Accountable=uncomfortable

Do you find that holding people accountable makes you uncomfortable? Oh, you start out fired up to hold people to their commitments. You ask clearly. You get them to restate the request. You set a date and time for completion…..and then they don’t come through.

Wait, you did everything you were supposed to do, now what? First of all, congratulations! Most people don’t create such excellent and clear accountability. You are probably really upset, angry or dismissive of that other person right about now. And, may I suggest uncomfortable with taking the next step.

Why is that ?  Do you see it as you will have to become “the enforcer” or the “bad guy”. Do you begin to doubt your right to get what you asked for?

This is the tricky part. Mike Scott* says this is the time when you don’t ask why – Don’t ask why they didn’t do it. Ask them to identify their next step. Ask for a recommitment with a new time/date. Further, you ask:  “Can I count on you for that?” That puts it back on the other person. Okay, how uncomfortable will it be to ask?

Let me guess you might be squirming all over the place thinking about asking for a commitment. Why? You are totally committed. Perhaps because in our society, we don’t like people who call us out, who make us look bad. We know the likable person is the one who lets it go. And, maybe, subconsciously, we want to be liked. In business, we can’t excel if we don’t do the hard stuff. That includes being uncomfortable in service of our mission.

So, think about your mission. You really want to succeed. Completing this request is part of it. In the context of serving the mission, you may find you are okay with having the difficult conversations needed to hold people accountable. You might want to repeat the goal to them as you ask for the renewed commitment. Don’t make it punitive, don’t make it personal, make it about the mission. You can do this.

This week initiate one difficult conversation about accountability that you have been putting off having. Work through the discomfort. It will be easier next time.

*Mike Scott

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Image courtesy of Performance Based Results. Survey done by HBR

Being 90

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be 90?  Here is my Aunt Ruth blowing out the candles at the family home where she lives independently.  She still drives during the day, has seen every recent movie and can talk about happenings in the world with a clear viewpoint and a desire to hear what others think.

Not all of us will have the luck to be this healthy and together when we are 90. Her brother, my Dad, died of leukemia at 67. Same genes, not the same luck.  Ruth’s love of living and kindness to others drew everyone to celebrate her on her special day with great joy!

 

Happy birthday Aunt Ruthie.  I want to be like you when I am 90!

 

This week send some appreciation to someone you know who is older and would enjoy hearing from you.  It will make you feel good, too.

Reevaluating Priorities

How often do you throw all your cards up in the air and re-sort them in a new order? I’m going through that right now. Due to a much increased work load (all good) I’m rethinking where I put my time and attention. Obligations, burdens, previously fun stuff, the “of course I’ll do that” responses, are all being put under the microscope as part of reevaluating priorities.

How often do you go through this exercise? I’m hearing a lot of discussion about this from friends and colleagues who are struggling with children’s needs, having their last kid leave for college, coping with their health or a loved one’s health….. It seems that when big things change in our lives, we are forced to reevaluate priorities. I’m also hearing this in subtler ways. Whispers about the amount of stress, the traffic, the joy in living becoming strained, no time for little moments, spouses being neglected.

In a business, this comes up most often as too many meetings, too many emails, hours that are too long and not creative or productive. We don’t get out of this without some rethinking.

In order to rethink, I have to start from the big picture: What do I want? Where do I want to be in 3 years? What will I have to give up to get to the big goals? What do I have to put in place especially new habits, better processes, clearer focus to get what I want.

Barbara Bush was quoted this week as saying: “You have two choices in life; you can either like what you do or dislike what you do. I have chosen to like what I do.” It may not be that easy for most of us. But it is worth considering.

How can you set yourself up for a great week? What activities do you need to delegate or push off to stay focused on the big picture?

 

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Risk tolerant?

In his book The Growth Dilemma, Ami Kassar has a series of questions to evaluate how risk tolerant you are in your business. If he gave you $1 million, would you invest it in your company or put it in mutual funds? >

Biz-blab

A term for confusing communication that tries to sound smart, yet has obscure meaning, was just introduced to me. The term is biz-blab. I immediately was captivated. >

Bored v. Busy

It seems like it was a common refrain 10 years ago that everyone was bored. Perhaps that came from living with teenagers.  Now everyone complains that they are too busy. >

Raising prices?

This week the federal reserve raised interest rates again making them the highest they have been since 2008. The President just directed the US trade representative to level tariffs on about $50 billion worth of Chinese imports; this is in addition to the steel and aluminum tariffs recently imposed.  If you use steel in manufacturing, the prices have already gone up.

Are you raising prices, too? >

Power of Fear

When we are having a good day, our thinking brain (the pre-frontal cortex) is in control and we don’t get flooded with cortisol – the hormone that is produced when our instinctive brain (the amygdala) saves us from danger. The power of fear is life saving in the right moment. It is also extremely harmful when it washes over us regularly through our day as we engage with the world through our computers/devices.

In her Vistage talk called from Blindspots to Breakthroughs, Rebecca Heiss spoke to my groups about how to reduce your blindspots and increase your awareness to live a healthier and more peaceful life. Dr. Heiss’s presentation is a careful layering of facts and examples that allowed us to reach our own conclusions. She comes from the viewpoint substantiated by science that our fear response is subconsciously driving us to the point that it is damaging our health. Awareness of how this is affecting us could save our lives.

In thinking about all the stories Dr. Heiss wove to provoke a greater awareness for ourselves about our own assumptions and responses, I realize that we have to catch ourselves in our own mental games if we are going to create new patterns for ourselves. Our subconscious brain will fill in with automatic responses if we don’t provoke discomfort for ourselves. In order to do that, we have to get outside our regular patterns, like taking the same route, talking to the same people, following the “accepted” way of doing things. It is the power of fear that in today’s world looks like we won’t be included or accepted that keeps us from trying new things. While that might have led to death in the cave age it won’t have much effect today.

According to Dr. Heiss, the more you practice using your pre-frontal cortex to challenge your patterns, the more it grows and the more frequently you will respond from there instead of the amygdala, the fear response center. What is one thing you could do from the list of top 5 take-aways to reduce the power of fear in your life?

The top 5 take-aways were:

1. Breathe- create a meditation practice

2. Reconcile by asking what you stand for and what you stand against

3. Expand the diversity of input you get

4. Ask more questions about your assumptions and those of others

5. Know yourself

 

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Winners and losers

The steel and aluminum tariffs to be imposed in 2 weeks are a shining example of how decision making from the top creates winners and losers that may have truly unpleasant consequences. >