I was having a conversation with a client who has demonstrated extraordinary learning and achievement in the years I’ve known her. A hard charger who gets things done, she has been promoted rather rapidly and has recently embarked on a learning journey to hone her management, teaming, and leadership skills.
At her boss’s encouragement, she enrolled in a short course on speaking skills. She had received feedback from her colleagues that she sometimes thought out loud a little too often, causing them to lose focus on what she was trying to communicate.
As a person who is very accustomed to her way of speaking and seeing things, this course proved a real challenge. She spent her first few hours in the course feeling completely incompetent (always good for a leader to re-experience, actually) and wishing she had never signed up.
But after that, she took stock and realized that…
(a) she really wanted to show up with more leadership presence in general, and that this course would help her with that
(b) these speaking skills were out of her areas of focus yet necessary for her continued professional development
(c) that she was, in her estimation, one of the least skilled participants in the class, and that her self judgments around that were getting in the way of her listening and learning
(d) and, finally, that she could, in fact, move past her thoughts of not being enough and just stick with it.
She met herself where she was. This required courage. This required a change in her state of mind, allowing that she couldn’t yet be perfect at speaking and focusing her verbal communication. She adjusted her expectations and turned into a real learner. Her lessons about herself from this week-long course included the self observation that she expected too much too soon – and this not only translated to herself, but also to her team.
Ah, finally! Some compassion for herself. Less judgment for not being able to be super at focusing her speaking. Internal personal encouragement (positive self-talk) to learn from where she was allowed her to really learn. Willingness to apply her learning to others who may not “get it” as quickly as she would like. Compassion for her team.
I congratulate her! She got realistic about her expectations, transformed her anxiety- energy into learning-energy. She has just added another insight and experience to use in her work as a leader.