Wednesday, September 16, 2015
Peace and Preparedness In the 1880s the great black educator, Booker T. Washington, was an advocate for peace and against useless conflict. Once, as he walked past the mansion of a wealthy Alabama plantation owner, he demonstrated his commitment to peace. The white lady of the house didn’t know Professor Washington by sight. As he strolled by, she yelled out to him to “chop some firewood”. Washington understood her mistake, yet he took off his coat, grabbed an ax and proceeded to cut a pile of wood. As he carried the wood to the lady’s kitchen (per instruction) he smiled pleasantly at the woman. He then went on his way. After he had disappeared, one of her servants told her mistress, “That was Professor Washington.” The woman of the house felt horrible and deeply embarrassed by her error. Thus, she went the following day to Professor Washington’s office to apologize. Washington responded to her admission of guilt with grace. “It is entirely all right, madam. I like to work and I’m delighted to do favors for my friends.” Washington’s poise and dignity in a potentially humiliating situation created a true friend for him, as this woman graciously supported him for many years and ultimately raised thousands of dollars for his Tuskegee Institute. We can all learn to respond to conflict with the same artistic efficiency as Washington. To do this we must have a strong desire to experience and express peace in our lives and harmony in our relationships. Plus, we must be willing to discipline our egos so that when opportunities for discourse arise, we can be fully present and prepared. This discipline requires that we examine our need “to be right”, to have the last word, and to choose to be offended over small matters that don’t necessarily matter. Daily our words and actions state our preference for peace or strife. What signals are you putting forth? Are your actions consistent with your desires? Author, Jerry Jampolsky states this principle of choice well. “Would you rather be right or happy?”
Making Criticism Friendly Millionaire, Steven K. Scott, makes a radical suggestion, “Make your worst enemy your best friend – criticism.” He offers considerations on how to convert criticism to understanding. For instance, consider the source. How qualified is this person to give such criticism? What is the basis of the criticism? Example, is it based on emotion, lack of understanding, lack of experience, logic, the realities of the situation, or conventional thinking rather than creative thinking? Also recognize the motive of the critic and the accuracy of the criticism. It is most important to take responsibility for your response to criticism. If you defend, attack, withdraw, or surrender, you might think of these as wrong responses. Whereas right response would be to re-focus, write down the criticism, and then search out the “gold” in it. If you look for something valuable, something you can learn from in the censure, you will find it, even though it may have nothing at all to do with the original intent of the critic. Scott offers some steps to process disapproval. These include examination of what hurt you the most? And What good came from it? As well as what would you do differently the next time? It would seem that all people would benefit from careful examination of not only faultfinding received, but what we find fault with in others. We might turn this latter thought inward with additional questions. Why do we have a need to criticize in the first place? What is our intent in doing so and why does another person’s behavior weigh so heavily on us that we would need to chime in with criticism? And, on the reverse side, what exactly is triggering our need to take criticism personally? Certainly people in sales and leadership positions would profit from this kind of self-examination. Insight could provide opportunity to radically change their interactions with staff and customers. Expanding farther, certainly all people dealing with issues of insecurity could be helped by self understanding. When you get right down to it, all people need this type of realization and awareness. It could be that Steven K. Scott is a successful millionaire because he has mastered criticism.
What are you Building? Remember the story of the bricklayers? When asked, “What are you doing?” One brick layer said, “I’m earning a living”, the next responded, “I’m laying brick”, the third exclaimed, “I’m building a great cathedral.” The last bricklayer brought great pride, joy and appreciation to his work and went home fulfilled. Which one are you? I met a tire salesman who, when approached for tires said, “Yes, I can help you”. He smiled broadly and demonstrated eagerness, willingness, and friendliness. He judged his work important, for he was helping people. His customers were served not only with good products and service, but with positive energy. He and they went home happy. He, because he gave 100% and they, because they were made to feel special. We all have it within us to do the same. You can build a great monument, or work for a paycheck. The rewards are drastically different. You are the one who gets to decide which it will be. For a more common example, consider the homemaker, who approaches meal preparation for her family with boredom and obligation. The meal might be nutritious, but the most important ingredient, love, has been left out. From appearances, her family fairs well enough, but how much better (and more fun) would it be if food were served with enthusiasm and love. This doesn’t mean every dinner must be a feast, for there is much to be said for simplicity, especially after a long, active day, but it does not take extra effort to imbue what you do with love. This can be as easy as giving your work positive attention and having a clear intention for performing it. In our fear-based society, we have been taught to work for money, but psychologist have proven that for most people, money is not the prime motivator. Most are inspired by recognition. Even the simplest acknowledgment you give another, can have dynamic impact, and literally turn a negative situation or relationship into a positive one. Working for money as the goal can be uninspiring, flat, uncreative, and joyless. Why? Because you are not a factor in the goal. You are not allowing your work to bring you joy. If you sell insurance with the idea of making a financial quota, you are always looking for the next sale. Your interest in serving your customers is overshadowed by the need to raise your bottom line. In time, you don’t care if your customers’ needs are met or not because you are busy competing with last month’s record. There is no heart, soul, or passion in what you do. You have become a insurance robot. Spouting proposals and collecting revenues. Your customers become numbers, not names, and you lose your passion. You measure your success with how much is in the bank rather than did I provide excellent service, did I touch lives? Take an ordinary service, product, or activity and add something that makes it magnetic and irresistible. Add positive energy to your work, and you will find that your job becomes more fun, you have greater likelihood of getting a raise or promotion, you’ll elevate your energy level and possibly go beyond your present company. Keep improving your knowledge, skills and service, and you’ll be the biggest benefactor. What activity, event, or work are you performing? Approach it with openness, appreciation, and as an opportunity to express your creativity and love. Then, step back and notice the results. First, did you enjoy it more? Did others? Which approach gives you the most satisfaction and fulfillment? Are you building a cathedral or just putting in your time?