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5 Times When it Pays to Focus on the Negative

“Focus on the positive, not the negative.”Unknown

That’s pretty good advice…most of the time.

There are times when it pays to focus on the negative and when doing so is necessary. Here are five examples:

1. When it could turn into disaster.

Ignoring a threat is dangerous. Denying an attacking competitor, disgruntled customer, hostile employee or problematic situation won’t make them go away. Despite the bromide, ignorance is rarely bliss. Threats can escalate and end in tragedy. Attend promptly to those negative conditions that threaten your personal or organizational well-being.

2. When it can be remedied.

Even small problems are an annoyance and can drain away energy when left unsolved. Unless leaving a problem unsolved will makes no real difference, quickly deal with the ones you can..
Make a punch list of problems that can be remedied by yourself or someone on your team, then pick a timeline for resolution.

3. When it can teach you lessons.

We can learn from the good, the bad and the ugly. We need only to look for the lesson. Negative situations and results have causes. Finding those causes and dealing with them can literally turn a negative into a positive. More importantly, if we truly learn the lessons, we can eliminate or reduce future obstacles and negatives.

4. When you can help another.

Good people can turn in negative performances. You can help them by pointing out what isn’t working or can be improved. In this case ocusing on the negative becomes beneficial. Difficult as it may be, pointing out another’s negativity and the affect is has on others may be the first step towards a change of behavior.

5. When there is an opportunity within it.

Rob O’Brien focused on the negative: in 1999 he couldn’t find a place to get a good haircut. He didn’t like paying $40 at a salon and he wasn’t into the low price/low quality haircut options at the other end of the scale. So he and his brothers filled un unexploited niche and created Floyd’s 99 where guys (and gals) can get a great haircut and terrific service at a price between the low-priced and the high end. By exploiting an unfilled opportunity, the O’Briens have created a thriving, growing business.

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What’s Right and What’s Wrong With Our Role Models Today?

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From Larry Winget:

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Role models are nothing more than a reflection of what we value. When we value honesty, integrity, doing the right thing, morals, good parenting, leadership and hard work, we will have role models who exemplify those values. Since we instead value fame, celebrity, being pretty and living an ostentatious life style those are the role models we find ourselves with. When we elevate our values we will elevate our role models.

It’s fine to admire what a person accomplishes in business, sports or the financial world, but it’s stupid to turn them into a role model unless they are the kind of person you want your child to grow up to be. For instance: Steve Jobs quotes are posted on social media every day as if he a guru of business, yet he screwed over his partners. Some great football players beat their girlfriends. Tiger is the greatest golfer who ever lived but he is not a good guy. Before we hold any person up as a role model, we need to look at more than what they do, what they have and how they look. We must look at who they are and how they live.

Larry Winget, the Pitbull of Personal Development©, is a six-time NYT/WSJ bestselling author, social commentator and appears regularly on many national television news shows. To find out more, go to www.LarryWinget.com.

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From Scott McKain:

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In 1993, Charles Barkley said something – via a Nike commercial he personally wrote – that was quite astounding.

“I am not a role model. A million guys who can dunk a basketball are in jail. Should they be role models?”

Athletes as role models were formerly appropriate because the press only reported their redeeming qualities. We never heard of Mickey Mantle’s problems with alcohol, Babe Ruth’s womanizing, or Ty Cobb’s racism. Now, we all know of steroid abuse, domestic violence, and drug addiction in sports — as well as entertainment, politics, and about every other walk of life.

Here’s the challenge – separating the message from the messenger.

Jimmy Swaggart failing in his personal life doesn’t mean the Bible was wrong. Michael Jordan may not be a nice guy, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t learn from his dedication to excellence.

It’s our personal responsibility to determine what we desire to accomplish – then, find a role model who has succeeded in that area, using their standard of performance to motivate us in a specific aspect.

Just as we all have fallen short in our personal endeavors, we have to realize that our role models don’t need to be all-encompassing examples of inspiration.

Scott McKain teaches how organizations and individual professionals can create distinction in their marketplace, and deliver the “Ultimate Customer Experience ®.” For more information: www.ScottMcKain.com

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From Randy Pennington:

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I had heroes growing up just like every little kid. Along the way, I learned that many of them had feet of clay. That is no different today.

I also had role models. They taught me important life lessons about being productive, responsible, and honorable. If you are lucky, your heroes can also be your role models.

It is difficult for heroes and role models today. Immediate information exposes real life to the world much quicker. It isn’t that the heroes and role models of our youth were so much better than the ones today. It is that the illusion of their goodness is more easily stripped away.

The real problem isn’t a lack of role models. It is us.

We have confused being good at something or famous with being a role model. And, we have decided to celebrate, aspire to, or explain away the character flaws and failures of those we seek to emulate.

My father came to a stop sign on an empty country road. He stopped completely and looked both ways. My mother, telling me this story many years later, asked him why he stopped when no one was around or watching. My father nodded to my brother and I in the back seat and said, “There are four eyes watching my every move.”

That’s a role model and one of my true heroes. Anyone who thinks that is strange, hokey, or old-fashioned is what’s wrong with our role models today.

Randy Pennington helps leaders deliver positive results in a world of accelerating change. To find out more, go to www.penningtongroup.com.

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From Joe Calloway:

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America’s number one role model is fame.

Sadly, in our society what seems to be admired, prized, and revered more than anything is quite simply fame. If you’re famous, then you’re admired. You can be famous for good, for bad, or just for being famous (Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian). If you’re famous, people will flock to be near you, to have their picture made with you, and many of them will want to be just like you.

How many people choose a teacher or a master carpenter or a single mom working two jobs to provide for her kids as a role model? Not many. More often we admire singers, dancers, movie stars, and anyone who gets on TV. Personally, I don’t get it. What makes someone worthy of adoration or admiration simply because they do their job in front of lots of people?

By the way, you can be a great role model and be famous, but you shouldn’t be a role model because you’re famous.

My role models tend to be great dads. I doubt you’ve ever heard of any of them.

Joe Calloway helps great companies get even better. www.JoeCalloway.com

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From Mark Sanborn:

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Role models greatly impact learning and development. There’s no debate about that.

Positive role models provide us both example and inspiration. We can see the reality of a life well lived rather than just learn about the abstract concept. In addition to living role models, history also offers a buffet of role models to chose from. (One advantage in choosing role models from history is that you know how their lives ended up.)

The danger is picking the wrong role model. We often confuse greatness with fame. Greatness is about what you give. Fame is about what you get. Contribution is the hallmark of greatness, not attention.

Be careful in selecting your role models, and take just as much responsibility in being the kind of person others would benefit from choosing as a role model for themselves. It might just make you a better person.

Mark Sanborn is president of Sanborn & Associates, Inc., an idea studio for leadership development. He is an award-winning speaker bestselling author of books including, The Fred Factor. For more information and free resources, visit www.marksanborn.com.

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How To Work With A Jerk

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From Joe Calloway:

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OK – here’s my answer. It’s the answer for me and not necessarily for you.  The answer is that you don’t work with a jerk.  My vendors and colleagues aren’t jerks.  My customers aren’t jerks because we have a finely tuned “jerk filter” on the front end to weed them out.  I’ve worked too hard and life is too short to put up with jerks so I won’t.  If you don’t have that luxury or option, my friends here will probably have good advice.  There are also lots of books you can read about how to work with difficult people.  But my advice is to move on.  Either have the jerk removed or remove yourself.  Don’t work with a jerk.

I know. I know. Some will say, “But it’s not that easy.” or “I can’t remove them or me.” Fine.

Then listen to my four friends here.  Three of them are almost certainly more patient with difficult people than I am.  Winget’s not.

Joe Calloway helps great companies get even better. www.JoeCalloway.com

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From Larry Winget:

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I am surrounded by more jerks than most folks so I have learned to work with them more than most would ever have to.  Why is that the case?  Because I am more opinionated than most folks – at least I am more vocal with my opinions than most people. When you are an opinionated person who rarely hesitates to voice your opinion, people will react to you in jerky ways.  Which means they aren’t necessarily jerks, but are only reacting to you in jerky ways.

Of course, being an opinionated person also makes you a jerk in the eyes of many people.  So begin with asking yourself the question, “Am I the jerk?”  About half the time, when I ask myself this question, the answer is either a resounding “probably” or a very definite “yes.”  Knowing that will help you deal with most jerks.  Jerks are usually defined as someone you strongly disagree with or who strongly disagree with you. After all, how can anyone who agrees with you be a jerk?  The solution? Confront, engage or ignore.  Those are your choices. I almost always choose to confront while most choose to ignore and gripe.

Larry Winget, the Pitbull of Personal Development©, is a six-time NYT/WSJ bestselling author, social commentator and appears regularly on many national television news shows. To find out more, go to www.LarryWinget.com.

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From Mark Sanborn:

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Assuming (as Larry points out) that you’re not the one being the jerk, try this:

Start by making sure you’re dealing with bona fide jerk behavior. Be honest about your own interpretation. I’ve heard employees say their boss was a jerk because he or she required them to be on time or live up to other performance standards. Requiring compliance to a job description doesn’t make your boss a jerk unless he or she does so in a petty or demeaning way.

Next, “feed the trolls” as the internet saying goes. Your response to a jerk can be fuel for his or her fire. While it is natural to respond negatively it doesn’t help your cause. Be assertive to protect yourself, but don’t resort to bad behavior.

Finally, have a tough conversation. Call the jerk on her or his behavior. Define the jerk’s behavior, how it makes you feel and—importantly—how it impacts your work. Get the problem out in the open and ask that it be addressed.

Mark Sanborn is president of Sanborn & Associates, Inc., an idea studio for leadership development. He is an award-winning speaker bestselling author of books including, The Fred Factor. For more information and free resources, visit www.marksanborn.com.

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From Randy Pennington:

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I agree with virtually all of my colleagues’ comments. My only minor disagreement is with Larry’s assertion that people who agree with us are seldom jerks.

Larry, Joe, Mark, and Scott are four of my best friends in the entire world. We agree 98 percent of the time, and … you see where this is headed. I’m sure they would say the same thing about me.

Even your best friends will occasionally be jerks. If they are, call them on it. And if they won’t do the same to you, they aren’t your friend.

If you decide to talk to someone about their jerkiness:

  • Focus on the behavior. Don’t assume their motivation. It takes a strong relationship to actually call someone a jerk and not have them react negatively.
  • Own your feelings and emotion. You can’t control others’ actions and behavior. You can control your reaction.
  • Know the difference between a jerk and a bully. We all deal with jerks. None of us should tolerate a bully. Report it or remove yourself. Just don’t accept it.
  • If you supervise the work of others, being or allowing others to be a jerk will be detrimental to your and their success.

Randy Pennington helps leaders deliver positive results in a world of accelerating change. To find out more, go to www.penningtongroup.com.

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From Scott McKain:

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The fundamental problem with jerks is often that THEY don’t realize they are one.

They believe that they’re “driven,” or “results-oriented,” or “a decisive leader,” instead of understanding themselves to be the total ass that we perceive they are.

I suppose that down deep we would all like to be a bit of a jerk. We’d enjoy saying what we really think without repercussions – however, as you and I know, the real world doesn’t work that way.

And, perhaps the truth may be a bit deeper than you first recognize.

When Van Halen demanded in their contract there could be no brown M&Ms in the dishes of the candy required backstage, it wasn’t the band being a bunch of jerks…or rock star excess…that was behind it. Van Halen knew that if a promoter skipped that detail, there would probably be other, more important ones that they would miss, too – meaning fans might not get the show the band wanted to deliver.

In other words, what was perceived as “jerkiness” was instead a commitment to excellent performance.

Before you deal with the jerk using the great insight from my friends – first, make certain the problem isn’t the jerk, but instead…your perception.

Scott McKain teaches how organizations and individual professionals can create distinction in their marketplace, and deliver the “Ultimate Customer Experience ®.” For more information: www.ScottMcKain.com

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5 Ways to Lead Larger

larger1. Expand your vision.

If you had to choose, wouldn’t you rather expect too much than expect too little? A small vision of what’s possible limits you. When Daniel Burnham famously said, “Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men’s blood…,” he was pointing out that the size of the motivation is often directly proportional to the size of the undertaking. Little visions create little motivation.

It can be scary to think bigger. No leader wants to think unrealistically, but I believe more leaders are limited by their thinking too small than by overreaching. My friend Erwin McManus says it well: If you’re big enough for your dream, your dream isn’t big enough for you.

2. Increase your learning.

The wider your intellectual bandwidth, the greater your leadership potential. Ideas and the ability to act upon them are the fuel of those who lead large.

What one skill, if you mastered it, would create the greatest payoff in your life? What does your team most need to learn to power up their performance? What original sources of information and ideas can you find to get you out of the mainstream of common thought that produces only common results?

3. Narrow your focus.

No matter how big the vision, you can only truly concentrate on one important thing at a time. Distraction is a killer of accomplishment. The danger isn’t just in trying to do too much, but in trying to do too much at one time.

Rid yourself of the obsession to do the trite, easy and expedient. Instead, focus on those activities, relationships and events that will move you most quickly to achieving your vision.

4. Improve your team.

Leaders frequently quote Proverbs: Without a vision the people perish. Less often considered is that without people the vision perishes. You will be as successful as the people who work with you. Have you surrounded yourself with the right people? Are they clear on the vision? Have you created shared focus for each team member so he or she isn’t wasting time on the insignificant?

5. Enjoy the process.

If you’re not having fun in your leadership journey, those around you probably aren’t either. There are always challenges and difficulties–and dealing with them is a big part of what leadership is about–but focusing on your strengths, opportunities and the people who matter will keep you grounded and prevent you from burning out.

Living large isn’t just about wealth and affluence, but attitude and orientation. When you live large, enjoying the people, opportunities and activities around you, you lead larger, too.

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Nurse Nick Knows: A Personal “Fred”

It is always gratifying to get stories of “Fred” and “Fred Sightings” from people around the world. Time and circumstance don’t always allow menurse to share, but the following is a submission from my new friend Shala that I think you’ll find informative and inspiring.

When I first came to know Mark and his book, “The Fred Factor,” I remember recalling my own Fred story and wanting to write it all down and send it his way. But I figured “he must get a lot of these” so I held off. A message from one of his Twitter followers requesting to hear other Fred stories prompted me to finally send mine. And so, in honor of the ebook release of Fred 2.0 this week, I’m sharing my “Fred” story.

At the beginning of October 2010 I was mid-way through training for a marathon – the NY one to be exact. I was about to switch jobs and had begun my application for business school. By all accounts I was full steam ahead on my own course. By the end of that month, however, my life and its accompanying choices would look very different. An unknown pre-existing condition combined with a seemingly innocuous drug would win me no-less than a three week stay at Georgetown hospital – just the beginning of my medical journey – and my first encounter with their incredible nursing staff.

Nurse Nick was assigned to me when I was first admitted for a “pinched nerve in my right arm.” Now I had come in to the ER with a few of my guy friends – we’re a jovial bunch and this sounded like quite the field trip. Nick blended right in, cracking jokes from the very beginning. When I eventually found out that that I had a large blood clot in my right arm, and when it came time to learn how to administer shots, Nick didn’t skip a beat. He looked at me, grabbed a piece of fat from his belly, and made a piercing motion and a funny face. I was halfway between cracking up and being horrified. My guy friends loved it. To be sure, Nick’s sense of humor went above and beyond and cushioned the blow of bad news. Delivery really is everything.

I would see Nick again on subsequent ER visits. He made a special effort to pop by my ER cubby whenever he saw my name on the roster, checking-in on me whether or not I was “assigned” to him. He never forgot a detail about my case, and was always there to lend a laugh. He was, by all accounts a “Fred,” but he wasn’t the only one wandering around Georgetown Hospital as I would come to find out.

What they don’t tell you when you get sick is that the bulk of your time and mental energy, for the most part, is actually spent fielding the emotions and fears of others, with the exception of a select few. I don’t say this in an ungrateful way – I felt a groundswell of support. But bad news is tough to deal with when it comes in the form of multiple pulmonary embolisms and organ failure. So you put on a front of outright joy to compensate and reassure those around you. In essence, when you are really sick, the hardest time in your life simultaneously becomes the point when you race to claw through emotional quicksand towards happiness like your life depends on it – because it does.

I say all of this because I think that nurses have a way of knowing this reality and accommodating for it. For example, the end of the day at the hospital, when visiting hours had come and gone, was always my worst and best time. It was blissful to finally be left alone in my thoughts, and miserable for that very same reason.

Alone with the beeping machines and its wires; with track marks covering my arms, hands, and feet from having my blood drawn over and over.

Alone in silent gratitude for still being alive.

Alone to process the bad, the ugly, and the scary.

Maybe the Georgetown nurses just have a sixth sense about this time of the night in hospitals. But when this time would come, one would enter my room, sit with me, and hold my hand. They wouldn’t talk or make me explore the emotions. I felt free to feel whatever around them – sad or scared – they just let me be. I’ll never forget how precious this silent time was and believe it helped me recover for the next day of doctors, needles, fielding family emotions, and bad news. Now I haven’t looked at a job description for nursing lately, but I imagine it includes following requisite medical procedures with patients, filling out mountains of paperwork, and general bedside manner. I doubt it is so specific as to include holding a patient’s hand, sitting beside them, and silently acknowledging their fear with kindness and empathy. At this point I could care less about the formal description, the latter peripheral actions were pivotal when it came to keeping me mentally together to make it through the long haul.

I was in the NICU a few weeks ago with my sister and her newborn child. At the time, my nephew was hooked to an abundance of wires and after four days she still hadn’t had a chance to hold him. It was clear to the nurse that she was dying to. In recognition of her maternal pain (and what was good for the baby), the NICU nurse proceeded to swaddle him up in an extra special way to give her a rare chance to hold her child. It was a privilege to be in the room to witness this beautiful moment and I’ll never forget it. That nurse could have executed the last part of her administrative duties for the day and walked away, but instead she went over and above to ensure that my sister, scared after having to be in the NICU anyway, could have a meaningful moment with her child. That moment made me think of Nurse Nick, Fred, and all those who go above and beyond in executing their job with love and care, especially in the nursing field. I remain in awe of nurses, and forever will. They are my “Freds.”

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