The Mircromanager In Your Midst

You know the one.

The boss that hovers and second guesses; who answers for you in meetings.  The one who blames you when things go wrong, and takes the credit when everything goes right.

When it comes to the people we work for, there’s not a lot we can do to change their bad behavior––especially when they fancy themselves just as they are.

But what we can do––what we have a duty to do––is to make sure that we don’t let the people around us––especially the ones above us––turn us into someone we have no desire to be.  You may not be able to change them, but you most certainly have the power to make a claim for yourself; to choose who, and how, you will be.

And who knows?  Maybe over time, a little bit of your goodness will manage to swim itself upstream.

Resistance versus Obstinance

Resistance:  A force that tends to oppose motion; the capacity of an organism to defend itself against a disease; an underground organization engaged in a struggle for national liberation in a country under military or totalitarian occupation.

Obstinance:  Resolute adherence to your own ideas or desires; bullheadedness, pigheadedness.

See the difference?

Resistance can be healthy; even downright noble at times.  Obstinance never is.  Not ever.

You say you want to change; you say you’re ready to push through.  But when every suggestion (or teensy, tiny critique) results in a conversation-stopper, you gotta be willing to ask yourself, ‘Resistance, or obstinance?’

Is ‘no’ a line from an old script––something you’ve hung onto for so long, you no longer remember the reasons why?  Is it part of an ancient battle; an outmoded defense?  Does your ‘no’ serve you, (be honest here) or is your pigheadedness getting in your way?

Pride or growth?  The rest of us are cheering you on, but really,  it’s up to you.  Totally.

Gender Translation Software

Gender Translation Software––Wouldn’t it be great if it were really that easy?

When he says:  (Female User Input)

He means:  (Software Output)

When she says:  (Male User Input)

She means:  (Software Output)

Think of all the problems it could solve?  I’m just saying…..

 

Full Speed, No Speed, or Steady in the Middle

What’s your current speed?  Are you going full throttle, idling or is it something in the middle?

Full throttle bursts of energy can be good.  They can help push you off the dime and get you on your way.  But too much, for too long and you’ll quickly find yourself going from full speed to no speed.  Just like that.

And when you recover, (and the guilt kicks in) you’ll take yourself right back to where you started; pushing breakneck.  And just like your favorite yo-yo diet, the cycle will repeat itself;  again and again.

Steady in the middle may not be the sexiest girl at the party, but you can pretty much guarantee she won’t be staying up all night and running off with your best friend.  And after awhile…..she kinda grows on you.

Borrowed Words: Lao Tzu on Dreams

 

“Be careful what you water your dreams with. Water them with worry and fear and you will produce weeds that choke the life from your dream. Water them with optimism and solutions and you will cultivate success. Always be on the lookout for ways to turn a problem into an opportunity for success. Always be on the lookout for ways to nurture your dream.”

– Lao Tzu

The Evil Mr. P…….Or Is It?

PROCRASTINATION.

When it comes to self-treachery, he is the Master of Ceremonies, the Big Kahuna, the “He Who Will Not Be Named,’ of nearly all that is unholy.

Yes indeed-y.

And it’s not like we shouldn’t have sussed out by now that when Mr. P comes knocking at our door, (like a scene out of a Wes Craven film) We. Should. Never. Let. Him. In.  NEVER.  We know better.  We know we know better.  But just like that ‘her life obviously isn’t going to end well’ babysitter, we do.  Time and time again.

And we’ve tried everything to keep the evil Mr. P away.  We’ve set-up convoluted little motivational tricks; had countless ‘I really mean it this time’ self-talks; beaten ourselves over the head like Vince Lombardi during a losing game.  From bashing to bartering to bribing, we’ve tried it all.  Still, no matter how much we resist, procrastination persists.  (Even though we know––and this is what’s crazy––that the worst part of any task is never the task, but the angst that comes from avoiding the task.)

“Why, why, why,” you may very well ask yourself, “is procrastination so hard to beat?”

Bottom Line?  Procrastination is hard to lick because it’s a complicated little devil––a virtual multiple personality disorder of self-affliction.  There are so many combinations of drivers and causes, it’s nearly impossible to keep track.  Everything from situational (such as fatigue, temporary emotional turmoil, ‘first timers’ fear); to skills and habit-driven causes (such as task planning and organization); to chronic procrastination (such as the kind caused by perfectionism).  Add conscious versus sub-conscious ingredients to the mix, and pretty soon, you end up with a mighty bitter stew.

Depressed yet?  Don’t be.  If you want to beat it (and I mean really want to) and seriously commit to doing so, procrastination can be conquered.  There are strategies and resources galore to help you on your way––to insure that the next time Mr. P comes knocking, that door of yours will be bolted shut.  Coated in Kevlar.  Covered in Steel.

But that, my friend, (and sorry for this little blogging bait and switch) is a topic for another day.  What I really want to talk about is when procrastination isn’t procrastination.  The times when the subconscious forces that won’t let you write that book; or finish your medical school application; or say yes, even though he’s told you, ‘he’s asked for the very last time;’ are something different.  When the resistance comes from a place deep within you that knows––with every fiber of it’s being––that the course you’re currently on, is not the right one for you.  The times when procrastination is really…….wisdom.

“Great,” you say, “Thanks for the  eleventh hour monkey wrench…..Just one thing…..How the heck do I know whether it’s wisdom knocking or simply procrastination trying out its latest little trick?”

Well…..as with most things of a more metaphysical nature, the answer is rather…..how do I put this…..well, it’s actually rather annoying.  Because really, “You’ll ‘know when you know.”  Intuition and wisdom are a meta-cognition thing––a ‘knowing about knowing’––and meta-cognition is a skill that develops over time, as you become more attuned to your inner-self.

“Yeah, great,” you say, scratching your frustrated brow.  “But what do you do in the interim––before you’ve developed discernment skills?  When you have a hunch that your procrastination is actually your wisdom talking, but you don’t know for sure?”

Well, there are many things you can do, but here are a few of the more important ones to get you started:   (Number One is KEY.)

1) Don’t make any rash decisions.  Until you know whether you’ve got a case of procrastination wisdom, or just plain procrastination, make sure you leave every door open.  Think:  Insurance Plan.  Submitting your medical school application does not mean you actually have to go to medical school, but at least you’ll have the option.

2) Create a checklist of procrastination drivers and walk your ‘procrastination challenge’ through the list.  Are you not filling out that application because you are scared you won’t be accepted?  (Fear-based procrastination.)  Or, are you’re letting your Facebook crack habit get in the way?  Or, do you really, really, REALLY not want to go to med school?

3) Detail all your options.  If you are having a difficult time completing ‘this’ book, perhaps it’s because you have a hunch that there’s a better book you could be writing.  Do a creative brain dump and see what emerges.  Be forewarned though––project fatigue can be a bit devious.  Make sure you’re not falling in love with the ‘new idea’ simply because it is the younger, sleeker, less troublesome (for now) version of what you’ve already got.

4) Keep moving forward.  Don’t let this period of assessment morph into a justification for inaction. (Doing nothing will only cause you to feel badly about yourself.)  If you suspect the reason you constantly battle procrastination at work is because you’re in the wrong field, don’t stop performing.  As difficult as it may be, keep pushing forward while you explore options.  Reward your perseverance by getting creative.  Take skills tests; look at job postings; talk to the pros who can help you finally find what it is that moves you.  But whatever you do, just make sure you keeping doing.

5) Consult your trusted advisers.  Lay out the issues and detail what you’ve already done to ‘stop what’s stopping you.’  You may just find you’ll get to the answer on your own––just by talking it through.

6) Meditate, get outdoors, get physical.  Find the place that allows you to connect (without distraction) to what is going on inside you.  And remember to listen to your body––it always ‘knows’––often way before you do.

7) Stay positive.  The answer will become clear.  It always does.

Finally, remember that procrastination––no matter what its form––always has something to teach us.  By confronting procrastination (versus running from it) we uncover tremendous opportunities for growth.  Everything from learning better project management skills; to developing strategies to conquer fear; to dissolving the root causes of perfectionism.

As long as you’re prepared, (as long as you do the work) you’ve got absolutely nothing to fear.  The Evil Mr. P is not nearly as bad-a** as he thinks.

Brand You: The Problem with Resumes

Resumes.  Ah.  Now that’s a tricky one.

Why?

Because resumes label and most people can’t see past labels.  So if your label doesn’t precisely match the one the organization is searching for, then you’ll get dismissed, straight out-of-the-gate.

It takes an out-of-the-box thinker to see that what you’ve done or where you’ve studied doesn’t equate to who you are.  It takes an innovator to understand that a person’s past (or lack of one) does not mentor their future.

But the real hurdle is not the question of whether the resume handler has the chops to get past your past…it’s whether or not you do.

Can you see how your film school background makes you uniquely qualified to manage new media initiatives?  Or that those CPA initials don’t forever brand you as a non-creative?  Because if you can’t, it’s a certainty that no one else will.

Re-branding yourself is not simply about dusting off and polishing up an old resume.  It’s more than that:  It’s about reinvention.  And reinvention ain’t for sissies.  It takes courage.  The courage to shed the labels of your past and redefine yourself for the future.  The courage to stand steady under fire.  The courage to act with fearless determination no matter how many times you hear the word ‘no.’

So before you begin to sell yourself, make sure you believe in what you’re selling.  And remember, the only devil at the gate is you.

Spreading the Valentine’s Day Love

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
― Maya Angelou

Remember the days when Valentine’s wasn’t just about overpriced dinners and ridiculous underwear?  The days of pigtails and innocence, and dime store cards and candy hearts.  When February 14 wasn’t just for lovers, or closest family and best friends, but a day in which we cast a wider net of appreciation––A card for our teacher; the neighbor next store who let you swim in her pool; the babysitter who painted your toenails glittery red.

Maybe it’s time to get back to some Valentine’s Day basics.  To remember that this is not just a day when lovers get to stare googly-eyed across linen tablecloths, but a day we each have the opportunity to express loving gratitude to all those in our lives who matter.  To the assistant who always gets things right; the product team for pulling those all nighters; and the unsung heroes in the warehouse who made sure you shipped in time.

A day to honor all the people who do things for you not because they have to, but because they want to.  Because you take the time to let them know how vital they are and how much they mean to you.  Because you know, the single most important thing, is how you make them feel.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all.

 

The Art of the Preposterous Proposal

(And why it’s not so preposterous after all.)

Many of us, (women especially) have a hard time acknowledging our value and establishing our self-worth.  We agonize over what a client can pay (versus what they should), or that our boss will wince when we ask for that raise.  And because we worry we’ll come across too arrogantly when we push those deal terms across the table, we sell ourselves short.  We let the fear of ‘no’ (the fear of rejection) stop us before we even begin.

How do we get past this? Well, the short answer is, “It’s really, really hard.”  In fact, the tendency to self-discount is one of the most difficult things in the world to overcome.  Why?  Because there are layers and layers of emotional, psychological and cultural complexities that underlie issues of low self-worth.  Conquering this big daddy, doesn’t happen overnight.  But it if you’re committed, and you keep working it, you will beat it.  You just gotta keep believing.

In the meantime, (as you’re working on the root causes) there are some tools you can use to help you push your way through and up; starting with an exercise I call the ‘Preposterous Proposal.’  Here’s how it works:

1) Next time you pitch a project, negotiate a raise, or put deal terms in front of investors, first write yourself a ‘Preposterous Proposal’––one that accrues so advantageously to your benefit, you can’t imagine anyone in their right mind saying yes to it. (This step should make you uncomfortable; even a wee bit embarrassed by the scope and scale of your ask.)

2) Once you’ve written your ‘Preposterous Proposal,’ SHOW yourself all the ways the essence of your shining star (your experience, your unique skill set, your commitment to the extraordinary, your company’s competitive advantage) makes what you’re asking for not so very preposterous at all. To help push yourself along, imagine you’ve hired a PR firm to put the spin on ‘you’, or an advertising agency to create your Superbowl commercial.  What would that look and sound like?  How might someone else sing your praises?  (It is important that you really give this part of the exercise an appropriate level of attention––you have to believe in what you’re asking for so make a case for it; pull out numbers and spreadsheets if you need to; look at customer testimonials; write a list of all your career successes.  Get to know yourself again––your true self––the one worth every penny she’s asking for.)

3) Take the first draft of your ‘Preposterous Proposal,’ save a version and put it aside.

4) Using the first draft as a starting point, eliminate any “I’m King of the World!” ridiculousness. (Those bits were only there to help you get over the ‘I’m not worthy’ hurdle.)  Professionalize it; put it in a form that you can pitch with a straight face.  (Selling is good; embellishments of truth are not.  Make SURE everything you infer factually is indeed a fact.)

5) Now here’s the telling part: Take your original ‘Preposterous Proposal,’ along with your revised proposal, to a trusted third-party (adviser/mentor/coach) and ask for their opinion.  Have you watered down your first ‘out of your comfort zone’ proposal too much? Are you still selling yourself short, or does your revised proposal feel like it is ‘on the money’?  (An objective opinion from a skilled professional will help insure you don’t leave money on the table.)

6) Next, a reality check.  This exercise is about helping you push the envelope so you get comfortable with making a much ‘bigger ask.’  But you simultaneously have to get comfortable with what doing so may mean.  You may indeed, hear ‘no.’  In certain instances ‘no’ will open the door to a negotiated ‘yes’ that creates a fabulous win.  In others, the first ‘no’ will be the end of it.  If that thought makes you a little nervous, I get it.  Sometimes you just can’t afford a ‘no’––especially when you’re first starting out.  But, here’s the deal: It’s better that you make a conscious decision to discount your services versus allowing your insecurities to discount you.

7) Finally, a note on civility.  Generally speaking, people don’t take issue with the fact you’ve asked; what they take issue with is how you’ve asked.  Remember this is an ask, not a demand.  Be respectful and gracious, even when you’re turned down.  And remember, don’t take any of it personally.  No person or company or ‘no’, establishes your self-worth.  You do that;  for yourself, by yourself.

Keep at this long enough and in time, it will become second nature.  And as with most things in this miraculous Universe of ours, once you get comfortable with who you are and what your value is;  doors will open and opportunities will find you.

1 2 3 4  Scroll to top