The four big deals I knew would close… didn’t close. All four prospects informed me of their no-go decision on the same day. How could I have been so wrong about all four deals?
I told myself, Go home, Danita, and find something you’re remotely competent at. Have you ever felt this way?
Like everything you thought was the right thing to do is no longer getting you the same results? Total failure.
Our Christmas break ski vacation sounded like a great place to forget about it and start the year fresh. I couldn’t wait to catch up on some reading. You’d think I would have picked a more uplifting title than John Eldredge’s Waking the Dead. But the subtitle, The Glory of a Heart Fully Alive, showed promise. Yes, that’s what I needed.
I read the first few sentences of the book and realized I was about to have my internal world exposed. Eldredge suggested the following. Become more aware of your thoughts. Take responsibility for your emotional and spiritual well-being.
This came at a good time for me since I was still recuperating from my devastating losses. I started to make a list of all the unsupportive things I believed about myself:
I’m a rotten salesperson (Who gets four no’s in one day?!)
Then, I let it get personal:
I’m too short
I’m not smart
I’m not funny
Before long, I had seven pages filled with life-sucking lies. My strongholds of pride and fear were giving way to low self-esteem. I measured myself against others. And let people’s outward appearance and position influence me.
What’s been your leadership strategy, and how did your journey go so far? How have you dealt with your internal critic?
Use your Leadership Influence to turn around Millennials’ Negative Self-Talk
I allowed discouraging thoughts into my belief system. Then others, including Millennials, must struggle with unsupportive thoughts as well. Millennials are often labeled as narcissistic know-it-alls. In my experience, they often suffer from non-supportive thinking and low self-esteem. They constantly measure themselves against others. Mentors must not be fooled by what is just a form of overcompensating.
Beware. People who struggle the most might have the best-looking Instagram account. Our social-media-saturated culture measures “success” by the number of likes, comments, or shares. A low performance fuels their negative self-talk. It’s counterproductive, and leads to increased stress levels and possibly depression.
A 2012 study by the American College Counseling Association reported a 16 percent increase in mental-health visits since 2000 and a significant increase in crisis response over the past five years. According to recent studies, 44 percent of college students experienced symptoms of depression. Suicide is one of the leading causes of death among college students.
Experienced leaders should be attentive to negative self-talk. Those they coach may look and sound confident. But the reality is that we are all human and have areas where we can become healthier in our thinking. There is never a fast track to leadership development. It’s a long-term growth and maturity process.
Help Your Next Gen Leader to Break the Chains
Unsupportive thoughts hide in our subconscious and wield power over our everyday lives.
As a coach, I help leaders turn negative self-talk into supportive self-talk. We often work on improving sales capacity and deal with issues such as:
- Fighting the need for approval
- Minimizing low self-esteem
- Minimizing the discomfort of talking about money
- Learning to control emotions in the moment
- Developing a closing instinct
- Conquering call reluctance
These issues have a dramatic impact on the performance of your Next Gen leader. We help them strengthen their overall life skills. We encourage them to develop healthy thinking habits.
It can be difficult for any of us, including the person we are coaching, to identify negative beliefs. I use a validated survey process to help me quickly identify hidden mindset weaknesses in salespeople, sales teams, and leaders. During our feedback, I will invite the leader to complete the questions below.
It gives added insight into what is going on beneath the surface. I tell them to answer with their first instinct. This might be a useful exercise for you to do with your mentee. You might both be surprised by your own answers!
I would be more effective if I wasn’t so _________.
I would achieve more if I didn’t have to deal with _____________.
I’m afraid to ____________.
I’m not inspired enough to _______________.
I can’t __________________.
People are often shocked by their instinctive responses. If they do not like what they see, invite them to walk through this three-step process to help them install truth and take control of their thoughts. It will help them achieve their goals and dreams.
Recognize the destructive impact of negative thinking patterns on Leadership Performance
Invite them to write down some of the consequences of their destructive thoughts. Seeing the consequences of these untruths on paper in black and white can be shocking. Work through this together. When a thought is deeply engrained into our psyche, it can be difficult to see how destructive it is. We need it out in the open to analyze. Talk about the adverse effects of this damaging belief on their identity, relationships, influence, and life goals.
Use your Leadership Skills to Break the lies
Consider asking your young leader to rip their unsupportive thoughts apart, literally. Rip the paper into pieces! It is a physical reminder that the negative cycle of these thoughts has been broken! They no longer have control.
Complete this robust process by having them write several truth statements about themselves. These will serve to counteract the critical lies that they shredded to pieces. Use these guidelines:
- Be sure these affirmations are short, so they are easier to remember
- Personalize each statement by starting with “I” or “My”
- Write them all in the present tense
Encourage Next Gen leaders to keep and review their truth affirmations regularly. Lies are deeply engrained in our neural pathways. It takes deliberate, conscious, and persistent repetition to rewire our thinking.
As an essential part of my Leadership Strategy, I have my truth statement written out where I can see them. I also recorded them on my phone in voice memos. So, whether I am exercising, driving, or waiting at the doctor’s office, I can review them. Others I work with have the affirmations on sticky notes at home, on their bathroom mirror, or in their computer desk. Many would prefer to have it on their phone or perhaps even as a tattoo. Diligence is needed to wipe out those old negative thoughts that try to sneak back into our thought patterns.
Our thoughts drive our behavior, and our behavior dictates our accomplishments. Here’s what’s most amazing. We have the power to decide that unsupportive thoughts are not allowed to control our lives. Encourage future leaders to break the power of these negative thinking patterns today. Then they will know that one lost deal (or four) does not mean they have to feel devastated. They don’t need to throw in the towel or give up on their dreams.
Read other articles in the Sisu Courage Series:
Leadership Lesson: Watch your thoughts and be aware of negative self-talk.