While raising two daughters, I often reflected on how they were so different in approaching challenges. Kelsey, the oldest, was initially fearless and would jump at something new without ever giving it a second thought. One time, it even cost us a trip to the hospital for stitches; however, many times Kelsey would take the first leap and fail, which frightened her so much she wouldn’t attempt it again. It often held her back from pushing through challenges and being successful.
Our youngest daughter, Bailey, was different. She wanted to think about it first. Maybe because she was younger and had a confident older sister, she would watch before acting. Many times, we had to coax her into attempting challenges; however, once she found success, she would push forward like a bull and become more confident. Bailey grew to love competitive sports. As a six-year-old in a karate tournament, she overpowered and brought down an eight-year-old boy twice her size to win the match. I remember feeling terrible for the little boy who walked away in tears, but his mother came running up to me and asked how I got Bailey to be so bold and confident. I laughingly told her, “She has an older sister!”
Leadership requires that we lead with confidence.
Yet confidence often has to come through experience and repeated failures. It requires us to be vulnerable and face challenges. It was the subject of our Influence Lab Women webinar, Emerge. We explored aspects of building personal confidence in careers and relationships. For the Church to find unity today, God requires that we be confident in who He says we are and what He has called us to become – willing leaders in scary and uncertain situations. When we become this, our faith grows and we can trust God more fully. It is especially powerful for those working in media and entertainment who are influencers with social media megaphones.
Confidence begins with mindset.
Scientists tell us our brains are complex. Because of the neural plasticity of our brains, neurotransmitters guide our actions and reactions through a multitude of experiences. These experiences educate and inform us, and either lock or unlock our confidence. Scientists go on to explain that changing the memory of bad experiences requires us to make new and different mental choices and adopt different postures in our heart. This then allows us to choose actions that activate the reward centers in our brains. When we experience the presence of God in our lives, He emboldens us. Each time we rely on Him, our renewed confidence feeds our heart’s desire that then allows us to act and take risks because we know we aren’t out there on the ledge alone (Matthew 28:20). Thus, we engage and trust God more.
Knowing your personality and how to react is key to overcoming insecurities.
We become better leaders when we know ourselves and know who we are in Jesus, who emboldens us. We can respond under pressure and stress to make the positive changes needed. Our natural tendency is to stay in safe places, but God has called us into the deep – into the world and unsafe spaces. To be effective in today’s culture, we must escape our “safe bubbles” if we are to grow ourselves and God’s Kingdom. We need diversity and discomfort to stretch our thinking and bolster our confidence to succeed. When we feel unsafe and insecure, we often run back to our safety zones, each time disallowing our brains to make new positive associations, connections, and choices. As we have learned from science (and what Jesus gently urged us to do), when we purposefully force our brain to think differently (think of His power and strength in us), it changes the actions of our hearts and passions. We can then boldly step into new challenges with a calm assurance that it isn’t just about us, but about others and achieving lasting Kingdom goals.
During The Influence Lab Emerge Webinar, special guest Lisa Kai shared how her Asian cultural past had influenced her, keeping her withdrawn from people and taking risks. It had affected her friendships and career. Her life changed when she realized that God saw her as intelligent and beautiful and that others withdrew, not because of anything she did or what she looked like, but because they felt insecure. So, Lisa embraced the vision of who God said she was in Him and overcame her negative mindset. It emboldened her to walk up to strangers and introduce herself confidently. Each time she did, it reinforced a positive change and vanquished her insecurity.
As my older daughter grew, she learned to make more mindful decisions and not quick, thoughtless ones before she acted; my younger daughter learned to step out of her fear and boldly try uncomfortable things. As adults today, they both evaluate situations more maturely, learning from their varied experiences. Most importantly, they have learned to trust God’s guidance and rely on Him when challenging decisions must be made. They have learned to breathe in Jesus’ strength and power, knowing He is the one “who always causes us to triumph.” (II Corinthians 2:14)
Write this down and keep it in a place where you can see it daily.
We stand confidently with grace, gratitude, and a mindset re-wired to react like Jesus. Philippians 4:12-13 (TPT)
Heidi Rasmussen is the co-founder and COO of Freshbenies – a fresh approach to benefits. She is a communicator, strategic planner, customer service advocate, builder, mentor, defender and coffee addict. Mostly, she says she’s a “gettin’ stuff done and make it happen” gal. She worked for over 27 years in the retail industry having started at JCPenney where she worked her way up the ladder to the Divisional VP at Corporate and led the largest brand launch in JCPenney history.
Seeing the need to make company benefits used wisely, she launched Freshbenies to give employers and employees practical tools to control their dime, time and peace of mind. Freshbenies has been named to the INC. 5000 list as one of the fastest growing companies in America for the past four years and the top 100 companies for two years in a row in Dallas, Texas, as well as receiving two Health Value Awards for their innovation and for providing value-based healthcare. She is a passionate believer that people matter and is an advocate for making life simplified so that they can succeed in all God’s called them to be and do. She serves on the board for, 4WordWomen, where she mentors and encourages women in the corporate business space to live out their faith to the fullest.
Kathleen Cooke – Heidi, I love that you call yourself a communicator. We live in a polarized culture today in which just chatting with someone can be challenging. What has God taught you about how to communicate effectively?
Heidi Rasmussen – So far, 2021 has been another crazy year! With all the racial injustice and political discord, the Lord is showing me how to live out His command to “love one another as I have loved you.” The Holy Spirit is working in me to change my thinking which is changing my actions. Specifically, when I’m speaking about someone on the “other side of the aisle,” I no longer use certain words or phrases (like “What an idiot!”) in casual conversation. He reminds me that He loves that person just as much as He loves me, no matter what their background and, He wants to love that person through me. It’s the main reason I’m on this earth – to love Him, love His people and bring glory to Him.
Kathleen – I have found that having great conversation starts with a relationship foundation. Talk to us about why relationship is at the heart of candid conversations and how it affects good leadership.
Heidi – To build strong relationships, I’ve had to learn to have candid conversations. At the core, candid conversations are about love. If we love someone, we’ll have a hard, truthful conversation because it’s a lot easier to avoid those kinds of talks! When I was a young manager, I was very capable and would just come behind those who weren’t doing their job and fix everything. As I grew in my career, I didn’t have the time to do that, so I had to get good at setting clear expectations and having tough conversations when expectations weren’t met. It is harder and takes more courage to tell someone they aren’t meeting expectations and need to improve their performance. As soon as I realized this and started to master the principles around conflict, I experienced more peace in my life.
Kathleen – Business decisions are often places of uncertainty and risk. What has God taught you about how to trust Him and about taking a posture of obedience in challenging situations?
Heidi – You know that saying, “God will never give you more than you can handle?” It’s nowhere in the Bible and it’s not true. How am I, in my own strength, supposed to love another person as Jesus loves me? That is impossible. In Matthew 19, Jesus says, “…with God all things are possible.” I spent many years working hard for God and asking, What Would Jesus Do (WWJD)? Then, I learned the necessity of working with God and asking, What Will Jesus Do” through me? He’s in me and His Spirit is working through me all day every day. I just need to be available and let Him use me to do His work. I ask Him to help and guide me every step of the way. That includes when I don’t feel Him nearby. I often pray, “Lord, please help me to feel Your presence.” When I’m in a bad mood, I pray, “Lord, please lift me from this funk.” And, when I’m mad at Him, I pray, “Lord, please change me.” I can ask Him anything and be confident that “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13).
Kathleen – How do you view influence in a culture where many strive endlessly today to be influencers?
Heidi – At the risk of sounding like a broken record (if you remember what one of those is), I’ve learned that influence is about loving people and letting Christ work through me. People are influenced positively by other people they love or like on some level. I’ve learned that if I want to influence the world, I have to be salt and light to others and loving (and lovable) in all circumstances. To do that, I have to ask Christ to do it through me and be available to let him shine through me to others.
Find out more about Freshbenies here or connect with Heidi on LinkedIn here.
After numerous questions were posed on the recent Influence Lab Women’s Webinar, EMERGE: Moving from Insecurity to Confidence, Lisa Kai has graciously agreed to answer several more. Read her answers in this month’s Inner View.
EMERGE Question #1 – You (Lisa) inspired me as I am a woman of color and have had challenges throughout my life with being in the minority – many of them I still have to contend with. Do you have a specific scripture you cling to or a promise of God that you have found to be helpful when you feel insignificant?
Lisa – I have two. Isaiah 54:4 “Do not be afraid; you will not be put to SHAME. Do not fear disgrace, you will not be humiliated.”’ And Proverbs 12:19 “Truthful words stand the test of time; LIES are soon exposed.”
Clinging onto these scriptures reminds me that I am perfectly made in His image and that everyone, including myself, is unique. I remember a time while I was at a shopping mall that God showed me that everyone is unique and that God loved all of us the same. I had to believe that no one was greater than the other. This revelation helped me to like myself and not be ashamed of where I came from or who I was. I had to like myself as well as accept who I am and where I came from. Exposing the lies is the first step and receiving the truth over that lie is crucial to you accepting yourself. It’s a daily thing you have to keep telling yourself until you believe it. Keep speaking the truth over yourself and stop feeling intimidated by those people that the enemy keeps telling you are better than you. You are good! You are perfect! (more…)