Leadership Barometer 53 I’m OK – You’re Not OK

June 3, 2020

I have made an observation after listening to people vent about problem individuals at work or at home.

It seems most people have a rather long list of things that other individuals must do to improve but a rather short list of things they need to change in their own behavior.

It is human nature to excuse or rationalize one’s own shortcomings while focusing on the obvious improvement needs of others. Since nearly everyone practices this little deception, the world must be rife with almost perfect people who wish the other people around them would shape up.

Hmmm – something is wrong with this picture? Here are a dozen tips that can change the pattern for you. Print them out and post them at work. Feel free to add more concepts of your own, and let me know what you add.

1. Reverse the Roles

The other day a student was venting about a particular individual who was a major challenge at work. The student described in gory detail several behavioral things the other person constantly did that drove him up the wall.

I asked him to write an analysis about himself from the perspective of that other person. In other words, what would the other person tell me about him if he had the chance.

That brought the student up short, and he admitted it would be a rather humbling exercise to do.

2. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

It is a well known fact that most married couples fight over the little things that become habitual annoyances on a daily basis. The position of the toilet seat is a great example. How come I can never get my wife to leave the toilet seat up?

It is not the 401K account that most couples argue about daily, it is who gets the remote control, or why the toothpaste tube is always topless. So, if we can just remember that the small stuff is really just that, then maybe we can relax a bit.

3. Live and let Live

If a cubicle mate hums when she is happy, it is no reason to have a coronary over it. This is her outlet and way to be cheerful.

Even though it curdles your skin when it goes on and on, why burst her balloon by pointing out her “problem”? If it is an unconscious habit, she will never be able to control it anyway.

Simply buy a pair of noise canceling head phones and play the kind of music you like. Let a happy person be happy or a miserable person be miserable. Focus your energy on creating your own sphere of cheerfulness rather than trying to change the rest of the world.

4. Punch Out Early, Don’t Punch Out the Person

Find some way to get away from the petty squabbles before they bring you to the snapping point. If you cannot actually leave without penalty, it does not stop you from mentally checking out. Just go for a little vacation in your mind.

Imagine smelling the giant pines if you love to hike. Feel the frost on your cheeks if you like to ski. Taste the chocolate chip cookie if you like to eat, or how about a relaxing hot tub while sitting at your desk?

Imagining happier places has kept many POWs alive for years; the same technique can keep you sane until 5 o’clock.

5. Share a treat

Just because someone drives you nuts by clipping his nails in the morning is no reason to hate him all day long. Find some symbolic olive branch and waive it around. Go get two chocolate bars and give him one.

Bring him in a bag of his favorite flavor of coffee. By extending kindness, we get kindness in return. Usually people know what they do drives us crazy.

If we change our body language rather than keep festering about “their problem” and learn to accentuate the positive, then the other person will likely respond in kind.

6. Extend Trust

The reciprocal nature of trust implies that you can improve another person’s trust in you by extending more trust to him or her.

When we build up a higher account balance of trust, the petty issues seem to melt away because we are focused on what is good about the other person rather than idiosyncrasies that drive us bonkers.

The best way to increase trust is to reinforce people who are candid with us about our own shortcomings. That takes emotional intelligence to do, but it works wonders at improving relationships.

7. Don’t Complain About Others Behind their Back

Speak well of other people as much as possible. The old adage “if you cannot say something nice about someone don’t say anything” is really good advice.

When we gripe about others when they are not present, a little of the venom always leaks out to the other person, either directly or indirectly. Never make a joke about another person at his or her expense.

A wise old pastor taught me that rule 40 years ago, and it is a great rule. If a person is doing something that really bothers you, simply tell him or her in as kind a way as possible why you find the action irritating.

8. Stop Acting Like Children

The lengths people go to in order to strike back at others for annoying them often takes on the air of a food fight in grade school.

Escalating e-mail notes is a great example of this phenomenon. I call them e-grenade battles. It is easy to avoid these squabbles if we simply do not take the bait.

When you find yourself going back and forth with another person more than three times, it is time to change the mode of communication. Pick up the phone or walk down the hall for a chat.

9. Care About the Other Person

If we really do care enough to not get bent out of shape over little things, then we can tolerate inconveniences a lot better. What we get back from others is really a reflection of the vibes we put out ourselves.

If we are feeling prickly and negative reactions from others, we need to check our attitude toward them. While it is convenient to blame them, often we are at least a partial cause of the negativity: they are simply a mirror.

10. Picture the other person as the most important person in your life

If all else fails, try to remember that life is short and to expend energy bickering and griping about others really wastes your most precious resource – your time.

How much better it is to go through life laughing and loving than griping and hating. We do have a choice when it comes to the attitude we show other people. Make sure your choice enriches others as well as yourself.

11. Have your own personal development plan

Start out each day with a few minutes of meditation on how you want to present yourself better to your co-workers. Have a list of areas you are trying to improve on.

This healthy mindset crowds out some of the rotten attitudes that can lead you to undermine the actions of others all day. Create a list of your personal improvement areas, and work on them daily.

12. Follow the Golden Rule

Finally, the famous Golden Rule is the most positive way to prevent petty issues from becoming relationship destroyers.

By simply taking the time to figure out how you would like to be treated if the roles were reversed, you will usually make the right choice for building and preserving great relationships.

Following these 12 tips will create a happier you and will mean that your interpersonal relationships will be much stronger in the future.



The preceding information was adapted from the book Leading with Trust is like Sailing Downwind, by Robert Whipple. It is available on http://www.leadergrow.com.

Robert Whipple is also the author of The TRUST Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals, Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online, and Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change. Bob consults and speaks on these and other leadership topics. He is CEO of Leadergrow Inc. a company dedicated to growing leaders.


Paradise is a State of Mind

February 27, 2016

I do a lot of online teaching of leadership and business courses. My students live all over the globe and have interesting backgrounds.

I have had a student write his assignments while on bombing runs in Iraq and another individual participate in class while fleeing a hurricane bearing down on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico.

In one of my classes, there was a student living in Hawaii, so many of the other students were jealous of this individual, since we were having a rough winter on the United States mainland.

At one point, a student who lived in Detroit was lamenting another dreary day, and he reached the breaking point. His comment to the student in Hawaii was, “Well, I have to take responsibility for my own misery. After all, I chose not to live in paradise.”

I immediately wrote to the complaining student reminding him that:

“paradise” is a state of mind rather than a state of the Union.

I believe human beings have the power to live in reasonable happiness most of the time, regardless of where they are located or what the conditions are. It all has to do with our attitude.

Please understand, I am not being frivolous here, I am talking about true peace and contentment being possible even when circumstances are far from pleasant.

There are stories galore of POWs who have achieved a state of joy and gratitude for life even as they were being starved and tortured.

One such individual was Viktor Frankl during WWII in the Auschwitz Concentration Camp. Viktor was a psychologist in Vienna living a comfortable life when he was nabbed by the Nazis and brought to the camp.

He was treated with disdain and was starved and beaten, like most POWs. He was curious about why some people survived, while most others quickly died.

He described the survival instinct as the realization that there was something significant to live for, or something yet to do in their life. Once they were reminded of their purpose for living, they had the ability to endure their hopeless situation and survive.

In Viktor’s own situation, he was able to use the power of visualization to rise above the incredible conditions of the moment and feel peace and joy, even among the dying and hopeless people. After the war, he wrote a book on his observations entitled “Man’s Search for Meaning.”

What prison do you live in? Does it sometimes feel like you are suffering needlessly at work? Are the managers in your organization reminiscent of prison guards, or at least schoolyard bullies?

Do you feel there is little hope to be happy or content with the conditions that exist around you? If that describes you, then realize you are making a choice. You are choosing to not live in paradise when the opportunity is there for you to do so, or at least to improve your frame of mind significantly.

I am sure many of you are saying, “This author is crazy; he has no clue about the miserable existence I live here in this dungeon.” Well, that is correct, I do not know your condition, but I do know the person most in control of your happiness is you.

Choose to be happy or ignore this advice and remain miserable. I am not saying this is easy, because if it was, everyone would do it. The fact remains, dissatisfaction can be a powerful motivator for change.

Do what you can to change the external circumstances, but the real work starts within. Get clear on what you really want. Use visualization to vividly imagine what it would be like to have it.

Have the courage to face the difficult issues you have been resisting, forgive others and yourself, make decisions that you have been putting off. While you are making your changes, support yourself with positive self-talk and mental imaging. Seek the help of a coach or other professional when you need it. As you make progress, celebrate it!

The more depressed you are, the more you have to gain. Even when you cannot change the conditions being presented to you by the world, usually you can control your attitude or reactions so that your state of mind is much more enjoyable.

This philosophy is not that profound, and we have all heard some form of it numerous times before. Some people call it “mind over matter.” Norman Vincent Peale called it “The Power of Positive Thinking,” while Earl Nightingale made the observation that “We become what we think about.” Henry Ford quipped, “If you think you can, or if you think you can’t, you are right.”

One helpful book is the classic, “Psycho-Cybernetics” by Maxwell Maltz (1960). Maltz became fascinated with the process of setting goals for his plastic surgery patients. He learned that the power of self-affirmation and mental visualization techniques were enabled by the connection between the mind and the body.

Maltz taught how developing a positive inner vision was a means of developing a positive outer vision. This led to the idea that a person’s outer success almost never rises above the one visualized internally. Many contemporary philosophers such as Zig Ziglar, Tony Robbins, and Brian Tracy have based much of their work on the theories developed by Maltz.

When you are miserable, it is hard to remember that you can be in control if you want to assume that control. When you get depressed, try visualization techniques. They can make a big difference in your life. If you get into that habit, it really is possible in most situations to make significant movement in the right direction.

The key understanding to enable this skill is how to control your thinking. Paradise is not as far away as it seems.

Video #4 – We Keep Discovering the Same Vein of Gold

Visualization

There have been many books and programs written about visualization and many different techniques you can use. Here are a few resources that I have found helpful in my life.
“Lead the Field” Earl Nightingale, Nightingale Conant Inc.
“The Science of Personal Achievement: The 17 Universal Principles of Success” Napoleon Hill, Nightingale Conant Inc.
“How To Master Your Time” Brian Tracy, Nightingale Conant Inc.
“Goals” Zig Zigler, Nightingale Conant Inc.
“Theatre of the Mind” Maxwell Maltz, Nightingale Conant Inc.
“Unleash the Power Within” Tony Robbins, Nightingale Conant Inc.

To get you started on visualizing your own personal paradise, here is a sample process that many find helpful.

• Relax in a quiet place and focus on the end result. Don’t worry on how you will get there.
• Imagine vividly what it will look like and feel like when the goal is achieved. Use every sense. In what condition are your body, mind, emotions, and spirit? Zoom in on the details. Flesh it out.
• Feel the joy of gratitude for everyone and everything that helped you get to this place. Feel the excitement of achievement.
• Accept that you are able and worthy to achieve this goal.
• Affirm that the Universe is conspiring to assist you.
• Be open to inspired ideas for what the most important steps to take next.
• Trust the process. Experience will show you it is an effective one.
• Write down your goals, including the all important “What’s in it for me.”
• Act on your inspired ideas.

Having visualized the outcome, you have activated the Reticular Activating System, part of your brain which will help you notice things that can be helpful to your quest. Every time you visualize, it gets easier to see yourself succeeding and you can add more detail and get more ideas. Regular visualization can help with your motivation because your goals no longer seem out of reach.

Key Concepts in this article:
1. Paradise is a state of mind, not a state of the Union.
2. We live in a world of our own creation and have much more power than we realize to control the quality of our lives.
3. Many philosophers have discovered the simple but most powerful concept of positive thinking.

Exercises for you:
1. Think of a time when you were miserable. How did you finally pull out of it? That process is one clue to how you can control your emotions in the future.
2. In what ways do you help other people out of their depressions? Are you effective at this, or do you merely annoy people who are already down?
3. Think of three ways to feel more paradise today. What is holding you back from doing these things?

Bob Whipple is CEO of Leadergrow, Inc. an organization dedicated to growing leaders. He can be reached at bwhipple@leadergrow.com  585-392-7763. Website www.leadergrow.com   BLOG www.thetrustambassador.com He is author of the following books: The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals, Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online, Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind, and Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change.


Paradise is a State of Mind

February 20, 2011

I do a lot of online teaching of leadership and business courses. My students live all over the globe and have interesting backgrounds. I have had a student write his assignments while on bombing runs in Iraq, and another individual participate in class while fleeing a hurricane bearing down on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. In one of my classes, there was a student living in Hawaii, so many of the other students were jealous of this individual, since we were having a rough winter on the United States Mainland.

At one point, a student who lived in Detroit was lamenting another dreary day, and he reached the breaking point. His comment to the student in Hawaii was, “Well, I have to take responsibility for my own misery. After all, I chose not to live in paradise.” I immediately wrote to the complaining student reminding him that “paradise” is a state of mind rather than a state of the Union.

I believe human beings have the power to live in reasonable happiness most of the time, regardless of where they are located or what the conditions are. It all has to do with our attitude. Please understand, I am not being frivolous here, I am talking about true peace and contentment being possible even when circumstances are far from pleasant.

There are stories galore of POWs who have achieved a state of joy and gratitude for life even as they were being starved and tortured. One such individual was Viktor Frankel during WWII in the Auschwitz Concentration Camp. Viktor was a psychologist in Vienna living a comfortable life when he was nabbed by the Nazis and brought to the camp. He was treated with disdain and was starved and beaten, like most POWs. He was curious about why some people survived, while most others quickly died. He described the survival instinct as the realization that there was something significant to live for, or something yet to do in their life. Once they were reminded of their purpose for living, they had the ability to endure their hopeless situation and survive.

In Viktor’s own situation, he was able to use the power of visualization to rise above the incredible conditions of the moment and feel peace and joy, even among the dying and hopeless people. After the war, he wrote a book on his observations entitled Man’s Search for Meaning.

What prison do you live in? Does it sometimes feel like you are suffering needlessly at work? Are the managers in your organization kind of reminiscent of prison guards, or at least schoolyard bullies? Do you feel there is little hope to be happy or content with the conditions that exist around you? If that describes you, then realize you are making a choice. You are choosing to not live in paradise when the opportunity is there for you to do so, or at least to improve your frame of mind significantly.

I am sure many of you are saying, “This author is crazy; he has no clue about the miserable existence I live here in this dungeon.” Well, that is correct, I do not know your condition, but I do know the person most in control of your happiness is you. Choose to be happy or ignore this advice and remain miserable. I am not saying this is easy, because if it was, everyone would do it.

If you choose to change conditions for the better, get some material on mental imaging and start changing your life. The more depressed you are, the more you have to gain. Most of the time you cannot change the conditions being presented to you by the world, but most of the time you can control your attitude or reactions so that your state of mind is much more enjoyable.

This philosophy is not that profound, and we have all heard some form of it numerous times before. Some people call it “mind over matter.” Norman Vincent Peale called it “The Power of Positive Thinking,” while Earl Nightingale made the observation that “We become what we think about.”

One helpful book is the classic, Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz (1960). Maltz became fascinated with the process of setting goals for his plastic surgery patients. He learned that the power of self-affirmation and mental visualization techniques were enabled by the connection between the mind and the body. He taught how developing a positive inner vision was a means of developing a positive outer vision. This led to the idea that a person’s outer success almost never rises above the one visualized internally. Many contemporary philosophers such as Zig Zigler, Tony Robbins, and Brian Tracy have based much of their work on the theories developed by Maltz.

Unfortunately, when we are miserable, it is hard to remember that we can be in control if we want to assume that control. When you get depressed, try the visualization techniques. They can make a big difference in your life. Paradise is not as far away as it seems.