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The First Step to a Great 2020

By the time I graduated from high school, I had a clear vision for my career; I knew I wanted to live and work in another country. I pursued an education in teaching English as a second language so that I could be paid to live in other countries.

At the age of 29, when I moved to South Korea, I achieved my goal!

But what was next?

In my early 30s, I wandered from one job to another, simply following the opportunities that presented themselves. In my mid-30s, I finally developed a new vision for my career that has propelled me ever since.

C. S. Lewis said, “You are never too old to set a new goal or to dream a new dream.”

What are you dreaming for your life today? If you are wandering, like I was, I invite you to join me for a new study to finish out 2019 and start 2020 – a new decade! – with a purpose and direction that can propel you forward for the next 10 years and beyond!

Details and register at https://troycommunications.net/product/preparing-for-a-great-2020/

Leadership, Our Blog

The Most Difficult Person to Lead (part 2)

by Tasha M. Troy

I tend to be an independent learner and worker.  I love to shut the door and “get into the zone” with a project.

However, sometimes it’s hard for me to include others in my work.  They don’t move at my pace, and sometimes they interrupt my train of thought.

As I continue to develop my own leadership skills, this is an area of growth for me.

In his book Leadership Gold, John Maxwell gives us four keys to leading yourself well.  These keys are

  • learn followership,
  • develop self-discipline,
  • practice patience, and
  • seek accountability.

 

What stands out to me today is how many of these points involve other people in leading myself.  In my last article, The Most Difficult Person to Lead, I shared the first two keys with you, and now here are the last two.

 

 The third key is to practice patience.

Practicing patience is sometimes a big challenge for me. I am very task-oriented and results-oriented, and I get impatient with the process of developing those good habits that will lead to success.  I’m not often satisfied with the incremental improvements that I’m working towards. However, if we can practice patience and keep at our goals day by day, even if it’s a small step, small steps over time will get you to where you’re going.

 

The fourth key is to seek accountability.

This has been a key for me in the last couple years as I’ve been pursuing very challenging goals.  I’ve always been a pretty independent thinker, and sometimes it’s pretty humbling to sit back, take advice, listen to criticism. I always think I’m teachable, but when I am directly criticized, I find how unteachable I might actually be.

I still don’t always react well to criticism, but I’ve learned the value of listening to other perspectives and trying to see myself through other people’s eyes.  I’ve been able to connect with a number of people who help keep me accountable for my goals.  Now that I’m working on some of these daily goals like getting up at a certain time and developing certain habits that will help me be more successful, I’ve developed some accountability partnerships with friends and colleagues so that it keeps me on track to do things that I wouldn’t normally wantto do but I know that will lead to long term goals.

 

So those are the four keys that John gives: learn followership, develop self-discipline, practice patience, and seek accountability. They sound so simple, but don’t be fooled – simple actions can have powerful results.

Where do you need to grow? In what areas do you feel like you need to become more than you are today?  Could it be in the area of self-discipline? Could it be in the area of followership or developing patience? Who is there in your life who could help you become by becoming an accountability partner?  These are some things to consider.

 

Take It Deeper

Which of these areas is a challenge for you?  Do you have a hard time “trusting the process”?  Or do you need to find an accountability partner to help you move forward?  Good news – you can always start right where you are.

I know that sometimes it’s hard to know exactly where to start.

If you would like to go deeper on this topic, I offer an ongoing live online course on personal and professional development:  Professional Development Essentials.   We meet online every Monday night to discuss different elements of personal and professional growth and challenge each other to apply what we’ve learned.  Let me know if you’d like to experience one lesson for free (tmtroy@troycommunications.net)!

If you enjoyed this article and would like to receive these monthly posts in your inbox, you can subscribe at Troy Communications Blog.

 

 

Leadership, Our Blog

The Most Difficult Person to Lead

by Tasha M. Troy

I might be a goal setting junkie. I love to look at the future, think about what it might mean, chart out a path to achieve different goals, and plan a course of action. I am a very future-oriented type of person.

Because of this, I’ve managed to accomplish quite a number of goals, but the truth is there are countless other things that never made it past the idea stage. They remained simply an aspiration. And even today, I can remember some of those ideas and I think, “I wonder what life would have been like if I’d pursued X, Y, or Z.”  Why did I let these great ideas die?

When you’re trying to achieve anything or to improve yourself in any way, self-leadership is definitely the starting point. Where I find I tend to fall is with the little things, for example, getting up without hitting the snooze button too many times or choosing to read a book instead of watching TV in the evening. Little decisions affect the big picture.

In his book Leadership Gold, John Maxwell gives us four keys to leading yourself well.  I will share the first two keys with you now and the last two next month.

 

The first key is to learn followership.

Everyone’s out there trying to learn how to be a good leader, learning leadership, but John argues that you need to start with becoming a good follower first. An area where that has been an important element for me has been in my own continuing efforts to engage in education, to learn more, and to grow.

For example, for many, many, many years, my focus has been to teach English to adult professionals.  As an adult, I chose to learn a new foreign language – Korean – after I finished college. I will be honest: it was a much more challenging endeavor than I expected it to be at the time. In retrospect, it makes a lot of sense that it was a challenge, and because I engaged in that difficult challenge, I was able to relate to my adult students a lot better as they were grappling with learning a foreign language as adults.

Today, some of the skills that I am struggling with that I’m learning and getting better at implementing, I have mentors who are teaching me.  The more I try to do things my own way, the harder it is. The more I relax and listen and follow the instructions of my mentors, the easier my endeavors become, the easier it is for me to reach my goals.  Bottom line? If we can become good followers, it helps us relate to the people we’re trying to lead in a more effective way.

 

The second key is to develop self-discipline.

In his book, Developing The Leader Within You, John Maxwell calls self-discipline the price tag of leadership.  This is an area where I think everyone struggles from time to time. The truth is, if you can learn how to make commitments and follow through – even when no one is watching, even when no one notices – you’ll be able to lead yourself and all others much more effectively.

This is the area I still need to grow in a bit.  My goal is to wake up at a certain time so that I can get things done before I go into the office, and I have not yet had the self-discipline to actually get out of bed at that time.  Fortunately, every day is a new opportunity to accomplish that goal!

 

Take It Deeper

Which of these areas is a challenge for you?  Do you have a hard time following someone else’s lead?  Or do you sometimes let your self-discipline slide?  Have you let that discipline slide for so long, it’s out of sight?! Good news – you can always start right where you are.

I know that sometimes it’s hard to know exactly where to start.

If you would like to go deeper on this topic, I offer an ongoing live online course on personal and professional development:  Professional Development Essentials.   We meet online every Monday night to discuss different elements of personal and professional growth and challenge each other to apply what we’ve learned.  Let me know if you’d like to experience one lesson for free (tmtroy@troycommunications.net)!

If you enjoyed this article and would like to receive these monthly posts in your inbox, you can subscribe at Troy Communications Blog.

 

 

Leadership, Our Blog

10 Qualities Needed for Personal Growth

By Tasha M. Troy

In 2012, I decided to pursue a second master’s degree.  I was teaching at a top university at the time that offered tuition benefits, and I love to learn, so it just made sense to me.

Unfortunately, it didn’t make sense to the director of the program I was teaching with.  She did not encourage us to grow. In fact, when I was intentionally trying to grow and learn and become more, I was actually discouraged – directly discouraged – from taking those courses.  This in part led to my decision to leave that department and to find a job teaching elsewhere.

I wanted to grow, but my environment had put a cap on how much I could grow.

 

Create a Growth Environment

Human beings are designed for growth – physical, mental, emotional, spiritual. We are at our best when we are becoming more than we have been.

Whether you’re in a position of leadership or not, it’s important to encourage the people around you to grow.  If you’re one of the many people who do not have a formal a leadership position, you might consider what can you do to help the people around you grow, what can you do to create an environment where it is safe to learn new things. For example, with every class that I teach, I aim to create a learning community, to create an atmosphere where there’s a combination of respect and safety so that my students can try new things and can ask the questions they might not feel comfortable asking otherwise.

One of John Maxwell’s “Fifteen Laws of Growth” says that you have to be in an environment that encourages you to grow. In his book Leadership Gold, in the chapter titled Keep Learning to Keep Leading, he describes the key characteristics a growth environment.

  1. Others are ahead of you.With my students, in the very beginning of the semester, I like to emphasize that we all have different strengths and weaknesses. Some students are strong in some skills and weak in others, while others are strong in different skills and weak in others. And together, we can help each other. But if others are ahead of you in one area, then you’re challenged to catch up.
  2. You are continually challenged. It has been my observation that people are capable of much more than they think they are.  I sometimes tell my students that I see my job as pushing them to do the things they don’t push themselves to do.
  3. Your focus is forward. I am naturally future oriented, so perhaps it’s not surprising that I’m growth oriented as well.  When you’re thinking about the future, you’re inspired to reach for what’s next.
  4. The atmosphere is affirming.I try to find a balance between applauding effort and praising good performance. Even when the performance is not to its fullest potential, I try to point out, first, the areas where the performance was good, and second, some real practical steps where that performance can be improved. It’s the real practical steps that make criticism an encouragement.
  5. You’re often outside of your comfort zone. I wrote about this a little in my last blog article The Three Zones of Learning.  John Maxwell talks about the Challenge Zone, the Comfort Zone, and the Coasting Zone. If you spend too long in your comfort zone, you could slide back into the coasting zone, and no growth happens there!
  6. You wake up excited. When you are working towards a specific goal, you are naturally motivated to work towards it. I have found that growth is exciting!
  7. Failure is not your enemy.Looking back at the teaching department where I left because growth was not encouraged, failure was definitely considered the enemy. Mistakes I had made two, three, four years earlier had never been forgotten even though I had chosen to learn from those mistakes and move forward. For me, this is really an important characteristic. Failure is not the enemy.
  8. Others are growing. One of the best things about my job now is that I am working with students and colleagues who are working to improve their lives and learn new skills.  It is very inspiring to be around people who are just as interested in personal and professional growth as I am.
  9. People desire change.  It seems to me that the desire to change can come from two different sources – a sense of lack and a pursuit of excellence.  I have experienced both.  When I’m trying to do something new and come upon an area I don’t know well, I am motivated to learn and grow in that area.  However, even in areas I do well, I am often not content and look for ways to become even better in that area.
  10. Growth is modeled and expected. I think this reflects back to failure not being the enemy.  Are the leaders of the group engaged in learning and becoming more than they are?  Are group members coached through challenges and encouraged to achieve more?  Or is the status quo rewarded?

If you have these characteristics, you know you’re in an environment that encourages growth where you can learn and continue to become the person who can reach your potential, that you’re not going to leave untapped potential on the table.

 

Take It Deeper

Which of these characteristics are present in your life today? Which ones are missing?

If you would like to enter into a growth environment, I offer an ongoing live online course on personal and professional development:  Professional Development Essentials.  In this course, you will join with others who are also looking for a growth environment.  We meet every Monday night for a short lesson and discussion.  You can check out the website or contact me for more information: https://troycommunications.net/professional-development-essentials/.

If you enjoyed this article and would like to receive these monthly posts in your inbox, you can subscribe at Troy Communications Blog.

 

Leadership, Our Blog

Finding Your “Sweet Spot”

By Tasha M. Troy

Growing up, I had been led to believe that I could do anything I set my mind to.  It wasn’t until I read John Maxwell’s book Put Your Dreams to the Test that I was presented with a contrasting view.  I was confronted by “The Reality Question.”

“Am I depending on factors within my control to achieve my dream?”

This question really focuses on if my dream is based on the reality of my strengths and talents or if it depends on blind luck.  Some of my early ambitions were clearly in the latter category.  John says, “The trick is to balance the boldness of dreaming with the reality of your situation.”  Fortunately, I eventually figured this out.

The Process of Finding My “Sweet Spot”

As a young college student, I had a dream of living and working overseas.  In retrospect, it was a fairly reasonable goal – I had a talent for learning languages and reluctantly recognized my ability to follow in my mother’s footsteps and become a teacher.

When I discovered the field of Teaching English as a Second Language, I knew I had found my ticket to see the world!  I pursued an education that would give me the greatest opportunities in that field.  When I moved to South Korea to teach English to children (still in my 20s), I “finally” achieved my goal.

However, I discovered something unexpected – I don’t have the personality or disposition to effectively teach children!  After only one year, I found work teaching college-aged students in South Korea.  While I was better suited to working with young adults, I still struggled in certain areas and was dissatisfied with my effectiveness.

Eventually, an opportunity opened up to teach professional English skills at a large multi-national corporation in South Korea.  This time I was working with mid-career adults, and I discovered my “sweet spot” – the place where my strengths, talents, and personality converged to make me highly effective.

As John Maxwell says, “When people are going with their strengths and working in their sweet spot, the work they do is simple and easy.”

Facing a New Reality

Today, I have a new dream. I am working towards helping people reach their full potential, whether it is helping professionals in transition to recognize their “sweet spot” or working with teams to develop the communication skills needed in a culturally diverse workplace.

The Reality Question helps me recognize to what extent I am prepared to meet this challenge and to what extent I need to learn more and to collaborate with others to achieve my ultimate goal.  I know the process will take a bit of trial and error, but I am prepared to take this journey of discovery!

Take It Deeper

I challenge you to take inventory today of your strengths and talents.  In the end, it is in knowing ourselves that we are best able to move forward and live a life of purpose and success.

Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start.  If you would like to go deeper on this topic, I hold free exploratory coaching sessions each week.  You can register online at Troy Communications or email me to schedule an appointment at TMTroy@TroyCommunications.Net.

If you enjoyed this article and would like to receive these monthly posts in your inbox, you can subscribe at Troy Communications Blog.