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Reach for what you want: 3 ways to get there

If you're looking to make a change in your work or personal life, it's important to be authentic and let go of the past. Here's how you get started.
New day, new possibilities
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As you gain momentum in 2019, you can feel the beat of the drum growing louder that this is the year to reach for what you want.

Maybe it’s a job promotion, a higher salary, building the perfect team or even embarking on a completely new career. Whatever it is, this is the time to reach for it no matter how scary that may feel. And while it may seem and be difficult, it’s through challenging ourselves and getting uncomfortable that we evolve into the best version of ourselves.

Here are three ways for you to step into your power.

1. Be your authentic self.

Live with integrity, walk your talk and talk your walk. In many company cultures, the need to engage in political posturing is abundant. Before you know it, you’re laughing on cue and doling out lame compliments. And while an ability to read and understand people is really important, you cannot lose yourself in it. Instead see connecting to people and understanding their position, pressure, and responsibilities as an opportunity to grow your emotional intelligence, not as an opportunity to just advance yourself politically. Learn to influence people positively by empathizing with their position.

You also need to speak up! Don’t be afraid to address hard topics and work through challenges, no matter how uncomfortable. The winners in 2019 are going to be the ones who can pivot quickly and adjust to changing times and markets. That means feedback is absolutely critical so you can course correct as needed. Being authentic is about expressing how you really feel, but make sure you do it with an open mind and a willingness to listen to others.

2. Let go of past conditioning.

Our past conditioning is a collection of experiences and mindsets from our history that shape our thinking today. They can be from our childhood, our culture, our families or our work life.

Executive coach and organizational development consultant Liz Bentley.
Executive coach and organizational development consultant Liz Bentley.Courtesy of Liz Bentley Associates.

For instance, if our parents told us it was rude to speak up, then we might not be heard in competitive corporate meetings. Or, if a series of in-person meetings led to a successful project in the past, we might hold onto that process instead of recognizing the benefit of newer systems like Slack for communication.

We have also seen this in many cases of unconscious bias toward women and minorities. For example, in the case of women, a guy cutting a woman off to “mansplain” doesn’t fly anymore. The ladies aren’t taking it and the people with these biases are putting themselves, and potentially their jobs, in jeopardy.

Failure to evolve your thinking to match the world of today is dangerous. The marketplace is changing at a rapid pace. If you’re not adapting your mindset to meet it, you will be left behind. So get on board with change and steer it to your desired outcome.

3. See your truth.

See the truth of yourself, your team and your company. Seeing truth can be really challenging because we all have our own version of it and usually, we like our own version more than others’.

However, the truth lies in multiple perspectives. When we run feedback reviews, I frequently hear comments about a head of sales, for example, “talking too much.” But when we share this feedback with the client, he’ll often insist that talking is his greatest attribute and describe great negotiations where he wore people down. While this may have worked in some settings, it is not favorable when speaking to colleagues.

Seeing these truths is tough! So much so that we go out of our way to create unproductive story lines like — “this is just the way I am” or “he is always too critical” or “it’s impossible to succeed in this environment” — to protect ourselves from hard truths that we are afraid to see. We operate as if the pain of admitting shortcomings is too much. Blaming others becomes a protective mechanism, along with excuses that aim to justify our behavior. But hiding from our truths is harder than looking at them. In hiding from them, we regress and don’t get the opportunities we desire. Ultimately, we’re missing out and derailing our growth.

In a time of great change, we have to see our truth and shift. And it takes practice! Accepting feedback and hearing others’ views is hard at first, but you get used to it and slowly start to like it. It builds even more momentum when you start to see progress and positive change.

You — and you alone — own this year. Embrace and practice the above principles, and you will not only evolve into a better version of yourself, but you will enjoy doing it.

Liz Bentley is the founder and president of Liz Bentley Associates, a consulting firm specializing in leadership development programs. She is a nationally recognized keynote speaker and executive coach to top leaders and teams across a broad range of industries.