An uncomfortable truth

Occasionally we are forced to confront uncomfortable truths

Some unfortunately we are inured to, others are such a jolt to ‘our worldview’ that we can’t readily escape the emotional prison they lead us to.

What’s powerful about the second type of event is that these can also lead to personal and societal change and growth, like physical pain, emotional pain also has a purpose.

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It’s how we identify with and respond to this pain which is important.

My current pain is Donald Trump.

Only twice before have I felt this hurt and this mystified by an event where I have lost hours and hours searching for the why? (The other events were as primary witness to a serious crime, and a teen suicide).

Surprisingly there is a common thread between these three events.

It’s not the person!

Not: Trump/Criminal/Suicide.

It’s the communities around them.

Trump, amongst other things, is an outcome of the support of two of the many types of communities that have always existed in the United States (and elsewhere);

  • One driven by fear, not wishing to change, ignorant and unwilling to think independently or beyond the borders of their town, state or country.
  • The other driven by a lust for power, control, personal wealth and – in common with the other group – retention of the status quo (their power).

Communities that are so invested in their prior narrative that they cannot correctly discern when things have gone too far

Trump is just the Messenger.

It’s an uncomfortable truth.

As the various merits of John McCain demonstrate, it’s not truly a political divide but one conveniently dressed that way to Trump’s advantage. Playing voters who vote for one side of the canyon or the other – with no consideration of a bridge between.

Trump has played this in plain sight. And those absorbed in their own self-interest and without question as to the purpose of their loyalties, have followed.

Consider this:

You go to a party that is populated heavily with:

  • White collar criminals
  • Dishonest lawyers, financiers, publicists
  • Dubious celebrities
  • People you know who regularly lie, cheat, embellish
  • People known for always promoting themselves above others

What do you conclude about the host?

What do you do?

…and you elect him as President!!

You can’t change him, but we can all face the uncomfortable truth that as a society, as connected communities, we need to find better answers so we don’t end up here again.

At present far too much energy is going into looking at the person and not the issues that brought this person to the top of the pile in the first place. There lies the true source of my/our pain.

 

Note: I’m no expert on American Politics, but having lived 5 of the last 6 years in America, I feel I can at least share my observations.

Make my day!!

Having a bit more time on my hands these days I have the pleasure of helping one day a week with my daughter’s school crossing.

This week I asked my youngest daughter Edie and her friend to say good morning to everyone who crossed.

Though both were anxious at first, eventually they got into the swing of it.

Why?

Simply because being outwardly friendly to someone, even those they completely did not know, got an outwardly friendly response and more – smiles, changes in demeanor, changes in body language; ‘the works’ really. No negativity whatsoever.

kia oraReally it’s not hard.

 

Say hello the first time.

Try and get their name in as well the next time.

And then move on up to asking how they are doing or wishing them a pleasant day.

At no cost, you feel better too.

Observe carefully and you’ll notice most awkward moments are created by what we don’t say rather than what we do – it’s just that we take more note of the few awkward moments we create when we say the wrong thing.

Little things that can have a big impact.

What’s your ‘school crossing’?

Who can you share this simple gift with?

If not this, then how will you Make ‘my’ day?

 

 

 

 

It’s Not ‘Not there’

Simply because we can’t see or hear something doesn’t mean it’s not there.

not there

Often, in fact, it’s right in front of us.

More often than we admit we choose not to see or hear things. It starts as a young child and the habit only becomes more subtle and more discreetly executed as we get older.

Statistically speaking 49.999% of us are in the bottom half of our chosen field of expertise, be it sport, academics, leadership or even parenting!

The perception we typically create for ourselves, however, is that we are in the upper quadrant and, in some studies 90% of people believe they’re above average!

Known as Illusory Superiority this bias has some interesting outcomes – and not always as you might expect.[1]

Ola Svenson (1981) surveyed 161 students in Sweden and the United States, asking them to compare their driving skills and safety to other people. For driving skills, 93% of the U.S. sample and 69% of the Swedish sample put themselves in the top 50%.[2]

Interestingly there is also a tendency for people in the face of a challenging task to suffer from the “worse-than-average” effect.

What makes these two tendencies interesting in unison is that it suggests as managers we will often overrate our ability to deliver a message and underestimate the threat our staff experience in new and challenging tasks.

Rather than pat ourselves on the back for delivering a great message and then expressing great disappointment when our staff don’t execute as expected, we should ensure that we examine deeply where such ‘missions’ fail.

Is an irate manager the result of our own unreality (about their ability) rather than an intrinsic failing in those we manage?

How often as managers do we check in with staff on their comfort with what is being asked of them?

How often as managers do we reassure our staff of our belief in their capability to do challenging tasks?

Simply because there is no noise, no feedback, no protest, doesn’t mean it is not there.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illusory_superiority has a great run down on it.

[2] Svenson, Ola (February 1981). “Are We All Less Risky and More Skillful Than Our Fellow Drivers?” (PDF). Acta Psychologica. 47 (2): 143–148. doi:10.1016/0001-6918(81)90005-6.

 

 

Give me a reason!!

Excuse or Reason?

william-stitt-611580-unsplash

 

Excuse: I’ve been busy so haven’t got around to posting another blog.

Reason: I’ve been distracted lately and haven’t given this blog the time it needs.

A somewhat benevolent Chairman once pulled me up for giving an excuse. It was a lesson well learned and a cue I since have used often for self-improvement and to tune into the conversations I have and assess the credibility of those I’m engaged with.

Anyone who talks with genuine reasons is well ahead in the credibility stakes. Just pouring out excuses is an easy habit to slip into but an unattractive trait to wear:

Excuse Reason
Sorry I’m late the traffic was unbelievable!!! Sorry, I failed to allow for the traffic (which I know about) and left later than I should have.
Sorry I didn’t do “x” I’ve been so busy lately. Sorry, my bad, I didn’t give “x” the priority I implied I would and I overlooked it. I will have it to you by 4pm today.
Sorry I meant to call but forgot. Sorry, I should have called you. (No reason, but an admission of fault)
I forgot to do my homework, I was busy with other things. Sorry, I wasted too much time on my tech and didn’t do my homework.
I know I said I wouldn’t do it again, next time will be better. I let you down, and I let myself down, I’m sorry.
I didn’t mean it. Sorry, I should not have pushed my sister.
I didn’t mean it. That was unkind and unthinking of me. I apologise.

It’s likely some of these will resonate, we all have our guilty moments.

The strength is in acknowledging ‘guilt’ or fault and not falling into the 5-year-olds plea of “It wasn’t me”.

If you can add a commitment to a genuine reason then the value of the apology goes up significantly:

  • I will have the work to you by 4pm…
  • I will call them straight away (and you do)…
  • I’ll work late tonight and have that on your desk in the morning (and you do)…
  • I promise not to use any tech until my homework is completed.

But mostly, next time you are addressing an incomplete task or action, contemplate whether your response is the real reason or the excuse of a 5-year-old.

True leaders will only give reasons.

I Am

asphalt-communication-commuter-221310

In current times it’s inevitable that some of my posts will veer into politics.

With the surreal event taking place in Singapore at present I can’t resist passing comment on how our egos interfere with our effectiveness.

Safe to say if you’re reading this blog your ego is nowhere near the issue it is for the two men meeting in Singapore (which will be like Cage Fighting in suits with no physical contact).

However, we all have egos and they both serve and hinder us.

When you see things upside down, the ego can be extraordinarily funny; it’s absurd. But it’s tragic at the same time.

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

If we carefully observe ourselves we’ll see our ego interfere with our lives on a constant basis, sometimes for good, but also to the detriment of doing the right or best thing:

  • When we feel embarrassed – resulting in inaction when action is what is required.
  • When we fail to acknowledge somebody –  because we’re either a tiny bit underwhelmed or a whole lot jealous, or mostly because we are too full of our own importance.
  • When we do something we know is ‘not right’ – because it’s what we said we would do and can’t deal with our imagined ignominy in changing our course.
  • When we lose focus on a conversation – because no one is listening to us (possibly because their egos are working overtime too, or, simply we are a bore).
  • When we interject (my own personal Achilles) – because our ego can’t wait to show ours is bigger, brighter, funnier or more important (yeah right).

Though we may sigh in despair about the events unfolding and the painful rhetoric which will follow, we also need to take a moment to listen to and observe our own ego.

Imagine life if we trained our ego to understand what a good time can be – where it considered not just you but for those around you.

We need to both feed and nurture our ego but at all times be aware it’s with us.

Even if it’s not raging like some of the more public ego’s we see today, we need to actively manage our ego’s impact on ourselves and those around us. It’s a constant work in progress.

Where do you see the biggest impact of ego – either personally or from others?

What can we do to turn this ‘force’ to positive use?