Set a Good Example

“Example has more followers than reason.”
~ Christian Nevell Bovee

It’s advice all managers hear, and will never question, for it sounds so sensible, so right. “Set a good example.”

However what most do, is tuck that advice away in the back of their mind without giving it enough consideration. We trust that we will remember it when a decision pops up that requires ethical and values-based thinking. But you know what happens? When those situations do arise, “Set a good example” gets pushed aside for “I have to show them what to do.” Big difference.

Imagine what might happen if we turned “Set a good example” into a deliberate strategy, a very personal, “all about me and my actions” Ho‘ohana strategy.

For instance, this is how marriage counselors have used it: They have turned “Set a good example.” into “Be the change you want in someone else; do the desired actions with them.” when one spouse will bemoan their partner’s bad habits, wishing for better ones. If you want them to commit to a better diet, you’re best advised to do the meal planning, shopping, and cooking together. If you want them to exercise, you’ll change your own workout routine for a new one, to better understand why they struggle in the start-up phase, and how you can support and encourage them similar to the encouragements you feel work best for you.

It’s a terrific approach for Alaka‘i Managers to take in the workplace. Set a good example by putting yourself in another’s shoes. Immerse yourself in their world to learn empathy, and solve workplace problems not as you normally would in your larger circle of influence, but as they would have to solve them if they had to do so totally on their own.

Airwalks Left Behind

You will uncover their obstacles, and learn of their adversity. What you think is “another lame excuse” might be much a more valid roadblock than you realize. Where we usually get tripped up, is in starting from where we are instead of where they are.

Set a good example. If you can do it, you can bring others with you.

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Do you want to become an Alaka‘i Manager? Start here: Ready? Become an Alaka‘i Manager in 5 Weeks!

Ho‘ohana work, and your Labor

Interesting week.

Last Friday, I looked ahead to the 3-day holiday weekend to come and wondered how I’d celebrate Labor Day, and simply decided “I’ll labor.”

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday

Labor as in make something.

Labor as in the intensely concentrated work of physical creation.

I wanted to make something from scratch. With my own two hands. With my labor. Simply because I am able to do so.

Doing it would celebrate it, that is, celebrate the labor.

I wouldn’t process or better organize.

I wouldn’t repurpose or reinvent.

I wouldn’t write about a new idea.

I would make something that I would use.

I wouldn’t plan, strategize, or talk about my work, I’d get it done. I’d get ‘making something’ done.

Ho‘ohana could get physical.

Bell Pepper Seeds

Bell pepper seeds drying on the kitchen counter, and destined for the vegetable garden.

By the end of Saturday I’d made a new handbag from a long-stored bag of yarn skeins, warming up to my labor in a tactile and colorful way.

Sunday I made a raised bed for my garden, trading in my crochet needle for shovel and rake.

Monday I thought about the work-for-hire I do in business, and I made a self-coaching journal for a client who loves the feel of paper more than using her laptop. I’m confident she’ll get way more effective with her Weekly Review having that tabbed, personalized journal to help her.

Ho‘ohana work in progress

This attitude of laboring has continued to affect my workweek as I’ve returned to my scheduled tasks and continually asked myself, “How can I shape this task into a labor of love (the Aloha I talk about here, and in Managing with Aloha), and keep this love of labor going?”

Good stuff is happening. It feels pleasingly different from my old routines, and yet it feels comforting, like a return to what work does when it produces true usefulness.

Labor, and how great it feels, is something we’ve lost remembrance of in so many workplaces. Let’s get it back.

What can laboring, and the feel of satisfying labor be in your workplace?

What can you do to make it happen?

Spread the Good Read

There are those who lament business books as quite empty shells of hardly anything new. For example, this by Dave Logan (himself a business book author — go figure), “3 Reasons Why Business Books Are Bad for You” was very disappointing. Even worse were that so many people agreed with him.

There are good books and bad books in every published genre which exists, and I still urge you to READ. Commit to discovering at least one gem you can weave into a conversation with someone else, or add to your day as something you’ll try doing (verb it). Be a continually-improving chooser: Unlike Mr. Logan I believe good books are plentiful and very easy to find. You’ll soon discover that you do get better at your selections because you’ve started to ‘follow the yellow book road’ and ace your jumps to shorter degrees of separation: Books leave trails.

Let’s help each other. Here are two trails you can take:
1. Online, right here on Talking Story
Leave a comment for us: What was the last good book you read, and why did you like it? What was the gem you took away from it?

2. Offline, in your ‘Imi ola life
Keep the good books in circulation: Who do you know who would love the last good book you read? Recommend it to them; lend or give them your copy to read, and then continue the conversation about it when you get it back.

Reading on the Beach

Somewhat related, from back in May: PÅ«‘olo Mea Maika‘i: Playlists ~ extend those thoughts to books!

UPDATE: This was a smile-inducing find this afternoon:

It’s a Book, by Lane Smith

‘Imi ola ~ Choose Your Change

Aloha, and happy September. You been in good spirit while I’ve been gone?

September 1st is the 244th day of the year (since this is not a leap year). That means we have 121 days to go in 2010, a bit over 33%. Here’s what I suggest: Choose your change and find that you are a much happier person by the time 2011 comes knocking, regardless of what might be going on in your family, your workplace, your neighborhood, or in the rest of the world.

KÄ«hei Blu

Choosing change of your own design is a very smart strategy, an ‘Imi ola, create your best life kind of strategy. [Literally; ‘Imi (seek) ola (life)… Hō‘imi means “look for better and best.”]

You can choose big change (get a new job, move to a new city), or you can choose little change (get a different haircut, move the furniture around). The important thing is that you are the one who is doing the choosing. It goes without saying (but I’m going to say it anyway, to be crystal clear about this) that whether big or small, you’ll opt for bright-outlook change that will give you a more positive expectancy about the future to come. You will also be choosing to Ho‘o, and make your change-of-choice happen.

One of my all-time favorite quotations is this one by organizational change pioneer Richard Beckhard: “People do not resist change; people resist being changed.” In other words, we must feel we’re the ones in control, whether simply for balance, or so we’re able to take charge, and re-correct when we feel we need to. We resist when we feel the reins of control and self-determination may slip out of our hands.

When we work on a plan of our own design we don’t feel helpless, directionless, or victimized. Even when we screw up, we can say we were experimenting or exploring, and learning —and we were! Decisions to change can’t be totally wrong or ill-advised if they were generated within our own wants, needs and purposes because we are not, by nature, self-saboteurs. Our survival instincts will always kick in and serve us well.

Beckhard’s quote is written within the cover of my current journal as a self-prompting; I’ve read, and reread his words often during the past year to ask myself, “What are you resisting now? Why?” and then, “What can you do about it?” because I don’t believe that avoidance works well; avoidance is a twin sister to procrastination. There’s always something I can pry out of hiding: I’ll identify my resistance, choose my change and get moving again.

And you know what? Great stuff has happened for me this past year, both because of the ‘Great Recession’ and in spite of it. I’ve chosen to focus on certain things, and ignore, or bring a better ending to others. I’ve simply believed, heart and soul, that I can choose my own destiny and work on creating and shaping it. Then I do!

Choice ~ your choice ~ is the white magic of ‘Imi ola, and there’s plenty to go around. So go make your own magic in September; it’s a fine month for it.

If you want a bit more help with self-determination, and making a “plan of your own design” these two posts from the archives may help: