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How Great Leaders Deal with the Feeling of Guilt

How Great Leaders Deal with the Feeling of Guilt

The leadership environment of today’s business world is highly demanding, fast-paced, and multifaceted. In order to survive, a great leader must possess the ability to adapt to change. There are many excellent leaders all over the world who are creating stable organizations, but you will never hear about most of these leaders because they are motivated and devoted to their jobs instead of making a name for themselves.

Great leaders are commonly well-defined by their achievements, strategies and smart decisions. But according to new research, an individual’s ability to lead may have a lot to do with how he or she deals with mistakes. Leaders are human and they make mistakes, but ultimately, they are responsible for their actions and for resolving their own guilt. For a leader, the guilt goes along with the glory; they always need to learn from it to become a better leader.

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So how do leaders deal with the guilt that could be dragging them down?

1. They assess the impact.

The purpose of this exercise is to help you bring serious thought to how your actions impact others; this will help you avoid similar issues in the future. Most of the time, people are not aware of what is causing their guilt. By assessing the impact of your choices, you will be able to examine the kinds of values and actions you were expected to embody as a leader. Later, when you are asked to describe the situation which caused you to experience guilt, you will be in a better position to respond as a leader.

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2. They learn from behavior.

To deal with guilt, you must not only think of it as a bad feeling or liability. The feeling of guilt always grabs your attention so that you can learn something from the experience. By examining and studying own behavior, you’ll be less likely do it again in the future. If you’ve unintentionally said something insulting or wrong to another person, you should (a) apologize to that person and (b) in the future, think a little more before talking.

3. They make possible amends or changes.

You should always look for a way to take action and fix the problem. While many of us are gluttons for self-punishment, enduring guilt pushes us down as we move forward in life. It’s better to make something right, to take action no matter how long it takes to clean up your mess and minimize the damage.

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4. They consider it a learning experience.

Life is full of continuous learning. Most situations in life, particularly the negative ones, are intended to teach us lessons. This feeling of guilt teaches you that as long as you keep repeating that specific action, you will end up with same effects of guilt and shame. So, learn from your mistakes. Let it become a point of reference to prevent future occurrences of the same events.

5. They share the responsibility.

When assessing responsibility, it’s important to consider the other person’s part in the situation as well. While assessing the damage caused by some specific mistake, share the responsibility with the other person involved. A stakeholder chooses to participate and recognizes the risks. This exercise isn’t about passing blame, but accepting and acknowledging that you and those responsible did the best you could with the available resources and information. Learn from it, forgive yourself and others, and let your leadership skills flourish!

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6. They accept it, but move on.

If you made some mistake or disappointed someone, you need to realize that you cannot change the past. The thing you can do is make adjustments in your behavior, if and when it’s appropriate. Try to apologize or make up for the unfortunate actions in a timely manner, but then let it go. The more you put emphasis on believing you can do something more, the more it will continue to bother you and interfere with your performance.

Featured photo credit: navixmarketplace.com via navixmarketplace.com

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Tayyab Babar

Tayyab is a PR/Marketing consultant. He writes about work, productivity and tech tips at Lifehack.

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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