You know those days, the ones you wonder why God created humans or at least why he put you among them. Those are the days you begin to long for programmable androids. Life would be so much easier, who needs human spontaneity anyway?

Here are a few suggestions that might help you like humans again:

Step 1: Get Internal Clarity

Start by reprogramming yourself. You cannot control others. The only human being you can control is you. As a result, the first step is to shift from an outward focus to an inward focus. Gandhi pit it a lot more eloquently: Become the change you seek.

A. What are your goals?

Which of them really truly matter?

  • not just for yourself but for those around you as well
  • will it make a difference 10yrs from now? 20yrs? 50yrs?
  • why are they important?

B. What are your expectations?

These are different from your goals. These are all the silent things you wish for, never verbalize, and, start throwing internal temper tantrums when you don’t get them.

  • what are you expecting from yourself?
  • what are you expecting from others?
  • why do you expect these things?
  • do your expectations have anything to do with the situation at hand?
  • will these expectations be as important to you in 5 weeks? a year? 10yrs?
Step 2:: Take Action
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A. What does your list of goals and expectations look like now?
  1. share it with a close personal friend
  2. share it with a family member
  3. share it with a professional friend you trust who is in a similar field as you are but does not work or compete with you
What were their reactions?
Do you need to make any changes to your list(s)?
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B. Verbalize your goals and expectations in your workplace

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This DOES NOT mean create rules or policies and procedures to match your list. One of the most enlightening statements I’ve heard is from architect William McDonough: Regulation is a sign of design failure.

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Your objective is to design and sculpt a system that is ever fluid and dynamic. Your goal is not to regulate the system or control it. The system has to regulate and control itself. As the architect of your environment, your role is to create the enabling framework in which the system can flourish.

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Talk about your goals and expectations with those you manage. Start with individual meetings and switch to group meetings or vice-versa. Use the approach you are most comfortable with but do use both (different dynamics in each type of meeting).

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Always remember 3 things:

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  1. there will be push back and people will change their minds about things
  2. DON’T react or take a defensive position. Focus on asking clarifying questions that enable you to understand why the other person is reacting (positively or negatively) to what you say; also ask how they would do things differently and why?
  3. before you change your mind or goals and/or expectations, let things simmer for a bit; sleep on it; give yourself a couple of days to a week and revisit your list (you don’t need more than a week nor does the speed of business allow you to take more time than this so if you cannot make a decision, table it and inform others you are doing so because you are unable to make a decision)
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C. Co-Create Implementation Strategies
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Now that you have a well defined list, invite your co-workers and those you manage to help you make it a reality.
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The focus here is team-work and co-creation. You will have to be flexible and so will they. However, it is your responsibility to model the behavior you want to see in them at all times.
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Empower them to assist you by being open to both criticism & support, encouragement & resistance. Sometimes resistance is an unexpected gift that delays things just enough for a better solution or opportunity to emerge. Sometimes encouragement and support is more about telling us what we want to hear and not telling us what we need to hear. This is why both are equally valuable.
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As you move through co-creation, the key question to ask yourself and others is:
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What do we need to do in order to make this happen effectively and in a manner that benefits everyone?
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Don’t worry about the naysayers who will never see the benefit. In the end, they will either conform or self-select out. At the same time, don’t ignore their remarks; even a broken clock tells the right time twice a day. What you cannot do is let the negative energy drag you down. Focus your energy on co-creation and enjoyment with the 80% that do share your goals and expectations. This will help you from internalizing negative angst while still being able to listen to it.
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Please leave comments (positive or negative) and also feedback:
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  1. Was this useful?
  2. How were you able to use this information?
  3. Have you had success using a different approach?