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9 Steps to Improve Your Self-Trust Levels

In my post last week, I talked about how one of the hardest skills to manage as a leader is our ability to trust ourselves.

Self-trust is foundational to our ability to lead.  And it impacts how we lead our teams, the performance of our direct reports,  how other leaders view us and how we cope with change and pressure.

3-Types-of-Forces-that-Impact-Trust (2)

When we don't trust ourselves, our confidence in our capabilities plummets and our feelings that we have a positive future ahead.  

For many of us in Australia, we have been thrown back into lockdown and things feel really uncertain again.  It's at these times that self-trust issues crop up.

Key to self-trust is our ability to improve our self-awareness levels.  What triggers us, how we like to work and self-management.

Managing your energy is key to improving self-trust.  You can't working on trusting yourself, until you feel good energetically.  

I know that before the lockdown in June, I was on top of the world.  I could feel a wonderful future ahead of me and then all of sudden all of these amazing opportunities got cancelled.  It was like a repeat of March 2020.  My national tour was postponed (again!).  Other speaking engagements have been moved into 2022 and what looked like a fully booked July and August, suddenly looked very quiet indeed.

So I have had to work hard on myself again, to steady the ship, so to speak.  I did get a bit wobbly and go off-course.  And the tipping point that I needed to regroup was when I didn't have the energy to deal with my kid's issues.  But now I am mostly smooth sailing (although, kids at home cause quite a few bumps and project managing a home build).  I just know I will be sailing for quite some time before I reach the shore.  And I'm fine with that (because I now have some time to finish my book and work online with clients).

It's important in the work that I do that I bring my full self to my work.  My goal is to inspire people and teach people leadership techniques to improve workplaces.  And I believe I am here to change the world.  It's a big lofty goal.  To stay upbeat, I have a routine that I do every day to lift my energy.  Rituals are great for our wellbeing and help us create stability in our lives. Cherry pick what works for you and design your own morning routine.  

1. Exercise -   As soon as I get up, I dressed into my sports gear and start with a sun salute yoga to warm up.  Normally, I would head off on a run, but literally since the first lockdown last year I injured myself by tripping over a huge gum nut (I've done this twice, almost at the same location, a year apart).  So now I'm doing yoga, strengthening, high impact and Just Dance.  Whatever I feel like that burns calories.  Youtube is my best friend.  But do what lifts you - go for a walk, hug a tree, pat your furry friend or grab a take away coffee.

2. Meditate - This is what saves me from going into full hopeless mode.  I've been doing this regularly for 15 years.  I like to lock myself away, play some relaxing music and meditate.  I don't just meditate to calm my mind.  I do something more powerful, but not often talked about.  I go deep to connect with myself for guidance.  The insights help guide my day.  And it can be as simple as asking "What do I need to know?"  And listening and feeling for an answer.  Sometimes I get a response, sometimes not.  I don't care.  I just create the space to listen and hold no judgement.  Interestingly, when we learn to trust our gut feelings, it really does help us build our self-trust muscle.

3. Gratitude journal - Another useful self-reflection technique is writing down what I'm thankful for.  I write three responses to the questions "What would make today great?" and "What am I grateful for?  Copying what Tim Ferriss calls morning pages.  I also like to end my day with evening pages.  Same thing, but the twist is "3 amazing things that happened today," "How could have I made today better" and "Three people to send love to."  I prescribe this technique to most of my coachees to help them when they doubt themselves.  While it is better to write these things down, feel free to set up an online spreadsheet that you can use anywhere.  And this is a great thing to refer back to years later.  I started doing this when my teenagers where babies.  What I was thankful for then was very different to now!

4. Music - Listening to uplifting music is key.  It boosts our happiness levels.  You can do this in a way that suits you.  It could be a high energy song that inspires you.  I know some people who like to play Good Morning by Max Frost as they get dressed.  I had a go of singing "Oh, what a wonderful morning" in a funny voice each day to help my teenager's moods, but it wasn't our sort of genre.  Play anything that makes you want to sing and dance.  My go-to is Jungle.  Try sitting still for Truth - I bet you can't.  My kids and I play that really loudly when I am able to drive them to school.  And dancing in the car at traffic lights is so much fun.

5. Uplifting reading - This isn't a technique I use so much as a routine, but I always have a book on the go, that I can lose myself in.  But so many amazing people I know read for 15-30 minutes first thing in the morning.  It could be a book you really love, poetry, the Bible or Harvard Business Review.  Whatever teaches you something new or expands your perspective.  Another alternative (which I'm more likely to do daily) is to listen to a podcast.  My go-to is Tim Ferriss's podcast.

Additional Energy Lifters

It's not always enough to have a morning or evening routine to lift you up.  Sometimes we get really stuck and need help.  These are what I turn to, when I'm not myself.

6. Massage - I always find that when I'm really stressed, my neck tends to seize up.  Getting a massage is an act of kindness and self-love.  Not always possible in lockdown, but this is where a loved one can help.  Another alternative is a hot bath with epsom salts.

7. Talk to someone - When my mind is all abuzz and I can't work out what to do next, then I know it's time to get help.  Psychologists can be great if you have mindset issues or trauma to deal with.  Coaches are also good, if you want more specific career help.  Even a wise friend that you can call to talk through your stuff is beneficial.  Partners are okay, but sometimes another perspective is more helpful. 

8. Energy work - I have worked with a lot of psychologists and it's not easy to find the right one.  And while I do recommend them, I do find their processes slow and laborious.  I don't have time for that.  It was okay in my twenties to talk about myself ad nauseam, but I need something more direct.  That's why I work with an energy healer who gets to the root of the issue really quickly.  It's been life-changing for me.  And that is now who I go to, when I feel low, confused and despondent.  But of course, this is not for everyone.  Again, it takes a while to find the right one, but a good one is literally worth their weight in gold.

9. Take a break - Having regular breaks during your work day is important.  Sitting down for too long isn't good for your body.  Taking a walk at lunchtime for a minimum of fifteen minutes is all it takes to reduce stress hormones.  Of course, if you're really feeling down and you can do this, take time off.  And really switch off.  Even spending a day watching funny movies is incredibly good for our well-being.

Okay, so that is a list of things that you can to do boost your mood.  Use them to create your own routine.  When we are feeling low, it's easy to mindlessly fall into bad habits that make us feel good - over-indulging in food, alcohol, reading negative news, scrolling through mindless social media or other addictive behaviours.  They're not going to help and will only make things worse.

Your goal here is to feel more at peace with yourself and your life.  And be kind to yourself.

Then, once you have your mood sorted, you can work on techniques to improve your leadership and self-trust in your abilities.  Launching straight into improving your leadership capabilities is a waste of time, until you're in the right frame of mind.

We will cover that next week.  But for now, your job is to get your mood in order.


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