Who do you think is hardest on you? Yes, if you answered YOU, you’d be right. Life is not an easy journey. It might be many things… Magical, crazy beautiful, challenging, blessed, an adventure, are all words that come to mind. But easy is not one of them. And I think we often make it harder by how hard we are on ourselves.

I am working to change that for me. I thought I had made leaps and strides in the past 20 years. And, I had actually but, somehow, through Covid, I went backwards a little. That’s okay. I am aware of it and the next Key Steps I am taking are forwards. I hope you’ll join me so that together we can cut ourselves 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 must 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. It just allows me to…
  2. Manage expectations. The person I have the hardest time saying NO to is me. You might think that it is easier to say NO to yourself than it is to someone else, but it often isn’t. Remember that it is okay to say YES, IF (the negotiator’s NO) to yourself and others. And it is okay to say NO too. Boundaries make us trustworthy and allow us to stand in our integrity without compromising ourselves. No achievement is worth risking burnout, sacrificing your health and/or your happiness. I am seeing too much of this. I regularly hear clients struggling to manage expectations and holding onto the perception that they can’t say NO. Yet, when they overcome this, they often find out that others are more understanding and kind than they are to themselves, which brings me to…
  3. Stand on the history of your previous successes. Do you judge yourself by your last mistake or do you let your brand’s legacy speak? When tempted to go into an internal rant and critique, 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 as well as we liked. People who suffer from imposter syndrome are known to not accumulate their successes. If this is you, write them all down and add them up! Do it now and choose to let your personal brand’s legacy speak. You’ve taken years to build it, so you deserve to stand on it and allow it to hold you up. This will make the next point easier…
  4. Talk to yourself the way you would a good friend. It took a long time and way into my 30s for the voice in my head to stop just paying lip service to the advice I liberally dispensed… “be kind to yourself.” And it made all the difference. And it has not compromised my success – as I had unconsciously feared it would for too many years. I am not saying that I always get this right. I do still catch some really ineffective internal dialogue and internal berating. But it’s gotten much better, and I am more aware of when it rears its head and interrupt it. Remember that YOU, as much as anyone, deserve your kindness and to hear the internal voice of a friend. And hopefully that leads to this crucial Step…
  5. Take time to have fun and just be. Space… pause… breath… fun… joy… all give us the energy needed to be productive and successful. When you don’t give yourself space to just be and have fun, you rob yourself of your life-force. And inevitably, you negatively impact those around you and the work you do too. Be the happiest, healthiest, best version of you for you – and others of course.

Practising this is not about dropping balls, not meeting deadlines, and slacking off but about living realistically, with boundaries and by managing expectations. It is about taking care of you as much as you take care of work and your loved ones. It is about living your best life and enabling others to do the same.

What will you do this week to cut yourself some slack and… ‘be the difference that makes the difference.’ 


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 25 years’ experience in leadership development and organisational transformation. Her PhD thesis contributed a framework for holistic and sustainable leadership development that was published by Rutgers University in the USA. She is faculty of numerous business schools and highly sought-after by leading corporates because she works hand-in-hand with them to create sustainable results and long-term success. In 2020, Sharon was inducted into the Educators Hall of Fame, which is a lifetime achievement award, recognising excellence and her contribution to the field.

Sharon is one of only three women in South Africa to have achieved the title of
Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) – the Oscar of the speaking industry. She is also a COMENSA Master Practitioner (CMP), a qualified Modern Classroom Certified Trainer (MCCT™) and an accredited Global Virtual Speaker. Sharon is also a registered Education, Training and Development Practitioner (ETDP), holds an Honours degree in Psychology and practices as an NLP master practitioner.

Most important to Sharon is that she has become known for her genuinely caring manner, practical and transformational approach, and for providing valuable tools and that allow people to take Key Steps to really… ‘be the difference that makes the difference.’