As I look around my office at the quotes on my wall, I realize the wisdom shared by influential women.
“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” — Maya Angelou
“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” — Eleanor Roosevelt
I also have mentors from personal connections of women in my life.
Mrs. Chelmo, my high school speech teacher, was the first to believe in me and my speaking talents. She was my first speech coach.
Antoinette, my current coach, challenges me routinely to think differently and be more.
Grandmas Eldora and Mary supported my adventures without judgment or doubt.
My mom continues to be my best cheerleader as she encourages my success.
These women continue to influence and empower me to be better. I hear their voices in my head, see their encouragement and feel their confidence.
I always have been one to go after achievements and awards. Whether it is Time magazine’s Person of the Year or my kids’ handmade Mom of the Year recognition, I want to achieve them all.
I have come to realize, though, that these awards are much different than the achievements I earned when I was younger. Earning a title of the year is not like writing an essay for a scholarship.
When a goal is shared, commonly, the next question people ask is, “What do you need to do to achieve this goal?” This question is the wrong first question. “Do” is an action word. Scientists have proven that the thought cycle in our brain does not start with action. It begins with a thought. Our thoughts create emotions, emotions create actions, actions create results, and our results reinforce new thoughts. Then, the cycle starts over.
If we ask an action question, then we are backing up one quadrant from the result. We are going in the opposite direction of our natural thought function. Our brain cannot do this. A better question to ask, that will trigger our thoughts, is “Who do you need to be to achieve this result?”
This question is not as easy to answer. It takes intentional thought to respond.
A friend shared with me her goal to travel to Europe this year and how concerned she is about her travels.
“Nothing ever goes smoothly for me when I travel.”
That comment concerned me. If this is her thought before she leaves for her trip, then she is bound for a rocky adventure.
I asked her, “Who do you need to be to have successful travels?”
She was confused and did not understand why I was asking this question. She did not have an answer either. I explained that challenges will happen during her travels. They always do. That is life. How different would her trip be if she became a problem solver instead of a worrier?
When the flight is delayed because they need to change the airplane’s flat tire, instead of complaining, she would be grateful. When her luggage is temporarily lost, she will figure out what to do next (like give the airline the address of her hotel), rather than panic.
Focusing on who you need to be is empowering and more rewarding.
Whatever achievement you are striving for, who do you need to be? Who do you need to be to make a difference in this world?
Kathie Rotz is a leadership consultant and John Maxwell certified speaker, trainer and coach with Unity Consulting in Dubuque.