The 4th Monkey – “Do No Evil”

I am reissuing, with a few modifications, my most popular blog post, for your consideration. The universal application of these age-old concepts is a tremendous value that should guide our behavior and interactions with each other.

We grew up with the story of the three monkeys. I imagine that many of us have the same interpretation of what they represent. We were exposed to pictures or statues. One monkey had his hands over his eyes, the second monkey with hands over his ears and the third monkey’s hands were over his mouth. They were see no evil (Mizaru), hear no evil (Kikazura) and speak no evil (Iwazura). There were actions and behaviors demanded of us based on the three monkeys, but nothing was said about the fourth monkey. The fourth monkey was do no evil (Shizaru).

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The stories of the four monkeys were popular in Japan in the 17th century. Their origin is between 2 and 4 BC in China. The Storyologer web-site (www.storyologer.com) has this account of Mahatma Gandhi who carried around a small statue of the three monkeys.  “Gandhi had a statue of three monkeys in three different postures. One was shutting his mouth with his hands, the other was shutting his ears similarly and the third one had put hands on his eyes. A visitor to his house became curious and questioned Gandhi about the various postures of the monkeys. Gandhi politely replied, “The one shutting his mouth tells us that we should not speak ill of anybody. The one shutting his ears tells us that we should not hear the ill of anybody. And the one shutting his eyes tells us that we should not see the ills of anybody. If we do so, we will have all goodness and nothing but goodness.”

Travelers will often find local markets with carved depictions or artwork featuring the three monkeys. My wife was able to purchase an angelic model of the same concept. There are three angels; one was covering her eyes, one was covering her ears and the other was covering her mouth. However, the fourth monkey was not shown. The 4th monkey, when pictured, is usually shown folding his arms (the body language of being closed) or covering his crotch to signify inactivity.

The different interpretations of the four monkeys is fascinating. In Buddhist tradition it meant don’t spend your time preoccupied with evil thoughts. In the West it relates to not facing up to our moral responsibility, for example turning a blind eye. But in my household, the monkeys were presented to us as a model of proper behavior. Our parents wanted us to identify with the images, to supplement our moral code.

See no evil (Mizaru)

We were told to pay attention to people and location(s). The idea was that if we were in the right location, we would minimize seeing trouble develop before our eyes. This was applicable in school and at work. We were instructed against being at the wrong place at the wrong time or the wrong place right. We were also told not to look for bad things in people or in certain situations. There are people who see bad things when they don’t exist, which could explain the manifestations of bias, stereotypes and profiling. We were not taught to be naïve, but to be careful and respectful.

Hear no evil (Kikazaru)

We were told to shield ourselves from bad language and bad intentions. We should stay away from people who spoke ill of others and gossiped. If we were not in the wrong place we could minimize hearing things that we should not hear. We were also instructed not to listen to foul or vulgar language. If we heard people language, especially regarding someone’s evil intentions, we could use the evil information to do good or to help others, that would be permissible.

Speak no evil (Iwazura)

Speak no evil was used to discourage gossiping or speaking ill will about someone. We were told to watch our language and to speak kind words. “If you can’t say anything good about someone, don’t say anything” was a part of this same philosophy. Adults told us that spreading bad news or malicious information could come back to haunt us. We should also, apply this same advice to the workplace.

There is a misconception around the concept about someone. This misconception has led people to adopt a code of silence in the workplace when a person is not pulling their own weight. We would rather silently complain or resign, before talking about an employee who was not working. We would not want to be labeled a snitch or a stool pigeon. In the streets people would say, “snitches get stitches”. To speak evil of someone means telling a lie, varying false witness or defaming their reputation. However, it is our responsibility to find a way to report injustice, illegal behavior and practices that undermine people and the organization. Our intention should be to speak the truth in love without malice or premeditated negative objectives.

One way to break the code of silence is by offering incentives to whistleblowers. These individuals are people who step forward and report unlawful activities in an organization. They are generally paid a 10% bounty if the measure goes to court and fines are levied against the lawbreakers. In neighborhoods where people know the perpetrators of violence, but fail to come forward, there are no such incentives. Residents may be afraid of retribution, as the rationale for their silence. We must also realize that justice requires telling the truth and this should not be regarded as speaking evil of someone.

Do no evil (Shizaru)

The fourth monkey’s actions are truly related to the others. The workplace is a common place for the four monkeys to be used as an operating system. Employee bullying and intimidation, sexual-harassment claims, the presence of racial discrimination, unconscious bias and sexually charged language and actions exists in many organizations. Where improprieties and liberties are taken with people’s rights in the form of disrespectful words and actions, there are laws in place to prevent and punish these actions. Employees, who adopt a see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil mindset are not helping to develop a positive company culture or a respectful workplace

Do no evil is a perfect monkey to enforce the values of character and integrity. He reminds us of proper behavior and etiquette. Our choices have consequences and the more we can emphasize a positive corporate culture and a respectful workplace the more effective our organizations will be become. There is conduct and behavior norms which must be identified, emphasized and enforced vigorously. Character will minimize stress in the workplace and reduce the number of lawsuits and discipline related to improper behavior.

The do no evil mindset would influence our participation in the political process. Our dialogue in conversations around those who are different from us or have different opinions would be positively affected. If we operated each day thinking in terms of do no evil, we would be more empathetic in understanding of each other. We would put ourselves in the shoes of our neighbors and seek to understand their point of, listen to their words and lay the foundation for greater chemistry instead of conflict.

How can we create an environment in our workplaces, families and communities, where people are held accountable for their own unlawful actions and the private citizens who come forward can feel safe and protected? If the fourth monkey was modeled, we would have less of a cause to talk about Mizaru (see no evil) and Kikazuru (hear no evil).

Do no evil and speak no evil should be magnified and connected to many of our guiding principles of behavior.  The Golden Rule and its equivalent in many cultures advise us to treat people the way we want to be treated. The Platinum Rule which asks us to treat people the way they want to be treated. The 10 Commandments implores us not to do a series of acts which could be seen as evil, such as murder, stealing, etc. you are instructed to love your neighbor as yourself. If we began from a position of love it is easier to think in terms of speak and do no evil.

We must clearly outline expectations of behavior and the judgment related to them to improve the climate in our organizations, homes and places where people meet. Correct action is essential to achieving healthy results in our relationships.

The imagery and practices espoused by the 4th monkey holds the key to making this possible. I am hopeful that by emphasizing the fourth monkey, we can improve our behaviors, connections, interactions and relationships with everyone.

 

Copyright © 2016 Orlando Ceaser

 

 

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The Core of More™ – Be Awesome from the Inside Out

There are crucial components to your development that must be examined to accelerate your progress. There is a core set of skills, values or principles which can be debated, but factually, these key ingredients build on your present state.

Let’s place four elements in this Core of More™. These elements confirm there is more in your core than you can imagine, yet you periodically ignore one or more components. They are Let it glow, Let it grow, Let it flow and Let it go. These ingredients will enable you to gain rather than regress and achieve surplus, that is not necessarily excess.

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Let it Glow

Your light, however you define it, must be allowed to shine. Your talent, skills, abilities, capacity and resources must be a beacon of hope, a living positive example. Your light must be an indicator of your presence, purpose and performance. As we sang in Sunday School, “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine. Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.” When it shines, it has a glow, a luminescence that grabs people attention, pinpoints your location and potentially influences your behavior.

Let it Grow

Skill level and impact will expand and enlarge your contributions. Influence grows as your abilities are refined and increased. You will devote the time, effort, energy and insight received from teachers, mentors and coaches to improve knowledge and the quality of your work.

You will become a continuous learner and communicator, passionate about getting better in the priority areas of your life. Your light will get larger and brighter and more will take notice of you and more will be expected of you, as more are influenced by your presence. Your abundance will become a windfall to others, as you realize you are slated to get better, so others can benefit from your brilliance.

Let it Flow

As it glows and grows, it will flow in the execution of your skill set and in helping other people. Work will become easier and more natural. Executing your tasks will appear effortless, mainly because you are in your sweet spot and you are letting it flow. It is captured in an acronym SMILE (So Make It Look Easy). An athlete will comment that they let the game come to them or the game slows down for them as they improve their craft.

When you let it flow, you remove the barriers to your performance. Your actions are as a well-trained athlete, gliding through the race; a musician who makes playing the instrument look easy; a world class professional speaker in their comfort zone, delivering a powerful message. You are caught up in the flow.

Professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi , has a concept of flow which is defined as follows, “In positive psychology, as the zone, is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity”1. It is a state where skills are consistent with the challenges presented to you. In the state of flow, you lose track of time and you are consumed in passion”2. Simon Sinek says, “Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress; working hard for something we love is called passion.”3 When you Let it flow, your passion shows, as you let it flow.

Let it Go

Along your journey, there are nouns you must displace. There are people, places or things that are excessive weight that must be discarded. As a hot air balloonist will tell you, if they want to increase their altitude, sand bags must be cast over board or they will hamper your ascension.

There are personal situations that try to hold you back and hold you down. In earlier articles I refer to them as the Hindre™ a person or spirit of negativity that attempts to hinder or restrict your progress. They must be released if you are to soar to the rightful heights of your achievement. You may know these impediments, or you must be open to people giving you a second opinion on people who are plotting against you.

You must let go of destructive habits, attitudes, the wrong crowd, the wrong mindset or other roadblocks that are impeding your progress.

Let it glow, Let it grow, Let it flow and Let it go, are part of the Core of More™. Apply these principles to help you achieve success in the professional and personal realms of your life.

Copyright © 2018 Orlando Ceaser

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flow_(psychology)
  2. Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly (1998). Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement With Everyday Life
  3. wordpress.com/2014/08/24/working..

 

The Hindre™ – A Secret Force of Exclusion

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The Hindre™ is a person whose purpose is to keep you down, drain your confidence, stunt your growth, hold you back, and prevent you from moving forward. They will hinder you from realizing your potential and living up to your expectations. They are stationed in households and organizations to thwart progress and stymie success by discouraging siblings and offspring from achieving their dreams. The Hindre™ will disillusion people who have the ability and talent to make a positive difference. (The illustration of the Hindre™ is provided by United Press syndicated cartoonist Charles Boyce, creator of “Compu-toon”).

We encounter this nemesis of negativity at various stages of our lives. This individual is responsible for creating a hostile environment of exclusion that says we are not invited, we are not good enough and we are not wanted. The Hindre™ are in businesses and other organizations prepared to sabotage individuals viewed as a threat. They are active when difference enters an organization, so that the status quo is maintained. They are people who place fear in your heart by making you believe you are inadequate and do not have the skills to succeed, unless given special accommodations.

A first encounter with the Hindre™ is during your youth. Exposure is at school or in the home. They may lash out against you in the form of a bully, to hurt your feelings. The experience may have left you angry, embarrassed or ashamed. As you grow in age and maturity they show up in school, relationships, family, and activities and on the job. They are sometimes subtle or bold, undercover or out in the open, covert or overt in their actions. However, they may seem to support you, while discouraging you from taking a risk and disparaging you behind your back to diminish what others think of you.

The Hindre™ show up when people and ideas are the weakest and most vulnerable. In school when you are forming your dreams and goals for the future, they bring their brand of sarcasm, laughter, cynicism and ridicule to shake your confidence, break your spirit and damage self-esteem.

At work they appear in many forms. They may seem harmless, objective and well meaning. But they use their credibility to tear down your ideas and cast suspicion and doubt on your performance. If you are highly regarded, they may use language behind your back such as, “you would think with their education and experience they would know better or perform at a higher rate.” These secret attacks are pervasive, persuasive and slowly reduce your standings in the eyes of peers and supervisors.

Talent will bring the Hindre™ to the surface. Talent activates their discouragement mechanism to hinder high performance. If you are silent and under performing they are dormant and content. But when you flex your creative muscles and express your skills, abilities and talent, they are pressed into action.

Exclusion at Work

In business the Hindre™ lurks in the hallways, meeting rooms and work stations. They are dormant until someone threatens the status quo with new ideas, especially if these new ideas come from the wrong people. The Hindre™ always looks for reasons why ideas will not work and how the ideas of others may work better. They allegedly have the interests of business at heart, when they shift focus and direct their critique to the flaws in your perspectives.

The Hindre™ is sometimes driven by unconscious and conscious biases and prejudices. They restrict access to employment opportunities, neighborhoods, certain groups, membership to exclusive clubs for women and resources to complete a project or proposal.

The work of the Hindre™ has cost companies and countries billions of dollars annually in lost engagement and productivity, revenue and innovation. New ideas are suppressed. People are not fulfilled. Opportunities are passed or missed as the company is deprived of the full richness of its talent pool. On a larger scale entire neighborhoods and countries are deprived of entrepreneurs, leaders and positive role models. The Hindre™ is the ultimate Devil’s Advocate, running unrestrained throughout our lives.

In meetings they shadow your comments. They come to life when their target begins to speak. When others speak they are relatively quiet, but when you talk, they are on the edge of their seats, ready to launch a counter offensive to pounce on your ideas. Many times, they will submarine your ideas as irrelevant and inappropriate, only to repackage as their own at a later date.  Therefore, you should keep track of your ideas, so that when they resurface you can claim credit for them.

When you are aware of the existence of the Hindre™, they are very predictable. Your mindset will to prepare excessively to ensure that your comments are well thought out, yet open for constructive challenge. You can use the presence of the Hindre™ to make you stronger.

The Hindre™ is known for discrediting groups of people and diminishing their accomplishments by saying that they are in over their head, they only got here through a special program and alluding that they may not be qualified.

In Talent Management and succession planning meetings the Hindre™ is present. They shoot down candidates with little objective information, but with a plethora of subjective innuendos. They have done their homework and will twist the facts or limit the admission of positive information that could benefit talent to the organization. The Hindre™ want to restrict your movement and limit and deny access to people, assignments and information that will make you successful.

What can you do?

We must develop the vision to spot them in a crowd and to know that they exist even though we are not sure of their location. Being hidden may give them power if they can catch you by surprise. Sometimes exposure and the knowledge that you know who they are can rob them of their strength. You can develop techniques to question their comments or answer them in a thoughtful intelligent manner. When you are skilled you can cast doubt on their motives, which can be risky, without the audience support. If rendered ineffective, they may go away, go underground and try to discourage others or think of an alternative way to stunt your development.

You must build confidence and surround yourself with people who are supportive, mentors, coaches, true friends and trusted allies. If you do not place this fundamental fortress of protection in place, they will cause you to doubt yourself, especially if no one is coming to your assistance. You must develop effective allies who have your back and will alert you to attacks from unsuspected Hindre™. Occasionally, someone may ask two questions which you should take seriously.

  1. How well do you know a particular person?
  2. What does this person have against you?

This may be a warning advising you to be careful around a particular person. Listen carefully to these comments as they are trying to tell you something significant about the Hindre™ in your midst.

Not every critical person or critique is from a Hindre™. You must subject the comments to a qualifying test. If they are instructive and productive, you would accept them. If their comments mean well and will make you better, you should welcome them. Try to determine the intent and motives of the person, the value and benefits of the comments and the potential consequences of action and inaction.

The Hindre™ may be powerful. We need to resist, but we may not be strong enough individually to withstand their fury. We need advocates and allies to jump to our defense. We need to cultivate teams of believers who will stand next to us when we are challenged inappropriately.

The Hindre™ is active, damaging dreams, poisoning relationships, restricting productivity and stifling the growth of communities, countries and continents. The Hindre™ undermine the joy we could experience without the persistent nay saying, negative nemesis that seeks to deprive us of our greatness. We must be aware of their existence, their presence in our environment and their mission to undermine our effectiveness. They are among the secret forces of inclusion in our environment. Therefore, we must develop tools to nullify their impact and cultivate allies to support us and fortify our positions.

Copyright © 2009 Orlando Ceaser

 

 

Cartoons for the Chaos in Corporate Communities – Cocky and Rhodette

Corporations are communities of citizens who are ideally committed to a common vision. They are able hopefully resilient, with the capacity to withstand change, reinvent themselves and introduce new business paradigms, in order to succeed. These companies are survivors. They truly represent the “survival of the fittest” mentality. Corporations are staffed with individuals who have the survived a myriad of corporate reorganizations, growth spurts and culture adjustments. They have demonstrated the ability to adapt to change by adopting techniques necessary to avoid extinction.

Cockroaches and rodents have existed on this planet for millions of years. Cockroaches have been around an estimated 240 million years and rodents were probably chasing them for a good number of those years. They are truly survivors, exhibiting adaptive behaviors that have enabled them to adjust to changing circumstances.

The personification of these two characters is in the form of a cockroach named Cocky and a rodent known as Rhodette. They represent and will articulate the thoughts and feelings of employees in Corporate America. They will speak through reenacting scenarios that happen every day in some company around the world.

Cocky is a male and Rhodette is female. They are co-workers. Their biographies speak to their diversity. They manifest their diversity in many ways, such as gender, thinking styles, age, genus, species, educational levels and introversion versus extroversion, to name a few distinctions. Cocky learned business from his father Coach (co is from cockroach and ach is from roach), whereas Rhodette received her business acumen from her mother Rhoda. Cocky and Rhodette are close friends who spend many hours talking about business and comparing and despairing over the current environment in their company where the emphasis on production has a few casualties among the rank and file. They have revised their personal strategies for growing their careers. They speak for the masses although they also, have leadership responsibilities.

Cocky does not totally live up to his name. Whereas, he is self confident, he is also quiet and introspective; a true introvert. He knows when to keep his mouth shut. He may appear to be low key, but this is an adaptive quality, survival tactic. He can be commanding, when necessary. He will frequently sit in meetings and speak only when he has something significant to say. He is appalled by the amount of hot air released in meetings, as people speak to hear themselves talk. He is also disappointed when management condones and rewards this type of behavior. He sees his role as a pioneer to help others to adjust to corporate life. He has been promoted numerous times based on his productivity and the support of advocates, coaches and mentors. He says he is a realist, who fears he will go only as far as the company will let him. He is ambitious and has no desire to leave the organization.

Rhodette is flashy, extroverted and her electric personality makes her the major energy source in any gathering of employees. She can seemingly get away with outrageous statements. She is a strategic thinker and her mind and forceful presentation demeanor are threatening to others. She is aware that she has to be careful in how and when she states her views. She has been coached on her need to increase her self- awareness. She is a team player and her actions are usually to benefit the company or her teammates, not to acquire power, stroke her ego or build a fiefdom. She is a great sounding board for Cocky and their interactions are insightful and at times hilarious. They look out for each other and provide constant feedback, which helps them grow personally. Through their networks they are also able to gather information on internal competitors who may try to undermine their performance and career growth.

Cocky and Rhodette are both managers in a large corporation but their escapades and situations are found in smaller organizations. Their poignant comments and witty observations are thought provoking with educational lessons for everyone. They have coaches and mentors to assist them in their development. They are also connected with many employees within the company to help them report accurately on performance and levels of engagement.

Cocky and Rhodette have given birth to a new creation, Cocky, Jr. The perspectives of teenagers are expressed through the eyes of Cocky, Jr. and Rhodesia. They are hilariously representing thought-provoking issues experienced by teenagers and the adults who interact with them.

 

Copyright © 2007 Orlando Ceaser

The Power Of Paying Positive Attention (POPPA)

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I admire people who have a reputation for making people feel noticed and special. Presidents have been lauded for their ability to remember people’s names and making them feel as if they were the only people in the room (John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton). Others also, they have the keen sense to recognize and comment on any changes in a person’s appearance or behavior. You may be such a person. You have an eye for detail. You know the right questions to ask, and the appropriate comments to make. These individuals have the power of observation and paying positive attention.

Additionally, individuals have a knack for always pointing out when something is wrong. But, we will spend time focusing on the people who have the power of paying positive attention to something that is right. These individuals may have the gift because it comes to them naturally, so they have the knack for it. Or they may have acquired the knowledge of the impact it has on people. They have the knack or the knowledge. Therefore, they have the intuition or received instruction on the value of paying positive attention to others.

We could describe this skill with an acronym (Power Of Paying Positive Attention). It can have a profound effect on productivity, performance, productivity and relationships.

When you watch something carefully, continuously over time, you formulate a mental baseline of how things are. This is cemented in your memory. If something changes, alarm bells signal a deviation from the norm. You may not know what changed immediately, but you are aware that something is different. Observation and perception notify the brain.

POPPA is a great skill to demonstrate in the workplace, home and school. It helps to establish and strengthen relationships. The power of paying positive attention causes you to focus on people and every aspect of their beings. You look them in the eyes. You notice them and ask questions about the quality of their work. You remember their names. You ask questions about the pictures in their workspace and other symbols in which they have pride. You may comment on their backgrounds, families, education and interest as appropriate. They feel important. You value their contributions at work and are authentically concerned about them as individuals with families and a life outside of work. You see the employee, peer or classmate as a total person with long term professional and personal interests.

If you treat people as if they matter, they may ultimately live up to your projections and live up to and exceed your expectations. If you treat people as if they exist and make them feel important, and did not invisible, you will ultimately reap the benefits of an engaged and inspired person.

We are equipped with our 5 senses, highlighted by the senses of sight and hearing to enhance our powers of observation. It does not cost us anything, but a small investment of time to notice someone. If the average human being could walk around with a fictitious cartoon bubble over their head, it would say, “Notice me” or “Please see me.” They want to feel significant, special, substantial, loved and connected.

While observing a sales representative making a presentation a manager noticed that he was obviously preoccupied. There were points in the call when additional information was needed and he was usually very adept at picking up signals and following through with the right questions. After the presentation, rather than point out the obvious oversights, he asked if everything was alright. He discovered that he had personal matters that compromised his thinking and performance. The manager adjusted his coaching accordingly.

A District Sales Manager working with a star performer was confronted with the following situation. During one of her presentations, there was tension in the air on. The sales representative was noticeably reluctant as she was visibly holding back when a strong challenge was required. The company’s reputation was being assaulted and her usually strong personality folded in the moment. The manager asked, “What would you have done if I was not present with you today?” She outlined her strategy and why she did not pursue a more aggressive stance. She told him what she would have said ordinarily if he wasn’t there. She did not want to challenge the doctor in the presence of sales management, so she was reserved.

The manager gave her the following advice. “When I work with you I want to see reality. If I coach behavior that is not your usual behavior I leave feeling that I had a productive day. But my comments would have been a waste of time. You would leave feeling that the words were meaningless because they did not apply to you. If you don’t want me to waste my time, show me what is real and trust the process that I will handle each moment as a teaching and growth opportunity.” The power of paying positive attention allowed him to recognize a change in behavior and to coach to improve performance.

Lastly, there are times in our lives where we give routine responses. We are simply going through the motions in our very busy days. We feature the same words, whether it is in a greeting or part of the key messages delivered in a conversation or presentation. It is important to get these words right, but do not become bored or distracted with repetition. This may cause you to lose focus and fail to pay attention. You may miss an opportunity to connect with someone on a different level and strengthen a relationship. Watch the person’s face and body language to detect the messages they are sending to denote interest or a reaction to your words.

Our interactions in the workplace, at home and in school are environments where we should engage with other people by showing them that they matter. As a species, we want to be recognized and respected, belong and accepted. If we positively and authentically comment on their appearance, behavior, and performance, the compliment will inspire them to work harder to become more competent, which will have a profound impact on their confidence and they will complement your work culture, family, team, and organization.

Copyright © 2017 Orlando Ceaser

First Quarter – New Year’s Resolution Reboot

We are approaching the end of the first quarter. How is your New Year’s resolution going for you? Usually, about this time, many resolutions have been abandoned and kicked to the curb. The good intentions have fallen by the wayside and people walk away as defeated as they were this time last year. However, a seemingly failed attempt at a change in behavior for self-improvement can be salvaged with persistence and the right perspective.

For example, health club attendance usually spikes at the beginning of each year.

People are usually well engaged, as measured by attendance in classes or in the workout facility. The first three weeks are filled with enthusiasm. However, this year the enthusiasm waned after the first week. What is going on? Why are people disenchanted and disengaged so quickly? Is this indicative of results in other areas where resolutions are generated? Are they becoming harder and harder to sustain? We need to think of a different way of approaching our resolutions to give them greater sustainability.

We need to look at New Year’s resolutions as is a promise; and we like to keep our word. We need to see our resolutions as a computer program that simply needs to be realigned. What is really required is a resolution reboot.

Additionally, we should not confine our performance into a tight time frame, but to see it as a work in progress. A resolution reboot is necessary and admissible as evidence of our long term commitment. It is permissible as a continuation of the implementation of your growth strategy. We will reboot as many times as necessary until the program is fully functioning and running smoothly.

We must see our resolution as a part of an overall plan. Included in this strategy is our propensity to stop and start until the task is completed. It is our nature to not necessarily get something right the first time.  We have a tendency to collect a series of false starts, a few glitches before we are running like a well oiled machine.

Don’t beat yourself up if the early returns on your performance against your goal are not successful. Humans have a history of persistence until we reach our objectives. From learning how to walk, talk, think and run, the beginning stages did not go as planned.

Many of our goals as defined and described are like New Year’s resolutions. They had a rough beginning, but eventually became a part of our daily routine. We must approach our current resolutions simply as goals with things need to work on.

When a computer is not acting according to plan or specifications, the manufacturer usually asks us to reboot the program to see if it corrects itself. Whenever I have a computer issue, invariably I am asked to turn off the equipment and reboot. The same happens when I have a problem with my cable service. I am asked to please turn off the system for 30 seconds and turn it on to allow it to reboot itself. Many times this corrects the problem, as if the machine knows what is appropriate and aligns itself with the proper behavior. There is something therapeutic about shutting yourself down, rethinking your position, recommitting yourself to the goal and reminding yourself what success looks like.

You may need to try the same procedures to restart your resolutions, while keeping your goal in mind.

The early stages of your New Year’s resolution should not be seen as a performance failure, but as a temporary setback to regroup and rededicate yourself. Even if you are one of those individuals who backed away from your exercise goals after the first week, the game is not over. Tell yourself that your discontinuation was expected. It is a part of your well-planned routine to keep you working on your resolution until you get it right.

With the remaining days in the month and year, stay dedicated to your resolution. You know it is needed and the right thing to do for your development.  View the early returns as data and make the necessary course corrections to get you back on track. What worked for you in the early stages?

I remember training for the marathon and following the Galloway method. He suggested continuing to move forward, even if you had to stop and walk, but eventually you will reach your goal. So get Ready – Recommit – React – Reboot.  Keep moving and each  successful step in the right direction will get you closer to your overall goal.

Copyright © 2017 Orlando Ceaser

 

Itemize Individual Contributions to Team Results

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An interview is an excellent opportunity to blow your own horn, trumpet individual performance and brag about your accomplishments in a politically correct environment. However, in our team oriented culture, we sometimes forget that individual accomplishment is important. Frequently in an interview, candidates answer questions highlighting team accomplishments. They falsely believe the interview is a place only to celebrate team achievement. After all, we are constantly immersed in the value of effectively utilizing teams to reach corporate objectives. It seems only logical to use team vernacular in the interview to respond to the behaviorally based interview questions.

Candidates may fail to realize, that it is difficult for the interviewer, especially one who lacks a lot of interview experience, to extract an individual’s role in team centered answers. Therefore it is incumbent upon you as a candidate to isolate and itemize your contributions to the overall success of the team. The interview therefore, becomes a safe place for you to clarify and celebrate your individual accomplishments.

As a member of the team, you are expected to use team specific language while working on the job. We know it is important for you to coordinate your activities and collaborate with others to achieve a synergistic effect. But in the midst of daily activities, it is important for you to keep a record of your unique input to the overall project. This may involve questions asked, suggestions made and challenges delivered to accepted practices or ideas. In a team oriented department / organization, it is sometimes difficult to separate individual results from team performance. However, a strategic approach is necessary to isolate and itemize your contributions, as you climb the corporate ladder or interview for a job in another organization.

You must develop a “We / I” mentality. State that “We achieved a certain result and I was able to contribute in this achievement;” Then specifically itemize your contributions. The “We / I” based orientation is hard to do at first, but with practice and training, it will become a natural part of your conversation. The conversation that helps you develop an up-to-date resume, examples to be used in an interview and information necessary to grow your skills and abilities. It is critical to have an accurate perception of your strengths and weaknesses, so that you will know where they need to be enhanced. If you know your strengths, competencies, abilities, skills and talents, you can utilize them to effectively and accurately assess results and explain your actions.

The objective of “We / I” is not to put yourself in competition with your team members. It is not an opportunity to tell how you are more important to the team than your teammates. Part of the success of the team is the collective contributions of each member and the synergy created to get results. The idea of working in order to get credit for your actions can be counterproductive to the smooth working of the group. I believe the old adage that states,” consider the amount of work that can be done if we didn’t worry about who got credit for the results.” It is important in a team setting for everyone to work for the betterment and efficiency of the team to succeed as a unit.

Many organizations will tout the value of their teams. Some of these organizations will design their incentive programs to reward team performance. However, they will also assess individual performance. They will breakout or itemize individual performance through concentrating on particular behaviors. Recognizing these individual behaviors and distinctions are important when deciding career growth, promotions and succession planning.

Interviewers ask follow-up questions to determine the candidate’s role in their department’s success. When the candidates language and examples are structured in the context of what “we accomplished” the interviewer has to work too hard to obtain information. Many may not be patient enough and place the candidate in the” Not Interested” pile.  not interested”

Do not want the interview to incur the extra effort required to probe for individual contributions. You should provide concrete examples of your ideas; strategies and challenges that helped the team become better. You do not want to make it difficult for them to determine if you were an active member of the team or a member hiding behind the team’s reputation with very few ideas of your own. Interviewers look for the leadership role played in achieving results, rather than someone who just served as a follower or implementer of the ideas of others.

Candidates are frustrated by a perceived inconsistency between a team oriented culture and individualistic specific questions in an interview. When they receive the feedback that they did not specifically itemize their contributions to the team, they are confused. They feel as if the organization is sending mixed messages. Therefore, organizations need to clarify and ask people working in a team environment to track their individual contributions to the team and the reasons behind the request. We can compare this to team performances in other areas of our lives, whether in the field of athletics, academia, music or community activities. Success may be measured by the overall group achieving a goal, but there may be individual statistics, ideas, questions or actions that help the group reach its objectives.

If you’re working in a group where team performance is paramount, undoubtedly you are constantly thinking about achieving team objectives. These thoughts about achieving objectives will lead to actions that will inspire, challenge or push the team toward success, however it is measured. There will come a time when this project, job or assignment is over and you decide to move on to a different role. When you arrive at the different role, at some point in the interview, they will want to know the success of your team and your role in helping that team excel. The more clarity they can gain around your contributions, the better they will be able to determine if you are a person they need to fill the vacant position. Protect your career, assess your contributions and establish a system to itemize your contributions to the overall success of your group, team, Department or organization.  This will lead to better interviews and pave the way for a successful career through clearly stating the scope of your performance.

 

Copyright © 2016 Orlando Ceaser

Performance fixing in the workplace – Lost productivity and restricted growth

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Athletes and their sports periodically are plagued by scandal. Athletes may be asked to lose a match, fight, or game by delivering less than their best effort. The tennis world was recently rocked by allegations of match fixing where players allegedly accepted payment for losing or throwing a match. Novak Djokovic, the reigning number one men’s player in the world, said he was offered $200,000 through his previous handlers in 2007 to lose a match.

Boxing has had its share of scandals. Unscrupulous fighters have been known to take a dive, throw a fight or lose a fight on purpose. Controversies have surfaced with football, basketball and baseball.

This tactic of solicitation; altering the outcome of a performance is also prevalent in other aspects of our lives. Performance fixing is not customarily a term used to describe substandard performance at work. We do not accuse employees of collusion, throwing a project or taking a dive regarding their objectives. However, there may be similarities with sports.

Friends or coworkers may ask you to deliberately act in ways that could negatively affect results. They may expect you to limit your participation or productivity, hold back by not delivering your best effort and engage in activities with consequences that will affect your grade, goal achievement, contributions or career.

It is an integrity issues when someone delivers an unearned and unsanctioned discount or illegally influences the score. But failing to bring your best effort is also unfairly influencing results by delivering below expectations.

People may have a variety of reasons for convincing others to take a dive. They may want you to make a supervisor look bad, fail or simply to compromise results for a number of reasons.

As a sales representative my competitors tried to discourage me from working hard and going beyond the call of duty. Ultimately, when I was promoted to management, they told me they thought I was smarter than to take a role in leadership. Their code of ethics was to do just enough to get by, not rock the boat or bring too much attention to the status quo of their comfortable world. They had tried for several years to get me to perform at a level that did not upset their established level of mediocrity. They were in effect asking me to fix the outcome of my selling activities by reducing my effectiveness.

Take a moment to reflect on your life and your performance in school, relationships or in your career. Have there been instances where people have discouraged you from taking a course of action; pursuing an MBA, volunteering for a project, advancing your education or participating in a manner that would improve the outlook for your career? They may not have offered money, but there was an expectation that you would conform to their request and maintain a friendship or relationship. Did they influence you to withhold your best performance or restrict your participation? How did you respond to their subtle influences to maintain the status quo? You probably did not see it as performance fixing.

Can you think of instances where you were reluctant to excel and talked yourself out of delivering your best performance? You may have convinced yourself that inertia, standing still, the status quo was more desirable than going after a promotion or shaming your peers. You may have told yourself the aggravation of more responsibility would be too much work and not worth the small financial payout and alienation from your peers. You may have held back, telling yourself that management would not be receptive to your efforts to improve your opportunities. The result was stabilization and stagnation.  Therefore, you took an internal dive and restricted the release of your talent and failed to maximize on the opportunities available.

Companies have lost productivity and revenue due to people shaving productivity across the organization. Individuals intentionally or unconsciously participated in a conspiracy to hold back on excellence. The payout was not also in money. They may have received resources or items of nominal value. It was for either pleasure or pain.

Pleasure could involve the camaraderie and benefits of connection in a powerful networking relationship. Being affiliated with people who are well known or who praise them makes them feel special. They may want the pleasure of associating with someone they wish to emulate, who makes them feel special.

The compensation could be the avoidance of pain. People are deprived of the discomfort of being shunned by their friends and the humiliation of failing to land a job because they took a risk. If they don’t pursue the job then they don’t have to make mistakes or suffer the failure not reaching it.

Withholding effort and talent is not considered a criminal event. People don’t think of themselves as being complicit in an illegal activity. But, they are assisting other people in activities that hurt themselves, other people or the company. Under the cover of darkness they are essentially breaking into a residence of excellence and stealing from the organization. They are taking a payoff to engage in activities that restrict growth and development.

Professional tennis was struck hard by the accusations of impropriety. The governing bodies of tennis are investigating their handling of this potential blemish on their profession and the parties involved. Other athletic associations, through the years have investigated and disciplined all parties found to be guilty of affecting the integrity of their sport. What must we do to ensure that performance fixing is minimized or eliminated from within our areas of responsibility?

You may consider it unfair to view lack of excellence and substandard engagement, as an integrity issue. But people are hired and expected to bring their best effort to the workplace every day. I had a manager who always asked me,” is this your best thinking?”  We must ensure that we bring our best thinking and best action to the workplace in our interactions with others. The dollar value on waste and on the opportunity costs of lost or poorly implemented ideas.

Copyright © 2016 Orlando Ceaser

5 Self Restraining Tendencies (SRT’s) That Can Hurt You

We are human and therefore, have idiosyncrasies, nuances and eccentricities that come with our personalities. Many of these unique characteristics position us for survival and success. But some of these peculiarities are counterproductive and are detrimental to our growth. I will call them self restraining tendencies or SRT’s. They are not necessarily life-threatening, but they may serve as impediments to development.

SRT’s are indigenous to human beings. They may be formed by life experiences and thoughts and subsequently create insecurities. They may be pseudo-defense mechanisms to allegedly protect us. SRT’s may be categorized as bad habits that may hold us back, restrict growth or work against us. How do we know we have them? Self assessments and times of reflection can increase self awareness and reveal SRT’s, as we examine our lives and impact on others. Additionally, we may receive the gift of honesty from a friend through candid comments. Constant feedback from co-workers, parents and peers can also be useful by adding to our enlightenment. But, we must be objective, receptive and appreciative of their candor.

5 Self Restraining Tendencies (SRT’s)

  1. Procrastination
  2. Poor communication skills
  3. Negativity mindset
  4. Toxic people skills
  5. Lack of Integrity

1. Procrastination

It is interesting to learn that many people are struggling with procrastination. The act of postponing things until later is not intellectually difficult for people to understand. They know that something should be done immediately and to postpone will have consequences. But, nevertheless, they still will delay until later, that which should be done today.

We recognize that we may not feel like doing something right now or we have awarded a greater priority to something else. If we continue to kick the can down the road or delay the inevitable, we will continue to waste time and effort and increase the amount of stress in our lives.

Lisa was interviewing for a job as a pharmaceutical sales representative. She felt very comfortable with the interview. The interviewer asked her about her number one shortcoming. She responded, “I am a procrastinator. I get things done, but sometimes it takes me a while to get started.” Procrastination was her Self Restraining Tendency, but the interview may not be the right place to disclose this particular self restraining tendency.

2.  Poor communication skills

Communicating is something we do every day. It is the currency by which we interact with people in order to state our ideas, convey instructions and build relationships. Those among us, who communicate effectively, actually have an advantage at school, in our careers and in relationships. If we are hampered by poor communication skills, our effectiveness is restricted. This self restraining tendency, like the others featured in this article, must be identified and corrected.

Poor communication skills could be non verbal or verbal to include written, body language and group presentations. Ask yourself, “Am I plagued by poor communication skills? Are there aspects of my communication ability that are hindering my progress?” Conduct a self-assessment. Diagnose your communication ability to see if there is a deficiency. You may seek to solicit feedback from respected sources and trusted friends and colleagues to see if they can identify areas that require improvement. When the SRT is disclosed, a change management process should be initiated. However, rather than go through multiple steps to change we should go directly from denial to acceptance and put a plan in place to correct the SRT.

3. Negativity Mindset

People who have a negativity mindset are not necessarily the individuals who look at the pros and cons of every situation. I am speaking of the people who like to rain on the parade. When the entire group has decided to move in a positive direction, they are the naysayers who constantly focus on what is or could go wrong. They provide excuses rather than explanations. They seldom do anything but complain without the slightest contribution to positive constructive participation to change anything. 

4. Toxic people skills

The toxic people SRT is different from the poor communication skills mentioned earlier. Individuals prone to this tendency will use power to humiliate and intimidate in order to gain the upper hand or to create an environment of fear.

My son worked for an organization where the new boss actually said, “When I walk into a room I want people to fear me.” He wanted people to be intimidated by his presence. This attitude is supported by language and interactions that cause stress, a lack of trust, poor engagement and ultimately subpar performance. Individuals with toxic people skills may speak about people behind their backs, pit coworkers against each other and generate an atmosphere of tension.

People with toxic people skills may be cursed with the propensity to enter every interaction with a transaction mindset. They are constantly thinking what is in it for them, how can they beat the other person by any means necessary and how it can only help them succeed. This is prevalent in relationships where they only socialize or interact with people who can help them advance their position, today. 

5. Lack of Integrity

People with a lack of integrity are flawed in their relational and work performance. They utilize a winning at all cost or any cost approach to work and relationships. People with this tendency view the rules as an inconvenience, something for weak minded people, to be broken and circumvented whenever possible. Breaking rules is seen as a badge of honor, a necessary evil to give themselves the ultimate advantage toward victory.

Invariably, this SRT will cause the downfall of their career and reputation. Oftentimes, the integrity flaw does not manifest itself until well into a person’s career. Please find below a chart illustrating a natural career growth curve and the various points of indiscretion where a lack of integrity can doom a person’s career.

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If a lack of integrity shows itself at the end of someone’s career, a lot of their positive contributions can be discounted and shrouded in suspicion, nullifying their reputation. If a lack of integrity revealed itself early in someone’s career, they may never have the opportunity to make significant positive contributions or to realize the potential present in their talents and abilities.

Ideally, we should establish self restraining orders or SROs for those character traits which are limiting our joy and effectiveness. The five self restraining tendencies listed or others should be addressed if they are a problem for you. They have the capacity to limit your effectiveness and keep you away from realizing your full potential in every segment of your life.

Copyright © 2016 Orlando Ceaser

What do Ambitious People Want?

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Conversations with ambitious people who want to embark upon an ad venture leading to success, revealed at least six attributes that describe their appetite for achievement.

The attributes are access, acknowledgment, acceptance, appreciation, advocates and awards.

Access

Ambitious people want unfettered, unrestricted access to key people, resources, and information that can help their careers. The resources could be information, data, budgets and expertise. They know that relationships and networking are important to job acquisition and promotions. Salespeople think,” If I can see them, I can sell them.” Ambitious people want the keys to unlock the doors to opportunity.

People want access to key developmental opportunities, assignments and high visibility projects that will hone their skills and prepare them to assume additional responsibilities. Ambitious people want access to meaningful work and connections to mentors, coaches and the senior leaders who can ultimately influence their careers.

Acknowledgment

Ambitious people want to be acknowledged, once they are around and gain access. They want to be recognized and feel like a part of the team. Recognition as an attribute means simply to notice them, sense their presence and smile or nod in their direction. They want common courtesies through greetings and eye contact. People want to feel as if they are a part of something very special. It is not always necessary to remember their names, but that would be a nice touch. A smile in their direction while walking in the hallways signals to people that you know that they are there. No one likes to feel invisible, so when leaders find a way to acknowledge and identify someone it is very well received.

Acceptance

Everyone wants to be accepted and included. If a leader in the organization taps into a person’s need to be accepted they will feel valued, relevant and necessary. They will feel a part of something bigger than themselves and this will enrich their time at work. They can feel accepted when invited to functions after work and involved in social activities. When they feel welcome, they feel as if they belong. It is one thing for an organization to talk about inclusion, but the proof is in the daily practices of its members to involve everyone in activities beneficial to the organization.

When people are accepted, they feel as if they are wanted and this can contribute to higher statistics on engagement, productivity and job satisfaction.

Appreciation

People like to feel their work has value; is noticed and essential to the enterprise. When leaders or the organization finds ways to say “thank you”, people remember. A senior leader wrote a poem to his sales organization and received numerous positive responses from the team. In addition to the other awards they receive at year end, one person said,” My manager took to time to write something special to show his appreciation.”

Employees enjoy when managers demonstrate actions, not just words to prove that their people are their most important resource in the company. Programs are put in place that minimize workload and attempt to ease the tension between work and their personal life. It is often very difficult to achieve work/life balance. Some organizations refer to it as work life effectiveness or a blending between work and home. Feedback is given consistently, not just at the end of the year, to ensure that employees know where they stand relative to their performance expectations. They are told the truth in a fair and candid manner, which builds trust. Not only are people appreciate, but they are respected and their opinions are solicited.

Think of ways to say or show your appreciation. It can involve little things like thank you cards, hand written notes, bonuses, time off or special celebrations. There are numerous ways to show gratitude and these will go a long way to making people see that managers care about them as individuals.

Advocates

Ambitious people love to rise within the organization. They want to be known and supported by individuals who can advance their careers. They want mentors who will speak up on their behalf in personnel meetings. They want people to put in a good word for them when assignments are being discussed. They want supporters, cheerleaders, mentors, coaches and sponsors. When they are doing a good job, they want the managers to sing their praises from the rooftop. They want people to run interference for them on their way to other assignments. In meetings when people are quoting misinformation about their performance, they want someone present who will set the record straight.

Ambitious people love advocates. These individuals can have a positive impact on their financial status and their ability to be successful on the job. When individuals within the company and outside the organization learn about positions, advocates are invaluable to deliver positive comments about your personality, work ethic and capabilities.

Awards

Everyone likes to be rewarded and recognized when their performance meets and exceeds expectations. These awards can be in the form of pay increases, additional responsibility and kind words delivered in the presence of your peers. People want to feel acknowledged, accepted and appreciated. These three attribute can be considered awards for showing up at work and delivering results at a very high level. When access is provided and advocates communicate and celebrate your performance, awards in the form of certificates, pay increases, promotional opportunities and developmental assignments is a great way to show that the organization understands the importance of cultivating a motivated workforce.

The six attributes stated in this article answers the question, “What do ambitious people want?” An argument can be made that not only are the six attributes what ambitious people want, but everyone in the company want the same things. Everybody wants to be respected, rewarded and recognized, as well as to be supported and mentored. Ambitious people and those not interested in climbing the company ladder want to enjoy work and feel they are making a difference, as a part of something significant, where they are playing an important role.

Copyright © 2015 Orlando Ceaser