We’ve all heard “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Well, if that holds true, then Paul Seville, MD, MBI, CPHIMS, has super strength. A urological surgeon turned medical informatics expert, Dr. Paul has survived FIVE brushes with death. Here’s a quick run-down:
- Malpractice. A pediatrician’s erroneous medical judgment led to a severe chronic kidney infection; rendering Dr. Paul to lose both healthy kidneys and be subjected for years to dialysis.
- Surgery. In 6th grade, he received a cadaveric kidney from a motorcyclist’s death.
- Surgery. Once the first donated kidney reached its longevity, his sister donated her kidney to him.
- Car Crash. A speeding, drunk, uninsured, twice-deported illegal resident crashed into Dr. Paul’s car head-on while he was driving around a corner, placing him in the hospital for a couple of days as he urinated blood.
- Bike Accident/Brain Surgery. The ecologically conscious doctor was bicycling to work with his helmet on, when something happened to the bike and he ended up head first onto the pavement. He had 2” by 3” of his skull removed to suction out the coagulated blood that was pushing the left side of his brain towards the right, and now has titanium filling the rectangular space.
Dr. Paul is one of the several medical doctors who have endorsed the newest Leadership Development program created by Corporate Looking Glass, LLC, which is Blue Health™. While he currently resides in Portland, Oregon, he is originally from the only Blue Zone in the USA, Loma Linda, California. He read my blog 10 Traits of a Positive Thinker: #7 DETERMINATION, and recognized how he leads with determination.
One of the amusing stories he shared with me is how he was conducting rounds as a hospitalist, and entered a room where the adult daughter of a patient was angrily waiting. “My father has gone through a lot of pain, and you have NO idea what he has gone through!” she yelled at Dr. Paul. He calmly addressed her concerns about her father’s post-op care. She continued to rant about her presupposed belief of Dr. Paul’s inability to relate to her father’s condition. Formerly ashamed of the long scars Dr. Paul’s surgeons left on his sides (#1 above) when he was a small boy, he opened his white lab coat, lifted his shirt, and revealed the monstrously large cicatrix – which appear as though he was sliced open from front to back on both sides…only because he was. He answered, “I know what your father is going through, because I went through it myself. And, multiple times.”
How many doctors can say that? How many doctors have been on both ends of the knife?
Furthermore, how many of us can say we get back up on our feet to serve others when we could be consumed with our personal needs? Former Vietnam Prisoner of War (POW) General Admiral James Stockdale said, “Self-realization cannot be achieved without service to the community.” Dr. Paul no longer practices surgery, but continues to serve others with his expertise at WebMD.
Stockdale: “The pre-Socratic Heraclitus said the development of the heart has to do with the capacity to face and experience reality. The capacity for that experience is also the capacity for courage. The heart wills, it is the seat of conscience, it introduces purpose.” (See blog on Purpose).
Dr. Paul championed many years of childhood taunts, only to be the bully’s champion in the operating room. Epictetus (the ancient Greek philosopher): Difficulties are what show men’s character.
When asked how Dr. Paul feels about the mistake his surgeons made when he was a little boy, he echoes Epictetus: “It is unthinkable that one man’s error could cause another’s suffering. There can be no such thing as being the ‘victim’ of another. You can only be a victim of yourself. It’s all how you discipline your mind.”
New Year is not the only time when you can begin anew.
Rossina Gil, MSOD, MAIS, is a Leadership and Organization Development Practitioner, and the founder of Corporate Looking Glass, LLC – a diverse consultancy of OD experts and strategic thinking partners. We increase retention. Visit CorporateLookingGlass.com.
© Rossina Gil, 2015
Stockdale, Jim. Thoughts of a Philosophical Fighter Pilot.
Jane Doe (Not her real name!) is a VP at a large organization. Her boss sits in the C-Suite and rewards her for reaching the objectives listed in her job description. The problem is Jane has had more than two entire team turnovers in less than two years. Her boss wrestles with the question: How can he let Jane go when she is doing exactly what he hired her to do?
Jane’s boss weighs the actual costs of personnel lost, recruiter time, learning curve and the intangible costs of distrust, watercooler chatter and lack of team cohesion against Jane meeting his annual objectives and goals. It’s so much easier for him to keep the status quo, so he turns a deaf ear to the complaints streaming in through the uneasy Human Resource directors. Jane’s workhorse style and “the whippings shall continue until you are all happy” are inconsequential to him, since results matter more than feelings. In essence, he is teaching Jane to just “get ‘er dun” and she is more than ready to comply.
Let’s be clear here: The dysfunctional leader is not just Jane; it is, firstly, her boss.
Examples like this real-life “Jane” and her boss abound in Corporate America. Yet, slumped productivity, wide-spread disengagement, and high levels of attrition are costing the U.S. economy an estimated $370 billion yearly, according to Gallup.*
- How can a company retain specialized top talent AND keep team retention strong?
- How can the organization avoid ex-employees posting on GlassDoor.com and damaging the organization’s brand and reputation of its ability to manage well?
Blue Health™ is a two-day Leadership Development program that is designed with a heuristic approach – which enables executives to discover how they can improve engagement, productivity, and overall well-being for themselves, their teams, and the organization as a whole.
The Blue Health™ model demonstrates the ancient Greek philosophical foci of Mind, Body, and Spirit (Energy Management); to which we have added the systemic dimension of the Organization. This Positive Psychology program is a deep dive into optimizing performance and social dynamics. It engages participants in critical thinking and incorporates various methods of adult learning theory to keep comprehension and interaction levels high.
Our associates have conducted primary research from executives within the world’s five Blue Zones (locations known for holding the highest concentration of self-sufficient centenarians), and Blue Health™ is endorsed by multiple medical doctors from the only Blue Zone in the USA; Loma Linda, California.
If you are ready for healthy, functional leadership, please contact us at info@CorporateLookingGlass.com for further information. Or, dial 615.431.9689.
Rossina Gil is the founder of Corporate Looking Glass, LLC, a team of Leadership and Organization Development Practitioners and Interculturalists, based across the USA. Rossina co-launched the Blue Zones initiative in Des Moines, Iowa (Sponsor: Wellmark); and Redondo Beach, California (Sponsor: Beach Cities Health District). She is the author of The Corporate Looking Glass: Using Culture for Your Competitive Advantage (available on Amazon.com), which is required reading at Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business and Management. www.CorporateLookingGlass.com
© Rossina Gil, 2015
Naturally, one of the benefits of keeping diverse company is exposure to different tastes from your own. So it is that, as the parent of two boys, I accompanied my husband to the barber shop and perused through Rolling Stones magazine while I waited.
I came across how Black Sabbath played their farewell tour this September 2015. Now, I experienced my high school years in the ‘80’s, so I was no stranger to this band; however, the associations I had of this band were all negative, especially given that I lived those years in a community which kept the Sabbath. As an adult, my programs entail critical thinking, unconscious bias, implicit associations, and dealing with second-hand bias. In Tony Iommi’s case, there are a lot of explicitly negative associations (in my opinion), and, yet, to retain critical thinking we must examine the origins. This is the trait of a leader: Be curious. What follows is what I uncovered about Iommi, who is Black Sabbath’s sole continual band member and primary composer, the man who invented the Heavy Metal riff and is ranked by Rolling Stones as #25 of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time.
Anthony Frank Iommi was 17-years old at work in a sheet metal factory when he lost the tips of his middle and ring fingers on the “fretting” hand. He was more distraught at the prospect of having to surrender his enjoyment of guitar playing than the fact that he lost his fingertips (that’s my female, non-guitarist subjective experience at play). Recognizing Iommi’s distress, his factory foreman played him a recording of the famous jazz guitarist, Jean “Django” Reinhardt.
“My friend said, ‘Listen to this guy play,’ and I went, ‘No way! Listening to someone play the guitar is the very last thing I want to do right now!’ But he kept insisting and he ended up playing the record for me. I told him I thought it was really good and then he said, ‘You know, the guy’s only playing with two fingers on his fretboard hand because of an injury he sustained in a terrible fire.’ I was totally knocked back by this revelation and was so impressed by what I had just heard that I suddenly became inspired to start trying to play again.”
Unique Sound and timing of consumer readiness/delivery. Iommi slackened the strings to ease the tension on his fingers, so it wouldn’t hurt so much. This produced a strange sound, which became a technique and the mainstay of heavy metal music. The sound has the musical technical term of Tritone, or the flattened 5th (a.k.a. augmented 4th), which spans three whole steps in the scale. In the Middle Ages, this dissonant music interval was called “diabolus in musica” (the devil in the music). Diminished chords are often used during the scary parts of horror movies. Consequently, Iommi became known as playing the “Devil Chord.”
Band Name and the discovery of marketplace demand. Iommi’s band was called Earth, but they discovered there was another English band named Earth, so they opted to change their name to avoid confusion. It just so happened that the movie theater marquis across the street from the band’s rehearsal room displayed “Black Sabbath”— a 1963 horror film, starring Boris Karloff. Bassist Geezer Butler commented, “Strange that people spend so much money to see scary movies.” Light bulb…people want to feel.
Marketing and creating the “stick factor.” Iommi didn’t come up with the concept of the upside-down cross; he always wears the cross necklace rightside up. However, once Black Sabbath recorded its first album under that name, the marketing group kept with the theme of rebelling against a long-held standard of mainstream tradition. This perceived Satanism solidified, and indelibly etched, this group’s place in Rock – a musical genre that already attracted a group of “rebels” against traditional culture.
Leaders follow their passions, despite the obstacles. They carve their place in time by staying true to who they are, and by recognizing that being different may be the greatest asset they have. Carbon copies are not craved as much as limited editions. Realizing that sometimes life’s disasters happen for a reason — which are usually unknown to us in the moment – is critical for resilience and success…and, if we are resilient, we place ourselves in a better position to experience a high bounce after a deep fall.
Thank you for being you, Tony.
How do you practice self as instrument?
Rossina Gil, MSOD, MAIS, is a Leadership and Organization Development Practitioner, cultural integration expert, and the founder of Corporate Looking Glass, LLC – a diverse consultancy of OD experts and strategic thinking partners. We increase retention. Visit CorporateLookingGlass.com.
© Rossina Gil, 2015
BBC interview. June, 2013. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1QEd8CqAmGs
Iommi, Tony. Iron Man: My Journey through Heaven and Hell with Black Sabbath. Simon & Schuster Ltd. (2011).
NYRock.com. “Ozzy Osbourne: The Godfather of Metal”. June 2002.
A large part of my work involves reframing. That means I help people look at the same situation from a different perspective – one which enables them to feel as though they have a better handle on the situation. Whether this is achieved through Executive Coaching, a 360-debrief, or a Leadership Development workshop, the aim is to provide relief. Relief comes from comprehending that we do not need to surrender who we are as individuals in order to overcome what appears to be an obstacle in our path to reach our set goal(s). Usually, that “obstacle” is another person, or group of individuals, who has made up his/her mind as to who you are, and may be casting aspersions. Welcome to the corporate sandbox.
In Sara Canaday’s book, You – According to Them, she addresses 9 types of individuals who reach a level of professional competence and then plateau. After a brief definition of each of the types, I shall provide you with an example from one of my previous clients. For the sake of anonymity, the subject names alternate between Jane and John – which do not reflect the actual name nor gender of the individuals.
9 Professional Plateaus
- “Don’t Fence Me in”
|PERCEPTION GAP +/-||Highly Productive & Innovative||Rebellious & Uncooperative|
This type strongly desires autonomy and does not like feeling smothered by authority. This type can be a leader or “solopreneur” working internally who does not cater to office politics. The dissent may come across as forceful and adversarial.
My example: Jane wanted to provide her client with the deliverables they expected. The client explicitly stated how the current software Jane’s company provided was not adequate. Despite not being an IT specialist, Jane was smart enough to create a rudimentary piece of software that services the client’s needs. The client was happy, but the CTO was outraged and reversed Jane’s efforts. Jane left the company.
Canaday’s advice: Begin to think about the structure and norms of business in a new way. You aren’t being forced to change; you are choosing to play the game with a different strategy. Remember that business is a game. Adopt the mindset that you have chosen to play the game.
- “Intellectual Snob”
|PERCEPTION GAP +/-||Intelligent & Well-Qualified||Condescending & Elitist|
This type comes across as overly critical. They have a naturally competitive spirit with those them deem as intellectual peers. Elaborate vocabulary and academic explanations may leave some as feeling inferior. Because of their confidence in what they know, they are often unaware of the tone they project.
My example: John received his degrees from highly reputable schools. As a self-made man, he worked to put himself through school and learned everything through true grit and effort. When he landed a position in his field, he did not believe in “dumbing down” his vocabulary, which led him to “shoot himself in the foot.” His style had reminded his colleagues of a previous leader who was condescending, and spoke in the same manner. They ostracized him; John left the company.
Canaday’s advice: Temper your bold confidence and strong opinions with a little finesse. Pay close attention to your word choice so you don’t inadvertently undermine your own efforts.
- “Frozen Compass”
|PERCEPTION GAP +/-||Decisive & Candid||Abrupt & Insensitive|
This type has just one gear: their natural style. There is no adaptation, despite the setting or individuals involved. This behavior displays lack of what is known as self-regulation. When the person with whom you interact is not the same type of individual you are normally accustomed to, behavior may need to change or perception of performance may be low.
My example: Despite the Ground Rules of the company to put away Social Media during meetings, Jane continued to pick up her cell phone, check messages, and text. She appeared to be able to still hear the content presented, but she remained unfazed when her much older colleague openly declared (as an indirect message to her) that he felt texting during a meeting was a sign of disrespect. Jane remained oblivious to how her credibility took a dip; HR made a note of her behavior.
Canaday’s advice: Neither approach is wrong; the problem lies with the inability to change in certain settings. Unfortunately, they are so comfortable following the same path that has always worked for them that they don’t recognize the roadblock. Be more aware of your own behaviors and those of the people around you.
- “Dust in My Wind”
|PERCEPTION GAP +/-||Extremely Energetic & Driven||Relentless & Unrealistic|
This type tends to work at high volacity. They work incredibly long hours, and send/answer emails in the middle of the night and weekends. Colleagues feel inadequate and/or defensive about not measuring-up or following suit.
My example: John is a self-declared workaholic. He gets more pride in his work by demonstrating his commitment to get tasks done. While he doesn’t expect others on his team to behave in the same fashion, the team became resentful of feeling the need to keep up with his pace. One time, while they were taking a break to play ping pong, John walked by, and they immediately ended their game to go back to work.
Canaday’s advice: Successful teamwork requires being ready to “merge”—without running everyone else off the road. Show your human side. Divert some of your abundant energy into a different direction.
- “No Crying in Baseball”
|PERCEPTION GAP +/-||Composed & Steady||Robotic & Indifferent|
This type does not like to show too much emotion, especially tears, at work.
My example: Jane is a high-performer. She claims to have no time for depressing stories. Her feeling is that life happens, and one needs to just get over it. So, when a colleague came to her office to relate a personal incident, Jane literally picked up the box of tissues and threw it into the kitchenette, telling the colleague to dry up her tears elsewhere because that was not what her office was for.
Canaday’s advice: Remind yourself that outdated thought processes need to be upgraded, just like old technology.
- “Safety Patrol”
|PERCEPTION GAP +/-||Methodical & Compliant||Inflexible & Overly Cautious|
This type believes they are providing a valuable service by playing Devil’s Advocate. By doing so, they see themselves as realistic and practical. Their skill is in identifying problems and determining the most efficient solution.
My example: John is a system thinker who often had great solutions. He felt he was even better at contributing value when he took his colleagues’ ideas to the next iteration or level. He considered this teamwork. Unfortunately, his colleagues did not see it that way. They felt he was constantly “one-upping” them. He was awash in a sea of resentment.
Canaday’s advice: Build relationships. Unleash the kinder gentler you. Remember timing, delivery, and tone. Help others think critically before advising.
- “Faulty Volume Control”
|PERCEPTION GAP +/-||Too Low: Understated & Humble
Too High: Assertive & Enthusiastic
|Too Low: Bland & Forgettable
Too High: Self-Serving & Inappropriate
This type either doesn’t believe in self-promotion and loses out on opportunities or overly self-promotes and comes across as a braggart. This is a stereotype that has become somewhat of a norm, when it comes to gender. Many women expect to be noticed for the excellent work they do, while many men will clamor attention to themselves, whether they perform excellent work or not (or none). When the behavior is reversed, the negative judgment comes across strong.
- “Passion Pistol”
|PERCEPTION GAP +/-||Spirited & Passionate||Intense & Overzealous|
This type has unbridled exuberance might be diminishing their leadership presence. Enthusiasm is their trademark. They feel it shows they have a zest for the life and work that they lead.
My example: John would enter the workplace each morning full of energy. He was a former pro-tennis player, so athleticism and early morning hours were a core part of how he would show up to the office. Each day he came in, he would burst out with a loud, “Good Morning!” expecting others to appreciate his vigor. His boss had a private meeting with him and told him to take it down several notches and not be so intense. John felt disengaged, wondering how he could still be who he is and fit in.
Canaday’s advice: Just use that passion more strategically. Pay attention to how your enthusiasm is perceived in different settings, and use that feedback to adjust your behavior for better results. Being more aware will help you apply your enthusiasm appropriately and minimize misfires.
- “Perpetual Doer”
|PERCEPTION GAP +/-||Reliable & High Performing||One-Dimensional & Over-Functioning|
This type is the kind which loves to dive into the details meticulously, yet struggles to delegate and develop. In an effort to get everything done, they may come across as anxious to finalize the minutia.
My example: Jane was the best at Project Management in her division. She was the most qualified, the most educated, and the hardest worker. And, she drove everyone who worked with her nuts. Her direct report couldn’t figure out Jane’s filing system because Jane would put folders inside of folders, insides of another set of folders. Jane’s behavior caught up to her when another colleague perceived Jane’s fastidious work habits as being incompatible with the office culture and recommended that she be let go.
Canaday’s advice: Take on stretch assignments. Seek out projects that will allow you to show off your leadership skills. Start delegating.
There are various ways of uncovering your blind spots. They all come from receiving feedback from those around you. While Behavioral Science tools are usually quite useful in determining your preferred type, some people become bothered at the prospect of being placed into a category or “box.” Canaday’s categorization doesn’t necessarily relegate you to just one type; and, if you self-identify with one type more than the others, then it may be a useful exercise to try and modify some of your behaviors to expand your “personal market value.” Perception analysis does hold the key to enhancing this.
Is it a Roar? Or, is it a Meow with a megaphone?
Rossina Gil, MSOD, MAIS, is a Global Leadership and Organization Development Practitioner, and is the founder of Corporate Looking Glass, LLC – a diverse consultancy of OD experts and strategic thinking partners. We increase retention. Visit CorporateLookingGlass.com.
© Rossina Gil, 2015
What makes Blue Health™ better than other corporate wellness programs?
This program is designed by professional Organization Development practitioners based around the USA, who have banded together from having formerly worked with today’s most competitive wellness models:
Blue Zones, Creation Health, and Healthy Companies. It is also endorsed by Medical Doctors.
Collectively, the wealth of our experience maximizes your corporate health and competitive advantage.
How do I sign my organization up for Blue Health™?
Please write us at firstname.lastname@example.org. An associate will connect with you promptly.
Rossina Gil, MSOD, MAIS, is the founder of Corporate Looking Glass, LLC — a consultancy firm active across the USA, composed of Organization Development practitioners, Executive Coaches, and Interculturalists. Rossina is a former resident of the only “Blue Zone” in the country, and shares her community lessons in this Wellness program, along with her insights from working across multiple industries.
New Executives? Your company may have a “fish out of water” story on its hands. What is the process of acculturation (i.e. on-boarding) in place at your organization?
Commonly, when corporations send its top talent to other regions, including countries, to stretch the top performers’ abilities and learn how to adeptly be a Global Leader through international experience, the executives are offered two full days of cross-cultural coaching. This type of consulting is to prepare for the full immersion; or, in some cases, it is arranged for post-arrival.
In order to survive in a new work environment, it is imperative that prior to joining, you are aware of the climate. Now, with the help of Glassdoor.com, et al, insiders are providing glimpses of what the organizational culture is like for those on the outside looking to join.
Organizational Culture is a pattern of assumptions, values, and norms which are shared by organization members. Culture can evolve intentionally and unintentionally. (See Blog Corporate Primatology). By understanding a culture’s norms, we can work towards the desired outcome. This applies to understanding family cultures (the in-laws), national cultures (expats), and corporate cultures (employees).
Understanding the Norms
Norms are unwritten rules of behavior that guide what members of groups do and don’t do. Norms serve a need, such as group cohesion, and provide predictability. Predictability keeps most members feeling safe because they learn the nature of the “reward band.” A reward band is recognition, bonuses, promotions, favoritism, extended to those who behave accordingly.
However, norms are mostly unconscious and might not reflect actual written policies. They may also be contrary to whatever values the organization espouses to hold. This is why it is paramount that new members identify the norms as early as possible in order to avoid pitfalls and land mines.
Identify the Norm. “Around here, when it comes to _________ we ________.”
E.g. Around here, when it comes to “feedback,” we “handle it face-to-face discreetly” or “handle it in the hallway with a colleague” or “take it straight to Human Resources (HR),” etc.
Around here, when it comes to “working weekends,” we “regularly come in on Saturdays,” or “can work from home” or “have this reduced to just travel,” etc.
Around here, when it comes to “vacation/Paid Time Off (PTO)” we “are contactable by cell only for emergencies,” or “are not contactable” or “are always contactable,” etc.
- Analysis. Have an Organization Development practitioner conduct an analysis to determine your organizational culture. Norms should be mapped. (See What is OD? and Hellenistic Philosophy and Leadership).
- Accurate Portrayal. Have recruiters deliver a fair assessment of what kind of organizational culture the new employee can expect.
- Relo Help. Arrange for Relocation Assistance, if the new colleague relocated to the area. Relocation Assistance helps New Arrivals become familiar with the area (e.g. where to shop, DMV, places of worship, info on neighborhoods, etc).
- Retention Convo. Hold a retention/engagement conversation with the new employee. KeepPeople.com cards are a useful tool. The supervisor should review this every six months.
- Orientation. Deliver an on-boarding program which helps people understand the organizational norms AND avoid the pit-falls which have driven previous colleagues to leave.
- Lingo. Provide a list of acronyms and terminology that is part of the organizational language.
- Buddy. Assign a buddy or counselor, in addition to the Human Resource Business Partner (HRBP) on the first day. Have the HRBP meet monthly with the new colleague (this should be on the calendar).
- PDP. Develop a Professional Development Plan as a strategic document for the new colleague to understand what is expected of him/her.
- Intros. Set up meetings with key partners, vendors, clients, and co-workers as a way to introduce the new colleague into the organization.
- Team Retreat. Share team strengths and responsibilities with each other during a private lunch meeting, full- or half-day meeting – preferably off-campus. Psychometric tools and/or Organization Development exercises are useful for an accelerated bonding process.
- Evaluation. Disclose how the new colleague will be measured for performance management.
- NLI. Schedule a New Leader Integration process, if the new colleague has direct reports, within 60-90 days. Do NOT hold feedback until then; coaching must be timely and positively
Much like a plant being transferred from one location to another, the new colleague requires nurturing (i.e. compassionate coaching). This is fertile soil.
While no one can mandate a welcoming organizational culture, having a structured, transparent, and easy-to-find-resources work environment, will maximize retention.
Rossina Gil, MSOD, MAIS, is a Global Leadership and Organization Development Practitioner, and sits on the Advisory Council of the Insight Garden Program, a leadership program designed to promote rehabilitation for San Quentin penitentiary prisoners. Rossina is the founder of Corporate Looking Glass, LLC – a diverse consultancy of OD experts and strategic thinking partners. We increase retention. Visit CorporateLookingGlass.com.
© Rossina Gil, 2015
Come January 2016, Corporate Looking Glass, LLC, is offering a 2-day Corporate Wellness program called Blue Health™.
Start your new year off to the right start by leveraging your corporate competitive advantage. Designed by author Rossina Gil, former resident of the only “Blue Zone” (i.e. 5 global areas with the highest longevity) located in the USA, Blue Health™ incorporates positive behaviors that impact Mind, Body, Spirit, and the Organization. Results have proven to improve overall individual, team, and organizational effectiveness.
Blue Health™ is jam-packed with highly interactive sessions to raise employee engagement. It includes two facilitators, two psychometric tools, and materials. Deliverables include a personal Action Plan and a Purpose Statement.
Corporate Looking Glass associates are based around the USA. Please visit CorporateLookingGlass.com
Se habla Español. Japanese is also available.
Corey Keyes (American Sociologist and Psychologist, International Positive Psychology Association Conference 2015): Health is more than the absence; it is something positive.
Work colleagues get a lot of exercise climbing the Ladder of Inference. We take action on our beliefs from stories that we solidify in our minds. It is done within seconds. This is especially dangerous when the ladder climbing is done by senior executives in snap judgments about colleagues at lower levels. Projects are taken away, erroneous information is passed along, missed opportunities for professional growth and development (on both sides) take place, and more unfortunate circumstances happen.
When Italian opera singer Andrea Bocelli delivered his first performance in New York City several years ago, a critic wrote something along the lines of, Bocelli’s magnificence has clearly gone to his head as he failed to establish eye contact with his adoring audience. The critic had risen up the Ladder of Inference (see image below) by first selecting from the observable data the fact (or behavior) that Andrea did not establish eye contact. This part no one can dispute.
The meaning he applied to the behavior is that lack of eye contact signals megalomania. The assumption he drew is that anyone who is talented (or, in other cases, intelligent, beautiful, etc.) feels s/he is at a higher level than the rest and, thus, does not need to look anyone in the eye. The conclusion is that Bocelli was “full of himself” because he is such a fantastic singer that this clear talent gives him justification to act as though he is better than the rest. The critic’s belief is that Bocelli’s personality is a detriment to his talent.
If you know anything about Andrea Bocelli, you would then know that he is blind. Blind people have a considerable challenge to look anyone in the eye.
Here is one remedy to avoid this workplace hazard:
- DESCRIBE THE BEHAVIOR: Andrea, I saw you sing with your eyes closed.
- ASK FOR INTERPRETATION: Would you please tell me what that means to you?
(Colleague interprets behavior).
- EVALUATE: Based off of this information, you can decide whether Andrea merits a more favorable review for his outstanding performance.
Here is another remedy to avoid this workplace hazard:
The mentor conversation may involve impact. It would sound something like this:
“Andrea, I noticed that you performed with your eyes closed (BEHAVIOR). The impact I had is that we are inferior to you. I know that only I own my emotions (ACCOUNTABILITY), and I am concerned (FEELING) that others may feel the same way; so, I wanted to privately (PROFESSIONAL) offer you this feedback in an effort to support your success at our organization (CONSTRUCTIVE). The culture here is about treated others as equals (MENTORING).”
Wait for response. In this instance, the mentor might feel embarrassed upon discovering the reason; in other cases, the mentor may wish to co-create an action plan and follow up.
Mentor feedback focuses on behavior. It is constructive feedback; not destructive feedback that would leave a colleague feeling as though he may have jeopardized his future at the organization and/or instantly alienated himself from colleagues.
Above all, AVOID LABELS (i.e. adjectives) and focus on behaviors. Telling Andrea (or anyone else, for that matter) that he is snobby, big-headed, stuck-up, etc. does not help him get to where the larger system can benefit from his talent. How can your words and actions move the organization forward? Speak with the person who is worthy of your counsel and perspective. That will lead you, and the other individual, towards much richer conversations and outcomes.
Rossina Gil, MSOD, MAIS, is a firm believer in growing and developing talent as a Global Leadership and Organization Development Practitioner, and is the founder of Corporate Looking Glass, LLC – a diverse consultancy of OD experts and strategic thinking partners.
We increase retention. Visit CorporateLookingGlass.com.
© Rossina Gil, 2015
Senge, Peter. The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of the Learning Organization
Theologian Frederick Buechner defines vocation as “the place where your deep gladness meets the world’s deep need.” The root of the word is “vocare” – which means “to call,” in other words, your vocation is “a calling.” (See also blog Purpose). It comes from listening, or paying attention, to what speaks to you; what provides meaning and satisfaction for your existence. It is not something you chase, it is something you already hold within you, and you build upon it to achieve greatness in generating positivity in others.
Sociologist Parker Palmer phrases vocation this way:
“What a long time it can take to become the person one has always been. How much dissolving and shaking of ego we must endure before we discover our deep identity, the true self within every human being that is the seed of authentic vocation.”
St. Thomas Health, a leading division of Ascension Health, is a medical system based in Nashville, Tennessee, which provides a vocational perspective for its mission. Its Leadership Development program is called Formation, which includes leaders from middle management, executive management, C-Suite, and Board Members, and is delivered over the course of 10 months to 2 years (depending on level).
The leaders at St. Thomas Health follow what they refer to as the Spiritual Leadership Model, as opposed to the typical corporate or traditional leadership model, which is more pervasive across Corporate America. The emotional impact of 9-11, the globalization effect of the internet, and the increasing influence of the Millennial/Gen Y generation are shifting some organizations (e.g. TOMS, Burt’s Bees) to drive engagement and productivity through their culture of giving. The connection they establish between employee and the marketplace creates a synergistic effect that becomes profitable.
|Traditional Leadership Model||Spiritual Leadership Model|
|THEME||I came, I saw, I conquered.
(Latin: Veni. Vidi. Vici.)
|I was called, I heard, and entered in.|
|PURPOSE||Unique: Different from others.||Created & Interdependent|
|DIRECTION||Outward; Exclusive||Inward; Inclusive|
|MARKED BY||Extrinsic: Materialism, Status||Intrinsic: Depth, wisdom|
|MINIMIZE||Failure; setbacks||Nothing; all belongs|
Mary Lou O’Gorman is the Executive Director of Pastoral Care at St. Thomas Health. She describes her primary responsibility as “grief work,” since she deals with the passings and changes of circumstance for patients and/or their families. Over the course of 30 years of service in this role, she has become adept at helping people begin the path of “What does it mean to not be who I was?”
Sooner or later we are all faced with this question…and at several junctures in our lives. Mary Lou’s calling is a call of Compassion – one that involves helping others navigate through challenging, and often sudden, situations of change to the way things are from what they used to be. Change Management, therefore, is a requisite in life; since change is the only constant variable with us from cradle to grave.
This path is not easy. However, authentic leadership requires the ability to tap into one’s core identity and the deftness to support others in finding their own. It is through this nurturing and strengthening of spirit that will lead you, others, and the organization as a whole towards quicker recovery and resilience during times of emotional fatigue and stress.
“Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.” — Max Ehrmann, “Desiderata”
Rossina Gil, MSOD, MAIS, engages as a servant-leader Global Leadership and Organization Development Practitioner, and is the founder of Corporate Looking Glass, LLC – a diverse consultancy of OD experts and strategic thinking partners. We increase retention. Visit CorporateLookingGlass.com.
© Rossina Gil, 2015
Kearney, Jerry. St Thomas Health, VP Mission Services
O’Gorman, Mary Lou. Executive Director, Pastoral Care
Palmer, Parker. Let Your Life Speak
Sports Psychologist Bob Rotella just released his book How Champions Think. In it, he shares the “virtuous cycle,” which is the winning formula for success in any field that enables you to serve the world with the gift you’ve been granted. His formula? Optimism + Confidence + Persistence = Success
Exceptional people engage in helpful frames of mind. They go beyond the “Little Train Engine That Could” — which repeated his mantra of “I think I can” — to “I know I can.” These thoughts include:
- Visualization. Our imagination is an invaluable tool many of us left in the sandbox. For visualization to work, it must be vividly detailed and intense. It must entail the senses: sights, sounds, touch, and smells of the experience. Rotella: A vivid, sensual detailed visualization helps convince the subconscious that the experience is actually happening. (pg 51)
Be limitless. Rotella believes that if Jack Nicklaus had won 25 majors and Tiger Woods had set out to surpass him, Tiger would have won 20 majors by now (instead of 19 & 14, respectively). Much like breaking a plank of wood in karate, aim for what’s behind the wood; not the plank itself. Aiming high enables your chance to be great; it will make your failure be better than most people’s best.
- Re-framing. Exceptional people respond to perceived failures/misfortunes and react to the events in their lives as lessons to draw from, then they forget the negative aspects. Rotella: There’s a difference between learning from failure and wallowing in it. (pg 178) Bulls coach Dean Smith told Michael Jordan to give himself no more than 10-20 mins to reflect on an undesirable performance, if he ever wanted to reach his personal vision. Think and remember in ways that will keep a positive outlook.
- Positive Self-Talk. Exceptional people thrive off of positive input; however, the cost of greatness entails getting knocked down a lot. Be confident in your ability. Doubt and fear ruin performance. Jack Nicklaus: You have to be a legend in your own mind before you can be a legend in your own time.
Exceptional people gain confidence from their optimistic outlook. This feeling is fueled by passion for loving what they do. Healthy feelings include:
- Enthusiasm. Exceptional people live for their wins. They build on their successes. They find it every day. They get into the flow of being good at something they love doing. Ralph Waldo Emerson: Nothing great has ever been accomplished without enthusiasm.
- Patience. Exceptional people show enormous patience (and perseverance) when they have an improvement process in place. Setbacks do not take them off-track from their quest for excellence. Rotella: You’re unstoppable if you’re unflappable. (pg. 161)
- Humility. Exceptional people keep their ego in check, despite the level and ranking attained. They do not feel as though they are better or more entitled than anyone else.
It is not enough to internalize success. Exceptional people create action plans. Practices include:
- Network. Exceptional people surround themselves with and listen to, people who will help them be great. Optimism and confidence are contagions; and success is not a journey for the sole traveler. These are people who support and encourage without going so far as to pander. These people are “straight shooters” – ones who will tell you what you need to hear in order for you to move forward towards your vision; even when it may be information you would not like to hear. We learn from those who can see what we are capable of achieving; oftentimes more than we can see for ourselves. There is wisdom to be gained from people who believe in us.
- Accountability. Exceptional people never blame failures on others. They are fully functional adults who constantly ask themselves, “What more can I do?” Most people are not capable of self-evaluating, but exceptional are. They set their own performance bars.
Exceptional people also know when to evaluate themselves. They suspend evaluation until post-performance so as not to distract their natural ability and get in their own way. Overthinking can result in “analysis paralysis;” it is best to allow the subconscious to control the moment (and not introduce the conscious to hi-jack your performance), since evaluation is a function of the conscious brain. Course corrections can come later.
- Mindfulness. Exceptional people hold onto favorable memories, and let the rest go. Then, there is only the present moment to enjoy and build upon. Focus on the shot, and do not think about the consequences of the shot.
Call it “The Secret,” learned effectiveness, your vision board, or whatever you choose…one thing is for sure: Exceptional people maintain a vision and dream big—of excellent performances, of a beautiful life, of a stellar career, of a great something.
Rotella: “When you retire, you’ll like the face you see in the mirror. On your last day, you’ll look back and think how lucky you were to have lived the life you did.”
Create your own reality.
Rossina Gil, MSOD, MAIS, is an optimistic Global Leadership and Organization Development Practitioner, and the founder of Corporate Looking Glass, LLC – a diverse consultancy of OD experts and strategic thinking partners. We increase retention. Visit CorporateLookingGlass.com.
© Rossina Gil, 2015