Making the Right Decision

image taking controlI was discussing an upcoming training with a client the other day when she informed me that one of the key employees wouldn’t be able to make it. If we didn’t present the training on our previously planned date, it would have to be postponed for some time. I immediately responded that we should postpone the training for a couple months until everyone can be present.


My client responded by disagreeing with me and insisting that we go ahead with the training. My first thought was that she just didn’t understand the whole situation. Surely, she could see how her thinking was wrong. However, as I continued to truly listen to her reasoning, I began to change my perspective. I actually began to see why her thinking made sense. She did understand what we were trying to accomplish and had already given the dilemma much thought.


I was speaking from my experience, my knowledge of the situation and from my vantage point. I was making my best judgment. However, she shared new information, and made the case as to why this was the right decision. After receiving additional information, I agreed to moving forward with her plan.


So remember when I said that I listened and realized that in light of some new compelling information, I might be incorrect? That’s where a lot of leaders fail in their quest to be successful. They are strong in the concept of making decisions and leading the team, but might not be making the BEST decision because they just won’t listen.


Here are a couple principles to think about next time you are in this situation:


Someone else might have a better idea and that’s O.K.

So here’s the truth: Sometimes it’s not easy for leaders and influencers to like other ideas better then their own. Leaders are confident in their actions. However, leaders can LEARN to step back and truly listen and respect other’s opinions and judgments. This skill can be developed with constant practice.


Focus on the best outcome, not on who had the best idea

Focus less on being right or wrong and more on what the best outcome is for the team. Drop the ego and ask yourself: Will this decision accomplish our goals? Will this decision get us to where we want to go? How will we see the results that we desire?


Truly listen to others when they share their opinion

If I had not actively listened to my client, I would have still been stuck on my original assessment. We would have postponed the training and it would have been the wrong decision for everyone. However, once I heard her additional information and put it in context for this situation, I realized that I didn’t have all the pieces of the puzzle. Actively listening means that I am able to get outside what going on in my own head and what my needs are in the situation. I am able to take a birds-eye view of the situation and see the objective facts.


Think about this the next time you have a discussion and there is a decision to be made. Consciously step back and truly listen to the reasoning. Don’t let emotion and ego get in the way of you reaching the best outcome.


image clockI go for a long bike ride with my husband every Sunday— weather permitting. At this point in the season, we’re now up to about 65 miles each time we ride. We don’t always leave at the same time, but we do follow the same route on the bike trail each week. When we get past the turn-off and to the overhead pass, I always search for Tennis Man.


Every week on our route, there’s a man that volleys against a concrete wall. In fact, I’ve gotten to the point where I search for Tennis Man as soon as I turn the curve. No matter the time, he never lets me down. He must be practicing for hours.


Last week, I noticed that he started waving to us as we approached. He yelled hello and commented on how long we had been seeing each other. I hadn’t realized that he looked for us as much as we look for him.


Passing Tennis man had become one of the things that we counted on. We knew that once we passed him, we had a certain many miles to go to get to the next landmark. Seeing him always gave me a sense of comfort— something that I could count on. In fact, when Tennis Man was missing, things just didn’t seem right.


Seeing Tennis man had definitely become a part of our weekly routine.


That’s exactly the role that having routines can play in your life. They become something that you count on, something that actually gives you a sense of comfort. In fact, when you change that routine, you can feel like something important is missing. The problem is that often we carry routines in our work and private life beyond their expiration date.


What do I mean by that? I am referring to those routines that are mainstays in your lives, but no longer serve any sort of purpose. You simply continue to do them because you always did them. You keep them because they give you continuity in your life. On top of that, having them makes you feel good.


However, they can sometimes hold us back from our goals and finding success.


Maybe you have a routine of getting up in the morning and sitting in front of the computer to mindlessly check your social media. Maybe you have a routine of going out with the same group of friends every Saturday night. Maybe one of your routines is coming home and turning on the television after a long day of work. Or maybe, your routine is eating the same lunch at your desk every single day at work.


Some of your daily routines have been a part of your life forever and you don’t give much thought to changing them. The point is that some of your routines are positive actions in your life and move you toward success. However, some of your routines stand in the way of you achieving the very goals you are working toward. That knowledge doesn’t occur to you on a daily basis but if you took a birds eye view of your life, that is what you might see.


I am asking you to take that step back, and do an inventory of your daily life. Make a list of what your typical day consists of— work and play, and honestly decide whether your routines are pushing you closer or farther from your goals.


Make sure that you daily actions align with what you strive to achieve in life.

Relationship Advice

Miles and I are pretty firm in our routine.  He knows that I always feed him dinner and take him for a walk around 4 or 5 o’clock. If I’m in the house starting around 2 o’clock, I can count on him to be glued to my side.  Every time I make a move, he’s right there.  If I’m working at my desk, he will sit beside me and stare. He’ll be watching for any sign of movement, signaling my possible descent downstairs to his food bowl.  Watching his behavior, you would think that I never feed him.


By about 4 o ‘clock, I can no longer stand the feeling of someone staring at me and I make my way to the kitchen.  I feed him and get his leash ready for the walk.  He scarfs down the food morsels within a 20 second span and then turns to me for the next act.


Today, I felt pretty lucky that I was able to walk him before the big downpour of rain.  The weather was just perfect— sunshine with a nice breeze to cool things down.  As usual, Miles walked fast and insisted on leaving his calling card on every single bush and tree within a 2-block radius.  When we turned around and began our walk back to the house, Miles sat down.  He sprawled out under a tree and decided he was done.  I didn’t notice this detail, so I continued to walk until the long, taut leash pulled me back.


I told Miles that he could take a little break but then we were going to go back home.  When I got close to him, he quickly turned over on his back to show me he was ready to get picked up.  I tried to “marionette” him to walk but that didn’t work.  Frustrated and angry, I finally gave up and picked him up.  Miles seemed quite content with my decision.


I listen daily to successful women that are unhappy with the relationships in their lives.  They want the people in their professional or personal lives to change and they ask my advice as how to make this happen. They have a proactive approach to life and are very problem/solution oriented. All of this is wonderful but they’re leaving out one very important detail.  You can’t make people change and you can’t convince people that they need to change.  In fact, the harder you try, the less effective you will be.


You can, however, change your own part in the scenario.  A relationship is dynamic and if you change your own behavior, then the other individual’s behavior will also have to adapt.  It might take time before you see the desired changes in the other individual, but it’s definitely an empowering and healthy way to handle the situation.


Now, back to Miles.  I was livid with Miles when he was lying under the tree and expected me to pick him up. I could swear he had a smile on his face. But who was really responsible for this travesty? What had I taught him to expect from me?  He had the routine down from the signs that I was getting ready to feed him until the moment that I gave in and picked him up.   I had trained him on this whole experience.


However, if I changed my behavior, he would also have to make some changes.  Maybe the first time, things wouldn’t go so smooth, but if I stayed the course on this new change, the Pug would eventually have no choice but to adapt.

It’s really not that different with humans.


Facing the Fear

It all started five days ago. I was eating breakfast and I heard a rhythm of knocks at the door.  It stopped for a while, but it soon started up again.  Knock, knock, knock. I opened the door and looked around but I didn’t see anyone.  I went upstairs to focus on my work.


I wasn’t sitting at my desk for more than five minutes when I heard the rhythmic knocking again.  Knock, knock, knock, knock.  On and on it went until I ran back down the stairs and opened the door.  Again, I didn’t see anything and I closed the door.  I asked my husband later that day if he had heard that same sound emanating from the front door.  He too had wondered what the sound was and had opened the door to find nothing.


Finally, on the fourth day of knocking, my husband quietly walked out the side door and worked his way to the front of the house.  There, at the front door, was a Robin banging his head against the door’s brass kick plate, over and over again.


According to an expert on bird behaviors, this is about the time when they start feeling territorial.  They do their very best to keep other adult birds of the same sex outside of their territorial boundaries.  When a Robin notices its reflection in a window or mirror, it becomes agitated and raises its feathers and assumes dominant position.  Normally, that behavior is enough to make other robins leave their territory.


However, the “reflection” obviously also gets agitated and becomes equally dominant.  If the robin sees his reflection repeatedly, it becomes more and more agitated and aggressive.  The bird gets determined to drive the “other bird” away.


Apparently, my robin friend was quite aggravated with the nerve of the “brass plate” bird.  No matter how much he threw his weight (and head) at the bird, the “brass plate” bird continued to fight back.  Therefore, that bird felt obligated to come back to my front door over and over again to show the other bird who was boss.


But we know the truth.  The “brass plate” bird was only a reflection and didn’t truly exist.  However, for my friend the Robin, it was very, very real and threatening.  The bird’s response to the threat was the same ritualistic behavior every time, which, as we know, was not bringing him the outcome that he wanted.


What do you fear in life? It’s possible that you have fears that are keeping you from moving forward.  Like our friend the Robin, your usual way of dealing with these threats are based on past behavior.  Do you have a coping pattern of pulling the covers over your head or do you persevere and face whatever’s in front of you?  Chances are, you repeat this ritualistic behavior over and over.  It’s very possible that your fear is about as real as that birds reflection in the brass kick plate.


Your success on moving forward in life is dependent upon your ability to see the fear for what it truly is— only a reflection of your past negative experiences.  Your success on moving forward is dependent upon your ability to change your patterns and find a new way to approach the fear.


Only then will you stop banging your head against the brass kick plate.