Stop arguing with reality!

Whether at work or home, do you ever argue with the reality of a situation? Are you creating drama that isn’t choicesreally necessary?  For the large majority of us, if we’re honest with ourselves, the answer is a resounding YES, at least some of the time.

I know I’ve had many situations in the past where I felt like I was working harder than ever, but still not getting the results I wanted.  Frustration was high while energy levels were low.

What I have come to realize and is that the suffering is optional.  In her book, Reality-Based Leadership, Cy Wakeman does a great job of spelling this out.

We all tend to hold some beliefs that aren’t accurate. I know I had a situation earlier in my career where a coworker was given a promotion over me. I immediately made up a story in my mind about how she got it and I didn’t.  The reality is that she probably did some things along the way to actually EARN the opportunity while I was too busy doing other things. Just because I wasn’t aware of all the facts, I made up my own.

This is what happens in organizations (and even home) way too often.  We argue with reality.

In order to bring peace to our lives, we need to understand that the source of our suffering is not what happens to us, but the stories we create about what happens to us. Sometimes unconsciously, we tell ourselves these stories that aren’t even accurate and then live with the drama that follows.

As Cy puts it, “It’s the single largest barrier to peace and success for most people. The only way to change it is by becoming aware of when and how you tend to do it.”  It’s learned helplessness.

Here are some examples of it:

  • “This isn’t part of my job description.”
  • “Why aren’t others more dedicated?  I do everything around here.”
  • “There’s never enough time.”
  • “Management just doesn’t understand. They only care about the bottom line.”

We are arguing with reality when we judge a situation in terms of right or wrong instead of fearlessly confronting what actually is the reality.  Judging is a waste of time and energy and brings no value.

As a leader, if I allow people to complain and make excuses for their results, I am encouraging this learned helplessness and the victim mentality that goes with it.  Doing so allows the idea that unless everything is 100 percent perfect, we can’t really be held responsible for the results.

Whether just watching out for yourself or also trying to lead others, you must remember this.  Happiness is correlated to the amount of accountability you accept in your life. The more responsibility you take for your results, the happier you will be.  It’s my choice. It’s your choice.  Make the right choice!

Question: Do you work in an environment where this victim mentality is way too common? What can you do to change it?

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5 reasons to NOT promote someone (even if they do good work)

Do you know someone who can’t seem to quite figure out why they’re never selected to lead a project or head in handsgiven a promotion?   Sure you do.  In their minds, things just aren’t fair.  Not so coincidentally, they’re also the ones who talk about the “brown-nosers” and “do-gooders” that are getting those opportunities.

Most of these folks tend to show up on time and do decent work, but they really don’t want to be there.  They do just enough to skate by and don’t break any major policies.

The reality is that we have all likely been that person at some point (ah yes, my days of working at Sonic Drive-In in high school).

Chances are that if you are a frequent reader of my blog, this isn’t you, but you deal with it.

I can tell you that as an HR leader, these are the things that really concern me and it’s my job to make sure we have a culture free of them.  Don’t allow others to hurt the business and their own careers by making ANY of these mistakes.

1.  Always full of high drama.  Most people understand the importance of remaining professional at work. Unfortunately, too few realize that when they gossip and complain about things, even if they have valid concerns, that is a form of unprofessionalism.  This breeds mediocrity and isn’t allowed at great companies.

2.  Poor written communications. Everything we type or write as an employee of a company is not only a reflection on our personal brand, but it’s also a reflection on the company’s brand.  Poor communication shows that a person doesn’t really care much.

3.  Losing control when under pressure.  How people handle themselves when their backs are against the wall reveals a lot about the person. Pressure reveals weaknesses and separates those who are ready for advancement from those who aren’t.

4.  Lacking a desire to get involved. Truly good employees show they are serious about their career by volunteering to lead department projects, by getting involved with company fundraisers, or by offering to help with social activities.

5.  Having a generally poor attitude.   Easy to spot, this problem is too often seen as a ”right” of employees. Truly good employees make it a point to keep their energy levels high, acknowledge people, and be friendly. It makes for a better work environment for everyone and has a direct correlation to the bottom line.

If you are in a position of leadership, don’t allow people to negatively impact their career and the business.  Talk to them, make them aware of the problem and hold everyone accountable to those expectations.

Question:  What other issues would you add to this list?

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Leaders: 3 simple points on how to simplify

Does everything just seem too complex at times?simplify

You know how it is.  We try to do too much in hopes that we don’t drop the ball on anything important.  A meeting with the team to discuss this. A conference call to go over that.  A report that needs to be run in case it tells us anything new. And so it continues.

In the process, it all becomes a thick cloud of confusion over what we are really accomplishing with it all.  We stress out over results which doesn’t help things outside of work either.

“The mist in your mind will become a fog in your organization.” – Andy Stanley

So here’s something to consider.  Complexity is the enemy of clarity!

If we want to be truly effective and impactful, we can’t do everything. We’ve got to be willing to prune off everything but what is MOST important.

If you take a close look at great leaders, they do 3 simple things.

  1. Attend to what’s important.
  2. Ignore everything else.
  3. Keep the goal in front of them. Always.

So how do we do that?

Start by giving up the need to make everyone happy.  The greatest leaders the world has known did not make everyone happy.  Know your critical role and how you make a unique contribution.  Always be asking yourself what you are doing, why are you doing it and where do you fit in?  This goes for leaders in any capacity.

Do you feel like you need more time in the day?  Newsflash:  It’s the same for us all!  It’s not time we need, it’s space.  We need to free our minds from the clutter of the less important and keep focused on the goal.  Stop believing you can multi-task. Your brain can only truly focus on one thing at a time.

So, here’s where you are thinking, ”But Jeff, we’re trying to grow this business. There’s a lot of pressure to do so and we only have so much time.”  To that, I tell you that yes, growth creates complexity, and that is exactly when simplicity is required most.

We also need to create necessary endings.  We need to stop hoarding things that aren’t making the biggest difference.  Yesterday is gone and we need to move on with things that really matter.

We must have focused attention. Great leaders lead in a way that others can easily follow them. That requires a very clear, simple message.

Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less.  Do you perform best when you feel under control?  That should be a resounding YES. The same holds true for the people you lead.

Calm is contagious.  Have a positive influence with your calm and clarity and see how it impacts your work and your life at home!

Question: Is your environment too complex at times?  Do you need to simplify at work (or home)?

Credit to many great speakers at last week’s Chick-Fil-A Leadercast for helping me be reminded of these great points, specifically Andy Stanley, Dr. Henry Cloud, John C. Maxwell and LCDR Rorke Denver.

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