Now that I’m finally coming up for air after moving my entire world into a storage unit for the next month I’ve started to reflect on what I am doing. Holy shit. Sometimes I wonder if I have gone mad. In the last year I’ve:
- Been diagnosed with a serious medical condition
- Changed my diet completely
- Basically quit drinking alcohol
- Quit my comfortable job amidst 10% unemployment
- Convinced my husband to quit his job too
- Gave away/sold a large portion of our possessions
- Personally moved the rest of our possessions – no moving company, just two able bodied adults carrying heavy furniture and appliances.
- Sold (well almost, that’s tomorrow) our family home
- Accepted that a month of homelessness is ok
I’m 45 years old. Most people at my age would be thankful for my old six figure income and my old lifestyle. Heck, in today’s economy there are people who would do unspeakable things to have what I had. What was I thinking?
The weird thing is that I am ok with all of this. I haven’t felt better in years. For once I have a sense of calm about my life. I feel like maybe I should be concerned, but I am not. Over my life I’ve found that worrying about things doesn’t help. Stuff will always work out one way or another. I’ve made stupid mistakes, I’ve been laid off from my job, I’ve been unemployed for a year, I’ve gotten really sick. All of that stuff sucked, but it wasn’t the end of the world. In fact, those occurrences have led to new possibilities and ideas.
Here is to a new set of adventures!
“What we do matters to us. Work may not be the most important thing in our lives or the only thing. We may work because we must, but we still want to love, to feel pride in, to respect ourselves for what we do and to make a difference.” Sara Ann Friedman
“That you may retain your self-respect, it is better to displease the people by doing what you know is right, than to temporarily please them by doing what you know is wrong.” William J. H. Boetcker
I’ve addressed respect in my blog before, and in reflection I thought it would be interesting to focus on self-respect vs. the respect for others. There is a lot of interesting debate in psychology circles regarding the differences between self-esteem and self-respect. See Psychology Today Self Esteem vs Self Respect for a quick overview. Having high self-esteem is ego driven. Technically a person with high self-esteem feels superior to others and expects preferential treatment. These people are very dependent upon how other people react to them and the feedback that these people provide. Studies have shown that some of the most heinous violent crimes are committed by people who have an unusually high warped self-esteem when they encounter someone who clearly does not hold them in as high regard. They have been “dissed” and it makes them angry. This is not self-respect, it is the pathology of a narcissist.
A person with healthy self-respect is :
- able to look at themselves, both their successes and their failures and feel content – accepting who they are
- not defined by either the positive or negative feedback of others (compliments are nice, but not required)
- consistent in how they treat others with kindness and understanding
- not phony, passive-aggressive, or manipulative
- not willing to do the wrong thing just to appease someone else
- concerned about maintaining their health and physical wellness (but is not obsessed by appearance)
Working with these kinds of people is a wonderful experience. There is no jockeying for position or ego driven posturing. Instead, there is cooperation, receptivity to suggestions, and a straight forward understanding that everyone on the team wants to do the right things.
For more reading see this article on Self Respect.
My book commentary continues this week. You may be wondering what is going on with this… Well, after years of not living close to a public library I discovered one right next to my veterinarian. It’s not that convenient, but its not that far either. I picked up 5 books that I thought I could finish before their due date. It seems that I bit off a little more than I can chew, but never being one to give up – and refusing to succumb to “online renewal” I am plowing through. I am finally reading some classic business books (and some new ones too) that I just haven’t had the time for. This installment features “Good to Great” by Jim Collins.
This book gets my dander up for a lot of different reasons. Some are logical and some are a little irrational. My first issue with the book is that the world has changed so much since it was published. (2001) I like the concepts and all, but when I am reading about Fannie Mae, Nucor, and Wells Fargo as great companies there’s this little voice in the back of my mind saying “these guys all *screwed* up – does this research make ANY sense anymore???” Funny thing is that in the Epilogue the author addresses questions about his research. This was one of the questions – what about the companies that aren’t so great anymore? He acknowledges that it never is easy for companies to stay great and sometimes leaders let their egos get involved to cause this. I wish he would have put this in an introduction instead. That would have made reading this book a lot more pleasurable for me.
This book is also going to make me revisit my “Are you a hedgehog or a fox” post at some time. Clearly I need to do more research in this area because when it comes to leading a great company, being a hedgehog (albeit in a slightly different context than my previous post) is a GOOD thing. Companies who are singlemindedly driven toward a goal they are passionate about and that they can be the best at in the world are successful. None of that namby pamby running from idea to idea trying to jump start success happens in great companies. This hit home for me and it made me really angry. I’ve worked for those companies (more than one!) that tried to buy success in this way. What they ended up doing was frittering away millions of dollars of money that could have been used to build what they were really strong at and had people that were passionate about(and actually could be very successful selling). Instead, their leadership went on a huge ego trip and there was a flavor of the week idea that had to be implemented “now”! Talk about crazy.
The final thing that I appreciated is the concept of a Level 5 leader. We surely could use more of them running our companies in this country. Humble, modest, “we” focused, not “I” focused, has a goal of being the best, driven to succeed. This leader is not your charismatic leader. They don’t have to be. Their job isn’t to motivate their staff, but to make sure that they have the right people in the company who are willing to confront the circumstances – “the brutal facts” – and work to be successful despite of them.
“Now, you might be wondering, “How do you motivate people with brutal facts? Doesn’t motivation flow chiefly from a compelling vision?” The answer, surprisingly, is, “No.” Not because vision is unimportant, but because expending energy trying to motivate people is largely a waste of time. One of the dominant themes that runs throughout this book is that if you successfully implement its findings, you will not need to spend time and energy “motivating” people. If you have the right people on the bus, they will be self-motivated. The real question then becomes: How do you manage in such a way as not to de-motivate people? And one of the single most de-motivating actions you can take is to hold out false hopes, soon to be swept away by events.” Amen brother.