I LOVE WHAT I DO! Even after over 20 years, I still love what I do. I also believe that the success of others is impacted by my activities as a professor, innovator, and researcher which is incredibly motivating. That said, often I am the only woman in the room and the only Black engineer in the building which can be, at times, de-motivating. Sure, “hard work” is required – but hard work alone isn’t enough. Establishing strong relationships, seeking leadership positions, getting a mentor, and always keeping the vision for growth to the next career level is essential to moving beyond demotivating adversity or feelings of self-doubt. Making sure you have the right people in your support circle is absolutely critical to working and leading at the highest levels of your organization. Seek help. Then, force yourself to take at least one high risk opportunity/project/challenge per year. Don’t stay in the comfort zone – it’s not where leaders sit.
I took a scientist’s approach, researching successful leadership strategies in order to create a practical guide for professional women and I found the following actions to be key factors to overcoming de-motivating adversity that can stand in the way of success:
Recognize that adversity is a PART OF THE PROCESS TO SUCCESS! Don’t automatically assume that because a difficult situation is facing you that you’ve done something wrong. Many times adversity is just a part of the process to success or leadership.
- Don’t take things personally, and don’t own other peoples’ issues. Sometimes, the particular challenge will go away if we simply change our perspective on our situation or the value we place in a person’s opinion.
- DO SELF-EVALUATION WITHOUT SELF-DEPRECIATION. It is vitally important that we evaluate ourselves, but this does not mean putting ourselves down! Regularly remind yourself of the value you have. Think about how you’ve successfully managed a negative or adverse situation in the past.
- HAVE A VISION THAT IS BIGGER THAN YOU. Let the value of vision become a source of motivation to actively and positively address the adversity.
- DO SOMETHING FOR SOMEONE ELSE! Even something small will take your mind off of you and your adversity. Something as small as a kind word or compliment to a stranger can begin the solution process.
- MOVE INTO SOLUTION MODE. EXECUTE: Do it!
Separating the adversity from your personal vision and mission and managing it using the above steps is the key to staying motivated each day. You have worked hard. You deserve success. Stay focused. Create your plan. Your leadership and innovations are needed!
Dr. McCauley is an Professor and Director of the Ergonomics Laboratory in the Department of Industrial Engineering and Management Systems at the University of Central Florida . Dr. McCauley is an internationally acclaimed keynote speaker and author of over 80 technical papers, book chapters, conference proceedings and the best-selling ergonomics textbook, Ergonomics: Foundational Principles, Applications, and Technologies.