“Assertiveness is not what you do, it’s who you are!” — Cal Le Mon
Don’t let people take advantage of you. The issue here is twofold. First, an unfortunate element of human nature is that letting people take advantage of you encourages them to repeat the behavior in the future. The more people take advantage of you, the more people will take advantage of you.
Second, being taken advantage of evokes anger, frustration, resentment, and related energy draining emotions and feelings. Along with being unpleasant, these emotions and feelings are unproductive and divert attention and energy from cognitive processes and especially from intuitive processes. The manifest cost of being taken advantage of is apparent but the hidden cost to one’s intuitive capacity is even more disabling. For you, the bill associated with letting people take advantage is quite simply too high.
“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
Project a calm, conciliatory demeanor, avoiding any tendency to be harsh or abrasive, even when confronted by animosity or hostility from others. At the same time, present an aura of firmness, control, and self-confidence. You are self-contained, neither intruding into the personal space of others nor permitting others to intrude uninvited into yours, thereby letting you process reality without interference or emotional clutter.
In the How To Matter podcast, I discuss the psychology of failure and we consider who is and who is not a quitter.
“A man may fall many times, but he won’t be a failure until he says that someone pushed him.” — Elmer G. Letterman
The psychology of success and failure is complex but not particularly hard to understand. It starts with personal responsibility. Unless you accept the responsibility for failure, you can’t take the credit for success. Either you are the agent of your life outcomes or the victim of people who are pushing you down. What Letterman didn’t say is that, if you blame others for pushing you down, people other than you deserve the praise for pushing you ahead.
Separating yourself from what you do comes next. As William D. Brown put it, “Failure is an event, never a person.” Your success and failure aren’t who you are. They are merely what you do. S.I. Hayakawa expanded on the same theme, “Notice the difference between what happens when a man says to himself, ‘I have failed three times,’ and what happens when he says, ‘I am a failure.’” The key is in how you manage life’s events, not in the events themselves. Robert Allen expressed it like this, “There is no failure. Only feedback.”
Now consider what you do with the feedback life provides. Napoleon Hill observed, “The majority of men meet with failure because of their lack of persistence in creating new plans to take the place of those which fail.” It’s not enough to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and climb back on that horse that threw you. You need a better plan for staying in the saddle. Sure, getting up and starting over is tough. Yes, that damn horse may throw you again. Indeed, your new plan may not work any better than the old one; but it’s like Beverly Sills said, “You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don’t try.”
Thomas Edison managed the disappointment this way, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work;” and Samuel Beckett had a similar persistent optimism, “Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” With role models like Edison and Beckett, you can hardly go wrong, so long as you keep trying. As Charles F. Kettering put it, “One fails forward toward success.”
George E. Woodberry knew the essence of success, “Defeat is not the worst of failures. Not to have tried is the true failure.” Continuing effort is seldom elegant or easy; but Elbert Hubbard’s simple point may be all you actually need to know, “There is no failure except in no longer trying.” With that said, Mary Pickford gets the last word on the psychology of success and failure, “Supposing you have tried and failed again and again. You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing we call ‘failure’ is not the falling down, but the staying down.”
In the podcast I talk about new opportunities, picking your best shot, and sharing. The reference to the cliff comes from the extra bonus I added at the end of the How To Matter podcast. You can read the extra bonus below;
but I really hope you choose to click play and listen to the podcast. I ask those who listen to help me make the podcast more helpful. Perhaps you will agree to help.
“Don’t be afraid to take a big step when one is indicated. You can’t cross a chasm in two small steps.” — David Lloyd George
It sure sounds like good advice. One should not be too timid or play it too safe. Sometimes you need to take a chance but notice that it’s recommended only when it’s “indicated.” Therein lies the rub. How do you tell when it’s indicated? Some days you get the bear and some days the bear gets you; but you may want to double check to be sure the attack is imminent before you pursue hand to paw combat with the bear. If you detect angry bear breath, it’s likely indicated.
That clarifies the “indicated” part of the advice but what about the “Don’t be afraid” part? It’s not at all obvious why an absence of fear is either important or required. Suggesting that one should or can confront life’s angry bears without a good measure of fear and trepidation is absurd. Were David Lloyd George here today to discuss the point, a line from Rudyard Kipling would be apropos, “You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din!”
That leaves only the issue of not being able to cross a chasm in two small steps. It sounds like one is being encouraged to leap and pray. That’s like jumping off a cliff and hoping you can fly. Maybe this is good advice but only if that angry bear is actually snapping at your heel. If not, you might take time to build a bridge, consider climbing down the cliff and back up the other side, or perhaps finding a trail around the chasm. Whether the cost of staying where you are is worth the risk of falling in is also likely worth a moment of careful contemplation. As Alexander Pope admonished, “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.”
The conclusion is that the advice embedded in the quote is pithy but suspect. It implies that reluctance to take “a big step” reflects cowardice and maybe even a serious lack of character. Neither is true. George’s advice is certainly food for serious thought but should only be consumed with a large grain of salt.
In the podcast, I discuss 6 ways to matter today, using the 6 points below to guide the discussion. Are the 6 points true for you today and every day? Listen to the podcast to get the details on How To Matter, using the 6 points as your success strategy.
1. COOPERATION I am consistently helpful to others.
2. LOYALTY I hang in there in a positive way with the ups and downs in my relationships with people.
3. CARING I am consistently involved and interested in others.
4. SHARING I spend extra time every day talking with at least one person I don’t typically interact with.
5. RESPECT I listen patiently and carefully whenever someone is talking, telling me about something, or trying to express their ideas or feelings.
6. TRUST I do not get into blaming, accusing, or threatening other people.
“Anyone can become angry – that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way; this is not easy.” – Aristotle
As you see, Aristotle is a typical philosopher. He definitely has a way of elevating the obvious to an amazing level of complexity. You may have thought that something or someone ticks you off; you don’t like it; you get angry; and that’s all there is to that. Silly you!
Along with getting angry, you need to be sure you get it just right. That means the right person, the right degree, the right time, the right purpose, and the right way; and if that weren’t enough, you are reminded that it isn’t easy. Not easy? With all of those restrictions, it may not even be worth bothering with. You may decide that you are way too busy to be angry.
How would that work? First, you need to be clear about what made you angry. Next, you need to determine who did or didn’t do whatever made you angry. That is the right person, the only one you get to be angry with.
Having determined with whom to be angry, you can’t just get angry. You need to decide just how angry you can reasonably get about whatever happened. You determine the degree of anger that is appropriate, based on your analysis.
So far, so good. You know who to get angry with and just how angry you can get. Can you simply go ahead and be angry? Absolutely not. According to Aristotle, there is a time for anger which seems to imply that there are times that you can’t get angry. You need to be sure this is the right time. If not, you will just have to wait for the right time to come. It’s clear that anger isn’t for the impatient.
Well, you have identified the right person and know just how angry you can be. You are sure it’s the right time; so, do you do your getting angry thing? Not yet. You might think that getting angry is its own justification but you would be wrong. You don’t get angry just because you are angry. You need to have a purpose. Will any purpose do? No, you need to have the right purpose. You don’t know what that means? You don’t know what the right purpose is? Sorry, you are out of luck. You can’t get angry until you figure that out. It’s the right purpose or no getting angry today for you.
You have worked through the prerequisites to getting angry so do you get angry now? You can, with one more restriction. You have to determine the right way to be angry. There are apparently approved protocols for being angry and you need to select the right protocol, all things considered; and there are a lot of factors to consider. You may do well to contract it out to an expert. That way you will reduce the likelihood of your screwing up this getting angry stuff. Actually, you should probably just leave getting angry to the professionals.
Are you a leader or striving to become a leader? If so, it is important to identify your leadership style and to be aware of why you prefer a particular style. As becomes clear, there are alternative and distinct styles and each has its strengths and limitations. The better you understand your style, the more effective you are as you exploit the strengths of your style while compensating for its limitations.
Top dog leadership: If this is your style, you value a high level of personal control over and direct management of your followers. You work best with very cooperative followers and have low tolerance for non-compliance. You run a tight ship. Your followers typically defer to your perspective and are eager to do things your way. They tend to compete for your approval and may prioritize getting your blessing over getting the job done.
Lead dog leadership: You are a visionary who sets the organizational course. You reject use of power and control, placing your faith in the good will and principled behavior of your followers. You favor followers who function well with minimal supervision and direction and who naturally see the validity of and value in following your vision. Your style is an excellent fit for kindred spirits but is less compatible for those who may occasionally question your vision or who desire more structure and guidance. Your followers may tend to separate into the consonant majority and the small but dissonant minority.
Task leadership: Your strength is in getting the job done and depends on having qualified followers who are ready to work. Your followers are expected to bring the necessary expertise to each task and efficiently handle their piece of the project. This works especially well for followers who are expert at what they do and neither need or want direct supervision or involvement beyond their immediate tasks. It works less well for followers whose expertise may not be an exact fit with the current requirement, who value understanding how what they do fits in with the success of the larger organization, or who value social contact and interaction. It also may be less effective in the event the various elements of the enterprise experience minor to major disruption or variance from expectation.
Technical leadership: You know what needs done and how to do it. As the resident expert, your followers need only follow your instruction and direction. Your style is a particularly good fit for inexperienced followers who are eager to improve their skills and demonstrate their value to the organization. It also works well for more experienced followers who are comfortable deferring to superior knowledge and expertise. It may work less well for followers who value more autonomy and want to become experts in their own right, for those who value independence.
Motivational leadership: Although you may not be especially charismatic, even a small measure of charisma adds to followers’ attraction to you and to their desire to align. Your verbal and interpersonal presence are compelling and interject energy and “want to” as your followers coordinate their energy, interests, and aspirations with yours. This works well for motivating less engaged followers but may pull weaker and less centered followers into blindly following, with a minimal sense of consequences or personal responsibility.
Values leadership: Your strength is in showing followers why what they and you do is important, why it matters. This works well for followers whose personal views and priorities are already near alignment with yours. You have a knack for encouraging followers deeper into the fold. Alternatively, followers who are more diverse shy away from your leadership and over time, your organization tends to become more and more homogenized.
Although a few leaders may be restricted to one or more of the six styles, most blend all, depending on the situation or particular circumstance. Even so, leaders typically find their comfort zone limited to one or perhaps two styles. They consciously shift outside their comfort zones temporarily but cannot sustain the shift. Without high and continuous self-awareness, they drift toward one dimensional leadership. This becomes especially pronounced during periods of organizational disruption, higher than usual personal stress, or when confronted with atypical or unfamiliar situations or circumstances.
• What is your preferred style, your comfort zone?
• What is the primary disadvantage or limitation of your preferred style?
• How do you detect a mismatch between your preferred style and the immediate situation?
• How do you assure you appropriately adjust your style to the current circumstance?
• Why would great people choose to follow you?
Disclaimer: I found this in one of those folders we all have on our computers but seldom visit. I am not sure whether I wrote it or appropriated it from someone else. If I did write it, good for me. If not, I wish I had. If I saved it from another writer’s work, I cannot find the citation. At any rate, I think it is both thoughtful and interesting and am sharing it without attribution to me or anyone else. If you know the correct source, please let me know and I will update the post to include the citation.
Press Play to hear the podcast. It will give you a better perspective on the leadership styles. Also, consider subscribing so you don’t miss any future episodes.
In this episode of How To Matter, I focus on those folks who start questions and other things they want to say with, “This may be stupid….” From there, the discussion moves on to those people who like to say that anything bad or unpleasant that happens has a hidden positive value. maybe the experience teaches them a lesson or perhaps makes them stronger. As you may already know, I do have a thought or two about that. The episode concludes with the perspective of three people we likely have heard from before.
It’s fun to be a winner; but losing may have it’s up side too. For example, Walt Disney said, “You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.” What do you think about that? Was Walt right or was he just trying to rationalize those broken teeth?
Woody Hayes evidently agreed with the cartoon king, “There’s nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you.” As tempting as it is to side with Walt and Woody, Dr. Seuss had a far better soul cleansing strategy, “I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind. Some come from ahead and some come from behind. But I’ve bought a big bat. I’m all ready you see. Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!”
Sure, your best choice is to press Play and listen so you can judge for yourself.
Proactive leaders are cautious without becoming paralyzed by the potential downside of action. They pursue their goals continuously but incrementally, testing/evaluating progress toward the goal. This approach assures movement toward the goal without exposing the organization to unnecessary and avoidable jeopardy. They do not play it safe but do play it cautiously.
Proactive leaders focus most of their time and energy on organizational stability and goal attainment. They minimize time and energy absorbed by worrying about unlikely contingencies and maintaining the status quo.
Proactive leaders make decisions and take action thoughtfully but quickly. They do not delay or postpone decisions or actions, try to avoid or defer doing what needs done, and they do not hesitate or proceed reluctantly. Their actions and reactions are not impulsive or ill-considered. They are, instead, decisive and timely.
What does this have to do with getting on your pony and riding? To learn the secret, you will need to click the play button and listen to the podcast. As you do that, consider clicking one of the subscribe buttons so you have the How To Matter podcast on your favorite podcast player. That way you are sure not to miss future episodes.
Your success starts with Focus, Focus, Focus.
Are you ready to climb aboard the success train? I sure hope so. It’s pulling out of the station right now. It’ll be great if you’re not late but don’t complain if you miss the train.
What you do is up to you. Are you going to say “Yes,” to success? Sure you are. I know it’s true because I know something special about you. I know that you’re way too smart to let the success train leave the station without you.
Some people don’t know that success starts with focus, focus, focus. They think it’s okay to fool around and never get down to business. They don’t say “Yes,” to success. They don’t understand that when it’s time to do it, you have to get down to it.
The success train is pulling out of the station and you’re already aboard. You figured out the next totally terrific success tip all by yourself.
Your success depends on Timing, Timing, Timing.
You’re always there when it’s time to climb aboard the success train and get down to business. You definitely know when it’s time to go.
Some people focus on what they need to do. They also understand how important timing is. They try to do what they need to do when they need to do it.
Here’s the problem. They don’t have the success attitude.
Your success depends on Attitude, Attitude, Attitude.
The success attitude begins with knowing what your goal is. If you don’t know what your goal is, you won’t succeed.
You have stuff you need to do. It’s waiting for you to do it. You need to do it now. Your goal is on down the track. You’ll need to climb aboard the success train and get headed that way.
You know what your goal is. You know what you have to do to get there. Do you have the success attitude?
Some people don’t have the success attitude. They get moody and pout. They don’t care whether they do a good job or not. They don’t just go ahead and do it. They don’t climb aboard the success train and head on down the track toward their goal.
Do you know some people who don’t have the success attitude? Sure you do. They like to complain when they miss the train. They have stuff to do just like you. They think they’ll do it when they get around to it. They’d rather fool around or take a rest than climb aboard and give it their best.
You know what you need to do.
You know what your goal is.
You Focus, Focus, Focus on reaching your goal.
You know that Timing, Timing, Timing is important and you try to do what you need to do when you need to do it.
You never forget that your success depends on Attitude, Attitude, Attitude and you have the attitude it takes to reach your goal. You always say “Yes,” to success.
Your success at last depends on Persistence, Persistence, Persistence.
It means that you aren’t a quitter. You don’t give up. Anyone can do the easy stuff but it takes persistence when the job gets tough. When the job is hard, you just work harder. You hang in there until you reach your goal.
Whether the success train is going fast or slow, this is what you need to know. You’re the boss. You’re in charge. It’s up to you to say “Yes,” to success.
The podcast has more for you; so click the Play button and enjoy. Better yet, subscribe to How To Matter with your favorite podcatcher on your phone or other mobile device. That way, you will not miss future episodes and can listen to earlier episodes.
Consider the advice before discounting the advisor, read the message before turning away the messenger.
The expertise and insight of the know-it-alls of the world are boundless; and the K-I-A’s are ready to provide advice and input anywhere, anytime, for anyone. A K-I-A was there to point out to Noah there may be a flood, to T. Edison playing with electricity might be shocking, and to Neil Armstrong pulling off his helmet and yelling, “Where’s the party?” could take his breath away. There may have even been a K-I-A around to tell Moses to be sure to get it in writing.
The K-I-A openings have an annoyingly familiar theme: “Have you thought about?” “Did you notice?” “You may want to,” and the old stand by, “If I were you.” Well, thank you very much; and while you are getting the inflection on your sarcasm just right, don’t forget Churchill’s admonition “Even a fool’s right sometimes.”
Don’t let people mess with your monkey.
Making nice and being the Good Samaritan aren’t the only skills you need in your interpersonal repertoire. Sure, those skills are essential for success; but you also have to hang tough at times. For example, is there someone driving you up the wall with their suggestions, advice, and superior attitude? They have solutions to problems you don’t have, answers to questions you didn’t ask, and suggestions for how to handle things you are handling just fine. Their favorite sport is nosing into your business.
Instead of seething inside or giving into the urge to tell them what they can do with their suggestions and opinions, next time, smile and say, “Isn’t that my monkey?” Whatever their response, say, “Thank you; but my monkey gets upset if anyone but me tries to handle him.”
Whether you have a chance to explain your reasons or can only walk away, don’t let arguments get out of hand.
Do you sometimes find yourself in the middle of intense arguments quickly getting nowhere? If so, the instant you realize what’s happening, stop talking, wait five seconds, and then calmly ask, “What do you want the outcome of this conversation to be? What is your goal?”
Ask a few more questions to be sure you understand and to help you determine whether you can support the goal. If so, explain how. If not, say, “Your goal isn’t one I can support. If you want, I will try to help you understand why I can’t.” If the person wants to listen, state your reason as clearly and as briefly as you can. If not, let it go.
The best response of all is saved for the podcast. Click and learn for yourself. Even better, subscribe to “How To Matter” through your favorite podcatcher.
Back when, my dad told me that we get 80% of our points by just showing up and staying all day. For the remaining 20%, the key is how we manage. It is that 20% that separates the winners from those who merely play the game.
I focus on that critical 20% in this episode of How To Matter. In the podcast, I suggest a strategy you can use to do as well as you know to do, with style, all the time on purpose. I hope you click play to listen.
If you want to be sure you don’t miss future episodes of How To Matter, just search for How To Matter in the podcatcher of your choice and subscribe. After that, each episode will be there for you as soon as they are published.
Simon says, “Your success is just an attitude away.”
As with most of life’s important adventures, the door to your success potential unlocks with attitude, attitude, attitude; and you hold the key. Unlocking your unlimited potential rests on your fully committing to your success. For you, anything less than success is unacceptable. Coming close, a good try, nearly succeeding, and other versions of not quite making the grade just do not do. Others may be satisfied with having played a good game; but your vision for yourself does not include second place.
How do you develop the success attitude? You start by understanding if you do not expect to succeed, you are likely right. Successful people make it look easy but appearances can be very misleading. Your success is the most challenging work you ever have the opportunity to do. If you do not believe you are up to the challenge, it is all too easy to fail. What’s more, you quickly see failing is far easier than succeeding. To succeed, you not only believe you have what it takes to succeed, you believe you are up to the challenge. For you, success is not merely a possibility, it is inevitable.
Your journey to success does not come with a guarantee. There certainly are pitfalls and hazards along the way. You know the potential to succeed is permanently bound to the possibility of failure. Despite the risk, you are committed to your success, keep your focus on the rewards of succeeding, know anything else is a precursor to personal disaster.
No, Simon is definitely not suggesting you ignore the risks or discount the danger. What’s more, your personal success coach certainly knows it is safer for you to do only what you are supposed to do, follow the rules, and trust the world will reward you. Others depend on you to do what they want done; and you are dependent on them for everything. If this fits your vision for yourself, it may turn out just fine, assuming you hitched your horse to the right wagon. If instead, you do not see yourself spending your life pulling someone else’s wagon, it is time for a new vision for your future, one putting who you are and who you will become on the same success path.
Do you see yourself on the success path? If so, you have the attitude it takes to succeed. You imagine yourself succeeding; you know you will succeed. It is the only alternative worthy of your valuable time and personal interest.
Where is the point about PRIDE, you ask? I hope your curiosity prompts you to click the play button to learn how PRIDE is essential for your success, essential for you to succeed.
Sharks are involved and decisive. They are very much into being individuals who are not part of the group and who definitely operate in their own interest. Being involved takes the form of being extremely alert, aware of what is going on, and prepared to act quickly and efficiently. Decisiveness is a major characteristic, with sharks being able to make a decision and act on it without hesitation or second guessing.
Seals are helpful and playful. They are definitely part of the group and social participation is a high priority for them. They like being helpful, doing things for and with others, and making things work out well for everyone. They also have an ability to be helpful in a fun way, with playfulness being one of their primary characteristics.
That leaves buttheads. Well, for that you will need to press play and find out first hand. It may surprise you.
In episode twenty-one of How To Matter, I talk about personal space. The discussion focuses on physical, emotional, moral, social, sexual, and intellectual boundaries, ours and those of other people. Just as we do not want others to cross our personal boundaries without our permission, we need to take care not to cross the personal boundaries of other people without their permission, their consent. Being able to judge and then respect the appropriate distance from other people is an important key to assuring that we are someone who matters, in the most positive sense of mattering. I hope you press the play button and listen to the discussion.
* Always be as dependable as you are capable of being.
Slot one in this special six-pack is reserved for dependability. If you tell someone they can depend on you, does that mean your commitment to them is as if you made it to yourself? If so, people need only watch you to see how well you take care of yourself. That is as dependable as you are capable of being; so there you go.
* Be energetic and ready to fly at a moment’s notice.
Slot two is reserved for energy. If you were born tired and haven’t rested up yet, you may as well hang it up; but if you are energetic and prepared to give every opportunity your best, you may be ready to join the ardent high-flyers.
* Seriously consider what is important to other people.
Slot three is set aside for consideration. If you are ready for the give-and-take of living and working with people, you always take their needs and interests, goals and motivations into consideration. You don’t reflexively defer to their values and beliefs, want to’s and got to’s; but you put them into the equation as you set your priorities and make your plans.
* Put being honest with yourself as priority No. 1 and consistently apply the principle.
Slot four is for honesty. Sure, you are as good as your word; and when you make a commitment, people can take it to the bank, as they say; but this version of honesty isn’t for other people. It’s for you. Are your motivations as pure as you say they are; are you as committed as you claim; are you as interested in others as you seem; are you being as straight-up and forthcoming as you profess to be? It’s a fact you can fool some people all the time and most everyone now and then; but fooling yourself is worse than foolish. It’s taking dishonesty to a new and often irreversible low.
* Sustain your positive approach every time, with everyone.
Slot five is saved for the positive approach. This is not the pasted on smile, glad hand, and “Isn’t everything wonderful?” phoniness some slick types try to pass off as the genuine article, just as it isn’t some kind of nonsensical philosophy like, “Some good comes out of even the worst experiences.” Rather, it’s believing there is a way out of the darkest forest and you will find it. It’s remembering the good news in your life as you receive the bad. It’s hanging in there with yourself and with others when a lesser spirit would hang it up.
* Be consistently and genuinely reliable.
Slot six finishes up this six-pack. Make a list of people and things you have found to be reliable and then think about what their common ingredient is. Your list depends on your personal experience; but here are a few examples of reliability serving the immediate purpose. Sharp knives cut better than dull ones; cats don’t like having their heads held; Mom makes the best raison cake in the universe; if you are running late, something comes up to make you later; and Santa Clause still believes in you even if you stop believing in him. What is the common ingredient? Everything on the list is reliable, the way it is, always that way. The same is true for reliable people. They are not on-again off-again, up-and-down, one way with you and another with other people, erratic and unpredictable. Reliability is indeed their trademark; and an hour with them is as was an hour yesterday and as will be an hour tomorrow.
“One often contradicts an opinion when what is uncongenial is really the tone in which it was conveyed.” — Friedrich Nietzsche
Some people have a short fuse, are highly reactive, and are ready to go to war over anything. At other times, people are tired, frustrated, anxious, stressed, and atypically touchy and contentious. Either way, you conscientiously manage your interactions, emotions, reactions, and behavior in ways that minimize conflict, animosity, and contentiousness.
This doesn’t mean that you hold back, equivocate, or are reluctant to pursue your point of view, opinion, or expectation. To the contrary, you are always assertive, clear, and forthcoming. The point here is that conflicts and disagreements are managed as negotiations and not as arguments and battles. Confrontation and power games are seldom the best choice for resolving friction points and personality clashes. You have far better and more effective tools at hand and take care to use them instead of resorting to emotionally charged war games.
Okay, I didn’t mention anything about thinking blue. Click the play button to hear all about why you should Think Blue.
Simon says, “Let’s get a couple of things out in the open so you can get them behind you. Yes, it is possible to strike it rich, to have an inspiration for an invention making you famous while it makes your fortune, and maybe even to have a sudden insight leading you to the right end of the rainbow, pot of gold and all.”
Sure, some lucky ducks were born with silver spoons in their mouths. In life’s great poker game, some people get better cards than others. It is enough to make you just sit down and cry.
Before you drown in your tears, though, remember your good friend Simon did say instant success is possible, if all you want is money, status, or a free ride. The odds are not in your favor but it might happen. Hanging your future on it is a bit risky; but a possibility is still a possibility. If instead, you would rather hang your future on something a little more substantial, Simon has a suggestion for your thoughtful consideration:
- Cultivate your success.
“Give me more credit than that, Simon,” you say. “Like you, I didn’t just come into town on a load of logs. I’ve been there too. I know success isn’t going to just drop into my lap out of the blue. I have to work for it and am certainly willing to do whatever it takes; but where do I start? How do I cultivate success?”
Good News! Click on the play button and find the answer.
“When a man points a finger at someone else, he should remember that four of his fingers are pointing at himself.” — Louis Nizer
You know to deal with people and problems directly and assertively. However, you also know that many people in positions of authority like pointing out that they always place the blame squarely on the person who did not get the job done. This is, from your point of view, a sure sign that the person in authority knows nothing about people. When a job doesn’t get done or doesn’t get done as well as expected, it’s obvious that someone didn’t get the job done. It’s also frequently easy to see who didn’t get it done. At that point, the authority junkie is quick to point a finger, “The job didn’t get done and you are the one who didn’t get it done.”
Here is the glitch. The authority junkie’s approach usually appears to work. The problem doesn’t recur, performance improves, the job gets done the next time. At the same time, people become more cautious, less creative, and more concerned about avoiding the authority junkie’s ire than in developing better ways to do the job and continuously improving their performance. “Good enough” becomes the standard, good enough to avoid the pointing finger of the authority junkie.
For you, the alternative to blaming and finger pointing is automatic. “This is disappointing. You must be at least as frustrated as I am about it. Can we see if we can figure out how to get a better outcome next time? What would help? How can I help?” Sure, enough is enough at times, even for you. People need to be held accountable and deal with the consequences of poor performance. The point is that this is a down-the-road eventuality and never where you start.
Faultfinders do not have much faith in people
Management and psychology texts argue that people will do as well as they can under the specific circumstances. They only need to accept the underlying values, understand the problem, and receive support and encouragement. Faultfinders do not buy into that. It is only necessary for them to look around to see the absurdity in the people-are-good-and-want-to-do-the-right-thing hypothesis. These players can look at almost any behavior, activity, or project and point out things that should have worked out better or faster. They can point to people who should have been smarter or sharper. They also call attention to events or circumstances that someone should have handled more smoothly or efficiently.
They always do better, they believe, so it is reasonable for them to expect others to do the same. Faultfinders reason thusly:
- If things were done right the first time, we would not have to waste our time straightening out messes other people are causing
- There is no excuse for that – whatever that happens to be
- If you can’t do the job, we’ll find someone who can – and that will be easy to do
The trick is to Faultfind about something, anything, and then criticize someone, anyone. The result is that the spotlight never gets turned on the player. If the heat does turn on him, he only needs to escalate his criticism and self-righteous indignation.
Faultfinders are intolerant of others
Intolerance is to faultfinding as a lack of reason is to dogma. Remove the intolerance and this frustrating behavior must stand the test of reality and the close examination of others. It is this type of scrutiny the player wants to avoid whenever possible.
The faultfinder is always looking for the different, the negative, or the problematic in others. If the player shows any real tolerance, he runs the risk of overlooking these negative aspects. Attention must not shift to people’s strengths, abilities, or areas of special competence. This is a risk that must be avoided. Maintaining a high level of intolerance is safe and guarantees there will always be room for faultfinding.
Faultfinders expect others to foul up
This principle joins with intolerance and the next principle to form a closed triad. Simply expecting others to foul up enables the player to predict the behavior of people with 100 percent accuracy. Sooner or later everyone will handle something less than perfectly. The player’s intolerance makes it easy to see the negative or problematic. Assuming that the foul up will happen leads to his being sharper and quicker to pounce on it.
It is a variant of Murphy’s law. Sooner or later things will go wrong, and it is likely to be sooner. When it happens, the player is not surprised. He and Murphy predicted it.
It is easy for the player to spot and respond to what he expects. If everyone thinks a member of the family will foul up, they will be more alert, more on guard, and quicker to blame. When people expect the worst, there is seldom any surprise. Even if things are going well, Just you wait!
Faultfinders do not accept people as they are
Now the triad is complete. There is intolerance. There is the expectation others will foul up. Now, however people are, they should change.
The player says, “I do not like the way you handled that project.”
The staff member watches the player for a while to see how projects should be handled and then uses the player’s approach for the next project.
The faultfinder then says, “I do not like the way you handled this project.”
The staff member says, “But it is the same way you do things.”
The player then says, “I might have expected you to be someone who would try to take someone else’s techniques. You need to be original.”
Here is the triad in another context.
Mike works beside Ralph on the assembly line. Mike says, “Ralph, you are going to drive me crazy if you don’t stop moving your lips like you are chewing your cud when you operate that press.”
Ralph says, “Get off my back!”
Mike comes back with, “You people from the south plant are all alike. I don’t know why they put you in here even if we are short on help. We’d be better off without help like that.”
Ralph is hot now. “What do you mean by that? If it weren’t for us, nothing would ever get finished around here.”
Mike lashes back. “I get tired of fixing things you screw up.”
“Have I screwed up anything yet?” Ralph asked.
“Not yet but just give you enough time.”
It is a safe bet that Mike’s prediction will eventually come true and he will be ready to pounce.
Faultfinders are stingy with praise
Giving someone praise is dangerous. It can backfire by encouraging the person to do more that is praiseworthy. The faultfinder does not want this to happen. It gets much harder to find things to fault-find about. It is like a hunter encouraging all the game to leave his favorite hunting ground. Faultfinders tend not to be either stupid or self-defeating.
Faultfinders enjoy blaming and accusing people
The key here is that no one has to be at fault or in a position to be accused of anything. A typical example might go like this.
Karen says to Bill, her office mate, “The truth is it is your fault I didn’t get that promotion.”
Bill asks, “How do you figure?”
That is the opening Karen is looking for. “You missed your appointment in Atlanta, and the result was your proposal was late.”
Bill interrupts, “But I was snowed-in at Cleveland.”
Karen responds, “It is always something with you.”
Puzzled at the attack, Bill asks, “What does that have to do with your getting or not getting the promotion?” A big mistake, Bill!
Karen is ready. “I would not expect you to understand that kind of political thing. I work with you and you drop the ball. That makes me look bad and I do not get the promotion I deserve.”
More attentive now, Bill says, “Let me get this straight. I get snowed-in at Cleveland. My proposal is late, and because of that you end up not getting a promotion.”
With a wave of disgust, Karen ends the conversation. “You’ve got that one right.”
Faultfinders focus only on what is not going well
By this point, it is probably clear to you that focusing on the problematic and negative is the stock-and-trade of faultfinders.
“Please type a draft of this letter for me.”
A couple of hours later, “I’m getting tired of errors in the things you type for me.”
The typist says, “I did it in a hurry. I thought it was a draft and you wanted it in a hurry.” Sorry, no win this time.
“I expect that even a draft will not be full of errors. (There were three errors.) You need to remember if something is worth doing, it is worth doing right.”
To herself, the typist thinks, “I don’t think you would think anything was right.”
This is a perceptive typist. The faultfinder will always find fodder for his cannon.
Faultfinders are not proud of the achievements of others
Suppose Karen and Bill both get promotions.
Karen says, “Wow! Don’t you think it’s great I got that promotion? I’ve worked hard and deserve it.”
Bill says, “It’s terrific! I think it’s terrific for me too.”
Karen responds, “Sure it’s nice for you. It isn’t that big of a deal for you, though. You’re a man so you can expect promotions almost automatically.”
Faultfinders expect others to do as well as they sometimes do
If there is a major player around and especially if he is in a position of authority, it does not pay to be exceptional. For example, a salesman has an unusual week. He hits on almost every call and ends up the week 60 percent over his solid but not outstanding average.
His sales manager says, “I knew you had it in you. You have been holding back on us. This is more like it, more up to your potential. This is the kind of work I’ll be expecting from now on. No more of this shirking. You are a great salesman.”
Of course, this is like expecting a baseball player to get a hit every time he comes to the plate or your child always to get A’s. Nonetheless, it is the stock-in-trade of a first class faultfinder. Their motto is nothing but better will do for everyone else.
Faultfinders place the blame squarely on the person who did not get the job done
“It is your fault. We were counting on you, and you let us down.”
On the surface, this may not seem like a technique for faultfinders. It is best to hold the responsible person directly responsible. The twist is that the faultfinder is literal about this. In the example above, Bill should not have been late with the proposal. He should have known it snows in Cleveland in the winter and made contingency plans. It was his job to get the proposal in on time, and it is his fault that it was late.
The technique is probably becoming clearer to you by now. The idea is that, no matter what, there are never any extenuating circumstances or mitigating conditions. The expectation is absolute and unconditional. Either there is success or there is a person who failed. The trick is for the player to use the technique while avoiding its being used on him.
If the player was the responsible person when things went awry, the best trick is to say, “I did my part. My part of the project went fine. It did not work out because there were several parts that had to be done right. There were a couple of the parts for which I was not responsible that went wrong.”
Suppose the project is putting in a new light bulb. Joe is responsible for light bulb replacement. As a first class faultfinder, he says, “It is not as simple as just putting in a new bulb. Nothing around here is so simple. The problem is that John forgot his keys, and I let him use mine. I can’t get into the closet without a key. By the time he finally got around to bringing my key back, there was insufficient time to install the fixture. The problem is that there is inadequate coordination of facility access. We have some big problems around here.”