We are one month into 2019, and I have a new challenge for you: Lose your “should”. When working on my Master Certification in Executive Coaching, I learned how impactful it is for a client to shift from “should” to a definitive action statement. The definitive statement may be “I will” or “I won’t”, it doesn’t matter. The point is to decide, then act in accordance with the decision.
“Should” is a hedge word and feels judgmental. It supports inertia, but nags at you.
In my experience with myself and others, things connected to a “should” rarely – pretty much never – actually happen. Think about it. When you say “Yeah, I should do that” how often do you actually follow through? Then, how do you feel (about yourself) when you don’t?
Please be assured, I am not advocating for a “yes” to all your “shoulds”. In fact, after a quick analysis, “No, I won’t” may be the best decision for you. Either way, making the decision will simplify your life; create clarity for the people around you; and help you actually accomplish the things you deem important.
At this point, are you wondering how losing the “should” will help you become a stronger leader? Glad you asked… Shifting away from “should” raises your value to the people around you. They come to know you as one who is aware, honest, and responsible.
When leaders communicate with hedge words, it creates confusion. Others don’t know what to expect from you or what you expect from them. When there is not clarity, people make their own assumptions. Their assumptions become their understanding, which becomes their truth. When your actions don’t match their truth, their perception of your honesty wains. Further, they begin to see you as unable (or unwilling) to follow through. They no longer see you as a responsible leader.
Conversely, when you move from hedge words (like should, could, maybe, or might) to definitive statements, you demonstrate a high degree of awareness. You are self-aware enough to know whether you will or will not actually do something, and other-aware enough to understand the negative impact of nebulous words.
So, my challenge for you is to work on getting rid of your “should”. Begin to notice when you say (or think) “should” and try to turn it into a “yes” or “no” right then. You may consider the following questions to help you decide:
- What is important to me about this?
- What is the benefit of following through? (Likely, intended outcome?)
- How much time will it take?
- What other resources will I need?
- If I chose to, when will I do it?
As you experiment, if you notice you use more hedge words than you realized, have a little patience with yourself. You haven’t been doing anything wrong. However, making the shift will take some weight off your shoulders, and help you be a stronger leader.