Compassionate Management

There’s been a lot of studies done on what makes businesses succeed and–what a surprise–it’s the same thing that allows any group of people to succeed. And note I said allows and not causes. People will naturally surprise us with their capability, the only question is; just how skilled is a leader at finding those opportunities?

1024-relax-and-succeed-a-bad-manager-can-take-a-good-staffEvidence of this can easily be seen when a new manager takes over an old group. The very same group of people that the previous manager felt were useless can suddenly become superstars–why? Very often it’s because they stopped being managed like they were in the military and they started being managed like they’re human beings rather than human doings.

Bad leaders think people do things for them, good leaders know that in a good team all of the people are working together toward a common, meaningful goal. In one scenario the staff work for the leader and in the other all of them work for each other. In one case their job title is ordered to perform a business function and in the other some human beings cooperate to get something done that’s of mutual benefit.

Many times management will be so off target that they won’t even have considered the texture and feel of their employee’s day. All the manager sees is their own to-do list and they imagine that all of these people have been gathered under them to help them get their manager’s list taken care of. Ordering something get done is not management, it’s just orders, and those you can get from a machine.

1024-relax-and-succeed-if-people-are-goodWeaker managers will often be baffled about what else they would even do other than get their own lists done. They just see work; you do this, he does that, she does the other thing. There is no philosophy driving the work or how it’s done, it’s just a daily list.

Meanwhile, a stronger manager realises that the work day is generally at least 1/3rd of their co-workers lives, which is close to the number of waking hours people will spend with a spouse. Ordering consistently unmotivated work to be done in an unmotivated fashion is the same thing as covering the windshield and then telling the staff where you want them to drive. They can understand the directions and maybe even find it on their GPS, but that doesn’t help them negotiate the daily traffic of their lives. The problem for the weaker manager is that they’re only managing their own life and not the lives of everyone that works for them.

As an example, let’s say a mom returning from maternity leave has returned to work. She’s capable, hard-working and liked by her co-workers, but she starts coming in late. A bad boss draws her attention to her lateness and then possibly sets some kind of penalty. She tries to explain the challenges created by where her daycare moved to, but the manager doesn’t really listen to how the woman’s windshield is covered. Maybe she’s a woman too and she raised kids and worked, so she doesn’t see the problem. So she tells the woman to get to work despite the covered windshield, as though there’s no limits to managing around a kid.

Around a kid. A manager should hear that come out of their mouth and know immediately that’s gotta be wrong. The manager is asking a parent to value their work more than their child. Now the bad manager would say that’s not what they’re doing, but that’ll just be their beliefs about themselves. There’ll be a but… in there for the manager. Yeah, I know she’s gotta a new kid and that’s challenging, but she still has to get her work done…. So the manager basically says; your problem, not work’s. And technically that’s true, especially in countries that don’t even have mandatory support for maternity leave.

A manager is best to try to help solve their employee’s challenge because something being technically correct isn’t actually very useful to a manager. Technical correctness is a term for things that look like they should work but they’re missing some humanity. A poor manager sees the staff like buckets of skills that you fill with work. The staff see work as a major part of their life and they absolutely will respond positively to any co-worker/manager who finds a way to make that daily experience more enriching.

If you’re on a staff somewhere, figure out if your manager is trying to build a team and if you’re cooperating with that effort or putting yourself first. Because you may very well end up further behind by putting yourself first. And if you’re a manager somewhere, make sure that you also are not putting yourself first. You will be rewarded well for any efforts you make toward ensuring that the people you work with have an environment that is generally understanding, constructive, pleasant, supportive, and rewarding. And fortunately, creating even one of those things often leads to the others developing quite naturally.

Now go get on a team. It feels good to surrender your wants for almost any goal achieved in cooperation with others. And a good manager knows that.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.

Observational vs Instructional Parenting

1019-relax-and-succeed-it-is-easier-to-build-strong-childrenWhen European settlers first came to North America one of the first clashes of culture existed in the realm of parenting. Corporal punishment was generally not used in the native cultures because they did not believe in corrective behaviour from an authority figure. Like most tribal cultures, they believed an entire community raised a child and that children learned to behave in alignment with their culture not by being told how, but rather by watching other people actually living in alignment with that culture.

Europeans on the other hand had unwittingly assumed the Christian original-sin belief into their daily life and so the idea was that no one was born worthy and rather one earned one’s worth. In the native cultures the worth of anyone was never in question. The European system lead to a top-down almost military style with the father in command, his wife second and then the children by order of age and gender. Meanwhile there weren’t even  things like lineups for native cultures, so therefore there were also no need to “order” people or things.

1019-relax-and-succeed-when-a-flower-isnt-bloomingAs well-intentioned as it is, the European model is based on a hierarchy rather than mutual respect. Being bound to someone by words and ideas is one thing, but caring about someone enough to make sacrifices for them is a much different thing. This is like the difference between a soldier fighting because he was told to by someone he doesn’t respect, versus he does so out of love for his leader.

The idea the natives naturally used is the one everyone’s actually using either way, whether their culture realises it or not. Kids don’t learn by what you tell them, it’s how we act. And if we realised that more consciously we would literally change the world.

The northernmost tribes in Canada, from the Gwich’in in the West all the way through all of the Inuit cultures and all the way East past the Innu to the Beothuk, the cold and barren surroundings and limited food sources have meant over time that patience, tolerance, cooperation and generosity are excellent strategies for staying alive. Since you couldn’t and can’t cultivate food you have to cultivate relationships that can lead to group dinners that ensure all are fed regardless of their individual hunt’s success. When you can end up living in the confines of an igloo it helps if you have an agreeable personality.

1019-relax-and-succeed-your-work-is-not-to-drag-the-worldSimilarly the Japanese and other Asian cultures learned to cultivate a courteous, respectful manner with others because the hydraulics of the terraced rice paddies meant that your neighbour had to choose to let you have the water next. These interdependencies can be seen as a lack of freedom, but they can also be seen to create more freedom. What is the point of any amount of freedom if it is primarily spent in a state of worry or fear when it could be spent cooperating with friends?

It is notable that these cultures are both very quiet. Words are seen as less important than the control of behaviour. This isn’t done in a subservient way; it’s done for the greater good of all. But for that to happen we first have to believe that a) we ourselves are capable of good behaviour, b) that our children are capable and naturally inclined to want to learn, and c) that lessons are not as important as examples.

Most parents I see are panicked that things are much worse than they are. Invariably I meet a caring, engaged parent who has the same kinds of flaws all of us have. Because people are generally good, just by living their lives the way they naturally do they end up raising really great kids too. Don’t worry if your child doesn’t follow every order exactly right. That won’t be what makes good character.

1019-relax-and-succeed-imagine-what-seven-billion-humansWhat’ll make a good fellow tribesman won’t be precise behaviour, it’ll be the general compassionate awarenesses that would lead them to do things like notice an older person struggling behind them, leading them to hold that door open a little longer for that fellow tribesman. What’ll make a good tribesman is not asking for apologies, but giving them. Then giving them will be natural to a child, just like they learn to avoid giving them. And forgive yourself for when they learn the bits about you you wish they wouldn’t. You’re worth those bits anyway.

Believe in yourself. Believe in the children around you. They’re all just waiting to sprout into something amazing if they just get the rest of us doing a bit of cultivating of ourselves. If we accept ourselves while we strive to grow, from there the kids will just naturally follow our lead, but lead we must do. Here’s to you exhibiting a great day of admirable behaviour.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.

The Friday Dose #123: Female Leadership

983-relax-and-succeed-you-dont-need-a-reasonWhat if women ran things? Would government run differently? Would business run differently? Would their natural inclination be toward more cooperative efforts? I’m sure there’s advantages and disadvantages to each perspective but I would welcome giving more women a chance.

There are some signs in nature that this could work well. There are also signs that our natures are quite flexible given healthy circumstances. But even the most natural creature can break down if it has to live an unnatural life. That’s probably what happened to us. When we lose our reliance on each other we destroy ourselves.

It’s fascinating to listen to this remarkable story about the strange circumstances these baboons found themselves in, and how that lead to them being lead by the females which in turn lead to their culture becoming kinder and more compassionate. They thrived. It’s a good lesson for any family no matter what gender heads it.

Radiolab is always well done. This story is hard not to find fascinating. Enjoy.

Violent Baboons and Female Leadership

Have a great weekend everyone.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.

People in the House

Parents see it as parents and kids, but kids too-often see it as humans and tyrants because too often it is. As often as I’ll see it in a boardroom I’ll see it in a family; a total lack of awareness of the state of affairs prior to introducing something new. The kids act like idiots just when Mom and Dad were already at the end of their rope with a rough day at work. Or the parents are bending over backwards to help and the kids are attacking them as though they are the lowest life form on the Earth. These reactions are counterproductive to our own interests.

697 Relax and Succeed - Speak in such a wayWith interpersonal leadership from the parents, kids can be taught to communicate their mental weather. If a parent is losing their temper they can say to the child at that time, “Okay, I did not have a great day with my boss and now I’m getting upset with you—let’s talk about this when I have more patience because I don’t want us to treat each other disrespectfully.” Of course they’re little and can’t uphold their end of the bargain but that doesn’t matter—you’re teaching them, not the other way around. You can explain to them when you’re grumpy or tired or hungry or worried and by doing that you will teach them to eventually do it too.

The people who live together need to be aware of each others state of mind. That is the context in which all events take place. It doesn’t matter who’s younger or older or who’s the parent and who’s the kid, everyone contributes to the overall personality of a household and unaware parents are just as damaging to that peace as unaware kids. But parents who strive to maintain emotional awareness will also teach that skill to their kids.

697 Relax and Succeed - I used to think I was overreactingIf you’re a teen it isn’t unreasonable if a parent comes home worn out and is hurt that you couldn’t show your love for them by helping start dinner. Likewise it isn’t unreasonable for a kid to be tense and easily upset if they’re being bullied all day and now their parent is all-demands. It isn’t unreasonable for a parent to be upset that something they worked hundreds of hours in after-tax dollars to buy, ends up broken by their children through pure carelessness. It isn’t unreasonable for a teenager to be tired in the morning—when that is essentially biological.

Yes, we can greatly mitigate reactions to daily experiences, but since we have the emotions to express negative things we will express them because that’s how the world is built. Otherwise nature wouldn’t have built those reactions. It’s just that before we’re enlightened we don’t like it when we inevitably have the less pleasant experiences. But that’s what Yin and Yang mean. Together they create the world. You can’t have one without the other.

No story can be all high notes. That would be boring to read, watch or live. Your life is a story. And your family’s life is a story. Use your awareness of that fact to make both yours and your family’s a truly a great one. There’s nothing stopping you. You are the author of your own pages. It is you who gets to write out an angry reaction—or an upset reaction to someone else’s angry reaction. But you can also write something more peaceful. You can see your character from a bit more distance which will allow you to make calmer choices. Over time we can take upset family members—and ourselves—and learn to slow the energy down, just as we’ve been inadvertently taught to speed it up by being impatient with anything short of perfection.

697 Relax and Succeed - How to really love a childDon’t try to win or get your way. Families ultimately want to go in fundamentally the same healthy directions, so focus on those commonalities and request that everyone keep in mind that everyone has their interior lives and that some graciousness and patience would go a long way.

Don’t shoot for perfection. Healthy families find healthy ways to deal with conflict by having to deal with conflict. As long as the parent leads and provides some time for mistakes and growth, this process can bring families even closer together. Even if on some days it feels like it’s doing the opposite.

The one thing you can count on is most kids turn out far better than their parents imagined they would and, in the end, that’s as good for the parents as it is for the kids.

Have a wonderful day.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.

Original Sin

Concepts like governments, laws, religions, or education or legal systems all create many ways for people to feel they are wrong. In the case of some religions you were even born wrong and your life is almost a form of apology where you try to make up for your failings to God. So we feel we owe God perfect behaviour, we feel we owe our parents and the system good grades, we feel like we owe it to society to obey laws—even the ones we don’t agree with.

Even the economy itself with its symbolic money means that you can now actually fail at just being alive. Born in Africa in a poverty-stricken war-torn country? Don’t have access to education or health care? Then too bad, you lose, because you won’t have the money to buy the food that you used to get for free from the Earth itself. But now someone invented the concept of ownership and then people needed guns to protect the things they owned and so now those fruits belong to someone else which means they don’t belong to you. A person somewhere else—someone with money—can eat it, but not the guy who picked it. That’s how silly our world is. We’ll actually let the picker die of starvation rather than let him eat. We’ll have the simple inexpensive medicines to save his life, but we won’t give them to him without the money.

Because modern life is loosely based on the rather undefined concept of progress, people will feel like they’re failing even if they’re standing still—because things like advertising or where they are on the bell curve at school will lead them to believe that everyone else is working harder than they are. So progress would be to work harder. And so modern life is set up around wants, which necessitates us starting from a position where we’re lacking, and effort or hard work will make up the difference between us and success.

So advertising or our church or our boss tells us we’re missing something and we need to earn the right to have it, and then we can check off the box that says we can stop beating ourselves up, (which in turn leads us into the habit of beating others up as well). Think about how much 618 Relax and Succeed - What is the waystrife is caused by parents pushing for better grades and think of how incredibly seldom those grades mattered to the quality of life the person ends up leading. There is no relationship between external success and internal happiness, so why are we willing to sacrifice so much of the latter in an attempt to get the former?

So many people feel they are starting behind, and that where they are now can’t possibly be good enough. They tend to manage their lives based on avoiding the pain of failure rather than on cultivating a life that enables our natural satisfaction and appreciation to exist unfettered by thoughts about what’s missing or how we need more. Think about it. What if a God you totally believed in came down, proved his power to you, and then ordered you to be happy because he deemed you perfect. Hey! Good for you! Praise by God! Now what?

We don’t need to beat ourselves into doing a good job. If what we’re doing has any kind of value at all then capable, open people will always find a way to invest themselves in that work. People that work in the arts will try to make things that you like or enjoy or approve of or maybe hate. But the true artists among them will just be being themselves whether you like it or not. So there’s a career that at its zenith experiences no social pressure whatsoever. They can do like Klein and paint an entire canvass one shade of blue and still they can have happy lives and 618 Relax and Succeed - Meraki to do something with soulsurvive all the judgment. Because you’re not living a spiritual life if you’re conforming to what everyone else wants. You’re living a spiritual life when you realize with absolute certainty that even if there wasn’t a single rule in the universe, you would still be made of love and your pure self could act like nothing else.

It’s time to stop beating yourself up using your ability to think. You weren’t supposed to tell yourself stories where you’re the villain. Save thinking for remembering directions or traffic rules or something. But don’t apply it like you’re some kind of judge and jury to yourself. There was no crime here. There is nothing wrong with you other than the fact that you keep comparing your perfection to other people’s perfection. Your problem isn’t who you are. Your only problem is who you think you are. So stop all the chatter and just be instead. Because that would be just perfect. 😉

peace. s

Management Keys

A friend sent me the link to a few of your blogs on management. I liked what you wrote but when I searched you don’t do much of those types of blogs. I really do want to be good at what I do. Would it be possible for you to write a blog about the most important lesson you learned as a manager?

signed,
Conscious Manager

Dear Conscious,

Thanks for your interest. Obviously every writer is only writing in the hopes of communicating with others so it’s always great to know that readers are actually benefiting from the work. You also make a very good point that I don’t write on management much at all despite the fact that it’s one of my favourite subjects. Motivating, educating and assisting employees was always a very interesting and exciting process for me and I tended to do extremely well wherever I went. I will try to write a bit more on the subject.

334 Relax and Succeed - It is important to recognizeIn my past I had both large staffs and small, and because I love learning I used every single interaction as a test case for refining my understanding and approach. I was in management in my teens, so I have the good fortune of not only a lot of experience time-wise, but I also managed at junior and the most senior levels in all kinds of different companies in different industries in different countries. That experience has given me a great deal of very useful perspective.

My life has been like the perfect laboratory for me to use this weird skill my accident caused. But even though almost everything I do is a learning exercise at some level, it is virtually impossible for me to single out the most important thing I learned in much the same way that it’s also effectively impossible to single out the best picture at the Oscars. It’ll always be an opinion open to change as I grow and develop as a person. But still I get your point, so what I’ll do is note the key things I learned very early on, and then the biggest lesson I learned after I had refined my skills quite a bit. Remember, because of my accident this is all done by calculation. And human reactions are included in those calculations. But they are remarkably rigorous.

Let’s begin with the fact that these people we call employees are human beings first, maybe parents second, spouses third, sons or daughters fourth, maybe brothers or sisters fifth or sixth, and friends anywhere from 2nd to 5th—and in any healthy individual their status as an employee will come after that. If work ranks too high then you’re very likely to have someone who makes others worse. It is very easy to get caught-up in what the business is trying to do and we can forget that the employees are people with lives and none of them want to—nor should—live to work. Rather they should work to live. But if work steals too much of life 334 Relax and Succeed - Start where you arethat will be a bad deal for both the employer and the employee. Most people will work quite hard all on their own. But they will be inconsistent as employees simply because they literally have so many other roles that their lives demand they play.

Secondly, everyone lies. Your boss lies to you, your staff lies to you, and you lie to both of them. If people claim they don’t lie then offer to record them for a day and they’ll either lose their boldness or their naivete. Our cultures—particularly in schools and workplaces—are pretty punishing places. We’re far more oriented toward punishing the behaviour we don’t want than rewarding the behaviour we do want. So it makes sense that people don’t want to be responsible for things that have gone wrong or that will upset the people that control their ability to make house payments. And the angrier or more negative the manager gets, the more he or she will get lied to. Just don’t expect no lies.

If your assistant suddenly starts taking an hour and a half lunch it may be because he or she is slacking off. But it’s just as likely that she has been diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome and so she goes home for lunch so as not to embarrass herself at work. Or a million other possibilities that don’t have anything to do with the employee failing to be dedicated. Bottom line, you’ll always be wrong sometimes either way, but when dealing with people you’ll be much more accurate more often if you assume the best and not the worst.

The reason it’s worthwhile giving people the benefit of a doubt is because despite the reputations they give themselves, the actual truth is—people are generally quite honest and dedicated, and most people put in a fair day of work. And how much they work in that day—their work ethic—will have been established early in life and it won’t fluctuate much. But there will also be the influence of the times that they were raised in. So 334 Relax and Succeed - Be an encourageran older worker was raised in an environment without cell phones or the internet and there were no personal calls to or from work, and so their understanding is that work is for work and that’s non-negotiable. They’ll actually feel badly about having to do anything personal during work hours, and yet that largely blind dedication might differ greatly from a younger employee who feels their digital connectivity and freedom is an integral aspect of their very being.

Those perspective differences can make for big management differences. But what you really want to watch for is that aforementioned work ethic. Their families will have set a tone for how hard someone works when they work. So whatever you see in front of you will, over time, generally be what’s happening behind your back as well. Very, very few people will actually lie and deceive to the point where they’re a real problem, and even then that’s often linked to heavy stresses or addictions. Funnily enough, the people who do often spend a bit of time truly slacking off are the new managers. Because they feel as though they have arrived, there is often an accompanying sense of entitlement and that often drifts into irresponsibility for a short time.

So see your staff as fallible, helpful, caring people because that is overwhelmingly who they will be. Think about their overall yearly performance more than looking at any given day, because they could be either heavily up or down depending on their circumstances. If you show them support when they are down or ineffective then most will work doubly hard for you when you need them.

The one thing I did miss was terrible, but innocent. I’m glad I’m telling it to you because I can save you the agony of having done it. I had always been good about seeing my employees as individuals but the one big lesson I learned too late in life was that I not only had to see them as individuals, it turned out there was also important information contained in their demographic.

334 Relax and Succeed - Good judgment comes from experienceI was only able to look down in that regard. So in my 30’s I knew that my employees in their 20’s might be late more than the older employees simply because they were out at the bar whereas the older ones were primarily at home asleep from a long day of paying a mortgage and raising kids. But in my 30’s I did not even attempt to look upwards. I never wondered about the differences in the lives of the employees who were older than me. And that caused me to be both unintentionally cruel, and moreover I also surrendered capacities I could have made very good use of.

Older employees will generally have all of the usual responsibilities, plus they will often add looking after elderly parents. This is a very unpredictable thing to try to plan for and it’s also fraught with emotional energy. People are watching their parents fade—it’s generally painful and difficult. And if often eats up lots of time. I also didn’t think about the differences in the human body. As we age all kinds of things change, including how we eat, sleep and even go to the bathroom. And pride and embarrassment will often cause employees to conceal any form of socially uncomfortable behaviours so you won’t have a chance to learn they exist in most cases. You just have to operate knowing that no matter what’s changing, something’s changing.

Where I lost on value was their knowledge. Maybe not of that job or industry, but their life experience. Once you find a decent worker, someone older doesn’t need a lot of direction. They know themselves. They’ve given up trying to mimic other people’s methods. They use what works for them. And that will often initially look ineffective, mysterious or silly to someone without that experience. Just as a 20 year old knows way 334 Relax and Succeed - Everyone is a geniusmore than a 10 year old, a 40 year old knows way more than the 20 year old, and the 60 year old knows way more than the 40 year old etc. etc. etc.

If you wrote this question and read those blogs then you’re already on the right course as a manager because you’re choosing to learn and expand yourself. To manage well you have to want to learn, you have to want to share what you learn, and you have to genuinely like people. After that it’s simply a matter of stripping all of the busy words and ideas away so that you can access your common sense. Because good managers don’t try to figure out how to make their employees work harder, they understand how to support and enhance the work that useful and productive employees naturally do.

Thanks for the question and your point about how often I address this subject. I’ll endeavour to do so more often. And hey, when you’re managing, don’t forget it’s a third of your day. So don’t forget to have fun. Happy places always work harder.

peace. s

Leading the Pack

132 Relax and Succeed - The problem is not the problemBecause we drive and wear clothes, people generally pretend that we’re no longer animals and yet our instincts all come from the same origins. After food and shelter, the comfort of our pack is our primary concern. We are able to survive without the pack, but not in a healthy way. We are designed to function as a group, so any extended separation or estrangement will generally debilitate us.

Modern packs come in many forms. There is the family, there are classrooms or cliques of students in school, there are our sports or activity friendships, our social circle, and of course there is the dog-team of the workplace. Some—like our activity or social friendships—are voluntary. We decide who we want in and who we want out. Others, like family or work, are not under our control and we must adapt to our imposed pack-mates.

132 Relax and Succeed - You've got to changeIn each of these situations a natural or imposed hierarchy will exist. Maybe it’s the Mom or Dad at the top of the family, with the kids being ordered variously by age, strength, intelligence, and confidence. Or maybe it’s with friends, where the order is determined more like a pack of wild animals—where the choice for leader is an unconscious consensus between the people who naturally step forward to lead, and those who would prefer not to have that responsibility themselves. But in every other realm of life the leader is imposed. This is challenging, because if that assigned leader does not naturally gain the Confidence of the pack, then that pack will become dysfunctional both socially and in terms of its ability to successfully hunt.

Where this often becomes the most challenging is situations where the leader is new. The new manager will begin by giving their staff the sort of management they wished for or admired while they were still an underling. But that only helps people with personalities very similar to the manager’s. Better leaders will realise that each pack member is unique and that what works on one won’t work on another. If the leader fails to have this realisation, then they will attempt to run everyone like they’re one person and they will vainly attempt to maximise everyone’s strengths but in every single pack member.

Human packs in business will have greyhounds that can sprint and huskies that can carry heavy loads for long distances. They will have wiener dogs that can dig well and that are designed to hunt in very confined spaces, and they have hounds that can follow a scent for days. The weakest leaders will fail to notice these differences and they will often angrily demand that each dog have every strength.

131-relax-and-succeed-i-think-the-secret-of-successYou cannot ask the short-legged dachshund to have the advantages of the long distance husky, and then on top of that you want the husky to go down a tiny hole in the ground where it doesn’t even fit. It’s also unwise to want the greyhound to still run like the wind, but still follow a scent. That isn’t the dog failing, that’s the manager failing and with each admonishment the pack will get weaker because the animals will feel like they’re failing when in fact they are simply being lead in the wrong direction.

Yelling at or harshly criticising an animal will not increase its performance, it will decrease it. An animal does not run toward things that look dangerous or unpleasant. An unhealthy pack will fearfully fumble along with only half of its attention on hunting because the other half will be focused on trying to keep themselves safe from being attacked by their own pack-leader.

People don’t leave meetings where they just got yelled at and say to each other, “Yeah, we’re really dumb and lazy and awful—let’s do better!” No, they head straight to the water cooler to waste time discussing how poor a leader they have.

132 Relax and Succeed - Promote what you loveLife and school and business will have natural ups and downs. There is nothing in this world that isn’t like that, so if a leader is disappointed by anything other than significant success then they are living in a fantasy world and they are only a leader in name. True leadership knows that off-days are inevitable and they know to show up with love and support when things are bad. That is when that support is most useful. But if the hunting was bad and all the dogs are tired and starving, biting them to run faster will only serve to make tomorrow’s hunt even worse.

The best leaders are loved and trusted for their consistency. Both good news and bad news is met with the same quiet confidence. And a good plan doesn’t change based on short-term results, because even the best plans don’t guarantee perfect performance. If the pack is getting attacked any time things aren’t perfect then it will almost always be under some form of attack, and it will under-perform simply because too much of its energy is wasted on disappointment and fear.

If you’re seeking success and you think punishing people is an effective means of getting them to do things differently then you simply do not understand how people (or animals) work. If a dog gets beaten every time it can’t live up to the achievements of a completely different kind of dog on a different kind of day, then that will be one nervous and ineffective pup because too much of its attention will be focused on not getting beaten.

132 Relax and Succeed - Strong people don't put others downIf that same dog gets rewarded for its unique skills and good behaviours, those will expand. The dog will literally ask for opportunities to succeed. So yes, a wiener dog will struggle with running long distances. But at the same time, it will feel entirely comfortable crawling down dark holes. So each member of the pack must be approached as an individual and managed according to their strengths, not their weaknesses. Because no amount of barking or biting will turn a chihuahua into a pit bull.

If you’re in a position of leadership, stop telling your pack how to be successful and start asking them how you can support them in being successful, because the leader isn’t supposed to turn the dogs into each other. The good leader figures out what each dog’s strength is, and then it applies those strengths appropriately.

If your staff or your children see you approaching and their response is fear, then you are failing at maximising their potential. However, if they see you approaching and they feel secure and cared-for, then you will be maximising their potential and you will have 100% of it available for the hunt. And that is the good leader’s best bet for keeping his both himself and his pack happy.

Happy hunting.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.