Only You Get To Decide If It’s Ego

In 2019, I graduated with my Doctor of Business Administration from the University of South Florida. This was huge for me.

Success always seemed like a losing battle. A doctorate degree, let alone finishing high school would have been alien to me when I was younger. At 12 years old I was assigned a truancy officer for skipping school too much, and at 13 I was kicked out of school.

When I hit my late teenage years, I found determination to build a better life for myself, and that started with mustering up the courage to take two busses a night to GED study classes. I failed the math portion of the test, but on the second try a few months later I passed.

At 21 with a 6-month-old baby at home, I enrolled in college courses. Despite my worries that I wasn’t smart enough and that leaving my baby at night made me a bad mother, I earned my bachelor’s degree. Then two master’s. Then my terminal degree. 

To me, my doctorate degree means: overcoming adversity, successfully navigating impostor syndrome, perseverance, sacrifice, self-love… and finally earning the ‘Dr.’ in front of my name.

After graduation, the time came to announce to the world that I was ‘Dr. Clark’. I was thrilled, but a sense of hesitancy creeped in. For several months and even with my business students, I’d introduce myself as ‘Danielle’ or ‘Professor Clark’ and avoid the doctorate title altogether.

What if people think I’m conceited? What if my students think I have an ego? I feared coming across as arrogant, as some kind of pompous professor shining a stage light on my achievements.

A friend I graduated with had the letters ‘Dr.’ beautifully tattooed on his wrist. I loved the idea of having a visible daily reminder of ‘I can do anything I put my mind to’ whenever I needed the confidence boost.

I told a few people I was considering getting the tattoo myself and each one further fed my fears by responding along the lines of, “Conceited much?”

It took many conversations with myself and others to finally realize I’m the only one who knows if I have ego, and I shouldn’t care what others think. If it feels good to me, why not? If I want to honor my journey and who I am today by introducing myself as ‘Dr. Clark’ in certain situations (like the classroom), then go me!

It’s now been a few years of hearing ‘Dr. Clark’ echoed back to me. Each time I hear it, I experience a ping of pride. And I’ve heard from many others that knowing I am a young terminal degree holder with an at-risk youth path inspires them to shoot for the stars.

I still don’t have that ‘Dr.’ tattoo. I’ve chosen not to get it; not for concern of what others think, but because I’m just not ready for a tattoo yet (this would be my first so I’m taking it slow). 

What have you been holding back from because you’re worried others will assume you have ego? Where have you made yourself small to make others comfortable? And the most important question, how can you put others’ thoughts aside and follow your ego-free desires?

Join me in spreading my messages of breaking judgement habits and strengthening intuition even further: forward this newsletter to a few family members and friendsThe greater the shares, the greater the impact – They can subscribe here.  

Sincerely,
Danielle

PS – Here’s an affirmation to remind you that your desires matter regardless of what others think, ‘I know my intent and truth. I am a magnet for my dreams and desires.

PPS – Do you want to work on your self-confidence when it comes to owning your growth and achievements? If so, grab your journal and a pen. Jot down areas of your life you’ve grown in the last year (health, finances, career, spirituality etc.) Have you told your family and friends about your progress and wins? And not just the short generic version because you didn’t want to look like you had an ego? If yes, good for you! Give yourself a pat on the back and write yourself a kudos note. If you answered no, write out how you think a conversation with a family member or friend would play out if you humbly boasted about the things you’re proud of. If this person hints at arrogance or ego within you, how will you respond in a courageous way?

You’re doing it wrong: How to lead millennials the right way

Awhile back, I had a telling conversation with a millennial who recently quit his job. When I asked the young man why he left his employer, his response was, “My boss.” After probing a bit more, I discovered he didn’t feel connected to his supervisor or his work. At one point in our conversation, he passionately said,

“My supervisor was very task-focused and always told me what to do. The problem was, he never told me why I was doing what I was doing. Anytime I asked my boss to connect the dots, he would get aggravated and tell me it wasn’t my job to understand the full process. I eventually realized I was never going to learn and grow as a leader under his management style.”

Continue reading “You’re doing it wrong: How to lead millennials the right way”

How to use negative feedback to be a better leader

A few weeks ago, I gave constructive feedback to a colleague.  Although those types of conversations are never easy, the discussion went well. Looking back on our meeting, I attribute its success to my detailed pre-planning.

At the close of our meeting, I was feeling good about our time together, but then something unexpected happened: This employee said they had feedback for me. My colleague then shared two examples of when I had recently let them down. The feedback stung. While I had planned to give feedback, I certainly hadn’t planned to receive it. I was thrown off guard and immediately felt hurt because I could empathize with this person’s concerns. They were right — I could have handled a few things differently than I had.

Continue reading “How to use negative feedback to be a better leader”

3 practical ways to lead change effectively

I recently attended a great human resources seminar that was fast-paced, informative and thought-provoking, which is exactly how I like my training.

While I was excited about my learnings and ready with workplace change ideas, some attendees didn’t necessarily share my elation. In fact, an attendee I was partnered with admitted feeling a bit lost, overwhelmed and apprehensive. While the seminar information was valuable, implementing practical changes was a concern. And I’d say that’s very fair considering only 25% of change management initiatives are successful over the long term, according to a Towers Watson study. Change initiatives fail for a number of reasons, including poor planning, ineffective communication, employee misunderstandings, past resentments, shock and a feeling of lost control.

Continue reading “3 practical ways to lead change effectively”

Is there a dark side to emotional intelligence?

I consider my emotional intelligence to be one of my greatest strengths, and because of it, I’ve had thousands of positive and successful professional relationships. This trait allows me to easily work with a variety of people, handle conflicts effectively, comfortably navigate change and build even stronger relationships.

Seeing such a positive use and outcome, it was quite the shocker to find out some people use their emotional intelligence to actually manipulate others. According to research in The Atlantic’s articleThe Dark Side of Emotional Intelligencea research team led by University College London Professor Martin Kilduff found:

Continue reading “Is there a dark side to emotional intelligence?”

4 easy ways managers can beat year-end work stress before it starts

Believe it or not, the year is almost over and the holiday season is right around the corner. While the holidays bring cheer, fun and togetherness they can also bring stress and a poor work-life balance.

Before you know it, you will find yourself with aggressive end-of-year work deadlines all while trying to spend time with family, prepare for the holidays, and squeeze in your last few vacations days.

Fortunately, it’s early enough in the year to mitigate some of the craziness to come. Continue reading “4 easy ways managers can beat year-end work stress before it starts”

3 simple ways managers can foster a positive work environment

When trying to improve employee job satisfaction, many managers focus on training, communication, and recognition. While these tactics can be helpful, they won’t make much of an impact if employees don’t feel respected.

A Society for Human Resource Management study found 72 percent of employees feel being respected at work is the most important aspect of their job satisfaction. Yet, only 33 percent of employees report being “very satisfied” with respectful treatment of employees at all levels.

As a manager, you can help infuse more respect in the workplace by being clear, holding people accountable and leading by example.

Here are practical steps that can help you accomplish all three and create a positive work environment for both you and your employees. Continue reading “3 simple ways managers can foster a positive work environment”

4 simple steps for getting your employees to use their vacation time

Time away from the office is critical to employee health, engagement, creativity and productivity—yet, workers are letting millions of vacation days go unused. That’s 429 million days a year to be exact.

Project: Time Off reports American workers are taking the least amount of vacation in nearly 40 years, just 16 days in 2013, almost a workweek less of vacation compared to the pre-2000 average of 20.3 days each year.

Why aren’t employees taking time off? The report found:

  • 40 percent of employees didn’t use their vacation because they didn’t want to return to a mountain of work.
  • 35 percent of workers feel that nobody else can do their job.
  • 22 percent of employees express concern that they do not want to be seen as replaceable.

These employee fears are concerning. Fortunately, there are actions you can take to help encourage your staff to take the vacation they so desperately deserve. Continue reading “4 simple steps for getting your employees to use their vacation time”

Have a good boss? Don’t forget to recognize them in these 3 ways

Bad bosses are now an epidemic—and they’re sending employees running.

A Gallup study found 50 percent of employees surveyed left a job just to get away from their manager. These bad bosses aren’t defined by the things they do, but rather, by the critical things they don’t do.

That list includes failing to inspire, lacking a clear vision and direction, demonstrating an inability to lead change, and displaying bad judgment according to a study by the Harvard Business Review.

A good boss needs to be approachable, transparent, fair, passionate, and collaborative. In order to retain employees and keep them engaged, bosses need to openly communicate, effectively performance manage, and promote a strengths-based culture, reports Gallup.

Continue reading “Have a good boss? Don’t forget to recognize them in these 3 ways”

4 ways managers and HR professionals can help reduce workplace stress

High stress levels in the workplace can lead to employee health problems, loss of productivity (or employees for that matter) bullying, and even violence.

A work stress survey found that 83 percent of Americans are stressed by at least one thing at work. Low pay, an unreasonable workload, annoying co-workers, and commuting are among the top stressors.

As managers and HR professionals, it is our responsibility to work together and do what we can to minimize and mitigate employee stress whenever possible.

Although this is easier said than done, there are steps we can take. Continue reading “4 ways managers and HR professionals can help reduce workplace stress”