The Message They Give When They Say It’s Not Personal

Michael Corleone Sets a Tone for Many a Businessman

It’s a well remembered piece from the movies. That scene in The Godfather when Michael Corleone comes up with the plan to kill the rival mob boss and the corrupt police chief in one fell swoop. His brother Sonny laughs it off and reminds him that it is business and he is taking it personally. Michael replies “It’s not personal Sonny. It’s strictly business!”

It’s Not Personal

Have you ever heard somebody tell you, “don’t take it personal, it’s just business!”  It seems to happen whenever does something that they know is going to upset someone else. It’s a popular way to justify treating others badly for our own personal gain. It helps to avoid the emotional aftermath of a highly charged exchange.

It’s hard to say if it occurred before The Godfather came out or not. Yet for a long time, there was an emphasis on separating your personal life from your business life. After all, business is business. When you are at work there is simply work. Personalities, lives, emotions, the things that make us human all have no place in the world of business. Right?

Don’t Buy the Lie

It is all personal. Image of New impersonal person in a minimalist corporate officeBut the truth is you spend 1/3 of your day involved in the work that you do. Think about that for a moment. A twenty-four hour day. Let’s say you sleep for 6-8 hours (lucky you!). There is from 1/4 to 1/3 of your day right there; leaving 16 hours. Therefore, if you work full-time then a minimum of 50% of your waking hours is spent at work.

So you are being asked to put aside everything that is happening in your life for that 8+ hours. The stress not only of your life but your career as well. And when someone does something that causes a well-up of emotion in you, you are being asked to squelch it because, after all, it’s only business.

It’s ALL PERSONAL!

Don’t believe it! You are emotionally invested in the work you do. If you’re not, you have a whole other problem. I recommend changing jobs. You cannot perform your best unless you are emotionally invested. As a result, the work you do cannot help but be personal.

But it’s not to be taken personally. And that’s the key.

The Fine Line

So if it is all personal but not to be taken personally, how do you do that? Admittedly, it’s not easy. Especially when we emotionally invested there is a tendency to think that anything that gets in our way was put there specifically to stop us.

There is where the development of emotional maturity comes in. When we are emotionally secure we learn to express emotion, to feel it, and yet not let it push out of control. We balance the rational and the emotionally charged.

How to Avoid Taking It Personally

Here are four steps that are going to help you along that way to developing emotional maturity.

Recognize your true value.

Be always aware of what it is you add to a situation to make it better. When you understand what your true value is then you are less likely to take things personally.

Understand that no one really targets you personally.

Most people are way too wrapped up in their own lives to spend much time thinking about you. So when you think that someone is out to get you, actually they are probably not. I’m sure you have probably had your kids come to you and tell you, oh this teacher hates me. And the teacher probably isn’t giving them a second thought when they get home.

Take the time to communicate and listen with your leaders.

Communicate to them what your desires are, what your concerns are. But also listen to the input they have for you because you are going to find that a lot of times the reality is a lot different than your perception.

When you talk, avoid hyperbole.

Avoid saying things like “you always do this” or “you never do that”. Also avoid the negative people that are going to affect your life.

If you take these steps, you are going to get closer to being able to emotionally invest in your life and not take things personally.

What are your coping methods? How do you separate being personal and not taking it personally? Leave your comments here or email me at psimkins(at)BoldlyLead.com.

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Double-Dose of Leadership

John C. MaxwellWe had the benefit at the 2014 L2:Learn-Lead simulcast to hear from John C. Maxwell twice.  He opened the proceedings, which I documented in the post Why Leaders are Learners – Part I, and then closed it with another talk.  This was an excellent close for many, who left raving about what they learned from this.  I did too!

Leaders are Learners By What They Ask Themselves

John emphasized that the first place he looks to ask questions is to ask questions of himself.  The questions we ask ourselves direct us — and sometimes re-direct us — to keep us focused on our vision and goals.  They help us determine if we are improving, if we are making an impact, and if we are truly leading.
Asking yourself questions on a regular basis helps keep the main thing the main thing.  It keeps us from majoring in the minors and getting lost in the details.  It helps us maintain a big picture view.

Three Questions to Ask Yourself

1.  Am I investing in myself?
When we take time, energy, and money to invest in our own growth, we prepare ourselves to lead more effectively, to be a more productive contributor, and primarily to unlock more of the potential in others.
[snaptweet]It doesn’t get any better for my people until it gets better for me.[/snaptweet]
This requires DAILY, INTENTIONAL growth.  I call it being a 1%er.
[snaptweet]Focus on growing yourself by just 1% a day.[/snaptweet]  That seemingly small 1% compounds quickly and soon you find yourself doing great things before you realize it.
Three Investment Indicators
  1. MY SELF-IMAGE – How do I perceive myself?  Do I truly believe in myself?  Quickly gauge yourself on this on a scale of one to ten.  Where are you?
  2. MY DREAMS – Do I have BIG dreams of what I want to achieve?  Are they scary and yet exciting?  Quickly gauge yourself on this on a scale of one to ten.  Where are you?
  3. MY FRIENDS – The Law of Environment kicks in here.  Are the people around you encouraging and uplifting?  Do they challenge you?  Do they add value to you?  Are you able to encourage, uplift, challenge, and add value to them?  Quickly gauge yourself on this on a scale of one to ten.  Where are you?
We will only invest in ourselves if we can honestly rate ourselves high in these areas.
2.  Am I investing in the right people?
  1. Do they influence others?  Who do they influence?  How many do they influence?
  2. Do they have potential to grow?
  3. What is their attitude and competence level?
  4. Chemistry Factor – Do they fit into the formula?  Do I like them?  Do others like them?
  5. Passion Factor – Do they have a genuine passion for what they do?  Are they motivated?
  6. Character Factor – Do their character traits fit in with the character traits I desire for my team?  Are they grounded?  Trustworthy?
  7. Values Factor – Are their values compatible with the team or organization (or my) values?  Critical to have this for the right culture within your team or organization.
[snaptweet]Culture eats vision for lunch![/snaptweet]
  1. Team Work Factor – Are they able to fit in and perform well as part of the whole?  Or are they a lone wolf?
  2. Support Factor – Are they supportive of other team members and organization objectives?  Can they support and complete me?
  3. Creative Factor – Can I count on them to seek out creative solutions to challenges?  Can they find possibilities out of impossibilities?
  4. Options Factor – Can they give me options?
  5. Ten Percent Factor – Can they give me the last 10%?  All the fruit is in the last 10%.  Can they stay for the harvest?
3. Am I genuinely interested in people?
Leaders see more than others see and see before others see.  Do I really care for others?  If so, I can use my advantage to add value to others.  If not, I will only use it to add value to me.

Where did you find yourself on this?  What questions do you ask yourself regularly?  Do you set aside time to think?

Add your thoughts and comments below.
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Inspired Leaders Have GRIT

On October 10, 2014 I was blessed to be a host for L2:Learn-Lead, the new annual leadership simulcast produced by the John Maxwell Company.  In the last post, I shared the opening keynote by John C. Maxwell to initiate this series.  Today, I want to share some of the thoughts from Linda Kaplan Thaler.

About Linda

Linda Kaplan ThalerLinda is the co-founder and head of Publicis Kaplan Thaler, a marketing and advertising firm.  She is definitely a leader within her industry; creative and innovative.  She knows how to get things done.  Among the many claims to fame she has is the creation of the Kodak Moment, the AFLAC Duck, and the Toys R Us Kid jingle.  She is also co-author of a few books, including The Power of Nice: How to Conquer the Business World with Kindness.

GRIT Creates Extraordinary

Linda spoke on GRIT: How Ordinary People Become Extraordinary.  GRIT is an acronym for Guts, Resilience, Industriousness, and Tenacity.  Here are some of Linda’s thoughts from her talk:
  • 98% of highly successful people were considered average.
    • Walt Disney was fired from his first job for being “uncreative”
    • General Colin Powell was a C- student
    • Michael Jordan wasn’t good enough to make his high school varsity basketball team
    • What makes the difference is their GRIT.
[snaptweet]Anyone with perseverance and pluck can go from ordinary to extraordinary. -Linda Kaplan Thaler[/snaptweet]
  • If you are brave enough, stop dreaming and start doing!
[snaptweet]I never spent one minute dreaming about success. I worked for it. -Estee Lauder[/snaptweet]
  • Overprepare and outwork everyone else
  • We get easily distracted and need to refocus on where we are going.

Four Keys to Help Stay on Track

  1. SOLVE SMALL PROBLEMS – when you resolve the small problems that pop up regularly, it prepares you to solve the big problems.
  2. MAKE YOUR BED – Military recruits are taught early on how to make their bed first thing every morning and to make it neat and precise.  Part of the reason is discipline but a good deal of it is that you accomplished something immediately.  If you accomplish nothing else that day, you made your bed.
  3. FINISH WHAT YOU START – With busy schedules and competing priorities, it’s easy to jump from one thing to another and not really finish anything.  Successful people finish.
  4. FORGET WILLPOWER – No one has enough willpower to stay the course consistently simply based on their will.  Develop habits and create situations that take willpower out of the equation.
Next post will cover Tim Sanders thoughts from L2:Learn-Lead.

Action Items:

  1. How will you apply this to your life?
  2. What do you need to change?
  3. What should you share or teach to others?
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Hitting the Wall

Do you find yourself, or someone you work with, becoming a clock watcher?  You know, waiting for the hands of the clock to point to quitting time so you can hurry out the door and do something exciting.

Why Do You Do What You Do?

Dog SingingIt’s been said in various forms that runners run, writers write, teachers teach, and speakers speak.  And they do it because they have a passion for doing it.  They can’t imagine doing anything else.  They can’t imagine not having that as a part of their lives.
You may remember the scene from the movie, Sister Act 2, starring Whoopie Goldberg.  She is dressed as a nun and talking to Rita, a girl who is the best singer in the choir.  Rita has quit, pretending like she didn’t care, even though it is quite obvious she loves to sing.  Whoopie tells her  “If you wake up in the morning, and you can’t think of anything but singing, then you should be a singer, girl!

It’s passion.

Passion provides clarity, it helps us discern direction, and it fuels our actions.  When we are passionate about something, we feel compelled to act towards it.  The more that passion builds, the more we feel compelled to take action.
The opposite effect is, one that I have seen too many times in too many organizations, is people becoming passion-less. They have absolutely no passion for what they are doing and they become like the walking dead.  In fact, John Maxwell said that passionless people ARE dead, they just haven’t made it official yet.
So remember this:
[snaptweet]No matter what your formula for success is, if it doesn’t factor in passion, it just doesn’t add up.[/snaptweet]

So how you discover or re-awaken that passion?

  • WHAT MAKES YOU SING, WHAT MAKES YOU CRY – Look at your daily or weekly activities.  You will find your passion in either the things that make you shout for joy when you do them or the things the tug at your heart so much that you feel compelled to action.  You will discover the little nuggets of passion inside these things.
  • WHAT’S THE END RESULT YOU DESIRE – What do you want to accomplish?  In a business environment, that doesn’t mean job description or corporate objectives. It means what is the end result, what do you really want to see happen here?
    For example, for me what I want to see happen is that I manage to inspire people and businesses to engage in continual, daily growth so that they become the best that they can be; they can realize their potential and become more effective and more profitable at what they do.  And that drives me to do what I do.
  • WHAT CAN YOU LET GO OF TO DO MORE OF WHAT YOU WANT TO DO – While it’s true that passion fuels action, it’s also true that action fuels passion.  The more you do those things you enjoy doing or feel compelled to do, the more your passion builds for them and the more effective you are going to become.

What about you?  Share here how you feel about what you do and how you build your passion.

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Cuz I’m Happy!

You have mostly certainly heard it and perhaps seen it.  The song from the movie Despicable Me 2 called Happy.
The song from Pharrell Williams became enormously popular.  The video went viral on the Internet and there is actually a 24 hour music video web site called 24hoursofhappy.com.  Go there and watch at any time of day or night.  The site automatically detects your local time and cues up and plays a video of someone dancing and liHappyp syncing to the song.  Different person and different surroundings depending on the time of day.  It’s a neat little diversion.

What Makes Happy

When I ask people what they really want in life or in business, I hear a lot of the standard replies. “I’d like a better career”, “I’d like to make more money” (hear that one a lot), a better car, a better house, sometimes it’s even “if only I could find the person of my dreams”.
We have a tendency to assign our happiness out to other things and other people as if someone else or something else is responsible for our happiness.
Even when we know, or think we know, what we really need to be happy we let other things get in the way.  We live in a world of instant gratification and so we sometimes take what’s right in front of us instead of what we really want or need to find our happiness.
Zig Ziglar said it best,
[snaptweet]The chief cause of failure and unhappiness is trading what we want most for what we want right now.[/snaptweet]

It’s Your Job

We have to take responsibility for our happiness.  We need to take the necessary actions to achieve that happiness.
[snaptweet]Happiness comes in your reaction to the circumstances, not the circumstances themselves.[/snaptweet]

Work towards the happiness that you truly desire.

  • Take Responsibility for Your Happiness – Don’t try to delegate your happiness out to someone or something else. You and you alone are the determinant for your happiness.
  • Set the Right Priorities to Move Towards Happiness – We let things of the day interfere but when we understand what our priorities are, then that helps us make the decisions to stay on target and moving in the right direction.  It creates focus.
  • Be Positive in Your Daily Outlook – Things happen every day that can be potentially negative.  The positive thinker tries to find the good or benefit in every situation.  It’s not sticking your head in the sand, it is simply refusing to anguish over what we don’t have and work with what we do have to create the best possible scenario.
  • Make Gratitude a Daily Practice – There is both research and anecdotal data suggesting again and again that a regular dose of gratitude leads to a happier life.  In the face of all that, we often fail to show gratitude for what we have, instead focusing on what we don’t have.  Each day, for thirty days, write down at least one thing for which you are grateful.  It must be a different thing each day.  That will build the habit of gratitude thinking.
  • Nurture Relationships – Happiness is built when we are in relationship with other people.  Not one of us on the earth is built to be a hermit!  We are made for relationships.  That does not necessarily mean romantic relationships, but valuable friendships and even acquaintances that build us up and care for us.
  • Be in the Moment – Focus on the now.  When we look back at what was or spend too much time hoping tomorrow is better, we fail to appreciate or fully leverage the moment we have right now.  Wherever you are, be there with your heart, mind, and soul.

So, what’s your action plan?  How are you going to move towards happiness?   Share your thoughts here.

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