LifeRevelation

Life is a Revelation…be encouraged

Archive for the category “jobs”

All the Same

While you, dear reader, may not be able to tell, I usually spend considerable time thinking, researching, and sharing my ideas with Susie, before I sit down to write. I’ve found, for the most part, this keeps me from running off on some half-wit tangent. Susie says this also makes it easier for her to converse with her friends, because she doesn’t have to spend hours defending my posts.

I think she means it as a compliment.

This post is somewhat different, because while I have given it a lot of thought, I haven’t done much research and I’ve kept my comments to Susie to a minimum. So I hope this post doesn’t cause much distress the next time her friends and her get together. This one comes more from the gut.

Let me start with a story.

Several years ago I was asked by a friend’s wife if I would be interested in mentoring at risk and behaviorally challenged children in the public school system. Although they were wanting to reach children of all ages, I would be working specifically with elementary students. After she answered several questions for me I thought the idea had merit and agreed to become a mentor to twins of a single mother. The twins had a slew of issues and while I am no trained child psychologist my biggest contribution would be as an in-room monitor who would work with each of them to keep them focused during the school day.

I enjoyed the work and kept meticulous notes as to what worked and what didn’t during various situations. I shared these notes with others who were involved in the program. The program became a company and the company started to grow. New mentors where hired. Programming directors, financial analysts, therapists, and others were added to the payroll. Strict rules were put into place. The roll with what is happening and go with the flow was eliminated. Structure and order became the only way. Owners and management began to dream about earning substantial money. They began to curry political and corporate favor. The ideas others and I had become part of a program that was touted as having an incredible success rate. Metrics were put in place. We were all coached on how to write our reports so Medicare would pay. Students graduated from the program reportedly cured of their issues.

Except there was only one problem.

The kids weren’t healed. They were better. They were making progress. They could function for longer periods of time without having a physical outburst, but they were a long way from being what anyone would call healed. It wasn’t that they were bad kids. Or even that they were mentally deficient. They simply had been born into horrible situations. Their only guidance in life had been through the TV they were set in front of from birth, because the changing patterns on the screen kept them from crying or they imitated what they saw when they left the living room for the streets. They yelled, screamed, cussed, and fought just like they saw the gangs do, except they were in the third grade.

But it didn’t matter. In order to keep the money flowing in they were diagnosed with a DSM Code by a staff child psychologist, then pronounced healed when they got near the end of time that federal funding would pay for their care.  One size fit all, except we weren’t talking about clothing, we were talking about children with feelings, emotions, and in need of real, true, honest love.

I bent and broke all the rules. I went home with the kids I worked with and talked to their parents, when I could find them, and whoever else I could find when the parents weren’t anywhere around. I prayed with my kids. I took them places like museums, libraries, art galleries, backstage at theaters, and anywhere else I could think of, to expose them to a bigger world. I paid for everything out of my own pocket.

Then I got caught. I was warned. I didn’t change I kept on doing everything. I got caught again. I was told to change. I said no. They said my services were no longer warranted. They sent two large men to escort me out of the school. They told the principal I was under investigation for wrong doing.

When we find something that works, people want to turn it into a program. They want to monetize it. They want to streamline it. They want one size to fit all. They want to make it all the same.

Well I don’t want to. My experiences with the children is only one example. In my life, and in yours, there are hundreds of examples. This is one of the reasons why I love the blog world. Each blog is different. The content is our own. We aren’t constrained in what we say and how we say it. I’m not given to using lots of provocative or foul language, but I’ll always defend your right to, even if I am hoping you won’t.

Like I said at the beginning of this post, it isn’t well researched, nor have the words been carefully chosen, they just rolled out of my heart, and hopefully into yours.

Be encouraged!

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Like

http://rwconnect.esomar.org/2012/01/17/why-i-hate-like/

Like is a concept I have wrestled with for the greater part of my life. Not that I don’t understand the meaning of the word, I do. It is trying to get a grasp on the whole concept that keeps me somewhat mystified.

I once watched an eight year old boy walk into a room with other boys and girls, all around his age. A total of maybe nine or ten were gathered in the room. The gender split was roughly equal. Some were no doubt a little younger and others were older, but there was no huge age discrepancy. Before this young man entered,  a couple were off playing by themselves, but most were gathered around two or three boys. They were laughing and talking and all seem to be at ease with one another.

Maybe at this point I should interject that these were not ordinary kids, they were all models and each one of them had been modeling for several years. They were out-going and completely comfortable making new acquaintances. When the eight year old boy I mentioned earlier entered the room the entire dynamics changed. Within a few short minutes every child was grouped around the eight year old and he was laughing and talking to them. He had established total control over the room. Even the couple of strays were brought into his sway.

As I witnessed this transformation I was dumb struck. He wasn’t dressed any differently. He did not possess a commanding voice, he was only eight. He didn’t say, “Hey you all, come over here.” Actually his demeanor was kind of shy. Yet every child gravitated to him. CEOs would pay dearly for his ability to command the room. What made this child so immediately likable?

This happened over thirty years ago and at times I still ponder what transpired in the room. What hidden talent, or mojo, or vibe did that eight year old boy possess that drew every one of those children to him like a magnet draws iron filings?

There is a new book published earlier this year by John Wiley & Sons, Inc entitled Likeonomics: The Unexpected Truth Behind Earning Trust, Influencing Behavior, and Inspiring Action. The author is Rohit Bhargava. His writings have been featured in the Wall Street Journal, the Guardian, Fast Company, NPR, and MarketingChina.  His first book was Personality Not Included and has been translated into nine languages. For kicks and giggles he is Adjunct Professor of Marketing at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. So apparently the brother is extremely gifted in time management.

I haven’t completely finished the book yet, nor has he provided me with a complete understanding of the episode I witnessed thirty years ago, but I have read enough to realize he and I share many of the same convictions…only he writes much better than I do.

One of the first concepts he establishes is there is a real ROI on likeability He goes on to establish five key principles:

Truth

Relevance

Unselfishness

Simplicity

Timing

Yea, if you take each of the first letters it spells TRUST. At first I thought it bordered on hokie, and kind of still do, but it makes it easy to remember and drives home a very excellent point. His argument being if you are likeable then people will trust you. Being trust-worthy is the real key to standing out from the competing hoards.

I experienced this earlier this today. Susie and I are launching a new company. We are developing the content for a supremely radically different Women’s Professional Development Conference. We are incorporating acrobats, fire eaters, sword swallowers, magicians, shadow puppeteers, drama, contortionists, unicyclists, laundry dryers, and Barbie dolls into a power packed day long seminar that will leave women feeling Stronger, Better, & Ready For Whatever in their professional and private lives.  Remember, I told you it was supremely radically  different. 

This afternoon I received a phone call from an international motivational speaker who (somehow) had heard about what we are doing. He was extremely impressed as I discussed our concepts and business plan with him. So much, that by the end of the conversation he said he wanted to mentor us and help take our message to the international market.

Our team is floored…to say the least. We never expected anything like this. We were thinking about how to take our message state-wide. He expanded our entire vision with just one phone call.

Now segue to later this evening. I RSVP’ed for a meeting of life coaches. This will be their first time meeting so everyone was encouraged to give a brief bio of themselves and their company. I wrote almost verbatim (plus some extra for more detail) what I wrote above. I described how our content empowered women to truly make changes in their lives. To be more successful and stretch their ideas of what was possible.

The response I received was this:

Is this a joke or what?

I guess I need to cultivate my believability more.

I’m going to go read another chapter.

Be encouraged!

Virtue #7–Bravery

http://inkandstardust.deviantart.com/art/Bravery-288324911

Bravery is an odd thing. It has several different qualities. There is the bravery that results in one of these:

 

http://www.history.army.mil/moh.html

This is the Congressional Medal of Honor and you don’t get these by taking the easy way out. The medal comes at a cost. A cost many of us would find to high to personally pay, but not all do. Those who have been awarded this medal all have one thing in common; none of them set out to get it, it was never a goal.  To be a recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor you need to be a member of the United States Armed Forces. Right there I am ruled out, but it gets much tougher from there.

An individual must partake in “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity, at the risk of his or her life above and beyond the call of duty, while engaged in an action against the enemy of the United States.” That pretty much eliminates the rest of us.

Since its inception by Congress on July 12, 1862, 3,462 individuals have been recipients. Since we are zeroing in on nearly 50 million having served our nation since 1776 that means that less than .0007% of those who have been in the military have received this award.

Of course, there are many other types of bravery. I found this poem at http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100403132515AAPqb7J

It Takes Courage

by Anonymous

It takes Courage

To refrain from gossip

When others delight in it,

To stand up for the absent person

Who is being abused.

It takes Courage

To live honestly

Within your means,

And not dishonestly

On the means of others

It takes Courage

To be a REAL man or a TRUE woman,

To hold fast to your ideals

When it causes you

To be looked upon

As strange and peculiar

It takes Courage

To be talked about

And remain silent,

When a word would justify you

In the eyes of others,

But which you dare not speak

Because it would injure another.

It takes Courage

To refuse to do something

That is wrong,

Although everyone else

May be doing it,

With attitudes as carefree

As a summer song.

It takes Courage

To live according

To your own convictions,

To deny yourself

What you cannot afford

To love your neighbor

As yourself.

I am not going to write anything about this poem, because I believe it stands alone. I wish the individual who wrote it would have attached their name…but after reading it, it doesn’t surprise me they chose not to.

One last thing I want to say about bravery. There are men and women, who through no fault of their own, are raising their children in single parent homes. If you are one of these individuals I commend you. Personally I don’t how you do it, but I am extraordinarily proud of you. To me you are as brave as the ones facing enemy fire. Not because of the element of danger involved, but due to the inward strength it requires each and every day to get up and do all the those things that need to be done. You your children ready for school, their hands and faces are washed, their hair brushed, you get something resembling breakfast into them, somehow during the midst of all of this you have gotten yourself ready for work. Then either off to the bus stop or you drive them to school. Next is getting yourself through  morning rush hour traffic to work on time, where you are expected to perform at a high or higher level than others. No bringing home issues to work, this is business. You already have arranged for day-care after work. So you pick up your little one(s) and then home to cook dinner, do homework, play with toys, get bathes, read a book, put to bed (whole books could/have been written about that one), get their clothes ready for tomorrow, and now it is finally your time, except it is late, you are bone tired, and tomorrow you get to do it all over again. Somehow you do all of this and still try to instill virtues into your children. You teach them right from wrong. You want them to be creative. You want a better life for life for them.

You are the brave ones. I see you in the parking lot at the grocery store. I see you at little league games. I see you at school functions. You are everywhere. I want you to know I am proud of you.

Be encouraged!

Personal Boundaries

http://sfhelp.org/relate/boundaries.htm

I am walking through the shop floor of a Global 100 manufacturing firm. The firm employs over eight hundred associates and has a well-defined and strong Human Resources office. They are involved in the work-place life of each associate and know many of them on a first name basis. I have been working for this firm for over six years and have made many good friends with both hourly and management employees. So it came as know surprise when I heard my name being called out by one of the female sub-assembly line workers. I looked up to see her smiling and waving me over as she reached for another plastic dashboard to which she would connect, depending on her worksheet, a variety of lights and sensors.

This associate had been working for the plant for over fifteen years and was considered a good and reliable worker. Although she had never worked in any of the departments I was responsible for, I had talked with her several times about various job related issues. I had a reputation as someone who might be able to better your work environment, and I was always willing to help if I could. Other than those isolated conversations our contact was nil. I didn’t know anything else about her nor did I care to. It was a relationship based only on the workplace and nothing else.

Although the company had made great strides to reduce the noise on the assembly floor and safety ear plugs where no longer required in this area, it was still loud. Consequently it was necessary to speak considerably louder than you normally would to hold a conversation. As I neared she looked up and yelled out, “Hey Steve, I’m going to get my boobs reduced!”

Over the years I have had many conversations with women. Many times the relationships were of an intimate nature and therefore the subject of discussions had, on occasion, taken on a personal tone. However, since meeting  my wife over twenty years ago, those types of conversation have been restricted to her only. So my reflexes for responding to a sudden burst of what I consider very personal information were dulled, to say the least. I believe I was able to stammer out something like, “Uh gee..uhh…I…uh…wish you…uh…the best.” Then I headed back (quickly) to my office.

Several years ago during a business flight, the gentleman next to me launched into a detailed pornographic description of why he sexually enjoyed obese women. When I tried to stop him with a firm, “I’m sorry sir, this is not the kind of discussion I wish to engage in.” He became upset and asked why I was so uptight.

A couple of days ago I was reading a blog written by young lady and she revealed her bra size.

And it is not just sexuality either. The same can apply to those who provide cut-by-stitch descriptions of their surgeries or every nuance of their latest colonoscopy. I have heard descriptions of bowel movements, vomiting, in-grown toe nails, and, far too much, of almost every other body malfunction.

There are the neighbors who involve you in a blow-by-blow narration of every family squabble they have ever had. Men who detail every aspect of their spousal disputes and acquaintances who reveal personal information about their psychological hang-ups.

So what happen to personal boundaries? Are we all so Oprah/Dr. Phil/Jerry Springer de-sensitized that every subject is open game? Can we discuss any and everything and it is okay?

Call me old fashion, but I’m thinking some boundaries are a good thing.

Why someone I barely know would inform me they are getting a breast reduction is beyond my comprehension. Nor do I understand the gentleman who thought it was perfectly okay to begin to detail his sexual peccadilloes. Why a young lady would reveal her bra size on a post that could be read by anyone in the world with an internet hookup is puzzling…and dangerous.

I will never understand those that want us know all the details of their infirmities. It is enough to know they are infirm and to have a general idea what the issue is, but that is enough. I don’t require all the gory nasty details. Same goes for family and mental issues. I don’t my being made aware there are problems, but let’s hold back on doing the CSI report.

I’m not wanting a return to the dark ages. I don’t want us to go back to the point where everyone is hemmed in and we hold everything inside. But I believe there is balance. Balance is a beautiful thing. Difficult to strike, but wonderful to keep.

Be encouraged!

Insightful Humor

I found this lovely little comic at http://tadams4u.wordpress.com/. While it made me laugh enough to snort, I also felt it sums up how we all feel at times.

Be encouraged!

Virtue #4–Assertiveness

http://emotionpotions.com/emotions/12-assertiveness.html

The University of Illinois’ Counseling Center has an excellent paper on being assertive, it is entitled “Being Assertive in a Diverse World.” Excellent title and insightful content, weighing the difference between being able to express your opinions (e.g., hold your own) and going too far into aggressive behavior. Their definition of assertiveness, I believe, strikes the right balance:

“Assertiveness is the ability to express yourself openly and honestly while also reflecting a genuine concern for others. It is about having the confidence to speak your values and beliefs, and to be courageous enough to speak up when needed.”

I like that. It is succinct and to the point. Ambiguity is left for those who like to split hairs; attorneys and those elected officials who suddenly find they wished they had voted a different way on a contentious bill.

My wife, Susie, and I are polar opposites. I tend to be too far into the aggressor mode and she hates to walk on grass because she is breaking their little stems as they stretch out to the sun. She comes from a home life where the father was a raging alcoholic and a single peep could be reason enough to go in and destroy all the furniture in your bedroom. In my house, you won the argument by screaming longer and louder than everyone else. I found these debating techniques to be especially beneficial in my early days as drug dealer and as a result honed them to a fine edge.

We have learned after nearly eighteen year of marriage there is wisdom in compromise. The trick is to strike the right balance. We have found this balance originates in the heart. What are your motives? Is compassion driving your words or just the desire to be proven right? What is it you are trying to accomplish?

There is an unbelievable need in our culture for compassionate assertive behavior. Assertiveness falls in between the proverbial rock and a hard place.  Be too passive and you feel inhibited and anxious, unable to convey how you truly feel. Going too far the other way can cause a lack of respect from those you are communicating with.  The compassionate assertive person will take into account the feelings and beliefs of those they are interacting with, carefully choosing the correct words so as not to offend. They will know what to say and how to say it.

True compassionate assertiveness takes time and practice. I’ve had to radically alter my methods of communication when expressing my beliefs on a subject, more so when those I am in discussion with may not share the same feelings and thoughts. I have also failed more times than is comfortable for me to admit. Susie, as well, has learned to give voice to her feelings and emotions. She has mastered the ability to discuss nearly any situation with others and remain firm, yet gentle, in expressing her ideas. This combination has gone a long way in bring peace and harmony into our marriage.

Learning we have the right to be assertive is difficult. Developing the concept that you have the right to be heard can be extremely troublesome for some. Of course, there are varying reasons for these issues. Some may feel they cannot be themselves because of a lack of self-esteem. Others may not feel safe to “rock the boat,” so to speak, in a corporate setting. Then there is always the societal misperception that men, who are assertive, are take charge leaders, while women who exhibit similar qualities are…ahem, bitches.

As I have studied and written about virtues I continue to be struck by the tension and balance which exists in each aspect. Too little and the virtue is literally of no effect, too much and you border on being perceived as a demigod. Striking that balance is not easy. It requires continual attention to the details, as well as the big picture.

These articles have generated several comments and I hope they continue to do so. All of you have had interesting and insightful thoughts about each virtue and I have enjoyed reading them. More importantly your comments have opened ideas in my mind that I’m sure I would have never discovered on my own. So please, continue to share your thoughts, ideas, theories, recipes, money…whatever. As always I wish you the best.

Be encouraged!

The Wall Street Journal & Me

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photography-astonished-businesswoman-reading-newspaper-image13499072

I knew there would be a day when it would finally happen. In my mind I had thought/seen/dreamt about it many times. Usually when I was in that half awake/half asleep semi conscious state in the morning before I roll out of bed to take our rescue Husky Callie out for her 2.6 mile morning walk/trot/run when she sees wildlife adventure.

In my mind’s eye I could see myself picking up the Wall Street Journal at the local gas station/snack shop, like I do every morning, and casually turning to the Review section where I would unfold the newspaper and gaze with misty eyes, and a burgeoning sense of pride, at the one inch headline with a sharp clear black/white photo. The photo would perfectly encapsulate the intellectual weight of the article, accompanied with the byline Stephen Edwards…always in bold.

Well it didn’t turn out exactly that way. In fact, it wasn’t even close. But they did have an article about the same subject I’ve written about, which is probably as close to getting a piece in the Wall Street Journal as I will ever get.

The article is entitled, “Why We Lie”, (Saturday/Sunday, May 26-27, 2012) and it is written, not by me, but by Dan Ariely. I have no idea where they found Mr. Ariely at (according to the WSJ he is the James B. Duke Professor of Behavior Economics at Duke University. Tell me there isn’t more than one way to skin the cat.). I figure he was Plan B.  My post Lying-Maybe…Maybe Not was published on April 14th. I’m not entirely sure, but I’m thinking that is about the time my cell phone battery went dead. I’m surmising they (WSJ) read my post, were blown away by my depth and insight into the human psychic, tried to call, couldn’t reach me, then in a moment of panic (which I am sure they now regret) got hold of this southern yahoo from Duke.

I do have to give Mr. Ariely his props though, although he was obviously Plan B, he did do a fairly decent job of throwing together some interesting facts and supporting data. For instance, his overall nutshell conclusion is, “Everybody has the capacity to be dishonest, and almost everybody cheats–just by a little.” Which is kind of the problem. Because when you have nearly everybody cheating a little, that adds up to a lot.

He did all kinds of fancy studies and found out that people will increase their cheating/lying when; others around them cheat/lie, thinking others benefit from your cheating/lying, and (this one put a smirk on my face)…knowingly wearing knock-off fashions. The last one seems to kind of open the door a crack to cheating/lying. The idea being, “What the hell, it is such a small thing.”

Now on the positive side Mr. Ariely did discover one thing that seems to cause folks to curb their larcenous tendencies one hundred percent of the time; when participants were told to think about the Ten Commandments or swear on the Bible with their right hand, they completely ceased from cheating/lying. Interestingly even when the participants identified themselves as self-declared atheists, when asked to swear on the Bible, their cheating/lying dropped to zero. Seems like being reminded of a moral code had a significant effect on their behavior.

The article is adapted from Mr Ariely’s forthcoming book, “The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone–Especially Ourselves” to published by HarperCollins on June 5. He goes on to demonstrate the devastating effects of the everybody-cheats/lies-a-little syndrome has on our society. He closes with a paragraph I am reproducing here in full, because I believe it is an excellent summation of what I have been trying to talk about for some time:

“We want to install locks to stop the next Bernie Madoff, the next Enron, the next steroid-enhanced all-star, the next serial plagiarist, the next self-dealing political miscreant. But locking our doors against the dishonest monsters will not keep them out; they will always cheat their way in. It is the woman down the hallway–the sweet one who could not carry away your flat-screen TV if she wanted to–who needs to be reminded constantly that, even if the door is open, she cannot just walk in and “borrow” a cup of sugar without asking.”

Lying and cheating have become so commonplace, it is difficult not to encounter it everywhere; the doctor who pads with extra treatments, the bank that takes an extra day to process your check, the mispriced items at Wal-Mart (always in their favor), the inability to return an item without a receipt (even when they can look up the transaction on their computers), the “I’ll be there in a minute” reply”…it just goes on and on.

I still wonder what would happen if we had a Occupy Truth Movement. Susie and I are starting a new business and we are using the tagline “Do It Right” as our vision statement…maybe it should be “Do It Right, No Matter What.” We interested to see what will happen as we decide to not fudge anything. Everything will be transparent…from our salaries, to the amount of money the company generates, to what the money gets spent on, to how we conduct the day-in-day-out business operations. It will be an adventure…and of course, I promise to document it here.

Be encouraged!

Virtue #3 – Ambition

http://www.tiptopsigns.com/Kanji-Symbol-for-Ambition-Decal-Sticker-p-2621.html

AMBITION

Well here is one virtue I think at first glance we all go, “Hmm, are you sure about this?”

Everyone of us knows someone who has taken ambition, cut the chain, and ran with it. They have run so far with it that ambition no longer looks like ambition. It looks more like greed and walking all over people to get what you want (e.g., Michael Douglas in Wall Street).

Yet let’s back up and look at ambition in its true sense. Dictionary.com defines the word as:

Noun

  1. an earnest desire for some type of achievement or distinction, as power, honor, fame, or wealth, and the willingness to strive for its attainment.
  2. the object, state, or result desired or sought after
  3. desire for work or activity; energy

I will admit the first definition about desiring to achieve power and/or fame makes me a slight bit uneasy, but only because of their abuse. The word earnest thrown in their before the word desire creates for me a better feeling. Mainly because when I think of earnest, I think sincere and honest.

I don’t believe we have to make a choice between being ambitious and having principles. I would like to think I have ambition. Actually, I believe I have above average ambition. I know as I made the effort to turn my life around I was very ambitious. I was not going to fail. My entire focus was in breaking the bonds that I had created in my old life and establishing new positive valuable ones.

When I ran the 3,160 miles across the United States I definitely had the desire. As I have created this blog, worked on my book, and sought speaking engagements to spread hope, motivation, and success I have had ambition.

In our marriage, Susie and I have exercised ambition to be happy and content. Growing up our children understood that ambition is a necessary quality to live life to its fullest. We have already discussed with our six-year-old grandson what ambition is and how it is correctly used.

Ambition has an old fashion feel; like somehow we are now beyond the concept. Yet pure ambition can be used to propel you beyond the roadblocks and obstacles of life. It can be used to harness your positive energies and open a world of possibilities.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

As I’ve written this I have struggled with exactly how to portray this virtue. On the one hand, I want to caution against the run away freight train that turns ambition into nothing more than clawing one’s way up the ladder of life.  While on the other, I want you to understand I believe ambition is an essential feature to be successful; whether we are talking about careers, marriages, friendships, or companies.

Like most elements of life I think there is a tension that exists between good and evil. Lack too little ambition and you end up sitting in the basement of your parent’s house playing video games every day for the rest of your life. At the opposite end of the spectrum, you will ruthlessly walk over people and principles to attain power/fame/wealth.

Ambition is good, too much and you have a problem. Be ambitious, but be cautious.

Be encouraged!

They Smile In Your Face

http://www.cfoinnovation.com/content/how-make-office-politics-work-you

They Smile In Your Face

In the corporate world there is a word used to describe a most unpleasant event. According to a survey of 250 advertising and marketing executives, conducted by The Creative Group, an advertising and marketing staffing company, over 50% had the dubious honor of experiencing this nefarious act. I suspect that among the rank and file the actual percentage would be even higher. During my own tenure in the corporate world I faced it often. The R & B group, The O’Jays had their first million dollar hit with a song about it:

What they do

They smile in your face

All the time they want to take your place

the backstabbers

We are talking backstabbing. The practice of criticizing someone without their knowledge while feigning friendship and fidelity to their face. Some take great pleasure in their ability to deceive. They feel empowered and talk about how they were able to “take out” the competition. Others are quieter, they operate on the fringe and in the shadows. They appear as friends, but it is just a ruse to cover their true intentions.

And it’s not only in the workplace, but also in our homes, our marriages (who would have thought?), our children, our families, our schools, our friends, our civic organizations, our politics (boggles the mind doesn’t it?), and our churches. The truth is backstabbing has become a part of our culture. It is a factor of our lives. We literally can not find an area that has not suffered from backstabbing.

What makes this so painful for the victim is the violation of trust and confidence. This betrayal of trust can be so acute that Jennifer Freyd first coined the phrase “betrayal trauma” back in 1994 to describe the effect on the victim. Since she first used this phrase an entire theory has been developed and put forth that defines the inner workings of the brain when an individual has been backstabbed and the attending psychological backflips the person initiates to shelter themselves from the mental pain.

Like most, I’ve been victimized more times than I care to think about. But, I am not the type of person who wants to throw up a number of defensive actions to protect myself from future backstabbing. I’m cautious, I don’t want to be stabbed again, but I’m not focused on making sure all my bases are covered either. Plus I don’t want hold people at length. This world already has enough of that. I want to be open. If I’m going to error, I want it to be on the side of grace.

Without picking at old wounds, tell me how you deal with it. Are you still trusting? What are you doing to insure you are not victimized again? Is it hard to trust? As always, I look forward to hearing from you.

Be encouraged!

Virtue #2 – Accountability

The above poster was found at http://tradingphrases.com/Definition-Designs.html

Accountability is nothing more than taking responsibility for your thoughts and actions. If you did it, own up to it.

Sounds all nice and easy doesn’t it? Pretty much one of the first things our parents try to affect deeply into our young impressionable brains. It is one of the few bedrock beliefs we all seem to agree on.

Then why isn’t it happening?

Probably all sorts of reason, but the one that strikes me from personal experience is…it is hard to do.

Several years ago when I was new to the world of manufacturing I carried a tub of parts to the mainline assembly area. As a member of management I was not “officially” supposed to do that. It was my job to make sure the parts got there…not actually do it. So when I was on my way to a meeting at the other side of the plant and happened to glance over and see the guy in the process running out of a particular part I should have reached for my radio, found the appropriate channel, called the assembly line Team Leader, told him the issue (always issue, never problem), then he would have called the Team Leader in Material Handling, he would have called an Assistant Team Leader in Material Handling, who then would have found the person responsible for delivering parts to this particular process, told the associate about the issue, and then that associate would have delivered the tub of parts the twelve feet to the process guy. Instead I picked up the tub of parts and carried them to the process, but because I was in a hurry (I was always in a hurry) when I went to set the parts down, instead of setting them all the way down on the workbench I dropped them then last foot or so. When the tub hit the workbench, one of the metal parts jumped up and struck me in the corner of my nose. I felt it, but I didn’t think too much about it. Besides I had a meeting I needed to get to and I was seriously getting worried about being late and with this company the very first thing they told you, after there would be no discussions of unions, was to never, ever, never be late for a meeting.

Then it happened.

Another manager came running up to me with this look of horror and asked, “Steve, what happened?” Immediately I knew I couldn’t tell her. I couldn’t just explain what happened, because it would it mean I had broken one of the rules and I like I said I was still new at the company…so to buy some time while my mind raced like a frazzled bunny in front of a Hummer, I said with as relaxed smile on my face as I could muster, “What do you mean?” She gasped back, “My God look at yourself, you’ve got blood everywhere.”

At this point I should explain I tend to bleed from any wound on my head like a stuck pig, as the saying goes. Yes, I understand all head lacerations tend to bleed more than when they are inflicted on other parts of one’s anatomy, but I spout blood like Mt St. Helens spouts ashes.

So I look at myself…and even I am a little frightened. My shirt is literally soaked in bright red blood. Now the wheels in the old brain are really turning. No more frazzled bunny, I am nearing freakout stage. I stammer, “Uhhhh, I don’t know.”

Yes that is what I said.

She says we got to get you to Med-Check (the in-plant emergency care facility). I think, “Christ there goes my meeting.”

But wait it gets better.

As she is hustling me across the plant to a qualified health care provider, we round a corner and there stands the Plant Manager. Now the Plant Manager is a man who, rumor has it, could break brass balls with his stare. One look at me and he breaks into a jog (this is remarkable because behind his back, off property, in sealed rooms, we would call him Sloth, because of the rate of speed which he usually moved through the plant at).

Here comes the question.

“Steve, what happened?”

I am doomed. Sweet Jesus! I had imagined such a good career with this company.

Again my brain can produce no better reply than, “I don’t know.”

His eyes peer like laser beams from underneath his bushy eyebrows. They lock onto mine, I find it impossible to turn away. He says, “Get his ass to Med-Check before he bleeds to death and I have to fill out even more paper work.”

They didn’t fire me, nor did they order any psychological exams, because they were concerned they had hired an idiot. Years later (when I was considerably more secure in my career with the company) I confessed to the female manager and the Plant Manager what had actually happened. The Plant Manager roared with laughter and then said, “Yeah, you damn fool I watched the whole thing from the other side of the line.”

Be accountable, while it may be painful at the time, people will respect you more. Maybe, more importantly, you will respect yourself more.

Be encouraged!

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