Great, Great, Great, Great, Great, Not Great

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay 

They pulled me aside during the break. We were just talking about giving feedback and showing appreciation to others. They stayed at their table while everyone else got up for the break and snacks.

“Can I share something with you?”

I came in a little closer, my mind racing to replay the last few minutes to see if I said anything weird.

“You talked about providing sincere feedback and appreciation. Making sure that it is not a superficial ‘drive-by’. I just realized that I was taught to do this in college, and have been providing this my whole career.”

They studied physical education. They were taught a method of feedback. It was intended to help young children with basic early skills.

In order to pass this class, they were timed and had to provide 5 quick positive feedbacks, before they could provide 1 redirecting ones. They were filmed and each positive had to be different but quick.

Great job.

Nice job.

Awesome job.

Way to go.

Yay.

You could do this better.

They didn’t realize it but had been following this method for more than 20 years.

They saw that their feedback was systematic not sincere.

They realized that this scattering of seemingly shallow praise was not hitting the target.

They were well intentioned, but needed to change.

They didn’t even realize the pattern they formed.

What feedback patterns are you caught in?

How has systematic replaced sincerity?

Over the next few posts we will tackle a few ways to provide feedback and appreciation.

Until then, start to notice your own pattern.

Too Expensive, Too Costly

(Image Courtesy of Pixabay.com)

“They said I was too expensive.”

It happens.

In the world of consulting, coaching, helping, serving, and assisting others you are going to be rejected.

People reach out, they need help.

You carefully craft a plan, program, event, or system.

You send that thing you created into the world.

You may or may not hear from them right away.

Sometimes they say No.

Sometimes they blame the price.

“It was too expensive. It was too costly.”

The first temptation is to lower your cost. “Did I charge too much?”

But your time, your talents, your efforts are valuable.

There is some truth to what they said.

It was going to cost them.

The cost of being accountable.

The cost of stretching beyond their normal pattern or rut.

The cost of doing the hard work, over and over again until they get results.

The cost of making sacrifices to change their current situation.

Maybe they were not ready because the cost was too high.

Rejection can be hard.

Don’t give up.

Keep consulting, coaching, helping, serving, and assisting others.

Keep creating plans, programs, events, and systems.

Your tribe, your group, and your people know that the change they desire will be expensive and it will be costly. They also recognize the true cost is their sacrifice and hard work, and they are willing to pay that price.

A Hope-Filled Plan

We make plans all the time.

One of best parts of coaching is helping leaders, organizations, and people make and carry out plans.

Over the years, I have noticed two distinct types of plans.

Plan type one is the safe bet. Rooted in “reality” this plan type is achievable with a little stretch, but when you dig this plan is the result of future fears, doubts, and concerns.

“You gotta be careful, we are not sure what things will be like next year. What if the business takes a downturn? What if this doesn’t work?”

I nicknamed Plan type one, the Hopeless Plan.

The Hopeless Plan starts with a laundry list of what can go wrong and assumes that all prior time not completely focused on this direction has been a complete waste of time, and there may not be enough time to try anything new or risky.

“I am too old, and should have started this a long time ago if I really wanted to do this…”

The Hopeless Plan acts like a constricting funnel of all good, cool, and creative ideas, and severely limits what seems possible.

But we have to give The Hopeless Plan a little credit since it does result in small achievements or progress.

But there is another plan type.

Plan type two acknowledges the present reality, but does not allow the same limitation.

I nicknamed plan type two: A Hope-Filled Plan.

A Hope-Filled Plan acts like an amplifier taking the history, the experience, and current resources,  combining them into a vision of the future that seems larger, possible, and exciting.

A Hope-Filled Plan is risky, interesting, and requires you to keep moving.

A Hope-Filled Plan allows you to dream and see beyond the present circumstances.

Recent examples of A Hope-Filled Plan include:

  • A mid 40’s attorney who dreamed of being a foreign service officer taking the leap to give up a successful practice for uncertainty and overseas travel.
  • A late 30’s language professor who suddenly realized they wanted to become a doctor and is starting med-school.
  • A person in their 50’s packing up and moving to a new city, without a job or a home.
  • A person too old to get back into the military traversing the process and waivers to restart a career they miss and enjoyed in their youth.
  • A 70-year-old builder of organizations taking the lead to build another one (ironically in the same area that was intended to be a retirement destination).

Plans are good.

Plans help you achieve your goals.

But choose your plan type carefully.

A Hope-Filled Plan may be what you really need and deserve.

The Outsider Perspective

Sometimes we gravitate towards people who are similar to us, or have had similar experience.

They have “walked in our shoes” and we assume they understand us, our issues, and our struggles.

This gravitational pull becomes stronger during training or workshops when you ask people to break into small groups. The same industries, positions, and titles want to talk to others with similar positions in similar industries with similar titles.

To disrupt this tendency during a recent day-long workshop on Coaching, we encouraged each person to find someone radically different from their industry, position, or title. These pairs would practice coaching each other through a current struggle or challenge.

After a few awkward moments, the partners found each other and began to coach each other through the framework we provided. We emphasized that the right coaching framework allows you to help others despite not being a subject-matter expert in their field. (The beauty and the risk of interactive training is you get to see first-hand whether or not your ideas and concepts really work. Sometimes you brace yourself for potential failure.)

We were about to see this coaching concept tested with one particular pair that were so radically different (law enforcement and water treatment) that we paid close attention to their progress.

During the debrief, we heard from those being coached, and the practicing coaches.

We waited to hear from our radically different pair.

“You know, I was a little hesitant at first. I thought, how could they know anything about what I do? But it was the Outsider Perspective that made me look at this in a way I never considered.”

The Outsider Perspective isn’t immersed in our world, so they ask hard questions (they don’t know what they are not supposed to ask).

The Outsider Perspective isn’t bound by our perceived limitations, so they offer insight into potential solutions.

The Outsider Perspective is looking at your issue, problem or challenge with a fresh point of view.

The Outsider Perspective can challenge your assumptions and your bias.

The Outsider Perspective may be exactly what we need.

 

Making Cabinets

building-cabinets

“It was easier when I was making cabinets.”

“Why, what was different?”

“At the end of the day, I could see and feel my progress. Now I just deal with people and it is hard to know if I accomplished anything.”

As I reflect on my own work. I can relate.

A lot of what we do is less measurable, less tangible.

It is certainly easier when you make something. It wasn’t there before. You built it. It now exists. You can see it.

Ideas, thoughts, managing, leading are harder to quantify.

But we are still making.

Building ideas.

Crafting thoughts.

Developing people.

Creating and expanding organizations.

“Maybe it would be easier to ask yourself a simple question at the end of the day: What Cabinets Did I Make Today?”

“What do you mean?”

“Think about your work now in terms of cabinets because that is where you started. Take your interactions with customers, sales gained, estimates written, and turn then into cabinets.”

“You are a little weird.”

“Yeah I know, but keep tracking. This will tie your current work to the familiar and fulfilling work that you keep longing to do again.”

“I can try. So when I complete four estimates in a day, that may be a cabinet? Instead of not feeling like I am making progress, I can look at that pile of paper, and see a cabinet?”

“Yes, making cabinets out of your current work.”

Maybe that is how we can all calibrate our time, our effort. Think about our work in terms that are familiar and comfortable. A lot of our lives can feel like spinning our wheels instead of Making Cabinets.

What Cabinets are you making?

What [insert your cool creative thing here] have you built today?

Go. Make a difference. Make Cabinets.

 

The Two Teams

The Two Teams

When working with teams about their collective behavioral styles, I have noticed that in the long run there are only Two Teams. As I check in with various teams’ progress at certain intervals the Two Teams have two distinct results.

Team One is doing well. Team Two is actually worse than before.

Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be a middle ground.

Team One is communicating differently, achieving results, and having less conflict.

Team Two is communicating differently, not achieving results, and having more conflict.

What separates these Two Teams?

Why does Team One prosper and Team Two decline?

The answer was simple. After a series of meetings, calls, and follow-up visits a pattern developed. I took notes of each group but the difference became clear.

Team One Pattern

After the initial session, each member of Team One reflected on their own primary style. They made a list of what worked for them as a member of Team One. They made a second list of what didn’t work or needed modification in order for them to be a better member of Team One. Over the next few months each Team One member worked on what didn’t work and tried to leverage what did work.

Team Two Pattern

After the initial session, each member of Team Two reflected on their primary style. They made a list of what worked for them as a member of Team Two. They made a second list of what didn’t work or needed modification in order for others to be a better member of Team Two. Over the next few months each Team Two member worked on trying to get others to change their behaviors and style and did not focus on how they could change.

Will you focus on how you can improve to make the team better?

OR

Will you make a list of how much better things will be when other people change?

The choice is simple when you realize there are only Two Teams.