The new year is always full of new possibilities. Yet sometimes we drag old situations into the new year. One big area where I see people struggle has to do with identifying and managing “red flags.”
What is it about red flags? You know, those subtle warning signs that a new situation is going to have problems.
Whether a new relationship, a new business arrangement, or just a new possibility in our life, the first signs of a red flag should give us pause. Yet too often they don’t. Why is that?
The answer lies in the gap between the “known” and the “unknown”. As you move toward anything new, you will be leaving the known factors and circumstances to move into the unknown. This transition is also why people have difficulty facing change. Change causes this same movement from known to unknown.
Dealing with Comfort Zones
Comfort zones come from the “known” parts of our life. Experiences from the past establish our sense of the known elements in our life. Some experiences are good, some are bad, but all are known.
With the unknown, we establish our own set of expectations. Perceptions about “what could be” start to look very appealing. That’s why we decide to make a change.
Red flags always appear in the “known”. Some fact point is presented right now, today, and it is easy to declare it a red flag. Here’s the rub.
The new red flag, although it is now a “known” item, is weighed against the perceived value of the new deal (the “unknown”). When you choose to ignore a red flag, you have decided the benefit of the unknown is greater than what you know to be true; right here, right now.
Relationships are the easiest examples of dealing with red flags. Entering into a new relationship there is always the phase of getting to know the other person. You make a date, you go out, you spend time talking about each other, sharing experiences and values.
As time goes on, behavioral habits are displayed. Is the other person on time, do they dress well, do they treat other people kindly? The list of possibilities is long. As each item is demonstrated or expressed, you do a mental check off of whether each trait is good or bad. Are they appealing or appalling? The bad ones are red flags.
Sure, no one is perfect, so we allow a certain few red flags to remain. Why, because the potential (remember this is still perceived value) for a better relationship outweighs the red flag.
Occasionally, we look at red flags and think “Oh, we can fix that after we settle down.” Bad idea! My experience says red flags only get worse. They were at odds with one of your values when they were introduced, they will only get worse as time goes on.
Here’s how to burn red flags:
1. Be true to your own values – Stay centered in your core beliefs and values. Don’t allow yourself to be swayed into a new line of thinking or a new standard of behavior, unless that new direction is a choice you make.
2. Recognize today’s reality – Make decisions based on as much fact as you can possibly collect. A known, demonstrated behavior that is not acceptable must be rejected. That new life partner or business associate will not change the bad behavior. It might even get worse.
3. Check your perceptions – The excitement of a new possibility is wonderful. However, if the steps leading up to the new relationship are littered with red flags, take caution.
4. Be assertive – If you have standards that are going to be compromised by the red flag traits in the other person, stand your ground. Speak the truth. Try to talk it out, be firm. If it costs you the relationship, so be it.
5. Be confident, don’t settle – Most of all, be confident that you do not have to settle for red flags. Just because that person is available today, if they come with a bag full of red flags, walk away. Search for a better deal.
Managing the red flag scenario is one of the toughest life choices we make. Usually, there are so many reasons to carry on thus ignoring the red flag. However, the red flag is a universal symbol of caution. Why wouldn’t you treat it the same in your personal life and at work? Establish a method to identify and deal with red flags. Your final outcomes will be far more rewarding.
Are you feeling stuck? It’s like walking in quicksand. You can’t make any forward progress.
We’ve all been there before. This feeling is a common event in most people’s lives. As the chapters of life unfold, there are moments when everything seems to just get stuck and you start to lose the vision of the way ahead. Some may think of this as drifting through life.
The future vision is missing, lost, or forgotten. You just want to make it through another day. You, my friend, need to know there is more waiting for you. Here are three steps to get past feeling stuck.
First, you need to make a shift. There needs to be a disruptive force or series of events that can shake things up. Mostly this is a shift that needs to happen in your mind; the way you are thinking needs to change.
I see so many people every day who are stuck in their mindset. Their head is filled with negative, limiting thoughts. “I can’t do that”, “I am too weak”, “I don’t have that skill”, “I don’t know that subject”.
You may also need to shift the people who are around you, especially if they serve to enforce those negative thoughts. If you speak a limiting thought and they agree with you, they are not being any help. Find some new friends.
Start growing away from old, bad thoughts. Read new books, watch some TED talk videos, open your mind to new ideas. Get a refresh!
By engaging a shift mindset, you can begin to pull out of the muck where you are stuck.
As the shift builds momentum, you will get a feeling of lift. Just like the wind passing over the wings of a bird or an airplane, there is lift. The whole body rises into flight.
Pressure and stress will ease. Old burdens will fall away and you will feel a growing energy.
Lift creates a move to new direction. You sense a freedom of thought, action, and purpose. You are renewed.
As you rise above the old state of mind, you achieve a newness; a renewed sense of purpose. You get a fresh look at the world ahead. Empowered by the new energy you will become a gift to those around you.
As a manager and leader, your fresh view of things can become contagious. Your smile and energy will impact others. You can help them begin their own shift out of ‘stuckness’.
If you need help embarking on a life change like this, I’d be happy to explain my coaching programs. I’ve helped hundreds of seasoned professionals get unstuck.
Today is something a bit different. Instead of my usual message, I am providing you with a collection of leadership quotes and quips sent to me by readers.
Please ponder these thoughts. Some are from great leaders you may know about and admire. Others are from unusual sources; places I didn’t expect to get these nuggets of gold.
Enjoy!Oh and at the end, if I’ve left out one of your favorites, leave a comment or share it on social media. Let me know what you think.
Here we go….
Perhaps those who are best suited to power are those who have never sought it. Those who … have leadership thrust upon them, and take up the mantle because they must, and find to their own surprise that they wear it well.
J. K. ROWLING, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Leaders touch a heart before they ask for a hand.
JOHN C. MAXWELL, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership
Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to higher sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations.
PETER F. DRUCKER, attributed, The Fundamentals of Leadership
Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish.
SAM WALTON, attributed, The 101 Greatest Business Principles of All Time
To be a leader, you have to make people want to follow you, and nobody wants to follow someone who doesn’t know where he is going.
JOE NAMATH, attributed Friday Night Light: Inspiration for the Game of Life
Great leaders genuinely care for and love the people they lead more than they love leading itself. Leadership without love degenerates into self-serving manipulation.
RICK WARREN, Ladies’ Home Journal
Leadership is not a starring role. True leadership describes the unified action of leaders and followers (stakeholders) working together to jointly achieve mutual goals. It is collaborative.
GILBERT W. FAIRHOLM, Leadership and the Culture of Trust
Leadership is defined not by the position you hold but by the people who follow you.
CHARLENE LI, Open Leadership
People try so hard to believe in leaders now, pitifully hard. But we no sooner get a popular reformer or politician or soldier or writer or philosopher — a Roosevelt, a Tolstoi, a Wood, a Shaw, a Nietzsche, than the cross-currents of criticism wash him away. My Lord, no man can stand prominence these days. It’s the surest path to obscurity. People get sick of hearing the same name over and over.
F. SCOTT FITZGERALD, This Side of Paradise
The best leaders turn their followers into leaders, realizing that the journey ahead requires many guides.
JAMES M. KOUZES & BARRY Z. POSNER, A Leader’s Legacy
Effective leaders are made, not born. They learn from trial and error, and from experience.
COLIN POWELL, “10 Leadership Tenets from Colin Powell”, Stanford Graduate School of Business
While managers focus on the task to be completed, the process to complete it, and supervising a set of people to get there, the leaders role is more ambiguous. They must envision, set new directions, and inspire and value their team. To be a leader, it is absolutely essential to listen to people and understand their needs.
JACOB MORGAN, “What Does Leadership Look Like In The Future Of Work?”, Forbes, March 28, 2016
The first act of leadership is coming to grips with yourself, who you are, where you are, and what is of value to you, and shaping yourself by acts of conscious will into what you want to become.
FENWICK W. ENGLISH, The Art of Educational Leadership
Personal accountability is a wide and somewhat confusing concept. When it comes to leadership, the best leaders not only embrace personal accountability, but they demand it.
Sadly, the headlines today contain stories about cover-ups and sexual improprieties (that’s me being very nice about it). Celebrities, athletes, politicians, key executives, and others are being “found out”. Those who are reported allegedly engaged in bad acts that included theft, fraud, sexual abuses, and collusion, just to name a few.
The #MeToo movement is not limited to the entertainment world. It reaches the boardrooms and back rooms of many of our best respected corporate brands. [Writer’s note: in case you are wondering, the #MeToo movement hit Twitter after the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke. People who had been sexually assaulted were encouraged to tweet simply #MeToo.].
It seems that the old saying is still true:
Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.
People in power take license with the authority that comes with their position. When the power is abused as in lording it over those with whom you work, whether for sexual favor or financial twisting, it is still wrong. So what is the remedy, the fix?
Large corporations and many smaller businesses have built-in accountabilities for things like accounting, finance, compliance, and other regulatory mandates. Yet the integrity of the leadership is left somewhat unchecked. Yes, there are Boards who write morality clauses into employment contracts. People are fired for violation of those clauses. Great for the Board who demanded that control. Unfortunately, the presence of these controls is seen in only a few cases.
When there is a contractual clause, there is accountability of a statutory nature. The person subject to such control may or may not be very influenced by its presence. If the leader’s tendency is to conduct bad acts, they will figure out ways to do it in secret. The secret only lasts so long.
Accountability must begin in the heart. A moral compass must be engaged that prevents any such bad act. The best leader has long ago figured out what, when and how to establish their own personal system of accountability.
Over the years I’ve had the good fortune of knowing a group of business leaders who started very young making pledges to one another for accountability. They met regularly and shared the temptations they faced. If one member was slipping, the group lifted them up (figuratively). They routinely reaffirmed the pledge for proper conduct. The discipline grew. As they rose in prominence in their respective professions, the habits for accountability became the foundation of integrity. To this day these leaders enjoy reputations for good character and high standards of integrity.
I argue this came from a discipline adopted at that early stage of their career. They made decisions long ago about the right ways to act.
Fighting the Beast
The coin here definitely has two sides; at least if you try to be objective. As I began preparing this article, I spoke with several close confidants. Even within this small sampling, the extremes on the scale revealed thoughts I had never considered.
One executive, a male, expressed total frustration with the dynamic. While he couldn’t deny the presence of a small percentage of male managers with horrible reputations for sexual harassment, he was equally appalled by the presence of females who cry foul without a real threat.
My friend contends, at a minimum, the line gets blurry. What action at work, physical or verbal, can be construed to be harmful? What about the office dating that has led to marriages that work. Yes, many do not, but plenty do. In the story above, my friend, a life-long HR professional said that he’s even heard complaints about “Susie, you look nice today.” Where is the line?
Managers have been sunk by false allegations of impropriety, careers ruined, yet there was no recourse. The consensus was, trust the female’s complaint. My friend’s summary statement was “there are some crazy people out there.”
On the other extreme, a female entrepreneur I know just happened to be writing her own story about the #MeToo movement. In her version she states yes, she’s been the ‘victim’ of actions that could be taken as sexually explicit, but she admits never being forced into being violated. While she’s had her own experience with men making statements and doing things like reaching and groping, she calls it a blessing to have never had to experience what many other women are now revealing.
While acknowledging this smaller segment of bad actors, she chooses to stake a claim on the men who have been mentors, champions, coaches, and supporters of her career. She says the ‘good guy’ population is much larger (thankfully). She even goes so far as to say we should add a #WeToo alternative to the #MeToo campaign. i.e. for every woman who has felt threatened, there are probably two or more who have been encouraged and helped by male influence.
[callout]If you need help building your own system for personal accountability, consider joining a Mastermind group like those we host at HeadwayExec.[/callout]
In the end
It all comes back to moral character or decay. Which direction are you heading? If you are a leader (male or female) have you established your own moral high ground from which you choose to operate? In small entrepreneurial shops, you may get away with being a hugging kind of person, but larger corporate settings may not allow such behavior. Regardless, the boundaries have to be set.
Boundary setting is not just for your employees to protect themselves from you, but boundaries you choose never to cross. As an example, I know one male leader who will not permit private, one-on-one meetings with female staffers. It doesn’t matter how long the employee has been there, if a woman wants to meet with him, there will be another party in the room. That may be extreme, but I can tell you it has earned him a high degree of respect. People don’t even try to share an off-color story with him. He wants a straight narrow line shining brightly in his organization. His people respect that and want to work there.
Do they have fun? Yes, they do. It’s the kind of fun everyone can enjoy. The business thrives.
[reminder]What have you done to establish accountability and raise your own standards for office behavior?[/reminder]
For many years I worked as a banker in real estate. My clients were hugely successful commercial developers and/or residential mortgage groups. To make a good banking loan, you have to be focused on the property that is being financed. The property becomes the primary collateral for the loan. The borrower must work to maintain the value of that property as long as the loan is in force.
In real estate there are ever-present forces, almost gravity-like, that work to decay the property and erode its value as soon as it opens. Here are just a few of the chief concerns:
The weather beats down; sun, wind, cold, heat, rain, storms
Tenants/occupants can tear up the place
Natural wear and tear, so upkeep is required
Vandalism; people stealing equipment, fixtures, and trim
Harrison Barnes (noted career coach) writes: “It is like that with people too. There is a constant gravitational-like force challenging you as well. There is an incredible amount of negativity and other forces out there that will destroy you and your dreams if you let them in. These forces are unavoidable, and the number one characteristic of the most successful people is the ability to avoid these negative forces. They succeed despite negativity coming at them from every single direction every minute of every day.”
If you let any of the negative forces around you influence your view of who and what you are, you are destined to a less than fulfilling life. The choices you begin to make only serve to compound the downward spirals that may already be underway.
You need to avoid the negative forces out there – the negative gravity and information that will seek to keep you down. You need to watch your mind: You need to put more positive things in your mind than negative things.
No one who ever achieves any form of greatness is realistic. Instead, they are able to ignore the negative forces and messages coming at them – guard their bodies and minds. Then, they create conditions in their minds and bodies that promote success, happiness and possibility. This is what you need to do as well.
The actions that make good real estate people successful at managing great properties can work in your life too.
You do not let anything bad inside (forces that destroy from the inside)
You keep everything up-to-date (reduce the effects of forces that cause decay)
You make the best of what you are (avoid forces that drag you down)
You put nice things inside (prevent bad habits from forcing you down)
Barnes goes on to write: “Most people, however, do not maintain themselves as well as they can. Instead, the elements around them have taken hold and reduced them to something less than they are capable of being. They have long ago given up on their dreams and what is possible for them.
Why do people give up on their dreams? Many people are negative because they are afraid. They have been disappointed so many times that they are now afraid of getting excited about anything. If someone is negative, then the chances are they are fearful. The problem, however, is that we typically get what we look for: If we look for negativity, then that is what we end up finding.
There are all sorts of forces around us that create doubt and hold us back:
Things people have said about us in the past
Things we have said about ourselves in the past
Poor results we have gotten in the past
Our current situation and fear of change
People around us that give us negative messages
People who used to be around us that gave us negative messages
Our overall environments and how positive and negative these are
Good results others around us have gotten
Goals we have not accomplished in the past
Information in our environment that frightens us
Scripture says we should renew our minds daily, but that can be so hard. If you watch the news, read the paper, or join the average conversation of most groups (co-workers, friends and others) you are likely to discover that a significant portion of this information is likely to be negative and uninspiring. Why this is the case, I do not know. What I do know is that this sort of information can act like a gravitational force on your life and keep you down.
Since negative information cannot necessarily be avoided, the best solution is often to counteract this with more positive than negative information. You need to pump your mind with positive thoughts daily — or else you will end up being unhappy.
1. Decide That You Do Not Need to Be Perfect
Most people become very negative because they feel they need to be perfect. They do not participate because they are afraid of losing or of not being the best. They are afraid of what people will say if they screw up or otherwise fail.
Everyone is going to screw up, and you will too. The worst thing you can do is to let the fact that you might screw up stop you from acting or doing anything at all. Far too many people allow the prospect of failure to shut them down or prevent them from acting. They also allow the fact that they are not perfect to make them feel bad about themselves. No one is perfect, and you are not either.
2. Keep Improving
Many people hit a plateau of sorts in their lives and stop there. Or, they fall down to a certain level and stop there. The rare person keeps improving and keeps setting goals for themselves. One of the most important things you can do in your career and life is to constantly set goals for the person you want to become and never stop improving.
Improvement is powerful because when you are always improving and do not stop improving you are sending a message to your mind that tomorrow can be better than it is today. Tomorrow should always be better than today, and when you are constantly setting goals for yourself and improving, you are sending yourself that message.
Whether your idea of improvement is about fitness, mental acuteness, or growing wisdom, there are plenty of opportunities to add these kinds of activities in your life to allow constant improvement.
3. Stop Being Judgmental
Most people are quite judgmental of others. They look at people who are different than them and find all sorts of fault. They find all sorts of fault with others, whether it is how they dress, talk, live, or conduct themselves. In fact, many social groups seem to exist and thrive based on judging others.
The problem with judging others is that as soon as you start judging others, you also start judging yourself. Any person who takes joy in judging others or watching others in pain will also eventually experience a great deal of pain. You need to free yourself from the disease of judging others and making them wrong.
4. Find Things to Appreciate
Everyone needs to find things in their lives that they can appreciate, and every life has things in it that can be appreciated. You can even appreciate things that seem to be negative to you. You need to focus on the things that you have and not things you do not have.
The reason you need to appreciate things is because you will attract into your life what you focus on. If you focus on the negative, then you will attract the negative. If you focus on the good, you will attract more of the good. You need to find the good and what you can appreciate.
The world and the people in it are full of negative thoughts that will eat you up and take hold of you if you let them. The smartest thing you can do to be happy and not negative is to find aspects of your life that you love and focus on these. Be grateful for who you are and what you are.
5. Have Faith in Yourself
The most important power you have in the world is faith. Faith makes everything possible. Being positive is about having faith in yourself and that things will get better than they are today. You have been through a lot and whatever negativity you see in your life today will pass as well.
Your life is controlled by your thoughts and through faith you can achieve whatever you set your mind to. You need to believe in yourself first and do everything within your power to believe in yourself even when that does not always seem like the smartest thing to do. Everyone who has achieved anything worthwhile generally only was able to do this by having faith in themselves.
“There is a tremendous amount of negativity, harm and hurt in the world. These forces are all around us and conspiring to bring us down and reduce us to less than we are capable of being. In order to reach our potential and be the people we are capable of becoming, we need to do everything we can to be positive in the face of overwhelming negativity. This will save us, make us strong and give us the lives we are entitled to and deserve.”
All I can add is AMEN!!! You can be a force in this world. You might not be the next headliner in the Wall Street Journal for a breakthrough invention, but the difference you can make at home, at work, and in your community can have a lasting effect on so many around you.
[reminder]In what ways will you restore the faith in yourself to be more positive?[/reminder]
Footnote: This piece is a collaborative effort inspired by an article Harrison Barnes first posted on December 16, 2015.
Most business owners start their business based on their passion for what it is they do. Unfortunately, it takes much more than passion to build a successful business. You must have a specific vision for what it is you want your business to accomplish and the direction you want to take to produce the results you expect your business to achieve.
Thought is the most powerful force in the universe. Our thoughts are the controlling factor in what we manifest and create in our lives. Use your thoughts to create a specific vision for your business and then apply the right strategies and tactics to grow and develop that business.
What you need to know…
Creating a millionaires mindset requires action on your part. You must create a mindset that’s focused on performing your highest impact and highest income-producing activities on a daily basis.
If you’re not happy with your business’s current results, then ask yourself a question and be brutally honest as you answer it. WHY are you getting such poor results? WHY are you failing to attract clients? WHY are you attracting the wrong clients? WHY are you failing to generate the revenue and profits you expect from your business?
One of the things that we have found over the years is that people who are broke, struggling or just getting by – don’t think the same way as people who are financially abundant. They don’t believe the same things as financially challenged people do, and therefore they don’t behave the same way. In short, they take different actions.
Why you need to know this…
Small business owners have been mentally conditioned to behave a certain way. They have specific beliefs… such as “in order to make more money, I have to work harder.” “Money is the root of all evil.” “No pain, no gain.” “Money doesn’t grow on trees.” “If I don’t do it myself, it will never get done.”
These beliefs lead to specific actions such as working more hours and putting forth more effort in a vain attempt to increase revenue and profits. That leads to specific results such as feelings of overwhelm, anxiety and frustration… and a deep-seated belief that more and more effort is required, even though results seldom if ever appear.
Do you know what your current beliefs may be costing your business today? For example…
Do you succumb to mental barriers that may be sabotaging your success?
Are you laser-focused on your highest income-producing activities?
Are you hiring, assigning, delegating or bartering all of your non income-producing and less productive tasks?
Do you know the specific steps you can take to immediately create a “millionaires mindset?”
Would you like to know how you can learn to develop these critical skills?
Our E-Learning Marketing System™ does all of this… and much, much more. But don’t take our word for it. Let me show you right now how a business owner can change the way they think about their business… and do so in such a way that it creates a dramatic increase in effectiveness and revenue visit Finding the EdgeTM for a Test Drive.
To your success,
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In my consulting and coaching business, I often ask the question “are you coachable?” It is amazing how many times the prospect says “well, yes I believe I am.” After a few sessions with input and feedback, it becomes apparent they really are not coachable. How do I know? It manifests itself in many ways.
Business owners and professionals at all levels sometimes struggle with being coached. Success and achievement creates a false sense of not having any need for change. If you are getting results, why interrupt the methods that got you there? That may be a good mindset in the short run, but long term success requires growth.
To find good examples of being coachable we can look directly at athletics where the concept of coach and student are most notable. When you explore the story of the truly great athletes (think Michael Jordan or Jerry Rice), you will find stories of tireless pursuit of perfection. Regardless of the season they just had, these guys worked relentlessly to improve their stamina, skills, and techniques.
Recently Jerry Rice, football great and now, NFL Hall of Famer, was being interviewed. He was on the driving range at a celebrity golf outing. Rather than merely slap some golf balls around, he was on the range with both his caddy and a coach. When shots were not going the right place he was asking for guidance and advice. Golf isn’t even his game, yet the discipline of looking to perfect a skill was at work. His desire to do well at whatever endeavor was before him drove his will to be better. That’s being coachable.
Here are the a few thoughts about deciding if you are truly coachable.
Do you routinely seek advice and counsel to improve some aspect of your professional or personal life? Or have you learned it all and know it all? Being open to the pursuit of growth as a professional is key. The best individuals in any aspect of life will be constantly trying to improve. Whether that includes technical knowledge, insight, or wisdom, the effort is there. Those who excel believe there is always more to learn or be.
When you get advice do you act on it; following through with using the information to achieve more? Or do you discount the information and talk yourself out of action? Using what you learn is important. In leadership, it takes practice. Once you learn and understand a skill, you must apply it to your tool kit. By using your newly found understanding, you help to create confidence in its worth. Just as athletes work to build muscle memory for critical physical moves, leaders can build “influence memory” to work to their advantage.
Do you seek follow-up from the coach to be sure you understood the coaching and that you are properly performing the actions that were recommended? Or do you move on without ever doubling back for refining advice? Even the best coaches require feedback from the client to know whether the teaching and training is working. Be proactive in giving that feedback to your coach. When you realize you are working on a new dimension of your training, open up the communication with the coach. Let them know what feels right or needs better explanation.
Make Your Decision
If your current professional or personal situation is not producing the results you expect, then perhaps some coaching is needed. But before you simply engage a coach, ask yourself whether you are truly coachable.
Ever felt stuck? You know, you feel like you don’t know which way to turn. Do the pressures of the situation have you feeling like you cannot make any progress?
I see articles, blog posts, and books about getting unstuck. Yet I have never heard anyone talk about getting unstuck by focusing on the real problem; it’s about making a change. Being stuck is, IMHO, a direct symptom of an unwillingness to change.
Here’s a story about being stuck
In 2008 when I opened the doors for Jobs Ministry Southwest (JMS), we were committed to helping people in career transition. Remember, 2008 was the big recession. Jobless rates were double digits in most markets. Times were tough for job seekers.
People who hadn’t looked for a job in 20 years were being forced out on the streets. Within five years, JMS had served over 4,500 job seekers. We had a 68% success rate in helping land meaningful positions. Yes, 68% was high for agencies like ours.
Using this sampling of 4,500 professionals, I realized there was a distinct separation in the crowd. Interestingly, what I am about to tell you seems to explain the two-thirds success ratio almost to the decimal point.
Results were divided
Our program participants fell into three pretty distinct groups that were evenly divided. Let’s call them red, yellow, and green for graphic effect.
The GREEN group got it. They soaked up our coaching and teaching like sponges. They applied our principles, accepted our teachings, and executed on the job search plans without much hesitation. Their lead time in the search window was relatively short and definitely shorter than everyone else. They embraced change.
The YELLOW group hesitated a lot. They wanted to debate the teaching we gave them. They wanted to prove they knew something no one else did. And they expressed frustration on a regular basis with having to deal with job loss. They had hostilities toward old employers, but they slowly released those emotions in favor of commitment to their job searches. This group stumbled with making changes, but eventually got there.
The RED group was really stuck. They refused to listen to coaching and teaching. They would sit in groups with arms folded and frowns on their face. Talk to them and you’d get a heavy dose of bitterness and from some, outright anger. The world had dealt them a bad hand and they were going to wallow in it. The red group could not and would not accept change.
It’s all about the CHANGE
The green group looked at change like a welcomed relief. They accepted their plight as just another step in their career progress. They were ready to move forward. Offer them new teachings? Great! “Give me more” they’d say, almost in unison. The green crew would return for a couple of sessions, but it wouldn’t be long before they were announcing new positions and job opportunities.
Some of the green group members took the job loss event as a blessing. They explored passions they had bottled up. They took chances on going whole new directions in their career. Some decided to go back to school for the certificate they needed, but never got. Others sought out funding opportunities to start self-employment. One guy shaved off a beard he had worn for 20+ years. The clean shave gave him a fresher, younger look that resulted in almost instant success. Changes were going on everywhere in this group.
The red group stalled, postponed, argued, and didn’t go anywhere. Soon the would fall away, presumably going to another group, somewhere else to vent their frustration.
Using simple math, adding the green and yellow groups together, you get roughly 66% of the total JMS population. Our job landing success rate was 68%. That’s a strong argument for embracing change. The only real differentiation was the red group absolutely opposed change of any sort.
Being stuck is about avoiding change
My story today has been about job seekers. Yet it applies to all aspects of life. The same dynamics have been demonstrated time and time again in families and in businesses everywhere.
Which group might you fall into?
I suggest that opportunities to change are everywhere. If you feel stuck today, look for the opportunity to make a change. Whether your situation is about a job, a relationship, an assignment, or a cause. You don’t have to stay stuck.
However, you do have to embrace change as the catalyst to make a move in a new direction. If you tend to be opposed to change, you may stay stuck for a while.
[reminder]If you know exactly where and how you are stuck, what would a change look like?[/reminder]
Tomorrow is July 4th. In the U.S. we call it Independence Day. It is a good time to reflect on the real meaning of deep, personal independence.
I love this picture showing the dawning of a new day. When we declare independence, there is a new day, a fresh beginning. Independence implies a freeing from something. The history of the United States declares a freedom from rulers who, at the time, were seen as oppressive, demanding laws without representation. Yet the quest for independence can be very personal and far more significant.
When any of us is impacted by a force that controls us, we need independence. The control can be a bad boss, an unethical company, a work environment that is oppressive and cruel. The control can be internal; like a mindset, substance abuse, limiting thoughts, or emotional scars from prior experiences.
As my pastor says, “There’s a story on every pew.” People all around us face challenges to release themselves from something.
And the list goes on . . .
Regardless of the force or factors from which you are claiming your independence, the stage is set for a new day. Facing the truths of who you are and what you believe can give rise to making a fresh new start.
Helping others overcome tough odds is a noble and honored effort. Countless numbers of good neighbors do that in communities large and small every day. Each victory is deserving of a celebration.
Yet, I think the toughest challenge most people face is driving change for themselves; overcoming those personal things that hold us back. Yes, joining a community or a tribe of like-minded souls who, themselves are trying to make a change, can be a big help. However, the ultimate change is up to you and you alone.
For those of you who, as I do, hold dear to a deep faith in God, we have Him to hold onto while we fight to claim our independence. He is an unending source of power and courage through the fight. Take a moment and reflect. Ask yourself these important questions.
[reminder]What is your fight today? Have you made progress to overcome your foe(s)? What strength will you choose?[/reminder]
Happy Independence Day! One day your fight will be won. Why not let this day be the first day of the rest of your new life!
Do you sometimes make things bigger than they really are? Managers and leaders need to be on watch for overstating what is going on. More importantly, they need to throttle their internal reaction to the things around them.
The great social activist Chicken Little was quoted as saying “The sky is falling” when he had merely been struck in the head by a falling acorn.
Blowing things out of proportion can be a problem if you are the one in charge. Yes, that would be a challenge if you do it on a regular basis.
One of my clients introduced me to a new term – “catastrophizing”. This means making a situation far greater than it really is. The way we entered this discussion was talking about limiting thoughts. I had asked the client to give me some examples of limiting thoughts they suffer. While a few of the answers were the usual, this one surprised me.
As an executive, you are confronted with problems almost daily. Things happen; often not as planned. You have to field questions, hear news, and make decisions.
What if everything you were given was turned into something far more tragic? What if something someone failed to do was declared a disaster when, in fact, it is was just a setback or a simple honest mistake?
Think about the energy both emotional and physical you would spend dealing with such catastrophes.
If you act like Chicken Little you will get yourself worked into a panic. You will be running around in a frenzy, stirring up others to join your panic party. Even if you leave others out of it, your own waste of energy and emotional can conflict and confuse the situation.
[shareable cite=”Mark Twain”]There has been much tragedy in my life; at least half of it actually happened.[/shareable]
Why do people do this?
I don’t practice psychology, so I cannot even venture a technical argument as to why some are prone to act this way. However, I can share observation from years of experience on the job.
People who catastrophize often do so for several reasons.
A Sense of Dread – They are convinced life has been mean to them. The proverbial cup is half empty all the time. Therefore, any new event that arises must be bad. They are blinded to any possibility of a favorable outcome.
Lack of Trust – People who lose trust in mankind look at problems as people problems, all the time. Their way of thinking says the other person is the reason these things are bad.
No Hope – Theirs is a world of doom and gloom. They are convinced things are hopeless. In their minds, blue skies are really just a funny shade of gray.
Sadly, I have run into these kinds of co-workers and professionals most of my career. Thank goodness they are not everywhere, nor are they in leadership very often. But when they are, look out.
The biggest problem I see with catastrophizing is the waste of energy and resources. Whether the energy is emotional or physical, the expenditure of energy trying to avoid the catastrophe is great.
One of the wisest words I ever heard was the phrase “The problem is not the problem.” Think about that. Whenever you are confronted with what seems like a problem, check first see if what you are being told is a problem is really the problem. Here’s an example.
Missed deadlines are usually a problem anywhere. Unless that deadline is a life or death situation, most missed deadlines are bad, but not the end of the world. Having a missed deadline, though it seems big and real, may not be the problem at all. Rather, the real problem may be with process, procedure, or people. Are the deadlines even reasonable considering the mix of the above elements? Or has someone failed at their task?
Being able to properly discern the root cause of an issue is preferable to simply catastrophizing and running around like Chicken Little.