Thursday, October 22, 2015

If at First You Don’t Succeed, Weed Out the Negatives In Your Approach

A coach sits on the sidelines, calling out instructions to his team as they run the ball all over the field: "Don't do that, don't throw long, you dummies... ah, how could you do that! That's so stupid, don't run without looking where you're going. Don't you know anything, you don't make up your own rules as you go along, don't keep making the same mistake over and over ..." 

            The more the team plays poorly and messes up, the harder the coach shouts the same messages over and over and over, exhausting himself with the effort he is putting into the team. And the coach wonders why this team he cares about so deeply doesn't seem to get it, why they're so nervous and drop the ball all the time and never seem to get anything right. But it never dawns on the coach to try a different approach.

            Often, we are so caught up in our desire to see a certain result happen, that we completely forget to notice the approach we're using. If your heart and soul are genuinely into whatever you're trying to accomplish and it's not happening, look at your approach, the "how" you're going about it to get the "what" you want.

            The coach's approach in the example above is to teach by giving the team a series of "don'ts," telling them what not to do: "Don't do that, don't throw long, don't run without looking where you're going, don't make up your own rules, don't keep making the same mistakes." He then reinforces those "don'ts" with negative comments: "You dummies, how could you do that! That's so stupid, don't you know anything." 

But it isn't working, because at no time does the coach tell the team what they should do. Nor does he tell them what they should be! Telling them they are "dummies," "stupid" etc., doesn't tell the team what he wants them to be. So of course, the team just plays worse and worse, thinking less and less of themselves.

Yet that is all too often how we work with ourselves. Listen to your internal patter sometime. Chances are, most of what you will hear yourself saying to yourself is "You dummy, how could you do that! You should know better than that, don't do it that way!"
It would be far more effective (and more loving) to say to yourself, "Hey, try doing it this other way, that's right, that'll work. Nope, didn't work. OK, back to the drawing board. I'll try another way. Ah yes, much better, I'm doing good here!" No beating up on yourself. No reinforcing what isn’t working. On the contrary, your focus is on what’s working, what could work and what you might try next that eventually will work.

             You can't get to a positive result from a negative place. You can't browbeat yourself into any kind of lasting success. It's the wrong approach. Instead, tell yourself what you do need to do, what will work, and reinforce your efforts with honest praise, or, put in the coach's terms: "Throw long! Look before you run! You're doing great!" and watch yourself catapult into happiness and success.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Who Shall I Be Today? How About--Me? Oh No!

Did you know that studies show that self-acceptance is one of the most important keys to happiness? Did you know that most of us do not accept ourselves as we are?

Think about it. How often are you happy to be who you are, warts and all? How much do you appreciate your astonishing body that does so much of what you ask of it, your mind that helps you navigate the ins and outs of your day with incredible ease (most of the time)? How much do you value your personality, your quirks, your interests (the ones you really have, not the ones you think you’re supposed to have), your hobbies, your dreams, your aspirations?

Not what your boyfriend, girlfriend, magazines, blogs, TV, your mother, your hair stylist want you to be, tell you that you should be and what goals, dreams, interests you should embrace. Or where you should spend your time, money, efforts. What you should do with your life. They have opinions about all of it, ever eager to expound on how right they are about your life.

Instead, think about what you, deep down within the recesses of your soul, think is terrific about you and best for you. Don’t fight it! Be you. Unabashedly, unapologetically, you.

Nobody was ever great by being somebody other than their amazing self. Take anyone you admire, I don’t care who: Madonna, Lady Gaga, Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, Steve Jobs, the Buddha--they all were/are 100% accepting of who they were/are. They dove into their lives appreciating the uniqueness they had to offer to the world without a second’s hesitation. They frankly didn’t care what anybody else thought. This is who they were, period, end of sentence. I’ll bet that even among the not-famous in your world, those who stop you in your tracks because they are so “Wow!” are those who value their uniqueness rather than shy away from it.

Now you may say, “That’s because they were amazing to begin with.” Hardly. That’s putting the cart before the horse: “It’s because of their uniqueness they became successful,” and guess what? You and every other single individual on the planet is absolutely unique.

So you have the same opportunity as Madonna, Lady Gaga, Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, and any other number of “greats” to be utterly amazing. In your own way. Figure out what that is. Spend some time thinking about what do you think is pretty darn cool about yourself. How much of you do you really accept wholeheartedly? What dreams, talents or abilities would you go for, if you didn’t let one someone else’s opinion of you stand in your way?

That’s the secret: when you pursue your own way, nurture your uniqueness with passion and perseverance, you cannot help but succeed. And one thing for sure: you will succeed at being happy and fulfilled.

Not too shabby, eh?

Monday, October 5, 2015

McDonald’s Understands the Value of Chicago Cashier’s Act of Kindness

 A Chicago McDonald’s cashier recently received praise from his boss when the cashier helped a handicapped elderly man with his meal. Instead of seeing the employee as just a cog in a wheel during the busy dinner rush, the boss showed appreciation to a worker who stepped outside his job description to do what was right.

A photo of the worker, Kenny, showing him cutting up the disabled man’s food, was posted on a Facebook page and quickly went viral. Social media has the power to praise a company’s actions or vilify them in a matter of moments. The Facebook post has been shared more than 400,000 times--to the advantage of both the employee who received recognition for his actions, and McDonald’s itself.

On the opposite end of the feel-good spectrum is the fallout when Turning Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli tried to justify a 4,000 percent increase in price for Daraprim, a drug used by some AIDS and cancer patients. The social media outrage was immediate and he was forced to retreat. Companies that become so enamored with profits lose their humanity. They don’t care who they hurt—employee or customer. Eventually, this mindset hurts their bottom line.

According to the photographer who posted the McDonald’s photo, the man had asked Kenny, who was working the cash register, for help during a busy time of the day. Kenny left his post, washed his hands, put on gloves and went about helping the man. A boss, only looking at sales numbers, would have berated him for leaving his station. Kenny’s boss saw the bigger picture.

Companies that recognize the value of their employees have a leg up on their competition. A corporate culture that only has an eye on the bottom line will not be as successful as those companies that take into account the human factor in business. Studies show repeatedly that companies with a culture of praise and sincere appreciation perform better than those that don’t.