Archive for Emotional Intelligence

When Disaster Strikes

Look around you. What do you see? Hurricanes, fires, mass shootings, political shenanigans, incivility, disrespect, abuse and fear? The list goes on.

What are you doing about it? There’s so much … where can you start? Some of us are volunteering to help disaster victims. Others are supporting relief efforts financially. Many have posted #metoo on their Twitter or Facebook accounts.

This is a time in which a good dollop of resilience can make a difference in how you are dealing with the melee. A time when grit is good. When optimism can help both you and those around you.

To inspire my own optimism, I pulled out a blog post from last August in which I quoted Christian D. Larson’s “Creed for Optimists,” written in 1912.

Here it is again.

Promise yourself to:

  1. Be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.
  2. Talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person you meet.
  3. Make all your friends feel there is something special in them.
  4. Think only of the best, work only for the best and expect only the best.
  5. Be as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.
  6. Forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
  7. Give everyone a smile.
  8. Spend so much time improving yourself that you have no time left to criticize others.
  9. Be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.
  10. Think well of yourself and proclaim this fact to the world—not in loud words—but in great deeds.
  11. Live in the faith that the whole world is on your side, so long as you are true to the best that is in you.

While this may seem frivolous in light of all that is happening, what would be possible if you were to incorporate just one or two of these points into your daily life? Would positivity spread? I’m not suggesting you give up on any other efforts to help with the negatives—just try adding one or two of these positives.

I’ll do the same.

Develop Intelligent Teams for Optimal Performance in an Ever-Changing Landscape

An intelligent team—sounds good, huh? But what is it and how do you get it? These are the questions I am preparing to answer on Wednesday when I lead a workshop at Southern Oregon University for members of a high-tech company, timber products company and municipality. And while these seem like disparate organizations, the concepts and steps needed to create intelligent teams are the same for all.

Let’s start with a description. Anchored in constructive collaboration, intelligent teams optimize functioning for enhanced performance, greater productivity and intense creativity. They are critical to successfully navigate the changes we face daily in today’s organizations.

An intelligent team is deeply fluent in the competencies from emotional and social intelligence—the ability to interpret and manage your own emotions to the benefit of the situation and to read and respond with empathy to the feelings of others. Add to this an understanding of social situations and a big-picture perspective. In other words, it’s moving from a frame of “I” to “you” and then “we.”

An intelligent team takes this a step further and employs Relationship Systems Intelligence—the capacity to move beyond personal concerns to a powerful, generative group identity with resilience and resources to address challenges as our world transforms. Sound amazing? Well, it is!

My knowledge of this topic comes directly from hands-on training I received over the last four years at CRR Global’s Organizational Relationship Systems Coaching workshops and from reading CRR founder Marita Fridjhon’s 2016 book, Creating Intelligent Teams. Marita coauthored the book with Anne Rød. My thanks to Marita for permission to quote/paraphrase liberally.

In this blog, I will share the five principles of Relationship Systems Intelligence (RSI) and give you a few things to consider while contemplating your organization’s intelligence. Future blog posts will delve deeper into this subject, so stay tuned!

Five Principles of Intelligent Teams

  1. Each relationship system (team) has its own unique entity.
  2. Every member of a relationship system is a Voice of the System.
  3. The team has the answers.
  4. Roles belong to the team, not the individuals.
  5. Change is constant.

What Does This Mean?

  1. Each relationship system has its own unique entity. Any time there are two or more people, they create a “system” or “team entity.” This thing is bigger than the sum of its parts. Intelligent teams are aware of the system and together act as a system—as a “we” vs. a “you” or “me.”
  2. Every member of a relationship system is a Voice of the System. (Everyone is right—partially!) A strong system is one where all members’ voices are heard, which only happens with trust and willingness to share without repercussions. Together, they can add enough information to the system to create an intelligent entity.
  3. The team has the answers. This is one of my favorites! We hold true that relationship systems are naturally intelligent, generative and creative. Kind of like the old 1+1=3 equation and underscored by mutual accountability and responsibility to speak up. Disagreement is good—it’s simply what can happen as more information (voices) is added to the system as it works toward intelligent outcomes.
  4. Roles belong to the team. Relationship systems rely on roles for their organization and execution of functions. For example, there are functional roles (boss, customer service, IT) and emotional roles (peacekeeper, visionary, truth-teller). These roles belong to the system, not the individuals who inhabit the system. If a person leaves the system, the system regenerates and fills the roles as necessary.
  5. Change is constant. Relationship systems are in a constant state of emergence, always in the process of expressing their potential. By noticing signals, team members can explore hidden opportunities and help the entity remain open to new ideas and inspirations that would not be accessible to an individual.

In my next post, I’ll explore the key competencies of an intelligent team along with pointers on how to develop those key competencies. In the meantime, take a look at your own team/organization and get a sense as to where you are now.

Here are a few things to consider (straight from the book):

  1. How would you describe the leadership in your team and organization?
  2. Who are your colleagues? How many are Millennials? Other? How are you bridging the generation gap and working together optimally?
GENERATIONS KEY
  • Gen Z, iGen or Centennials: Born 1996 and later. (<21)
  • Millennials or Gen Y: Born 1977 to 1995. (22–40)
  • Generation X: Born 1965 to 1976. (41–52)
  • Baby Boomers: Born 1946 to 1964. (53–71)
  • Traditionalists or Silent Generation: Born 1945 and before. (>72)
  1. How well do you know your colleagues’ background, talents, special skills? How often do you use their specialized knowledge?
  2. How often and in what situations do you and your colleagues work as a team system rather than independent individuals?
  3. How high do you think the level of RSI in your team is?

Questions?

Please call or email me. Let’s see what’s possible in developing the intelligence of your team.

Is Radical Candor the Key to Transforming Your Company?

You know that employee who means well but is so ill-suited to her responsibilities that her coworkers have to pick up the slack? Or the knowledgeable guy who looked great on paper before you hired him but who is now disrupting the workplace with his logorrhea?

Let’s face it—sometimes we make mistakes. We get one impression of a candidate during the hiring process and later discover he or she is a poor fit for our organization’s culture. Maybe we inherit a bad apple from a predecessor. Whatever the reason, as managers we occasionally encounter a problem employee whose behavior compromises the effectiveness of the team or even the larger organization.

But you’re a nice person—how do you tell these folks they’re not measuring up to your expectations, or even more awkward, that some personal idiosyncrasy is irritating the rest of the staff?

Perhaps the offense isn’t egregious enough to merit termination, requiring tact given that you and your team will need to continue collaborating with this individual.

So what do you do? Candor, Inc. cofounder and CEO Kim Scott has two words for you: radical candor. Forget the spoonful of sugar—pour that medicine right down their gullet. Be brave enough to give employees candid feedback about their performance.

In Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity—currently the #1 Best Seller in Workplace Culture at Amazon—Scott presents a management philosophy based on two counterbalancing approaches: you need to care personally while simultaneously challenging directly.

Scott coins the term obnoxious aggression for the brutal honesty managers exhibit when they don’t care. Those are the one-in-five-psychopath CEOs we discussed in a previous article. That’s not the kind of candor we mean.

On the flip side, compassionate managers who don’t want to hurt their employee’s feelings are practicing what Scott calls ruinous empathy. That is equally destructive, not only undermining your leadership but compromising the integrity of the workplace by allowing poor workmanship to slide.

What may surprise you—when you do muster the courage to confront an employee about problematic behavior—is that withholding honest assessment of a person’s abilities and performance actually harms the employee, too. He may find himself continually fired from job after job without ever understanding why and being given the opportunity to correct his behavior.

While Scott’s advice may be old hat to veteran leaders, less-seasoned managers can benefit from her general rules of thumb: practice humility, offer immediate feedback and deliver criticism in private.

The last thing you want to do is shame an employee. That will only serve to trigger her defense mechanisms, and she won’t be able to absorb your instruction.

Instead, take more of a mentorship approach. Maybe you’ve made similar missteps in your past—share an example of where you went awry and how you appreciated when someone took you to task for your shortcomings. Let the employee know you’re on her side and you want to come up with a solution together, whether it involves reconfiguring the job description to focus on strengths and offset weaknesses or introducing some ground rules to help curb the problematic behavior.

However you choose to approach situations like this, remember to practice emotional intelligence along with radical candor, and you’ll be ahead of most bosses when it comes to giving honest but sensitive feedback.

Dangerous Diction: 6 Types of Words That Sap Your Power—and How to Take It Back

Whether or not you realize it, you convey hidden messages about yourself through your diction.

Your word choices reveal your level of confidence in yourself and your statements—and subsequently influence how others perceive and treat you.

Words to Power

A recent Forbes article by Avery Blank outlines six types of words that undermine your power when you use them:

  1. Fluff. If you want people to question your intelligence and authority, talk like a Valley girl. Otherwise, eschew like, whatever, so on, kind of, sort of, um and other pause words that put the brakes on meaning.
  2. Defensive phrases. Terms like just, I think, arguably and in my opinion make your listeners question your conviction and message.
  3. Aptitude terms. When you say, “I’ll try,” you betray an insecurity that spreads to your audience. Overconfidence is equally disquieting. Telling a coworker, “Don’t worry about it” is not only dismissive but shuts down opportunities for collaboration.
  4. Condescending words. Terms such as actually, obviously and clearly suggest you think your audience is ignorant, and that’s a good way to make them tune out.
  5. Mea culpa. We’re not saying you should never apologize—accepting responsibility for the consequences of your actions is the mature response. Just don’t say “sorry” when something goes awry due to circumstances outside your control.
  6. Hyperbole. Very, absolutely, totally, tremendously, incredibly and similar emphasis words achieve the opposite of their intended effect. Your message is stronger without them.

The 6 Rungs of Speaking Power

In my Working with Emotional Intelligence class, I share a handout titled “Escaping Victim Mud—The Power of Your Words” from Falling Awake: Creating the Life of Your Dreams.

We discuss how to climb Dave Ellissix rungs of powerful speaking from least to most powerful:

  1. Obligation. If you use terms like should, must, have to and ought, you’re speaking at the bottom rung of Ellis’ ladder. This tells others you are acting not out of desire but duty.
  2. Possibility. People at this level choose words like consider, maybe, might, could and hope. The attitude is more positive, but these words tell listeners you don’t feel in control of the outcome.
  3. Preference. Bartleby fans know the power of prefer, as in, “I would prefer not to.” Moving from should to might to want shows a progression of control. Those who prefer and want are expressing their goals in a way that impacts the audience more deeply.
  4. Passion. When you speak with enthusiasm (excited, can’t wait and love), you capture listeners through your energetic expressiveness. There is a difference between gushing and acting, however, and your words will feel hollow if you don’t have the evidence to back them up.
  5. Plan. When you present a plan to achieve specific goals, you demonstrate your control over the situation and your strategy for achieving the desired results. This is when the abstract becomes concrete for your listeners.
  6. Promise. At the apex of Ellis’ ladder is promise (will, do, promise), and that’s where dream transforms into reality. At the most powerful rung, you will captivate your audience and engage them in your commitment to action.

Different situations call for different rungs in the communication ladder. Perpetually balancing on the top rung is unrealistic and even inappropriate in certain contexts.

What Are You Telling People?

As a co-active coach, I can help you assess how your language influences others’ perceptions of you and how you can achieve a more positive reception, whether speaking, leading or collaborating. Call me at 541.601.0114 or email me to start climbing the ladder toward a more powerful you.

Top 5 Reasons to Hire Women—and 5 Ways to Entice Them

When you’re sizing up a potential employer, what are some of the factors that go in your Pros column? For men and women alike, a lot of those priorities will look similar, but there are certain items women tend to value more highly than men according to Gallup’s Women in America: Work and Life Well-Lived.

What Motivates Women to Work?

For 84% of the 323,500 US women Gallup surveyed, the satisfaction of earning their own money provided a compelling reason for working. Three-quarters report that they work because they enjoy the work itself, and two-thirds are drawn to the relationships formed in the workplace.

What Makes a Workplace Attractive to Women?

Our last article outlined some of the organizational shortcomings causing women to leave the workplace, but what are some of the positive characteristics that draw female employees to a company?

  1. Good Match. Two-thirds (66%) of women—11% more than men—place the greatest emphasis on whether the position matches their strengths and talents. For most women, having a job that allows them to flourish and achieve their potential is more important than a boost in pay, which only 39% ranked “very important” when evaluating a potential job.
  2. Balance. For 60% of female respondents (vs. 48% of men), the ability to balance professional and personal responsibilities is the second most-important factor in considering a new job.
  3. Dependability. For both women (52%) and men (50%), workplace stability ranks relatively high.
  4. Standing. As many as 39% of female respondents (compared with 33% of men) ranked a company’s brand, or reputation, as “very important” when weighing whether to join the organization.
  5. Purpose. Ten percent more women (32% versus 22%) consider an organization’s cause “very important.” For female millennials, however, the opportunity to do meaningful work (38%) outranks reputation (34%). Purpose-driven work holds a higher appeal for this new generation of women, who have had the greatest access to education.

What Do Women Bring to the Table?

Political correctness aside, why should a company make efforts to recruit female employees? In what ways do women have the statistical edge over men?

  1. Engagement. Female employees have higher rates of engagement than men: 35% versus 29%. That 6% differential is echoed in management roles, with 41% of female leaders being engaged versus 35% of male leaders. As we’ve repeatedly stressed in past articles (Blue Ocean Leadership: 4 Steps to Boosting Employee Engagement, Millennial Mindset: What Gen Y Wants out of Work and Life, Naughty or Nice: Which Makes for a More Effective Leader? and The Top 4 Employee Needs to Fulfill for Greater Happiness and Productivity), research shows that higher employee engagement leads to yields in productivity and profits.
  2. Stronger Teams. Female managers are not only more engaged than their male counterparts, but their team members are more engaged, too. Whether it’s due to higher emotional intelligence, better relationship-building skills, a more intuitive approach or an emphasis on cooperation over competition, female leaders garner 6% more engagement from their employees.
  3. Satisfaction. According to Gallup’s Q12 employee engagement data, more women report that their companies are meeting their needs than men do. This is surprising given the failure of many organizations to offer a flexible workplace and accommodate women’s unique needs as we’ve discussed previously. Still, in 11 out of the 12 items on the Gallup Q12 engagement survey, female employees score higher, which is in line with the findings that female employees are more engaged in general.
  4. Potential. Female leaders often hone in on the strengths of their team members and are more likely to encourage the development of their employees’ potential. They tend to play a more nurturing role, coaching rather than dictating. Women generally practice more collaborative, democratic forms of leadership, whereas traditional patriarchal models follow a more authoritarian hierarchy.
  5. Bottom Line. Gallup notes, “Gender diversity strengthens a company’s financial performance.” While it is difficult to pinpoint the precise causes, organizations with more female employees and managers tend to fare better financially—perhaps from a combination of deeper engagement, increased productivity, stronger performance and greater workplace satisfaction.

How Can You Create a More Female-Friendly Workplace?

If you’d like to reap the rewards of gender diversity at your company, call me at 541.601.0114 or email to find out how Capiche can help improve your organizational culture; articulate your branding; and boost employee engagement, productivity, performance and profit.

Keep Drama on the Stage—and out of the Workplace

In the requisite Stein on Writing, publisher, writer and master editor Sol Stein reveals this secret to successful plotting: create a crucible.

If you’ve ever seen Mike NicholsWho’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, you know how compelling a crucible can be. When you pit two forces of nature like Martha (Elizabeth Taylor) and George (Richard Burton) against one another, the results are explosive.

As Stein writes, “Characters caught in a crucible won’t declare a truce and quit.… the motivation of the characters to continue opposing each other is greater than their motivation to run away.”

While such a formula makes for gripping drama, that’s the last thing you want in the workplace.

Good leaders know how to navigate conflicts, dissipate tension and redirect negative energies into positive, productive outlets. Most importantly, they themselves are not the source of drama.

Unfortunately, those leaders are rare. A recent Australian study suggests there are more villains at the top than we realize—1 in 5 CEOs may be psychopaths (versus 1 in 100 in the general population).

“Typically psychopaths create a lot of chaos and generally tend to play people off against each other,” says Nathan Brooks, the forensic psychologist who conducted the study.

A profit-driven corporate culture often propels sociopaths—who unabashedly violate ethics in pursuit of the bottom line—to positions of power, even though such behavior collectively costs companies hundreds of billions annually due to employee turnover and disengagement.

Just as the recent Wells Fargo scandal teaches us, myopic thinking may yield short-term profits but reaps incalculable damage. Sure, there are the obvious costs like $185 million in fines, $5 million in customer refunds and the potential billions in class action lawsuits from customers and the 5,300 terminated employees.

At a deeper level, however, the damage done to the Wells Fargo brand is incalculable. A bank losing the trust of its customers is tantamount to drinking Jonestown Flavor Aid.

Let’s play a word game. What do you think of when you hear Enron, Exxon and Monsanto? It’s probably fraud, Valdez and mass farmer suicides. Even when they change their names and attempt to reinvent themselves, corporations can never escape the toxic taint of corruption.

This is why it is so crucial to carefully define, protect and live your brand. From the epic to the everyday, how companies and leaders behave has lasting ramifications.

While we may not be in a position to shape the epic dimensions of our organization, all of us play a role in the everyday, and reducing drama in the workplace has widespread benefits—including boosting happiness and health, which subsequently reduces turnover, increases engagement and heightens productivity.

In this SmartBrief article, Dr. Nate Regier offers three tips for quashing office drama:

  • Practice transparency. In times of conflict, honesty is indeed the best policy. Instead of passive-aggressively venting your frustration, explain why a certain behavior is bothering you. Sidestep blame in favor of expressing your feelings. This is a common tactic in couples counseling for a reason—it reframes the concern as an expression of feeling rather than an attack and helps each understand the other’s perspective.
  • Offer your expertise. This doesn’t mean going around handing out uninvited advice. Rather, it means genuinely assessing the problem and offering to share relevant knowledge if desired—the last part being key.
  • Set realistic limits. In a conflict, identify your non-negotiables in a non-threatening manner. Once both parties have a clear understanding of the stated goals and obstacles, it’s easier to chart a path to resolution.

This kind of “compassionate accountability is key to productive relationships and communication,” writes Regier.

What are your workplace drama stories? Do you have any tips on how to cope with psychopathic bosses and smooth out tensions in the workplace?

Creed for Optimists: 11 Ways to Build Resilience

Have you ever stumbled across something that resonated so deeply you could have been its author? This happened to me recently when I came across Christian D. Larson’s “Creed for Optimists,” written in 1912. Here it is.

Promise yourself to:

Founder of the New Thought movement, Larson (1874–1954) is credited for being an American New Thought leader and teacher as well as a prolific author of metaphysical and New Thought books. Many of Larson’s books remain in print today, more than 100 years after they were first published, and his writings influenced notable New Thought authors and leaders. His Optimist Creed was adopted by Optimists International, better know as the Optimist Clubs.
  1. Be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.
  2. Talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person you meet.
  3. Make all your friends feel there is something special in them.
  4. Think only of the best, work only for the best and expect only the best.
  5. Be as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.
  6. Forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
  7. Give everyone a smile.
  8. Spend so much time improving yourself that you have no time left to criticize others.
  9. Be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.
  10. Think well of yourself and proclaim this fact to the world—not in loud words—but in great deeds.
  11. Live in the faith that the whole world is on your side, so long as you are true to the best that is in you.

Makes me happy just to read the Creed. So what about living it?

It’s what I strive for every day. By mindfully following these tenets, I have seen benefits in my work environment, home environment and all personal relationships. Although the learning is continuous and I have a long way to go, I have become better at listening and have developed higher levels of understanding and compassion.

What would change if you were to incorporate the Creed into your everyday life? Give it a try. Let me know how it changes you—and how it changes those you interact with. Cheers!

New Agreements: 5 Ways to Transform Your Workplace

Thanks to LinkedIn, I had a chance to talk with author David Dibble last week. He read a recent blog I posted and asked to connect with me. Funny thing is I’ve been using his book The New Agreements in the Workplace for the last five years as source material for the Working with Emotional Intelligence class I teach at Southern Oregon University. I’ve summarized his work below and added a few quotes to illustrate. Thanks, David!

1. Find Your Path


“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it! Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”
—Goethe


As individuals in the workplace and in the world, each of us must find our own path to personal freedom and transformation. If the release of the creative human spirit in the workplace is your passion, following a true path will accelerate the journey dramatically. A true path is a roadmap that includes proven practices, community support along the way and possibly a teacher. Most importantly, a true path will ignite your higher purpose for work based in love.

A true path will ignite your higher purpose for work based in love. Click To Tweet

2. Love, Grow and Serve Your People


“All work is empty, save when there is love.”
—Kahlil Gibran


The workplace can be thought of as a living being. Workplaces are alive because they are made of people. To love, grow and serve your people means loving, growing and serving the organization. In doing so, you love, grow and serve yourself. This is true leadership.

3. Mind Your Mind in the Moment


“The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell and a hell of heaven.”
—John Milton


Science has been looking at the human mind for thousands of years, and many questions remain. Your mind creates both your individual and organizational realities. To change yourself or your workplace, you must transform your mind. Awareness of the mind in the moment when life and work take place is a central practice to nearly every true path. With awareness, you can create heaven on earth in your workplace.

4. Shift Your Systems


“Men have become the tools of their tools.”
—Henry David Thoreau


All organizations have structural components we call systems. Systems are the formal and informal policies, procedures, habits and agreements that tell you how to do things in the workplace. They control about 90 percent of the results you create in your organization. To unlock your creative human spirit, you must shift from the fear and control that drive most workplace systems to an atmosphere of love and support.

You must shift from fear and control to an atmosphere of love and support. Click To Tweet

5. Practice a Little Every Day


“The indefatigable pursuit of an unattainable perfection—even though nothing more than the pounding of an old piano—is what alone gives a meaning to our life on this unavailing star.”
—Logan Pearsall Smith


Did you know the space shuttle is off course approximately 97 percent of the time? To make the New Agreements a reality, you must practice a little every day. As you practice, you will notice change. With regular practice, you embody the New Agreements. As you move from doing to being, you become the unbridled release of your creative human spirit. This is true mastery.

Living the New Agreements

How does this sit with you? How does it manifest in your workplace? If you want to work with the New Agreements, let’s talk about how coaching or consulting can help you create positive change.

True Grit: The Secret to Long-Term Success

What’s the strongest predictor of success in school, on the field or in your career—IQ, EQ, socioeconomic background, leadership skills or talent? Actually, it’s none of those. It’s grit.

From spelling bee finalists to Westpoint cadets, athletes to rookie teachers, scholars to salespeople, MacArthur fellow and University of Pennsylvania Psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth found two consistent predictors of achievement: grit and self-control.

Duckworth discusses the pioneering research on grit she and her colleagues have been conducting at the Duckworth Lab in the following TED talk.

What Seventh-Graders Taught Duckworth

Having left a lucrative job in management consulting to teach seventh-grade math, Duckworth started noticing something funny. The students with the sharpest IQs were sometimes the lowest achievers, and those with poorer IQ scores sometimes outshone their more talented peers.

None of the typically assumed factors for success accounted for the patterns she was seeing. What did those who excelled have in common?

After five years of teaching, Duckworth got a PhD in psychology to find out. She shares these discoveries in her forthcoming book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. Already the #1 bestseller in Educational Certification & Development at Amazon, the book explores why focused persistence gets us further than raw ability.

It’s Not How You Succeed—It’s How You Fail

Those who glide through life don’t get a chance to develop the stamina and chutzpah that help them overcome obstacles when they do arise. Grit is not about skating by but rather about doggedly bouncing back every time you stumble.

Authentic Happiness author and positive psychology luminary Martin Seligman is part of the team heading up the Growth Initiative, which focuses on the subject of growth through adversity.

Seligman and his colleagues are interested in identifying how and why some people thrive following tragedy while others wither. Their goal is “to better understand the conditions under which people can experience positive behavioral changes after going through highly stressful adverse events.”

Japan: A Case Study in Post-Traumatic Growth

Just as a scar thickens the skin, trauma can build the resilience necessary to weather future calamities.

A case study in post-traumatic growth, the nation of Japan flourished following the physical and psychological devastation wrought by the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings.

Written following the 2011 Japanese earthquake, tsunami and nuclear reactor crisis, this New York Times article argues that it is Japan’s very history with trauma that would enable it to heal from the latest onslaught.

In the article, authors Peter Fretwell and Taylor Baldwin Kiland outline the five necessary conditions to cultivate in the face of mass trauma:

  1. a sense of safety;
  2. calm;
  3. a sense of self and community efficacy;
  4. connectedness; and
  5. hope.

We can carry those lessons over into our individual lives as we learn to cope with—and grow through—adversity.

An Undercover FBI Agent Shares Her Secrets

Former FBI undercover and counterintelligence agent LaRae Quy shares these five tips for building the confidence needed to succeed in a recent article:

  1. Don’t fear failure. Taking risks, challenging yourself and making mistakes gives us an opportunity to learn—and grow. In other words, it’s what Homer Simpson calls a “crisitunity.”
  2. Value feedback. Quy cites recent Leadership IQ research indicating that lack of coachability accounted for 26 percent of failed new hires. Those who seek out and embrace constructive feedback are more likely to evolve.
  3. Practice. It gets you to Carnegie Hall for a reason—the more familiar you are with a task, the more effortlessly you will be able to execute it. You will also recover from a misstep with more grace.
  4. “Only connect.” Having the support and mutual respect of colleagues will bolster your confidence and strengthen your sense of community.
  5. Build grit. We’ve already learned the value of grit from Duckworth. There is no pearl without the sand.

How Much Grit Have You Got?

Find out by completing the Grit Survey available at Authentic Happiness. Registration is free, and you’ll gain access to tons of goodies.

How have encounters with adversity led to your growth? Are you ready to up your game?

Chris Cook can help you develop the necessary grit to achieve your goals. Call 541.601.0114 or email Chris today.

Speak up! How Playing the Fool Might Just Save Your Company—and Your Job

Memento Mori

“Remember, you’re going to die.” Otherwise known as memento mori, this Latin admonition was whispered by servants into the ears of victorious generals during a Roman triumphal procession.

These days, leaders don’t employ slaves to remind them of their mortality, but perhaps they should. Well, not slaves, of course … maybe something more along the lines of a Shakespearean Fool.

Playing the Fool

The Fool is the one character who has license to tell the truth—without repercussions.

Organizations don’t need yes-men. Rather, their survival depends on people who are courageous enough to voice their concerns, identify weaknesses and play devil’s advocate to delusional, narcissistic leaders who may be steering the company toward self-destruction.

I know, the Fool is a scary role to play. You may even feel donning the jester hat is tantamount to risking your job. Giving voice to unflattering truths takes courage. But where will your job be if the organization collapses?

The Hero’s Journey

You might agree someone needs to speak up about bad decisions. Why does it have to be you?

There comes a moment in every hero’s journey when the protagonist walks away, gives up or simply refuses to heed the call to adventure. That’s where most people’s stories end.

Sure, they’re spared the Belly of the Whale and The Road of Trials, but they also don’t get to experience Meeting the Goddess, Atonement, Apotheosis or The Ultimate Boon.

Which version of the story would you rather live? Do you want to play the silent observer too fearful to point out the iceberg to the pigheaded captain, or do you want to shout a rallying call to action before your company founders?

A Touch of Stoicism

To steel your nerve for the journey, it might help to practice a little Stoicism. We’ve explored the benefits of Stoicism’s negative approach to happiness in past articles (see Part 1 and Part 2).

Ask yourself, What’s the worst that can happen? You lose your job? Then what? Follow that thread to its possible conclusions. You may discover that, like many people, losing your job liberates you to pursue your true calling. Considering how you may handle the worst possible scenario prepares you to cope when it arrives—or rejoice when it doesn’t.

Tips for Speaking Up

Trinnie Houghton offers some tips for learning how to speak up in her article “The Risk of Not Speaking Up.” Finding your voice is empowering, and it can start as simply as chiming in at each meeting. Houghton reminds us the organization’s health may depend on your willingness to offer a diagnosis.

What Slayed Nokia

In an INSEAD Alumni Magazine article, authors Quy Huy and Timo Vuori contend it was not Nokia’s inferiority to Apple, the company’s complacency or its leaders’ obliviousness to the impending iPhone that killed Nokia.

Instead, they blame the corporation’s demise on middle management’s fear of telling the truth. Temperamental, abusive bosses created an oppressive climate in which people were terrified to report declining sales or bring up the elephant in the room—an outdated operating system that could never hope to compete with iOS.

Healing a Toxic Workplace

So what can you do to change the course of a faltering organization when the climate is hostile to truth? If the workplace is toxic and top leaders are too egotistical, obstinate and emotionally unintelligent to listen to insiders, hiring an organizational development consultant like Chris Cook can spell the difference between disaster and success.

An outside consultant arrives without baggage, and leaders can more easily engage in the discovery process without feeling threatened. Employees feel free to speak the truth while their identities are shielded from vindictive bosses, and top management can be guided toward a more realistic perception of their organization and the steps needed to heal it.

The Ultimate Boon

Call 541.601.0114 or email Chris Cook to start your organization’s heroic journey toward The Ultimate Boon today.