Food For Thought Friday

💡 What have you learned about yourself that you are committed to improving?

💡 You don’t need permission to choose you and what’s better for your well-being.

💡 Life will give you experiences to help you with your evolution. It knows what you need when you need it, and when you’re prepared to receive it.

💡 Whose speaking on your behalf? How accurate is their version of the things stated?

💡 Those on the sidelines are often more opinionated. Do you want a cheerleader or someone that really “gets” you?

💡 If you expect a lot, give a lot more.

💡 No matter how kind and loving you are, someone will find a reason not to like you. That’s ok. Do you.

💡 “No” is an underused word. Be bold enough to say it and know when to apply it to your life.

💡 Show respect whether earned or not.

💡 Leaning into vulnerability has its rewards.

Pick Your Battles Wisely

Life involves a series of challenges and choices. It only makes sense to choose your battles wisely.

We often dispute insignificant things when there are more important matters that beg for our attention.

No matter how well-meaning you are fighting the battles you think are of paramount importance, sometimes the battle is won when you back up and let situations run their course.

By doing so, you will be far more effective in getting your point across.

Fighting battles for the mere challenge is a waste of time and energy.

If the world came to an end today, would those battles have the same significance?

If the battle is not beneficial, and the stakes are high pending the outcome, avoid the conflict altogether.

Life rarely goes the exact way we may have in mind, and there will always be people who disagree with you or do things differently.

Reevaluate your priorities and understand that there will be battles not worth arguing over, battles you can’t do anything about, and battles that are frankly none of your business.

Decision Making

Decision-making is a critical life skill. Yet, the vast amount of information flowing to us often causes us to take shortcuts in our information processing.

It is human nature to process information in a way that supports our own beliefs. This is not inherently wrong as it helps us think faster and more efficiently. The downside is, we often speak with confidence about things we don’t fully understand.

Let’s explore some of the cognitive biases to be mindful of in our decision-making.

1. Confirmation Bias – Tendency to favor information that reinforces what we believe. You hear from several people that walking is better than jogging. Therefore, you’ll be more inclined to read articles that confirm this statement rather than articles offering a different opinion.

2. Anchoring Bias – Tendency to be overly influenced by the first piece of information obtained, no matter how reliable it is, and using it as a baseline for comparison. While shopping for a vehicle, the salesperson quotes you a price of $50,000. You return the following week and negotiate a purchase price of $40,000. This seems like a great deal considering the original price quoted. However, if $30,000 is the initial quote, $40,000 wouldn’t look like the best price after all.

3. Bandwagon Effect (“groupthink”) – Tendency for people to adopt a behavior or attitude based on what others believe regardless of the underlying evidence. Voting for the most popular candidate in an election because you want to be part of the majority.

4. Halo Effect – Tendency to be influenced by previous judgments of performance and personality. Assuming a good-looking person is also a good person overall.

5. Availability Bias – Tendency of people relying on information that comes to mind quickly and easily. Fear of a shark attack because you hear a lot about it in the news while you’re more likely to succumb to heart disease than being attacked by a shark.

6. Ostrich Effect – Tendency for people to avoid information they perceive as potentially unpleasant. Instead of dealing with a situation, some people prefer to bury their heads in the sand, like ostriches. Avoiding relevant feedback that could help you get a better understanding of a situation.

7. Recency Effect – Tendency to remember the first and last items in a series while finding it challenging to remember the middle. You’re in a meeting, and the speaker is explaining an important concept. This person speaks relatively fast, and you are unable to capture everything shared. As a result, you notice you only took notes of the first few words and last few words.

8. Choice-Supportive Bias – Tendency to remember our choices as better than they were, as we tend to over-focus on the benefits we chose versus the options we did not choose. Attributing more positive features to a favorite brand in favor of brands we have not experienced.

9. Fundamental Attribution Error – Tendency to assume a person’s actions usually reflect who they are as an individual. Assuming the reason a driver cuts us off is that they are selfish or careless when this individual may be dealing with an emergency.

10. Outcome Bias – Tendency to judge the quality of a decision made primarily based on how things turned out rather than analyzing factors that led to the decision. Making all of your decisions this week based on flipping a coin. If most of the outcomes are positive, you may think this is a great way of making decisions.

11. Illusory Correlation Bias – Tendency to inaccurately link an action to an effect. Believing that wearing a specific jersey will give your favored team a higher chance of winning.

12. Dunning Kruger Effect – Tendency to overestimate our competence in a specific area. You commit to learning a new language and learn the basics fast. Yet, you realize more progress is needed to become fluent. On the other hand, your friend studied the same language, learned a few words, and overestimates their ability to speak the language.

Keeping these biases in mind can considerably improve our ability to think critically.

Source: Adapted from ehl.edu / Graphic: Visual Capitalist

Motivation

There is no shortage of motivational messaging.

But, motivation extends beyond temporary stimulation that lasts up until the moment you scroll past a message, stop reading, or someone stops speaking and inspiring.

Motivation comes from a personal belief and desire to accept responsibility for your life and take the necessary action to achieve the things you seek.

Periods of frustration often reflect an urge to succeed in some area of your life.

By understanding what frustrates you, you’ll better understand what fulfills you.

The message behind your frustration is priming you to make a difference in your life by creating new and meaningful value.

That’s embedded motivation.

Reverse Thinking

Having majored in English, I am no stranger to writing long essays (often to my displeasure). A highlight of my writing came from a technique offered by one of my professors. 

When writing, it is not uncommon for our brain to miss details that could take our writing out of context. The advice from my professor was to read my papers backward, sentence by sentence, or paragraph by paragraph. This technique enabled me to identify fragmented thoughts.

In the workplace, we often have to respond to emails. Another form of writing in reverse can improve the way we communicate.

Imagine receiving an email from your leader wanting an update on the status of a project delegated to you. You are highly capable and enthusiastic about completing the assignment but have been overwhelmed with other priorities. Fortunately, you still have time to meet the deadline. 

How do you respond?

Instinctively, we want to explain why we haven’t tackled the task to date to avoid appearing incompetent and may feel inclined to send a message similar to this:

Hello (Leader), sorry for the delay. I’ve had a lot going on and have been feeling a bit overwhelmed. I haven’t had an opportunity to dive into the task because…

We don’t want to give the impression that we are incapable of handling our workload so let’s explore crafting our message in reverse (reversing the roles of the writer (us) with the recipient (our leader).

Adopting the reverse position helps alleviate the emotions dictating our message. 

The first step is to acknowledge the initial message. Let the leader know you cannot reply immediately, helping put the leader at ease by eliminating whether you’ve seen the message or not.

Hello (Leader), thanks for the message. Unable to reply this second but will get back to you as soon as possible.

Next, write the message and save it as a draft.

Let some time pass to allow your emotions to come back into balance. Consider:

  • Am I writing too much?
  • Is the message confusing?
  • Can anything be misinterpreted?
  • Would it be better to communicate in person or by phone?

The goal is to keep the message as brief yet clear as possible.

The final response may look something like this:

Hello (Leader), thanks again for your message yesterday. I have some ideas on how to move forward. I would love to hear your suggestions as well. Please share what you have in mind, and we can discuss the next steps. We can also schedule a call if you like.

Ideally, we may receive a response similar to this:

Sounds good! Here are my suggestions. I look forward to discussing it!

The goal is to get our emotions to work for us versus against us. Writing in reverse helps us examine if we are effectively getting our point across.

Adapted from Inc./Justin Bariso

Food For Thought Friday

💡 Who are you becoming?

💡 Indecision is a decision.

💡 The right time is now. Do it now!

💡 Resist the temptation to make excuses.

💡 Sometimes it’s ok to say nothing.

💡 The truth is often uncomfortable.

💡 Ask for advice versus an opinion. One creates a partnership, the other produces a critic.

💡 Help someone who can’t help you back.

💡 Overthinking is a problem. Failure to think is doom. Exercise balance.

💡 Remember, active minds have constraints.

Limiting Beliefs

What is the danger of limiting beliefs? We sell ourselves short without trying.

Let’s look at some limiting beliefs.

“I don’t have a good memory.”

Saying we don’t have a good memory is a convenient excuse to forget. The solution is finding an optimal way to store information in our brains.

“There is too much information out there.”

Many people spend a significant amount of time reading commentary on a position they hold – never realizing how much they are missing.

Others realize that reading everything is unsustainable and tend to overvalue information they’ve spent a great amount of time consuming.

Instead of reading everything, identify the key variables that can impact your progress.

“All the good ideas are taken.”

Companies have been starting and competing with different ideas, variations, and strategies for centuries.

“We need to move first.”

The answer is not as black and white as this statement. The iPhone wasn’t first, it was better. We have to break each situation down into its component parts and see what’s possible.

“I can’t do that; it’s never been done before.”

Think Elon Musk. A better bet is to look at what could be and plan for that.

Our thinking improves when we stop making assumptions and subscribing to limiting beliefs.

Adapted: FS Brain Food No. 396 | Photo: Tony Robbins

Because I Said So

Following someone else’s ideology is mentally easier than thinking for ourself.

Who remembers hearing as a child “Because I said so?”

As adults, it turns into “Because that’s how it works. “

We hear this often enough, we stop asking questions.

Or, if we reject dogma, we are often viewed as a problem.

First-principles reasoning (breaking down complicated problems and generating original solutions) cuts through dogma and helps us see the world as it is and what is possible.

One way to establish first principles is through Socratic Questioning. This disciplined questioning process helps establish truths, reveal underlying assumptions, and separate knowledge from ignorance. Here’s how:

1. Clarify Your Thinking – Why do I think this?

2. Challenge Assumptions – How do I know this is true?

3. Find Evidence – What are the sources?

4. Consider Alternative Perspectives – What might others think?

5. Consequences and Implications – What if I am wrong?

6. Question the Original Question – What conclusions can I draw from the reasoning process?

If we never learn to take something apart, test the assumptions, and reconstruct it, we end up trapped in the way things have always been done.

Adapted: FS Brain Food No. 396 | Photo: Control Life for Success

Self-Beliefs

The most significant judgment you make each day starts with looking in the mirror.

Its reflection does not lie, and breaking the mirror does not change who you are.

We spend countless hours maintaining our outward appearance when we should be doing more to develop our inner character.

We all have a mental picture of who we think we are.

Naturally, there is a part of us that would like to believe we are smarter, more attractive, giving, and morally better than those around us, but these self-beliefs can often expose us to weaknesses in other areas.

When we become confused about our self-identity, we open the door for problems to enter.

Until we understand who we are, we will not comprehend where we belong.

We also become stagnant in our growth when surrounding ourselves with people that confirm what we believe to be our self-identity.

Stepping outside of our comfort zone helps shatter the assumptions we have made of ourselves and reveal areas of improvement.

Isn’t it time we shed the labels of who we think we should be and gain a clear sense of who we are?

Incompetence

Where does incompetence stem from in the workplace?

🔻 Nonexistent or ineffective training

🔻 Having the wrong people on the team

🔻 No accountability

🔻 Failure to provide constructive feedback

Poor leadership undermines organizational performance.

With so much at stake in today’s business climate, we cannot ignore the importance of leadership development.

Food For Thought Friday

💡 You have to get over living in the temporary shelter of your own mind.

💡 When your heart is in a safe place, you can live anywhere.

💡 The deeper you dig, the more real it gets.

💡 Trust is one thing that changes everything.

💡 If you don’t know, just say you don’t know.

💡 Growth escapes those stuck in doing things the same old way.

💡 What happens to you and through you, outshines what happens to you.

💡 Miracles are “crazy” to those without inner vision.

💡 Substance is the key to life.

💡 Be thankful for your triggers. They reveal areas where you are not free.

Be Present

How often do you think about the mistakes you have made, past relationships that failed, losses you have endured, or someone that agitates your soul?

How many times have you tuned out your loved ones, colleagues, and others?

We are often so distracted by the past and worrisome about the future that we miss opportunities.

Opportunities to strengthen relationships, learn more, make better decisions, and become more effective.

It makes sense why we fall into this trap, but it is counterproductive and affects those around you.

Learn from the past, but do not live there.

Plan for the future, but do not obsess over it.

Every second spent dwelling on the past or obsessing about the future steals from the present moment.

Quality Questioning

Asking the right questions to the wrong people can be a recipe for disaster.

𝐒𝐜𝐞𝐧𝐚𝐫𝐢𝐨 𝟏: If you’re considering introducing a new product or service to the market, you may fare better asking:

◼ People who have gone through a similar experience.

◼ Your ideal customers.

◼ People who can offer unbiased feedback.

Friends and family mean well, but they may not have the expertise to provide the answers you need.

𝐒𝐜𝐞𝐧𝐚𝐫𝐢𝐨 𝟐: Asking someone a question doesn’t mean you’re going to get the answer you want to hear. This typically happens when you:

◼ Ask the wrong questions – even when they’re the right people.

◼ Fail to take advice previously given.

◼ Ask questions packed with too much information to comprehend.

When it comes to getting answers, who you ask, and the quality of your questions matters.

Word Remix

How do our words help us connect with others?

What we say and how we say it can influence how we are received and elicit powerful reactions.

While an extensive vocabulary is helpful, our communication with others should be simple, clear, and understandable.

Take into consideration that there are five generations in the workplace, team members who may speak other languages, and varying education levels.

To master the language of leadership and human connection, we must be able to adapt our communication style when necessary.

The words we use at work, in conversation, or feedback is paramount.

Which would you prefer?

▶ What went wrong? [or] What worked?

▶ Why did you do that? [or] Help me understand your decision.

▶ Yes, but. [or] Yes, and.

▶ That will not work. [or] Let’s discuss if we can make that option work.

▶ I should have. [or] Next time.

▶ Do you understand? [or] Are we on the same page?

Effective communication is a critical component of our effectiveness as leaders.

The words we choose can either empower or tear down, inspire or paralyze, connect or disengage.

Generalizations

My daughter and I recently had a conversation about her plans after graduating from high school.

She referred to the Class of 2022 being the last graduating class of its kind.

Naturally, I wanted to know what this meant.

She described the freshmen and sophomores in her school as being a “different breed” and gave examples of their lack of maturity.

I found this to be quite amusing in consideration of my parenting struggles.

We’ve been working towards limiting the use of generalizations and words such as:

😬 Everyone

😬 Always

😬 Never

It is not uncommon to encounter similar generalizations made in the workplace.

Imagine someone from your team stating that “everyone is upset with the recent change.”

👉 What is the risk of making hasty decisions with insufficient information?

The best approach is to ask questions such as:

❍ Who is everyone?

❍ How many people does that include?

❍ Why did they choose you as a messenger?

❍ What is the reason they are upset?

Exercising caution before respeonding can be the difference between success or failure in your communication.

Gathering more information will also help you discover the best course of action.

👉 What are some of your experiences with generalizations?

Food For Thought Friday

💡 What’s your expectation for today?

💡 What you don’t know can be your greatest strength. It enables you to do things differently than everyone else.

💡 Respect the feelings of others even when it differs from yours.

💡 Know when to move in silence. Less tell. More show.

💡 Avoid spreading negativity. Treat it like the noise it is.

💡 Self-awareness is half the battle.

💡 Do it to make a difference, not to make an impression.

💡 Solving problems with money is the least creative solution.

💡 People often understand what they want to hear, not what you mean.

💡 There is a difference between giving up and knowing when you had enough.

Behaviors Are Contagious

There’s more to life than good or bad.

For example, if a wealthy person is miserable and a poor person is happy. Is the wealth or lack thereof good or bad?

So much of our stress comes from labeling the challenges we encounter throughout our lives.

💡 The “why” of life has infinite answers.

When life doesn’t go as planned, we as human beings tend to give more weight to the negative.

For example, you just had the most exquisite meal at a highly rated restaurant. As you walk to your car, you step in a pile of dog poop. What happens next?

You are in control of the way you look at life.

Choose wisely.

Behaviors are contagious.

Creating New Stories

I came across an article this weekend that touched on facing today’s fears, living today’s dreams, creating new stories, and understanding ourselves. The lessons that follow help to move us to those ends.

1. If you want to change the world, you have to fall in love with what already is. The same goes for changing yourself.

2. Listen to your doubts. They not only teach you of your fears but also your wisdom.

3. It’s okay to claim all is well amid doubt and confusion and to be happy despite challenges.

4. Your feelings are your choice. What manifests after may not be. Choose wisely.

5. What you say does not determine your honesty, but why you say it.

6. Never decide until you have to.

7. Take full responsibility for your life and never forget to have fun.

8. Always see work as play and play as important. Soon you won’t know the difference between the two.

9. The trick to being in the right place at the right time is knowing you already are.

10. The secret to living the life of your dreams is to start living them at once, however humbly, to any degree you can.

Source: Mike Dooley

Pet Peeves and Over Used Phrases

Pet peeves. We all have them. Here are some ways they play out in the workplace.

🙄 Adopting a “We have always done it this way” attitude.

🙄 Failure to make decisions.

🙄 Micro-managing.

🙄 People not delivering on their promises.

🙄 Knowingly, overstating capabilities.

🙄 Being assigned a goal with no authority or resources to achieve it.

🙄 Not responsive to calls or emails.

🙄 Leaders who hold staff accountable, but not themselves.

What’s one of your workplace frustrations?

Photo: managersorbit

Food For Thought Friday

💡 What would you do if you weren’t afraid? Bet on yourself.

💡 Busy is a decision. Make time your friend.

💡 There are some rules you cannot break – your personal standards.

💡 Perspectives change everything

💡 There is pleasure in helping others grow. If you’re there to help, you’re there to win.

💡 Decisions made in anger can yield a lifetime of regret.

💡 A good mood goes a long way.

💡 Let go to get what you want.

💡Peace of mind plays an important role in our daily lives.

💡 Never trust appearances.

Providing All The Answers

My daughter is taking classes virtually, and I am working remotely.

As a result, I noticed a pattern developing as it pertains to her schoolwork.

She was asking me questions every five minutes (exaggeration) about something she could have easily looked up.

I put a stop to that quickly.

What is the risk as leaders if we consistently provide all the answers for our team?

🔻 It shifts responsibility and their sense of ownership.

🔻 It hinders thinking and creativity.

🔻 It robs them of the opportunity to grow.

Naturally, leaders should guide their teams. Here are some ways to do that.

✔ Provide input for the options presented.

✔ Ask open-ended questions that do not embed the solution.

✔ Identify if someone else is better suited to answer the question.

Leaders often feel that they must have all the answers.

Successful leadership is about motivating people to do things that they otherwise would not have done.

By resisting the urge to provide an immediate solution, we create an environment filled with more trust and collaboration.

Why?

Why do we tend to take greater responsibility for our successes than we do our failures?

Why do we overestimate our positive qualities and underestimate our negative ones?

Why do we cling on to messages like “you messed up” versus “I appreciate you”?

Why do we look for the negative even when good things are happening?

Why do we talk the talk but don’t walk the walk?

Why do we complain about the monotony of our lives yet choose no course for correction?

Why is it the more connected we are, the more isolated we feel?

What are some of your thought provoking Why’s?

Mindfulness

Have you ever tried to talk to someone who was in a hurry, multi-tasking, or dealing with other background distractions?

Have you ever engaged in a conversation and wondered whether the person was listening to you or if it was worthwhile to continue speaking?

How did that make you feel?

We can express a real interest in others by:

✰ Having a welcoming posture

✰ Smiling

✰ Making eye contact

✰ Giving yes signals (nodding)

✰ Taking notes

✰ Asking follow-up questions

If time or other commitments are a factor, acknowledge your interest in speaking to the individual and establish a time when you can give your undivided attention. Wouldn’t you want the same for yourself?

Food For Thought Friday

💡 There’s more to discover beneath the surface. Dig deeper.

💡 You need people who can tell you what you don’t want to hear.

💡 Be the best version of your authentic self.

💡 The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are, not someone else.

💡 Avoiding reality is to your detriment.

💡 If you have life, you have purpose.

💡 How do you know it’s working?

💡 Discover the genius hibernating in your brain.

💡 Imagination unleashed goes beyond the limitations of the past.

💡 Quiet, calm deliberation disentangles every knot.

Time

Time is a commodity.

Yet, many people:

🚫 Abuse it

🚫 Misuse it

🚫 Refuse it

There are three ways to regain time:

✅ Eliminate time-wasters

✅ Delegate tasks

✅ Become more efficient

I realized I was wasting a lot of time on certain social media platforms. As a result, I deleted the accounts. What are some time-wasters you can ditch to regain time?

Meeting Overkill

Are you a meeting manager or a people manager?

I often ask managers this question when I’m facilitating leadership training.

Without fail, time spent in meetings outweighs time invested in the people they lead.

Because meetings are beneficial, here are some techniques to manage agendas and prevent squandering time away on issues that have little or no direct impact on company value.

✔ Deal with operations separately from strategy. Day-to-day operations should not dominate the meeting agenda.

✔ Focus on decisions, not on discussions. Identify the purpose of each agenda item and distribute materials in advance.

✔ Measure the value of every item on the agenda. What is at stake?

✔ Get issues off the agenda quickly. Establish a timetable detailing when and how team members will reach a decision on each agenda item and who must be involved in approving the final strategy.

✔ Put choices on the table. Management can’t make choices without alternatives.

✔ Adopt common decision-making processes and standards. Use a common language and methodology.

✔ Make decisions stick. Establish the resources required to execute the strategy, and the results expected over time.

Adapted: Michael Mankins (HBR)
Photo: Medium

Karma

Karma is a B$&@! How many times have we heard this one?

Karma in Sanskrit means action. For every action, there is a reaction.

In business, this shows up in the way we:

👉 See ourselves.

👉 Treat others.

👉 Handle our resources.

👉 Develop our teams.

The Twelve Laws of Karma offers wise words for work and life.

𝟏. Cause and Effect – What you sow is what you reap.

𝟐. Creation – What we focus on is what we create.

𝟑. Humility – Accept what is, let go of what was, and make changes towards what will be.

𝟒. Growth – Our growth can happen over any circumstance.

𝟓. Responsibility – Our lives are of our own doing, nothing else.

𝟔. Connection – Everything in the Universe is connected, both large and small.

𝟕. Focus – One cannot direct attention beyond a single task.

𝟖. Hospitality and Giving – Demonstrating selflessness shows our true intentions.

𝟗. Change – History repeats itself unless changed.

𝟏𝟎. Here and Now – The present moment is all we have.

𝟏𝟏. Patience and Reward – A patient mindset will reap the highest reward.

𝟏𝟐. Significance and Inspiration – The best reward is one that makes an impact.

Source: Michael M. Reuter (TML)

Food For Thought Friday

💡 We are what we remember.

💡 The most valuable thing you have is your attention.

💡 You can’t prepare for the future if you don’t remember the past.

💡 The great obstacle in life is often ourselves.

💡 Who are You? What do you do? Who do you do it for? Why do you do it?

💡 Your direction is more important than your speed.

💡 Failing is a byproduct of trying to succeed

💡 How are you helping others grow?

💡 Everybody is an expert in something.

💡 All experiences are individual no matter how similar they may seem.

Image: Fabrik Brands

Core Qualities

Our core qualities are effortless. It’s partly nature and nurture. They color what we see, how we behave, our interactions, etc. If we can express these core qualities in our work and daily life, we probably feel good. In actuality, it may be difficult not to exude these qualities.

What comes along with our core qualities? Consequences.

⚠ The first consequence is our pitfall. Too much of something good can have an adverse effect. If determination is our core quality, pushiness may be our pitfall.

⚠ The second is our challenge. Not being pushy requires patience. Interestingly, we often look for our challenge outside of ourselves (E.g., A patient partner).

⚠ The third is too much of our challenge becomes our allergy. Some people are so incredibly patient it may come across as passiveness. Determined people are allergic to passiveness.

The Core Quadrant can help us understand our idiosyncrasies.

For example, if your child or mate is your challenge, the consequence is that they are also your allergy.

Being able to identify and look beyond what unnerves us helps us see the beauty and value of others.

Adapted: Daniel Ofman – YouTube

Who Are You?

How well do you know you?

How well do you know other people?

Who are you?

In business, you may talk about your role (I’m a consultant). In life, you may talk about your role (I’m a mother).

Quick exercise: Describe yourself with a one-word adjective that starts with the same sound of your first name. I’ll go first, Radiant Ramona.

Now, the image we see of ourselves is not always the image the rest of the world sees.

Understanding how we are wired and the impact it has on other people requires operating from a conscious level. Too often, we navigate life on a subconscious level, making assumptions without getting to know the otherness of the other.

We have millions of patterns in our subconscious brain that determine how we interact with others. If we don’t challenge them through consciousness, things happen to us. We think we have no control over it, but we do.

We can have a new thought, at any time, about anything in our lives that we would like to be different. It starts with knowing you, knowing others, and understanding how to adapt and connect.

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” ~Carl Jung

Adapted: Scott Schwefel | TEDxBrookings

Speak Up

How often do we say what we think?

What is the risk if we do?

Many people feel they will be judged or face consequences if they say something that goes against popular opinion.

So they offer up something politically correct or adopt a code of silence.

👉 How does this play out in the workplace?

Imagine having a manager who notoriously assigns pressure-filled deadlines. Team members are stressed but are hesitant to speak up because the manager’s philosophy is those who cannot handle the pressure don’t belong in the role. Silence makes the situation worse. Team members feel powerless, and complaining becomes commonplace.

When we don’t speak up, it can give the appearance of approval.

There are certainly times when we should be silent, but other times when we need to get out of our comfort zones and say something.

Adapted: FS Brain Food No. 388

Commitment

Dear Leaders and Managers,

Are you committed to creating a culture of trust and collaboration?

If you answered yes, when was the last time you asked your team members:

✔ What are two to three things I can do differently to improve my leadership?

✔ How can I make our working relationship more effective?

✔ How are things going for you since we last spoke?

✔ What are the biggest challenges you’re facing?

✔ How can I support you?

✔ How’s the morale around you?

✔ How aligned do you feel with the company mission, vision, values?

✔ What is the most fulfilling aspect of your job?

✔ Are we providing enough growth opportunities for your role? If not, what’s missing?

✔ What’s something you want the C-Suite to know about you?

✔ What is one thing about our product or service you would improve?

We depend on people to help move our companies forward. When there is an absence of trust and collaboration, people are less willing to come together and often make disappointing progress.

It makes sense to have an authentic curiosity about the people we are delegating responsibilities to and to provide a safe environment to give/receive genuine constructive feedback.

Food For Thought Friday

💡 Our greatest enemy can be our thinking.

💡 You’re only as good as your worse day.

💡 Don’t look for excuses not to be kind.

💡 The busiest people often make the worst decisions.

💡 Things that aren’t your fault can still be your responsibility.

💡 The discipline to listen when you feel like talking is underrated.

💡 Are you investing time with the right people and priorities?

💡 Expertise is not a weapon to wield. It’s a resource to share.

💡 A shift in mentality is a shift in life.

💡 Thinking better requires carving out time to think.

Image: Merrimack Valley Magazine

Accountability

Imagine a world with no accountability.

😱 That’s a pretty scary thought!

In a business environment, how do we create the conditions for holding our team members accountable?

✔ Clear Communication – How many times have we misinterpreted the meaning of what someone said and vice versa? Asking open-ended questions, listening actively, and ensuring agreement on the topic, helps reduce risk and strengthens the relationship with team members.

✔ Consequences – One size does not fit all. Take the time to understand the drivers and motivators of each team member. Establish clear expectations in writing to avoid reactive behavior. E.g., Cut costs by (%) in the marketing department by (date). Identify checkpoints to monitor progress and offer support as needed.

✔ Focus on Facts and Observable Behavior – Providing feedback is an intricate process. E.g., During today’s meeting, I observed in your presentation that your sales calculations were off, and you were unable to answer questions on one of the slides. As a result, we will have to postpone making a final decision until next week. What can you do to ensure we have the correct information?

What are some ways you hold other’s accountable?

Unintended Consequences

As we advance in life, leadership, and innovation, we encounter unintended consequences.

Consider the advent of social media. It enables us to connect with others at rapid speed, market to larger audiences, and stay abreast of users’ activity.

❌ Unintended Consequences: Increase in mental health issues, less meaningful engagement, and the inability to develop deeper connections.

Similarly, digital technology has made information more accessible.

❌ Unintended Consequences: Rampant misinformation, unequal access, limited governance, and increased cyber attacks.

Now, imagine being a new leader in an organization confronted with a global pandemic. Not only is there pressure to perform in the new role, but there is also pressure to respond to the pandemic’s impact.

What happens if the leader makes hasty decisions without listening to the opinions of experts, exercise good critical judgment, and analyze the long-term impact on the organization?

❌ Unintended Consequences: Loss of top performers, lack of structure, low employee morale, and unhappy clients.

When unintended consequences are favorable to the organization, everyone wins. When the consequences are unfavorable, they can have far-reaching ramifications. As leaders, we have to act prudently.

Dreams Unfulfilled

We have all spent time with people who talk about the amazing things they plan to do.

Yet, it never seems to come to fruition.

It is not because their heart isn’t in the right place, or their sole intent is to deceive you.

More often, they are letting themselves down.

Many dreams go unfulfilled because we are waiting for the ideal conditions before taking action.

If we wait until we think we are sure of the outcome, we won’t accomplish much.

Rather than seek to change too much at once, appreciate the mini victories along the way.

Buildings are built brick by brick, books are written word by word, and pennies add up.

Taking action is the most critical step toward success.

Otherwise, it may be another amazing story about the things that never happened.

Negative, Positive, Facts

Many people have a hard time seeing things from another perspective.

It’s also human nature to see the negative before we see the positive.

For those who see the positive first, congratulations!

If only it stopped there.

Most things in life have three sides: An upside (positive side), a downside (negative side), and the facts.

We can correlate this to the phrase “There are three sides to a story.” My side. Your side. The Truth.

Whether you start on the negative side or positive side of the spectrum, it would be wise to use the facts as a go-between.

There are many uncertainties in life. The goal is to accept things as they are at the moment.

Acceptance does not equate to weakness, conformity, or mediocrity. It is an opportunity to exercise critical thinking to identify the three sides of a situation and how to best address it.

We all have a choice of how we respond to events in our lives. For example, if someone pays you a compliment, you can choose whether to be flattered or offended. The individual’s intent introduces the third side of the scenario.

Food For Thought Friday

💡 Reputations are fragile. One incident of bad behavior lingers indefinitely.

💡 Chasing after the perfect solution leads to paralysis.

💡 Compliment and complement people more.

💡 Our greatest challenge is the mindset of people.

💡 Discipline is more reliable than motivation. The former can be trained, the latter is fleeting.

💡 We’re all biased to our own personal history.

💡 Imagine what would happen if we focused on what we like vs. what we don’t like.

💡 What is the cost of not doing something right?

💡 When you show up, bring all of you. Be exceptional.

💡 Happiness is an inside job.

Who’s Watching You?

How does it feel to be observed regularly?

Each swipe of our plastic credit/debit card.

Every request to our voice command speaker.

Our internet/social media behavior.

Cell phone GPS tracking and access to our data.

Home security cameras.

Malicious tracking for the sole purpose of defrauding us.

And the list goes on.

It’s quite interesting that leaders forget that their team members are tracking them too.

They’re tracking whether they live up to the mission, vision, values of the organization.

Whether they exhibit the behaviors they command of the team.

Whether they say what they mean and mean what they say.

And the list goes on.

Studies have shown that people tend to improve their behavior when they know that they are being watched.

Perhaps.

What would you stand for if you knew no one was watching or judging you?

It All Starts With You

I took this picture approximately eight years ago in Los Angeles, CA.

The caption “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change.” immediately got my attention.

While this sign is an advertisement for a musical, it is also something we’re all familiar with: Our innate desire to change others.

Since taking this picture, I’ve changed States, mates, and professions.

Along with these changes came lessons learned and opportunities gained.

More importantly, I acknowledge that I am a common denominator.

Maybe we wouldn’t have to work so hard trying to change others if we first change ourselves.

Maybe we should let go of our version of who we think others should be.

Have you ever noticed how people complain about the weather, yet, they have no control over it?

Have you ever witnessed someone having a hard time letting go of the past when there is no way to recover it?

Do you realize that we cannot change the fact that change is inevitable?

Can you meaningfully help others if you can’t help yourself?

Change starts with you.

“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him… We need not wait to see what others do.” ~ Gandhi

Success

One of my favorite quotes is: “All that we are is a result of all that we have thought, the mind is everything, what we think, we become.” ~ Buddha.

Mindsets play a significant role in how we navigate life. While we are encouraged not to compare ourselves to others, there are characteristics that successful people exhibit that can be to our benefit.

Self-Motivation – Successful people are emotionally connected and determined to bring their vision to life. They intuitively adapt to difficult situations and don’t wait around for supervisory instruction. They are excited about their goals and driven to achieve them.

Accountability – Successful people don’t make excuses for bad decisions. They focus less on people’s opinions and more on finding solutions. They respect the truth vs. sugarcoating.

Cognitive Ability – Successful people break problems down to extract the critical components. This enhances their ability for future planning, resource allocation, and problem-solving.

Emotionally Neutral – Successful people remain unaffected by surface-level emotions directed at them. They are not easily derailed by criticism, nor seek validation or affirmation from others.

Self-Belief – Successful people develop skills needed and maintain a mindset that reinforces achievement at every level.

Adapted from: Barrett Riddleberger

Food For Thought Friday

💡 Good listeners ask good questions.

💡 The root of all desire is to be and to belong.

💡 If you’re not seeking approval, they have no power.

💡 The right solution is expensive. The wrong solution costs a fortune.

💡 What you see depends on your perspective.

💡 Grow through what you don’t know and outgrow what no longer fits you.

💡 You don’t need more time, you need more focus.

💡 Most people never feel successful enough.

💡 Cultivate a reputation for being dependable.

💡 Why do you enjoy what you enjoy?

Decisions

Have you ever become exhausted from watching people and listening to their opinions? That’s where critical thinking comes into play. There is a lot to be learned from others. The key differentiator is making informed decisions. We naturally gravitate to the beliefs that are similar to ours. We will even go out of our way to support these beliefs.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with this. In doing so, there are questions it would be wise to take into consideration.

𝟏. What am I supporting today, to build a better tomorrow?
𝟐. Am I doing what’s right in the grander scheme of things?
𝟑. In what ways does this information create value?
𝟒. Is this helping me make a difference? And, for whom does this make a difference?
𝟓. How does this inspire others to do more?
𝟔. Do I care? In what way?
𝟕. What would the world look like if there were identical representations of me?
𝟖. How would I feel on the receiving end?
𝟗. Am I holding myself up to the same standards that I hold others accountable?
𝟏𝟎. Do I show empathy and compassion for others that are not like me?

When all else fails, ask yourself:

🌟 What skeletons do I have in my closet that would contradict all that I advocate for and preach?

Blind Spots

What do blind spots cost you?

From a driving perspective, it can cost you an accident and higher insurance rates.

From a leadership perspective, it can cost you a career and put your organization at risk.

Everyone has blind spots, no matter how self-aware we think we are. Think about it. When we ask others to describe us, it tends to lean more towards the positive (e.g., empathetic, resourceful, adaptable, etc.).

What do we often do with the unsolicited negative descriptions of us (e.g., arrogant, selfish, bossy, etc.)? We chalk it up to the messenger being out of their mind.

If different individuals use the same unfavorable words to describe you, there’s a high probability it is a blind spot.

We often view ourselves differently than others. Imagine my surprise after completing a 360 Assessment. Areas I wished to improve were ranked as strengths by others. Whereas, areas I felt more comfortable with revealed that some tweaking could be to my benefit.

Some leaders take for granted that being in business for a significant period, means they are doing everything right. When in reality, they are often one disruption away from closing their doors.

Blind spot leadership ultimately costs team performance, customers, and future growth.

Graph: Tech in Common

Mindset

Imagine riding down the highway knowingly exceeding the speed limit, and out of nowhere, a cop signals you to pull over. Do you immediately get upset? Do you offer up an excuse? Or, do you accept full responsibility for the speeding ticket the cop later hands you?

Now, let’s say the reason you were putting the pedal to the metal is that you were rushing to be on time for a meeting. You arrive at the meeting late, and human nature wants to provide a reason why. Depending on the audience, you may blame it on getting a ticket en route, or if you choose not to divulge your business, you may blame it on the traffic. Either way, the blame continues.

Blaming people or circumstances is easy. Taking responsibility, not so much. There is a saying that when you point the finger at others, three fingers point back at you.

When unfortunate events happen to you, how do you react? How does your mindset play into it?

A passive mindset is an assumption that life happens to you, and you’re not responsible.

An active mindset means you take ownership and are responsible for the things you control.

Adapted from FS (Farnam Street)

Out On A Limb

One of my Facebook connections posted a photo of Alex Honnold standing on the ‘Thank God Ledge’ in Yosemite National Park. It reminded me of when I belly-crawled my way through a section of the Sedona Mountains, knowing that one false move wouldn’t end well for anyone. As I inched my way forward, I silently prayed that everyone in my group stayed in sync and, I refused to look down.

Going out on a limb for someone or something can be a terrifying feat. And as leaders, we are tasked with taking our team, the organization, and ourselves to new heights. Rarely, do our team want to leave the comforts of what they’ve come to know, to venture into uncertain territory that is risky or scary.

It takes courage to go out on a limb and can be paralyzing to even the best leaders. Moreover, as a leader, we often have to go first. But what is the risk if we don’t? If we don’t grow or transform our business, we fail. This pandemic has proven that.

A motivating factor in the workplace is a sense of accomplishment. And that’s what I felt once I made it to the top of the mountain. Taking a chance on something new can lead to great rewards. Calculated risks often overshadow the uneasiness we may feel on the road to meaningful change.

Perception or Reality

When we hear statements like:

“Why is this happening to me?”
“This isn’t fair.”
“This can’t be true.”
“It shouldn’t be this way.”
“Story of my life.”

Someone’s perception or expectation is not meeting reality. What are your options at that moment? As the late Maya Angelou once said, “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”

We all see reality through a personal lens shaped by our beliefs, culture, religion, experiences, etc. And our perception of reality often dictates our behavior. When we refuse to allow any flexibility in our attitude, we close our minds to possibility and sometimes the truth. Self-defeating statements don’t change the situation. It only makes the experience more painful.