In episode 66 of How To Matter, I share a couple of perspectives about how forthcoming we should be with others about our plans and the associated risks. The article below is the handout for the episode and includes the popular perspectives. In the podcast, I suggest another perspective we should consider and take care to keep in mind.
“Keep your fears to yourself, but share your inspiration with others.” — Robert Louis Stevenson
Stevenson’s advice sounds like wise council but isn’t. He would have benefited from Thomas Jefferson’s observation, “Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.” Sir Walter Scott’s caution would have also been helpful, “Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!” The suggestion, either explicit or implied, that intentional dishonesty is appropriate or correct is silly and – well – dishonest.
“Inspiration” is the product of one’s creative thinking and work, a sudden intuition about a situation or problem. It pops into reality partially or fully formed, without supporting analysis or carefully considered explanation. Assuming that the “fears” Stevenson suggested that you keep to yourself are associated with the inspiration you share with others, the problem is this. The inspiration is the “I think” part of the sudden intuition. The fears you aren’t sharing are the “I feel” part. Stevenson suggests that you share the “I think” part but not the “I feel” part. That seems to promote a “half truth” as the way to go.
Suppose instead that Stevenson didn’t intend that the “fears” and “inspiration” were associated. Your fears relate to X and your inspiration relates to Y, with X and Y being unrelated. You should share your inspiration about Y but not your fears about X. The advice would still be debatable but trivial. He is merely counseling people to share their inspirations with others but keep their unrelated fears to themselves. That would make concurrently sharing, “I have discovered a cure for cancer but am deathly afraid of snakes,” inappropriate. Is that profound advice or did you, perhaps, already know that?
No, Stevenson advised that you share your inspirations but not your related fears. That makes his advice unacceptable. People need and are entitled to the full truth, not half truth. It also makes what you share more credible. This is especially true for leaders. People want to know what you think, want you to share your vision, your inspiration. They also need to know what you fear, what the risk is for you and for them. Go with the whole truth, inspiration, fears, and all.
In episode 65 of How To Matter, the topic is gossip. I have always thought about gossip as a slightly to seriously negative kind of activity. As such, gossip is something to avoid, I thought. I was listening to a podcast that changed my perspective, completely changed my mind. In this episode I share what I discovered and posit a tip you may find helpful as you continue gossiping along with the rest of us.
In episode 64 of How To Matter, I discuss conversations and conversing. Most of us most of the time are only interested in what other people are saying to the extent that they are interested in what we have to say. That works just fine except when the conversation is truly important, when the conversation really matters. Then, we need to change our approach. The excerpt below serves as the handout for the episode and is an example of how not to proceed.
“Companion none is like unto the mind alone; for many have been harmed by speech; through thinking, few or none.” — Sir Thomas Vaux
You are slow to share your ideas and opinions. You certainly have a wide range of ideas and opinions on most everything of interest to you. Nonetheless, you usually only share your thoughts and perspectives when specifically asked to do so. Even then, you are frequently reluctant to verbalize your thoughts. Instead, you prefer continuing to scan and process what other people are saying. This is because your intuitive processes are continuously assimilating and interpreting the content and adjusting and reconsidering its meaning. You are just too busy listening to interrupt the process by talking. To convert what you think to conscious thought would require stopping and trying to find something to say. That would simply be too disruptive.
In episode 63 of How To Matter, I suggest a strategy you may want to use to increase your Make A Difference quotient. There is of course the traditional strategy for making a difference as illustrated in the handout for the episode included below. The strategy suggested in the podcast is unrelated to the traditional strategy and is guaranteed to raise your Make A Difference quotient along with making your days more enjoyable.
“Look up and not down. Look forward and not back. Look out and not in, and lend a hand.” — Edward Everett Hale
You are seldom too busy or stressed to lend a hand, pitch in, to help others succeed. This does not mean that you let others intrude on your personal space or time. Rather, it means that you are usually able and willing to assist, help when there is an immediate need, do what you can for others, deal with what needs dealt with.
In episode 62 of How To Matter, I consider not whether we need to change (We do.) but rather how much change is needed (Not much). Once we discover the sweet spot for us, we just need to stay mostly within our range; we need to keep our balance. The key is to keep our balance while being sure we don’t cause anyone else to lose his or her balance.
Episode 61 of How To Matter is the third of three episodes where I share the audio from an experiment I ran a while back. The idea was to make three important and related points in three minutes. In this the final episode of the three, focus is on dealing with people who are angry and upset. I conclude the experiment with one tip you may find helpful as you deal with people who are agitated and difficult to respond to reasonably and in a civil manor.
In episode 60 of How To Matter, I share another tidbit from the three tips experiment I mentioned in episode 59. This time the three tips focus on good manors. Ok, I know that may sound pretty boring but it definitely isn’t as ho hum as it may at first sound. I think there is something in there that we all may want to take to heart, especially if we are serious about our careers and our success.
In episode 57 of How To Matter, I consider the tale of a self made man and wonder whether that applies to anyone we know. The article below is the handout for the episode.
“Self-determination has to mean that the leader is your individual gut, and heart, and mind or we’re talking about power, again, and its rather well-known impurities. Who is really going to care whether you live or die and who is going to know the most intimate motivation for your laughter and your tears is the only person to be trusted to speak for you and to decide what you will or will not do.” — June Jordan
You don’t ride the coattails of others. As Bob Anderson put it, “You can’t always wait for the guys at the top. Every manager at every level in the organization has an opportunity, big or small, to do something. Every manager’s got some sphere of autonomy. Don’t pass the buck up the line.” This does not mean that you don’t intentionally benefit from your associations with others or that you don’t plan affiliations in ways that maximize your success. The point is that you perform and produce autonomously, based on your personal initiative and capacity, on what Jordan attributes to your “gut, and heart, and mind.” You are independently successful, with your success being enhanced by your associations. You always “carry your own weight,” and are not carried by others.
In episode 56 of How To Matter, I explore decision making along with how and why we make the decisions we make. The tip for the episode is somewhat backward from the usual decision making advice. The two articles below include the typical decision advice and serve as the handouts for the episode.
1: There is a little quirk of human nature that is worth a second look. We seek out advice and guidance, we consult with experts, and may even peruse a few volumes in the library, hoping for insight and wisdom. As a result, we assimilate the best, available ideas and thinking about our problem or issue.
Do we then act based on all of that fine knowledge? Well, usually we do; but the little quirk is that sometimes we don’t, even though we know better than we do. As Mary Wortley said, “Sometimes I give myself admirable advice, but I am incapable of taking it.”
It’s definitely human nature, since it’s been around for at least a couple thousand years. Cicero said, “Nobody can give you wiser advice than yourself.” That’s why we do what we want to do, despite all that good advice from experts. It’s like Erica Jong noted, “Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn’t;” or Charles Varlet de La Grange, Pensées, “When we ask advice we are usually looking for an accomplice.” In the end, the famous Anon. likely has the advice we need, “The best way to succeed in life is to act on the advice we give to others;” since, as François Duc de La Rochefoucauld pointed out, “It is more easy to be wise for others than for ourselves.”
2: “Each indecision brings its own delays and days are lost lamenting over lost days… What you can do or think you can do, begin it. For boldness has magic, power, and genius in it.” — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Make decisions quickly and unambiguously. This does not suggest that your decision making is either impulsive or ill considered. To the contrary, your decisions are based on thorough analysis and comprehension. The key is that the analysis and comprehension are fully informed by experience and supported by intuitive processes that are themselves very rapid and unusually accurate. Frequently, this means that you are unable to provide adequate explanations for decisions when they are made. Such explanations only become available retrospectively, as time is available to reconstruct your intuitive processes at a conscious level.
In episode 54 of How To Matter, I ponder over whether and how much people actually change. I think you may find the conclusion a little surprising. The article below serves as the handout for the episode.
In episode 53 of How To Matter, I explore three examples of emotional advice and consider whether it is all good advice or perhaps very bad advice. The handout for the episode is below and comes in three parts. Episode 53 resolves the different perspectives in the examples.
Part 1: “The more tranquil a man becomes, the greater is his success, his influence, his power for good. Calmness of mind is one of the beautiful jewels of wisdom.” — James Allen
You deal smoothly with the ups-and-downs of life. Most people generally reflect the state of their personal worlds. When things are going well, they are more positive and energetic. When their worlds are in a down turn, they are more irritable and anxious. For you, though, this pattern is not evident. Rather, you seem unaffected by the fluctuations. This is because you separate events from your reaction or response to them. To let yourself be pulled up and down by what is happening around you consumes unproductive energy and attention and diminishes your capacity to deal effectively with whatever is happening.
Part 2: “My father used to say to me, ‘Whenever you get into a jam, whenever you get into a crisis or an emergency… become the calmest person in the room and you’ll be able to figure your way out of it.'” — Rudolph Giuliani
You are seldom up tight or nervous. In part, this is because you have learned to manage your anxiety, stress, and fear of failure. In part it is also because you are in touch with and trust your intuition. You have learned to expect insights and understanding that will enable you to deal with most any people or situations that need your attention and management. You trust your conscious skills and knowledge but also rely on your intuitive capacity to hang in there and deal with whatever comes along.
Part 3: “Chaos is a name for any order that produces confusion in our minds.” — George Santayana
Avoid keeping things stirred up. This is especially important if events have caused confusion or disruption or if there is arguing or serious controversy. At those times, tension and stress tend to be high and the emotional wash can quickly cover everyone and everything. This was pointed out by Anaïs Nin, “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” Importantly, you don’t necessarily try to soothe people or calm the situation. Rather, you stop anything you are doing to exacerbate the tension and then figuratively and perhaps literally move away, out of the negative energy field. You need to get away from all the static before you can deal effectively with the situation.
In episode 52 of How To Matter, I share an excerpt about management principles and zero in on one key point. The tip for the episode comes directly from the excerpt. I will not put a spoiler here but the point is, I think, most important and one that you may find one you want to adopt. The article below is the handout for the episode and the point I am withholding is tucked away there for your discovery.
“Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life; everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated. Thus, everyone’s task is as unique as is his specific opportunity to implement it.” — Vicktor Frankl
Frankl’s view of human existence cherishes individual uniqueness and the singular importance of each person’s contributions. Few would argue with his view of the essential value of each person and of each person’s work. Even so, most approaches to organization and to management are notably antithetical to Frankl’s conception. Exploring the disconnect between belief and application can be instructive.
Most contemporary approaches to organization and management are based on mission and process. The mission is the super-ordinate outcome which is, in turn, reduced to goals or sub-outcomes that collectively represent achievement of the mission. Processes are developed to achieve these sub-outcomes. People are then recruited to implement the processes. The recruits are, thus, expected to fill pre-defined roles, accept carefully limited responsibilities, and meet relatively fixed performance requirements.
Once people have opted to participate in this structure (or have been permitted to participate, given your perspective,) management literature offers a variety of strategies for maximizing performance. For example, Thomas J. Watson observed, “I believe the real difference between success and failure in a corporation can be very often traced to the question of how well the organization brings out the great energies and talents of its people.” One may assume that those great energies and talents are in the interest of supporting the organization’s pre-defined processes. Lee Iacocca asserted, “Management is nothing more than motivating other people.” Here too, the point is to support the organization’s established processes. Brian Tracy uses a slightly different strategy but the purpose is unchanged. “Practice Golden-Rule 1 of Management in everything you do. Manage others the way you would like to be managed.” Perhaps an alternative would be managing people the way they would like to be managed; but either way, the point remains to support the organization’s processes.
An alternative understanding of an organization and its people is possible. Start with a mission articulated by whoever wants to achieve a given super-ordinate outcome. This may be an individual, a group, a government, or a community. Define the tasks involved in and the skills needed to achieve the mission. Now only recruit people whose specific vocation or mission in life is supportive of and compatible with the organization’s mission and the skills needed to achieve that mission. You have no interest in people who are simply interested in a job, no matter how hard they will work. If you are going to produce milk, only hire people who love cows, have worked hard to have a career in dairy farming, and who are vitally concerned about the nutrition of people, especially children. Having hired the individual, discuss the tasks that need done and then delegate those that represent “a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment” both for the new employee and the organization. Repeat the process until there are enough people associated with the enterprise to handle all necessary tasks and successfully pursue achieving the organization’s mission. Thus, “everyone’s task is as unique as is his specific opportunity to implement it.” Frankl would be proud of you. Just smile and use a few of Immanuel Kant’s words to let everyone know that you “always recognize that human individuals are ends, and do not use them as means to your end.”
In episode 51 of How To Matter, I focus on dealing with crisis situations and more generally with difficult and unexpected situations and people who are making our lives troublesome in ways we had not anticipated. The tip for the episode is to take things one STEP at a time. The article below supplements the discussion.
“Always behave as if nothing had happened, no matter what has happened.” — Arnold Bennett
Maintain a consistent level of energy and involvement with people and activities. You know that your effectiveness depends on continuous attention to and focus on people, activities, and the environment. This requires a flow of energy that does not fluctuate much. For this reason, you don’t expend either too much or too little energy; you don’t have high and low days. This requires that you don’t get pulled into rushing and frenetic activity or pulled down by stress, negativity, and exhaustion. It will help to remember the words of Madame Suzanne Curchod Necker, “Behavior is the theory of manners practically applied.” Your resulting steadiness and predictability are hallmarks of your approach to virtually every person and situation you encounter.
This is episode 50 of How To Matter. I am very happy that I have persisted to episode 50 and even happier that you are here to share it with me. In this episode I share Dr. Pepper’s first principle of life and living. I think you may find it to be somewhat amusing but nonetheless well worth taking a few minutes to consider Dr. Pepper’s point.
In episode 49 of How To Matter, I look at one of the great childhood dilemmas: “Do I hurry up and get done or slow down and ‘be careful?'” That carries over for us as we weigh whether to jump in or play it cautious and take more time to evaluate and consider. Sure, I have a tip you may want to use as you deal with what life brings you today.
In episode 48 of How to Matter, I focus on those times when we are angry and not happy about events and circumstances. Contrary to what we may hear or be told, getting upset, angry, and unhappy with people and situations are quite normal and, within limits, good for us. The key is in how and when we give expression to our negative times. The article below is a somewhat related perspective and serves as the handout for this episode.
“We should be too big to take offense and too noble to give it.” — Abraham Lincoln
You are generally positive about most people and most situations. Some people are negative about everything and everyone or unpredictably negative about things. You can’t tell when or where they are going to be in a snit about something or someone. Alternatively, the few things and people about whom you are negative are clearly known and predictable. There are few surprises.
There is a significant advantage to being generally positive and predictably negative. Negativity is energy draining and inhibits intuition. Being mostly positive avoids the downside of being negative. Further, knowing when and what people and circumstances prompt negativity lessens the emotional drain and makes it easier to manage the bad vibes so as to minimize the suppressing affect on intuition. You know that the cost of negativity is too high to tolerate beyond that which can’t be avoided.
In episode 47 of How To Matter, I discuss aggressiveness and assertiveness and explore the underlying difference. The point is that aggressiveness is fundamentally bullying behavior and assertiveness is an effort to get one’s needs, interests and priorities acknowledged in the context of the rights, interests and priorities of others. The tip is to choose wisely as you pursue what you want for you. The article below is the reading assignment for this episode.
“The basic difference between being assertive and being aggressive is how our words and behavior affect the rights and well being of others.” — Sharon Anthony Bower
Assertively stick up for yourself. This level of personal initiative extends to people and organizations with which you are associated. Of course, needs are prioritized and have to be met. Interests need to be pursued. Personal and organizational goals need to be realized. For you, though, meeting your needs at the uncompensated expense of other people is unacceptable. As Euripides observed, “Joint undertakings stand a better chance when they benefit both sides.”
Pursuing self-interest in ways that prevent others from pursuing their interests is problematic. Reaching goals in ways that make it impossible for other people to reach their goals is to be avoided whenever possible. Sticking up for one’s self and one’s interests is consistent with your approach to everything, so long as every reasonable effort is made to avoid injuring other people and their interests.