Today’s post relates to our thoughts and how they either will let us feel great and motivated, or just the opposite. A thought is just a thought and definitely not who you are. Cool thing is that if we take a deep breath and give our brains a quick mental break we can always manage our thoughts. So here are three basic thinking rules for your viewing pleasure.
- Laugh at yourself once in a while. It is what you do, not who you are.
At the beginning of my career I worked in customer service for 17 years. The first couple of years were very intimidating, when dissatisfied customers would call and simple let me have it. Often times, I felt personally threatened or at least attacked. As a result I would try defending my or the company’s position, which occasionally lead to the proverbial pouring oil into the fire scenario. By staying on the defensive side, the customer would think I did not care and thus give him even more to yell about. Which in turn, lead me to dig in even further. Quite a while back, the company I work for sent me to a customer service seminar. Amongst other things, the speaker taught us about the mental approach of separating what it is you do for living, from who you are as a human being. He suggested looking at what customers are really mad about. In almost 99% of the cases people are mad about everything else but you personally. He also recommended trying to look up, and start laughing at oneself. Sometimes, we get so entangled in our daily lives, that we take our oh-so-important problems way too seriously. Customers usually do not take well to taking yourself too serious during a telephone conversation, as they called to get their problems addressed, and not yours. I tried this theory out the very next day with amazing results. Regardless of how bad they sometimes vented staying focused on the customer’s issues, defused the once very polarized situation.
- Rather be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.
Looking like a fool does not improve your attitude and motivation. This rule I picked up along the way of getting promoted all the way into management functions at work. With the added responsibilities, came a steady diet of meetings. Meetings have become a staple of my daily schedule. All these people gatherings have a profound common denominator: they are based on personal interaction. The part I was struggling with the most was listening to what was being said. I was listening to respond more than listening to understand. Unfortunately, proper listening skills do not get taught in high school or during college. It was also not part of the on the job training program. So in one-on-one as well as large group meetings, I used to jump to conclusions, rather than waiting for everyone to finish the points they were trying to make. This was a very foolish thing to do. In hindsight, I should have sat on a rock, and thought about my actions a lot earlier. Then one day, I reflected on a meeting that had gone badly. I asked myself what I could have done better. This is when I realized my habitual mistake, of interrupting other people’s conversations. Changing this habit was tough but worth the effort. I look foolish a lot less often nowadays.
- Choose your attitude! Be there! Play! Make their day!
The phrases above are part of a rule that I keep honing and refining throughout my life. They key to success in life is your own motivation and morale, as well as that of i.e. your family, friends, peers and people that you serve. Quite a while back, I was watching a motivational and morale boosting tape called “Fish”. It struck a chord with me, as I finally was able to express in short terms, where motivation comes from. To me it always starts with you and thus with me. Choose your attitude well after you get up in the morning. This is a simple yet effective mind game; it really is your choice to either feel upbeat, or be moping around all day. Usually, everyone will most likely be impacted by, if not mirror, your attitude. Sounds like a no-brainer to me, right? Well, it is indeed tough and easier said than done. “Be there” is all about paying attention, while someone is trying to communicate with you. Have you ever done it? It sounds simpler than it is. After all, most of our interactions are caused by interruptions from people who just want a “minute” of your time. It is much simpler to half listen and to keep on going with whatever you may be doing at the time. But it shows no or little respect to your counterpart. But respect is what every one of us craves. Also, respect is a keystone of keeping up a high spirit. So give them what they need, without dilution. “Play” deals with having fun during the day and committing acts of random kindness. Jokes, even pranks or practical jokes go a long way to loosen up our work. “Make their day” is sprinkling a dash of servant leadership around you. Do things no one expects you to do. Walk in someone else’s shoes for a while; realize how tough her or his job is. It really helps staying focused on what is important in life.
One of my favorite and local leadership people I follow by reading his books and Tweets is Pat Croce. He was the owner of Philly’s own 76ers and also is a great businessman. Check out his book I Feel Great and You Will Too!: An Inspiring Journey of Success with Practical Tips on How to Score Big in Life. You will find a smattering of other great nuggets of advice improving your motivation and attitude. Here are two great video clips featuring him about motivation and staying positive. Discover Pat on Motivation and Attitude.