So, what really stops us from success? I was talking with a friend from Arizona last week about her latest project. She's a researcher and is interviewing managers about the cost of negative emotions. Think about that. We know how much it costs when an employee quits or when a machine stops. But how much does a verbal fight in the office cost? Or a misread tone of voice in an e-mail? How much success is dribbled away when someone makes a poor presentation?
Maybe it isn't possible to "cost out" these more nebulous factors, but I think it's important to recognize how negative feelings impact our success. Work life, like family life, is largely about relationships, communication, clear thinking, and motivation. Unfortunately, we usually have to be pretty unhappy to seek change.
My own search for change began with neural-linguistic programming (NLP) about 15 years ago. NLP is always hard to explain. In a way, it is a basket of goodies, related ideas, techniques, beliefs, concepts, and tools that help us understand and change our world. It is control in the best sense of gaining control over what we really can change.
A few years ago, I worked with a physician who was great at her job. She was also having a lot of problems with her office staff. Her relationships had suffered and she felt pretty shaken about her own competence. She was reacting in ways that didn't feel right to her, but wasn't sure how to change the patterns. The most important thing we did together — using NLP tools — was to clarify what she really wanted, understand what was stopping her, and immediately shift her relationships so that they supported her goals. Her clarity gave her a lot of peace and motivation and she was amazed how her relationships at home improved when she applied the same principles. Are you ready to try some of these steps yourself? The way you formulate a desire or outcome has a lot to do with whether or not it comes to fruition. So, try this. First, think of an area in which you would like your communication to be better. Maybe you feel stuck in an old pattern or there are bad feelings from a previous incident. Now, be your own consultant for a moment. Ask yourself: "What is it that I really want?" Then "What would that do for me if I got what I wanted?"
Remember, our mind organizes around our goal, and the clearer our goal, the easier it is to move toward the outcome we want. A goal stated positively and clearly is a necessity.
Then ask yourself if you have control over this goal or outcome. This is sometimes a problem when a person sees the problem as belonging to someone else. "If only my husband would"¦." Or, "I want my coworker to stop acting so bossy." The secret here is to find out what's important to you, what you really want, and then figure out a way to get there. You won't change your coworker's behavior, but you can learn to assert yourself in a staff meeting.
In the beginning, writing the steps out or telling a friend will help. The more you focus on what you want, what it will do for you, how you envision the result, the more likely it is that you will succeed. Internally you've summoned up your intellect, memory, and creativity, and then aimed your many resources toward something that you really want.
The whole range, all the flavors of NLP, include understanding what makes a relationship rich, how our brain sorts and moves, how we can make changes in how we think and feel, how to release fear, and how to get very, very clear about what we want and what we really care about. This isn't a menu, by the way. You can have it all.