calm waters

As a young, highly motivated, corporate-ladder-climber, I had an urgent desire to establish my credibility as a great manager. As such, I set out to demonstrate my understanding of complex issues, implementing solutions, and getting results.  These were reasonable goals for developing leader, but for me that meant I always had to be right.  I had to have the best understanding, the right solutions, and implement flawlessly. I had to convince everyone around me, my way was the right way.  It was exhausting! By the time I attained my second level of leadership, I was in dire need of stress relief.

Here’s what I wish I could say now…

During my second-level-of-leadership experience, I figured out the stress of knowing it all, having all the best ideas, and implementing all the greatest solutions was a burden I had put on myself.  I realized two-heads (or more) really could be better than one, and there were many smart people around me who had great experience, skills, and knowledge to share.  I also learned that collaborating with others was often the straightest path to most creative ideas and effective solutions.”

I wish I could say that, but it wouldn’t be true.  Despite all the terrific leadership, self-help, and understanding people books I devoured, I continued to completely stress myself out with the need to always be right.  I can’t begin to calculate the energy and hours – not to mention relationships – I burned figuring out how to convince people I was right, and frustrated by people who didn’t get it. For more than a couple of years, I perpetuated my own level of stress and agitation, as I clung to the need to be right.

The good news is, eventually I did have an incredibly shifting “aha” moment, which instantly delivered a tremendous amount of stress relief.  I can’t say exactly what brought it on, but I finally got it and it was powerful:

“I don’t have to always be right.  In fact, sometimes, I might even be wrong (gasp!).”

The truth is, no one ever expected me – particularly as a young and developing leader – to always be right.  That was just a really stressful story I told myself, and decided I had to live up to.  What’s also true about that “story” is this: It prevented me from establishing what could have been some incredible working relationships.  Furthermore, it no-doubt caused me to endure the long road as I struggled and strained to “figure it all out” and “do it my way.”

So, here is one stress relief tip for today:  You don’t always have to be right.

In fact, you lose nothing when you listen to someone else’s ideas, experiences, and opinions. When you let go of the burden of having all the answers, you open the door to learning from the people around you and developing collaborative, supportive relationships.

Believe it or not, you probably don’t have to invent the wheel, and there may be more than one “right” way to do something.  Take a minute to consider whether the need to be right has ever elevated your stress level or kept you in an agitated state.  If the answer is even “maybe”, I encourage you to experience immediate stress relief by accepting – better yet embracing – the fact that you just don’t always have to be right!

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