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If you do not adapt, if you do not learn, you will wither, you will die.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The Power of Your Beliefs and Thoughts - Talk at St. Catherine's University

Thank you for all the positive feedback on my talk at St. Catherine’s University last Friday at the Leadership Imperative Conference for women leaders. Honored, humbled, and enriched I left this day. So much wisdom from and for women leaders! Cindy Kent, general manager of Infection Prevention Division at 3M provided a powerful and inspiring closing keynote, sharing her personal and professional journey with us. Thank you Cindy! Also a warm-felt ‘thank you’ to everyone who participated in my talk “The Power of Beliefs and Thoughts.” Some key points from my talk:

- Learning requires curiosity, creativity, candor, and courage.

- You and only you are responsible for your thoughts, emotions, and actions.

- Identify your musts and ask whether they should be musts or preferences.

- You may not be fit to lead if your greatest strength is seeing weakness in yourself, in others, or in both.

- We often do not realize how incomplete and subjective our perceptions are.

- We regularly deceive ourselves, driven by the need to protect our self-esteem.

- The biggest gift we can give ourselves and others is listening just a little longer and postponing judgment.

- There is wisdom to be gained from asking positive, self-critical questions such as
o   What if I am (partially) wrong?
o   What may I be missing or misinterpreting?
o   Could I be clinging to untested assumptions?
o   Which biases and hot buttons could be at work right now?
o   What assumptions and thoughts would lead to a better outcome?
o   What if I am focusing on the wrong thing or on too many things?
o   How much will this still matter tomorrow, next week, next month?

I’d like to close this post with the thought that the best leaders allow themselves to be persuaded. I think of Alan Mulally, former FORD executive, who is said to be exceptionally skeptical of his own opinions. I think of Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund, who is known to seek out information that disproves her beliefs about the world and herself. And I think of the successful hedge fund manager Ray Dalio, who is said to insist that his team ruthlessly second-guesses his theories.

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