Posts tagged with ‘how to be more confident at work’

27 jun

Is Your Company Depressed?

Kerrigan2Of all the business problems companies have, I think they become more magnified when the chief executive officers lose sight that their organization is made up of people.

In my experience, when things go wrong, the focus is primarily on finance or strategy, or both: but, not on people.

This is a big mistake—to ignore the people who will actually implement any new strategy, especially if they feel disconnected and overwhelmed by your last plan.

I’ve written about marketing from the inside out and the importance of inclusion over coercion. But, is the C-suite listening?

When your employees feel disconnected and that no one cares, they begin to shut down. Unhappy employees are unproductive employees, and this loss of interest affects every area of your business, particularly your customers.

It may be time to come down to ground level and ask:

Is my company depressed?

Here are some signs of which to be aware:

—Low energy and self esteem (Projects often seem to lose direction)

—Poor concentration (Costly errors are escalating)

—Difficulty making decisions (Deadlines are missed)

—Feelings of hopelessness (Recurring thoughts of layoffs)

—Social withdrawal (More conflict, less collaboration)

—Excessive negative thinking (Quality suffers. After all—why bother?)

—Loss of interest in jobs your employees used to enjoy (Productivity slows down or comes to a halt)

If your business is not accomplishing its goals, take a good look within, and invest some time focused on your greatest asset—people.

Copyright 2014 Michelle Kerrigan

Michelle Kerrigan is an expert in workplace confidence and performance who advises clients how to become stronger and more successful. From growing businesses and exceptional leaders to enhancing careers, Michelle develops the 3 keys you need to succeed. More at www.michellekerriganinc.com and www.workplaceconfidence.com

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Michelle Kerrigan on June 27th, 2014 in Career, General, Global/Social Change, Health | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , ,

05 nov

7 Signs You Suffer from Impostor Syndrome

Kerrigan2“You think, ‘Why would anyone want to see me again in a movie?’ And I don’t know how to act anyway, so why am I doing this?” —Meryl Streep

“I have written 11 books, but each time I think, ‘Uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.’” —Maya Angelou

“I still doubt myself every single day. What people believe is my self-confidence is actually my reaction to fear.”—Will Smith

If you’ve ever felt like this, then welcome to the club — the Impostor Syndrome Club. Obviously, you’re in good company.

The impostor syndrome is known to afflict not only the rich and famous but many successful executives as well. Primarily career-based and achievement-driven, it is a phenomenon where people are unable to own their accomplishments or value, despite evidence to the contrary.

The sufferer has a nagging fear of being found out as a fake and a phony, as if they’ve fooled everyone into believing that they are competent. Any and all success feels completely undeserved and dismissed as luck, timing, or something other than talent, intelligence, hard work, and perseverance. Many professionals have a respect that they feel is not earned, and a title that they feel they don’t live up to.

Some experts say it’s cultural; some say it’s psychological. This expert (and sufferer) says, “Who cares?” It’s painful and chronic. It’s the most awful, sinking feeling that is the height — and depth — of insecurity.

Although everyone feels doubt and anxiety at times, this syndrome causes a constant cycle of shame and embarrassment, and manifests in self-defeating thoughts that amount to one thing: “I am not worthy.”

And yes, the biggest deceiver in all of this really is us: Not in how we believe we lie to others, but in how we lie to ourselves. You see, impostors tend to mistake feelings for facts. But, feelings, unlike facts, lie—and they lie often.

Understanding this an important step in letting go. By recognizing the lies we tell ourselves and challenging them, we gain perspective, clarity, and confidence.

So–How do we lie to ourselves?

1. You tend to focus on the one thing that’s wrong rather than what’s right.

When I was hired to lead operations for a technology startup, I was brought onboard for my leadership and operations skills: my ability to structure and unify a team, point them in the right direction, and execute strategy. Yet, my focus was my abysmal lack of technology skill. I was beating myself up constantly over this one point. The fact that I had a long, successful career was lost on me. I was too busy feeling defective.

We are drawn to and focus on the negative instead of the positive. Anxiety and fear just seem to feel more natural to us, and often, become habit. Whatever we focus on only intensifies, so try focusing on the good.

2. You think it’s too easy — that anyone could do it.

I have a friend who is terrific at technology. He can write code, design websites, repair computers, and do a million other techie things. I think he’s amazing. He thinks a monkey could do it. When you know what you’re doing, it seems effortless. And it is — to you. What you may think is nothing is really something to someone else.

We don’t understand that certain things come more naturally for us, and not for others, and so we devalue our gifts. Never assume that your own unique talents are easily duplicated.

3. You think it has to be difficult to be worthwhile.

Some of us are taught this at an early age by struggling for love and attention from one or both of our parents. They withhold love until we prove ourselves worthy. Since their love and approval means everything to us, we think that we have to fight for everything worthwhile in life. In fact, sometimes, we over complicate things just to compensate for anything that should be easy. It’s exhausting, and time to stop.

Forgive your parents. They were doing their best and relying on what they were taught. Because the lies we tell ourselves are often inherited, forgive yourself, too.

4. You believe that what you’re doing is never enough.

In trying to satisfy that inner need for recognition, we set unrealistic expectations. We also compare ourselves to others and think that we have to struggle to measure up. This paradigm means that we can only feel worthy when we are achieving, as that’s what it takes to get positive attention.

In the Harvard Business Review article, “How to Keep A-Players Productive,” Steven Berglas discusses the “extraordinarily punishing superegos” of over achievers such as Winston Churchill, who “voluntarily push themselves to extremes.” Churchill was enormously self-critical, reviewing everything in his head that he failed at, a ritual he learned at a young age from his abusive father.

Often, our self-critical, punishing voice is not our own, but one we’ve heard, loved and trusted more than our own selves.

We forget that no one is all achieving, in all possible ways, all the time.

5. You need the secondary gains, because you get something out of staying this way.

Often, we stay in the impostor state for a reason — even if we’re unaware of it. Sometimes, it pushes us to do our best work. In fact, I would hazard to guess that it’s the motivation that drives Maya Angelou each time she sits down to write a book. We become our own competition, always playing against ourselves.

I tended to prepare myself for failure, so it wouldn’t hurt as much if it actually happened. After the traumatic experience of getting laid off from a job I had and loved for years, I would protect myself with this psychological safety net.

6. You’re not in the moment because you’re too busy feeling and not doing.

When we allow our thoughts to wander, we can often over-think, over-analyze and feel lost. It is then that we see only the emotional and not the practical, and our overly-conscious selves can throw us off — and possibly out — of our game. We’re so focused on the fear that we lose the moment, and that’s where we really need to be.

Sports psychologist Harvey Dorfman helped baseball legends address fear by being and doing more in the present and talking and thinking less about the past or future. His mantra was “see the ball, hit the ball.”

If we allow ourselves to be too self-conscious, we’re too busy feeling instead of doing. We get ahead of ourselves with too much anticipatory anxiety and miss the moment. For impostor syndrome, doing is the best antidote. When we’re in the doing, we have no time to criticize ourselves.

7. You don’t have perspective, and need to take a step back.

Perspective matters. It’s like a Monet painting—up close, it seems like a bunch of wild brush strokes that don’t seem to make sense, but from a distance, their true beauty and value are revealed to us. So it can be with our own lives and careers.

We often de-value the positive impact we have on others. If it was someone else’s life, we could see it objectively. It took me a long time to see the value I brought to many companies and clients. I finally realized that if I saw someone else who had my career, I would think, “Wow, that’s terrific!” And now, I do.

Here’s the thing about impostor syndrome: We have a limited amount of time on this earth, and it’s our choice what we do with it. So, why rob yourself of happiness and fulfillment?

Whatever we focus on the most will intensify, so focus on the good. It’s what we tell ourselves that really matters, so stop lying to yourself. Challenge and change those thoughts, so you can change your life. It is a wonderful life, after all.

Copyright 2013 Michelle Kerrigan

For over three decades, Michelle Kerrigan has been helping businesses and private clients excel in the workplace and grow in the marketplace. She is an expert in developing the practical skills and confidence critical to high performance and productivity. With extensive leadership experience and practical mastery in operational excellence, Michelle is a powerful resource for navigating change, conquering fear and doubt, and solving day-to-day challenges, resulting in more effective leadership and teamwork, higher efficiency and revenue growth. In addition, Michelle writes and speaks about the roles confidence and self esteem play in achieving success, and produces a series for public TV, Workplace Confidence. More at: www.workplaceconfidence.com and www.michellekerriganinc.com

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Michelle Kerrigan on November 5th, 2013 in Career, Global/Social Change, New Directions, Personal Stories | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

06 jun

The Brilliance (and Fun) of Improv!

Kerrigan2I tried improvisational theater (improv) for the first time the other night on the upper west side of Manhattan, and I’m hooked.

At first, I felt a bit uncomfortable performing without any script or knowledge of where the story was going. But here’s the thing: No one did, and we were all in this together. You see, improv is created collaboratively, without any pre-planning.

The story just unfolds, and it’s amazing how new ideas begin to flow: the creativity, the cooperation, and the fun are exhilarating! And, it’s all wrapped around a sense of openness and saying “yes” right from the get-go and building from there.

This culture of “yes” frees you from fear and embarrassment, and too much reliance on boring, tried and true habits. The brilliance of improv is that it takes you places you never thought you’d go, and your teammates are along for the ride as you all leap into the unknown together.

Now, picture this culture of “yes” in today’s corporate life, where change is an everyday event and innovation and resilience are necessary for growth. Improvisers take risks and make mistakes, and that’s needed to go forward in new directions. Just picture replacing tension, fear and conflict with encouragement, new ideas, and high team engagement.

Improv can open doors to the unexpected, to seeing and doing things differently. It could be the breath of fresh air, fun and forward-thinking you and your organization need.

So, what are you waiting for? Jump in and say “yes”!

Copyright 2013 Michelle Kerrigan. All Rights Reserved.

Michelle Kerrigan is an expert consultant and coach who specializes in helping clients achieve workplace success by developing the practical skills they need to improve their confidence, performance and productivity. More at www.michellekerriganinc.com and www.workplaceconfidence.com.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Michelle Kerrigan on June 6th, 2013 in Career, Global/Social Change, New Directions | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , , , ,

16 may

For Women Who Want to Be Leaders: Change Begins and Ends with You

Kerrigan2Recently, I attended a symposium focused on women entrepreneurs. The big questions were: Why aren’t there more women entrepreneurs? More women CEOs? More women at the top?

Of course, the first target of discussion was men. They are the problem.

Ladies—this is wrong and you know it.

As I listened to cries of “men don’t treat us as equals in the board room”, and “they don’t take us seriously,” the first reason came to mind: it’s how we perceive ourselves that matters. Trust me, I’ve chaired enough high powered meetings where I’ve been the only woman, and, anyone who knows me knows I can hold my own. That’s because I don’t look around the room and say—“wow, these are all high-powered men.” I just see them as colleagues, teammates, equals.

We are never a minority, unless we think like one.

So, change #1: Think of yourself as an equal. Stop walking into the board room with preconceived ideas, a chip on your shoulder, or looking for differences. We are all created equal.

Now—back to the meeting….. While there was a loud cry of inequality, a female law partner, who headed the panel, told a different story.

This woman spoke of her experience as an associate moving up the ranks, always being backstabbed by other women associates. She vowed that when she made it big, she would help other women, because she knew what it felt like to be hurt. I’ve seen her in action. She kept her promise.

Moral of the story: once you storm the citadel, don’t shut the gates behind you.

Which brings me to change #2: Women need to be better team players. Maybe the guys have an advantage because they’ve played more team sports as kids. I’m not sure. I am sure that leaders need to be exemplary team players. In some of the talks I’ve given, we’ve discussed great attributes of team players, and how to assess ourselves. The top descriptions are: reliable, supportive, positive, adaptable and accessible. Does this describe you? If it doesn’t, then remember: the only person you control is you. Your thoughts. Your behavior. That’s how you become a better you, a better teammate, a better leader.

And this brings me to change #3: We need to stop trying to change, correct—or should I say, “fix”—other people. C’mon—if you have a husband, boyfriend, or significant other, you know what I’m talking about.

I was just in a creative seminar where we were broken out into groups. My group contained four men, one other woman, and me. Our task was to come up with our own book titles, and then help each other develop chapters. We were to get our creative juices flowing by collaboration and free thinking—no editing our thoughts. The guys shared ideas without any judgment. Then the other woman chimed in. Many of her ideas were great, but, she spoiled it by constantly criticizing the way I spoke. She told me not to start any of my sentences with the word “but”, and constantly interrupted my creative flow by trying to correct me. But, I wasn’t looking for her to change me. I was looking for her to help me.

You see, no matter how much we might try, the only people we can control and change are ourselves. We can’t control men, the world, injustice and bad things that happen to us. The only things we have power over are our own thoughts and actions.

Taking control of ourselves in a more supportive and less critical way gives us more confidence and self esteem. That’s what it’s really all about.

When we change ourselves for the better, and feel good about who we are, there are no barriers. Positive change begins and ends with us. And there are no ifs, ands, or buts about it!

Copyright 2013 Michelle Kerrigan. All Rights Reserved.

Michelle Kerrigan is an expert consultant and coach who specializes in helping clients achieve workplace success by developing the practical skills they need to improve their confidence, performance and productivity. More at www.michellekerriganinc.com and www.workplaceconfidence.com.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Michelle Kerrigan on May 16th, 2013 in Career, Global/Social Change | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

15 apr

Social Media vs. Social Reality: How to “Like” Your Life

Kerrigan2“I just cancelled my Facebook account—it was making me feel too depressed reading everyone else’s posts. In comparison to them, I feel like such a failure.”

I’m hearing this type of complaint more often these days. The above quote came from a young college student. She is kind, fun, top of her class, passionate about her subject—filmmaking—and has a paid internship doing what she loves. And yet, social media is making her feel inadequate. Why?

I’m not a big advocate for Facebook, but I enjoy connecting and keeping up with people I like and respect. Like most, I don’t have thousands of friends, and this should tell you something.

Actually, no one really does. Social media and social reality are two very different animals. Never forget that.

So, here are a few things I’d like to share:

Social media is the one place where you actually edit your life. Your audience gets to see what you want them to see. No one has the perfect life, and thank God for that! It keeps life interesting. Each of us has successes and failures.

Think: If all the updates you saw on Facebook were about failure—would you really want that? Now, that would be depressing! (I’m picturing all the prozac and xanax ads and continuous photos of Woody Allen running alongside my feed. Oy!)

Success is different for everyone. You define it—not some arbitrary group. For some, it’s living a healthy, long life. For others, it’s having a family or career they love, or owning beautiful (and expensive) things.

If people on Facebook are really your friends, then be happy for them. If not, then delete them. Period, amen. Remember—you get to edit your life here too.

Use social media as motivation to get what you really want. Stop wasting time browsing on Facebook with your nose pressed up against the glass. Ask your friends how they got where they are and how they can help you. Focus less on what others are doing and more on what you want.

Keep a list of what you have in your life and review it and add to it often. Be grateful. I bet there’s more on that list than you give yourself credit for.

Perhaps some friends whose lives you want may really want what you have. What’s that saying?….the grass is always greener…

Focus your efforts on defining success and pursuing it. That’s the only way you’ll get there. And, don’t stop to edit yourself. That’s the beauty of reality—it’s a roller coaster ride of twists and turns and successes and failures. So, quit stalling and get on board! That’s what life is really all about.

Now—can I get a thumbs up here, huh??


Copyright 2013 Michelle Kerrigan. All rights reserved.

For over 25 years, Michelle Kerrigan has been helping businesses and private clients achieve workplace success by developing the practical skills they need to improve their confidence. Based on her own leadership experiences, Michelle provides an invaluable road map for conquering fear and doubt, navigating change, and solving day-to-day challenges. Michelle also writes and speaks about the impact self esteem has on success, and is currently working on a series for public TV about workplace confidence. More at www.workplaceconfidence.com and www.michellekerriganinc.com.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Michelle Kerrigan on April 15th, 2013 in Career, Global/Social Change, Health | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

02 apr

Workplace Confidence: The Power of Faith in Leadership

MichelleKerriganLike many people around the globe, I watched as the new pope, Francis I, came out onto the Vatican balcony to address the world for the first time.

What struck me more than anything else was the view from the camera as it slowly panned around the faces in the crowd. I watched all those eyes and saw that look—a look I have seen many times before. I’ve seen it when presidents have addressed this nation and when great visionaries have shared their dreams.

I have also seen it on a much smaller, yet still powerful platform: at conference room tables and in corporate meetings.

The look is one of faith, and it is unmistakable. It shows a commitment of confidence that is a shared experience. There is nothing like it. Large organizations can appear more open and personal when a leader can evoke that brand of trust.

Just as the pope embodies the teachings of the church, so must a corporate leader represent the vision of a company. It’s what senior executives often can’t seem to grasp, and what is sorely missing in the workplace and marketplace today.

Faith is one of the greatest innovators because it drives us forward in spite of our fears. And, in this world of accelerating change, where nothing is certain, faith is the one thing that is absolute.

To invoke the power of faith—of trust—leaders must have a core set of values and a sense of identity that is consistent with their organizations’ brand. A leader needs to be the exemplary team player, with the same qualities expected from employees: respect, willingness, reliability, accessibility, patience, and empathy. Accordingly, customers respond favorably to such characteristics. The great thing about the shared experience of faith is that you inspire the behavior you exhibit.

While the business world has changed a great deal over the years, one thing hasn’t: employees and customers still want to have confidence that leaders will respond to their needs. That’s not fundamental in most of the corporate world today. And it needs to be.

One great example of a successful leader is Tony Hsieh. Hsieh built up an online shoe company, Zappos, based on his belief in superior customer service. His commitment was so strong, he made service the responsibility of the entire company, not just a department.

And it shows.

If you’ve ever ordered shoes from Zappos, you know what I mean. The staff is faithful to service excellence. There are no barriers—every interaction is easy. I love that they have open communication with customers by phone, with clarity, cheerfulness, no up-sell, time constraints, or scripts. Hsieh saw every contact as an investment in building lasting relationships with his customers—the same way he believed in building lasting relationships with his employees. He even wrote a New York Times bestseller, aptly entitled Delivering Happiness.

This is potent stuff. And it doesn’t stop here.

Zappos went on to earn over $1 billion in sales and made Fortune’s Top 100 Companies to Work For.

You see, the power of faith in leadership creates followers: repeat and word-of-mouth customers, as well as the retention of top-tier talent in an organization.

It even converts non-believers. Trust me—I’m one of them. I never thought I could enjoy shoe-shopping online!

Faith gives meaning to business—it’s why we sign on and stay. It has the power to ignite high performance and productivity, and is the motivational fuel that can carry companies to success.

Copyright 2013 Michelle Kerrigan. All Rights Reserved.

For over 25 years, Michelle Kerrigan has been helping businesses and private clients achieve workplace success by developing the practical skills they need to improve their confidence. Based on her own leadership experiences, Michelle provides an invaluable road map for conquering fear and doubt, navigating change, and solving day-to-day challenges, resulting in more effective leadership, increased productivity and revenue growth. Michelle also writes and speaks about achieving success, and is currently working on a series for public TV about self esteem and workplace confidence. More at www.workplaceconfidence.com and www.michellekerriganinc.com.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Michelle Kerrigan on April 2nd, 2013 in Career, Global/Social Change | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,