I recently delivered a keynote speech titled “It’s Time to Take Command!” Take Command is all about discovering our inner strength, building lasting relationships, and living the life we desire. In essence, it’s about being intentional!
In preparation for this talk, I reflected on the impact that COVID-19 has had on both me and my businesses. I sold a business in South Africa to acquire one in North Carolina. When I arrived to meet the team and engage with clients in March 2020, meetings were canceled, scheduled training was called off, and the world went into lockdown. I found myself stranded in the USA for 57 days, far away from my family who were also living under lockdown conditions. When I finally returned to South Africa, it took another six months before I could re-enter the USA to manage the business and support my team on the ground.
During this challenging period, I grappled with negative thoughts:
• How could I make this situation work?
• Was recovery even possible?
• Was this decision a mistake?
These negative thoughts weighed heavily on me, especially when I learned that I didn’t qualify for financial aid due to various factors. I felt overwhelmed. As a glass is half-full-kinda -guy, I struggled to see the light if I am honest. Why did I allow this? What would happen if I chose the right thoughts? This is what Take Command is about – Overcoming doubt to lead with confidence by choosing the right thoughts.
Here are some ideas we could implement:
When unwanted thoughts come into our minds, they can quickly feed our insecurities the result of which creates imposter syndrome, cause resentments or highlights failures from our past which compounds doubt! It is not that we will get negative thoughts, the reality is, when they arise, are we able to pay attention to them, notice that they are limiting thoughts and practice choosing the right thoughts!
1. Pay attention to your Thoughts:
Benjamin Disraeli is quoted as saying that we need to nurture our minds with positive thoughts as we can only get as high as we think. Since we are in consistent communication with ourselves, and we are forever speaking to ourselves we need to praise and reinforce what is good and recognize what is bad. We need to realize that not everything we think is true and not everything we feel is real.
2. Notice Your Limiting Thoughts:
Recognize the thought for what it is. We intuitively recognize an undermining thought and apply Fight, Flight, or Feign Death to the thought. We may deal with it by ignoring it, avoid it by watching Tik Tok or indulging in Facebook reels or we over analyze and go down a rabbit hole with the assumption that this undermining thought is true. What we need to do is recognize the thought and objectively analyze it.
3. Practice Choosing the Right Thoughts:
When we notice the limiting thought and we have analyzed it objectively, use it as an early warning system. Much like the service light on a motor vehicle. The vehicles light indicates something has come up and needs attention soon and if correctly dealt with will extend the life of the vehicle. In much the same way, the limiting thought is a warming light which requires us to recognize it for what is it and then take the required action to remedy it.
4. Reframe the Your Thoughts:
Is this limiting thought my truth, or am I over-reacting? If I am overreacting because is not the truth then I can affirm the positive and reframe the thought. If it is the truth, I can recognize positive steps to take and learn from the limiting belief with an attitude affirms I am not a prisoner of the past, it was just a lesson, not a life sentence.
5. Practice Affirmations:
Nelson Mandela in his inaugural speech shared an extract of a poem by Marriam Williamson which is an affirmation I like to use especially as imposter syndrome tries to rear its ugly head: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Remind yourself of your strengths by speaking yourself into greatness. Self-confidence comes from self-awareness and we all what makes us great and what our key strengths are. Reaffirm these with affirmation. An example – I build great rapport, people are drawn to my enthusiasm and we use that space and reaffirm it with affirmations.