December 30, 2019

Turn your vices into virtues & grow personally and professionally

by Wendy Ryan in Leadership

As we head into a new year and new decade, you may be looking at your goals and personal vision to determine how the next year or 5 or 10 might look for you. I’d like to propose that we make 2020 and beyond about being bold and getting out of our comfort zone.

Many professionals today are focused on growing and continuous learning, but when was the last time you did something that you knew you should but it made you wildly uncomfortable? Something creative and out of character? Something you were truly nervous to do?

Growth comes in all different forms, well beyond the traditional self-help book or business conference. Sometimes growth is about doing something totally unrelated to your work and outside the box. It could be taking a vice, something that may have held you back before, and transforming it into a virtue.

What’s Your Vice?

Traditionally, a vice was considered something wicked or immoral, harmful to ourselves or others. Smoking, excessive drinking, an insatiable sweet tooth are just a few vices that come to mind.

But a vice can also be a habit or personality trait that doesn’t serve you well at work, which I talk about in a recent blog post. A desire for spontaneity that detracts you from executing day-to-day work, a sense of humor that has others looking at you sideways or an overzealous confidence that others call “cocky.”

You might see these as vices or tendencies that you have to either hide or tone down, but properly channeled they can be beneficial to you at work.

Making Your Vice a Virtue

I’m innately very shy, which would probably surprise many people to hear and they might even consider it to be a vice in my line of work. Nevertheless I also love the spotlight. Growing up, I spent many years teaching and performing as a ballet dancer on stage. In more recent years, I’ve long been secretly fantasizing (not so secret anymore!) about what it would be like to perform a comedy routine onstage. The idea alternately exhilarates and terrifies me, all at the same time.

In an effort to turn my vice into a virtue, I now deliberately practice bringing my sense of humor and comedic timing into group facilitation and trainings. What I’ve discovered along the way is that properly channeled, my sense of humor can help keep the audience far more interested and engaged in the content, which is a big plus.

The downside to this is that I may one day offend someone (which has happened). Or, people may think I’m not as serious about the content I’m presenting as I should be. But my love of humor and performing on stage is a fantastic tool to help engage and connect with others –as long as I am mindful and sensitive to how I use it.

And someday, I may even take an improv class to hone my skills further.

Recently, I was coaching an executive who is naturally drawn to creative pursuits. Think art, music, etc. Working in a highly regulated and corporate environment, he wasn’t finding much of an outlet for this virtue in his work. He found a way to channel this desire into a family activity and signed up for a paper marbling class with his children.

When he told me about the class, I was surprised but very encouraging. It was a great way for him to spend precious quality time with his family while providing the creative outlet he craved.

The result? He had a great day, made once in a lifetime memories with his daughters and even signed them all up for another class. And as a bonus, he has been able to ride that feeling of elation he got from creating something new into a renewed sense of personal energy and focus at work.

Growth is necessary to our life and success, and it happens a lot faster when you step out of your comfort zone. Turning vices into virtues isn’t about changing who you are; it’s about leaning with intention into your natural strengths so you can be a better version of yourself tomorrow than you are today.

If being a better leader is part of your plan for 2020, sign up for my free 8-part video series on leadership development. In less than 30 minutes, you’ll have the ideas and tools you need to make this your best year yet.

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