Self-Mastery: How To Be Resilient In The Workplace

     Do you have self-mastery? Self-mastery means that you feel competent to make your way in the world knowing you can handle yourself in varied situations. It comes from strengthening your social and emotional skills. If you don’t have it, don’t worry. I didn’t either, it’s not something you are born with, it’s something we all can and need to learn.

     In her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Carol Dweck, PhD has studies that show when children are told they’re brilliant, they start looking at effort as a sign of inadequacy, thereby causing emotional stress. When things get difficult at school, they can’t handle it. Many adults may react this way in the workplace. What is more effective than relying on praise and approval from others is emphasizing the individual effort, creating a strategy, using perseverance and striving for improvement. If you work on creating a game plan to approach challenge, you create a safe place for yourself to take risks. Some other social and emotional skills like how to manage stress and other emotions that hold you back, can also be refined. This can be done by recognizing your strengths and weaknesses, and using them to create a framework for success in your endeavors. So, do you have self mastery? Can you make it through the turbulence of the career world? Maybe it’s time to create your own game plan that will allow you to make your way smoothly through your professional endeavors.

    I found myself needing a new game plan last summer when I found myself in an adobe photo shop class. I had taken a photo shop course in college, but that was 11 years ago and I didn’t remember much of anything. After introducing herself, the instructor proceeded to turn off all the lights and project her computer desktop on a screen. She then reviewed every feature of the program in about 60 seconds. She quickly switched gears and began having us changing the layer of an image, transforming, etc. She was on step 4 and I was trying to figure out step 1. I raised my hand and informed her of my confusion and a heard a classmate laugh quietly. “Oh my god” I thought “I am a total moron; everybody has this figured out but me.” My negative self talk prevented me from retaining anything during the rest of that class.

      I went home predicting doom and gloom for the future of my career endeavors. Then the next morning I woke up determined to learn photo shop. I got a book from the library and spent a few hours for several days that week learning photo shop and learn it, I did. At class the following week I understood it so well I was actually helping my classmates, who were finally revealing their confusion as well. It turns out that giggle I heard when I announced my confusion in the previous class was actually an agreement, not a judgment. We were all in the same state of confusion trying to follow a fast paced instructor.

    What did I take away from this? That your attitude determines your outcome. When I realized that my weakness was a technical one, I used my strength as a researcher to over come my feelings of self defeat. Self mastery is not being used solely by individuals; corporations are implementing it in their leadership training programs as well. Senior managers and other company officials participate in role playing activities that help them determine what strategies they use to handle difficult situations and stress at the workplace.

      So maybe you need to take a look at those strengths and weaknesses again and see where self mastery could work for you. Another element of self mastery is realizing how far you can improve your weaknesses by relying on your strengths. Sometimes it serves your best interest if you outsource your needs. For example, even though I conquered my ineptness at photo shop, I realized my time could be spent doing other things for my business. I left the graphic work to a designer who loves photo shop. Think about where your self mastery can take you and what areas you need to delegate to others. You’ll gain confidence and feel more control when handling adverse situations in your career and personal life.

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