I AM often asked on life strategies, that is, how to apply a wider perspective for more balance in everyday experiences, how to stay unruffled under pressure, etc. While many commend me for how I’ve coped with crises, there are those who vehemently disapprove of my choices!
I was leading a group whose assignments were due in one week. Two of the participants hadn’t completed their submissions. The grandmother of one of them had just passed away. The other, it seemed, was going through a break-up.
I decided that I’d hold off pressuring the woman who was in mourning. As for the guy in the midst of his break-up, he had no sympathy from me. He had boasted to the class on how he used women. “Like tissues” were his exact words. I did not hesitate to remind him of his deadline and the consequences of failing to meet them.
As I was tallying up the final marks, I wondered, “What if the entire group’s average score were affected by both these individuals? How would that have changed the way I handled the situation? How would the members of the team have interacted among each other, especially with those two candidates?”
I imagined how the dynamics within the group would change.
• You are employed by a company to a position that makes you accountable for the performance of other people;
• You are self-employed and outsource all your staffing and operational functions.
See how context changes the way we apply ourselves?
Notice how my relationship with the subject of death and mourning affected the way I handled the first participant. Who was I really protecting by not following up with her? What was I assuming about her when I told myself I’d give her space to grieve? Where did the thinking “let people off when they are hurting” come from?
It’s clear how my judgment of someone’s character and lifestyle made me less compassionate, especially towards the second individual. Where else in my life was I projecting my own values onto others? How could I prevent myself from imposing my own standards so that I could be more open, accepting and tolerant of other people? Who was I to “hold their feet to the fire”?
I was the team’s leader, their teacher and not their friend or equal. I was accountable to my principles.
Was I responsible for each one’s performance? How often do leaders come to think that they know what’s best for you? How could we possibly know? How dare we think we are the “boss” of them! I believe people succeed in spite of us.
When leaders lead, how much do we act based on how others judge us?
“Would they think I’m a softie? I don’t want to appear too harsh. I’d prefer to be recognised as impartial, etc.”
Notice how your sense of self influences your actions.
More and more I’m learning to step back and check in with myself. Am I communicating to control or relate? How much of this is about me and what I want? What’s best for all concerned?
Some participants are so eager to “know” stuff they don’t stop asking questions. “Lustful learning?” I tease.
I ask them: “Imagine for a moment that you don’t know stuff. How comfortable can you be in the state of ambiguity? What if you didn’t care what people think of you? How would that affect your behaviour in class?
Some people are skilled manipulators. They know when to whine and withdraw, throw tantrums and hold pity parties!
Sociopaths can make you feel so good you’d gladly give them everything you own. Only the smart ones realise that they’ve been totally ripped off!
Before we’re off blaming, take a moment to stop, breathe and review. Ask: “What made me fall prey to their schemes? How much of what happened is about me?”
We attract what we ARE. Is it any surprise to know that we are repelled by the qualities we fear exist in ourselves that we are afraid to really address? Greed, anger, weakness, pride, lust... .
Speechwriters and language teachers naturally pick up my style and structure. Generally younger readers (pro-choice) encourage my stand for freedom while people my age and older will “tut tut” me if I live too loud for their liking!
HOW do I say what I feel without hurting others? Sometimes I bottle up because if I simply blurt, I would probably mess up and then have to clean up, which is harder. Then people won’t trust me or feel comfortable around me because they’d think I’m like a landmine. Explosions could happen any minute.
YOU’RE speaking from the assumption where you find it difficult to trust yourself — to choose a more resourceful, empowering stance. You’re saying you’re like a landmine where anyone at anytime can hit a “hot button” or pressure point, and BOOM, you explode.
Life must be pretty frightening for you then, if you never know what’s going to happen next?
Well, what if you could trust yourself to manage your self and CHOOSE what to think as well as HOW to think about what is happening around you?
What if you really could say what you feel without hurting others? How would you feel then? How would that change your perspective of the world?
First, let’s determine what’s important about saying what you feel. If bottled up feels better than cleaning up, life can’t be that much of a party for you, can it?
I’m guessing speaking your truth could be quite important then. What would it do to change the way you see yourself? What would feeling stronger, surer and more confident do to improve the quality of your life?
This would mean knowing what’s acceptable and not acceptable for you. This means taking responsibility for your opinion, not blaming others for the way you live.
When you can do this, you’ll be able to:
• appreciate that people have their own way of seeing
• acknowledge others for their stand
• state specifically what is not okay with you
• ask for the change you’d like to see
• continue to be supportive and respectful.
The making of a team
REFERRING to your last week’s story on Gen Y, my question is how to build a “team” between Gen X and Gen Y when ideals, motivations and values differ so greatly.
Knowing Gen Y, what can a leader do to engage and drive peak performance?
A “team” is about collaboration, co-operation and commitment to the central objective and to each other in the group. A collection of people is not a team. A class of students is not a team. A political party is not a team. Everyone shooting in different directions is not a team. “Team” is when there is cohesion and, the coming together of energy and vision so that the group operates as one.
Team building is challenging. It requires truth. It requires trust. It requires transparency. Building a “team” between Gen X and Gen Y may be more challenging as you say, when ideals, motivations and values differ, but then again these issues exist everywhere, don’t they?
What’s preventing Gen X and Gen Y from bonding could simply be our prejudices, expectations, imagination or interpretations of each other!
To engage and drive peak performance, a leader must make sure the right environment is created. It must be one where team members (no matter how young or old) feel safe, feel heard and feel as though they belong.
When players spend all their energy working to survive and defend instead of relax and create, we can safely assume that not much peak performance is found there!