Facing Rejection

When attempting to get anywhere in life, rejection happens. It’s a facet of reality that most of us fear. Jia Jiang, in his TED Talk “What I learned from 100 days of rejection” faces down that fear in the best possible way and talks to his audience about what he learned from his experience.

Before you face rejection:

  1. Come Prepared to Do What You Want to Do.

When you face rejection:

  1. Don’t Run!
  2. Listen For Them to Ask You “Why?”
  3. Echo Potential Concerns
  4. Explain Yourself/Negotiate
  5. Ask Them Why They Rejected You.

Pretty amazing stuff!

You can find Jia Jiang’s TED Talk on “What I learned from 100 days of rejection” here:

The Virtues of Procrastination

“You call it procrastinating, I call it thinking.” -Aaron Sorkin.

How many of you would have guessed that moderate procrastination is a good thing?

My friend AJ and I took a first step last night: we have started a podcast about the books we read in our mutual journey toward leadership, business, success, and self-discovery! And already, there’s been lots of talk of future procrastination…

In Adam Grant’s TED Talk on “Surprising Habits of Original Thinkers”, procrastination is lauded as: “…a vice when it comes to productivity, but it can be a virtue when it comes to creativity.” Fantastic! I think I need to hold off on writing more for this blog and go see if I can dig out my Super Nintendo from my old room! Unfortunately, Dr. Grant, a PhD in Organizational Psychology and top-rated professor at Wharton, founded a study that seems to indicate too much procrastination can actually decrease inflow of creative ideas around a project.

Although AJ and I have batted around the idea of a podcast before, truthfully there was never anything we felt mutually motivated to speak about until my journey toward the subtitle of this blog started a few months ago. That makes this particular venture a new idea. A new idea that we are in no particular hurry to publish.

As Grant says:

“Originals are quick to start, but slow to finish.”

We’ve accepted that we want to do this project correctly. We’ve also accepted that it’s likely it will take awhile to get things right. Grant indicates that successful “originals” skip the step in creative creation where you take poor-quality project results personally, and instead, accept them as an inevitability toward making something great.

So, we don’t have a name yet. We might take a year to get our first material out there. There are lots of things we need to learn about podcasting in the meantime…

“The first movers [have] a 47% failure rate compared to 8% for the improvers.” -Grant

All that said, I think we’re on the right track.

You can find Adam Grant’s fantastic TED Talk on “The Surprising Habits of Original Thinkers” here:

Failing Forward

I’ve been reading John Maxwell’s “Failing Forward” and considering some of the lessons therein.

I have a tendency toward perfectionism. When I make a social misstep, or a networking misstep, I have a hard time forgiving myself. I’m irrationally afraid I won’t get another chance. In other words, I’ve been entrenched in “Conditional Regard”, the ugly cousin of “Unconditional Positive Regard”, where I only accept myself when I meet certain criteria. The fact that they are unreasonable criteria is only icing on that cake.

Though Maxwell makes it clear through his stories that we must be aware of how wide or narrow our windows of opportunity really are, I discovered something that applies to all forms of performance anxiety:

Giving myself grace is the only way out.

As long as I am serious about change and it’s evidenced through a majority of my behavior, allowing myself grace when I make mistakes is acceptable. In fact, it’s necessary. What I had to figure out was there is a difference between a mistake and a backslide. A mistake is something I usually recognize right after it’s happened and it’s not something I want to repeat. A backslide is a series of “somethings” that I barely acknowledge and allow to continue unchecked. Guilt is only useful for the second one, but not the first. Guilt slows you down, but grace powers you forward. If I allow guilt to overtake me for a mistake after my performance record suggests positive momentum, all I’m doing is sabotaging myself from continuing in a positive direction.

Maxwell’s core concept is found in the title- “Failing Forward”. In it, he suggests that in order to succeed, you need to give yourself permission to fail. I’m new to this, but I’m beginning to understand just how important that permission-that grace is-to my personal growth, my networking, my business, and my life.

The Hero’s Journey

Another piece to the puzzle of what makes a great leader? The journey.

Think about it. Every great leader I’ve ever heard of is constantly on a journey; I mean literally, they are always traveling. Their stories often take place in cities I have only dreamt of, talking with people I used to believe I’d never have access to, flying thousands and thousands of miles around the earth on deep pockets. While out and about, they nurture and maintain contacts to the point where, because of their vision, their network, and how they treat people, they accomplish great things. These accomplishments create a burning urge to get the message out because the stories are fascinating, and potentially helpful to humankind, while having the added benefit of increasing their influence among the masses.The cycle repeats.

I started this journey seeking employment and somehow it’s turned into so much more than that. Seeking employment meant learning about how to find it effectively, which also meant learning about myself. Learning itself suddenly became valuable to me. Then, I learned that networking was the best possible way to find a way to meet my financial needs. Now I seek connections and listen for the needs of others, with an ever-strengthening belief that I will be provided for. Through continued learning, I realized that I’m a leader, although a novice one, and that is where I will find my bread and butter. I began questing locally to see what it means to be a great leader. I’ve discovered so far that leadership, more than anything else, is about honest self-exploration, a willingness to learn, to grow, to improve. All of these things are building into each other. The more contacts I make, the more books I read, the more my network grows…well, it’s becoming something bigger than me and my needs.

And I realized something today in the shower (where all great ideas come): I think I’m going to have to leave soon. I mean physically. I can see it on the horizon: I have to travel away from home. The time will come soon to start my own “hero’s journey”.

I’m not really sure why it is nascent leaders need to do this, but you see it throughout history. Jesus Christ-the founder of Christianity-pointed out that a prophet has no honor in his home country and he traveled everywhere throughout Samaria and Judea. Saint Paul himself was rumored to have reached all the way to Spain from a journey that started on the road to Damascus-that man started, lead and nurtured several of the earliest Christian churches under threat of death, imprisonment, torture, and a couple of shipwrecks. Saint Thomas (Doubting Thomas!!) was said to have reached India. INDIA in 54BC from Judea! He successfully started a Christian tradition that still exists today and claims him as their founding apostle. Theodore Roosevelt was elected to governor of New York after travelling to Puerto Rico and leading the charge up San Juan Hill in the Spanish-American War; we know what ends up happening to him. We remember Herman Cortes for bringing the downfall of the Aztec empire through conquest and disease-he wasn’t the best guy, but he was a leader and sailed across an ocean, burning his ships behind him to accomplish the mission of his journey. Sir Edmund Hillary is known for being one of the first to summit Everest and definitely the first to touch both poles as well as summit Everest, ever-nobody would deny his influence. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the first two to land on the moon and walk on it, and they carried sway for the rest of their lives (Aldrin is still alive!).

What’s my point? Great leaders travel, inspired to accomplish great things through their journey. For me, my mission or purpose has been clear for a long time, but up until now, I’ve been clueless as to how I get there. I am fantastically glad I didn’t delete this blog, as I considered doing once or twice. I was afraid that my open exploration would reveal that I am a novice leader and that it would end my story before it began. Now, I realize, great leaders share. Though I am not a great leader yet, that this is part of my journey. I hope it inspires others to find ways to accomplish what they are meant to do.

Influence & Unconditional Positive Regard

There is a concept in Psychology circles called: “Unconditional Positive Regard” (or U.P.R.), which gives us a leadership framework for showing our support to others, even those who it might be difficult for us to do so. It goes like this:

  • Accept the person.
  • Praise the effort.
  • Reward results.

Now, I grew up in a crime and punishment household like most of you. I don’t know what would have happened if my parent’s didn’t believe in “spare the rod, spoil the child”. God knows, we don’t want to spoil anybody, that would probably make an already bad situation worse. But if a person is not doing irreparable damage to my institution, I think that institution-wide U.P.R. should be the step I start with long before “retraining” people even becomes necessary. For instance: my parents did reward me for good grades. As a result, I made it through higher education with a firm drive to keep my grades at a respectable level, long after I had aged beyond the reward system. Positive management style, positive employees/volunteers/children, positive results.

The science is fascinating: when you reward people who meet your standards on a regular and unbiased basis, it creates a cognitive dissonance that strongly brings people-with-problems in line with your naturally high achievers or those who already strive to meet your standards. Even if achievement and reward doesn’t drive them to shift their behavior, peer pressure might just do the trick: when your neighbor gets a raise, then your other neighbor gets a raise, human psychology suggests you will emulate what they do in order to join them. I am who I work with.

Furthermore, when the pressure of constant corporate punishment no longer looms over your office, church, bakery, salesfloor or candle shop, it fosters an environment of trust. Trust, if you remember in Christopher Barrat’s TED talk comes right before “Buy”; BUY a product, BUY positive performance, BUY success for yourself as a leader because those under you feel safe, driven and the need to succeed themselves.

Unconditional Positive Regard is unique, and in today’s society, is difficult to find because it is human nature to either directly confront, or passively distance ourselves from people-with-problems. As a result, U.P.R. may actually be a huge source of influence that is largely untapped.

Unconditional Positive Regard was a concept developed by Psychologist Carl Rodgers. For details on the concept, check out the wiki here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unconditional_positive_regard

Achieving Greatness

Climbing Up

In November 2014, Susan Colantuono gave a TED talk about achieving equality for women in the higher echelons of the business world, and in doing so, she gave a broad guide to everyone in how to make it up the corporate ladder.

She enlists three phrases to describe what attributes management looks for when seeking to promote someone:

  • “Use the Greatness in You.”
  • “Achieve and Sustain Extraordinary Outcomes.”
  • “Engage the Greatness in Others.”

This forms a sentence: “You have to be recognized for using the greatness in you, to achieve and sustain extraordinary outcomes by engaging the greatness in others.”

Susan hints at there being a promotional hierarchy to these three, without directly stating that with all of them. It would seem finding work has to do with proving the greatness in you. Being promoted to middle management has to do with proving that you’ve engaged the greatness in others. Getting promoted to the top has everything to do with proving you have Business Acumen, Strategic Acumen and Financial Acumen-a subcategory she came up with that branches off from Achieving and Sustaining Extraordinary Outcomes.

Learning More About Business

I went to college and received a Bachelor’s Degree in Pastoral Ministry at the end of 2013, which covered a little bit of everything concerning Counseling, Public Speaking, Non-Profit Leadership and Management, as well as Theology. I remember missing the business class. Oh, I had one. It was very good, in fact, entitled “Business as Mission”, but it was a substitution put in place to allow me to graduate the following semester. I can probably tell you something about an excellent missions strategy, but not much, unfortunately, about how money works in church. It’s enough, as I am learning how to be great and engage the greatness of others that I want to learn a little bit about business in general.

You can find Susan’s TED talk here: