Frustrating Leaders

Sometimes people get the mistaken impression that the person they work for is not the brightest bulb on the tree. They think their boss may be a card or two short of a full deck. Perhaps they are not the sharpest knife in the set. 

Whatever clichéd insult they choose to use they are almost certainly mistaken. 

When we’re frustrated by the leaders above us in our organization we need to realize that somebody saw something in them. That is why they are in a leadership position. We need to look (sometimes we need to look hard) to discover for ourselves what their strengths are. Then we need to help them maximize their strengths. 

The best way to do that is to use our strengths to fill their gaps. You’re likely already well aware of those gaps. You’ve been complaining about them to anyone who would listen. You allow the gaps of the people above you to ruin your productivity and wreck your attitude. 

You let the shortcomings, both real and imagined, of the people above you in your organization have way more influence on your life than you should. You allow your frustrations to carry over to your personal life and impact those people most important to you. 

Stop that. Stop that because stopping that is completely within your control. When you decide to stop allowing other people’s possible shortcomings to frustrate you then you also decide to have a happier, more productive life. And career. 

When you use your strengths and skills to close some of the gaps of the people above you then you allow them to use their strengths to the best of their ability. Imagine the difference that can make for your organization, for your boss, and especially for you. 

I’m not as naïve as some of you might think. I know that sometimes people get promoted into leadership positions despite having some substantial gaps. Maybe it was nepotism, maybe it was knee pads, but whatever the case they are where they are at so deal with it. Professionally!

You were hired to do a job. You agreed to do that job for a certain level of compensation. If that level of compensation is being met then you have an obligation to do your job and to do it to the best of your ability. 

Allowing yourself to be frustrated by the leader above you negatively impacts your ability to do your job. Sharing those frustrations with co-workers negatively impacts their ability to do their jobs. 

None of that helps anyone. If you have a boss you struggle with then talk to them about it. Ask how you can help them eliminate the source of your frustration. As United States President John F. Kennedy once said, “Ask not what your company can do for you, ask what you can do for your company.” (Okay, I know he said country instead of company but you get the point)

Understand that your level of frustration is not determined by how frustrating someone else may be. It is determined but how much frustration you’re willing to allow into your life. 

I’d suggest you allow none!

On a completely different subject…I’m trying something new out over on Twitter. It’s called “Super Followers.” For $5 a month people can follow a part of my Twitter steam that is for subscribers only. It features primarily short videos of me talking about the kind of things I tweet and blog about. But the best part is I’m assuming there will be far fewer Super Followers than regular followers. That will give me the opportunity to answer questions more throughly than I can on regular Twitter. Most of the answers will come in the evening cause we all have day jobs, right? Think of it as ”mentoring on demand!”

You can find more information by clicking the Super Follow button on my Twitter profile page. http://twitter.com/leadtoday (You may need to refresh the page to see the Super Follow Button) Give it a try if you’re so inclined, I can’t promise it will last for a long time but I can promise the content will be helpful as long as it does. 

Powerful Thoughts 

It’s likely that the most powerful thing you possess are your thoughts. You may believe that you are in control of your life but that’s not exactly true. Your thoughts are in control of your life and it is anything but certain that you’re in control of your thoughts. 

Most people don’t give their thoughts a thought. Most people never think about what they are thinking. Almost no one stops long enough to think about where their thoughts originate. 

If you really want to be in control of your life then you need to be in control of your thoughts. You can’t do that until you understand that your thoughts originate with what you allow to enter your brain. 

What are your information sources? Who are you hanging around with and listening to? 

As I write this post I’ve just “learned” that it’s not actually Russian forces that are attacking Ukraine. The Russian government is allowing US Military forces to invade Ukraine so they can destroy the evidence that Joe Biden blackmailed the Ukrainian President. 

There are people who actually believe that crap. Now I’m no psychologist (no fan of Joe Biden either) but if you’re one of the people who believe stuff like that then you’re either a wacko (not an official medical term) or you’ve allowed so much garbage to enter your brain that you can no longer separate fact from fiction. 

The thoughts you allow into your head will shape the outcomes of your life. Yes, you need to know that there is misinformation out there. The only way to know that is to allow it into your head. BUT, you need a balance of information. You need to listen to things that you agree with and things that you don’t. 

Then you need to do something that appears to be increasingly difficult…you need to apply logic to the information you’ve heard. 

Matthew Taylor Coleman was unable to do that. He was just a typical dad with a loving wife and two adorable kids. He began listening to a bunch of conspiracy podcasts, filling his head with more garbage everyday. He listened long enough that he became convinced that he must kill his kids to rid the world of their “serpent DNA.” 

He was a normal guy, an average American who completely lost control of his thoughts. 

Clearly, that is an extreme case. Most of us will never come anywhere near that. But most of us will allow our thoughts, created by who knows what information, to shape our lives without giving those thoughts a second thought. 

Who and what are you allowing to influence your thoughts? Are you allowing a balance of information? Are you making sure the negative stuff doesn’t outweigh the positive stuff? Do you have a source of truth in your life that you can use to filter the information that your brain is exposed to? 

The most successful, happiest and healthiest people consider the origins of their thoughts. Think about that and then think about that. 

What Do YOU Control?

I was in a meeting with a team of high performing Sales Professionals and the discussion turned to all the things that frustrate salespeople. The list of frustrations for people who make their living selling has never been longer. Kinda like the list of frustrations for everyone. 

Most of the things that frustrated this group were things that they couldn’t control. Some of those things directly affected their paycheck and therefore their standard of living. Kinda like everyone else these days. 

Once we determined most of frustrations shared by these Sales Professionals were beyond their control we changed directions. We starting looking at the list of things they could control. They were a little surprised, maybe a lot surprised, that the list of what they had 100% control over was much longer than their list of frustrations. 

Kinda like the rest of us.  

It also became abundantly clear that this group of usually capable, well disciplined professionals were allowing the things they couldn’t control to prevent them from controlling the things they could. 

That happens to all of us sometimes, perhaps more than sometimes. Perhaps way more. 

But it’s so much easier to focus on the things we don’t control because we don’t have to expend any effort to correct them. What we don’t realize is that we’re still expending energy. It’s just wasted energy that we use to complain about the stuff we’re not expending energy on correcting. 

Yes, we are often forced to deal with things that we can’t control. Things that frustrate us immensely. But that doesn’t mean they have to control our life. 

You’ll be more successful if you use your energy to focus on the things YOU can control. You’ll also have a happier life. You’ll have a better attitude. You’ll be more productive. You’ll feel more in control. Actually, you won’t just feel more in control, you’ll have taken back control of your life. Even in these incredibly frustrating times. 

If you want control over your life then make yourself a list of all the things that you have control over in your life. I promise if you think this through it will be a long list. 

Some examples from my list include:

  • My attitude
  • My appearance (I dress exactly as I would if I was going to the office or meeting customers. The only difference is instead of a left turn to go into the garage I take three additional steps forward into my home office.) 
  • My level of productivity 
  • My response to the people I have contact with (despite what you may have heard there is no requirement that you allow someone else’s poor planning to become your problem)
  • My level of kindness towards others (there is never a reason to add to another person’s bad day)
  • My level of effort I put towards whatever I’m doing
  • My decisions
  • My level of commitment to earning what I’m paid (there is not and never will be any obstacle that can prevent you from giving your best effort…unless you allow it to)
  • My level of desire to help others succeed
  • My level of respect for people who I may disagree with or people who have very different viewpoints than my own
  • My level of empathy for people who are frustrated by the things they can’t control and haven’t learned to focus on the things they can

And the list could go on and on. 

Make your own list and share it for others in the comments section. Maybe we can help each other focus on the things we can control and decrease our level of frustration at the same time. 

Those would seem to be to be pretty good things to do. 

Leaving Life to Chance

Most people would describe themselves as relatively cautious. They say that they are willing to take some risks but there must be something in return. They say any risks that they do take are considered in advance. Most people are “careful,” or so they say. 

But watch them a while and ask a few, and I mean very few, questions and you’ll discover that they are in fact huge risk takers. They make huge gambles all the time. Taking chances that no truly prudent person would ever consider. 

So how would you describe yourself? Are you a person who makes well considered decisions or are you a Willy Nilly type who mostly throws caution to the wind and takes life as it comes. Asked another way…do you control your life or does your life control you?

You are free to disagree with this but I would submit to you that if you do not have written goals for your life along with a fairly detailed plan for how you will achieve those goals then you DO NOT have control over your life. 

If you’re thinking to yourself that you do have goals but they aren’t written down then you may be kidding yourself. You likely have dreams, aspirations, wants, and hopes but you DO NOT have true goals and the control over your life that comes with them. 

Write down those dreams. Write out a detailed plan that includes how much effort you’re willing to invest to make those dreams come true. Write down the date that effort will begin. Write down how many minutes or hours a day you will invest in turning that dream into an actual goal. Write down the month, day, and year you will achieve that goal. 

If you won’t invest the time to even write down the dream then other people and other events are controlling your life. If you don’t have a plan that turns your dream into a goal those other people and the events that they control will frustrate you even more than you realize.

Don’t leave your life to chance. Stop gambling that the life you want will happen as a result of other people’s plan for their lives. Stop hoping that “everything” will somehow magically turn out fine. Write out your goals and invest the time to plan them into reality. You’ll wake up every morning knowing without a doubt that you are the master of your universe. 

Without goals and plans you might as well be buying lottery tickets. Your chances of controlling those ping pong balls are about as good as your chances of controlling your life. 

Creating Your Personal Reality

It’s very likely that you are far more powerful than you think. So powerful in fact that you have the ability to create your own reality.

How do I know that about you? Well because you’re human. Every human has the ability to create their own reality. Not only do they have the ability, they in fact DO create their own reality. Every person on earth creates their own reality out of their thoughts.

What you think you become. What others think of you matters very little when compared to what you think of yourself. Negative thoughts about yourself linger for a long long time. Self-doubt kills more dreams than all other obstacles combined. Yes, even more than lack of money. Actually, lack of money isn’t much of an obstacle at all, far more dreams are killed by lack of effort than lack of money.

You attract people to you who are often identical to the person you believe you are. If you think you’re a loser than you’ll invite losers into your life. Now the term loser isn’t very nice but I can’t think of a more apt description. Misery indeed loves company and if you think you can’t succeed you’ll attract people who think the same as you.

Since we are all basically a compilation of the five people we spend the most time with you want to make certain your five people build you up. If those 5 people tell you often enough that you can succeed you may start to wonder if they could possibly be right…and that can be the start of something magical.

Henry Ford said “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.”

You have to be so careful about what you think. Your thoughts become your words and your words become your actions and your actions become your reality.

You’re creating your reality this very day. Everything you think, say and do plays a part in the future you’re creating for yourself. If you master the discipline of controlling your thoughts there won’t be much else in life you can’t master.

My recommendation is to start EVERY day with five minutes of positive self-talk. Those might be the most vital 5 minutes of your day. Those five minutes will set the tone for the next 1435 minutes of your day.

Those five minutes could very well change your life. Now that’s reality!

The Power of Attitude

When I was a young salesperson (yes, it was long ago) I made a cold call with my Sales Manager on a potential customer. The purpose of that call was to drop off some literature and get the name of the individual who made training decisions for the organization.

There were two pieces of literature I wanted to leave behind. As I reached into my folder to pull out the second one I saw the receptionist tossing my first piece into the waste basket. As I handed her the second piece I asked her what she just did with the first piece. She said “I speeded up the process.”

I said I didn’t understand. She then explained that if she gave the information to her boss he would just throw it away…so she was speeding up the process. I made some comment about her unprofessional behavior (which I shouldn’t have) and we left the building.

When we got back into the car I made a negative comment to my Sales Manager about the women who had thrown away our literature right in front of us. His reply surprised me.

He said “what woman?” “I don’t remember any woman, we have lots of calls to make, let’s keep going.”

Without saying anything else his point was made. He had made a choice, he wasn’t going to let anyone rob him of one his most precious assets, a positive attitude. He truly seemed to have put the whole thing out of his mind before we left the parking lot. He is likely to read this post and he won’t remember this at all but it’s just one of the many things Mark taught me. I on the other hand remember it very well and it happened almost 30 years ago.

And that’s one of the challenges I have long faced in my career, I allow too many things to have a negative impact on my attitude. And I hang onto them for too long. That’s bad but what’s worse is when I pass that attitude along to others.

There will always be “stuff” that gets us down. There will always be “things” that can negatively impact our attitude. But, and this but can make all the difference if you remember it…but it can only have a negative impact on our attitude if we allow it.

And that’s a choice.

On the days I remember that my attitude is my choice I always choose a positive attitude. On the days that I don’t remember to make the choice of a positive attitude other people and those “things” make the choice for me. It’s never the choice I would make.

I am willing to bet that many of you face that same struggle with the choice of a positive attitude. So here’s what I’m going to do…from this day forward there will be a reminder on my iPhone, it will be at 6:00am EVERY morning. That reminder will be one word…that word will be Choose. That will be my reminder to make my choice of a positive attitude.

I’d encourage you to do the same. The power of a positive attitude is so great that we can’t allow other people and “things” to choose a negative attitude for us.

When you control your attitude you control your life. If you don’t control your attitude then your life is out of control. That’s a fact we need to keep in mind if we want to be the ones to control our lives.

Real Decisions Require Action

Making decisions can be a challenge. Making real decisions is even more challenging. A real decision is one that brings about action. Real action.

Real action causes something to change. It may not change much for you but whatever change is caused by your actions sends a ripple effect to those around you. Hopefully you understand that. It means that your decisions and the actions that result from them don’t only affect you, they affect the people around you as well. Your actions can have a big impact on those closest to you.

If you understand that then you should know the reverse is also true. You will be affected by the decisions and actions of the people around you. The closer those people are to you the bigger the impact.

That’s why it’s so important that your decisions lead to action. It’s not really a decision if nothing different happens because of it. Without action nothing different will happen. For those of you who believe it’s sometimes best to not make a decision you should know that a decision to not decide IS a decision. It’s a decision to allow the decisions and actions of others to control and shape your life.

You can make a decision to “stand pat” or “sit tight” or whatever you want to call it but unless virtually ever other person in the world also does nothing then something is going to change for you.

The change may be small and it may take some time for you to realize the change happened but it will happen. The only question is do you want change to happen to you or because of you? Do you want to control the change in your life or are you willing to allow the change to control you?

You can decide whatever you want but if the decision isn’t followed up by some sort of action then you might as well not have decided at all.

You may be only one decision away from an entirely different life. You may be only one decision away from being able to maintain the life you have. Whichever is the case both require that your decisions include an action step.

The decisions that affect your life are being made ever day. You must decide if you want input into the effects of those decisions or you’re willing to let someone else choose your path.

Happiness requires some control over your life. That control can only come from deciding what you want and then taking action to make it happen. As we head into 2020 I don’t think I’m going to wish anyone a Happy New Year. I think I’ll wish people an Active New Year!