This is the first episode where we're going to examine a "rule" that I think you can break... at least some of the time 😉
We're going to talk about breaking the rule that you should "stop taking things personally".
Instead, I'm going to tell you why I think you SHOULD take things personally.
I'll also give you a simple 3-question exercise to help you better understand what's really going on when you're triggered, and how to choose a response that's going to help you the most.
PS PS make sure to get on wait list for the Powerful Presence Society!
Well, hello there friend, and welcome back to the show. For this week's episode, we are going to take on a, a rule. Now, it may be a rule that you've heard from someone else, but more often than not, it's a rule that we tell ourselves usually with a little bit of judgment, and it's the rule that, oh, I shouldn't take things so personally.
Usually goes along with, I should have thicker skin. And I'll, I'll share an example of where I've actually heard this shared. Yeah. Later on in the episode. And what we're gonna do in this, in this one is we're gonna talk about why that's not really that helpful of a rule. And instead, I'm gonna show you how to lean into taking things personally.
Gonna share a little bit about. Basically like why, why we take things personally and what it means and how to unpack it. And I'm gonna give you a really useful but very simple tool that you can do when you notice yourself taking things personally. Okay. So come with me on this journey in breaking a rule.
Well, hey there. I'm Liz St. Jean and this is the Unruly Leadership Podcast where I help subject matter experts like you design a career on your terms. It's where strategy meets intuition to help you break the rules, ignore the rules, and make your own damn rules. So let's break free from perfectionism, imposter thoughts and that inner rule keep that's keeping you in your career comfort zone.
It's time to become unapologetically you and step into the life you were meant to live. We're going to talk presence, productivity, career, and having it all. Or as my four year old had saying, we're going to take over the world, so let's get to.
All right, so just before we jump right into the episode, I wanted to remind you in case you hadn't seen in, in case you are not in my regular email community, wanted to let you know that I have a program that I run. It's coming up in April, and it's a program that I run usually twice a year, sometimes only once, but this year I probably run it twice, only.
And the next one is happening in April. The one after that will be later on, maybe September or October. I haven't quite decided yet, but I'm definitely running one in April. And right now you can get on the wait list so that you find out ex exactly when it opens. Uh, so it's a program called The Powerful Presence Society, and it's all about helping you show up confidently, show up with your unique leadership presence.
No matter how stressful a situation around you, it's designed to help you reduce your work stress so that you have more zen in your evenings. You're more present with friends and family and able to, um, have a good sleep at night so that you're all those like to-do lists aren't running around your head in the middle of the night.
And it's a fantastic program. There's mentors involved, there's a lot of group coaching, and I know you'll just love it. So if you wanna learn more and get on that wait list, head on over to the mint ambition.com/powerful-presence-society. That's the mint ambition.com/powerful Presence Society. Go check it out.
All right, so let's get started with this week's topic. And I mentioned in the intro that we're going to be kind of tackling our first rule and then I'm going to give you permission to break. Um, and that is around. How to stop taking things personally. So I've heard this, I, I've felt it myself over the years, quite often.
And I've heard it directly from people in my community, uh, from people in the program that I just mentioned. And is the desire to stop taking things personally and. I, I can even remember, I remember sitting in a presentation, um, that was a really phenomenal presentation, kind of getting a personal view of a, um, a woman in a senior leadership position.
And the question was asked of her. It was something similar. It wasn't, it wasn't exactly what taking these personally, but it was very similar, um, about essentially like, oh, how. Deal with, I think it was what criticism, like how to deal with criticism as you rose into your position. And I thought her answer was so interesting.
It was essentially that, well, I don't take things personally. I can't, I would never get to this position. I would never. Um, I'm paraphrasing obviously, but, uh, essentially saying like, I wouldn't have, like my mental health wouldn't have worked. Like I wouldn't have survived if I took everything personally.
I need, I have, I have to have, have to have thick skin. And she was just very, she was very, um, calm about it, but very adamant, very clear cut. Like this is the way it is, it's the way the world is. You have to, you, you can't take things personally as you rise and. I don't wanna suggest that. Um, I don't wanna suggest that you , that you should take everything personally, so hang with me.
It's not about that. It's what I, the problem with it though is that some folks are just naturally, naturally don't take things personally. They're what's called low self monitors. And for them, it's just part of how their brains work. Part of how, either, either genetics or how they developed, but they're, they, it doesn't, they just don't take things personally, and that can be a huge advantage for moving into leadership, just like this woman was saying.
She's like, well, I wouldn't have made it if I didn't, if I took everything to personally, I needed to have thick skin. Like, it's a huge advantage because you just, you just forge on and there's so much strength with that. The disadvantage though of when you're a low self monitor is that, um, you're not paying as much attention to the impact you have.
And so that can, well, it can, first of all, it can create some ethical issues in terms of leadership and toxic leadership. But even that aside, even if you're still a kind of a, a, not a toxic leader, it can still be problematic because like it's gonna be extra effort for you to pay attention to the impact.
So at the other end of the spectrum, however, and the majority of the people that I work with, majority of people I work with identify as high self monitors. I identify as a high self monitor, uh, in fact a very high self monitor. And I mean, it can be a real advantage because you're very aware of the impact you have on others.
And that is, it's such huge advantage, especially especi. For, for a leader to be aware and especially, and then to be compassionate and be conscious of it. The downside, of course, is that sometimes if we're, if we're, um, if we're too much of a high self monitor, it can cause paralysis and you can be freezing.
And that's where the taking things personally comes in because you can get to this place, or you're taking so much personally, and that's where you end up hearing this rule come in. Like, oh, just don't take, don't take things so personally and have a thicker skin. So fair enough. That's something you can work on, something you can develop to, to not take things personally.
But I actually want to suggest that there's a lot of value in leaning into taking things personally. And what I mean by that is there's value in understanding yourself and understanding what's going on in in your own mind when you're taking things personally. So in coaching circles and, and I, and I think it was Bene Brown who's made this very, uh, popular, there's this understanding that the way we experience the world is through our own lens, right?
Our own experience. And we sometimes end up telling ourselves stories about what we are experiencing. And sometimes those stories aren't true. Maybe a lot of the time, right? . The, uh, the CO two coaches that I follow, my, uh, two coach mentors, Jen and Karen, they, they actually, uh, call it the, uh, the degree from MSU making stuff up.
And we just do it as humans. It's part of our biology, it's part of our evolution because our brains. Have developed to make sense of the world. It's, it's actually, um, there's a really good HBR article that talks about sense making as a, as a key leadership skill that as a leader, the ability to make sense of the world for your people is so valuable.
So our brains do it for us. And when we take things personally, What's happened is that we're telling ourselves a story. We're giving a situation, meaning that's triggering us and that's what I almost want you to, what I want you to do, not almost, I want you to lean into that because I want you to practice that self-reflection and self-awareness to be aware of the story you're telling yourself and to be aware of how it's triggering.
So I'll give you a, a couple of examples actually of taking things personally, of like what you might be taking personally, and then I'm going to actually give you an exercise, a three question exercise that you can lean into what you're taking personally and also, uh, get some good solutions out of it.
So the three examples I had, they're kind of a compilation of my own experiences, of my client's experiences and sort of things that I see on Facebook of people kind of. Uh, even like, they might even say, am I taking this too seriously? And they'll ask a Facebook group, am I taking this too seriously? And they'll share a situation.
So number one, the most common is we get an email. We get an email, and we feel triggered. And. We might even say, oh, am I taking this too personally? Have you ever done this? Like you've opened up an email and you've shown it to your spouse, or you've shown it to a friend or a colleague and you've shown it to someone.
It's almost like you want that validation of, am I taking this too seriously? Um, or too personally, or, or maybe too seriously too, by taking it too personally. But I, I think we've all had that, right? We've all had an email that really touched a nerve and. And you know, you call up a friend or you show it to someone and then you start, oh, I'm taking this too personally, and you start questioning yourself and try to thicken your skin for.
Okay. The, the other common example is getting critical feedback, right? You get your performance review and you don't get your five gold stars that you expected and you know, secretly really wanted. And you get, um, even if, or even you do get five gold stars, but you also get quote unquote constructive feedback.
And it's almost like you got this knife to your heart thinking that, oh, I didn't, I. Perform. I didn't out perform right. And they just think, oh, I shouldn't take that. So personally. And then the third example is what I'm calling the, the stakeholder slash client example, where you have either a key stakeholder for your projects or you've got a key client or even a management, someone, an executive who.
is either gets angry or gets frustrated or seems affronted at things or any other emotion that you're interpreting as as, and you're having an A reaction to that emotion and you start thinking, oh, I shouldn't take this so personally, or maybe you're. Or maybe someone's even suggesting you shouldn't take it to personally.
Right. I've heard that from clients where their, their bosses tell them, you know, stop taking things so personally, which may be a sign of a low self monitor boss as possible. Or just a sign that you know, they're trying to be helpful, trying to help you to not take things personally and. . The thing is, is that you are taking it personally, right?
So the problem with don't take things so personally is that it ignores your reaction. It's tell, trying to tell you to, to pretend your reaction isn't happening. It's trying to tell you to kind of skip past it and not to experience it. And it's almost, it's almost an invalidating your emotion, your emotional reaction.
I, I don't wanna suggest that, like, I don't want you to feel crippled by your reaction. I don't want you to lean into it. I do not want you to use this as an excuse for, for growth and an excuse for, for how to move forward. But I also don't want you to be invalidated. I want you to. e experience those emotions, because really it's by embracing them and stepping into them and really exploring them, that's where you're gonna have growth and that's where you'll start learning about yourself and learning how, how to not take things personally or at least how to move productively past, taking things personally.
So, Let's, let's move on to what you can do instead. Instead of just trying to skip past taking things personally. So it's a, it's three questions I'm gonna have you ask yourself, and there are three, essentially three self-coaching questions. And what I actually really recommend doing is getting something where you can write your answers down.
Either a blank piece of paper, um, like a lit, literally a blank piece. Not, not even a lined piece. I, I love working myself. I love working with, um, blank paper, like printer paper, because to me it just, it allows for more creativity and it, it facilitates really expressing myself. So I, I offer that to you as well, if that would be of value.
The other thing you could do is pull out a, a whiteboard. If you're anything like me, like I love whiteboards. I'm such a nerd. Standing whiteboard at home. I have a little, um, a little small one as well. It's funny, I think it was actually for my son. I can see he's got writing around the edges of it. Um, but I use whiteboards all the time.
I just find them. I I, the feeling of writing on a whiteboard, I find very cre conducive to creativity. So what you take out a very, a totally blank piece of paper. and start taking notes and for yourself with answers to these questions. And the first question I want you to ask yourself is, what am I making this mean?
What am I making this mean? Okay? And the reason we ask this question is that it really allows you to explore what's happen. for you with that story that you're telling. And, and honestly, like the story you're telling yourself might might be true, quote unquote, like you might have an accurate read on the other person, but you know what?
It actually doesn't matter. It doesn't matter how true it is. What matters. Is, what are you making it mean and really, and really sit with it and, and really be honest with yourself and really work on having that honest, nonjudgmental approach to answering the question. Um, this is something we do in, in my program.
So actually I had presented these three questions to my mastermind a few weeks ago and we really worked through it. And this is the kind of place that, that we get to in one of my goals and the programs I run is, is helping people get to that place where you can ask yourself these questions or in the group with your, with your peer mentor or in our mastermind, um, or in the, uh, powerful present society group itself.
It's like, Having that space and having that comfort with yourself to be real and be honest, and be raw, and be vulnerable with yourself. What am I making this mean? Okay, that's question number one. And then, and this is why we needed a whole page or a whole whiteboard. Then the next question is, what could I make it mean?
What could I make it mean? So the reason we ask this question is because it, it does a few things, but it at the, essentially it expands our understanding and our interpretation and our mind to see that there are many ways of taking things. Okay? And you can go in many directions in this. This is why having a totally blank piece of paper is great.
You can, cuz you can kind of write all over the place. You could do a mind map. Of other interpretations, of other ways that you could make it mean they can go into the very, um, kind of compassionate space and very understanding space of, oh, it could make it mean that they, they're having a, they're having a really rough time right now, and they're, they're showing up that way because of what's happening in their world.
Or you know what? Like be honest with yourself. And again, like I said, step into the personal and let yourself go there to the most judgmental side of you and let yourself put it down on paper. Like, oh, I can make it mean that they're a total narcissist and they don't care about me at all. If that's a thought you're having, write it down.
Write it down. Be vulnerable with yourself and you know, like don't try to stuff it away or hide it away. Just be honest. Be honest with yourself that that's a thought that came up. Right. These are just things that we can make it mean. They're just thoughts, they're just stories. They're not necessarily truth.
You don't have to really believe any of these thoughts, but you, it is helpful to recognize that you're having them. Okay. And I would love for you to fill up that whole paper with different meanings, as many different meanings as you can possibly come up with. You know, like I said, you could do the mind map and kind of go incremental or come up with wildly different ideas of what it could mean.
Come up with as many as you can, really get your, um, get yourself in the practice of thinking about many, many different meanings. Because then what you're going to do is you're going to ask yourself question number three, and question number three is that you're gonna sit back and look at what you just wrote down.
Look at that paper or that whiteboard, and you're going to ask which meaning is most helpful, which meaning is most helpful.
Because you get to choose. You get to choose the meaning. You give something, the meaning you assign something, the story you tell yourself, and you wanna choose one that's gonna be most helpful, be most useful for you right now. Okay. And then, I mean, after that there's lots more you can do and you might find yourself naturally doing this.
It might, you know, coming up with all these, all these, um, meanings might give you ideas on what to do next or maybe even spur you to having some honest conversations, to finding out what's going on, which I really explore that relationship because that's usually what it is, is it's usually to do with a relationship with another person.
you know, you might start coming up with some solutions around that. Let's start with this. Start with exploring yourself, exploring what's happening with your thoughts and your emotions. This is kind of like a, a thought and emotion combination that's happening here. So, uh, just, just starting there, just that, just very.
And what you'll notice is the more and more you do this, the more often you do this, that it'll come naturally and you can actually, you can actually catch yourself in the moment and kind of work through these questions even just very quickly as at almost as a reminder of like, oh, it can mean other things and land on something that is more useful possibly than the first reaction that you may have had.
But ultimately, I, I, what I, I invite you to do is to lean into, to understand what's making it personal. You know, what are you making it mean? Okay. And if you're interested in taking this even further and you really want to explore these kinds of concepts and really dig into specific examples, um, for coaching, and then also what to do when you have these situations and, and how to work yourself through it, and how to develop more powerful relationships in that powerful presence.
Like I said, definitely check out The Powerful Presence Society. We're opening registration officially. And a few weeks from now, from the time of this recording, Late March and registration will open up about mid-April. Um, if you definitely, if you know you're in and you're like, oh my goodness, like I can't wait to sign up, you can also like send me a DM or send me an email.
There is kind of like a, a hidden Easter egg of, uh, of discount for anyone who pre registers. We've got several people who have pre-registered already. Um, so if you wanna be part of that group, just send me a note and I can, I can send you that, uh, discounted rate, uh, early if you wanna make sure you're. . So with that, have a wonderful rest of your morning, afternoon, evening, wherever it is, whatever time it is for you, and I will be with you again next week.
Thank you so much for listening to this episode. Now, if this podcast helped you or inspired you in any way, I would love for you to leave me a review over on Apple Podcasts. It takes about. 20 seconds if that, and it's, it's honestly the easiest way for you to thank me for this episode. Every time I see a review, it brings me so much of joy and it just lights me up.
So if you could do that for me, I would be evers. So grateful. Now, the other thing you can do is you can take a screenshot of this episode or even a screenshot of your review and send it to a friend or share it in a Facebook group or even post on your LinkedIn newsfeed to let other people know about this podcast and this episode.
Thanks again, and now get out there and start breaking some rules.