Advice and Attitudes

I’m tempted to initiate our conversation by saying, “There are two types of people: ….” Since my plan is to talk about advice and attitudes, I think it will suffice to simply remind us that there are people who ask for advice and those who actually follow it only when the advice we offer is an exact fit with what they wanted to hear. They are usually the same people. Hannah Whitall Smith understood the key to advice giving when she pointed out, “The true secret of giving advice is, after you have honestly given it, to be perfectly indifferent whether it is taken or not, and never persist in trying to set people right.”

If that adequately sets the stage for both of us, let me suggest that attitude matters, and quite often, attitude is all that actually matters. If you doubt the truth of this putative fact of life and living, let me share the perspectives of some other folks who have given a lot of thought to the notion. From there, you can and of course, will draw your own conclusion. In turn, I will remain perfectly indifferent to your personal conclusion and will not persist in trying to set you right.

The first point about attitude is that attitude is nothing more complicated than knowing that we always get to decide what our attitude is today. It’s just a state of mind that we impose on our current situation or circumstance. It works like this.

From Annie Gottlier, we get this. “It’s so hard when I have to, and so easy when I want to.”

Publius Terentius Afer puts it this way. “There is nothing so easy but that it becomes difficult when you do it reluctantly.”

Leland Val Van de Wall makes the same point like this. “You only have to do something until you want to do it, then you won’t have to do it any more.”

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If You Only Learn One Leadership Lesson, This Is A Very Good Choice

alciccioli, Greg. The Enemies of Excellence: 7 Reasons Why We Sabotage Success. Crossroad: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 2011.

Few people consider how to sustain their success because they’re too busy trying to achieve it.

Most leaders want to be the best people they can be and to lead with excellence. They want to thrive, and they want the people around them to thrive. They have the best of intentions.

Success is inherently unstable. The skills it took to establish success cannot sustain it.

A high-profile leader is surrounded by people who are hungry for the leader’s success. They want him to succeed, and if the price for that is to overlook a few red flags here and there, so be it. The greater the success, the greater the danger.

To deal the fatal blow to egotism, you must identify what you desire as the outcome of your life and leadership. You need to ask yourself: Are you striving to reach just another self-centered summit, or are you leading people and the organization you serve towards something higher?

…influence, more than intelligence, is the sign of the greatest leaders.

Have you noticed that work is always present and, like fire, is never satisfied?

The best way to build character is to define it, practice it, and defend it. Once you define your character so that you clearly understand it, you can practice it in everyday life and leadership. This increases your character competency and prepares you to defend it when you face the Enemy of Indulgence.

We need to invite the right people into our lives and grant them permission to review who we are and how we live. When we choose our own accountability partners, we gain people we can trust, and that trust leads to greater vulnerability. To be vulnerable is to be open to correction and criticism.

The self-deception of many leaders begins with the Enemy of Egotism. A leader believes “I really know what is best for me, my team, and this organization.” Notice I say that he believes it, not that it is true.

Yet herein lies the problem. Most leaders who enjoy rapid success experience a serious gap. Because success has come so quickly, and character is slower to develop than talents and abilities, their character is inevitably less developed than their talents. Yet, like all of us, they need character to sustain success.

A leader in emergency mode is just trying to put out fires in his personal life. He is too tired to do things right and well, so he tries just to “get it done.” This approach inevitably can’t solve problems, breeds more Bad Habits, and merely fuels the leader’s failure.

You need to succeed, but in fact, we all need you to succeed.

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Tweets vs. Action

According to KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, they believe actions speak louder than tweets. I don’t know the context for their mentioning this, but I definitely agree. How about you?

I will leave you to your own speculation about who or what comes to mind when the subject of tweets comes up. I only caution you to avoid conflating tweeting with doing, tweeting with thoughtful discourse, tweeting with reality.

Although tweets and tweeting are fairly recent innovations, the idea of communicating through compact pronouncements is not. Let’s try a few examples that would have worked quite well as tweets, had the option been available at the time. I have picked out examples that may have best been directed to today’s most prolific tweeters. May I suggest that you focus on a specific tweeter, if one comes to mind. That will help when considering the fit between tweets and action, as KLM suggested.

#JohnLocke “I have always thought the actions of men the best interpreters of their thoughts.”

#BenjaminFranklin “Well done is better than well said.”

#AlfredAdler “Trust only movement. Life happens at the level of events, not of words. Trust movement.”

#HenryJKaiser “If your work speaks for itself, don’t interrupt.”

#AndrewCarnegie “As I grow older I pay less attention to what men say. I just watch what they do.”

#LewisCass “People may doubt what you say, but they will believe what you do.”

And of course, a good tweet session would hardly be complete without some old wisdom that comes from #Me “When all is said and done, don’t turn out to be the one for whom much is said but little is done.; for if your action can’t speak for its self, more tweets won’t do much to make your case.”

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Too Smart to be That Dumb

There are many reasons why some of us succeed while others of us are only getting by. One of the more hidden reasons is directly related to how successful people – yes, all of them — communicate. They always have smart conversations. While others are having simple conversations, the successful are doing smart, without anyone noticing. Do you communicate for success? I doubt that you ever do otherwise. I am assuming that you are too smart to be that dumb. Listen and hear how it works.

Naturally Selected

an Vugt, Mark, and Anjana Ahuja. Naturally Selected: Why Some People Lead, Why Others Follow, and Why It Matters. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., 2011.

If you’re concerned about the amount of time your underlings spend around the water cooler – don’t be. Gossip is an entirely natural and frankly ineradicable method of winkling out unsuitable managers, although you might not be so keen on office hydration if you’re an office ogre.

Still, the fact is that we are ancient brains trying to make our way in an ultra-modern world; when shiny new corporate ideas rub up against our creaking, millennia-old psyches, the clash can make us feel uneasy. … nobody wants workplaces to become havens of primitivism, but we do seem happiest when our working environments echo facets of ancestral tribal life – a close-knit structure governed loosely by trusted elders, in which every member was valued for his or her unique contribution to group living and survival.

Every human society that has ever been observed contains a minority who lead and a majority who follow, which suggests that this time-honoured way of organising human society is driven by an ancient imperative.

…we instinctively regard good talkers as being good leaders.

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