People are shocked to learn that I was always the timid introvert.
Yep, I was the one who got the jitters in front of people and preferred to avoid networking events. The first time I had to have a difficult conversation with an employee it felt like I was climbing Mount Everest. Forget selling myself up the ladder! I wasn’t even comfortable talking about myself in ordinary job interviews.
But now look at me!
I basically live beside the podium and can’t wait to do my next media interview. If there’s an industry event I’m the first person to sign up. Once I’m there I’m the one who doesn’t hesitate to introduce myself to strangers. A feature in the Huffington Post even ranked me among the top people using social media.
But let me tell you, it didn’t happen easily or painlessly.
Nobody waved a magic wand over my head to quiet down all the self-limiting chatter and gremlins of low self esteem. The path of confidence that I walk today as a leader was laid brick-by-brick. I’d take one step at a time out into that scary discomfort zone and fight to gain traction and keep my balance. Then I’d do it again, constantly stretching myself until living outside my comfort zone became “Sarah’s new normal.”
Executive careers are a high-stakes game.
There are plenty of competitors ready to call your bluff and take all your winnings for themselves. That’s why it is so critical that you don’t try to fake your confidence. When you want that big promotion, high 6-figure salary, shot at industry rock star status, or major leadership role you have to go all-in. You have to take a bold stand and demonstrate courage to take calculated risks to play a bigger game. That’s what will distinguish you as one of the world’s top leaders.
You have to ante-up!
You can’t just sit there looking at the hand you were dealt and fretting about it. After I took that frightening leap to start my own coaching and consulting business I spent years wondering why I never got any media coverage. With all my years of leadership experience at the Fortune 100 level I didn’t understand. Why weren’t business journalists interested in interviewing me?
Then it dawned on me.
They aren’t going to promote me until I start promoting myself! I had not been doing the work I needed to do to attain my goals. So often we sit around waiting for someone else to award us our dreams like a trophy. But this isn’t grade school where you sit quietly in your desk and the teacher comes by and gives you a gold star and an A-plus. I was teaching my clients about growing, expanding, and advancing into the major leagues. But meanwhile I was still thinking about my own career like a Little Leaguer.
I remember the day the light bulb went off.
“Oh maybe I need to step out there and contact the media,” I thought, “and explain to them what I have to offer.”
Was I nervous? You better believe I was. To me – the natural introvert – this was a BIG leap. But until I did it the media did not know that I even existed. Now, just a couple of years after my first big interview, I get calls all the time from some of the most important and influential media publications in the country.
But don’t think for a minute that I’m getting cozy.
The reason they keep calling is because I keep pushing my boundaries and charging ahead past my greatest fears. To be relevant, marketable, and noticed you have to constantly grow and stretch. Reinvent your leadership brand and go past your own perceived limits and boundaries.
You may be thinking, “I’m scared to go “all-in!”
The chips are down in a tough economy. So what? That just means that companies are willing to invest more to get first-rate leadership. Don’t succumb to the fear that is holding everyone else back. There will never be another opportunity like this in our lifetime for leaders to prove themselves and advance through the ranks in record time. Don’t squander your chance! Develop a winning hand. Then go out there and lead the charge!
As a pioneering and visionary innovator, Sarah is a certified professional image consultant and brand strategist, speaker, trainer and author. Her company, Illustra Consulting, provides leading-edge image and brand management strategies for top leaders and high achievers who wish to take their career to the next level. She also delivers innovative and inspiring corporate workshops to assist large organizations in strengthening their corporate brand.
Copyright © 2012, Sarah Hathorn, AICI CIP, CPBS
1-800-267-3245, [email protected]
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