“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own, and you know what you know. And you are the guy who’ll decide where to go.” Dr. Seuss
We all have ideals. The question is what do our actions reveal about us? We may have the ideal that we should eat well, but our actions (eating a donut or four) betray us. Worse, our exiguous efforts keep us from realizing our desires.
It’s not just our actions that betray us, but our ignorance and pride set us up as well. We may think we know how to communicate, to manage others, to do our job, to parent well or to take the next right step in our life. However, our results contraindicate what we think we know.
“The only true wisdom is knowing you know nothing.” Socrates
We are often conditioned to ‘act as if’ when we really don’t know. So often people come to me and ask for help, then when it’s offered they say those three resistive words “Yeah I know”. Well if we know, and that is really true, then why don’t we do?
“Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you.” Thomas Jefferson
To know is NOT the same as TO DO. We must put what we think we know into practice. What if the first premise “I know” is faulty. What if we think “we know” how to manage others. What if our skills only consist of a scant collection of things we’ve heard or pieced together?
Did you take a course? Have you read a book? Did you interview other great leaders, parents or successful couples? Do you have daily principles in your life you put into action? Do you have a system for feedback? Do you contemplate ways to build up your team, family or marriage? Do you invite them into the process? Do you know for sure they are loyal? Have you asked them how you are doing? When they say not so well do you bite off their head? Do you think they are the problem (that belief alone reveals a weak leader).
They think everyone else is the problem. The kids made me edgy, the idiots at work didn’t do what they were supposed to, the boss is an ass, the employees are incompetent. These are stories to deflect from our own sense of ineffective leadership. We do this when we feel powerless and overwhelmed or simply don’t know how to manage what’s been put before us.
Those leaders carry their ineffectiveness home. They go through the same motions day after day expecting different results. Then when things are rocky they hire a therapist, make a few minor changes, avoid, become even more bullheaded, cry, get depressed or all of the above. Like King/Queen Babies they throw a tantrum rather than look in the mirror. We all must move past our ‘tantrums’ and into the “action” part of fully owning up to and living our life. We must put new patterns into practice IF WE WANT DIFFERENT RESULTS.
“Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results not attributes.” Peter Drucker
This applies to our companies, our spouses and our children. My children wait until I am tired; they can see it. Then they ask me a series of questions really fast. In those series of questions is what they really want. Sometimes unconsciously I say “yes”. This happened a few times. I said yes. They did it. I scolded them. They reminded me I said yes. I thought crap! They got me. So I started to be more mindful. I realized I must dig deeper because a weak leader with a 9, 8 and 6 year old will be run ragged. I also learned to tell them NO when I was distracted. “If you ask mommy by interrupting what I’m dong the answer will be no. You need to patiently wait until I can give you the attention you deserve and then we can discuss this”. “OH MOM”…. Yeah “OH MOM” that is me with a big fat O and I am here for the rest of their lives to help them to learn some valuable life skills. Patience. Their applied pressure on my weak state no longer works.
Tell your employees the same thing when they pepper you with questions while you’re exhausted usually at in inopportune time because they have little Kings and Queens inside them having tantrums to. “I want to give your request the attention it deserves, can you bring this up tomorrow, or put it in an email so I can thoughtfully consider it”.
Don’t agree to things when we are tired. Let things sit. Many times a day to respond is just fine. Don’t rush through the “to do list” making rash decisions to check it off. Often times those rash decisions create unintended consequences that require more work and effort later on. Communication may seem tedious. Especially if we are control freaks and tyrants. We all have a little KING or Queen within aka THE EGO.
So here are three things you can DO TODAY. Dr. Seuss may say “Why not do today. I will not delay. Things I can do today. No I will not delay. “.
1. Be open. Look to see how “they are right” instead of “how you are sure they are wrong”. In other words, don’t have an argument building in your head as they are talking.
2. Ask questions. You may knot know everything you think you know. Sometimes a few questions can avoid a lot of misunderstandings later.
3. Put it into Action. Don’t just read this, think cool and then numbly go through your day. PIck Just one simple thing and apply it for one week. Just that ONE LITTLE THING WILL YIELD RESULTS. Hey maybe you’ll even see some of those high ideals move from with WISH LIST to the RESULTS LIST.
How does this shift in taking ACTION impact our life?
My ego needs reasons to do something. It looks for the WIFM (What’s In It For Me).
1. You will hear better. This leads to more understanding, less miscommunication, less disappointment. When we hear someone and look to understand their point they can tell. Our look of “you idiot you are wrong” or “here they go again” can be seen and felt. We don’t fool anyone and betray our real motives with our expressions. We lack empathy when we do this. We build up walls. Both parties usually leave the situation feeling disappointed.
2. You will be trusted and respected. When you are not making others wrong all the time you will have very little conflict in your life. People will open up to you more; rather than build up hidden resentments. People will trust you more; rather than think you are not someone they can confide in. People will respect you more; they will see you as someone that walks the walk.
3. You will have less conflict. Someone that is on the attack, revisits resentments, makes threats, or is combative, is very tough to be around. No matter how nice they are after the assault; their interaction stifles energy and good will. Long term this leads to battered and tattered relationships. Others will become intolerant of you and never cut you any slack either. You will feel like they are against you but you created this mess and DIDN’T EVEN KNOW IT. We don’t know what we don’t know. Go to step #1 and #2. Repeat.
4. You will be wiser. When you look for ways that others are right you start to understand their “why” or what makes them “tick”. If they need verbal praise and by listening to how they don’t feel praised and then praising them you can give them what they want. They will be happier. Happier people make life easier on YOU!