Monthly Archives: January 2015

Look to What You Are Afraid of

You have a meeting coming up with a difficult employee. When you think about it, you get a little knot of apprehension in your solar plexus. You’re the boss, you have the authority, you know that you should hold the higher ground. But you still have a little fear about confronting them on some unacceptable behavior.


While at first glimpse this discomfort can seem unwanted, there is a silver lining to fear (or whatever word you might use to describe the feeling).  Your body is sending you a message that something is off; and the body never lies. If you are someone who wants to strengthen and expand your personal awareness and positive power, this kind of uncomfortable experience is a perfect entry point into clearing out some internal barriers. We all have old stuff hanging around from our earlier days; times that were hard when we had too few tools to handle deftly. But we can bring our internal capabilities up to date. You can mature your responses and strategies.


What to do? Crazy as it may sound, have a conversation with your little knot of fear (whether it arises in anticipation of a difficult conversation or prompted by any of all sorts of uncomfortable circumstances). While your first impulse may be to push it away, as we’ve written before, that is like sweeping crumbs under the carpet; all you get is a lumpy carpet. No, get cozy with the feeling of fear. Ask it questions. The inquiry could be something like:"Hello fear. Tell me what’s going on". Or, "Mmmm, I feel you trying to tell me something. What thoughts did I have about…that got you stirred up?"


At first you may feel silly doing this. That’s just the judger mind poking its nose in. Simply feel that; neutrally acknowledge it. But no need to let the feeling stop you. Just keep going. And when you first try this simple conversational technique, you may not hear the answer. That’s probably just because you aren’t yet used to tuning in to this method of receiving information. But there’s no harm in trying it again a few times as these little bouts of fear tend to be common for most of us. Be assured that more opportunities will come your way for further practice with internal investigation. Once you get the feel for it, you will certainly start to get answers as to why any particular fear is present. And with that valuable information, you can begin to address  the internal issues (that we all have) and find answers and strengths for next difficult situations to come. This is helpful both for building courage and actually coming to more powerful peacefulness about what you used to think of as undesirable circumstances. Stick with the process. It gets easier and easier; like talking with an old, wise friend.

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Skepticism vs. Cynicism

First, let’s start with definitions:


Skepticism – Doubt – to be uncertain about; consider questionable or unlikely; hesitate to believe.


Cynicism – bitterly or sneeringly distrustful, contemptuous, or pessimistic.


A manager once said to me, "I’m a cynic!" And I wondered, how does it serve him to choose that perspective or state of mind?


At both The Management Training Institute and The Resilience Training Institute’s training classes and experiential training seminars, we do insight exercises to discover that you can either just "happen to be in" a perspective (from which you act) or you can "consciously choose" the perspective you are in (from which you act). The difference between the two can produce drastically different results.


So I still wondered why someone like this manager was a cynic. Were the early models in her life cynics, so that’s simply how she learned to be? Did she choose this point of view because life is tough and rose colored glasses seemed too much of a contrast from how she experienced life? No matter the origin, I wondered if she’d check in lately to see if this strategy or state was serving her higher good.


The bottom line is this: if you are a cynic then every relationship and circumstance lived through that lens will be one of resistance and adversity; an ever uphill climb. But if you "use" skepticism or doubt as an occasional situational ally, you are in control of when to allow someone or some thing to prove its worth.


Here’s an example of the difference: let’s say you manage an employee who has a tardiness problem. You addressed the issue in a Corrective Coaching session but they have been late a couple of times since. If you are a cynic, when you sit them down again, you will already have predetermined that they will never change that behavior. So when they meet with you, they will most likely feel the squeeze of failure as an inability to ever change. How does that serve either of you?


But let’s try on using skepticism or doubt as an intentional strategy. This mind-set and accompanying energy has a difference from a cynics approach. Using skepticism wisely has room to succeed built in. The "prove it to me" perspective, accompanied by support (in this case, brainstorming strategies and solutions to correct whatever is causing the chronic lateness) says that you won’t believe it till you see it. But it keeps an open mind on seeing it if the employee actually corrects the behavior. And that frees both of you to move on to all the other workplace things you each have to attend to. A cynic will keep each of them prisoners of "can’t do" forever. You can both suffer or you can each succeed.


BTW – if you’ve adopted the mental wiring of being a cynic, you will likely not believe that intentional and situational skepticism can work. Just notice that.


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The Setback Blues

I sat in a meeting with the two decision-makers and their every word was so positive. A promise was made to send the signed contract that very afternoon. We’ve emailed and left two voice mails. Five days later, not a word.


You know the feeling. It’s hard enough when we create our own expectations that fail to materialize. But when someone else makes a promise, sets an expectation, and then they don’t follow through on it, well, you probably feel disappointed. You might feel it to be a setback.


On the surface, setbacks such as these and the corresponding lower feelings associated might feel "natural"; one leads to the other. But what we call "natural" is usually something that we’ve practiced enough that it feels like that’s simply the way it is. But the good news is that this is simply neurological patterning. And neuroplasticity tells us that we can take charge of our patterning or brain wiring with attention and a little time.


What’s in it for us to take the time to reprogram how we handle "setbacks"? Happiness, positivity, productivity! In the Management Training Institute and Resilience Training Institute training programs, we explore how taking charge of how you respond to the circumstances of life is the major secret to personal and professional success.


There are two significant ingredients to more quickly bouncing back from setbacks: letting go (mentally/emotionally) of whatever went wrong that we wanted, and, intentionally shifting your focus to what is more positive or what is still possible. Neither of these is easy at first because the physical brain has to be reprogrammed to have different thoughts and feelings from the old, bad feeling, habitual way.


Unfortunately, there is one more dynamic that needs paying attention to. The part of the mind that blames or judges others might be activated during these "setbacks". The blamer can hang around just waiting to flex its muscles when others fail to follow through on their promise. Again, because of the blamer’s long term practice, this can feel perfectly normal. But we don’t have to allow the blamer to have such power over our happiness (morale) and resulting drop in productivity and success. To catch on to the mind game more quickly, you need to continuously hone your EQ self-awareness and then harness your EQ self-management. But like all things worth while, taking time to practice new ways,  and persevering through the discomfort of rewiring your neuronic-circuitry will bring you the more positive results that feel and work better.


So in summary, using the example we started with, the process might look like this: The thought comes in and associated feeling about the lack of follow through by someone (not in your direct line of control). You’ve done everything possible to influence them to action to no avail. You notice that the blamer or judger mind is activated. And you notice your slide toward feeling "bad" about it all. So you call forth your higher self. Understand that each time a thought or judgement about "them" comes in, you tell that thought or judgement to go away (letting go) and in the next moment, intentionally find something else to place your attention and energy on that is still within the realm of possibility. Repeat process until the setback thoughts, feelings and judgements fade away.


This new more uplifting process takes a little time to master but at the Management Training Institute’s management and leadership classes, training programs, and Executive Coaching, and at the Resilience Training Institute’s training events and resilience training classes, we help you to overcome setbacks more quickly and move on to more success. 

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Snowy Distance

You’ve seen it. You’re driving in the highway’s middle lane and a car goes whooshing by at 80mph on your left in the passing lane with another car no more than 10 feet behind breathing in its exhaust. Absolutely no margin of error; already a potential set-up for disaster.


Yesterday, as I drove a three lane highway in a significant snow storm, with the speed lowered by the state police to 40mph, a car passed on the left going perhaps 65mph with another driver no more than 10 feet behind. Absolutely no adjustment for the slick road conditions.


There are plenty of high speed managers; type A’s if you will. Often, these are perpetually high-risk managers too, hastily making all too many decisions that come back to haunt them and the people under them. But the best managers are situational leaders and decision-makers. Just like changing road conditions, business environments are often in flux. Going with the flow to correspond with ever-changing conditions, being flexible and situationally wise is at the core of managing and leading effectively. At the Management Training Institute, with their customizable management training classes and leadership training seminars, we suggest that you approach each day with an open mind. Keep your EQ-Total Life Intelligence finely tuned. Practice rising to the 10,000 foot view periodically to assess how you are doing within the broader circumstances at large. And get comfortable with being in charge of adjusting your responses, decision-making, and pro-active visioning to best meet your ever changing business environment. Those processes will give you the best chance of reaching your desired destinations (goals) time and time again. You really don’t want to end up  crunched in the trunk of the car ahead of you do you!

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Be Like a Baby

Time and time and time again, a toddler falls down. Yet each time it falls, it gets up to try that walking thing again. What prompts the perseverance? One logical probability is that there is social proof all around them that walking is the norm; they want to follow suit.


So as with most things, there is good news and bad news in this scenario. For the many who think that going along with the crowd, being "normal", is the right thing to do, well, let them go that route. But at the Management Training Institute, we know that the norm is not good enough when it comes to being an exceptionally effective manager or leader.


Do you want to excel in the management career you’ve chosen? If so, this is your wake-up call to realize then that most of us have had pre-neuro-conditioning like the toddler, to follow social norms. If that is true for you, then you may be unconsciously taking in the management practices around you as being the standard to follow. But the vast number of managers are common. That’s simply not good enough for you. In our management training classes and executive leadership Intensives, we help to transform you into exceptional managers and leaders.


The double benefit from stepping apart from the common norm is about finding greater resilience. When you rise a step or two above average, and when you therefore achieve greater success, you feel better about yourself. Others too will give you feedback about your improved performance and results. This takes you from just getting by to thriving. And thriving is what the Resilience Training Institute helps you to achieve through our resilience training classes and resilience Train-the-Trainer certification programs.



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