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Article: Monday Must: Ask An Expert: Laurie Armstrong

Monday Must: Ask An Expert: Laurie Armstrong

Laurie Armstrong is an executive coach who works with individuals and teams to mentor them in leadership within all aspects of life. This week Laurie answered some important questions about uncertainties in your career/personal life, relationship building, developing future plans, trusting the process and effective forms of communication. We hope her answers help guide you as much as they’ve resonated with us already!

How do you change your goals and priorities when so many things that affect your ability to meet them are constantly changing and outside of your control?

As the adage goes, we cannot always control what happens around us, but we can control how we respond. In our ever-changing VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) world, it is easy to become frustrated, overwhelmed and consider giving up on a goal when we meet resistance and difficulties.

Reflect on whether your goal needs to change, OR if your mindset and approach might benefit from a shift. Asking yourself “What If…”, in relation to the goal may reveal a new possibility to reach that goal, or a slight tweak in how you might otherwise achieve it despite the changes.

Focus on what IS in your control… what you CAN influence and impact, and what’s MOST important. In a world full of the unexpected, it benefits us to be self-aware and agile. By intentionally focusing on bringing our best selves forward and creating positive influence with the situation or goal, we naturally dilute the chaos and allow ourselves to accomplish more toward our goals than if we sit back and focus on all the changes coming at us. Embracing your strengths and what you can do to create positive influence often has a beautiful halo effect on the rest of what’s going on around us.

Oscar Wilde famously wrote: “To expect the unexpected shows a thoroughly modern intellect”. Approaching any goal with the knowledge that things rarely go exactly to plan helps us shift (agility) to a position of strength and success. Accept the change with grace (for ourselves and others around us) and face the winds of change with confidence.

I feel like I'm too old to start something new (career wise) but I'm also feeling quite stuck where I am. What should I do?

If you’re telling yourself you’re too old for something new, and you believe that to be true, I’ve got some mindset work for you! In reality, there may be some significant career moves that would not be ideal to embark on much later in your life or career, but I’d first challenge where this ‘feeling’ is coming from. Is it true? Or, is it a limiting belief you’re holding in your own thoughts?

Our mindset can greatly impact our behaviour, our work, and our lives. Dr. Carol Dweck, Ph.D. has enlightened many on the significance of fixed and growth mindsets. We each operate with a mix of the two depending on the context or circumstance, and we never reach a destination where we’ve developed into a 100% growth mindset. It’s a choice and a journey that requires intentional work.

Fixed mindsets see challenges as a threat which can lead to personal and professional stagnation.

Growth mindsets believe challenges are a chance to grow your mental and physical abilities – when people are open to change and learn from failures.

If you’ve reflected on this and feel you want to explore a change, a great place to start is identifying and understanding your strengths, your gifts, when you feel most accomplished, what gives you great satisfaction, what challenges, interests and motivates you (and what doesn’t!). Ask some that know you and your abilities well for objective feedback on what you do well, are well suited for, and what hidden strengths or gifts they see in you. This is a great place to start and if you want professional and objective support for your journey and process, interview a few coaches to find one who can partner with you to challenge, motivate, stretch you, and help you reach our true potential.

What's one way to beat negative self-talk?

There are several steps to overcoming negative self-talk but the first and perhaps most important is to acknowledge, recognize and name it. You can’t beat what you don’t acknowledge, and you can’t stop it by ignoring or pretending it will just go away. Face the beast and give yourself some much-needed self-love, grace and a healthy dose of reflection to sort through the root cause, if it’s based on truth/experience or fear. Some additional helpful steps from there include reframing into positive beliefs and affirmations, standing in the result, and being the editor of your story will empower you to stop letting the negative self-talk hold you back. 

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