The strategies that made you successful will bankrupt you relationships.
I have spent my entire adult life trying to make it. Get somewhere. Be “somebody.” And if you are anything like me, then you know the itch of the “next” accomplishment, the “next” big promotion, the “next” new business. Most of my clients are like me, in that they are high-performers. We believe in winning like some people believe in religion. And we will not stop until we have reached our goal, accomplished our task, and obtained the golden ring. In truth, ambition is an extraordinary tool; if it were not for the ambitious, driven, Type-A folk, we would not have a number of the modern conveniences we enjoy today like Google, iPhones, and Lady GaGa. The skill-set that gets you to the top of your game, however, is not the most effective skill set in regard to relational dynamics.
A client of mine, let’s call him James, is literally leading the way in his field. He has more business than he can handle, which, to his credit, is a wonderful problem to solve. But his problem is not too much business; his problem is tension with his youngest brother, fights with his girlfriend who lives in a different country, and sour communication with his peer. He is a high-powered business man who knows what to do–take charge, bark orders with a picture perfect smile, or go over his peers’ head to get the job done. We all have done it. Except when you take charge with your youngest brother, he ends up feeling bullied and belittled; when you bark orders with a smile at you girlfriend she curses you out in a foreign tongue and hangs up, and when you go over your peer’s head, he undermine’s you during conference calls with clients and you are genuinely surprised. Said another way, the strategies that worked to get you to the top are the same strategies that will botch the job in regard to human relations.
So what’s a high-performer to do? Here is the rub: most high performers never had the time to practice empowering relational dynamics to the same degree they practiced getting to the top. A lot of us have actually damaged our relationships on the way to the top: divorces, high-turnover, and spotty weekend visits are the casualties of the war to success. To stop the blood bath, here are three Street Smarts~ Strategic Visioning tools to save the day:
1. Surrender to your Arrogance: Take a deep breath and let it out. You are arrogant. Swallow it. I know it may be a surprised to you (or not) but it takes a certain arrogance to be a high-performer. Arrogance is not inherently bad. It doesn’t have to be. Most high-performers don’t see themselves as arrogant; they (read we) simply think that other people are inferior in some way, shape, or form. Keep breathing. We do. That is why you can tell others exactly what they need to do to fix something, change something, or get something done. No shame here. Be proud. That is an arrogance. Instead of fighting it or trying to hide it, surrender to it. The moment you can surrender to, relax into your arrogance, you can stop pretending and get real. When you get real, you can tell the truth on yourself and the people in your life will be able to relate to you as a person not a title. Give it a shot and let me know how it goes.
2. Look for another’s innocence: Do this when you are mad. This is when this Street Smarts tool works the best. It is easy to see someone’s innocence when you like them; it takes a bit more character to see it when they have just pulled your funding. Creating new brain patterns of recognition happens when you take small doable actions. Looking for the innocence in someone who feels like an enemy will sky-rocket your ability to create in moments of crisis.
3. How do you want to be known?: This is one of the most critical questions you may ever ask yourself. Imagine you are a fly on the wall in a room while people you value and respect are having a conversation about you. What would you love to hear them say about you in your absence? Write it down in one bold statement. That is how you want to be known. Now create 3 actions that are a match for that version of you that is presented in that statement. Instead of reacting to other people’s actions, words, and deeds, your actions are now consistent with something much more sacred–who you are for your self. Take the actions and see the impact on the people in your life immediately, like James did.
James surrendered to his version of arrogance and was able to see that in it, his arrogance was just an irresponsible conduit of his commitment to teaching and service. From this prospective he could see that he was in a big brother/savior/I know best dance with his youngest brother–and that he could stop it. He decided that the way he wanted to be known was as a man who loves and cherishes his relationships as well as a passionate teacher. He called his brother. They had a conversation that was short and sweet. He thanked his brother for his efforts and made some suggestions—not demands. His brother, no fight and no resistance, took the suggestions. James got of the phone happy and experiencing freedom that made all of his business accomplishments pale in comparison. He now has calls and emails out to his other bother, his mother, friends, and peers where he is taking on how he wants to be known in his life. Strategic visioning takes surrendering all the strategies that got you to the top for something far greater: valuing your own sense of self.
With all the love my heart can hold…