How to actually get along with others.

Given the enormous division we have been seeing in our countries ability to get along with others recently, I felt compelled to write about this. Getting along with others is not a light subject to address, yet it is one that truly resonates with me.

There are a number of things I am passionate about. One of them is the importance of granting a minimum level of respect to everyone I encounter. In other words, starting from a neutral place with everyone I meet, without judging them prior to interacting with them.

Based on my profession, I meet and have worked with thousands of people. Each time I meet someone I look at it as an opportunity. An opportunity to get to know an interesting person. To learn something from them, and to better understand how they view the world. From my perspective, meeting and getting to know others is similar to opening or being given a gift.

How is it that people become so jaded and reluctant to embrace being able to get along with others? Unfortunately, they are negatively influenced by others in their life to shape how they think from an early age. As someone matures, the circle of people they interact with will further shape and influence how they think. Yes, we all have the ability to be independent thinkers, but it takes more effort to do this. Yet, it is completely worth putting in the work to think this way.

Of course, our life circumstances can also impact the way we perceive and get along with others in our lives. Sprinkle in the concept of one’s mindset, and this too can play a negative or positive role in which way people think about and how they get along with others.

Now factor in the concept of effort, as this too also needs to be considered. For instance whether it is a minimum or maximum amount of effort applied, in terms of attempting to interact well, and get along with half the people we encounter. If the amount of effort is low, chances are that people will struggle with getting along with others. I’m applying the term effort, as an umbrella term for numerous other words. Unfortunately, prejudice is the first one that comes to my mind. However, my opinion about prejudice is that it is based on being highly misinformed, and stubbornly reluctant to accept and honor and equally value other people.

For the sake of being on the same page with our thinking, indulge me in winding back our lives to when we were able to get along with just about everyone. Everyone will likely wind back to a different age, but most will generally be sub five years old. At that time in our lives we were not burdened with investing negative energy into thinking about other people. Imagine if you could roll back to that point in time?

Starting from a place of treating everyone equally, and as if they are one of your friends, is a noble thought. Is it realistic? Perhaps not, but consider what our world would be like if as adults we put more effort and modeled for younger generations how to get along with others?

Personally, I am on a daily quest to model this type of behavior. In fact, I am honored when I am able to meet a new person. Especially when they initially appear to represent an outward perspective, and may appear quite different from me (e.g., they grew up in a different country, speak a different language, are older, younger, etc.).

One of the greatest compliments related to this topic, and that I have received from another person, was that they completely misjudged me based on my appearance. In other words, they were applying their own prejudice to me prior to interacting with me. They also told me that they learned something from this experience. What they shared with me was that they were going to from that point on, do their part to be more open and less judgmental. In other words, they were going to attempt to not thrust their prejudiced thinking on others going forward.

In case you were wondering if there are concepts you can apply to get along better with others, there are. Here are some suggestions to do this.

  • Consider reading, listening to a podcast or watching a video about mindset. More specifically look up the word “open mindedness”.
  • Factor in how you feel when you meet and or interact with someone new. What are some of the first thoughts that cross your mind about this person? Are they negative or positive thoughts?
  • What if you trusted everyone new that you met. Or, perhaps were neutral in your thinking about them when you first met them. How would your interaction with this person change?
  • What value do you place on having more people in your life that are different than you?
  • Think about the characteristics of the people you consider to be your friends. Are you proud of their characteristics? Or, are there aspects of their characteristics which you simply accept, but are not happy about?
  • How would you currently rate your ability to get along well with others? Are you able to objectively rate yourself?
  • Have you ever avoided meeting someone for reasons you would not be comfortable with sharing with others why you feel this way? Think about why you feel this way. Is it reasonable or logical to think this way? 
  • What level of effort do you put into getting along with others? Perhaps you don’t put enough effort in to make it work out to get along well.
  • Are you always pointing the blame on someone else for why you can’t get along? Have you considered maybe you and the way you interact with others is the reason you are challenged with getting along with others.

To do my part, I’ll be focused on being a role model to demonstrate how to get along well with others. I hope many of you will do the same, as we all know our world will be a much better place if we could all simply just get along well with one another.

Tags: #Howtogetalongwithothers #Gettingalong #Leadership #Relationships #Business #Management #Prejudice #teambuilding #leadershipmindset #engagement #success #Teams

Thinking bigger and bolder. Is this for everyone?

Perhaps I always wanted to believe I was the type of person who was continuously striving to get to another level of achievement or performance. The truth is I wasn’t. I’m not motivated by achievement. This may sound odd, but this is something I realized about ten years ago.

My awareness of the fact that I wasn’t motivated by achievements or more specifically contests or competing with others didn’t appeal to me. Not in the way that people who are intrinsically motivated by contests, or against others performance metrics. My ah-ha moment about this occurred when I was in the process of working with a marketing colleague to put together a contest for our team to participate in.

The structure of the contest was intended to reward someone when they achieved specific metrics, and the prize rewards were very appealing. However, it was when we were discussing the roll-out and implementation of the program that I realized that if I was participating in this contest, it wouldn’t entice me to participate or put forth additional energy to achieve the metrics. Admittedly, the purpose and end result that the contest was designed to achieve, had zero appeal to me.

Upon realizing that contests or competing against others metrics didn’t impact me the way others are impacted by them, made me consider what the reason behind this was. When I thought back to when I was playing competitive sports, I never measured my performance metrics against anyone else’s. Not even my own. Yes, this might sound odd, and you might think that I wasn’t being competitive, but in fact, taking the approach of instead simply enjoying what I was doing, and helping my team to perform well based on my contributions was what truly motivated me to perform.    

Fast forward to about ten years into my marketing career when my performance was being measured and discussed annually. I dreaded these conversations. Not because I wasn’t doing well in my career, but I saw zero point in this conversation having any impact on my ability or future performance. This got me thinking, and I began to wonder if others also thought this way? It turns out some do, but not as many as you might imagine.

The point about figuring out that I am not the type of person who is motivated in the more traditional methods that individuals, sports or work teams motivate people are, was when I began thinking about what would entice my performance? Or others if they had a similar mindset?

I can’t speak for others, but what I determined and which allows me to be both motivated and to think bigger, isn’t going to be what you might think it would be. In fact, it’s only something I realized would work for me more recently. What is it? Actually, it’s quite simple, and involves a concept that everyone is familiar with, and can also do too. It’s what I’ll refer to as daydreaming, or visualizing where or what I see myself doing next.

In the case of my professional circumstances, for the last year I have been working on a research project that has evolved and taken shape quite differently than I expected it to be. The more I work on this project, the more I want to pursue taking it to the next level. To increase the scope and size of it. To think more boldly and bigger in terms of what I want the outcome of this research project to achieve.

When I started thinking about the new directions I could take this project into, this is where I found what others would potentially describe as my competitive motivation. The appeal of going way out of my comfort zone, and challenging myself to keep pursuing a project that others didn’t fully understand, but that I could see perfectly clearly what the end results would look like has pushed me to keep this project going. To take it to the next level, and to boldly and verbally share with others where and what this project will do for me, as well as the people involved with it.

Helping others would be another motivating factor that allows me to pursue allowing my mindset to be open and unrestrained from a thinking perspective. This is an incredibly freeing way to think, and has allowed me to reach and be on my way to attaining achievements I never would have imagined happening a year ago.

Thinking bigger, and more boldly may not be for everyone, as many people like to stay in their comfort zone, and they are fine with remaining there. However, if that doesn’t appeal to you, and you are not more traditionally motivated by contests or chasing the performance metrics of others, or even competing against your own metrics, below are some ideas for you to consider.

  • Traveling to new places is something that I both look forward to, and that motivates me. What is your version of this in your life?
  • Visualize and think about “what if” as a concept related to something you are interested in doing, or looking to achieve.
  • Consider what it will feel like when you are working towards something which is out of your comfort zone. For me, I personally derive increased energy when I am in my non-comfort zone.
  • Think about a time when you were in general really happy. What contributed to this feeling, and can you replicate this feeling with any projects or things going on personally or professionally in your life?
  • Fear can be a motivator, but it’s not one of my go to or favorite ones. However, consider what might be holding you back from a fear perspective in terms of stretching your thinking of accomplishing something bigger and bolder than you have ever done before.
  • It’s important to have at least one person in your life who plays the role of your “champion”. I recommend having a champion in your corner when you embark upon your journey to do something that will take you to the next level, or allow you to expand your accomplishment thinking.

Having finally figured out what motivates me has opened up entirely new possibilities in my life. I’m extremely excited about what the future looks like, what experiences I will be having and how I will be able to benefit and share them with others. Hopefully to inspire and motivate them.

TAGS: #Motivation #Inspire #InspiringOthers #MotivatingOthers #ThinkingBoldly #ThinkingBigger #Imagination #Success #Leadership #Teams #Achievement #PersonalDevelopment #ProfessionalDevelopment

Purpose driven. Are you?

It sure sounds noble when you are authentically able to tell someone that the type of work you are doing is either allowing you to satisfy your quest to be working on or towards a purpose. Or, seeking out what your actual purpose is. To me, this almost sounds mystical, or perhaps a bit surreal. Possibly too good to be true?

Whether someone is actually working on their purpose driven career or volunteering their time to apply it towards a cause they believe in, I think they are fortunate to feel this way. More importantly, to actively be doing something which allows them to tangibly achieve this.

Perhaps they are helping others in a variety of different methods of doing so, or they are lending their precious time to teach another person how to become better at something. It could really be a number of different scenarios which someone could associate with having a purpose driven situation.

Is there a specific time period on a person’s life when they feel they are more purpose driven?  Possibly, but they might also feel this way throughout their entire career or life, or during blocks of time over numerous decades. The point is that being a purpose-oriented person does not mean you have to dedicate your entire life or career to being this way. However, there are certainly people we can name who choose to be purpose driven throughout their career and life. Someone such as the Dali Lama comes to mind. Companies such as Patagonia and Riverford Organic Farmers are outwardly focused on who they serve, and what good they can apply to society via the services or products they have to offer.

When I was starting out in my career, I worked for Staples the Office Superstore. What I liked about their business model was that they were attempting to re-engineer the office supply industry. Staples did this because they realized that consumers were being taken advantage of, and had been paying ridiculous pricing for all of their standard office supplies. Prices in fact that were embarrassingly high, and in some cases absurd.

At the time when Staples founders Tom Stemberg and Leo Kahn set-out to retool this industry, they did so based on finding a market segment that had been exploiting consumers for decades. Both sadly and ironically, many of these stores were locally owned stores that were servicing the small to medium sized business markets. Occasionally larger companies, but those were mainly being serviced by companies such as WB Mason.

My point is that when I first started working at Staples in their headquarters office in Newton, MA, I felt that the company had a mission and purpose I could feel good about. I felt that they were like the modern-day version of your favorite childhood story correcting a situation of the “little business owner” being taken advantage of. Better yet, giving them an actual fighting chance to compete, based on the fact they were not having to allocate such high dollar amounts to purchasing their office supplies and equipment.

I can’t honestly tell you that I intentionally went to work for Staples due to the noble and purpose driven approach they embodied, but I was fortunate to learn about this concept early on in my career. In fact, it significantly altered the course of my career from that point on, but more so in the past decade when I became more reflective on the importance of being purpose driven. Yes, on a daily and regular basis.

If you are curious about how you can orient yourself to being more purpose driven either personally or professionally, I have some suggestions for you to consider to accomplish heading in this direction.

  • What is truly important to you? Is it your health, family, the environment? Start with recognizing what this is. It should be obvious, but perhaps not, if you have not taken the time to contemplate this before.
  • Once you identify what is important to you, do you have the skills, or a particular skill that will lend itself well to help you to work towards either finding a company, career or volunteer opportunity to align with?
  • Have you considered how you will feel differently when you are focusing your time and attention on being purpose driven?
  • Are there perhaps clues from your past of activities you have been involved with, or people who you know who inspired and brought out the purpose driven mentality in you?
  • If you have to list 2-5 things you are truly passionate about, what would they be? Are they things or activities, or people you regularly are involved with, or on a periodic basis?
  • When was the last time you felt that you were in 100% alignment with any kind of purpose? Is it possible you have not figured out what your purpose is yet?
  • Let’s assume you know what your best talents are. Are you using them in diversified ways, or only for a singular type of career or in your personal life some way?
  • If you were to architect your perfect day, what would it look like? Have you ever stopped to consider what this day might include you doing or who or where you would be on this day? Some of your answers might also provide insight into what would be drivers in seeking your purpose.

Everyone has a purpose. However, not everyone is fortunate enough to figure out what their purpose is early on in life. I challenge you to do this. Don’t worry about how long it might take to do this, or how difficult it might be to do so. When you figure out what your purpose is, it will be worth every ounce of energy your expended to do so. I guarantee this, and welcome you to reach out to me to discuss how I can help you to find your purpose.

TAGS: #Purpose #Purposefulthinking #Inspiration #Mentoring #Leadership #Coaching #Business #Success #Purposedriven #Findyourpurpose #Findingmypurpose #Howtofindmypurpose

A Podcast about Teams.

I’m switching things up a bit this week, and providing you with a link to Dr. Jason Koh’s podcast where he interviewed me about the type of work I do with teams.

Here is the link to the Podcast interview.

Have a terrific week everyone.

How are you projecting your image?

Something I have always enjoyed doing is to observe the actions of how people interact with one another. Particularly in professional and team scenarios. My fascination stems from seeing things that when people are interacting with others, that I’m sure they are not aware of how they are being perceived. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not criticizing the way they are acting, simply noticing and considering how they could be doing something differently. More to their advantage.

In the coaching work I do, I have the opportunity and honor of professionally evaluating and critiquing how both leaders, as well as team members interact with one another. The next step in this observation process is to convey back to the leader and their team what I am seeing. The majority of the time, the leader is the one asking me to conduct this work, and their team is generally unaware that I am watching how they engage with one another.

Of course, it’s much better when people are not aware of when someone is observing them, as they will more naturally act how they ordinarily would. Observing sports teams is much easier to evaluate than work teams, as you get to see the team members interacting in a concentrated scenario when they are playing or practicing their sport. However, it is possible to observe work teams, it just takes longer to do, as you need to see them in a variety of settings within their environment to accomplish this.

I remember the first time I was asked to evaluate a work team and the leader of it. The leader initiated this process, as he admitted he was not fully aware of why he was having challenges with interacting with his team, and his management peers. He also wanted to better understand what was going on. This was a brave and bold move on his behalf, as it can be intimidating to have someone knowingly observe how you are engaging with others. However, the benefits of having me conduct this work for this leader and his team far outweighed any feelings of his awkwardness. 

The results of what I observed were quite revealing, especially with one example which was the body language I was observing this leader display. One of the main body language expressions he was routinely doing, was to immediately cross his arms when he began an interaction with another person. This particular body language expression signals that you are closed off and not fully open to hearing what the other person is saying. It also conveys a form of being defensive. Neither of these body language expressions were what this leader intended to convey. In fact, just the opposite. However, he was unaware that he was doing this, as he didn’t have a mirror or video capturing him doing this during every one of his interactions with others.

Upon being made aware of this one simple action, then having awareness of this happening, and course correcting on this behavior, made an incredible difference in the engagements this leader then had with his team and leadership peers. This one simple example is something that many people do, yet are not aware of this occurring. So, you too can take notice of whether this is something you are also routinely doing.

The first sports teams I had the privilege of observing was initiated by the head coach. He had been coaching for decades, yet admittedly had no idea how his coaching style and his coaching behaviors were impacting his team. He wasn’t sure if how he was being perceived was positive, negative or perhaps neutral. However, he wanted to know which category he fit into, and more importantly, if it was in the “negative” category, that he could course correct on this.

After observing the coach for several games, it became obvious there we some things he was doing as a coach that he was unaware of. One of these observations was that he wasn’t listening to his players when they were attempting to engage with him on the sidelines. He was unaware that he was being dismissive of their attempts to talk to him. When I shared this observation with him, he was completely surprised by this. In fact, he was upset that this was happening, as he prided himself and perceived himself to be very open to communicating with others.  

By adjusting the coach’s awareness of how he was interacting with his players in a way that was contrary to how he thought he was interacting, was a “game changer” for his team going forward. Why? Because the team members and the coach were now able to actually communicate openly with one another. The results of this coach’s team performance also demonstrated the positive impact from this one small change in behavior too.

So, what can you do to see the type of image you are projecting? Here are some suggestions to “test drive”.

  • You will first need to commit to being open to having someone provide you with constructive feedback, and not consider it to be criticism and feel like you are being attacked.
  • Find someone you implicitly trust to evaluate you, and who has experience successfully leading others.
  • The image we project may or may not be something we are intentionally coordinating with our actions, and if possible, if you can observe yourself on video, this is ideal. However, you still will want someone who can neutrally provide you with feedback about what they are also seeing in person and via the video, as you still might not see what they are seeing.
  • Although you might think you don’t have a great deal of control over the image you are projecting, you actually do. In fact, the image you are projecting is multi-faceted, and involves how you speak (e.g., the tone of your voice, how fast or slow you speak, how you enunciate your words), how you stand or sit in front of others (e.g., standing up tall, versus slumping your shoulders) and what you choose to wear (e.g., generally in professional situations, always select clothing which presents the best impression of who you are, and yet doesn’t distract from your actions or how you will be communicating). This applies to both women and men.
  • Think about what type of image you want to project. When you intentionally consider this, it will be easier to accomplish it.
  • After thinking about the image you want to project, look the part of how you want to project yourself in your organization, versus not giving this factor any or enough consideration.
  • Ask someone who’s image you admire, for suggestions on how they have developed their image. I guarantee you they evolved to the image they are projecting, and you will benefit from knowing how they accomplished this.

Projecting the image you want to requires a conscientious effort to do so, and can take years to perfect. Your image can also be fluid, and evolve over time. What you want to master or become comfortable with, is that your awareness of your image matches the reality of how others perceive it.

TAGS: #Perception #Image #HowDoYouProjectYourImage #HowAreYouPerceived #Business #Management #Teams #Leadership #Leaders #SportsTeams #Coaching #TeamCoaching