Your Narrative—In Business and Life
“Assumption the Mother of all Screw ups.”
– Line in the movie “Under Siege 2—Dark Territory”
Everyone has a narrative in their life. It’s how we explain life, people, business, relationships, and more. It’s the story we tell ourselves about others–their motivation and attitude–it’s our way of explaining how people, business, and life operate.
The problem with our negative narratives is that we’re often dead wrong in the way we perceive people, organizations, and circumstances. This could not be truer than in business and the marketplace. In business, it is imperative we be accurate in our assessment of reality.
Relate this to customers, stake holders, competition and the marketplace at large–with this wrong “reading” of we end up misjudging, miscalculating, and completely misunderstanding an entire situation– possibly even an entire relationship. The fundamental problem with our own “self-narration” is that it often leads to poor action, responses, and results. This can lead to loss, bankruptcy, broken relationships and companies—not to mention business competitiveness.
Negative business narration has two directions it can go.
Internal negative narrative—this type of negative business narrative tends toward our own self-justification and judgment of other’s internal drives. This is where we find it easy to presume we know the inner workings of other’s motivations, attitudes, and how they think. Here, we find it easy to vilify others and justify ourselves. This is a narrative in which we can never see ourselves as wrong. When we vilify others we excuse ourselves. The phrase that is used is “excuse and accuse”. When we excuse ourselves and accuse others, we have no grounds for personal responsibility. Poor decisions are made when our internal narration of others runs askew. We are on shaky ground when we presume to judge the motivation and intention of others.
External negative narrative is where we read just the external circumstances and draw our (often incorrect) conclusions. This is based on what we can perceive only externally. Here, mistakes in good judgment happen and the results are usually disastrous. We have poor information which leads to bad interpretation and then we make poor decisions. When we have bad data we make bad decisions leading to poor outcomes. Enough said: Garbage in=Garbage out.
Assumption is the fuel of the negative narrative paradigm. It is based primarily on guess work. We all know what assumption means! When we assume and presume that we know more about others and how their circumstances “seem”–we are on shaky ground.
This assumption and vilification based in narrative negativity will result often in a life cut off and sequestered from others. This bitter “Lone Ranger Mentality” rules the day in many leaders, cultures, and managers. This kind of leadership is, frankly, frightening. One thinks of Hitler and others in history and shudders at the thought of the negative narrative drawn out to its logical and frightening conclusion.
So, what are the solutions?
1. Have openness about life, people, and relationships –Know that we have little or no control over others. We have, at best, incomplete information about others and no real way to know it all. What we really need is a new narration–the ability to be open and not get into the temptation to tell a story about others when we really don’t know all the facts. How can we possibly know the whole story about someone or the situation or how they got “there”? Be all about getting good, solid facts first!
2. Be a Person of Possibility– this starts with believing the human condition can improve, learn and evolve. We can learn to grow and actualize and enlighten personally, spiritually, and mentally. This is not an easy task—but we actually can get better! We can learn, grow, and leverage our strengths and weaknesses! Give others the benefit of the doubt. Stop the temptation to be judge and jury—give others the benefit of the doubt. Trust some folks and their good intent. Take (wise) risks in believing in people. You’ll be surprised how trusting someone can really result in some positive outcome and benefits. People thrive in a culture and atmosphere of genuine trust. Trust me…!
3. Have Trusted Advisors—Stay close and value people in your life who are not afraid to push back when you begin negative narration. Have business friends who will challenge your dominant paradigm. Give them freedom to ask you hard questions and to question your judgment and ways of seeing things. This relationship takes time, trust, and relationship building.
4. Catch yourself. When you begin to mentally “go” negative—notice it and stop it. Get into the habit of stopping your own negativity and replace it with something more positive! Tell a new story or simply resist the tendency to tell any narrative at all. Be in the moment with people and be free to just experience them as they are. This truth can open the door to unknown and limitless possibility in life, business, and culture. Now go and re-tell your story today….
“If you’re in business for just the money—you’re about half paid.”
R.L. Hammond (1921-2004)
My dad was an insurance agent in San Diego County in the 1970-80’s. He lived a life of serving others and his country in WWII. He taught and tutored me in much of what I know and do in business today.
The following practices/ideas of his are sure to ratchet up your business acumen:
- BE KIND TO EVERYONE—“It doesn’t cost anything to show kindness to others, Scott,” he would say. Be nice. Play nice. A smile and a small kindness go a long way.
- HAVE A FIRM HANDSHAKE/SHAKE HANDS AND GREET PEOPLE- People love to feel important (because they are!). An appropriate handshake and a greeting really affirm others and establishes rapport-quickly. Give the gift of appropriate touch.
- TELL GREAT STORIES—People live in stories…We all relate to a good tale and learn more from a compelling story than a lecture. Stories bring relevance to our topic and to our relationships.
- BE A GOOD LISTENER—This tells people you affirm them and value them. Empathy is a powerful relationship builder and establishes credibility, reliability, and shows you really care.
- BE AN ABOVE AVERAGE SPEAKER—Learn the art of public speaking. Good speakers know how and what to communicate and when. You can learn to speak well if you apply yourself to the disciplines and use the tools available to you. “Go to a Toastmaster Meeting”, he would tell me.
- HAVE AN AWESOME SENSE OF HUMOR—Laugh sometimes. Have fun with people and stop the somberness that permeates some business cultures. Be appropriately playful with people who like to play and laugh, and cultivate the ability to really laugh at life.
- DEVELOP LIFELONG RELATIONSHIPS—Be the person who reaches out and calls and takes the initiative in your relationships. Be that person who spends the time and effort to get to know and serve others. Givers really do gain!
- GIVE ENCOURAGEMENT…FREELY—Be that person who can freely affirm, encourage, and genuinely build others up in a truly authentic fashion. Heck—tell those you love how you feel.
- BE A GIVER—Share your life, world, resources, experiences, gifts, and time as freely as you feel able and willing. Be that person who “walks the talk” in your actions and your words. Give to others expecting nothing in return—you will be blessed.
- BE SPECTACULAR ON THE PHONE—Learn to use the phone like no one else. Make purposeful and powerful calls that build rapport and relationship. Learn to network using the phone to make great calls and reach out to those you hope to build alliances with. Know how to relate to people via the phone on a regular basis.
10.5. BE YOU—Just be yourself not a second rate version of someone else. Trust yourself, be yourself and others will resonate with the “authentic you”. There is only one of YOU—be the best you possible and you will succeed in life, business, and awesome relationships!
As you arrive home after your day or work—do a quick PERSONAL inventory.
H A L T….!!
If so, satisfy and notify. Communicate to others as appropriate, what you are feeling.
Give yourself food, talk with your partner, go out back and pray, etc…
Let others know what you need for that moment.
Give yourself a time-out, a shower, or whatever will satisfy the identified need.
Yes, there will always be reasons why some of this coping strategy cannot be done, but even sometimes is better than not at all.
In Review—HALT—Employ an appropriate tool–Then come back on line as the awesome parent you really are!
Help your kids ease into sleep with some pre-sleep routine that works for everyone.
This is key as it actually sets the stage for the next day in many ways.
We often start with a warm bath followed by the customary tooth brushing—those dental bills!
We then have a variety of bedtime “tools” depending on the age of the child.
My wife will often have a reading time with our 2 young boys centered around books they like.
With my older, special needs son, it is more of a time of getting him “tucked in” and comfortable followed by prayer.
This all includes appropriate and customary “kisses goodnight”, hugs, and acts of affection.
Tell your kids you love them—and why.
Show appropriate physical affection. Do this parent to parent and parent to child as well.
I am reminded if I refuse to hug my teen girls, there are PLENTY of young men ready to fulfill my duty…
Our kids need regular, appropriate physical touch—so does our spouse. So do I!
The kids need to see in each parent nurturing, gentle love and , when needed, the firm-yet-respectful love.
This “tough love” can manifest in a “courageous conversation” (not lecture dad!) or in simply doing and saying the right thing–always in a spirit of love.
Show your love today—Be a “hugger”—Surprise them by being that person who is warm, loving, and not afraid to show it.
BTW: say “I love you”—regularly, and mean it.
There are three types of people in this world: those who make things happen, those who watch things happen and those who wonder what happened.
What will they say at your memorial? What would you want them to say?
THAT will be your legacy and it will be too late to start working on your life of significance at your memorial. You can begin TODAY to work toward a “Business and life legacy” and really make a positive difference!
How do you leave a legacy of positive business leadership? Who doesn’t want to leave a positive legacy? Leadership and legacy means being PROACTIVE…Take the lead and be the instigator!
Think about your personal leadership… See life as a chance to identify your purpose, position, passion, and posture and then
I worked for Ron Pileggi for 20 years at the local Tri City Weekly and he exemplified a business leader who left an awesome business and life legacy. Ron always made life about RELATIONSHIPS. He modeled how to really care about and serve others with his staff, customers, community and in his industry.
Staff- Ron modeled “servant-leadership” in that he really helped his staff wherever possible. He showed a boss who was involved on a personal level and really loved his staff by showing it in his actions.
Customers—Ron went the extra mile to really serve and meet needs of his customers. He even would give it away if it meant helping a fellow businessperson get back on their marketing feet.
Community-Ron was an example of a guy trying to make a positive difference in our community. Whether it was serving in Rotary, helping various non-profits, or just showing up at events, Ron was present and a servant of all.
Industry—As an industry pioneer and leader, Ron shared expertise in the Free Paper Industry of America freely. Not only was his publication multiple award winning over years, he gladly shared his trade success secrets with fellow entrepreneurs.
Ron left an amazing legacy across the board—Staff, Customers, Community and Industry. He intentionally modeled ‘servant-leadership” in the roles he served.
Here are 5 Easy “Knows” to a Great Life and Business Legacy:
1. Know Legacy–Understand and Know what a Legacy is–Begin to study what a legacy is and how we are all leaving behind something” in our lives we will be remembered for. Study the lives of those who you know have made a positive difference in their world.
2. Know Thyself–Begin to look at your life and what you are leaving behind and what you are now known for. What is it that people remember about you and your life? Be honest! Ask safe people who will give it to you straight and without apology. It is about what others know about you vs. how you perceive yourself. You may be really surprised …
3. Know Thy Legacy–Pick and focus on one aspect of your life that yields positive results and influences others in a significant way–Find your message, media, and platform and go to work leaving behind something meaningful to others. Live your life of significance with intention.
4. Know Thy Audience–Who listens when you talk? Who picks up when you “throw down”? Who are your peeps and those who love you? These are the ones ripe for receiving your legacy message.
5. Know Thy Media–Begin to find and understand your most comfortable platform and medium for delivering your legacy message. This can be written, spoken, crafted, or lived out loud in some way. Most folks begin with some writing or speaking—the written and spoken word has tons of possibility when leaving your life of significance. Blogging, public speaking, or writing your book all have potential for great legacy tools. All legacy begins with being a good communicator—be one!
It is time for us to get busy and become more intentional about leaving behind a life of business legacy and living with and on purpose. Each of us has a limited number of days on Earth (Grandpa Tom says, “No one gets out of here alive!”) and we need to be purposeful in how we live. Know legacy, yourself, your own legacy, your platform and your audience and you will begin to make a positive difference and leave an awesome legacy!
Life and business will have more meaning and so will you! Start living your legacy today—we’ll be glad you did.
The Challenge of Change
It doesn’t take a leader to move a person to fix something that is obviously broken. It takes a leader to inspire comfortable winners to move to higher ground. It is the hardest thing a leader can do. Just ask the President. What are you doing to help your family make the paradigm shifts that will move your family productively on a journey into the future?
Every parent needs to keep his family out of their comfort zone and hooked on the goal of continuous process improvement. Promote innovative changes throughout your family. If you lead a family and you want your family to give you innovative ideas, ask for their contributions regularly by encouraging and honoring diversity of opinion and thought. Be open to the unconventional, and be relentless in promoting fresh eyes to uncover new changes and new opportunities.
The Magic 5:1 ratio-
Researchers study relationships report that stable couples don’t allow the relationship to be overrun by negative feelings. In fact, they say, successful couples maintain a healthy balance between their positive and negative encounters with each other. They don’t avoid disagreements. They don’t avoid arguing. But they do balance out any negative interactions with positive feelings and actions but showing interest, being affectionate, showing they care, being appreciative, smiling, paying compliments, laughing, showing concern, etc. In other words, stable couples have at least five times as many positive interactions in their relationship as negative ones.
“All you need is love”…Beatles wrote it because it’s true! We all need love, and it must be demonstrated by us and to us. The key question for me and you is, can we be intentional about giving the appropriate type of love to those we do love?
What are your languages of love? What are you best at giving? Which do you love to receive the most? Moreover, what is your spouse’s favorite Language of Love? Now go and be intentional about your giving and receiving of love.
The 5 Languages of Love
1. Words of affirmation– this includes encouragement, positive reinforcement, kindness, and general verbal affection.
2. Quality time– this includes focused attention, quality as well as quantity of time, and spending time with people we love.
3. Receiving of gifts– showing others we care and that we are thinking of them through practical gift giving.
4. Acts of service– To show support and care through practical actions. To show in actuality what we feel internally, to serve someone.
5. Physical touch– To show, demonstrate, and receive appropriate physical touch- hugs, touching, appropriate physical contact.
Men tend to really like number five and number one. A word of encouragement and appropriate hug or more! can fill our emotional tanks and keep us going for long periods of time.
Successful parents are clear and spot on with what they’re trying to accomplish in training their children. Discipline and focus must balance grace and mercy. There must be a balance between grace and discipline in managing a family in raising great kids.
Great parents are intentional parents. They know what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. Parenting also comes with the mandate to be flexible. Flexibility coupled with humor, grace, mercy, forgiveness, and the ability to keep it light will help parents get through many a dark time.
Training our kids through leading them by example and serving them is also a key component in that our values are usually caught not taught. This modeling of our values and walking our talk is key in setting an example for our kids to follow.
As we live our values as parents, our kids are taught and catch what we are instructing by the message of our lives and example. The key is for parents to be totally focused on this key role, whilst understanding none of us are perfect— thus we need grace both on others and for ourselves as parents.
10 Tips For Quality Family Life
Parents and their children are spending less time interacting with each other. As a result, many children are getting less personal love and attention than their parents did. American Demographics reported that parents today spend roughly 40 percent less time with their children than did parents a generation ago. To help families stay connected, below is a list of helpful family time tips. Keep in mind, quantity and quality time is important when choosing activities. So build memories around exciting events by keeping your family time creative and enjoyable. Print out the following tips as daily reminders.
1. Eat together & listen to each other. Most children today don’t know the meaning of a family dinnertime. Yet the communication and unity built during this setting is integral to a healthy family life. Sharing a meal together allows the opportunity to talk about each other’s lives. This is a time for parents to listen, as well as to give advice and encouragement. Attentive listening conveys a message that a person is really interested in another. It also imparts a sense of worth and helps develop trust. Therefore, listening is a critical link in successful parenting.
2. Read often. It’s important for parents to read to their children. The latest research indicates that reading to your children cultivates an interest for knowledge and stimulates language development. It also increases their attention spans and helps them become more curious. Look for books that your child would enjoy reading. After reading, ask questions about the content.
3. Do chores together. Part of what goes on in the home is the development of teamwork. Functional family life depends on the contribution of everyone. Assigning chores is the most productive way of teaching responsibility and accountability to your children. Doing chores with your child will help foster good communication skills.
4. Help with schoolwork. A great way to spend quality time with children and light a fire of learning is to help children with their schoolwork. A parent’s eagerness to help will cause a child to become more interested in school thus improving his or her grades. Regular trips to the library for school projects are an inexpensive and enjoyable way to spend time with children. Helping should begin with an understanding that children are responsible for homework. Parents are there to help their child get organized and to encourage them when they get stuck.
5. Start a hobby or project. Choose a fun activity that your child is interested in. Activities like cooking, crafts, fishing, or biking will make great hobbies that can open the door to exciting family time. Once a child learns a new recipe or is able to cast a lure accurately, let him or her take the lead with your supervision.
6. Play games. New technology has made video games more prevalent. As a result, many children are spending long hours in front of the TV playing computer programs. Parents should find creative ways to spark an interest in family-oriented contests such as board games or card games. This will give parents additional time to talk and nurture their relationship.
7. Plan a family outing. Sometimes getting out of the house is important. Hop in the family car and go for a drive. Prepare a picnic lunch and visit a local park. Take time to play catch or ride a bike. A stroll in the woods will help parents interact with their children. Also, a visit to the zoo or museum will spark a child’s enthusiasm and lead to lengthy discussions.
8. Encourage athletic activities. It is vital for children to exercise. Sports not only strengthen the body, but also build character and determination. Whether it’s a father pitching a baseball to a son or a mother and daughter nature walking, finding time for athletic events is important for a child’s emotional and physical development. This is a great opportunity for a family to interact.
9. Create a Family Time calendar. Since many parents have hectic schedules, time with children often becomes a low priority, whether intended or not. Post a calendar on the refrigerator and have parents and children pencil in special events. Knowing when you’re going to meet may also help you think of creative activities. Commit to keeping this schedule free from interruptions.
10. Pray together & attend a house of worship. Nothing is more special than taking a few minutes each day to pray with a child before bedtime. By explaining the purpose behind prayer, children will learn the importance of faith as the foundation for the family. Also, when parents go to religious services, they instill in their children a reverence for God. Churches can also offer invaluable support to families.