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How do you grow at your work by changing your narrative? The stories we tell ourselves can shape our identities, aspirations, and experiences and set the parameters for what we can achieve. But then they also have negative effects. And I learned this in a little hard way in my own life years ago. I wasn't known for having trained and coached a million professionals throughout through the workforce. I was a, you know, a small leadership instructor, and I would do trainings for small groups of 10 to 15 people at a time. I was earning good, not excellent, but good enough. And I was satisfied with my work life, living the so-called American Dream and traveling around to to deliver these lectures. One day while traveling to San Francisco for my work. My connecting flight was from Charlotte. So at the airport I met Alex, the CEO of the company I once worked for. We shook hands and he asked me, so how are you doing? And what's taking you to San Francisco? So I told him. I said, Alex, I am traveling to SFO to conduct a seminar on leadership for around 15 people and I was very enthusiastic while I was replying to him. And he was like, oh, that's nice. So how much will you make in this session? And, I responded smilingly, around around $500, $550. And so he looked a little concerned and he said, so, people, I am sure you are traveling business class, aren't you? And I'll be honest, this question just took me back and I hesitantly responded negatively, saying that oh, I travel, I travel coach class. And so Alex looked at me and he said, so people tell me, why are you doing what you are doing? And just as he completed his question, I got defensive. And I and I'm sure he saw it on my face. And in a slightly raised voice, I said that I didn't care about the money or whether I would travel, business class or not, and I just love what I do. So Alex seemed so relaxed, you know, as always. And he smiled and he asked me to sit. And what he said next made me introspect my career life a great deal. He said. He said. Pyle this is not what I meant. I have known you for more than seven years now. I have seen your dedication and passion for your work. What I am saying is that you are great at leadership. You have this awesome concept of success within leadership methodology. You know, you know how to get people to build on themselves, to build on their inner leadership competencies. Why then are you playing small? You are comfortable pile teaching small groups of 15 people, whereas the program can benefit more than a million people in the workforce, it can transform their lives and become successful. I just want you to think big and think bold. And as he was completing his sentence, there was an announcement for his flight and he wished me good luck and he boarded his flight. Now, throughout my journey to SFO and back home to North Carolina, I sat silently reflecting on what he said and the two words that struck me were play big, play bold. And it just made me realize that I was playing small, and I decided that I would no longer teach only 10 to 15 people in a small room. I began thinking about how to go from 30 to 300 to 3000 before I completed training and coaching 1 million plus people to become world class leaders.

And in this journey, in this journey from 30 to 1 million, I realized the reason of why I was not able to think big and play big. Many of us, like me, we play small in our careers. We take every step with caution. We stay satisfied with the position and the designation we have that we have a job. We have the salary going on. You know, we focus on short term temporary comfort, security relief and validation. Playing small means that our actions are motivated by our fears, insecurities, low self-worth, and scarcity. And in contrast, leaders who play big are the ones who never stay satisfied with what they have. They stretch themselves. They are willing to take risks. They exist, you know, they exist in a high-performance state where they live. To their true capability, aspirations and potential. So what creates this difference between people who play small in their career and people who play big in their career? Well, I have experienced this and I have taught this, that the difference stems from the narratives we tell ourselves. We all have the ability and the responsibility to disrupt our negative stories and craft better ones. Our success depends on our narrative. Everyone today is living their own story. As each of us moves from day to day, we write our own autobiography and it continually evolves as we experience life. These experienced events from the main characters, key scenes, plot points, chapters and lessons are all what we are. What form our narrative and our narratives are how we organize our experiences into a string that that that forms our story, that explains who we are. It gives us identity. It tells us where we came from, how we got to where we currently are, and what direction we are going to move forward. Our narrative is is evolving with every story that we tell. In fact, I remember here that, you know, there was something where I read that where scientists at Yale University had followed adults for 20 years to uncover the secrets of a long life. And they found one revelation, revelation that could change everything. And that was that. People who had a positive view of aging in midlife lived an average of 7.6 years longer than those who had a negative outlook. In other words, if you say getting older, you know, getting older is is going to be fun, it's going to be fab. You're going to live 7.6 years longer than your friend who would say, oh my goodness, getting old is is is going to suck. It's going to be a burden. It's going to be tough. The idea that Yale University wanted to get this research, wanted to get out was that we what we tell ourselves is what we believe and is how we act, and that's how it's going to be our reality. So if you want to grow in your career, then you have to make sure that you you change your narrative. Because we often limit ourselves by deciding we can't do something before we even try. We can take that new position, we can take that transfer, we can do that project. We? We just limit ourselves. And we haven't even gone and tried it. And when we do this, we are effectively telling ourselves the answer is no. We tell ourselves no. We stop our own growth. We stop our we. We stop walking on the path to success. Whether or not you're going to get that promotion, is your company going to hit the projection that was decided? The single best predictor for all of this is not the facts, your skills or your abilities, but the story that you tell. And well, let me tell you, the sad point is that there is an epidemic of rotten storytelling going on in our work culture right now. We know more of what we can't do than what we can do. But the good part is that we all have the ability to fix it. And best of all is that it's not hard. It's not hard to change your narrative. What we need are small shifts, small changes in the mindset, and that can trigger a cascade of changes, and it can help us to be limitless in our career. In fact, let me tell you, for most of us, our narratives are overly influenced by the external forces. What do people think about us? You know, the society pressures, will people judge us? How are they going to think about us? We are talking so much of negative to ourselves and in fact, negativity from another person is bad. I understand, but when that negativity is coming from your own head, well, that's that's more rough. Self-talk is what you say to yourself in your head. It's a monologue that runs through our mind every time. And as you're going to your work, as you're talking to your boss, as you're having that difficult conversation with the colleague, or you're driving through the traffic self-talk, your narrative is going to be formed. In fact, in my work as an executive coach, I have seen many leaders who, instead of making the next move, they just talk themselves out by telling themselves that the odds are against them or that they are not smart enough. They are not qualified. They are too old. And soon this all these stories that you're building inside yourself, they just begin to seem real and you just don't know when to take that move. And that's the reason so many people don't achieve in their career what they want to achieve. And when they leave, you know, when it's time to step out, they are like, oh, you know, I wish it was much better. You know, people didn't support me. Circumstances were against me at that time. The Covid was well, not really. It was your narrative that was playing a big part in your career growth. And these are exactly the type of damaging thoughts that keep us from achieving what we want to. So you have to address them head on and you have to. You have to make sure that you have a mindset change.

In fact, leadership is more challenging now than ever because of these economic uncertainty, the competitive pressures and the fact that we are leading in a hybrid work environment, it requires us to be strong emotionally. And during these times, people are looking up to the leaders for guidance on what we are supposed to do and how we are supposed to do it. And not only are you responsible for making the tough decisions, but all eyes are on you. You, my friend, have a responsibility to be a good role model, including managing your own reactions. But dealing with uncertainty can be difficult. And you know if you are, if you are subject to the same feeling of stress and negativity, just like your team, you cannot pull out someone from where you yourself are stuck. So what do you do? Well, it might sound tribal, but one small step to take is consider how you talk to yourself. Have you ever looked at it? Have you ever been conscious of it? Have you been conscious to change that negative talk? Because it can have a huge impact on your on you as a leader, on what actions you take. You have to change your narrative. And what I say is change your narrative and change your life. What you say to yourself, good or bad, can either build you up or tear you down. If you are looking to step up, try new things, advance in your advance in your career. Do better each day. Try reexamining the stories you are telling yourself. You may find that you are holding yourself back, maybe in minor ways, maybe in major ways. If so, crafting a better story will help you align your life with your ambitions. In fact, leaders who are able to organize their narrative, they they flourish in their professional life. They are able to tune out all the noise that is happening around them. And you can you can learn to speak to yourself and change your narrative in a way that makes you feel good, both mentally and physically. And for that, there are a few steps you want to do. Step number one develop awareness of the narrative that runs in the background of your life. Step number two. Focus only on what's in your control. Step number three have a lot of time. Dedicated time for self-reflection. Then step number four, you have to have a little bit of faith in trusting yourself, knowing that you will get there. And step number five listen selectively. Don't just let everything that you hear consume you. Stop consuming these junk stories that are being told to you. In fact, I remember, when I was first learning to kayak, I kept banging my boat into the rocks and I said to my husband in frustration, I said, I'm hitting every rock on this river. And he said something so profound. He said, then stop looking at the river focus. Or stop looking at the at the rock. Focus on the river, because that's exactly what I was doing. I was I was focusing on the on the rocks, and that's where I was banging head on every time. I want you to remember that the things you tell yourself really do matter. Don't limit yourself. Just examine your narrative, take ownership of it, disrupt what no longer works, and then shape your story. So it's an alignment with the vision of the life that you want to lead. Sometimes the biggest obstacles are the ones we create and tell ourselves about the world around us. My friend. How you talk to yourself matters. The way you speak to yourself, whether you realize it or not, it deeply impacts your self-confidence and the types of actions you will take in your career. So think about it. What would your life look like if you spoke to yourself in kind, gentle voice, always affirming your worth and lovingly reminding yourself of your ability, your potential, your capabilities. Would you feel more confident and empowered in every area of your life if you just took a moment to check on your narrative? On the other hand, what if you constantly put yourself down, told yourself that you aren't good enough, or that you couldn't do it? I'm sure you will feel so discouraged and less confident. Career growth, my friend, has less to do with your skills and certifications, and more to do with the narrative. With the story you're building inside yourself. That story is for you to change, and I have seen with experience of coaching some of these top leaders. Every time I have helped people change their narrative, I have helped them to grow and succeed in their career. So the bottom line is this how you talk to yourself truly matters. And I look forward to joining you and helping you succeed in your career in the next episode. Until then, stay connected with me on my LinkedIn and Instagram for loads of leadership tips and suggestions. This is your good friend and coach, Payal Nanjiani. God bless you.

Your Good Friend + Mentor

Payal Nanjiani

Leadership Expert | Author| Executive Coach


Listen to The Payal Nanjiani Leadership Podcast available on all podcast channels including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Podcasts.

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