Cynicism is a Killer #613

Posted by frank September - 2 - 2014 - Tuesday ADD COMMENTS

People who have high levels of cynical distrust late in life, defined as the belief that self interest is the main motivation for other people’s actions have been found to be more prone to dementia and higher mortality rates according to a recent study of 1,146 people reported in Neurology.
This surprises me…NOT AT ALL!
The brain and the body are one.  Thoughts, your outlook on life, your personality, your levels of distrust and anger will do you harm.

There is irrefutable evidence that a strong community connection and a good network of friends and family to love and be loved by is one of the largest contributors to good health and longevity.
How are you going to amass that network and bask in that love if you are a hyper-cynical ass?

2014 Motto:…”Mindful in Every Moment and Grateful for Every Day”

Be Nice! #612

Posted by frank August - 24 - 2014 - Sunday ADD COMMENTS

“You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.” This is true in all aspects of life.  Whether you are requesting a favor from a family member, managing a work relationship or asking the barista to make your cappuccino extra hot, people respond well to kindness. This is especially true in a position of leadership.  Eisenhower said, “Leadership is getting people to do what YOU want because THEY want to do it.”  He held the rank of general but I don’t hear anything in there about giving orders.

Being nice isn’t always easy.  Even the nicest people lose patience or get angry from time to time and I’m certain General Eisenhower had to dress down a few soldiers in his time.  I’m not advocating that you adopt a Stepford wife’s saccharin sweet affectation as you go about your day but I believe strongly that a genuine interest in people and a smile is your best foot forward and I know that those attributes are the foundation of the leadership quote above.

The key here is consistency.  “Turning on the charm” when you need something is manipulation and while you can fool some of the people some of the time, if your inner feelings don’t match your outward behavior that incongruence will show and more perceptive people will see what’s inside and respond accordingly. 

Being nice carries through to business correspondence too.  This week I got a note from Sears telling me that if I didn’t use my Sears card soon, they would cancel it.  I thought, “So cancel it.  I don’t even like Sears”  Not so coincidentally as I listened to the radio later in the week I heard the business reporter say that Sears reported a loss of a half billion dollars.  Perhaps a coupon to entice me in to the store would have been more effective…

2014 Motto: Mindful in every moment and grateful for every day

This is a HUGE PROBLEM! #611

Posted by frank August - 18 - 2014 - Monday ADD COMMENTS

 

“We have a HUGE problem!” she shrieked as she rifled through her closet looking desperately for a bag that would perfectly match her shoes.” 

“We have MAJOR issues in the accounting department!” he said as he related the story of a transposed number that caused his group to receive some errant sales information.

When EVERYTHING is a MAJOR problem; nothing is.  What I mean by that is that language needs to be appropriate to the scale of the issue or it loses its effect.

I recently heard the story of an army general who had this particular quirk of language imbedded in her everyday speech.  When she was a young lieutenant speaking in meetings with her fellow officers, she would escalate, with tone and word choice, even the most benign personnel incidents being reviewed by the group.  She said, “My language was too intense and my voice always carried more emotion than the situation warranted.  The result was, I lost my vote.  In those meetings and others my opinions were subtly ignored.”

The general went on to say that she was coached out of that language pattern and went on to be a more effective speaker and team leader which resulted in her achieving the rank of general.  She said that that language pattern came from a place of non-confidence and a belief that she wasn’t being taken seriously enough.

This is another of example of those, “How to NOT get what you want” situations (See my August 7th blog post http://www.franksomma.com/2014/08/) People who catastrophize constantly are really just trying too hard to bring our attention to a situation they want us to see and don’t realize that the result of this over-emphatic style is, in fact, the opposite result.  Over time, they are dismissed like Chicken Little, and The boy who cried wolf.

2014 Motto:  “Mindful in every moment and grateful for every day”

Posted by frank August - 10 - 2014 - Sunday ADD COMMENTS

I remember getting mad and then jumping in my car to go buy a pack of cigarettes a few months after I’d quit.  Sometimes when we are faced with a very stressful situation, a threatening situation, a crisis or at least a perceived crisis, we reach for something that will reduce the tension or at least begin to assuage our anger or anxiety.  Then after medicating ourselves with tobacco, food, alcohol, drugs, or yelling and swearing,  we spend the next hours (days!) cursing ourselves for engaging in these self-destructive behaviors.

An alternative might be to get in touch with ourselves.  When crisis, fear, anger or panic hit the first thing to do is to notice how the stress manifests in you.  Is it neck pain? Head? Stomach?  Once you notice the physical sensation you can focus on letting that particular tension go.  Breathing is a huge part of that.  Simultaneously it is important to identify your anger or fear.  Did you connect the dots in way to produce this pain? (My boss didn’t accept my invitation to coffee, so she obviously doesn’t enjoy being with me, which means she thinks I am incompetent and she is going to fire me.  Where will I find another job!?  How will I pay my mortgage!?)

Perspective is the real key here.  Few situations we encounter should inspire the level of fear and anger they often do.  Someone cutting out in front of you on the highway shouldn’t warrant horn blasting followed by a string of expletives.  Sure it was frightening when you had to hit the brakes but in the end, you weren’t hurt, you were just startled.

 I find it is that way with most things.  That isn’t to say that real life-altering, catastrophic, things don’t occur but , day to day, I find that  if I take a minute to get in touch with myself I can often gain the perspective I need to avoid self-destructive behaviors.

 2014 Motto: Mindful in every moment and grateful for every day!

How NOT to get what you want #609

Posted by frank August - 3 - 2014 - Sunday 1 COMMENT

A guy I know recently took a job as a manager in a new company.  He expects respect.  In fact, he demands respect.  Now mind you, he has just started and no one knows him yet, but he believes the position earned him the respect.  If he calls a subordinate, who is on a call and they don’t switch over to him, they hear about it loudly.  If he calls and they don’t answer, he power-dials them and sends text messages to call him NOW believing that they are disrespecting him by not being instantly responsive.

They now hide from him.  They ignore his calls whenever possible.  They withhold information.  They make up plausible stories of why they couldn’t get right back to him.  The result of his intense desire to make them respect him? Total disrespect.

 

A man wants more physical attention from his wife.  He presses her complaining about how intimacy has left the marriage.  He blames her lack of desire.  He is sullen and angry.  He references it constantly weaving his complaint in to many of their interactions.  The result of his intense desire for more physical contact?  Less physical contact.  Through his constant complaining and demanding he has become less attractive to her and the small amount of intimacy they had before, diminishes even more.

 

An employee believes she deserves more money.  She deliberately does only as much as she has to; nothing more.  She is cantankerous and talks the company down to her fellow employees.  She says, “With what they pay me I’m not busting my ass.  I do my job.  If they want more they should pay me more.”  The result of her desire for more money?  She’s fired and broke.

 

Sometimes what seems logical from a selfish point of view is actually the opposite of the strategy needed to get what you want.

 

If the manager were nicer and more patient and the husband was kinder and more understanding and the worker was inspired and did more than she was paid for it is likely they would all have gotten what they wanted.

 

Why do we choose to behave in a way that virtually guarantees we will get the opposite of what we desire?

#608 The Top Ten Percent

Posted by frank July - 28 - 2014 - Monday ADD COMMENTS

On the first day that I posted a job on Craig’s list for a new receptionist I received close to 300 resumes and had over 60 messages in my voicemail.  That’s a lot of reading and listening so I had to develop criteria to sort through them quickly.  I decided that if a candidate simply forwarded their resume but wrote nothing in the body of the email, they were put aside without reading.  As I went through the 50+ phone messages if I heard “I seen your ad on Craig’s list” I hit delete.  If I heard a dull, lifeless voice, I hit delete.  What remained after the first pass were about 30 candidates, roughly 10 percent of those who’d applied.

There may have been some gems in those forwarded resumes and some of the folks on the phone may have been upbeat, personable people who were distracted for a moment when they made the call, but as Samuel Jackson said to John Travolta in Pulp Fiction, “And sewer rat might taste like pumpkin pie but I wouldn’t know it because I’d never eat the filthy__________.”

Always give more than is expected; under promise, and over deliver. Don’t aim to satisfy, strive to delight.  Always focus on the task at hand and bring your A game to every important encounter.   Employers, clients, coaches, judges and potential mates are constantly using their own criteria (similar to mine) and sorting through applicants to choose the right one.

2014 Motto: Mindful in Every Moment and Grateful for Every Day

#607 All of the People

Posted by frank July - 21 - 2014 - Monday ADD COMMENTS

Last week, after Weekly Thought came out I had two quick replies in my email.  One said “Wow Frank, I’m going to print this and hang it on my wall.  Thanks!”  The other said “UNSUBSCRIBE FROM WEEKLY THOUGHT”

There was a time when the unsubscribes rankled me; a time where I may have sought to sooth my injury by writing back to the” unsubscriber” to ask what I did that offended him to the point of clicking that cleaving link.   But, gladly, that time is behind me.  While any comment or rejection piques my desire to improve, I have learned the meaning of an expression my Mom used often; “One man’s food is another man’s poison.” 

Bill Cosby once said “The surest way to fail is to try to please everyone.” I understand Mr. Cosby to mean that you have to choose a direction and move toward it.  You can and should read the signs and adjust your course often, but the direction is up to you and lots of people would prefer that you go to other places.  I choose my subject each week and I know from the comments that I can only please some of the people some of the time.

Of course I prefer “Wow Frank, I’m going to print this and hang it on my wall.  Thanks!” to, UNSUBSCRIBE FROME WEEKLY THOUGHT but in the end, I’m just happy to have the continual desire to observe and write each week and have an audience to share with.

2014 Motto: Mindful in every moment and grateful for everyday

 

Wherever you go, you take yourself with you

Posted by frank July - 14 - 2014 - Monday 1 COMMENT

“Wherever you go, you take yourself with you.”

 

I have been inside many companies and have spoken to thousands of employees and without fail those who have a negative approach believe that their company is the worst; that the levels of backbiting and incomprehensible management decisions are somehow peculiar to their place of business.  “Wherever you go, you take yourself with you.”

Happiness is not about what is going on around you; it is all about what is going on inside of you.  There are some people you bring into a million dollar mansion and the first thing they point out is that a picture on the wall is crooked.  This is what I believe,  If you aren’t happy in a one bedroom apartment you won’t be happy in that mansion either. 

 

All of these expressions are about the same thing.  Happiness comes from within, as does success.  You have no doubt heard “Success breeds success.”  That is what you can take away from today’s message.  It starts with YOU.  If you have a winning attitude, you will win.  It is as simple as that.  So how do you develop this?  There are a number of ways but I will just site one for now.  Have you ever noticed how many people go around looking for what’s wrong like we were giving out a prize for finding it?  How do you feel around those people?  Do you think that attitude can bring long term success?

 

Try this:  Notice what you like and talk about it.  Give a few sincere compliments.  See what people are doing well and point it out to them.  YOU will walk away feeling better and the better you feel the more you will like what you are doing and the more you like what you are doing the harder you work at it and the harder you work the more success you will have and the more success you have the better you will feel and the better you feel, and on and on and on and on.

Hard Work Wins! #605

Posted by frank July - 7 - 2014 - Monday ADD COMMENTS

Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.  My good friend Barry Farber said that as he introduced my first CD entitled Are you Lazy or do you Simply Lack Talent?”

Barry hit the nail on the head with that expression.  No matter what you do, you will find that there are people who just naturally seem to do it a little better.  Some things come easier to some people than they do to others.  The secret to success though is not to be born with talent; we don’t get to choose that.  Success is all about the work.  You may not have the same natural ability as another person but you can choose to out-work and out-hustle anyone they put next to you.  If you put in the work the talent will come.  I know that there are those who are naturally gifted.  Michael Jordan, Mohammed Ali and Jerry Rice come to mind, but the truth is that superstars are that rare combination of hard work AND talent.  These guys are known for their talent but if you read about each of them, their work ethic is what brought them to super-stardom. 

You can choose, every day, to put out a Jordan-like effort.  You can decide to train in your field as hard as Ali and Rice did in theirs.

I promise you that if you put in this kind of effort in your endeavors, you will be a superstar in your field.

 

2014 Motto: “Mindful in every moment and grateful for every day”

The Amazing Joe Sclafani #604

Posted by frank June - 30 - 2014 - Monday ADD COMMENTS

Joe and I have been business associates for about twenty five years.  Our relationship has transcended business and through our friendship I have learned what a quality person Joe is.

I mention this because last week Joe was entertaining a member of his company who was visiting New York from Europe.  Joe asked if he could bring the man in to see me since the purpose of his trip was to interview customers in the US. 

What I want to relate here has nothing to do with the meeting and everything to do with a recurring theme here on weekly thought; listening.

When Joe stepped out of the room for a moment his guest, Valentine, said to me.  ‘Thank you for allowing me to come and visit.”  I wanted to make it clear to him that Joe was the reason he was there because this guy worked for the home office and I wanted to “Hoist Joe’s flag” a bit if I could.  So I said, “No problem Valentine, I would do anything for Joe as, I’m sure, most of his customers would.”  Valentine looked at me and smiled and while his English was pretty damn good, he said something with his quaint accent, and slightly improper choice of words that captured the essence of good listening.  He said, “Yes I understand.  Joe is a terrific guy.  When I talk to him he listens like he is really interested.  Not like a trick, but really.”  I surreptitiously took a note so I could share it with you. “He is interested; not like a trick, but really.” 

Kinky Freidman once said, ‘If you could fake sincerity you’d rule the world.”  That line always made me laugh because the definition of sincerity is that it isn’t faked!

That’s what Valentine meant when he complemented Joe and I can attest to his assessment.  Joe does listen with genuine interest.  That’s a big part of what makes him the number one ranked rep at his company and a man with a life rich with good friends and good relationships.

This week, listen with sincere interest…NO TRICKS!

2014 Motto…“Mindful in Every Moment and Grateful for Every Day”