The art of bringing others along.

The art of bringing others along.

If you happen to be a human, you are in the business of people. It doesn’t matter what you do. At some point, you interact with others. Eventually you may also need to have some level of influence in those interactions. In today’s workplace environments, EQ (emotional intelligence) has become far more important than IQ. Mostly because, as a collective of individuals we have discovered that we work better and faster when we work together. So HOW we work together with others has become a much more valuable tool than one’s own individual level of knowledge. There are plenty of us still out there, though, who haven’t quite figured that out yet. Our egos have been stroked for years due to our level of intelligence and then one day we find ourselves in a position where we may have all the knowledge but nobody wants to listen to anything we have to say. There’s probably good reason for that. People around you may not feel needed. And you may not realize that others have important things to offer.

This post will be all about connecting those things. Since it is often easy for us to apply some form of this to our own lives and internally respond with “I do those things” I will also be sharing what some opposites might look like. If both sides apply, then some work will need to be done to make improvements wherever necessary.

The art of bringing others along has to naturally begin with letting go of “self.” Realizing you are not the only relevant party in the matter and that you need everyone else on board in order to move forward. That’s right. It’s not all about you. It’s not about your killer ideas, your wit or your intellect. Because you may have the best idea that ever existed, but if nobody is willing to come alongside and help you fulfill the idea, its utterly meaningless. Which is why it’s even better if the ideas don’t come from you.

I understand “letting go of self” can sound very broad and even much easier said than done. So we are going to spend some time in some specifics to help get started. The important part is being aware of these situations as they arise and then purposeful in how you respond.

Here are a few steps in the art of bringing others along.

1.Be Humble.
There is a lot here and it will take some time to unpack. So let’s get started. This is the first step for a reason and probably the most difficult. Pride is the most common pitfall I have seen amongst those who fail at bringing others along. There was a young man I worked with years ago who felt he was ready to lead a team. The problem was, the team didn’t like him. Sure, he was good at his job, but he was terrible at helping others become good at their jobs. So if somebody is great at their job but can’t figure out how to communicate why they are good at their jobs, or help convince others that they can be better without sounding like an asshole, they probably shouldn’t be in a position to lead. Since this person thought he was the best at his job and everyone else was terrible, nobody cared to listen to him. He only made everyone else feel terrible about themselves. He was the best and they could never be like him.

Some of the best Leaders I know are quite the opposite. They believe their team holds the best ideas and the best answers to the most difficult questions. They don’t pretend to know it all. They don’t feel the need to answer every question that is asked in a group of people. They allow others to share in the decision making. So let’s talk about this more; our interactions with others.

2. Know your audience.
This is two fold. We have two types of audiences, our peer group and those above us. It is our responsibility to know both. And by “know,” I mean, actually know them. What drives them. What they are in to. How they learn. Why they respond to things the way that they do. One of the most important things you can know about somebody is what their aspirations are. To share ones hopes and dreams with another is a special thing. Mostly because it has no benefit to you in anyway. Its out of a place of care and getting to know somebody else. There is nothing that can be accomplished without a strong foundation amongst your audience. All audiences are NOT equal. They do not respond the same way. Do not make the mistake of addressing each one similarly. For example, a peer group of intellectuals do not like being told what to do. They appreciate being a part of the problem solving. While on the opposite end of the spectrum, sitting around a table with an audience of people above you, might appreciate a big picture view rather than being involved in all of the details. Know the type of audience you are dealing with and how to approach them.

3. You’re not the smartest person in the room.
So maybe you are. But it’s likely you’re not. And remember, we need each other. Your area of expertise is probably different from somebody else. At least it should be. Here’s the deal. You could very well be the smartest person in the room. However, nobody and I mean NOBODY should know that you think that. It is one thing to be the smartest person in the room, its an entirely other thing to be the person that thinks they are the smartest in the room. People can tell when you think that. And it reeks. Bringing others along will not come from a talking head. It requires collaboration. I am very lucky to work for an incredible Leader. One who asks our opinions. One who refuses to move on unless we collectively agree on something and allows us to be honest with our thoughts and opinions so we can respectfully argue it out if necessary. He could easily veto us for the sake of moving on. But he does’t. He believes the best idea wins. So we talk through our ideas and refine them together. We all add value. Every person has something to add. Give them the opportunity. This brings me to my next point.

4. Give credit where credit is due.
A quick and sure way to bring others along is to publicly give credit for their great idea. If you’re on a winning team, and it’s getting attention, give proper credit. This goes a long way. Shining light on your talent is imperative. It shows them that you see their value and think others should know of it as well.

On the flip side of this, if you happen to be right when you had the best idea, and somebody else was against it – steer clear from “I told you so.” This does the opposite. It make others feel small and devalued. They will be less likely to offer their ideas or support in the future. You are no longer a safe place to bring ideas. You are a person who’s ego is most important; not them.

5. Genuinely care about people.
This sounds easy but people can tell when you are faking it. They can also tell when they are being manipulated. I’ve seen people turn this on when they want to get promoted. I’ve also seen people turn this on when they are about to get fired. Caring about others out of self-preservation or for the sake of self-promotion is shallow and people see right through it. Caring about others should be a constant. When it comes to bringing others along, there is no compromise here. You need to have been unwavering in your care for others. From the beginning and all the way to the end. It has to be authentic and relentless. This will help others know your intent in the midst of more difficult conversations. They will be more likely to listen out of respect, knowing you care deeply about them.

6. Ask good questions.
Asking great questions goes a long way. And is helpful in many scenarios. There will be times where you were not brought along in a decision making process. And perhaps you strongly disagree with a decision. How somebody responds in these particular scenarios says a lot about their character. They can either go on the attack and name all the reasons why it was the wrong decision, or they can ask questions. The latter tends to show far more maturity. Seeking to understand rather than insisting to be understood is a fundamental approach to being a part of something bigger than yourself. Once you have all of the information (that you may not have been a part of in the first place), you may discover why a particular decision was made. Also, once somebody else has made their case, and you potentially still disagree, you now have an opportunity to offer a different perspective and ask for their opinion. This is a far more respectful approach, where others will be willing to listen because you also took the time to hear them out.

7. Be wiling to be persuaded.
This post is not about getting your way. This post is about the art of bringing others along. With that being said, sometimes we are wrong. And if we are trying to help others understand our perspective, we better be willing to hear out and try to understand theirs. Even more, we should be willing to change our mind. Are you a safe place? Are you somebody that others can come to and be honest with? I am not telling you to be someone who allows their minds to be changed on every little thing, that does not go over well. I’ve seen it. But asking others to hear you out, requires that you do the same. Otherwise, you are just a dictator. Listening with a willingness to be persuaded shows that you are invested in the dialogue. You are willing to hear somebody out because you care about them and what they have to say. And remember, you aren’t the smartest person in the room. Be a great listener. Be wiling to admit defeat or when an idea is better than your own. Then tell others why it was better.

Bringing others along, truly is an art. It’s give and take. “My way or the highway” just doesn’t fly anymore. And it shouldn’t. We are stronger and better together. Mathematically, multiple brains are far better than one. If we hope to influence or lead people in the future, this is absolutely something we need to get right. It will come with a lot of trial and error. Approaching others with humility will go a long way.

So where can you improve? Is there an audience you could get to know a little better? Could you stand to work on some of your personal relationships? Are you willing to be persuaded? Take one step today. See how it impacts your conversations.

“Change your vocabulary!” she said.

internal dialogue, positivity, give yourself more credit

This morning my eyes opened prior to my alarm going off. This happens 1-2 times a week. It’s rare because I generally close at work and then force myself to wake up at an absurd hour to get my work out in and my writing done the next morning.

After spending a good 15 to 20 minutes procrastinating on social media sites, I finally rolled out of bed. It was a mild 44 degrees outside. Not too bad for a winter’s day in January. Checking the weather tends to be one of the first things I do in the morning. Mostly because it will determine how the next hour or so of my life will go. I will either go for a run or ride my bike, followed by some type of strength training.

I bundled up. Long socks, pants, down vest, beanie, gloves and prepared to brave the cold for a 3 mile run.

As I am stretching and getting ready to head out, my sister texts me. It’s pictures of triathlon outfits for her upcoming Iron Man. She’s been training hard. I try to keep up to give her some company, but she is beginning to outpace me in her activities now. She’s a machine.

After telling her to stick with the unitard (because when do you ever get to tell somebody that), I inform her that I am heading out on my “measly 3 mile run.” (She’s been running 7-12 miles multiple times a week for her training). Before I put my phone away, the screen lit up one last time. “Change your vocabulary!” she said.

My sister is on a positivity kick. Which is not a bad idea for somebody training for an Iron Man. I tend to be pretty positive, myself. I’d probably describe it as one of my defining attributes. But we can’t always be perfect.

I attempted to justify my negative tone by using comparison to her current training regime.

Then I took off.

It was windy and cold but after my first 5-10 minutes in, I felt great. I only passed by two other people out exercising. This might be normal for somebody like my Dad who literally lives in the middle of the woods. But I live in a Master Planned community. A very active one, I might add. Strollers, bikes and doggies abound. So at nearly 8AM, with almost nobody else outdoors, I felt pretty good about not only my measly 3 miles, but just getting out of the house when most others chose to stay inside.

My sister’s phrase stuck with me. And I had a couple of realizations while I was out on my run.

  1. We don’t give ourselves enough credit. This can often lead to then convincing ourselves that some things just aren’t worth it. I could have said, “3 measly miles is pointless. I’m just going to stay in my warm bed today.” And let that be it. No forward progress. But the truth is, regardless of the actual distance, I am consistent. Which I probably don’t give myself enough credit for. Sure its only 3 miles, but 3 miles 3-5 times a week, consistently for 5 years is a pretty solid accomplishment. I’m confident there are many things in our lives that we don’t give ourselves enough credit for. A big reason for that is my next point.
  2. ComparisonIf we compare ourselves to others, there is always somebody else we will fall short next to. What does that mean, you might ask? It’s likely there is always somebody out there who might be better than us (unless you hold some world record and in that case, good for you). So we can attempt to hold ourselves to somebody else’s unrealistic standards (for us) OR we can set our own standards, achieve them, and feel great about it. And then continue to compete with ourself.

We need to change our internal dialogue. To one that is affirming. One that tells us we can and we are worth it. Not just with exercise but with goals and aspirations. And then celebrate ourselves when we accomplish something we set out to do. Reward your hard work, determination and follow-through. Don’t waste your time, energy or brain power on comparison. It’s futile. The best musicians, artists, entrepreneurs and doctors did not get there overnight or by comparison, but through determination and practice. Consistency over time and something else very important.

Belief.

Belief in themselves. Belief in their abilities. Belief that nobody else was going to do the work them. Most importantly, belief that it is worth it.

So get out there. Stop comparing yourself. Give yourself more credit.

Change your vocabulary.

Let’s dream again.

dream, more than dreamers

Good morning.

It’s 2017. I know it’s hard to believe. It feels like the last 6 months or so have been a whirl wind of chaos and emotions resulting from this year’s election.

It has silenced me as well. Regardless of what side of it you are on, people have been in an uproar.

It’s been a bit weird to even speak. Everyone on edge. It hasn’t been easy. Let’s just put it that way.

I’ve personally felt a pressure to not run around and remind everyone to pursue their dreams because, well, it felt a bit insensitive.

But as I wait here, for months, and realize the shift is not occurring, I’ve discovered something. This is not going to be a quick recovery.

We aren’t bouncing back from this as quickly as the media changes their story; perhaps because the media has not shifted their story. ..which is an entirely separate bag of worms we won’t get into right now.

So, do we just stay here? In our frustration and our indifference?

I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’ve waited long enough.

A while back, I wrote a post on fear. Fear is something that; if one does something of actual meaning, fear will be involved. The point is, that we can not allow it to paralyze us or disarm us. In my own words, “we need to do that shit afraid.”

And currently, I think that’s where we need to arrive.

These current feelings of frustration may not subside for quite some time. But we can not allow it to paralyze us. For us to hide out and be angry. To constantly lash out at one another.

We need forward motion. Forward progress. We need to dream and push through in spite of these feelings.

So I want to encourage you today, right where you are at, as you read this, to make a choice. A choice for forward motion. A choice of action. A choice in spite of fear. A choice to do more than dream.

And let’s support one another in this. To dream. To live. To love in spite of shortcomings.

So what are you going to do different? How will you take action towards your aspirations today? What’s 3 easy steps you can take right now to gain some traction? How can you help somebody else?

We’re in this together. Let’s go for it.

It’s 2017. Now What?

2017 Life Planning

It was about mid-November that I stopped watching the news. I also have been heavily avoiding social media.

I made it through the holidays and then all of a sudden realized it was 2017.

For most of those that know me, they know that I am a planner. But this year, I have struggled a bit.

I didn’t actually sit down and begin even thinking about 2017 until yesterday, January 3rd.

I am not a resolutions person by any means. But I do believe in preparing for my year and at least establishing a theme for what I hope to make of my upcoming year. January is also my birth month, so I tend to feel inspired for the whole new year of life that is ahead of me.

This January just hasn’t been like that.

To be fair, I have worked about 50 hours a week and had a lot to process in my personal life, but either way, dominique has not thought ahead as I usually do.

I know I would be insanely displeased with myself if I didn’t finally sit down and give 2017 a bit of thought.

Here’s what the process finally looked like.

  1. It was better late than never.
    Like I said, I would have been utterly disgusted with myself had I walked away from the New Year and not established any aspirations and ambitions for myself.
  2. I bought myself a new planner for the entire year.
    I’ve been a journal-er pretty much my entire life. Literally since I was 7. I still have the first journal. But more recently I have gotten into some more specific type of life mapping. There are a ton of planner varieties out there these days. I’ve heard of Happy Planners, Self-Journals and my new one: Passion Planner. I am by no means here to endorse any specific one. All of our needs are different, but this one allowed me to have a place for both my personal endeavors as well as my work ones. I also just need something physical to write in to keep me on task.
  3. I sat down and daydreamed.
    I know this is called “More Than Dreamers” but the dreaming part has to exist prior to the pursuit. Otherwise, we might as well call ourselves cats; running from random room to random room. The passion planner made it really easy for me to get some things out of my brain. Things that would bring me fulfillment. Then it had me write out some very practical things I can do right now to get started.
  4. I crafted a plan.
    Its important to know that this plan is not ironclad. Hell, I am hopeful to stick with it for at least a week. If I can do that, then I know I am in for an extended period of time. But either way, some structure must exist. I need a target to shoot for in order to track any potential progress made.
  5. I plan on doing it.
    For real. You’ve heard the quote…A goal without a plan is merely a wish. Unfortunately, we can’t wish our life into awesomeness. Otherwise this would be called “Wishful Dreamers.” It just doesn’t work that way.

Have you ever known somebody who just seemingly woke up one day and made a decision and then stuck by it? I know you have. Think about it. I am positive you know somebody who you hadn’t seen in a while (or maybe you did) Either way, they decided one day that they were finally going to do this healthy thing and lose a bunch of weight. You watch their weigh-loss journey on social media. They post inspirational quotes that talk about how nobody else did the work for them. Then boom! They show up to some event that you attended and are 50 pounds lighter and are glowing with confidence, telling everyone about their story because everyone wants to “know their secret.”

Yeah, there is no secret. The answer is something we all already know. Hard work and consistency. They finally just did it. Let go of their excuses and went for it.

So can you. So can I.

Who cares if it’s January 4th. Who cares if you haven’t let yourself dream in a while. You owe it to yourself. And remember, nobody else is going to do it for you.

So if you haven’t yet, take 20 minutes right now to step back and invest into your future. Without giving yourself an opportunity, you’re destined to stay the same person that you have always been.

Let’s do more than dream in 2017.