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7 Ways To Demonstrate True Strength

7 Ways To Demonstrate True Strength

    We’d all like to be stronger. Whether that strength be physical, emotional or intellectual, most of us have an area in which we’d like to improve and have others admire. Seth Godin took a short look at ways to demonstrate that strength on a day-to-day basis. I thought I’d add some context to 7 of them and further the discussion. I’m hoping you’ll add some of your insights in a comment. I learn a lot from you all and your feedback is much-appreciated!

    1. Apologize

    If you make a practice of looking for your wrongs and working to set them right you’ll be viewed not only as a strong individual, but also as a great human.

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    I once lived with a friend who says “I’m sorry” in response to just about everything. At first it was annoying. Then I realized, over time, that I felt comfortable talking to her about stuff she did or said that bothered me. I knew she’d apologize and all I had to do was be ready to forgive and reciprocate in case I’d done or uttered a recent annoyance. That can be really, really hard at first. Apologizing isn’t easy because you’re not just admitting to a failure, you’re opening yourself up for the possibility that your apology will be turned down!

    2. Defer to others

    Letting others take the helm frees you up to offer needed guidance to even more talented people who will respect your strength and credit you with helping their ideas come to life.

    Deference goes against nearly all the notions of expertise propagated online. Some will tell you to interrupt, disrupt, corner your niche, and force your expertise on others. Deferring to others and revealing your worth slowly takes not just strength but belief that what you have to offer is useful in the long run. More on that soon.

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    3. Avoid shortcuts

    As you’re making sure doing great doesn’t get in the way of getting things done, make sure to protect against temptations to take shortcuts.

    A few years ago I told a restaurateur just starting out that he should cut corners on things his customers wouldn’t notice. That was terrible advice. In truth he should have worked to do a better job at bringing attention to all the amazing things his business was doing that people might not notice without some help. It takes true strength to avoid shortcuts because taking the longer route often involves more client calls, more apologies and time away from things you’d rather be working on. It’s worth it though. It’s worth it.

    4. Tell the truth

    Telling the truth from the get-go will help you avoid situations in which telling the truth could mean the end of something otherwise magnificent.

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    We could talk for days about strategic avoidance, glossing over, side-stepping, and myriad other ways to re-frame a lie as something middling. Let’s not. Instead I’ll ask you to consider how telling the truth relates to the notion of living honestly. “Telling the truth” often feels like something momentary. The truth is something you blurt out. That takes strength, for sure. Living honestly takes it to a whole new level of fascinating beauty.

    5. Offer kindness

    Kindness offered to the stranger passing by, in response to unkindness, or just because you can offer it is the sort of kindness that changes the world.

    Random acts of kindness are great if you’re in the habit of showing kindness as part of your daily life. But as life gets busy and we forget about the smaller things, the kindness can be the first to go. What if you were to schedule kindness into your day? What if you kept a checklist of the number of times you offered a kind word to a coworker or helped without being asked? This is a version of faking it until you make it that has only positive results. Get started!

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    6. Volunteer to take the short straw

    When an unwanted project or difficult punishment is up for grabs, offering to take it shows you’re strong enough to take the hard stuff in stride.

    Volunteering to do the grunt work on a project you rank high enough to walk away from shows everybody you work with that you’re strong and still in the game. Willingness to take the fall for a group mistake and be the one to find a solution is an opportunity to again demonstrate your true strength. Of course, that doesn’t make it any easier. Don’t worry. You’ll eventually forget about how difficult it was. You probably don’t even remember what you had for breakfast last Tuesday. See? Forgetful!

    7. Share credit and be public in your gratitude

    Sharing credit and thanking others for their contributions in public adds to the view that you’re a value-added sort of person.

    We’ve all had somebody take credit for something we helped with and felt the resentment grow in our chests. Not being recognized and thanked for our work is wretched! Next time you’re in a room filled with people and somebody calls your name to take an award, remember that everybody in that room has been slighted before and will get a kick out of how you share the spotlight.

    What else can we do to demonstrate our true strength? Share your thoughts in a comment below!

    Image: lintmachine

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    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    No!

    It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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    But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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    What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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    But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

    1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
    2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
    3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
    4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
    5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
    6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
    7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
    8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
    9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
    10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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