Posts Tagged ‘gift’

This is an excerpt from chapter one of my new book being published in august of 2009 entitled, “g

This is an excerpt from Chapter One of my new book being published in August of 2009 entitled, “G.U.T.S. – Gearing Up To Succeed”.

Most people (and dictionaries) would define self-discipline as self-mastery or self control, to which I heartily disagree. I’ve also heard it said  self-discipline is the regulation of oneself for the sake of improvement.  Here, I will take issue with these definitions because they define the subject from the perspective which the idea of self-discipline is inextricably tied to that of improvement.  It is my contention that self-discipline is better defined by saying it is the inherent power within a person to speak or to act out of habituation with no regard to improvement or to detriment.

Seneca rightly said, “There is nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”  It follows then, by polarizing the meaning of self-discipline toward improvement only the idea of an antithesis to self-discipline; namely indiscipline is thus created.  I contend there is no such quality as indiscipline existent in mankind or in all the earth.  Being alone, there is only discipline, for all mankind employs it in their daily habits.  Is it not true that even those who society or culture label as ‘undisciplined’ are rather very disciplined in those things considered by themselves and others to be to their detriment?  For discipline is neither good or bad.  Discipline is an inherent power each of us possesses and one that no man nor even God Himself can take away except through the finality of death itself.  Discipline is God’s gift to each of us so that through its power working inherently within us we might explore the boundaries of our own personal potential.  The focus then of our development of self is not first discipline and then all other virtues, but re-focusing that inherent power (that is, discipline) to the reshaping of our habits in the pursuit of these virtues.   It is with habit that we will begin our investigation of this much sought after quality of discipline and reveal that the power which you have been seeking is already employed in every area of your life, though probably misemployed.  What follows naturally then is it is not self-discipline one should seek after, but rather one should seek after habituation that is in line with stated or intended purposes.

Dig deep; the water – goodness – is down there.  And as long as you keep digging, it will keep bubbling up.

Marcus Aurelius Antoninus

There are no good or bad habits.  There are only habits.  Contrary to popular belief, what causes people to label habits as good or bad is not determined by the action (habit) itself but by the stated purpose of the individual in relation to the action (habit).  For example, if I have stated my desire or intended purpose to retire by the age of 65 with a net worth of $1,000,000 yet I habitually spend what I earn and save nothing or very little, conventional thinking labels me as undisciplined with regard to financial matters, yet the reality is that I have become very disciplined in spending what I earn and saving nothing.  The distinction here is made because my habits are at odds with my stated purpose.  It is not the action of spending that is good or bad, for all mankind spends what they earn, albeit in different amounts.  It is the root habit, misaligned with my purpose, that drives me to employ my self-discipline in a wrong direction.  The reality is, I am very disciplined in spending what I earn but my discipline is misemployed and thus works against my stated or intended purpose.  It follows then that I am not undisciplined, but I am rather misdirected through unaligned habits.  It is the faculty of habit that we must seek after, not this elusive idea of gaining more self-discipline which has beguiled mankind for ages.  There is no such thing – it is a myth.  What one may label as an increase in self-discipline is really a realignment of our actions by changing a certain habit or combination of habits.  As such, self-discipline is again revealed to be inherent with no effort to attain more.

Once I made the distinction in my mind that I was not undisciplined  at all, but in fact very disciplined, but in the wrong habits in relation to where I wanted to be, my life’s results and environment began to change.  I had only to change my habits and it followed that my life would soon change as well.

For more information on organizational alignment and personal leadership please contact my office at 251-233-7671 or via email at chris@christophergergen.com. Also, visit us on the web at www.christophergergen.com.

Introduction

Introduction 

This is the first in a series of Change Management Concepts articles. 

Change Management is about introducing some combination of new people, new processes and new technology to a business or organization.  The organization has a lot to learn, and someone needs to be the teacher. 

Often executives will hire consultants to drive their change management initiatives, and the teaching job falls to the consultants almost by default.  Save some money.  Hire consultants if you need them, but focus their teaching efforts on your leadership team.  Then let the leaders (yourself included) teach everyone else. 

Leaders Are The Best Teachers 

When a management consulting firm conducted a study a few years ago, they formed two groups of people to be trained in new systems and processes.  One group was trained by professional trainers.  For the second group, the professionals trained the boss and the boss trained the people.  Immediately after training, both groups were tested to determine how well they had learned.   

Which group tested higher?  Well, um, uh, well, it was the professionally trained group. 

Wait a minute, there’s more.   The same testing was conducted six months later.  Guess what?  The retention of the material was much higher for the group trained by their own boss. 

If you think about it, neither result should surprise you.  Unless a boss is a very gifted teacher, he or she won’t be as effective as a professional trainer.  The professional trainer, however, won’t be hanging around when the formal training ends.  The boss can reinforce the training materials, and can ensure they are applied on the job. 

Teaching, and specifically leader led teaching, is an important and often overlooked change management concept. 

You Can Do It

First of all, if you are in a leadership position, you are already a teacher.  Every day you’re guiding people in the expectation that they will think for themselves and apply your guidance in their jobs.  (If you’re telling them what to do, you’re not a leader — more like a supervisor). 

Granted, there’s a difference between day to day guidance and formal teaching.  Even if you’re not a great speaker or don’t enjoy the formal classroom setting, just think about some of your qualifications: 

  • You know the subject matter
  • You know the students
  • You have a vested interest in their success
  • You have a passion for what you’re going to teach (hopefully!) 

These are advantages that are going to outweigh any limitations you have as a result of not being a trained instructor.   

Some Tips to Help You Succeed as a Teacher 

Commit the Time — When you’re teaching your staff, you have the luxury of spreading the training out, perhaps 2 hours per day for a week instead of a dedicated day and a half.  Go for it, but whatever time on whatever days you schedule for training, stick to it.  Don’t cancel, and don’t allow interruptions to the training schedule. 

Teach, Don’t Preach — Your goal is to share information and enable people to apply it.  Help people understand what’s in it for them as you address what’s changing. 

Ask Questions — It’s a great way to test understanding, for you and your students. 

Invite Dialogue — That’s what asking questions will do.  Your job gets easier when the students are discussing what’s being taught.  You just have to step in when they get stuck. 

Repetition — Change management concepts need to be repeated in order to be absorbed.  In other words, change management concepts need to be repeated in order to be absorbed.  Enough said.

Practice Ego Sacrifice — You are not a professional instructor, and you may find you’re struggling with teaching certain things like technical concepts.  Remember that it’s the long term results that make you the right choice for this particular job, and be willing to let your students know that you need their help at times.

Why

Why?

We hear it all the time (especially from kids) and ask it often (more on that later).

“Why?” is a question used in all sorts of situations, and its prevalence should hint to its usefulness.

And yet, for all of its value, “Why?” can cause a lot of problems, miscommunications, misunderstandings and more because the “Why?” question is so like a double-edged sword.

Therefore, we must examine and learn the uses and misuses of this powerful word/question in order to use it most effectively.

Why So Powerful?
“Why?” is a powerful question because it . . .

. . . stimulates learning. “Why?” is the quintessential open-ended question. The answer to “Why?” provides new information for the asker.

. . . allows discovery. Asking “Why?” helps us find the root cause of a problem by diving into the details. Similarly, this question can lead to discoveries in situations other than problem solving as well.

. . . creates understanding – for both parties. Have you ever explained something to someone else and after you explained it you understood it better? The “Why?” question creates deeper individual understanding and allows for mutual understanding as well.

. . . quenches curiosity. Kids ask “Why?” because they intuitively know that the answers will help them learn, discover and understand. In other words, “Why?” is the perfect question to ask when we are curious, and the perfect question to stimulate our curiosity as well.

Why So Dangerous?
The “Why?” question is powerful . . . and . . . it`s rife with challenge.

Do this quick mental exercise. Think about all the different ways you have heard (or you could ask) “Why?”

With just a bit of imagination you probably will be able to hear your parents or other people with positional power asking the question in a way that wasn`t about curiosity or learning, but in a more “questioning” or accusatory manner.

While the problems certainly don`t always come from a place of positional power, because we have all experienced this, it highlights the challenge this question faces.

“Why?” is dangerous because it can . . .

. . . insinuate power. The power piece can come when words are added to the question, like “Why did you to that?” The problem – and danger – is that as a receiver we can add those additional words in our mind even if they aren`t said; creating meaning that may or may not have been intended by the asker. Either way, once the receiver assumes it, that power is implied. Often – because of this – the receiver may be reticent to answer, may answer in a limited way or in the way we think we “should.”

. . . suggest judgment. Again, this judgment could be coming from someone in power, but not necessarily. The reality is most of us want to be liked and accepted. When we hear judgment in the “Why?” question, we can be stymied by caution or answer in the way in which we assume others want.

. . . impede progress. Any question that leads us to be cautious, incomplete or inauthentic in our answers is a dangerous question because almost by definition it will keep us from moving forward, hide problems or actually move us in the wrong direction. Improper use of the “Why?” question can do all of these things – and more.

Herein lies the danger, for none of these outcomes allows the question to reach its full power and may actually have a damaging effect in a conversation or meeting.

How to Best Use Why
The key to using the “Why?” question first comes in understanding the powers and dangers, then in balancing them correctly. Once we know the risks, we can . . .

. . . preface our questions to minimize the power and judgment concerns of the receiver.

. . . watch the tone of our voice, realizing that tone could – intentionally or not – imply judgment.

. . . monitor our intent, because if we really are passing judgment perhaps we want to modify our approach, or at least not expect the fullness of answers we might get if our intention was different.

. . . ask the “Why?” question differently, to avoid some of the risks (ask, “Can you tell me more?”, or “How do you mean?” as just two examples).

Using any or all of these approaches can help you get the very most from this most powerful question.

Remarkable Leaders know that asking better questions helps them in many of their leadership roles which is why questions are related to several of the competencies of The Remarkable Leadership Learning System – a one skill at a time, one month at a time approach to becoming a more confident and successful leader. You can get two months of that unique system for free as part of our Most Remarkable Free Leadership Gift Ever today at http://MostRemarkableFreeLeadershipGiftEver.com and become the leader you were born to be.

Nearly all managers inadvertently treat their employees in a manner that leads to less than desirable performance

Nearly all managers inadvertently treat their employees in a manner that leads to less than desirable performance. Several leaders experience difficulty delegating duties. There appears to be the automatic sentiment that the only way to get the job done right is to do it yourself. While accomplishing it yourself may appear to work, it tends to be a breeding ground for ennui, indifference, low motivation, and loss of commitment and zeal. Sharing the work can be a vast motivator, thereby fortifying the organization.

The manner by which managers treat their subordinates is mildly influenced by what they anticipate of them. If a manager’s prospects are high, output is likely to be high. If his expectations are low, productivity is expected to be mediocre. It appears there is a law that triggers an employee’s performance to rise or fall to synchronize with his manager’s expectations.

1. What a boss assumes of a subordinate and how he empowers the subordinate will combine to rapidly influence the subordinate’s performance and his career development. What is vital in the interaction of expectations is not what the boss says, but what he does. Apathy and noncommittal treatment convey low expectations and head to inferior execution. Nearly all managers are more successful in communicating low expectations to their subordinates than in conveying high expectations, even though most managers trust exactly the opposite.

2. First-class managers generate high performance expectations that subordinates can accomplish. Underlings will not endeavor for high productivity unless they consider the boss’s high expectations pragmatic and attainable. If they are pressed to strive for unattainable goals, they eventually give up trying. Upset, they settle for results that are worse than they are qualified of achieving. The encounter of a large printing corporation demonstrates this. The company discovered that production in fact deteriorated if production quotas were set too high, because the workers simply ceased trying to meet them. “Dangling the carrot just beyond the donkey’s reach” is lousy motivational tactic.

3. Inferior managers fail to cultivate high expectations for their minion. Successful managers have greater assurance than ineffective managers in their ability to cultivate the gifts of subordinates. The winning manager’s record of success and self-confidence allows credibility to his goals. Thus, subordinates accept his expectations as realistic and exert effort to attain them.

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