Okay, so what if I want a mulligan (a “do-over”)?
Here’s how it works. A situation arises and you think, feel, and react. You cringe. You hate when you act like this. Perhaps you let someone take credit for your hard work, or you didn’t speak up because you felt intimidated.
Here’s what you do: Think about a workplace situation where you may feel intimidated or restricted in some way. What will it take for you to get past such feelings? Appraise where you see yourself fitting in, what personality traits support that role, and what you need to do to get there.
Take time to detail and analyze various situations that you find uncomfortable in the workplace and pay attention to your reaction in each case. Then, look past your reaction and try to identify its trigger. What was your thought process? Did the hair rise on the back of your neck? If so, when? How did you react? Was your response too meek or too aggressive?
Here’s a great example of what I am talking about. Quite a few years back I had an employee that worked in reception. She was punctual, bright, and an absolute delight to be around. The problem was that she was not viewed as being promotable. When certain senior management would ask a simple question such as how her day was going, she would provide a funny story from her personal life or perhaps offer a little too much information—comments more suitable for after work with friends. Usually after the fact, she would feel embarrassed by her comments, regretting them. She was fun and vivacious, but not promotable.
One day I asked her if she was happy in her position with the company. She wasn’t. She wanted to advance and had been taking college business courses at night in hopes of moving into accounting or marketing. I told her that I noticed that quite often when her superiors asked her direct questions, she often appeared uncomfortable, and I questioned whether she felt out of control during those instances.
She immediately understood what I was talking about. She did feel anxious and nervous when talking to superiors, and then she would find herself blurting out a silly, awkward response without thinking. Her temperature would rise and a feverish sweat would spread across her face.
She needed to take this new knowledge and put it into play. She rehearsed some more suitable responses in front of the mirror at night until she was no longer anxious and intimidated in these situations. She became collected and more professional in her approach, and a couple of months later when an opening became available in the office, she got the promotion.
Work consists of a series of similar situations repeating again and again, flavored by the various reactions of the different people involved each time. That being said, when a similar situation arises, you can consciously be aware and ready to alter your response and deal with the aftermath. If you think about the workplace this way, you can see that it is an excellent stage for learning to assert yourself in familiar surroundings. Practice makes perfect!
As you work your way along this process, you will find that upward progression will result even if you fumble through, because, when you forge ahead, you create new patterns of behavior. New, more positive behavior is generally more comfortable, and so there is a tendency to keep moving forward and never look back. Every time you change your game, you gain more control over your own reaction and the situation.
Your mind can be as open as you let your world be, and your world can be as open as you let your mind be.
Focus inwardly on self-imposed shortcomings long enough to establish your weakest personality link. Create a pre-swing thought or drill whereby you can act through situations that you find uncomfortable or restrictive. Strengthen your response and behavior and refocus on being the best that you can be. This is your mullie (mulligan or do-over). Take advantage of it and learn to improve.
Remember that it’s a big world out there and you can do whatever you choose. Unleash your potential and come out swinging!
To desire to change one’s past means there is a desire to change oneself.
To desire to change oneself, one must learn to change.