Quick Thoughts: True Friends Tell You What You Need To Hear

If I were to ask you to think about who your friends are, there’s a good chance you’d think about who you love hanging out with on weekends and having fun. You’d think about who you get along with the most, who you’re happy to be around.

But maybe you should also think about those people that brave the potentially uncomfortable and awkward situations to tell you what you need to hear, regardless of whether you want to hear it or not. Now granted, you have to trust that those people have your best interests at heart. But in the end, it’s the friends that are willing to give you the needed reality check that are the best.

If You Want Respect, Take Responsibility

Respect goes a long way and is a currency that must be earned because it cannot be taken. It can be earned quickly, or over time, as a result of an action or inaction, but it requires proof or a reason. When you’ve gained the respect of peers, competitors, or strangers, you’ve done something to earn it.

Some people think that by attaining a position of power, it should demand respect. But I disagree. Those in positions of power should work to earn respect just as much as everyone else.

Showing respect and earning respect are two different things. I can show respect to someone in authority but I don’t have to respect them. If you’re having trouble figuring out if the people that you surround yourself with or have been given to lead respect you or not, think about who would come to your aid when you’re in trouble, and who wouldn’t.

And before your blood starts to boil when you think about those that won’t back you, stop for a moment and take a step back and really understand why they wouldn’t. Sure, maybe some of them are jerks or they’re simply jealous of you for some reason, but even the fiercest of rivals have been known to have a healthy respect for each other.

Earning respect starts with taking responsibility and owning up to your actions as an individual, and if you’re a leader, manager, or coach of a team, owning up to those too. It means standing up and taking the good and the bad, not just enjoying the success and passing blame for failures to someone or something else.

“You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.” ~ Carl Jung

You Don’t Know Someone Until You’ve Walked In Their Shoes

Who says all the cool random conversations have to happen in the office? A technician came to change my gas meter the other day to swap out the old one with a new smart meter which will allow the company to take a reading without having to come by my house. I thought that was pretty cool. When he rang the bell and I answered, he asked if I went to Penn State because I was wearing a hoodie that said it. I answered no, but that my brother had attended the university. As it turns out, the technician attended Penn State for 3 years and then went into the military, serving overseas as well as here in the States. And while he is no longer part of active duty, he is part of the National Guard.

His military service started a really interesting conversation about politics, war, civilian life, racism, and community influence. It was great to hear his about his experience in the military and how it was different for him as a minority. In fact, all of his responses and opinions on the topics we spoke about were fascinating to hear and I was very thankful that he shared them with me. And I did thank him for his service to our country.

Before passing judgment, try walking in someone else’s shoes.

I was reminded of a valuable lesson after my conversation with him. And that is that you really don’t know and cannot understand what someone is experiencing unless you walk in their shoes. As human beings we have our own opinions on things and we don’t always agree with others. That doesn’t mean the other person is wrong, an idiot, uneducated, or stupid. It just means that they see the world in a different way than you do.

I recently watched a film called “Citizen Soldier”, and the story was about a group of soldiers in the Oklahoma Army National Guard’s 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. I found it interesting because these were soldiers that had regular full time jobs, trained for 40 hours a month, and were sent into Afghanistan and into combat. After watching the film, I had my own reservations and questions, and this tech was able to clear them up for me.

It’s really easy to sit on a perch and pass down judgment on everything you see around you or what’s fed to you by the media on television or online. Social media has given everyone a megaphone to share their opinions in an open forum regardless of understanding situations. People just don’t listen anymore before they speak. And this leads to landslides of negativity that you see in your feeds every day. The “glom on” effect is just rampant.

It’s not wrong to have an opinion. It’s better if you have one. But before you choose to share your opinion about someone or any situation that you haven’t fully experienced, try speaking with someone that has.

Self-awareness And Success. It’s Important to Know Who You Are.

While I’m a big advocate of flexible work locations, one of the advantages of going into an office is the opportunity to have cool random conversations with people, and I love those. I recently had a conversation about self-awareness, which lead to the thought about how important it is for success.

What exactly does it mean to be self-aware? According to Psychology Today, self-awareness is defined as “the accurate appraisal and understanding of your abilities and preferences and their implications for your behavior and their impact on others.”

While the importance of being self-aware seems fairly obvious, it’s not something that the majority of the world has mastered. Jeff Kauflin writes that “95% of people think they’re self-aware, but only 10-15% truly are,” and that “people who are more self-aware tend to perform better at work, get more promotions and lead more effectively.”

Do you know who you really are?

If you’re self-aware, you know what you’re good at, what makes you happy, and basically what kind of person you are. Understanding this is key to putting yourself in the best possible way to succeed. Not only will you be better at evaluating opportunities that come your way, you will also be realistic about goal setting. Being more self-aware means that you’ll have a real and true understanding about how people view you.

There are a couple of ways that will help you become more self-aware. One is to go and experience new things. You don’t know that you don’t know, and you can’t say that you like or dislike something if you’ve never experienced it. My friend Jay Mandel recently said this in a blog post and it resonated with me, “The quest for mastery can help you define and refine your reason for being, your purpose”. I believe the journey of mastery plays a big part in achieving self-awareness.

Another way to become more self-aware is to make some really good friends. We all have friends that we consider to be good friends, but how many of them can give us criticism and get away with it? We all need an honest friend that can tell us what we don’t want to hear when it’s needed. If you’re someone that that doesn’t need this, then I would say you’re not very self-aware.

Obviously self-awareness is not the golden ticket to success, but it’s a good start. How self-aware are you?

How Can You Be Different?

Hearing Keaton Jones’ story is troubling. The cool thing is the support that he has received from just about everyone. We shouldn’t be made fun of for our differences. Our differences make us unique, help us stand out from the crowd. Our differences make us stronger. So it’s really sad to see someone being bullied because they’re different.

Keaton’s story should prompt you to take action, but what kind of action should that be? It’s easy to get mad and angry at those that treated this kid this way, but in the end hate will just lead to more hate.

The action that you should be moved to take is how you can change yourself to be different. Can you be different in a way that people can see kindness? How can you be different in a way to stand up for others that can’t stand up for themselves?

At a time when a trend will soon be to make resolutions for the New Year, maybe we all can resolve to be different for good.

What do Employees Need to be Motivated?

When I commute to the office in the morning, traffic gives me the time to think. I know that this must sound pretty ridiculous but sometimes I welcome that. But as much as traffic gives me time to think, I don’t look forward to sitting in traffic. I don’t want to sit in traffic.

But while in traffic I tend to think about a wide range of things, but today it was about employee motivation. And so I asked myself the question, what motivates me as an employee? Is it schedule and work location flexibility? Is it a good relationship with my manager and coworkers? Is it meaningful work? Or is it financial?

Do you know what motivates you as an employee? Before you answer, I suggest you read “How Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs influences Employee Engagement”, by Steve Smith. I would also suggest that managers read the article as well, it just might help keep your talented team members from leaving.

Curious to hear your thoughts and feedback, what truly motivates you as an employee?