Last week, I intended to send out my usual article to you. But life had other plans! Let me explain… 25 November was our daughter Alessia’s birthday, 27 November was her mini matric farewell and added to that Key Steps turned 14 years old. Because of all the celebrations, I cut myself some slack and did not do my usual couple of hours of writing. I scheduled it for Monday instead. This would’ve worked perfectly had we not been based in Bedfordview. You see our electrical cables were tampered with on Monday morning and what resulted was a black out that lasted until Friday. Yes, you read that correctly… we had five days of no power or fibre connectivity!

Our inverter drained in the middle of an important presentation late Monday afternoon. Eish!! I was 10 minutes in, and everything went down. NO CONNECTIVITY. NADA. Firstly, all I could think about was the impact of not being able to complete the presentation or even make a phone call to explain as our cell reception is dismal. Secondly, I had to jump into problem solving mode to find ways to deliver seamless service the rest of the week (thankfully, with the support of many solar panels and amazing clients, it all went smoothly). Eventually, I realised that I had not written to you. In the past, my internal critic would’ve had a field day with this and given me an internal lashing of note. I would’ve got the message loud and clear that cutting myself some slack had been a bad idea BUT… that was old me! 😊 This year, I’ve taken “be kind” to another level and finally deeply internalised that I deserve to be cut the slack that I extend to others. So, guess what I did instead of the tongue lashing…? Yes, I cut myself some more slack, missed emailing you last week altogether, inspired this piece of writing (that’s out later than usual) and created some Key Steps that you can take to cut yourself some slack and…

‘be the difference that makes the difference.’

  1. Accept your limits. This has been the hardest life lesson for me! I like operating at a very fast pace – and that is unlikely to change (because I like it and choose it) – but I am not superhuman. Repeat after me… I am not superhuman. There are limits to my time and energy and I have to respect them. When I behave in superhuman ways, and do not respect my limits, it is a form of self-abuse. And it gives other people permission to abuse me too because we teach people how to treat us. Having limits makes me vulnerable and human and, yes, that’s who I am… a vulnerable human with limits. This is not an excuse for me to regularly miss deadlines or let people down though. It just allows me to…
  2. Manage your expectations. To deal with the chaos and crisis of last week and still meet my (self-imposed) writing deadlines, just wasn’t realistic. Something had to give. On Tuesday, I already had to cancel personal appointments to supervise the installation of solar panels. Only to discover that once we were independent of Eskom that our fibre company wasn’t! This meant I had to find a place for my all-day facilitation on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and transport all my equipment to make it happen. So, no, writing an article amongst all of that just wasn’t going to happen and I had to say NO to me. You might think that it is easier to say no to yourself than it is to someone else, but it often isn’t. I regularly hear clients struggling to manage expectations and holding onto the perception that they can’t say no to others. When they overcome this, they often find out that others are more understanding and kind to us than we are to ourselves, which brings me to…
  3. Stand on the history of your previous successes. When we are tempted to go into an internal rant and criticise ourselves, we are usually focusing on the single mistake that we have just made, the expectation we have not met or the things that did not go well. For example, when my power went out in the middle of a key presentation about how we support leaders to communicate more effective, write for impact and presentation powerfully on and off-line (go figure 😉), I had an audience of senior stakeholders, many who were meeting me for this first time. But I am not a first timer. I have a history of success and many clients who have trusted me for more than 14 years. Thankfully one of them happened to be in the virtual room and stepped into the void (thank you Liesl) to vouch for me and the fact that my disappearance must’ve been very extenuating circumstances. And they were. The clients on the line also know me by reputation and I had to remind myself that my brand’s collateral counts. So does yours. Do you judge yourself by your last mistake or do you let your brand’s legacy speak? Choose the latter, you’ve taken years to build it so you deserve to stand on it and allow it to cushion you. This will make the next point easier…
  4. Talk to yourself the way you would a good friend. No-one (except the old me) would’ve expected me to meet my usual deadlines. Every good friend was empathetic about the challenges of the week gone past that were compounded by my husband’s PA being diagnosed with Covid and our entire family testing positive this week. The voice in my head has finally stopped just paying lip service to “be kind to yourself.” Remember that YOU, as much as anyone, deserves your kindness and to hear the internal voice of a friend.

On that note, the past two weeks has really made me rethink the frequency – and length – of these articles. Since the pandemic hit, my weekly “food for thought” has evolved from a few quick tips into a full-blown article that takes a couple of hours to write and refine. I am taking my own advice and applying point 2. Please click here to help me manage my own expectations 😊. And stay safe because this variant of Covid seems to be spreading three to six times faster than the Delta variant. Fortunately, it is much milder and does not seem to be life threatening at all. This could be very good news for us and a turning point. Fingers crossed.


NOTE: The information in my blog may be freely shared and re-used in any online or offline publication, provided it is accompanied by the following credit line: This was written by Dr Sharon King Gabrielides, and originally appeared in her free weekly  ‘Key Steps Food for Thought Blog’ available on the Key Steps website.

Dr Sharon King Gabrielides

About Dr Sharon King Gabrielides

Sharon is a dynamic facilitator, speaker and executive coach with over 20 years’ experience in leadership and organisational development and transformation. She is a registered Education, Training and Development Practitioner (ETDP), holds an Honours degree in Psychology and practices as an NLP master practitioner. She is also one of only three women in South Africa to hold the title of Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) – it’s the Oscar of the speaking business.

Sharon’s PhD thesis contributed a framework for holistic and sustainable leadership development that has been published by Rutgers University in the USA. She is faculty of Henley Business School and highly sought-after by leading corporates because she works hand-in-hand with them to create sustainable results and long-term success. Sharon has become known for her practical approach, useful tools and genuinely caring manner. She is really looking forward to working with you and taking Key Steps to ‘be the difference that makes the difference.’