What would I do if my boss was a micro-manager?

handcuff

Today, I am starting a mini-series of items titled, “What would I do if…” Hopefully, a number of pertinent issues will be covered through this series. We will cover topics that I have personally experienced during my approximately 40 years working in a variety of companies and situations. We look at an all-too-common concern today around a “micro-manager” boss. How do you deal with a boss that must be involved in every detail of your worklife?

What are the characteristics of a micro-manager?  I can list several:

  • They want to know much more than necessary about your work, your job, or things you have responsibility to complete
  • They make you feel guilty when you haven’t involved them or informed them for even minor items
  • They have a fear of not being the first to know something
  • They are almost paranoid about appearing to be in control
  • They universally lack self-confidence and feel constantly that their job is in jeopardy if they don’t know everything
  • They have difficulty being strategic, so they default into the details of YOUR job
  • They make a competent person miserable, and, finally,
  • They can’t stop micro-managing!

I’m sure most of us could think of a few other characteristics of micro-managers. But, I think the key point above is that if you think your micro-manager boss might change or loosen up as they become more comfortable with you, forget it! Being a micro-manager is part of their DNA. Once a micro-manager, always a micro-manager. So, the conversation must shift to, “How can I manage my micro-manager?”

In my years, I have had several micro-managers. Before I learned that I could not change them, I struggled and worked diligently to please them… to no avail. So, let me provide my best advice:

  1. Be realistic about your own abilities/performance – Let’s be honest, some people must be micro-managed simply because they are incapable of doing their basic job adequately. As a manager of people myself, there are times when you must exert more oversight for one person than another just to get the work done. So, before you feel that your micro-manager boss is completely out-of-line in how they treat you, conduct an honest self-assessment of your own abilities and performance to determine if you MUST be micro-managed to get the job done. If this is the case, pick yourself up by the boot straps and begin doing the work you need to do at the level required. However, because true self-assessments are difficult to do, almost every person with a micro-manager believes it is not their fault. Ask someone you trust if they believe the problem could be with your own performance.
  2. Over-communicate – Probably, the best and most effective approach I ever used to deal with a micro-manager boss was to intentionally over-communicate. By this, I don’t mean to call or ask my boss for every decision. That just enhances the problem. By over-communicating, I mean to provide a weekly summary of all key activities that I have been involved in and provide that summary unsolicited to my boss. I included all the details my boss might typically request plus other activities. This weekly communication would often disarm my boss and circumvent the need for him/her to continually monitor my activities and ask about things unnecessarily. In essence, I attempted to proactively provide any piece of information he/she might need which tended to allow the boss to spend more time monitoring the work of others. Give it a try!
  3. Remain calm, don’t panic – Do not do anything rash if you find yourself being micro-managed. Stay calm. Don’t overreact or say something that could make matters worse. Carefully put yourself in the boss’s shoes and consider why he/she might be treating you the way they do. Is there a reason? If not, take some time to consider your feelings and approach before striking back or becoming overly frustrated.
  4. Don’t allow your frustration to infect others – By all means, do not allow your own frustration to pour over to other colleagues. Voicing your frustration openly will do more harm than good. It is fine to collaborate with colleagues to determine an approach, but keep the discussion professional and civil.
  5. Don’t allow him/her to create a micro-manager out of you – There is a tendency to allow a micro-manager boss to turn you into a micro-manager. For example, the boss’s overwhelming need to know everything that is occurring might force you into hovering over your own subordinates. Don’t do it! Find a way to have basic information at hand, but be extremely careful about becoming a micro-manager simply to feed your own.
  6. Remain confident in your own abilities – Don’t let a micro-manager rob you of your own self-confidence. You are the best at what you do, so don’t forget that.
  7. Don’t compromise how you treat others to satisfy your boss – Despite everything else, don’t allow a micro-manager to influence you to treat others poorly. There is never an excuse to treat others unkindly. So, draw that line in the sand and don’t cross it.
  8. Be reasonable about when you need to force a change – There could be a time when your only solution in dealing with a micro-manager boss is to make a change. Don’t do that rashly, but in a considered, rational manner. Think about all alternatives and, ultimately, you need to be able to ask the question, “Will I be better off a year from now staying in this situation or making a change?” That question will often lead you to the right answer.

I truly hope that no one reading this is burdened with a micro-manager boss. But, if you do, I hope this helps. Have a wonderful day and keep thriving!

I believe what you say…

leaf

A friend and colleague recently shared a quote she ran across:

“I can’t believe what you say because I see what you do.” – James Baldwin

This quote should haunt every one of us. If we believe this, we must conclude that our integrity… our character… our credibility has little or nothing to do with what we say, but is everything about what we do. Let’s look at a few examples that strike me:

  • It matters more with how you treat your spouse than what you say — Doing the little things, day-after-day means more than a good word, here and there. Things you actually are more meaningful than things you promise to do. Talking about your love for your spouse is good, but showing it demonstrates you really mean it. When it comes to your love for your spouse, actions speak infinitely louder than words.
  • Being a friend means doing more than you may ever get credit for doing — A true friend doesn’t expect or even want payback. Doing what a friend needs, simply because they are your friend matters infinitely more than claiming you are a friend, but not showing it. A true friend calls when a call is needed; provides a hand when it isn’t expected; and lends an ear when things get desperate.
  • How you treat others matters — I’m sure you’ve seen the quote, “I was raised to treat the janitor with the same respect that I treat the CEO.” In my view, the level of kindness you show to strangers is the best measure of your integrity. You can say all day long that you care for others, but the kindness that others experience at your hand demonstrates your true heart.
  • Living the right way leaves an indelible mark on those around you — It is true that your kids learn more about life from watching you than by listening to you. This is also true for leadership… it is much more about what you do than what you say. You have seen this quote here before, “Pardon me, but your actions are speaking so loudly that I can’t hear your words.” A life lived right matters.

This leads me to Henson’s Corollary to the Baldwin quote above:

“I believe what you say simply because I see what you do.”

Today might be a good day to consider how well your actions match your words. Have a truly splendid day! Thanks for all you do to make this a better world.

It’s a wonderful life… indeed!

wonderful-life

It is getting to be that time of year when thoughts turn to the holidays. One of the all-time favorite of these Christmas season movies is It’s a Wonderful Life (directed by Frank Capra in 1946). I also enjoy that movie and probably watch it at least once each year. If you have never watched it, it is a story of George Bailey, who is shown just before his suicide through his guardian angel, Clarence Odbody, the positive change he made in the lives of others. In the end, he sees that the entire town is indebted to him. The moral of the story is that you never know what you do that will make a difference for someone else. Many times, that difference is brought about, not for the great things you do, but for the little kindnesses you show each day.

So, as you mentally begin readying yourself for the Christmas season, let’s look at a few quotes from the movie and see how the words of this beloved program can apply, as well, to us today:

  1. “Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around, he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?” – Clarence Odbody — Just imagine, the things you do today may be impacting someone else for the rest of their life. Just because you feel that you’re not making a difference doesn’t mean it isn’t so. Never underestimate what impact a simple kindness might have on someone else.
  2. “Ah, youth is wasted on the young.” – Man on porch — I think the man was saying that we must not let age take away the sparkle from our eyes; the dance in our feet; the hand we can give someone else; and the arms we have to hold someone dear to us.
  3. “Remember, George, no man’s life is a failure who has friends.” – Clarence Odbody — How sad it is for a life lived without friends. If having friends is the mark of a successful life, then my life has been wildly successful, beyond words and beyond measure!

I’m reminded of one more quote today:

“Your truest friends are the ones who will stand by you in your darkest moments – because they’re willing to brave the shadows with you – and in your greatest moments – because they’re not afraid to let you shine.” – Nicole Yatsonsky

Consider for today the impact you are making on others and how many others your life touches. And, today would be a good day to celebrate your “life success” by thanking your truest friends. Have a great day!

The discipline of gratitude

church-hermann

I often wonder why it is that some individuals seemingly have no sense of gratitude or thankfulness for what they have or what others have done for them. I used to think that being thankful should just come naturally… just being of aware of how you’ve been blessed. But, I ran across a quote recently that might tell a different story:

“The discipline of gratitude is explicit effort to acknowledge that all I am and have is given to me as a gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy.” – Henri Nouwen

Nouwen’s thoughts indicate that gratitude is a direct effort, an intentional act. I think I agree with him. I have seven grandchildren. And, being around small children has made me see that gratitude is not a natural human attribute. It has to be taught. Children learn to be thankful because their parents compel them to be thankful; because their parents teach them that they have been blessed; and because their parents teach them to express their thankfulness. Eventually, these children grow up to be adults that more freely and willingness acknowledge and express their gratitude. In other words, they develop the discipline of gratitude through the influence of their parents and, hopefully, their grandparents. AND, they live out this gratitude by what they do and how they treat others. They learn to serve others because they see their blessings as a gift… a gift to be celebrated.

We have been gifted with much. Most of us have good jobs that make our lifestyle possible. Most of us have wonderful families. Most of us have many comforts that make life enjoyable. Most of us have friends that care for us. Most of us have abilities, skills, and hobbies that make us productive and happy. Most of us have a bright future. Most of us have good health. Sure, we all have challenges, worries, and difficulties. However, I think we would all say, if we were honest, would say we have much more to be thankful for than concerned about. Today would be a good day to consider those blessings and, if we don’t already have it, begin developing that attitude of gratitude… that discipline of gratitude… spoken of by Nouwen.

I am thankful for you… my coworkers and colleagues. You are a big part of my life and my life is blessed because of you. Thanks for what you do to “gift” my life.

Finally, as we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, I thought it would be good to quote a post I recently saw on Facebook:

“I was just sitting here thinking how wonderful it would be to revisit one of the Thankgivings I remember as a kid… Grandma and Grandpa’s house filled with all our family, the best food on earth, and not a worry in the world. If I could go back, I promise you I would cherish every single second.” – Anonymous

Have a terrific day! There is a great chance that this could be our best day yet. Don’t miss it!  And, have your best Thanksgiving yet!

What is the ‘best” that could happen?

kid-playing-baseball

How often do you approach a problem or situation with the comment, “OK, so what is the worst that could happen?” We tend to feel that by looking at the worst case downside of a situation, it can help us better assess the risks that the situation poses. By looking at the negative, we create a larger risk-tolerance zone. However, by doing so, how many “positives” do we miss? When we completely leave out the positive side of the equation, we unfairly skew every decision toward avoiding the negative instead of seeing the potential positives.

You probably remember the song, “The Greatest” sang many years ago by Kenny Rogers. We may have even looked at it here previously. However, this short song speaks perfectly to the point for today. Let’s look at this lyrics to this song:

 

The Greatest

(sung by Kenny Rogers; Songwriters: Donald Alan Schlitz)

 

Little Boy, in a baseball hat

Stands in the field with his ball and bat

Says I am the greatest player of them all

Puts his bat on his shoulder and he tosses up his ball

And the ball goes up and the ball comes down

Swings his bat all the way around

The world’s so still you can hear the sound

The baseball falls to the ground

 

Now the little boy doesn’t say a word

Picks up his ball, he is undeterred

Says I am the greatest there has ever been

And he grits his teeth and he tries it again

And the ball goes up and the ball comes down

Swings his bat all the way around

The world’s so still you can hear the sound

The baseball falls to the ground

 

He makes no excuses, He shows no fears

He just closes his eyes and listens to the cheers

 

Little boy, in a baseball hat

Picks up his ball, stares at his bat

Says I am the greatest the game is on the line

And he gives his all one last time

And the ball goes up like the moon so bright

Swings his bat with all his might

And the world’s so still as still can be

And the baseball falls, and that’s strike three

 

Now it’s supper time and his mama calls

Little boy starts home with his bat and ball

Says I am the greatest that is a fact

But even I didn’t know I could pitch like that

He says I am the greatest that is understood

But even I didn’t know I could pitch that good. 

 

The boy in the song doesn’t dwell on the negative… the fact he missed hitting the ball three straight times. His focus is on his pitching. Instead of looking at the “worst case,” he looks at the positive. So, for us, why not begin looking at “What is the best that could happen?” Why not focus on the positive benefits that we could experience rather than the negative risks posed? In my own life, I can give many examples of times when, had I focused on the “worst case scenario,” I would have chosen to avoid risks or avoid decisions or avoid doing some things. Instead, I have been blessed beyond words for the risks I have taken in my life. Instead of choosing to avoid risks, I chose to look at the positive and be the best pitcher I could possibly be.

So, for today, try to shift your thinking from considering the worst-case you might face to the best-case. What might happen IF I actually make the other choice? You also might look back someday and say you were blessed beyond words because of that decision or risk you decided to take. Or, you might see something positive that you never would have seen otherwise. Give it a try.

Have a great and fabulous day! It might even be a best day, if we allow it. In case you’ve never seen The Greatest video music, it is a good one and is at the link below. Have a good one!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aqRjbeSuHi8

Our best days are NOT behind us!

collin-raye

My wife and I attended a concert recently. No, it was not Lawrence Welk or anyone from that era, though it was someone popular in the past. Collin Raye was a very popular singer with cross-over appeal in the 90’s and early years of this century. He had four platinum albums and four number one songs during his prime years. Those years have been gone for around 15 years now. Yet, he still tours with over 150 concert dates this year. His concert was in a small venue in Benton, IL. The crowd was around 800 people, far short of the 10 – 20,000 he might have performed before during his prime years. Nonetheless, his concert was great – energetic, well done, and his more famous songs performed masterfully. His band was terrific and we had a very nice time. What impressed me about Raye was that – despite the years since his last number one song, despite the small crowd, despite the venue – he was still performing at a high level. His performance was excellent – just as it might have been during his more popular day. He performance was an example of sustained excellence… the kind that a person of character might give. For Collin Raye, maybe the crowds are smaller and maybe he is not as popular as he once was, but his best days are not in the past. In my opinion, both his ability and his character were on display during this concert.

I think we all have a tendency to think that our best days are behind us. We tend to look back to the good old days and the magic they held for us. These days, I often have to remind my wife, “You should have seen me in my prime!” Her response is usually, “I did.” Despite how good our prime might have been, our best days are ahead of us — IF WE CHOOSE! Certainly, we can choose to ride out the remainder of our days or years without the drive to make a difference. We can sit back and rest on our laurels. However, a person with character keeps striving, keeps dreaming, and keeps on making a difference for others. Your career hasn’t stalled unless you allow it! Your life isn’t over until your last breath! Your influence has not ceased! Others still count on you!

I think the point I learned from Collin Raye is that we can look back and say our best days are behind us. But, a person with character will finish strong. I am not just speaking with individuals that are late in their career or life. This applies to a 25-year old as much as an 85-year old. A person with character will not let those around them down and will re-double efforts to make a difference… to keep striving… to keep leading… to keep pushing… to keep caring.

It is good to look back on those fond memories in the past, but don’t stay there! Have a fabulous day!

(For those of you that do not know Collin Raye, here is a link to one of his top songs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ycze0tiMAPw )

 

Dealing with the incredible shrinking career pyramid

pyramid

I remember the movie from a few years ago, “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.” It was a fun movie where the father of the family accidently used his newly invented shrinking machine to shrink his kids. Anyway, it seems that the career pyramid seems to be shrinking in a similar way. As companies consolidate, merge, downsize, and transform, the number of higher-level positions seems to be decreasing. I know of a department in one firm that had 12 positions at the Director or above level in one area two years ago, but only six today. So, that is a perfect example of what is occurring broadly — the positions we felt we might attain as our career progresses have disappeared.

So, how do we thrive in the face of the incredible shrinking career pyramid? Are we destined to simply realize that career opportunities have diminished? Is there something we can do proactively to actually thrive in this environment? I believe the answer to this last question is, “Yes, we can do something about it.” Here are my thoughts and advice:

  1. No whining – The absolute worst thing you can do when frustrated by decreasing opportunities is to whine about it. Stop complaining. In these challenging times, feeling hopeless and helpless can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. This is a time to become a warrior, not a worrier. Take action and go on the offense. Avoid negative talk, rumor-mongering, and a depressive attitude. This can simply destroy any of those diminishing opportunities that might have been possible.
  2. View the shrinking pyramid as an opportunity – Many years ago, my entire division at the company where I worked was eliminated in one day. Suddenly, I was without a job. I had a new house with a mortgage, a small child with another on the way, and no tools to help me find another job. However, in the end, my next job is what put me in the healthcare industry – the very best in the world. That terrible, horrible day became the springboard to things much greater for my career. This reminds me of a great quote: “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.” (George Eliot/Mary Ann Evans).  Look at the shrinking pyramid as a time to consider learning new skills, experiencing new challenges, etc. It may not be the end, but a new beginning.
  3. Re-double your networking efforts – I cannot emphasize enough the importance of networking. During the shrinking pyramid period, you must do that even more! Re-acquaint yourself with old colleagues, recent acquaintances, etc. Ask a colleague to introduce you to someone they know. Make it a goal to connect with someone from your past and someone new once each week. That will force you to see new opportunities.
  4. Invent your own position – These times might be good ones to break your old paradigms and create new ones. Perhaps, the future organization will be totally different than it is today. What activities tend to be trending in importance? What new needs have arisen? Where do you see a future need? What should you get ahead of now. I personally know of a dozen or more individuals that migrated to positions that previously didn’t even exist. Find that opportunity, demonstrate its value, and make a pitch.
  5. Enhance your “serve” – There may be a tendency during times of shrinking opportunities to become self-focused. That is wrong. Yes, you need to consider your own plight, but I believe this is also a time to enhance your service to others. You are not the only person experiencing the shrinking pyramid. Others need your presence, your advice, your help. You might also learn that when you serve others, your own frustration and short-term view becomes alleviated. Do something for someone else and see how it impacts your attitude.
  6. Increase your responsibilities – A shrinking pyramid might also be a time to seek ways to increase your own responsibilities. As consolidation occurs, there might be functions left uncovered. This is a time to ask for a chance to demonstrate your abilities by taking on more. It shows your value plus it gives you a chance to learn something new.
  7. Expand your horizon – We all often have a very narrow view of our abilities, career, or purpose. This is a time to expand it. Be creative in what you can do or what value you can add. For example, read the actual job description on open positions posted. Think about how you would position yourself for positions outside your normal function. What skills can you bring? You may have never been in a Project Manager position, but you have managed projects successfully. You may have never supervised people directly, but you have managed the activities of teams of individuals. Stop limiting yourself!
  8. Never stop adding value – Finally, now is not the time to slow down. In most cases, opportunities in these difficult times are offered to individuals with a proven ability to add value… the demonstrated ability to make a difference. There will always be an opportunity in companies for individuals that get things done consistently.

 

Bottom line… When things get difficult, those that persevere are those that win. Now is not a time to shrink along with the shrinking pyramid. Take action, get involved, and manage your own career destiny.

Have a fabulous day! We each have within us the ability to make a difference. Find your place to do it today.

 

Applying ‘Squirrel Principles’ to our own lives and work

squirrel

This is deer hunting season. Over the last week or so, I’ve spent a couple dozen hours alone in the woods. I usually arrive before daylight and often leave after dark. So, I’ve had plenty of time watching one of my favorite woodland creatures… the squirrel. They are amazing animals! And, my observations of them during my many hours of seeing no deer can also be applied to us, both in the working environment and at home. Let’s take a look at some of these:

  1. Squirrels have a long-term view – Squirrels are planners. They do not live only for today. They gather food in the autumn (mostly nuts) and hide them in the soil and under leaves to retrieve when times get tough. They are able to survive our harsh winters when no food is growing by saving for the future. This long-term view has paved the way for a successful future, whatever that is for a squirrel. We also need to have a long-term view of things. The events of today may be only for today. But, planning for the longer-term can mean the difference between success and failure. The most used example of this is saving for retirement. Many simply do not save enough. But, proper planning and diligence can pay off in the end. Another example is that crisis you face today. Sure, it is bad today, but tomorrow is a new day; new week is a new week; and time tends to heal.
  2. Squirrels are industrious and innovative – When a squirrel cannot reach a cluster of acorns on the end of a limb, they will chew through the limb until it falls to the ground. Then, they will scamper down to the ground and retrieve their harvest. They don’t let the fact that the acorns are out of reach on end of the limb hold them back. We need to be just as inventive as squirrels. When we reach a difficult or challenging or impossible situation, we need to think outside the box for a solution. We might be able to solve the problem in the usual way, but, by thinking in new ways, we might find a new approach.
  3. Squirrels have learned how to survive – A mother squirrel knows that her young are helpless and easy prey for other animals. So, to protect them, she builds her nest as far toward the end of the limbs as possible. She also looks for a tenuous spot near the top of the tree. That way, the limbs are so limber that no other animal could get to her nest. She has found a way to protect her nest from unwanted invaders. We need to think like a squirrel! What are those things in life that pose the most risk to us? Are we being industrious in finding ways to protect them? Are we using our brains to outwit our adversaries? One way we can do this is to build redundancies around key assets in our lives. By asking, “What if…?” we can often construct safeguards.
  4. Squirrels take time to play – Squirrels have lots of fun! They play tag, chase each other, and enjoy their lives in the woods. They have fun all day long. We need to take that queue and find time to have fun ourselves. By refreshing our minds, we are much better able to focus on those challenges that plague us.
  5. Squirrels are curious – It is fun to watch a squirrel try to sneak close to me in the woods. I am wearing camouflage clothing, but I know the squirrels are not fooled. The creep us as close to me as they can to learn more about this strange creature in their space. A bit of this same curiosity would be beneficial to us. We are so busy that we fail to stop and look at the world around us. We want everything to be black or white and fail to see the gray all around us.
  6. Squirrels communicate – Squirrels chatter and bark at each other all day long. They chatter when they want to play and when they fear danger. They “talk” to each other frequently to discuss current events and problems they face. We need to be more communicative, as well. Have we lost touch with family members or friends? Do we fail to communicate important things or activities? Have we let email or texting replace actual conversations? We need to re-engage with people in real conversations at work and at home.
  7. Squirrels have a network of others – Speaking of others, it is fun to watch squirrels with their network of other squirrels. It is good to see gray squirrels play with fox squirrels. Families of squirrels mix. They communicate. They work together. We need a strong network of colleagues and supporters. We need others than can provide a fresh viewpoint or keep us from making mistakes. We need others to hold us accountable. Finding and keeping that strong network can make a difference in so many ways.

Wow! You probably now know more about squirrels than you ever thought possible! However, there is much we can learn from them and how they approach life. We should be applying these seven “Squirrel Principles” to our own lives and work.

So, for today, go be a squirrel! Have a terrific, top-ten day!

 

 

Minds, Hearts, and Hands: Creating a culture of engagement

minds

There are perhaps hundreds of different educational philosophies in existence and use. One approach used, especially for early childhood education, is the minds, hearts, and hands approach. This philosophy essentially says that you create a vision in the mind for change, followed by developing a heart for the outcome, which ultimately leads to hands that make it happen. This approach goes beyond lecturing (telling) and predicts that when children develop a heart or passion for something, their next step naturally is to experience it with their own hands.

This exact same approach is often used for adults and in business. You can often get greater results when you help individuals envision change, create a passion for the potential outcome of that change, then create an environment whereby individuals are empowered to implement that change. The minds, hearts, and hands approach is also excellent for fostering a culture of engagement. When employees can see and feel the personal benefits possible from an initiative, they want to become involved. They want to be engaged and participate in driving that change. By definition, you create engagement when the vision ignites a passion. Put another way, when you gain both logical and emotional commitment to something, the resulting discretionary effort is multiplied.

I know of one terrific example of using minds, hearts, and hands for safety awareness. To enhance the culture of safety excellence, the organization created its own version of minds, hearts, and hands:

  • Minds – The group is conducting a culture survey designed to answer the question, “What are employee attitudes and feelings about safety and how well is our management doing to support a safe workplace?” This survey should help create that vision of what gaps exist and opportunities to improve the cultural mindset about safety.
  • Hearts – To help create enhanced passion around safety, employees will be asked to participate in an assessment of the survey and, together with their management partners, develop a plan to address these opportunities. In addition, every employee will have (or has had) an opportunity to witness first-hand stories of the importance of safety focus and awareness
  • Hands – Finally, individuals from across the organization along will work together to address open issues and actions – by encourage all employees to rally around a common goals, they hope to have all hands working to “put action to words” and create that culture of engagement needed

This is just one great application of the minds, hearts, and hands concept of engagement. You can use this approach for enhancing engagement in any area.  When a desire is ignited in your heart to achieve a vision (or goal or target), your hands naturally follow to achieve it. Look around your own function today. Are you struggling to achieve some goal or objective that your mind and heart have not embraced? Is there something you are trying to achieve at home that lacks the passion of a dedicated heart or visionless mind? Perhaps, applying the minds, hearts, and hands approach can help drive a different (and better) result.

Have a “top ten” day today in everything you do!

Feelings Follow Focus

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Today’s edition of The Porch was submitted by a colleague named, Jeff Lay. Jeff summarizes a podcast he recently heard and applies it beautifully to how we can change our attitude and approach at work, home, or community. Take a look:

 

I was recently catching-up on a new series by a speaker in Florida I listen to via podcast.  When I saw the title of the series, “Meet the feels”, I was a bit hesitant because feelings are often a point of contention.  That is, personal perception can create somewhat nebulous takeaways.  However, the speaker has historically been able to grab points and make applications where others have failed so I began listening.  His primary message was that feelings are what they are, you feel what you feel.  Those feelings come from your experiences, perceptions, and emotional wiring.  Often times I have talked to people in difficult situations at work or at home and try to apply my own situational wisdom with them but to no sustainable success because it takes one simple sentence to shut down the conversation: “If you had experienced what I had you wouldn’t say that.”  We are all the sum of our experiences and that makes us who we are for better or worse.  The speaker’s point is that though we may not share the same experiences in life, we can all choose to focus on an alternative that drives how we feel.  His major phrase grabber for the message was, “Feelings follow focus.”  Though a simple phrase, it has great power in the message of what it could deliver if effectively utilized.  We all have good and bad experiences but it is what we focus on that drives our feelings about where we work, how we view a coworker, and how we get along with our neighbors.  We are all wired to internalize experiences and then elicit a feeling driven from an emotion.  If we spend our time focusing on the negative then we inevitably feel in a corresponding way.  His secondary point is that we own this portion of our lives.  We may not be able to change a feeling from an experience but we all have the physical wiring and mental capabilities to change what we focus on which in turn changes how we are feeling at that given moment.  In addition to the difficult takeaway that we, ourselves, have the ability to change what we focus on, if we don’t own it, then we give the power and control of a negative feeling to someone else, or something else and it will only compound an already negative feeling!

Take a challenge today and choose to focus on something different, something that changes the way you are currently feeling about a situation, a colleague, or a friend!

 

This is so true! The things we focus on – the things that occupy our minds at any given moment – significantly affect how we feel or what attitude we have. When I am mowing my lawn, I usually wear earbuds and listen to music. During this 2+ hour time, my mind is completely lost in the task at hand and the places that my music takes me. It takes me to beautiful, wonderful places with the people I love doing the things I love to do. My attitude is perfect because my focus is on things that are perfect to me. However, when I am watching the network news or reading the negative stories in the newspaper, my focus is on something totally different. I am consumed with how messed up our world can be and how hopeless life might be for those in war-torn areas, those living in poverty, or those that have lost loved ones to violence. My attitude can become very negative if I linger too long on negative news.

So, you can see by these two examples how Jeff’s observations are exactly correct. When you catch yourself feeling negative, low, or hopeless, re-channel your focus to something more positive or hopeful. At work, when you feel overwhelmed, refocus on those small victories you’ll gain when the project is complete. Refocus on the good news you just heard from a coworker, neighbor or family member. Shifting your mind to something more positive, can give you power over those negative feelings that can overtake us at times.

Consider how you can turn your day, or that of someone else, from negative to positive today. Have a fantastic day!