What we believe becomes how we act, and our actions shape our reality. Therefore, in a way, what you believe to be true inevitably becomes true. This is why our inner critic is such a powerful voice, and why affirmations can be transformational for us as leaders.
In today’s episode of the Joy to Lead Podcast, we’re pulling back the curtain on affirmations and positive self talk and belief. Because our subconscious mind leads us in powerful ways. We lead from the inside out!
What are affirmations, anyway?
I remember when I had my daughter, I had preeclampsia and didn’t know it. When my water broke 5 weeks early, I got to the hospital and was told the danger my body and my daughter were in. There was talk of life-flighting her to a larger hospital and pumping me with magnesium to prevent seizures.
I was scared. What should have been an exciting moment was now painted with fear, worry, and anxiety.
I’ll never forget how my doctor pulled up a chair next to me and took my hand. He said, “What you say in your head becomes your thoughts. Your thoughts become your belief. What you believe changes the way you act, and how you act shapes your reality. You are thinking the worst. Now, you must only think the best.”
He coached me to say, “I will be okay, my baby will be okay,” over and over again until I literally felt fear wash away and joy flow in my heart and mind. It was a life changing moment.
Affirmations can change your mind, and changing your mind changes how you live!
Affirmations are intentional positive self-talk with the purpose of reshaping your subconscious thoughts and belief. Even Proverbs 23:7 says, “As a man thinks, so he is.”
Dr. Caroline Leaf , neuroscientist and author, writes in her book Switch On Your Brain, “As we think, we change the physical nature of our brain. As we consciously direct our thinking, we can wire out toxic patterns of thinking and replace them with healthy thoughts… When you think, you build thoughts, and these become physical substances in your brain.”
Positive affirmations are the first step to rewiring your thinking. It’s even biblical!
- Philippians 4:18 says, “Whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.”
- 2 Corinthians 10:5 says, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
- Romans 12:2 says, “Do not copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
Affirmations can transform us, and we can use truth, our values and what we want to believe to work backward to shape our own affirmations.
Creating life-changing affirmations for leaders
Creating your own affirmations is easy and powerful. Let’s explore some of my best tips for creating your own affirmations.
Your first step is to take your thoughts captive and stop letting them run wild. How do we do that? First, you have to recognize that we weren’t meant to live in fear, overwhelm, anxiety or stress. Recognize that these things are not meant to be your status quo. We were not made with a spirit of fear but a spirit of love, power and a sound mind.
Next, start to identify when you are feeling these things – stress, overwhelm, irritability, anger, loss of control, fear, etc.
Then, work your thoughts backward – what led you to these emotions? What was the root cause? Craft a positive truth that can take that situation or belief and lead you away from stress and toward peace.
An example of my own affirmation for joy in leadership and work
For example, I feel overwhelmed and anxious when I try to fit too much on my plate and I don’t have time to finish everything I set out to accomplish. As a mom, I get snappy and as a wife I get irritable and inside I feel discouraged and depressed.
But I remember what Ecclesiastes tells us, that there is a time for everything under the sun. I know that I am meant to be in this season, that I am meant for the work that has been assigned to me, and that I will accomplish what I’m meant to accomplish in the appropriate time.
Nothing that is meant for me to do won’t get done – I need to remember that rest and space are as equally important as productivity. Here are some of the things I tell myself, my own affirmations, during these times:
- Stick to the plan, follow the steps, do the next thing and it will get done.
- I am in this season for a reason and it is a blessing.
- Rest begets creativity. When I rest, I feel better and work better and love better. Rest is good for me.
- I flow between work, rest and play with ease and joy. I release what can’t be done because I know it will get done if it needs to be done.
- Lord, show me what I need to do today. Show me what is most important.
Some may argue that the last one is not an affirmation, but I believe prayers ARE affirmations because they train your brain to refocus on what matters. When I pray this over and over, I start to look and search for the answer and I’m training my brain to follow God’s lead.
What you think drastically affects how you lead your team
We lead from the inside out. We set the tone and direction for our teams. How we lead ourselves becomes how we lead our teams, and how we lead creates the culture of our team.
So, if our thoughts become our beliefs and our beliefs become our actions, then our actions become how we lead and how we lead becomes our team.
Your thoughts don’t just affect you, they alter your team in ways you can’t imagine. For example, if you’re always anxious about never getting enough done and you let those thoughts shape the way you act, you’ll lead from a place of “never enough.” Your team will never see their own potential or feel confident enough to pursue it because the standard of excellence keeps getting pushed out of reach.
Then, your team will get bored following your lead because you never give them a chance to innovate and create and be a leader. They’ll look for a job somewhere else, and you’ll struggle with costly turnover rates that drain your account and your joy. You’ll wonder, “why does everyone keep leaving? They weren’t good enough, I need to look for better people,” and the cycle begins again.
Break the cycle by taking your thoughts captive. As a man thinks, so he is. Change what you’re thinking!
3 powerful affirmations for leaders who crave more joy in their teams
Here are three leadership affirmations to add to your morning routine to infuse more joy into your life, leadership, business and team!
- My strengths and gifts are blessings to me and my team. I lead from a place of joy, curiosity, and wisdom.
- I am free to seek and lean on my team members’ strengths. When we are together, we are stronger, more creative, more productive, and we will change the world.
- I am curious and excited to experience new and challenging things today. I’m open to new ideas, new possibilities, and new opportunities – I listen and look for them daily!
Now, write your own affirmations to pair with these! Here are some ideas of where you can take them next:
- Create a wallpaper for your phone and/or desktop. Morgan Harper Nichols has some you can download for free, or use as inspiration!
- Put them on sticky notes around your home or office. Here are 101 fun ideas for places around your home you can put affirmations.
- Record a mini-podcast recording of your affirmations and play them back to yourself each morning.
- Create a mug with custom affirmations
- Get a custom wristband, like those silicone Livestrong bracelets
- Create a custom print you can frame and put on your wall
- Get a whiteboard and write them out every morning
- Journal them 5 times each every morning
I’d love to hear what your affirmations for yourself as a leader will be! Head over to Instagram and send me a DM with your affirmation – I can’t wait to hear them. Or, if you are in the Joy to Lead Community, come post them in the group. Not in the Community? We are missing you – come join us at joytolead.com/community!