We all send out and receive non-verbal messages. It is why we make almost instantaneous decisions as to whether we like or dislike someone we just met. Something may change our minds eventually, but part of that first assessment is almost always there.
If you want your administration to regard you as indispensable, you must project that. It’s subtle and will affect all your interactions. But first, you must honestly believe you are indispensable. The good news is, as with other aspects of leadership, you don’t have to be born with the ability to project strength, professionalism. It can be learned. The hard part is learning to retrain your brain.
What you project is all about your mindset. Remember that old truism supposedly said by Henry Ford, “If you think you can, or you think you can’t—you are right.” Our thoughts either limit us or set us free to grow. A statistics professor I knew at a library school told a student who said she would take her “C” here (since she was limited to two C’s in order to graduate), she just guaranteed she wouldn’t do better than that.
Positive self-talk is vital. Stop focusing on where you are not doing well and celebrate your achievements – no matter how small. I keep a Success Journal. Every day I note where I have succeeded at something. Some days I only list two successes. Other days I might have five. But I see where I succeed every day.
LaRae Quy lists Confidence, Persistence, Dedication, and Control in her article 4 Secrets of a Strong Mind and writes how these characteristics will take you far. Here’s how they play out in our world.
You won’t be taken seriously if you are not projecting confidence. This is not the same thing as being a know-it-all. It does mean you know what your job is, believe you do it very well, and are prepared to demonstrate that. I had a principal tell me, “You be the expert, or I will be the expert.” I answered, “I am the expert.”
Quy says, “Confidence is a belief in yourself and your ability to meet your goals. Push out of your comfort zone and expose yourself to different situations. Learn how to push through the uncomfortable.” Remember, it’s what you believe about yourself and stepping out of your comfort zone.
Persistence means you don’t give up. You try another tactic. A superintendent once confided in me that her first answer was always, “No.” because most people went away and didn’t come back. I always did which convinced her I was serious and knew what I wanted and why. It also showed her I would carry the project through and not waste the money – which was a big factor in all her decisions.
Quy says, “Persistence is the tendency is to see life’s obstacles as challenges to be met, rather than as threats. Don’t whine, point fingers or blame others for your predicament. You can be the hero of your own life and choose your destiny.” Become creative. Keep putting forward what your program needs. Whatever it takes.
Dedication is an easy one for us. We really care about what we do, and we show it. Many of you come in early and stay late. It’s about living your Philosophy of the library program and the values of our profession. They guide you in your decisions along with your Mission and Vision.
Quy says, “Strong-minded people have a dedication that comes from a purpose in alignment with their deepest values.” I think most of you do. Now you have to see that in yourself which will help you project it.
Control is not a word I usually like, but Quy uses it to mean closing out negative thoughts. It’s back to a positive mindset. Have a goal you work toward and record every small success you have in getting there. Don’t listen to nay-sayers—particularly the one in your brain. You have achieved much. You can and will achieve more. Quy says, “Control is having a certainty that you are able to shape your destiny and not passively accepting events as fate.”
I have added Quy’s words and ideas my ever-growing list of leadership qualities. And just to show you more how they manifest in my world, I am under 4’11’’ and yet my mail carrier commented recently, “You are one powerful lady.” He doesn’t know anything about my professional life, but he “got” what I project. When I was still a high school librarian my principal and the curriculum supervisors responded to that, giving me the respect and attention necessary to carry out and grow the library program.