June 20, 2018 – They’re Your Feelings, And They’re Your Fault – Grow Great Daily Brief

The other day my podcast partner Leo Bottary and I recorded a conversation with Dr. Larry Senn, the godfather of company culture. He wrote his doctoral dissertation, Organizational Character as a Tool in the Analysis of Business Organizations, in 1970. You know the guy is early in the game when he predates the term, company culture! He termed it “organizational character.” He’s in his early 80’s and is a fascinating guy. 

His most recent book is entitled, The Mood Elevator: Take Charge of Your Feelings, Become a Better You (2017). You’ll be able to find the show when we release it in about a month over at WhatAnyoneCanDo.com

For a few years now I’ve been immersed into the practical application of brain science. Don’t worry, I’m not bright enough to wax too eloquently about it. But I can distill it into the basic elements of what I mean.

We think what we think. Sure, that includes us feeling what we feel. We choose those things. It’s completely on us.

That spurs us to believe what we believe. Yep, we make those choices, too. Nobody is pulling our strings to make us think or believe anything. 

That sparks our behaviors. What we do is completely another matter of choice for us.

And then, presto, chango — we get our outcome. The results are completely our fault. 

I realize this is an enormous disappointment for many of you who rather delight in feeling victimized. By the government. By industry regulations. By competition. By suppliers. By finance partners. By the unions. By your employees. By your customers. By the universe. By the weather. By the failure of your local professional (or university) sports teams. By your landlord. You get the idea. It’s a never-ending list of culprits who have foisted failure or difficulty on you. 

I’m sitting down with somebody who is encountering a challenge to forgive somebody. She asks, “How can I do that?” I reply, “Simple. Just decide you’re going to do it.” Nobody said “easy.” I said, “Simple.” And it is. 

The hard part is making that decision. But for many of us the harder part is understanding we can make that choice. I’m astonished at how many people refuse to accept that truth. “Well, I don’t believe it,” is a rather common refrain. Great! Refuse to believe in gravity, too. But if you step off the roof of a tall building gravity WILL kill you. Gravity doesn’t care if you believe in it or not. 

Business owners can find excuses better than most. We’ve got a million reasons why things aren’t going the way we planned them to. Our plans are terrific. These idiots who work for us can’t execute them properly. We can’t be at fault. 

We strut around naked thinking we’re robed like a King. A’hem, I mean an “Emperor.” We’re ninnies who oftentimes refuse to accept the reality that our feelings are our fault. We want control of just about everything, but we don’t always want the blame. And here we are faced with a truth that we do control – and own – our feelings, and we’re quick to surrender them to some flimsy excuse. 

Anger. Sadness. Bitterness. Jealousy. Our emotions ride the roller coaster daily. Too frequently we allow external conditions to drive the coaster. We read into things. We ascribe meanings to things. We fixate on the story we craft in our imagination. Challenge yourself to get in better touch with what you’re doing. What you’re feeling. And why. 

Today I just want to offer you one challenge: try to extend grace in every situation. That’s right. All of them. Instead of assuming the worst intention or motive, assume the best. It’s a choice you can make. Push yourself to go against the natural grain you’ve likely followed your whole life. Don’t assume the person, or the situation or the event is ill-intended. That’s what I mean by showing grace. It’s giving the benefit of the doubt to it so it won’t be so harmful to your emotions. 

What have you got to lose?

Maybe your bitterness, resentment and anger!

Be well. Do good. Grow great!

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Grow Great a public sector leadership podcastAbout the hosts: Randy Cantrell brings over 4 decades of experience as a business leader and organization builder. Lisa Norris brings almost 3 decades of experience in HR and all things "people." Their shared passion for leadership and developing high-performing cultures provoked them to focus the Grow Great podcast on city government leadership.

The work is about achieving unprecedented success through accelerated learning in helping leaders and executives "figure it out." 

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