Balancing Act: The Newsletter (No. 148, December 2011)
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Techniques for balance
Welcome to all the new subscribers from the UK in response to kind words from Andy Bounds!
I’ve met too many people who insist that I create magic which would defy Houdini and the Sorcerer King: They want me to square a circle.
They tell me that they are not being paid enough, but don’t want to upset the apple cart by asking for more pay. Or they ask how the can get a key client to change his behavior without having to confront the individual or describe the behavior. Or they want to know how to find enjoyment spending time with someone whom they hate.
You can’t square a circle, not with a compass, protractor, formula, or alchemy. You can’t flap your arms and fly. You can’t expect someone to change their behavior without informing them of it, and you can’t expect them to love you for telling them that their behavior is a problem for others.
Get over it.
People do run around in circles trying to square circles, but that doesn’t help. The more you enable someone in doing something you detest, the more they will do it and the more you will detest it. “Overlooking” things or cutting people slack is your business, but you then forfeit the right to complain that they continue to do it.
Either tell people what you need to in order to change their behavior, or get over it and simply accept the inevitable. But to continue to complain and be agitated about something you refuse to confront, contradict, or clarify is just raising futility to an art form.
“I don’t get any respect,” I was told.
“Stop whining about it, and tell people how they have to change their behavior with you,” I suggested.
“Oh, I don’t want to be unpopular and seen as a complainer,” she whined.
The human condition: Drawing a blank
Rick Perry recently self-destructed in a political debate by proclaiming he’d close three government departments and then promptly forgetting one of them. Inexplicably, he drew the proverbial “blank” after having presumably prepared for a major, televised debate.
This is a guy who wants to lead the country. One would assume that such a goal requires at least as much preparation as, say, a high school geometry test.
Yet we’ve all been in the position, searching for a word, forgetting our place, losing a train of thought which is now headed for the wrong station. I have been a professional speaker for 25 years, and a in Australia on a speaking tour as I write this, and I never memorize my speeches, even keynotes. I always have notes, because I feel I’m paid to deliver value not demonstrate memorization skills, and since I ad lib often, my mind is apt to be going in twelve directions. My notes remind of where I’m supposed to be headed.
We draw a blank because we’ve often repeated something so often that we’ve lost the meaning, and it’s meaning that helps us recover our place, not mere words. We draw a blank when we are so intent on anticipating what will happen that we’re not listening to our current words. Blanks occur when we’re preoccupied and thinking of a personal issue while talking about a different one. We “blank” when we are so impassioned, or enraged, or furious, that we can’t focus adequately to choose the appropriate words—emotion trumping logic.
It’s usually not the end of the world unless it’s done in excruciatingly public forums and/or with critical issues. Drawing a blank is easily prevented by preparing notes and focusing on what you’re doing—remaining “in the moment.”
The term originated in the 16th Century lotteries of Elizabeth I in England. You lost when a blank paper was drawn.
You still do.
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I arrived at a nice hotel, but one that I never ordinarily stay in. I was speaking the next morning, and the client’s meeting was there.
There must have been 40 people in a serpentine check-in line, but I noticed only one person in the elite/platinum/snobs line to the left. I wandered over and prepared my story about losing my diamond/kryptonite membership card. As I moved to the desk, I began the charade of looking through all my membership cards in front of the desk clerk.
“I don’t know what I did with it,” I moaned.
“Oh!” she said, “There it is!” and plucked out one of my cards. “Welcome back to our Distinguished Guest Program!” she enthused.
Apparently, I was already in the club. I spent more time working on my illegitimate story than looking to see if I were actually legitimate.
Copyright 2011 Alan Weiss. All rights reserved.
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