Monthly Archives: October 2012

Why You will Protect Obama or Romney from Negativity

Have you noticed the high degree of negative ads about the 2012 presidential candidates? 

The rate of purely negative political ads is nearly three times that of the 2000 election. In fact, purely negative ads have been on the rise steadily between the 2000 and 2012 election. Why? Because they work in motivating voters to turn out…that is, if they’re timed right.

According to a new controversial study, reviewed in the current issue of Science,

negative ads are effective in increasing voter participation, but only after voters have made up their minds. The impact of message tone on voter turnout has been a hotly debated topic for some time.  Studies have found that negative political ads have a universally positive effect on voter turnout, while others have found them to universally negative. The truth, however, may lie somewhere in between.

These findings shed interesting light on the relationship between positive communication and human behavior.

Here’s the take away: negative political ads, while negative in content, play a key role in the overall generative process of political participation precisely because they move us to protect our favorite candidate, take a stand for what we believe in, and exercise our desire to make our world a better place. So even negativity can inspire positive work.


So You’re Enlightened. Big Freakin’ Deal!

I’ve spent a significant part of my career coaching people to greater self-awareness so that they can get better results at work, home, etc.

Fact: I’m all for  increasing self-awareness, personal growth, transformational learning, and development, but enlightenment alone doesn’t pay the bills.

Fact: Making positive changes in our thoughts and behaviors requires self-awareness. After all, we can’t change (or accept) what we aren’t aware of. So go ahead: think. Don’t think. Meditate. Give the Buddha an orange. Get a coach. Have a conversation with someone that matters. Do whatever it takes to increase your self-awareness.

Fact: Awareness is not an end. It’s a beginning. Personal transformation cannot stop with simply being more aware as many so-called coaches, gurus, and spiritual guides would have you believe.

Fact: Change requires hard work and commitment. Not just knowledge and wisdom. Change takes guts, will, strength and endurance. Change requires that you push through the hard times and crap. Wise, enlightened people know a thing or two about crap.

Don’t stop with self-awareness. As the Buddha said, “before enlightenment, chop wood and carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood and carry water.” Use your awareness to do some work. Push on. Take action. Chop some freakin’ wood why don’t cha!

Image Source: ashiramedicinewoman

What is the Push?

In my October 4th post, “Have you Heard of the Push,” I made the claim that “The Push is the only thing that can get you through the tough times.”

This led my wife to ask, “What is the Push?” Since she’s wicked smart and asks great questions, I replied, “It’s shorthand and a great topic for another blog post.”

So here’s what I mean: The Push is a combination of your:

  • Desire
  • motivation
  • Internal locus of control
  • Strength and fortitude
  • Belief in yourself
  • Will do (not can do) attitude
  • Endurance, and
  • Stamina

In short, it’s your “I will, don’t get in my way, look out world I’m going to kick-some-butt I don’t care if it’s a little (or a lot) uncomfortable, I’m going to turn off my tv, not check my facebook or twitter account, put my shoulder to the grind and get some shit done” source of motivation and energy.

That’s The Push. It’s what separates good from great and ordinary from extraodinary. When times get tough, sometimes it’s all we have.

6 Steps for Improving Critical Thinking About Business “Facts”

As Seth Godin wrote today, we never have all of the facts.

And the facts, principles, “rules,” and strategies that we do have, aren’t always that good.
Case in point: an article published today on leadership facts

Therefore, in order to separate quality from crap and make better decisions at work, we need to become critical consumers of facts.

Sadly, higher education isn’t doing a great job of teaching critical thinking, making it one of the key strategic foci for the Associate of American Colleges and Universities. And many professional “training” organizations omit critical thinking from their leadership curricula.

Bottom line: if your employees aren’t getting trained in critical thinking, where are they getting these skills?

Step 1: Understand what’s being said?

Knowledge acquisition is the first step toward critically consuming “the facts.” Can you determine the main idea, argument, and/or point the source is trying to make?

Step 2: Relate to what you already know.

This step is all about comprehension. How do the facts relate to what you already know, have seen or read? What evidence is the message sender using to support her/his case? Are these sources credible? What’s missing?

Step 3: Apply the facts to your business context.

Application of the facts is a critical step. How would the principles, rules, strategies that someone is trying to sell you walk in your organization? How is your unique context different from others they’ve referenced?

Step 4: Analyze.

Analysis focuses on both the form and content of the message. Break the facts down into their component parts: How are the facts related? Have they been presented in a fair and objective manner? Overall, is there sufficient evidence to support the conclusions that the speaker or author is making?

Step 5: Synthesize.

Pull it all together. Given the facts and conclusions drawn from the facts, can you create something new. Something useful. Can you formulate a course of action using the facts?

Step 6: Evaluation

Given the facts, analysis and synthesis, will you take a particular course of action? This step is about assessing your acceptance or rejection of the facts. It’s okay to reject facts, false claims, and shams, and schemes, after all “that’s how they get ya.

These six steps will enable you and your team to become more critical thinkers about “the facts” that impact your business, and more credible messengers in sharing facts with others. Happy Friday!

Have you Heard of The Push?

The Push is the only thing that can get you through the tough times,

chaotic changes, failures, and set backs.

Sure, everyone would like a “pull” or a “boost,” but many of us

don’t have the luxury of these levers–at least not in the beginning (or the middle for that matter).

When the going gets tough, or the when the journey of 1000 miles seems like it isn’t even worth taking the first step.

The one thing thing you can count on,

the one thing you have direct control over,

is The Push.

Image source:

That’s How They Get Ya. Or is it?

See, “that’s how they get ya.” I can literally hear my grandfather in my head as I write these words. Carl Groscurth was a stickler for quality service and he was a straight shootin’, no BS, just the facts mam kind of a guy.

He was always on the look out for shams, scams, and schemes. He had a keen eye for spotting a bait and switch and would be quick to point out when a service provider fell short on their end of the bargain. Whether it was the ratio of air to chips in the bag or political rhetoric, he would be the first to out a fraud or ask to speak to a manager. He was a consummate skeptic.

And, at the same time, when you delivered on your promise, he was fiercely loyal to select products, services, and organizations, devoting his entire career to the Ford Motor Company, and he never had anything but Ford products parked in his garage.

Lesson learned? It isn’t advertising, “branding,” bald-faced deception, or charisma that actually gets people to follow, buy, or like you. Sure, these things may work in the short term.  Long term, it’s much more than that: Integrity, consistency, competence, responsiveness to customer feedback, honesty, and a relentless focus on value and quality.

That’s what builds trust and loyalty. That’s how they get you, and, more importantly, that’s how they keep you!

Image source:

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What to do When You’re Successful, but Life Sucks

Four years of college, two high profile internships, two years completing your MBA, years spent climbing the corporate ladder, and now you’ve finally arrived.

You’ve got the title that you’ve been striving for and the six figure income that you were certain would bring you happiness. But, something is still missing. Somehow you don’t seem quite as fulfilled as you thought you’d be. There’s no place left to go up. You’re not sure what’s out there if you move to the left or to the right. Staying where you’re at seems stifling. In short, this life of success sucks!
What to do? What to do?

1. Find the Feeling.

What are you experiencing? Not what are you thinking. Move into the emotional space and explore the feeling. Peel back the layers of the everyday bullshit that you have to put up with. Take off the masks that you wear and the uncomfortable shoes and find the feeling that’s underneath your dissatisfaction. What’s it look like? How big is it? What color is it? What kind of roots does the feeling have?
2. Experience Positive Emotion.

Do things that make you feel good. Volunteer at a charity. Surprise a friend by planning a spontaneous outing. Call someone you haven’t talked to in awhile and ask them how they are and REALLY listen. Listening. Expressing compassion. Doing something novel can prime the pump for big insights.

3. Find Meaning.

What’s even more important to you than typical markers of success: title, material possessions? Maybe it’s developing others. Okay. What’s even more important to you than developing others? What aspirations and deep desires actually validate your existence? Find ways to bring that meaning. That deeper purpose into your everyday activities. The idea is to DO, not just THINK.

4. Get Physical.

Social and career achievements do not yield wellbeing. In fact, as nations around the world achieve “success” by traditional financial indicators, their populations are less well off overall (physical, social, career, financial and community wellbeing). Of these, physical is most often neglected. So change your habits. Walk more. Eat less, drink less booze, move more. Increasing physical activity provides a natural chemically altered state of consciousness that can lead to big insights.

5. Detach and Contemplate.

Detaching from the longing, striving, cravings that the mind creates everyday is a powerful tool in redefining success and making your life suck less. Find five minutes to sit quietly, preferably first thing in the morning or the last thing in the evening. Make a habit of it. Find a quite place in your home, your sanctuary. I’m not talking about turning yourself into a Buddhist monk, I’m just talking about five-fifteen minutes per day of non-thinking, quiet contemplation. Focus on breathing and nothing else. Detach from everything. Let it go. See what pops up. If you do this everyday for 30 days, I guarantee breakthroughs, insights, and cool stuff will happen.

I don’t envy success as many people define it. It causes much pain for people. I offer these five tools as options for helping to increase vitality and create positive change in your life. It’s only through personal transformation that we can help others change. These have been powerful tools for me, and I hope you find them useful.

What Engaged Me Then, Doesn’t Engagement Me Now

One of my favorite 20th century philosophers, Mikhail Bakhtin, writes that when it comes to time and space, time is always a more powerful force.

And so it is with workplace engagement. When someone is starting out, certain elements of work matter more: money, training opportunitites, a quick and surefire path to the top.

However, over time, those elements that get you jazzed about your work evolve–dare I say, mature?

Developing others. Building something that lasts. Mission fulfillment. Making a difference. Recognition.

When it comes to getting employee engagement right, organizations have miles to go in catching up with what science and philosophy know, and, perhaps, science and philosophy have much to learn from what’s possible and practical in the workplace.

Regardless, leaders can do better in targeting their engagement practices at early-, mid-, and late-career professionals.

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