Can ‘Tough’ Feedback Make You ‘Tougher’?

Lizzie Velasquez started her talk by saying that she was called the ‘ugliest woman in the world’. She also said that someone wrote an online comment about her asking her to ‘Do the world a favour and put a gun to her head’. Imagine what it must have felt like to be Lizzie at that very moment.

She then said something that revealed the strength of her character. She said that she chose to take those negative comments and let them fuel her rather than dishearten her. She chose to define herself the way she wanted to be, and not by the perception of others. Hers is a truly powerful story.

So, what lessons can we take away from her life experience. I think the power of choice is one of the greatest gifts that a lot of us have today. The power to choose our response to a situation. The power to choose how we want to ‘define’ ourselves. The power to choose who we want to be.

When I first failed in making a presentation in front of a group, I also had negative thoughts. I had people smile at my misfortune. For a while, I defined myself by my negativity and said that “I am not going to do this again”.

Fortunately, something in me ‘clicked’ and I chose to overcome this challenge. I took my fear of public speaking and used it to drive me, to change the way I made presentations. I consciously put myself in positions where I would need to present in front of an audience. I wanted to turn this ‘tough’ feedback into fuel for positivity.

It helped me overcome my fears and I ended up making a career out of it.

The questions I would like you to reflect on as readers is ‘Do I want to be ‘tough’ on myself?’ ‘Do I want to seek criticial feedback?’ ‘Do I want to turn the criticism into a driving force that will fuel my growth?’

Criticism is simply a matter of perception. Although, Lizzie was called ‘ugly’ she embraced the beauty that was inside her. Today, we see the beauty that she embodies and the strength of her will, because that is how she chooses to see herself and, as a result that is what we see too.

“What the caterpillar calls the end, the rest of the world calls a butterfly” – Lao Tzu, a key wisdom that MMM Training Solutions uses in leadership training.

Shifting Limiting Mindsets – A Leadership Essential

Shifting Limiting Mindsets – A Leadership Essential

“If you don’t like something change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.”  – Mary Engelbreit

At the age of 26 I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, a debilitating and progressive neurological disorder. By age 42 I had to use a wheelchair. The first few years of my life in a wheelchair were an absolute misery. I felt less than other people; I felt that I could not compete in the real world; I felt that my life had come to an end. I was bitter, angry and resentful. I was exhausted and sick.There was nothing that could help me to see the brighter side of life. I saw the wheelchair as a curse.

One significant day in my life, I was having a conversation with my father. I cried to him about the way my life had changed and wept about my stagnancy. My father was a quiet man of very few words. He did not have many motivational conversations with people as he always saw facts and not possibilities. But on this day he saw the possibility that changed my life; he said, “If President Roosevelt could rule America for 12 years in a wheelchair, what is stopping you?” I am not sure that it was earth shattering when he said it but as the days went by it permeated every cell in my being and I went from being in bed for 22 hours in a day to where I am today – traveling the world by myself in a wheelchair doing the work I love. I am an Executive Coach and a Leadership Trainer. I started MMM Training Solutions from my bed 8 years ago and today we have an enviable client list.

The wheelchair I once saw as a curse I now started to see as a blessing. Nothing had changed except my thinking. I moved from a Victim Mindset to a Creator Mindset.

There are two primary mindsets that we can all identify with – the first one is the Victim Mindset where a person with this mindset constantly feels victimized by his circumstances, his work pressures, his boss, his family – just about everyone and everything in his life. The victim mentality sucks the life out of innovative energy and has an excuse for every situation. Victims are addicted to complaining. They spread negative energy and want others to take on the same victim mentality that they are attached to.

The second one is the Creator Mindset where the mind is constantly looking for possibilities and has a single-minded devotion, diligence and dedication to what it wants to achieve.  Such people are energized by challenges as they welcome the learning that they get from it.

The fundamental difference between these two types of mindsets is on where the person places their attention & focus:

  • For victims the focus is on what they don’t want. People who see themselves as victims feel victimized by everything – the economy, the pollution, lack of time, an illness in the family, a bad childhood…the list just goes on and on and on. Such people rarely rise to new heights in their organization. Most successful leaders have looked into the mirror, recognized a victim mindset, taken steps to shift theirs to a creator mindset and have gone on reach dizzying heights in their personal and professional lives.
  • Creators place their focus on what they do want. They ask the questions – “What outcome do I want? How do I get there?” Their goals, targets and purposes are crystal clear. They do not leave this to memory but they write it in significant places, they talk to significant people about it and plan their life around it. This helps them to push through all the vicissitudes of life with their eye on the goal. This is the only mindset of leaders.

 “Limitations can only be true as long as we believe them. Believe in yourself instead. Amazing things will happen.” Doe Zantamata

Follow your heart – Courageous Leadership

On December 1, 1955, when a White person got into the bus, Rosa Parks, a 42 year old Black woman refused to give up her seat at the front of the bus and move to the back. Today the action seems simple but not in 1955, when black people were treated like slaves and second class citizens by the white people. This action created a major uproar and Rosa Parks was put in jail overnight. When in jail, she got up to get herself a glass of water and she was informed by the jail warden that the water fountain was only for white people. This was the straw that broke Rosa Parks’ back. She decided that she would do what it took, even at the risk of losing her own life, to attain liberty for Black people from this oppressive situation. She joined forces with Martin Luther King and was one of the key people responsible for the Civil Rights Movement which released the Black people to a life of freedom.

Now what would prompt a woman who was a seamstress in a local department store to take a brave stance of this magnitude? I think that she had a clear vision for success that was propelled by her passion. “A great leader’s courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, not position.” John Maxwell quotes.

What Rosa Parks did was not an act that was planned with a specific personal objective. In fact, what she did was spontaneous, triggered by her quest for equality and her rejection of racial discrimination. The loss of a job or even the loss of her life didn’t deter her from continuing her quest for equality. Leadership takes courage – courage to step out of one’s comfort zone and explore unknown territory. Rosa Parks did just that.

Are you willing to constantly challenge yourself to go beyond what you think you are capable of?

Follow your dreams!

Leadership is About Effective Handling of Change

Continuity gives us roots; change gives us branches, letting us stretch and grow and reach new heights. ~Pauline R. Kezer

Change is an inevitable part of life. But it is not easy to either change or to deal with change. There are two important factors for effective change: First, our perception of the situation and second, our attitude to embrace rather than resist the change. In short, change should first happen inside each one of us.

Let me narrate an interesting story…

It was Pete Gray’s dream to play baseball in the Yankee Stadium one day. At the age of twelve he was an excellent right-handed pony baseball player and represented his school in the game. And then one fateful day his dreams came crashing down…….

While doing chores on the family’s Pennsylvania farm, Pete slipped and fell off his father’s pickup truck. This completely crushed his right arm without which it was virtually impossible to play baseball. Anyone else would have given up their dreams but not young Pete!

The Adidas ad says, “Impossible is Nothing” – a slogan that Pete entirely embraced. He taught himself to bat, bowl and field with his left hand. His speed, strong throwing arm, and excellent athletic ability allowed Pete to perform this miracle quickly enough to be a solid, dependable outfielder.

Against all odds, by the 1944 season, the one-armed outfielder had a batting score of 333, stole 63 bases, and won the League’s Most Valuable Player award. Baseball fans were astounded!!!

One year later, in 1945, the one-armed outfielder, Pete, achieved his boyhood dream when his team, the Browns, played against the Yankees. The Browns defeated the Yankees, and Pete played a major role in his team’s victory.

As Robert E. Quinn rightly said, “One key to successful leadership is continuous personal change. Personal change is a reflection of our inner growth and empowerment.”

Perhaps that is why Gandhiji said, “Be the change you want to see.”