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Archive for June, 2010

Let’s face it we’ve all worked with people who act so much like grownups that there’s little fun to be had, but equally as often we’ve worked with people who sometimes act like children.  We may too have been a bit childish at times, but the big question is: how do you deal with a co-worker whose behavior warrants a time out?

If it’s a subordinate, you can somewhat coerce them into more professional interaction, but what if it’s your boss?

Study after study shows that employees often feel their bosses are volatile and childish when it comes to getting (or not getting) their way.  Very often it is the superior who needs a paddling; the HR rulebook just doesn’t address office corporal punishment.  So what do the rule books say about our options?

Quite honestly, they expect us to be the bigger person.  Much like parenting, psychologists teach that when a child is throwing a temper tantrum, the parents’ best defense is to let the child scream and cry its way to sleep.  I think the same is true for grownups…

Seriously, you have to imagine yourself always as the sane one in a situation where you work with a volatile or opinionated co-worker who throws a tantrum or pouts to get his or her way; a good parent will let them pout, say nothing, then proceed in a calm, collected fashion instead of perpetuating the bad behavior. 

I kinda had one of those semi-tyrannical encounters last week; I sat back, stayed cool and I retorted with resolution-based logic instead of reacting to their rant.  That seems to be my defense to illogical, irrational behavior of any kind these days—whether at work, home or even in traffic.  Yes, I have to restrain myself when I’m on deadline and the copier (as if it mis-behaves by choice) decides to malfunction, but restraint is key.  And as I mentioned regarding the screaming, tantrum-filled child, not reacting is key.  When people taunt, rant, pout and behave childishly at work the first thing you have to remember is to not take it personally.  Don’t get sucked into the vortex! 

I once had a boss who threw a stapler through his paned glass door because he couldn’t find his keys and he was tired of our “incompetence.” Another boss (male again) threw a clip board across the studio at an intern…never, I mean NEVER is a physical tirade acceptable, but it happens.  It happens more with men than women.  Women would be branded as crazy or unstable if we threw things at our employees.

I borrowed some tips from eHow’s Ryn Gargulinski on ways to keep out of the way of an office tornado:

  • Get the heck out of the office. Either take a fast-paced walk around the block or drive to your favorite park to settle down. Just get out of the office–even if it’s only for 5 minutes–before you explode.
  • Call a friend. Use your cell phone and be far enough away from the office so no one can hear you, and then vent, vent, vent.
  • Write down what made you so angry. Sit quietly and reflect on the situation for a few moments. Rip the paper up into little bits and hurl it into the trash. Better yet, burn it. Watch the smoke rise, releasing your anger in its wisps.
  • Sit quietly for a few more moments, closing your eyes and breathing deeply. Pray to have the anger lifted once you’ve sat through it. Go back to your desk and work.

The best advice is to not react.  The best defense is to be calm, cool and unaffected.  Sometimes when you have the level head and someone around you has lost theirs, you can almost laugh at the situation when it passes.  But until it passes take the walk, call the friend, write it down and be still. You will be delighted in your own maturity and you will garner a healthy respect from your peers for being “the bigger man!”

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I have a new mantra; it’s a two word sentence: Be Inspired!  It came up in a culture meeting at Rockhouse this week and it struck me as a powerful suggestion.  Being motivated…is nice, being driven…is good, being inspired…is the most passionate description I can imagine that encompasses all the right reasons we are motivated and driven to achieve anything and everything.  I like it, I’m keeping it, I want to live it!

Pantanjali, who is credited with developing yoga, summed up the premise of living an inspired life like this, “When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds: Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great, and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.”

Yep, that’s the story ending I want; to be a greater person than I ever dreamed I would.  I’m not sure how murky the waters are between inspiration and motivation or inspiration and desire, but when I weigh the words against each other, inspiration wins out on its unselfish and “bigger than me” qualities.

I am always curious to see the vast array of meanings when I look up definitions. My favorite meaning of inspire is: “to breathe in.” Its Latin etymology even suggests, “to infuse, to breathe life.” If you think of inspire as the opposite of expire, “to breathe one’s last breath,” “beyond one’s useful date,” “to come to an end”, it all makes sense.

This perspective helps me define how I can live an inspired life. I’m going to live the opposite of expired.  I’m going to think of the word inspire as “to come to a beginning, to take a fresh breath and to reinvent the self to become useful.”   It’s not that I don’t feel I’ve been useful all these years, but I like the idea of having a usefulness with greater intention than the ordinary.  So how do we have an intentional day?  What does that look like in realtime?

  1. wake up and be grateful for all the little things (bed, roof, clothing, air conditioning)
  2. because water has the divine power of connecting the heavens with the earth (in my opinion), I say make good use of that shower time by dreaming big things and asking big questions like how do I get there
  3. start an hour earlier than you usually do so you get the “junk mail” and silly stuff off your plate before you dig in
  4. come up with a reason (an inpspiration) every day as to why you are working so hard and what the real goal at the end of the day is (mine today is to make a positive difference in three people’s lives)
  5. take time to breathe in and breath out, especially when the Monday stresses come at you like gang busters
  6. respond with Grace
  7. end your day with another glimpse into what you’re grateful for, mainly focusing on the very little things that often get taken for granted

Inspiration, motivation and drive – all great words to live by, but the greatest of these gifts is inspiration!  Be genuine, be intentional and most of all be inspired!

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There’s an old quote from Al-anon that says, “fake it ’til you make it.”  The mantra is also refered to as the “act as if” way of being and is a common catchphrase that means to imitate confidence so that as the confidence produces success, it will generate real confidence. The purpose is to avoid getting stuck in a self fulfilling prophecy related to one’s fear of failure.  I like the premise; I love the results.  A mindset like that can only perpetuate positivity!

Think about the stark contrast between wallowing in fear with a lack of confidence and walking in confidence with an abundance of self-assurance…which one do you think will provide the quickest path to success?  If I was a betting person, I’d say the latter.  But succeeding is a funny thing…without dozens or maybe even hundreds of failures along the way, we wouldn’t have the capacity to shift our mindset to realign our goals.  Failure may very well be one of the keys to success and faking it until you make it may be the stepping stones to take you there.

Another interesting perspective is from Darren Hardy, publisher of SUCCESS Magazine, where he writes about a race from New York to Los Angeles between a 400 mph Learjet and an 800 mph 747.  If you were a betting man, you might choose the 747 over the Lear, but things are not always as they seem.  The Learjet flies straight through on its charted course while the 747 stops all along the way, losing precious time at various hubs.  And between slowing down, stopping and starting up again, it gets side tracked in cities all over the map.  In the end the little Lear that could wins the race because he’s got his flight planned out with precision; no distractions, no layover, no stops.  Hardy also refers to his “flights” or seasons being the most powerful when he breaks them into 90 day increments which enable him to stay laser focused. I like his approach!

Let’s break this down into a workable pattern for your life and your seasons.  Just as the climate varies  and the seasons change so do our cycles of success and even failure.  Everything, I mean everything has an “on” and an “off” season/switch.  Athletes rest, train hard, take breaks, ramp up and then train hard again.  Farmers prepare, plant, harvest then prepare again.  It’s a beautiful, natural cycle, but it must be intentional or else we will not reap the benefits of our hard work.

In sales, sometimes the four seasons happen in their timing, not ours, but we must always take the “act as if” stance to get through the drought. As much as I have never really admitted it, my life is a very predictable, endless cycle of preparing, sowing, harvesting, and resting.  I always thought that I was spontaneous and gregarious, but the truth is, I’m quite cyclical and predictable.  BUT, knowing this about myself helps me to create a 90-day killer plan that I can follow; maybe you can, too:

  1. clean house/office/mind by knocking out old, lingering to-do’s that prohibit forward movement – take a weekend, week or even both to put the time-wasters behind you
  2. create your 90-day NO MATTER WHAT list of what you will accomplish
  3. put it in monetary format (i.e., $75,000 commission,etc.)
  4. drill down to the micro level on how many calls/meetings/appointments that will take to net the results
  5. divide that by 12 weeks, then divide again by 5 (days)
  6. mark out specific time on your calendar to be without distraction (no emails, no facebook, no incoming calls, no small talk)
  7. stick to it (you can do ANYTHING for 90 short days)

Just so you know, this is my 90 day plan.  I’ve got a State Fair that opens in 93 days with three times the sponsorship goal that’s ever been set.  I get three whole days to clean up my act, clear my head and clean my slate and then it’s “game on.”  I’m ready.  And on the days I don’t feel like making outbound sales calls, I’m gonna fake it ’til I make it and make a game out of the stats and the results until my heart catches up with my effort. 

Join me in doing something you want to accomplish and let’s celebrate in three months the perpetually positive outcome we created in our lives!  And if you encounter failures, use them as tools to realign and adjust your course, but don’t wallow, don’t linger, and don’t give yourself the opportunity to do anything short of creating killer success in your 90 days.

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