Never too late!

This morning an article appeared in the NY Times that I can’t get out of my mind.

Fernando Miteff was a graffiti artist until his mom threw out all his materials (“get a job!”). This powerful gesture threw him into despair where he stayed for almost 30 years. One day a friend asked him: ‘Do you believe in God?’ He said, ‘Of course.’ His friend told him to be serious for one moment a day for 30 days. Every morning, he said, ask God a simple question: “Can you please give me the information I’m seeking?”

Within a few days, the Universe conspired to provide him with answers (which it always does when we ask these kinds of questions). Angels showed up, he’s found his voice and is now expressing his art (and oh, is being covered by the NY Times).

I love one statement: ” … rather than lamenting the 27 years he did not create graffiti, he knows everything is fleeting, so he is savoring the present.”

timthumb   So starting today, I ask, “Show me what is next? What do you want from me?” I try to be still enough to listen to the answer.

And I won’t regret all the years I spent making mistakes, instead I will cherish those mistakes my angels allowed so I could get to exactly where I am now.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/02/nyregion/a-graffiti-artist-turns-a-subway-car-into-a-gallery-until-the-end-of-the-line.html?_r=0

Five Things You Should Never Do

Change demands energy! Here are five energy wasters that seem subtle, soft, and innocuous. But they are choices that absorb a lot of energy. If you make changes in any of these areas, you’ll have a lot more energy to spend on making worthwhile changes.

1. Don’t do anything for anyone over the age of 18 that they can and should be doing for themselves. This behavior weakens the recipient and usually causes resentment in the caregiver. Resentment is powerfully disabling and leads to other bad habits you don’t need. If you are rescuing anyone over 18, you are not helping them. Rather, you are meeting your own unmet needs and it is time to meet those from other sources.

2. Don’t try to fix them. Similar to #1, this drainer tries to change what can’t be controlled. The motivation is typically a kindly one, a genuine effort to make sure that others are safe. You believe that you have the answer to other people’s problems and if only they would listen to you, their lives would be better. Unfortunately, youNot to do create only resentment in both them, and in you–after all you have done for them! People don’t want to be told what to do. Your greatest gift would be to accept them the way they are. It’s not your path. Let them live their lives. If they ask for help then step in, but otherwise, read #1 again.

3. Don’t react to bad behavior. Take nothing personally, it’s never about you. Don Miguel Ruiz’s analogy of our individual theaters and personal movies is helpful. Each of us is sitting in front of our own films, in our own theaters. We are the star of our own movies, with our chosen cast of characters. Some have leading roles, some supporting roles, and many are extras. Issues develop when we demand to be the star of someone else’s movie, or we insist on a larger role than their script calls for.

People run their own script and their own movie. Other people’s behaviors are not directed at you. Stop being injured over the injustices that people do to you, because they are not doing it to you. They are just doing it. When you can get this, you free up more energy you need to prevent the injustices from being done in the first place. It is a more effective use of energy to instruct others how to behave in your presence, and what minimum standards you expect.

4. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Comparing yourself to others, either in a positive or negative way, is doomed to failure. Don’t compare. Instead, measure your growth as a rough percentage of change using your own baseline. Ask yourself: “Am I a percentage better at this than I was last year? Six months ago?” Perhaps 20% better? If so, your goals are being met. The only comparison to do is with your former self, and the only projections will be to your future self.

Others will always have more or less than you have, because they are walking on a different path. Is the path better than yours? No, it’s just different. You label it as better. Comparing yourself is a low self-image activity, one that you no longer need. It is energy not well spent, because it doesn’t change where you are and move you toward where you want to be.

5. Don’t get impatient. Not for them. For you. Sure, it can make you unbearable to be around. But you are just wasting energy getting mad at situations and other people, wishing they would do things differently, wishing they would get out of your way, wanting them to be different than they are. Hitting the elevator button repeatedly and yelling “Hurry up!!” won’t bring the elevator any faster.

Impatience is one factor in Type A Behavior. The hostility that goes along with impatience can, and will, kill you. Choose where you spend energy. Discipline yourself to ‘let it go.’ When you are tempted to intervene in others’ lives in ways such as giving advice or hurrying people up, just relax, take a big breath, and let it go. Repeat this sentence whenever you feel frustration with the way things are: “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Lack of patience can result from a belief that the world should center around you and not interfere with your comings and goings. People should do things your way because you know better. If everyone did what they were supposed to do, the world would be a better place and you would be much happier. If you can see that this thinking isn’t paying off, congratulations, you’re half way there!

Better to “Want” than to “Get”

Next time you announce a new incentive program, or the possibility of an award, start measuring productivity, well-being and satisfaction month by month until the actual award period, and for a couple of months afterward. 

The ANTICIPATION of a reward feels better than receiving the actual award and is more motivating. It is a quirk in the structure of brain’s reward system.

The Nucleus Accumbens is a part of our brain that plays a key role processing rewards like sex, food, and financial gains. Experiments have measured the activity level of the Nucleus Accumbens during the reward process. During the anticipation phase, activity level in this area is high. When the reward is received, activity levels in the Nucleus Accumbens drop off. Rewards, like making money, are well, rewarding …. :-) but people are more stimulated and motivated by the anticipation of the gain.

1. Plan longer-term rewards into the system and keep reminders visible.

2. When you want a higher than normal activity and productivity level, count on the period before the reward, not during or following it.

Keep layers of goals active for yourself AND for your team. Dreaming about future rewards helps people stay motivated to achieve goals that can only be earned through patience and commitment.

Take Action

Since my job is to help people in organizations let go of the past and move through ambiguity, I need to show I can myself keep moving despite fear. Sometimes not so easy!

Because of my (irrational)  fear of being struck by lightening while flying in my single-engine airplane, I (unnecessarily) avoided flying in weather that most pilots would find completely safe. Knowing that my aircraft was designed to handle lightening didn’t help. Intellectual and emotional knowing are vastly different. Irrational fears (such as those borne by so many in today’s workplace) aren’t evaporated by just words.

getting-to-camp-okavango-lions-on-runwayThis is the day that fear removed its headlock on my lightening anxiety. One afternoon a few years back, I was flying through Namibia, Africa  in a small rented Cessna 172 on a clear, bright day. Suddenly, black storm clouds developed from nowhere and completely encircled me. I thought: “Well, this is it.” I had seen Harry Potter, I knew how this was going to end.

I was jolted by lightening three times. Three fairly mild ‘thumps.’ The storm passed as quickly as it came. I assessed the damage. None of the avionics had worked well before, so there wasn’t any damage.

I was forced to experience what I’d been avoiding. If I hadn’t been forced to experience the thing that I feared the most, I would still have to hold that energy around the fear. Having taken inadvertent action into the fear, I was able let it go. I don’t enjoy lightening. I don’t fly through thunderstorms.  I don’t wrap myself up in tin foil and climb to the highest peak during an electrical storm. But  fear doesn’t hold a space that should be reserved for positive life action.

Do you have a list of things you can’t do? In many companies, so often I hear, “I could not EVER do that” regarding making a suggestion, asking for a transfer, getting the person next to you to stop cracking his gum.

I  share courage with you to help you work through the list of ‘things you cannot do.’ There’s no easy way. Just put it at the top of the list on a  given day, take a deep breath and make it happen. Only then do you get the emotional charge you need to make the ‘head’ knowing into ‘gut’ knowing. The chemical in your body get notice to switch for fear to excitement, and you’re on a roll.

Nothing stopping you now!

Here’s free card for your desk:

What holds you back?

This is a little encouragement and reminder message. These four steps have boosted me in slow times, maybe they’ll encourage you too.

1. Stop comparing yourself to what other people have done. Think of the distance you’ve already covered. You always do the best you can, so there are no failures and there are no mistakes.

1. Every now and then, with each new step, say “Thank you for my freedom.” With every breath say: “Thank you for my power.”

2. You’re not alone, so stop pretending that you are. Your angels and guides love you forever but they get frustrated with you because you won’t ask them for help. They’re just sitting around waiting for an opening. Call on them. They’re anxious to help. This road has been walked before.

3. Do the practice even though you feel no change. Go through the motions. Practice your serve every day even though it never goes over the net. One day it will. Most people don’t start moving because they think their small efforts won’t even make a dent, won’t add anything. But the mountain was formed, the well was dug, the river was crossed exactly this way. Make the small step that seems insignificant.

4. If your dreams are too far away, you can live part of them right now. Live your dreams now, to any degree that you can. With every purchase. Every decision. Every hello and goodbye. Every assignment. Every conversation. Every meal. Every morning, afternoon and evening. Reframe every thought, word, and deed from the perspective of the person you’ve always dreamed you’d be, as if your life was already as you’ve always dreamed it would be.

You don’t need to kill the beast nor scale the entire mountain. You only need to move through today. One day it will shock you when you’re at the top.

Check out my book – read through the exercises for the Fourth Element.

5 Quick Creativity Boosts

You’re so busy, who’s got time to be creative? But … that’s exactly what we need to do more
than ever. Here are five quick and easy ways to shake things up.

1. Imagine your your life on a video camera, and imagine that you are someone else watching the show. What feedback can you give?

2. Make a small change both physically (move your lamp – change anything). Change one small habit, maybe the order in which you do something. Like brushing your teeth or starting the car. Not kidding, small breaks in routines can trigger new associations.

3. Imagine yourself living in another country. What would you be doing, or be wearing?

4. Read one book or watch one TV program you normally wouldn’t. Garbage in, garbage out Your brain needs to exercise. In one study, those who read a bizarre short story showed an greater ability to recognize hidden patterns in a pattern recognition task (Proulx, 2009).

5. Mix opposites. Ideas develop from opposites held together. Nobel Laureates (Rothenberg, 1996) use Janusian thinking involving simultaneous opposites. There’s more in this book – it’s good you should buy it. :-)

Being Wrong is a Good Idea

One of the first lessons of aeronautics is “whatever pushes against you, lifts you up.” The wind against the underside of the wings helps the airplane fly. Similarly, what we have to push against helps us grow. All nature follows the same physical principles. Everything that is hard for us makes us better.

Being wrong creates the same energy dynamic. If you can tolerate it, being wrong also stretches your mental boundaries, creates friction and growth. Being right is mildly reinforcing only following a struggle.

1. Start a new activity where you will need to stretch yourself until you lose or fail.

2. Play a sport with someone who can beat you.

3. Start something where you will feel clumsy at first.

With any new habit, your body will habituate to expansion through practice. An experienced scuba diver clears ear passages more easily than a beginning diver. People who succeed at amazing tasks practice loss and failure so much that they are not surprised by it.

Stop trying to be right, or trying to get it right. One of the best ways to learn to let go of being right is to let yourself be wrong. Practice at home first. Recall an argument you have had with your partner. Discover what part of the partner’s argument was ‘right.’ Then practice using these words: “I’ve been thinking about what we were arguing about the other night and you know what? You’re right, honey.”

Stop trying to be right. Life is ambiguous. There are no right ways. “There are many paths to the palace of wisdom.”

Being wrong can be the wind beneath your wings.

How to Procrastinate Well

If you’re going to do something, do it 100%. If you are going to procrastinate, do it 100% so it becomes a pure activity.

If you a) avoid an unwanted task by procrastinating and b) do something rather pleasant and mildly fulfilling during that time (tidy up, make labels, make another cup of tea) you are double-dipping into the Rewards Jar with both positive and negative reinforcement at play.

ProcrastinationIf procrastination is causing you problems, it might be because you make it so rewarding. Whatever you find rewarding will be repeated. Here’s an escape route for you.

1.  If you do find yourself procrastinating, Procrastinate. Sit there and do nothing, like a time out. Make procrastination a pure experience. Do nothing else. The reward pattern in the procrastination can reinforce procrastination, and thus encourage more procrastination.

2. Once you figure out what you do when you procrastinate, like making labels or tidying up, don’t do it. Instead, write it on a My Rewards for Getting Stuff Done chart. When you’ve completed the thing you don’t want to do, you get to do labels or tidy up. WARNING: This part takes discipline. At least if you get the principle, you have a chance at breaking the pattern. Good luck. Don’t let procrastination steal your life, you’re better than that.

See more on how reinforcement works on pp. 70-73 in the Four Elements of Transformation.

“Don’t Worry!”

Worry is Epidemic. Worry is Expensive. Worry is Exhausting. Worrying is costly in its psychological toll, and in lost time and productivity. One recent study in which subjects were given frequent but random alerts during the day and told to write down their thoughts, indicated 47-55% of the time they were worried about something. Worry is psychologically draining, leads to inefficient divided attention, and doesn’t lead to anything positive.

With the exception of Bobby’s video (below), telling yourself to stop worrying doesn’t work. In fact, it makes it worse because of psychological reactance. Ordering yourself to do something can set up the opposite result. If you instruct yourself to “just not think about it”, whatever ‘it’ is, will invade your thinking even more. The ‘Zeigarnik Effect’ indicates that people remember uncompleted or interrupted tasks better than completed tasks. This finding suggests that incomplete tasks, such as dismissing worry, will intrude until they are completed.

Keep a Worry Pad. When your worry shows up, don’t be dismayed. Try not to attach emotion to it. Just note it on a ‘worry pad’ that you keep nearby. Writing the worry down is the first step in helping it loosen it’s grip on you. Then, get back to work, writing down the worry as often as you need to. Later, at an appointed time — say on your 3:00 pm break — take your Worry Pad to a quiet corner and review all your worries. Worry about them as intently as you can. All your intention goes to the worries. What you will find, either quickly or after a few sessions, is that you will be able to release what is on your Worry Pad because

a) you will see the futility of the worries when you really pay attention to them, and

b) because you are giving your worries 100% attention, you just might get to a solution. Either way, it’s a more efficient than letting worry drain your attention and energy.

More Robin Williams Aftermath: When Someone you Love Commits Suicide

Suicide of a loved one can blanket us with an oppressive morass of confusion and guilt for the rest of our lives, if untreated. Of all deaths, it is the most difficult to accept and the most intractable in its response to treatment.

Know these things:

1. No matter what, it was not your fault. He did what he did because of his own demons, not because of you. There was nothing you could have done.

2. The person committing suicide is not rejecting you. Although the act of suicide is a betrayal to those left behind, the act itself is rarely done in anger or with an attempt to reject. Thinking has tunneled into only one thought. There are no clear emotions, just the knowledge that life is bad, it always will be this way, and the only logical choice is to get out.

3. You need treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. You might have closed down emotionally following the suicide, with a brave attempt to carry on and soldier through. The residue of suicide goes way beyond grief, and it will fester deep below the surface. Because suicide lies just beyond our ability to understand it, it leads to any number of symptoms in survivors that can form a lifetime lived unwittingly in post trauma. See a list of symptoms at http://www.helpguide.org/mental/post_traumatic_stress_disorder_symptoms_treatment.htm. You don’t need to experience all the symptoms to deserve treatment; just one or two are enough.

4. You are amazingly strong for having survived and carrying on. The depth of pain that you felt will lead to your gift. Rework the original trauma, reframe and gently heal the pain emotionally and spiritually with the help of talented healers and therapists.

Why? Robin Williams’ Suicide

There are no answers to Robin Williams’ suicide, only questions.  
Little is known of Robin’s family history of depression, but there are reports of childhood loneliness, shyness, sadness and melancholia. He played alone for hours. Did the inability of his parents to allow him to attach to them lead to a lifetime of attachment-seeking through substances and entertainment? 

Little is known of his father, Robert Fitzgerald Williams, who as a Ford executive responsible for the midwest traveled a great deal, and appeared to be distant emotionally and physically absent. Williams only mention of his father was when he recalled his father’s wrath when Robin bought his first foreign car rather than a Ford. Did his inability to identify with him lead to his inability to form intimate enduring attachments to women?   

Did his mother Laurie McLaurin, a former model, narcissistically embrace Robin’s humor and use it to enhance her own self, depriving Robin of a deeper satisfaction from his gift? Images of his mother indicate an appearance-conscious, well-preserved woman, who used Robin’s humor to enhance her own status. Reports state that she was “very close” to her son which, given Robin’s loneliness and detachment could indicate the enmeshment of a narcissistic mother. Narcissistic parents rob children of the ownership of their own talents, by usurping them and using them for their own needs. Did this lead to a tremendous need for approval through humor which never really satisfied him because it never belonged to him? Was Robin able to attach to others only through drama? Did this make him inaccessible to therapists and those wanting to help? It is known that those closest to him had no idea the depth of his depressions.What happened during his last admission in July 2014 at the Hazelden Addiction Treatment Center in Minnesota?

Because his diagnostic picture is clouded by both cocaine and alcohol, it is unclear whether he suffered from bipolar disorder or unipolar depression. “Cocaine for me was a place to hide. Most people get hyper on coke. It slowed me down.” But Robin apparently quit cocaine after John Belushi’s death in 1984. Like Ernest Hemingway, Robin refused medications, which he felt limited his thinking. Some people with bipolar disorder feel that medications prescribed for the disorder create a mental fog and flatten their emotions. Instead, did he medicate depression with cocaine and mania with alcohol? “Do I perform sometimes in a manic style? Yes,” Williams told Terry Gross on “Fresh Air” NPR radio show 2006. “Am I manic all the time? No. Do I get sad? Oh yeah. Does it hit me hard? Oh yeah.” Without cocaine, how was his depression treated?

Did Robin refuse to accept depression as a diagnosis and thus accept appropriate therapy, or was he just unwilling to admit it publicly? When Gross asked Robin if he had been diagnosed with ‘clinical depression,’ Williams answered: “No clinical depression, no. No. I get bummed, like I think a lot of us do at certain times. You look at the world and go, ‘Whoa.’ Other moments you look and go, ‘Oh, things are okay.’” Did he ever receive good therapy? Was his sense of self ever built? Amid the 1994 Mrs. Doubtfire publicity he said, “You have an internal critic, an internal drive that says, ‘Okay, you can do more. Maybe that’s what keeps you going. Maybe that’s a demon. Some people say it’s a muse. No, it’s not a muse! It’s a demon!”

Williams stopped drinking for 20 years. He joined AA and was seen at an AA meeting in San Francisco this summer. Was he was a long-time sober member, who had worked the steps? Or was there part of him that failed to fully accept the disease? Describing his 2003 relapse, he said,”I was in a small town where it’s not the edge of the world, but you can see it from there, and then I thought: drinking. I just thought, hey, maybe drinking will help. Because I felt alone and afraid. It was that thing of working so much, and going. Maybe that will help. And it was the worst thing in the world. You feel warm and kind of wonderful. And then the next thing you know, it’s a problem, and you’re isolated.”

Did the series of losses he experienced over the past 10 years trigger his melancholy? At age 63, the loss of youth. In 2004 he lost Chris Reeve, a long-time close friend. A painful anniversary of his older brother Robert’s death on August 14,  2007. A long-term marriage dissolved in 2008 accompanied by a severe financial loss. Heart surgery aortic valve replacement in 2009. His children ages 31, 25 and 23 grown to adulthood and not ‘needing’ him any longer.  Financial losses and fears of being unable to support his family and his inability to ask for help. The need to take on roles he didn’t want because of  financial need, for example the TV series ‘The Crazy Ones’ which failed and was cancelled in 2014.“Robin slipped into a deep depression,” one source said. “He felt humiliated  that the show had been a failure. It was very hard for Robin to accept. Here he was in his sixties, and forced to take a role on television for the money. It’s just not where he thought he would be at this point in his life.”

Robin Williams lived to help others, to please others, to make others laugh. I wish he had been accessible enough to have allowed any one of us to reach in far enough and help pull him out.
“It’s the same voice thought that … you’re standing at a precipice and you look down, there’s a voice and it’s a little quiet voice that goes, ‘Jump,’” Williams told Diane Sawyer. “The same voice that goes, ‘Just one.’ And the idea of just one for someone who has no tolerance for it, that’s not the possibility.”

Five Things You Should Never Do with Other People

1. Anything for anyone over the age of 18 that they can and should be doing for themselves. This behavior weakens the recipient and usually causes resentment in the caregiver. Resentment is powerfully disabling an leads to other bad habits you don’t need. If you are rescuing anyone over 18, you are not helping them. Rather, you are meeting your own unmet needs and it is time to meet those from other sources.

2. Fix them. Similar to #1, this drainer tries to change what can’t be controlled. The motivation is typically a kindly one, a genuine effort to make sure that others are safe. You believe that you have the answer to other people’s problems and if only they would listen to you, their lives would be better. Unfortunately, you create only resentment in both them, and in you–after all you have done for them! People don’t want to be told what to do. Your greatest gift would be to accept them the way they are. It’s not your path. Let them live their lives. If they ask for help then step in, but otherwise, read #1 again.

3. React to their bad behavior. Take nothing personally, it’s never about you. Don Miguel Ruiz’s analogy of our individual theaters and personal movies is helpful. Each of us is sitting in front of our own films, in our own theaters. We are the star of our own movie, with our chosen cast of characters. Some have leading roles, some supporting roles, and many are extras. Issues develop when we demand to be the star of someone else’s movie, or we insist on a larger role than their script calls for. People run their own script and their own movie. Other people’s behaviors are not directed at you. Stop being injured over the injustices that people do to you, because they are not doing it to you. They are just doing it. When you can get this, you free up more energy you need to prevent the injustices from being done in the first place. It is a more effective use of energy to instruct others how to behave in your presence, and what minimum standards you expect.

4. Compare yourself to them. Comparing yourself to others, either in a positive or negative way, is doomed to failure. Don’t compare. Instead, measure your growth as a rough percentage of change using your own baseline. Ask yourself: “Am I a percentage better at this than I was last year? Six months ago?” Perhaps 20% better? If so, your goals are being met. The only comparison to do is with your former self, and the only projections will be to your future self. Others will always have more or less than you have, because they are walking on a different path. Is the path better than yours? No, it’s just different. You label it as better. Comparing yourself is a low self-image activity, one that you no longer need. It is energy not well spent, because it doesn’t change where you are and move you toward where you want to be.

5. Get Impatient. Not for them. For you. Sure, it can make you unbearable to be around. But you are just wasting energy getting mad at situations and other people, wishing they would do things differently, wishing they would get out of your way, wanting them to be different than they are. Hitting the elevator button repeatedly and yelling “Hurry up!!” won’t bring the elevator any faster.

Impatience is one factor in Type A Behavior. The hostility that goes along with impatience can, and will, kill you. Choose where you spend energy. Discipline yourself to ‘let it go.’ When you are tempted to intervene in others’ lives in ways such as giving advice or hurrying people up, just relax, take a big breath, and let it go. Repeat this sentence whenever you feel frustration with the way things are: “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”  Lack of patience can result from a belief that the world should center around you and not interfere with your comings and goings. People should do things your way because you know better. If everyone did what they were supposed to do, the world would be a better place and you would be much happier. If you can see that this thinking isn’t paying off, congratulations, you’re half way there!

What do you think?

Worry

How does worry cause illness? Controlled fMRI studies from Harvard and replicated elsewhere, have shown that imagining an event lights up the identical areas of the brain with the same intensity as actually experiencing the event...

The #2 Way to Sabotage Yourself

Here is the second most popular way to sabotage yourself:

Regret the past. Here's how to view every decision you've ever made: It was right at the time. Here's how to view every path you've ever chosen: It was the best choice at the time. No matter what has happened, you did the very best you could. And so did those who may have let you down. Learn what you can, give what you can, and make a decision to create a better future.

In regretting the past, you spend energy where it can do no good. It is a kind of magical wish–if we regret enough, it will change. Just do it differently the next time. That is all that life can expect of any of us. The same strategy is used with regret as with worry: thought-stopping and thought replacement. “Stop it, don’t go there; you did the best you could. If you could have done better, you would have done better.”

The #1 Way to Sabotage Yourself

One onstage exercise I do to demonstrate what people look like when they feel stuck is to carry a volunteer from the audience around on my back. The message is a clear one: if your world isn’t advancing as you want it to, the cause is rarely outside you. There are heavy loads on your back. It’s time to dump them. Here is the most popular way to sabotage yourself:

Beat yourself up. The highest form of love in the Greek language is Agape, which literally means, ‘Look for the Good.’ If our command is to love one another and if we treat others the way we treat ourselves (we do), then isn’t it our responsibility to learn to love ourselves first? And by the way, in so doing it becomes effortless to look for the good in others.

Self-punishment is common among otherwise educated and sophisticated people. Because you are intelligent, you get that this behavior does not improve you. You gain nothing by putting yourself down. All you are doing is expressing your disbelief in your current reality, and setting unrealistic expectations for yourself that you can never meet. Make a better choice. Support yourself.

First, get that self-punishment is useless thinking. Second, know that simple thought-stopping and thought replacement will work, if you do the work. If you’re being hard on yourself, don’t get mad for being hard on yourself. Just observe what you’re doing and make an alternate decision. When you hear, “Well, that was stupid, dummy,” thought-stop with “No it wasn’t stupid. Stop it. You did your best. You always do.” When you get frustrated with yourself, you activate a part of your limbic system that reinforces circuits that only increase the problem. 

Want Them to Walk through Walls for You? Clean their cups!

Recent reports of the doubling of fees and poor customer service make this blog harder to write … but will Reed Hastings take note?

When Netflix CEO Reed Hastings worked for another company, he showed up at the crack of dawn one morning and saw his CEO’s car in the lot. He stopped in the men’s room, and found his CEO inside by the sink, coat off, sleeves rolled up, scrubbing a big pile of nasty-looking coffee mugs. Shocked and embarrassed, he asked: “Why are you cleaning my cups?” “Well,” the CEO replied, “you’re working so hard and doing so much for us. And this is the only thing I could think of that I could do for you.”

In Reed’s words: “I was blown away. And I learned the lesson of how a leader’s unexpected humility can create great respect. If possible, I worked even harder over the next year. And I knew I would walk through any wall for him.”

This is a powerful leadership lesson, at work and at home. Can you take time from your busy schedule to “clean some cups?” for your co-workers, your kids, your partner?

Netflix (NFLX) is the world’s largest online movie rental business with 61% of streaming movies online, and is set to become a major competitor to the TV industry by releasing miniseries similar to HBO. Although Amazon and Facebook also entered the digital movie market, Netflix is still way ahead. Blockbuster could have done it, but they were busy improving their stores instead of embracing the digital world. Look at their growth next to Blockbusters (from Fortune, July 4, 2011, page 13). Have they changed too fast?

Check the growth of Texts vs Mail, Amazon vs Borders, and iTunes vs CD’s on the same page. Pass the page onto your co-workers who are still trying to hide until the computer trend passes. The best way to help change behavior … other than addictive behaviors, then all bets are off … is to provide evidence, give them the numbers.

Almost everyone agrees that this would not have been possible without the servant attitude of Reed Hastings, that he learned early one morning watching his boss clean his mug. Simple gestures, powerful effects.