If you are too rushed to say, "Thank you," your relationship is leaning more towards being an arrangement than a relationship. If you're too proud to say, "I'm sorry" and too angry to say, "Goodnight," you'd rather be right than make things better and you're dangerously close to becoming the unforgiving person (you knew in your childhood) that you swore you'd never grow up to be like.
The Secret of "The Secret"
Forgiveness + Gratitude + Generosity = Attraction = The Secret
My partner, Keith Ferrazzi, has been recommending The Secret and I recently watched it on DVD and saw the show about it on Oprah and had some resistance to its message until I practiced what it preached, especially forgiveness. I realized that as long as I was not forgiving (others, myself, past situations, etc.), I was chasing after something that was impossible to fix, i.e. trying to rewrite some past disappointment or hurt that was not going to change, and diverting energy from my present and future. Being unforgving is an emotional "black hole" that sucks from everything else.
As soon as I decided to forgive and let it go, my unforgiving state of mind lost its power over me. After I recentered since I no longer needed to chase the impossible, I was able to recenter on gratitude.
Gratitude is wonderful. It is the gift that keeps on giving. When you're in a state of gratitude, nothing is missing in your mind, your life or the world. You can't be truly grateful and angry, hurt, disappointed or frustrated at the same time. When you are truly grateful, your cup runneth over and you want to give back, i.e. be generous towards the world.
Generosity is what fuels the law of attraction. If you give to others and the world, without keeping score, you will discover another universal principle, i.e. reciprocity. Give to the world and it will want to give back. That is what the law of attraction is about.
A great example of this is the movie, Groundhog Day. In it Bill Murray starts out very self-centered and attracts very little towards himself (and even repulsed Andie MacDowall, the object of his lust). As he keeps dying and reliving each day, he starts to discover what Andie MacDowall truly wants and needs and when he becomes those things, he so attracts her that she bids for him in an auction at the end of the movie.
Too girlie an example, for you guys? Then think of the movie, Field of Dreams. In it, Kevin Costner sacrifices everything to build a baseball field and keeps building it without knowing why. All through the movie his "generosity" is tested by his asking why he is doing it. In the end, he builds a field that helps baseball players (including his dad) to fulfill the dreams they never got to live in life. And the lesson of the story? Build something that fulfills the dreams of people and "people will come."
So think of the people who are most important to you. Figure out what they most want and need and help them get those and you, too, will attract more than you can imagine.
Let me close by saying to you the words of Kevin Costner's character, Ray Kinsella, to his dad near the end of the movie, "Do you want to have a catch?"
For Valentine's Day
Happy couples know that the real relationship begins when the honeymoon is over. Unless you maintain a garden of love, it will grow weeds and its beauty will wither and die. So let's explore the 10 habits* of highly happy couples (with all due respect and appreciation to Stephen Covey):
Even if these actions don't come naturally, happy couples stick with them until they do become a part of their relationship. They know that it takes 30 days for a change in behavior to become a habit, and a minimum of six months for a habit to become a way of life and love.
(* According to Dan Sullivan, founder of The Strategic Coach: "Self-discipline is an ugly word. People mainly use it to beat up on themselves or others for not having enough of it. What it comes down to is habits. Happy and successful people have different habits than unhappy and unsuccessful people. And habits are specific behaviors that you do on a consistent basis until you internalize them into your personality.")
ALWAYS ... work on improving your written and verbal communication skills, because if and when you ever come up with that "bet the farm" idea and you can't communicate it clearly to others, it will die on the vine.
A "No Lose" Proposition
Winning is one of the best opportunities to demonstrate graciousness and generosity; Losing is one of the best opportunities to show poise, humility and take responsibility ; Graciousness, generosity, poise, humility and taking responsibility are five of your best opportunities to earn and gain respect and esteem from others and yourself.
Keep Your New Year's Resolutions
Most people are ready for change, few are ready to change. As the saying goes: "If you fail to plan, plan to fail." And when you're planning here are some principles to keep in mind.
The Best Gifts in Life are Free
Up until I was 35 years old I considered myself a coward, because I stayed too much in my comfort zone, took too few risks and gave into my fears. Then my first child was born. One day when she was three months old and I was holding her in my lap, she looked up into my eyes with total love and total trust. I realized that if she looked into my eyes that way when she was twenty and saw in me, what I saw in me, she would be disappointed. And I couldn’t do that to her.
What I was most afraid of and thus avoided was being on the spot, humiliating myself or being ridiculed. That is why I rarely asked questions— either at home or in the world (except in my capacity as a psychiatrist/psychotherapist) – up until that time in my life. On that day I started to say, “Yes” to all the things I had previously said, “No” to from fear.
Now on nearly a daily basis I go out of my way to put myself on the spot. That is why I give talks, grant interviews, write articles and books. When it goes well, it gives me confidence; when it goes poorly, all the better, because that makes me stronger and innoculates me against cowardom.
You might wonder how things turned out since my daughter is now 24. Six months ago I received the best gift I have ever received. It was an email from her:
“Hi dad, last night my friends ----- and ----- and I were out walking in Manhattan discussing how lost and confused we felt (BTW they all have jobs), when I interrupted as I often do to say, ‘My dad said -----.’ And just as often, it stops the conversation and makes it considerably better. I’m not so sure my friends could say the same about their dads. I’m lucky to have a dad who is so wise, even if he is far away. I love you. See you soon, Lauren.”
Don’t wait until it’s too late to give that kind of thank you to the people you’re grateful to.
'Tis the Season to Be Realistic
Reasonable makes sense, Realistic is what’s likely to happen.
The Holidays are the season for many things, especially great expectations. If you’re like me, every time I have high expectations and they don’t pan out, the disappointment can at times feel devastating. On the other hand to have no expectations seems like going too much to the other extreme. So here is the formula I have found that works best:
Happy Holidays to all!
Gratitude: Prequel to The Power Thank You
You can’t be grateful and feel like anything is wrong
In the spirit of Casino Royale and Batman Begins, which were both prequels to the successful James Bond and Batman series, think of “Gratitude” as a prequel to my Usable Insight: A Power Thank You for Thanksgiving.”
Try it. Think of three people that you are grateful to. Who were those people? What did they specifically do that you feel grateful for? Remember those people and what they did in detail and then try to feel angry, embittered and/or cynical. You will find it difficult to do so (unless by nature you take more pleasure out of being unforgiving).
There are a number of explanations for this, but my favorite involves neuroscience. When you feel angry, embittered and/or cynical, deprived, that something is missing or that something has been taken away from you, you react to that hole in your happiness--and neurophysiology--with resentment and may even feel the impulse to seek revenge.
When however you imagine in your mind’s eye the people you feel grateful to and envision clearly what they did to cause you to feel that way, the hole in your happiness--and in your brain and mind--spontaneously goes away, and is replaced by satisfaction and gratitude. In most people it even leads to the impulse to express that gratitude or even give back to the world.
If you want even more of an explanation for this, the entire process of remembering these wonderful people and feeling grateful to them is mediated by mirror neurons. These are cells that read minds and enable us to understand and empathize with others. And when in reverse we feel understood and empathized with by others, these are the cells that cause us to feel grateful and to borrow and recast a line from a famous old Beatle’s song, that is what “fixes a hole where the pain gets in."
We procrastinate not because we’re lazy, but because we’re overwhelmed.
When your mind becomes overloaded—either from demands from the outside or from anxiety/depression from inside you—you lose the ability to concentrate, focus, prioritize, take in new information, hold it or act on it. As a result you lose confidence in your decisions and rather than make a wrong one and take a wrong action, you do nothing.
All the while the demands on your mind space increase rather than decrease and a vicious cycle develops resulting in more procrastination.
What to do (as described and explained in Get Out of Your Own Way at Work…and Help Others Do the Same)—
In the absence of someone to do this with, visualize in your mind’s eye a loving, caring mentor or role model who supported you through difficult times in your life listening and understanding you now.
The more discerning a customer or client, the more they resist and resent being sold.
I feel fortunate and honored to be developing relationships with some of the most respected and admired leaders and CEO’s in this country. I’m not sure why they would want to spend their ultra precious time with me, but I think it may be due to the fact that I am an “awarophiliac.” That means that I love being and stimulating awareness in both myself in others that by itself is valuable and satisfying to me and seems to be the same to these leaders. At any rate, more than a few of these CEO’s have gone over their allotted time with me, waved away their assistants who were trying to remind them about their next meeting and walked me to the entrance of their building. I don’t think it was to get rid of me, but to spend more time with me.
A number of my helpful peers in the service professions, who are much more monetarily successful than me, have asked me: “Yeah, yeah, we know you’re bright Mark, but how are you going to make money at this? When are you going to ask for the sale? Don’t you have to make a living?”
I do have to make a living and after so much pressure to “convert” these conversations I finally asked one of these “new” CEO relationships: “Tell me about some of the challenges and opportunities you are facing.” Maybe my transition was not subtle enough, but I could feel the electrons on the other side of phone shift as if this CEO were thinking: “Son of a gun, you did a ‘bait and switch’ and now you’re trying to sell me just like all the other ‘vendors’ who try to hit on me. I thought you were different.” The telephone call ended awkwardly and shortly thereafter.
Fortunately, the overriding view this CEO had of me was that of truly enjoying the pleasure of his/her company and the mutual satisfaction that it was bringing to both of us. I have never made the same mistake again, nor do I speak much about my budding relationships with these esteemed leaders with my colleagues and associates who are trying to help me become a better closer
Why Tiger Woods doesn't cheat
Q: Why doesn’t Tiger Woods cheat?
And he doesn’t have to, because he has a huge competitive advantage. What’s that? As one PGA professional told me.
“When you’re playing against Tiger, there are always three things going on:
That is a competitive advantage. You don’t have to be Tiger Woods to have a competitive advantage over your competition. All you need is a service or product that your target market has gotta’ have (vs. merely needs or wants) that has quality, service and price (a.k.a. value) that consistently exceeds their expectations.
How to Get "Buy In"
To get people to open their minds to you, get them to uncross their arms. Forget about “the shin bone’s connected to the thigh bone, the thigh bone’s connected to the hip bone, etc.” Just remember: “the arms are connected to the mind.”
One my main specialties is helping people to gain “buy in” from others. I’ve worked with CEO’s, directors, senior executives and FBI and police hostage negotiators to do so. Unless people “buy in” first, it’s unlikely that they are going to buy—or believe—whatever you tell or sell them. “Buy in” is the foreplay of negotiation, persuasion and selling. In hostage negotiation it is what causes a person holding a gun to ease off the trigger.
One of the most effective ways to gain “buy in” from others is to get them to uncross the arms on their body and uncross the arms in their mind. You can’t force people to uncross both. Even if you order or direct them to uncross their actual arms, you can’t make them uncross the ones in their minds.
What you can do however is cause them to uncross their arms in both places of their own free will. To do this, ask them a question that they feel tremendous emotion or passion about. Using words will be insufficient to communicate what they feel and they will need to use their arms to emphasize what they say. This is why you will often see people using their arms and hands to make a point even when they are talking on a telephone.
When people uncross their arms and use them to communicate, a door opens into their minds. The problem is that when that door first opens, there is no room (yet) to get through it, because they are caught up in the barrage of what’s coming out of it at you.
"You are not alone" - Part 1: Men
"Do you know the definition of a shower? A shower is the place where grown (and good) men go to cry, when they don’t think they’ll be able to keep the promise to their wives and children, that they will take care of them and make them proud and they don’t want their families to know how scared and ashamed they are."
During the .com bust in 1999 and 2000 I was speaking at a convention to a group of senior managers and their spouses. I told the audience of a male client who asked me: “Do you know the definition of a shower?” When I responded that other than something you find in a bathroom, I didn’t know, he offered the above definition.
When I said this to the assembled group of 150 couples, the men stared straight ahead at me like deers in the headlights of a car as if to say two things: “How did you know that about me?” and “I hope nobody sitting around or next to me knows that you know that about me”
Even more poignantly, a great number of the assembled spouses responded by looking down at the floor as if I was telling them something they already knew, but that was never talked about in their homes.
What was on many of these women’s minds was not worrying that their husbands would disappointment them, but that their husbands would drop dead.
"You are not alone" - Part 2: Women
"Do you know the definition of a ceiling? A ceiling is the place where women stare blankly into the darkness, when they try to help the men and children they love and everybody fights them."
Not do be outdone by my story about men and showers at a convention, a woman in the audience fired back the definition of a ceiling above.
Hitting the nail on the head is hitting the nail on the head whether you’re on the stage where I was or speaking from the audience where this woman was. But in this case, she received the opposite response from me. This time the women stared at her, wondering how she knew what they were feeling and it was the men’s turn to look down at the floor in embarrassment, acknowledging their culpability in driving their wives to distraction.
The Power Thank You
Why settle for giving a "thank you" when you can give a Power Thank You?
If you want to make the people who are special to you, feel special, try a Power Thank You. It has 3 parts:
It is something you can’t give too frequently if you sincerely mean it.
Example 1: From me to Keith Ferrazzi, author of the best selling book, Never Eat Alone (a must read for anyone who accepts the fact that success is built on a foundation of solid, mutually helpful relationships):
Example 2: From a CEO to me that still chokes me up. He told me:
This CEO started keeping his son company every night as the boy struggled through his homework, because as his dad said to him: "I can't allow you to be alone feeling so awful." This change in attitude turned everything around at home. That CEO then realized how he was doing the same thing at his company to his board and management team and turned those situations around as well.
Mark Goulston is the best selling author of three books and writes regular columns for Fast Company, the National Association of Corporate Directors, Knight Ridder Tribune, Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He is frequently called upon to share his expertise with regard to contemporary business, national and world news by television, radio and print media including: Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, Fortune, Newsweek, Time, Los Angeles Times, ABC / NBC / CBS / Fox / CNN / BBC News, Oprah, and Today. His latest book is Get Out of Your Own Way at Work. Visit www.markgoulston.com/ for additional information.
Many more articles in Executive Performance in The CEO Refresher Archives