Joie de Vivre!

The French have an expression that I relate to: Joie de Vivre!  It means the simple joy of living, embracing all that life has to offer – right now, in this moment.  Joie de Vivre is about being aware of things around you. It’s being conscious of life as it happens. It’s being enveloped by the love and laughter of young children. It’s connecting with old friends and meeting new ones.  And of course, good wine and good food.  But most of all, for me Joie de Vivre is about acceptance . . . of the current state of one’s authentic self, while being accountable of the impact on others.

Recently, I was co-leading a team building retreat of senior leaders during which several individuals stated that they didn’t view themselves as particularly bright, creative, or bold enough to be fully effective. That shocked me, for I saw them as more than capable.  What was the difference between what I saw and what they accepted as true?  It was the lens through which they viewed themselves. Instead of being grounded in gratitude and living in self-acceptance, these individuals were viewing themselves as flawed and disempowered.  I was saddened to see these lives overshadowed by the belief they were “less than.”

If you look for pleasure, joy, and satisfaction each day, every day, you’ll find it.  I’m fond of saying, “Take what you do seriously, but not yourself.”  Don’t beat yourself up, as you’ll never be perfect.  Too many of us live in fear of being discovered that we are not ______ enough: not bright enough, capable enough, experienced enough, or courageous enough.  Instead of focusing on what you lack, focus on what talents you do have and . . . bask in the moment.

Enjoy your Joie De Vivre!

RL Team

Stepping Out . . .

Clyde C. Lowstuter
President and CEO

When 250+ people stepped out and joined us for a fabulous time on July 19th, it was invigorating and the energy palpable. The phenomenon of hundreds of engaged people, laughing and smiling, seemed to be a great metaphor for stepping out . . . of your comfort zone.

Every one of us engages in self-limiting talk that inhibits how courageous we allow ourselves to be.  It’s part of the human condition.  At our Open House I met an interesting fellow who was attending our gathering for the first time.  Despite our warm and accepting group, he indicated that he was very shy and was always uncomfortable meeting and networking with new people.  I observed that the only person who thinks that he is shy is himself;  since he was unknown to the group, no one knew whether he was bold and outgoing or shy and retiring.  I asked him what kind of behavior he would exhibit if he were emboldened, confident, and enthusiastic.   After he accurately described an emboldened person, I introduced him to a cluster of folks with the encouragement to let loose and have fun.  Moments later, he was smiling and actively interacting with them.  (Click photos below to enlarge.)

RL Summer Tonic Photo Collage 2012

This timely lesson was a great reminder for me to pay attention to my own disempowering thoughts and actions. Given that it is learned behavior, I get to experiment with dropping my self-limiting habits and embracing those beliefs, behaviors, and attitudes that I’ve always admired.  To that end, I’ve been asking myself – “Where and when do I play small?” and “How might I more fully step out – into my authentic self?”

So – I invite you to step on out there with me.

Drawing Update:  Sandy Mitsch, Director of Talent Management at Takeda, won the kaleidoscope from the event drawing, reflective of Clyde’s favorite metaphor for “Change Your Perspective . . . Enhance Your Life!”  We appreciate Sandy’s support and engagement with R|L over the years.

R|L Team 2012

The Magic of R|L . . . is You!

Clyde C. Lowstuter, President & CEO

Celebrating 30 years of executive development, we were thrilled to have more than 300 friends, clients, and alumni gather in our backyard garden and tennis court to reconnect and make new friends.  All of us were fed in more ways than one – by Rankinfyle’s lively jazz, Simon Lin’s innovative sushi bar, and Hel’s Kitchen’s delectable treats.  After a week of power outages and stormy weather, we couldn’t have asked for a more delightful evening.

Our magician gave us one of our biggest compliments of the evening – concerning you.  A true pro in his own right, he had carefully positioned himself away from others to observe the crowd before intermingling with small groups.  Having attended more than 6,000 corporate events, he was delightfully surprised at how folks would immediately approach him and engage him in interesting conversations at this event. That community spirit was certainly reflective of our theme – The Magic of R|L . . . is You! 

30-year CollageThe following comments capture the essence of R|L and the evening:

  • “You have an uncanny ability to identify the uniqueness and value of each individual you encounter or work with and you convey it with authenticity and passion.  Over the years you have instilled hope in the lives of so many people.”
  • “You guys throw the best party in town.  It was good to catch up with many old friends and make some new ones.”

Thank you once again for being so supportive of R|L – the team, our values, and our services.  We are forever grateful to you.  Without your continued involvement we wouldn’t be able to help people unleash more of their authentic selves and craft the life / career they want.

Best wishes for your continued success and may you always  . . . “Create Uncommon Results!”®

When Your Peer Becomes Your Boss . . .

Clyde C. Lowstuter, President & CEO

“If it wasn’t humiliating enough to be passed over for a promotion that should have been mine, I now have to endure my peer as my boss.  He’s making my life miserable.  While we never had the strongest relationship, I didn’t feel undermined at every turn like I do now.  What a jerk!  I don’t trust him as far as I could throw him.”

Sound familiar?  Has something like this ever happened to you or someone you know at work?  Maybe the scenario is different, but the end result is that you now find yourself reporting to a former peer.  How do you handle it and move forward through a tough and delicate situation?

Here are some concrete suggestions for you to consider.

Top 10 Ways to Thrive, Not Merely Survive

1)     First, keep your ego in check. While it may already be bruised, don’t become overly defensive or reactive at every perceived slight. As tough as it may seem, stay focused on making the best decisions for the business.  Don’t engage in “one-upsmanship” power plays or posturing.  Watch the common tendency to be passive-aggressive toward your new boss or sarcastic when you speak about him.  Others will recognize when your former peer is being inappropriate.  You lose when you point it out.  There’s an old saying: “Whenever you throw dirt, you get muddied and lose ground.”  People will take their cues from you.  If you are positive and operating above the fray, others will appreciate your professionalism and not view you as mortally wounded.

Ask yourself:  “What 3 things can I do to stay up, when it’s easier to feel down?”

2)    Be aware of the potential for awkwardness. Even before you experience the inevitable tension between you, based on your new respective roles, acknowledge the possible difficulty for you both.  Observe that while his current role feels like it would have been a “natural next position” for you as well, let him know that since you didn’t get the nod, you were pleased that he got it.  You might also indicate that you hope there will be other challenging opportunities for yourself in the future.

Be genuinely pleased for his success.  While it may seem counterintuitive, allow yourself to be even more open and transparent around your boss.  You might find it helpful to have a candid discussion regarding your desire to work effectively with him and the company – as you are, like him, committed to the growth and profitability of the company.  Ideally, this will diminish the awkwardness between you and it will also aid in strengthening your relationship.

Ask yourself: “How do I leverage the situation for good?”

3)    Be vulnerable and open to change. Your former peer may feel that it is important to reset the relationship by being tougher with you, initially.  When assertively confronted with an approach different than your own, for instance, you might use language such as, “You may be right.  What else should I consider?”   Challenge his thinking in a positive, non-emotional, straightforward, yet collaborative manner.  If he is sensitive to being challenged directly in meetings, express your viewpoints with him prior to or after meetings.  Discuss ways to create healthy feedback and a problem-solving, collaborative style between the two of you.

Ask yourself:  “How do I manage my vulnerability and move things forward?”

4)    Objectively evaluate your gaps and shortcomings. This may be a good time to evaluate what might have been the deciding factors on his behalf that led to his getting the promotion, and not yourself.  Critically identify any limiting factors in your own skill sets or personality that contributed to your being passed over.  What areas might you need to strengthen in order to achieve the next level of success?  Depending on your position, it might make sense to meet with an executive who occupies a role at least two or three levels above yourself.  The point being – don’t be a victim; own the outcome that you have created, albeit unconsciously.  The single greatest reason for a peer getting ahead of you, talent notwithstanding, is the visibility and level of endorsement that this executive has versus yourself. If you didn’t get the nod, learn from it.  Take responsibility for your successes, as well as your setbacks, as that’s where the true learning takes place.

Ask yourself:  “What 1-3 key areas do I want to embrace?”

5)    Lighten up. If you are upset, where might you be withholding your support from your boss and minimizing his strengths?  Make sure that your own disappointment is not routinely contributing to your negatively judging his leadership methods or behavior.   Find ways to genuinely respect his strengths.  Since he got the promotion, others must recognize and respect his attributes.  What strengths might they have seen?  What would your attitude toward him be if you saw his talents as clearly as others did?

Ask yourself:  “If the situation were reversed and I were the boss, what attributes would I most admire and respect of his?”

6)    Be like Radar. If you recall, Radar was the uber-efficient Army company clerk in the hit TV series, M.A.S.H.  His company commanders never had to ask him for anything, as his anticipatory skills were phenomenal.  By raising your awareness of what your new boss needs and wants, you will significantly diffuse his need for unwanted control.  Also, consider: what are those things that you do / don’t do that trigger behavior that you don’t like?  The simplest way to support him is to Anticipate, Prepare, and Initiate Action.

Ask yourself:  “What does my new boss want and need?”

7)    Let your talents shine. What are your key skills and abilities?  What personal and professional capabilities and strengths do you have that would complement your boss?  Ask him what he needs from you for him to be even more successful in his new role.  Tell him that you’d like to partner together to make the organization wildly successful.  Be an advocate for him and for the success of the company.

Ask yourself:  “What strengths do I have that complement my boss?”

8)    What do you need to succeed? Make specific requests of him to help you be even more successful, serving the greater organizational good.  How can you build greater endorsement and support for one of your initiatives that he considers to be important?  Consider getting counseling and mentoring from other senior leaders in the organization and begin to build broader endorsement for yourself.  Where else and how else might you grow your career and contribute to the organization?

Ask yourself: “What is the one significant thing I need to do differently to succeed?”

9)    Really get to know him outside of the office. Spend time with him on business trips or association meetings.  If he is a decent speaker, recommend him to address your industry’s national meeting, for instance.  By doing so, you would be clearly communicating that you are lifting him up and acknowledging him in his new role.   It is a great way to rebuild natural bonds and to understand intentionality without the politics internal to the office.

Ask yourself:  “What is the best way to comfortably and genuinely make this connection?”

10)    Seek to learn . . . about yourself and others. View this experience as a phenomenal opportunity to be increasingly aware of the empowering and disempowering beliefs and behaviors that drive you, positively and negatively.  Examine the extent to which you might be operating out of an entitlement mentality, and shift to a posture of self  accountability, self-management, learning, and growth.  Start asking yourself, ”How do I really feel about my peer’s promotion?  What meaning am I attaching to this situation?”  If you harbor any disempowering emotions, beliefs or behaviors surrounding the event or the players, you might objectively evaluate the adverse impact on you and others.  Then decide, act, and commit.

Ask yourself:  “What are my two most startling epiphanies surrounding this issue?”

BOTTOM LINE:

Based on our experience working with thousands of executives, the percentage of individuals who leave their companies after being passed over for promotion is in excess of 90%.  If you want to remain in your organization after losing out on a promotion, then you need to embrace these tips and significantly modify your mindset and behavior, lest you become part of that 90% statistic.

If you’d like to talk to me about this article or your situation, you can reach me at clydel@robertsonlowstuter.com.

Connections Boost Creativity

R|L recently took the opportunity to compile a group of creative business ideas from some of our esteemed business connections – clients, contacts, colleagues, and friends.  Here is what we gathered:

  • Be insatiably curious.  Ask yourself, “What if?” and “What’s another perspective?” at least once a day.
  • Use mindmapping to consider broader options.
  • Recast your limiting or disempowering beliefs and behaviors to achieve a better result.
  • Take others to lunch, get to know what they do well.
  • Plan every personal encounter with your end goal in mind.
  • Listen to the voice of your customers as you problem-solve and before you make your decisions.
  • In every way, “Create Uncommon Results!”
  • Creative ideas often come by adding some play into your day.  Take a break and see what happens.  Learn by walking around.  We rely on computers too much.
  • Build your digital identity and brand . . . one article at a time.
  • Expand your accomplishments.  Think about who else could benefit from knowing what you have just done or learned.
  • Pay it forward.  Consistently deliver random acts of kindness with no expectations of anything in return.
  • Brain Game:

I wave without hands.  My storms never rain.
I like being teased, but please do not drain.
You can pick me in public,
I’m racked without pain,
Scans may detect damage,
whether left, right, or main.
Don’t call me a bird.
Matter not.  Won’t complain.
DNR me . . . I’m dead.
Indeed, I’m your _ _ _ _ _.
Dr. Jack Maggiore, Chief Statistic Officer
Health Life Laboratories

  • Everything in life is a learning opportunity – seek to grow positively from it.
  • Optimize the strength of your existing brand by being crystal clear on your vision and by operating authentically.
  • Determine new ways of applying what you already do well.
  • Dare to be more.  Think in bigger terms.  What would you believe and how would you act if you knew you could not fail?
  • Access multiple perspectives by asking yourself, “How would my boss handle this?  My peer?”
  • Brainstorm with others.  Your collaboration will easily take your solution to the next level and build endorsement and credibility along the way.
  • Know what specific difference you want to make in your organization and then give it your all.
  • Take 15 minutes at the close of your day to plan the key priorities for the next day.  That way, you will come in more focused and ready to go.
  • Build momentum by creating a high sense of urgency in all you do.  Speed is a competitive advantage.
  • Master your role.  Ask for feedback, “How can I/my team be even more effective?”
  • Calculate your risks and then act.
  • Master thinking strategically and operating tactically.
  • Create customer evangelists based on real value-add who will then do the marketing for you.

We encourage you to take one or two of the ideas above and meaningfully incorporate it into your business practices, remembering that connections indeed boost creativity!