How To Recognize What’s Driving You

So You Can Make Sure You're Driving It

What drives people to do what they do? There are lot’s of reasons, too many and too complex to mention here. Even if we knew about all of them it still probably wouldn’t do us much good.  Instead, we would be overwhelmed.

That’s why a heuristic can be helpful for dealing with complex matters. A heuristic is a model or  “rule of thumb” for to help explain things. Though not perfect, a heuristic can be “good enough” to allow you take effective action, which is why I love them.

Needless to say then, when I first heard of Tony Robbins’ “6 Basic Human Needs” it caught my attention. So did his story of how he put this “rule of thumb” together. And like many good ideas, it came to him while he was thinking in the shower.

6 Basic Human Needs

The premise is that we all have the following 6 basic human needs:

  • Certainty and Variety
  • Significance and Love/Connection
  • Growth and Contribution

I listed these in pairs because there is tension between them; they are opposites to a certain extent.

The 6 Needs In Tension

With regard to tension, take the first pair for example. We need feel certain and secure about some things in our lives and at the same time, we have a need to mix things up a bit (Variety).  Which fuels you the most? At the extremes would be the person who won’t venture out of the house for fear of bodily harm and the person who has to jump of a building in a flying suit in order to get an adrenaline rush that satisfies.

With regard to the second pair, we all feel a need to “be somebody”(Significance) as well as experience caring and loving relationships.  The extremes here would be the person who at all costs makes themselves the center of attention or a cause at all times, while the other bends anyway they have to in order to be accepted.

While the first two pairs are said to be personality needs, the final contrast is said be spiritual in nature and essential for flourishing. At the extreme of Growth would be someone who is always taking in information and content and never sharing or doing anything with it to contribute to the common good.  Contribution is the opposite. At the extreme would be someone who is giving, giving, giving, unable to accept the fact that they might need so much as an oxygen mask on occasion.

Although a select few folks may get close to the examples I described (know any in your life?), for most they occur along a continuum. While we need all six, one or two usually fuels us the most and we prioritize our energy and activity toward getting more of it.….and that’s where contradictions of behavior can arise.

Needs Don’t Dictate Behaviors

Regardless of your dominant need, it doesn’t dictate the behaviors or vehicles you’ll use in order to fulfill it. In fact, the variety of behaviors or vehicles that can satisfy a need are almost infinite and seemingly contradictory at times.  Continuing with the use of extreme examples to make a point, take someone with a dominate need for Significance. Osama Bin Laden used the vehicle of terror to meet that need while Steve Jobs chose to give us the iPhone; same common need for both and contradictory ways of fulfilling it.

Einstein once said that “everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” I think the fact that this heuristic incorporates both tension and contradiction helps it meets that criteria and gives me something I can use.

Be Aware Of Your Own Needs To Get You Where You Want To Go

Using the heuristic with others to know what’s driving them 29575504 - luxury service with chauffeur opening the doorcan be a challenge because you often don’t know their context and their motives. However, using it with yourself can be more straightforward because its easier to take those two elements into consideration.  And  once you’re aware of what’s driving you, you can do something about it.  You can either cultivate a different need by shifting toward the other end of the spectrum, focus on another pair altogether, or choose a better behavior or vehicle to meet a given need.

It’s a great time of year to start thinking about what you want to get, what you want to hold on to, what you need to let go of and who you want to become more of in 2017. And reflecting on which of the 6 basic needs is driving you is a great place to start.

So, which basic need or two is driving you?

Please leave comment, I’d love to hear your perspective on this.


Hey, Don’t Judge Me!!

What "Judging" Really Is and What To Do About

“Hey, don’t judge me!”  It’s one of those lines that we’ve all been either on the giving or receiving end of, likely both.  But isn’t telling someone not to judge making a judgment? Of course it is .

And that’s why we need clarity and awareness to get this one right. Otherwise we can end up throwing around a catch-phrase to either excuse our behavior or our responsibility to others.

Who Me – Judge?!

The difference between judgement and “judging” is huge. An we’ve all been impacted by both of these, whether our own or someone else’s.  Whether it’s someone getting behind the wheel after drinking too much or the friend who decides to stop them, the judgement we exercise can have huge ramifications…..I do want good judgment to be exercised.

On the other hand, I don’t want someone looking down their nose at me for what I look like, what I do or what I represent. In other words, I don’t like it when someone has a judgmental attitude toward me. Or to use plain vernacular, when someone is “judging” me.  I don’t like the way it makes me feel or the way it makes me feel toward the “judger”.  I bet you don’t either.

Unfortunately, I often find myself doing the same to others.

What I do find interesting is that both the people who protest when being judge and those “judging” often use the same source to justify their position: the Bible and Jesus himself! How can that be?!  While this isn’t a bible study, it’s with noting that the same Person saying “…don’t judge so you won’t be judged” in Matthew 7 also says “….judge according to righteous judgment” in John 7.  Based on this and what other ancients have said, “judging” is an age old problem without cultural or generational borders.

What’s The Difference and Why is it Important?

Exercising good judgment is simply making the best choice possible based on the information you have. In that regard we make judgements all the time about all kinds of issues, things and people. We can also be judgmental. The former is necessary, right and good. The latter is universal to us all, wrong and almost always hurtful.

Once you understand difference between the two, it’s much easier to embrace and make good judgments while recognizing and countering the ill effects of “judging”.

So what are they?  I think the key differences between the two are ones of object, intent, and spirit.

Good Judgement:

  • Object- the decision itself46774934 - judge hammer, isolated on white
  • Intent- make best decision for yourself and others impacted by it
  • Spirit- Truth and objectivity


  • Object- the other person/group/issue
  • Intent- passing sentence on another in order to  self-justify and self-elevate
  • Spirit- Pride and Hypocrisy

Why Do We Judge So Much?

For me and probably most, just looking at the “judging” list is a huge turn-off. Why then, do we engage in it so often?

I think there are several reasons we engage it. First, “judging” can give us a false sense that we’re “better”, that we are are “right” as well as a false sense of security. Second, it makes us feel good in the short-term. I haven’t looked this one up, but my guess is there is a brain-science study somewhere that shows “judging” releases dopamine and all the other endogenous substances that give us a hit and corresponding high.

Here are some other less obvious reasons:

  • We are compelled to do it when we see our own faults in others, hence their “splinter” becomes the “log” in our own eye.
  • We are often blind to it.
  • We usually don’t see (or ignore) the devastating consequences it has, both on us and on others.

The cost/benefit ratio doesn’t add up here so we need to exercise good judgement and just stop it.

How Do We Stop It?

Simply becoming aware of the difference between exercising good judgment and “judging” is the first step (and the easiest). Others include:

  • Self-reflection and examination- Ask with who, what and where you’re prone to judge; we all have ‘em.
  • Check yourself in the moment- Ask what it is your really doing, exercising judgement or “judging”? Assessing your object, intent and spirit will help you know which it is.
  • Cultivate curiosity- Challenge your judgment by asking “what’s another reason a sane, reasonable person would be doing this?”
  • Demonstrate empathy- and make sure to include all three types: cognitive, emotional, and empathetic concern or compassion.

When you put an end to judging, you’re much better able to see people and things the way they really are, make better decisions, and build better and more effective relationships. The other thing is that you become a better you.

Keeping in mind the difference between exercising judgement and judging can keep us from two errors. The first would be throwing around a catch-phrase like “don’t judge me” to excuse our own behavior or our responsibility to others to make good decisions about tough issues. The other is to keep from being a smug, self-righteous “judger” who sabotages themselves and damages others.

Unlike the disappointing cost/benefit ratio associated with judging, the cost/benefit ratio of stopping  is compelling.

One of my colleagues thinks “judging” is one of the most powerful addictions on the planet. He also argues it has the highest rate of recidivism and that we are always in some stage of recovery.  I think he may be right. Addiction or not,  we all do seem to have an “inner Judge” that wants to rule the roost, so to speak. So how do you exercise sound judgment while effectively keeping your “inner judge” in check?

Please leave a comment about something you’ve found to be effective because we all need help with this one.

Why Our Righting Reflex Get’s It Wrong

Why & How Not To Believe Everything You Think

There’s a bumper sticker that says “Don’t believe everything you think.” I think most of us would agree, at least for much of what runs through the fertile fields of our mind. The exceptions, of course, are our cherished personal opinions and positions.

Just as sure as the righting reflex in an infant automatically causes their body to follow their head, so does our need to prove ourselves “right” when talking with others. And unlike the infant righting reflex that we’ve all outgrown, our “need-to-be-right” righting reflex is persistent and has to be actively managed.

I was reminded of that reality once again during a discussion with one of my adult kids just the other day. Once again, I had already said too much, too quick before realizing it was mostly in the service of proving my point vs adding to the shared pool of meaning through dialogue (much to my chagrin).

What exactly is the “need-to-be-right” righting reflex? It’s the desire to fix what seems wrong with people, make them see and concede to your position and set them promptly on a better course. It involves the belief that you must convince or persuade the person to do the right thing.

While the righting reflex is normal, it’s also counterproductive to our personal and professional lives.

What Drives It?

Many things. One is the delusion that if you just ask the right questions, find the right arguments, give the right critical information, provoke the decisive emotions, or pursue the correct logic that you’ll convince the other person to your point of view.  Once done of course, the other person will clearly see the error of their own mistaken ways, change and adopt yours!  The reality? We are all wired to look for evidence to support our views….including the person your trying to convince.  And if we can’t find evidence we often conveniently piece stuff together to make it up, make it fit, or make us feel better. The problem is that  because it goes both ways, a vicious positive feedback cycle occurs. What usually ensues is called an argument.

What’s the Impact?

Usually, a very directing and monologue style of communication that almost always repels the other either into some form of silence or violence. As result, healthy dialogue, creativity, resolution and our relationships suffer…..or can be lost. Even if a person is willing to consider your position, the fact you’re forcing it on them automatically turns him or her in the opposite direction, makes discord more likely than dialogue and turns a potential friend toward being a foe.

What To Do?

  • First, realize what resisting the righting reflex is not: It’s not admitting that your wrong! It simply 37056008 - group of school kids with pens and papers writing in classroommeans your open to learning.
  • Understand that your reflexive response to correct, fix, or make change happen may not be the best choice; you could be mistaken, misunderstand one or more points, be flat-out wrong or simply have a legitimate difference of opinion.
  • Challenge what you’re thinking without a rigid attachment to your own perspective.
  • Listen actively and reflectively. Reflective listening means you can feedback to the other person what they said and ask for understanding or clarification
  • Express an openness to looking at your conclusions from other perspectives; be curious.
  • Be gracious when disagreements remain and remember that the topic is separate from the relationship.

Why Curiosity and Openness are effective.

There are several reasons, not the least of which is that people value their autonomy and agency highly and want to come to conclusions ourselves and not have them forced on us. The other is that curiosity and openness foster rapport and engagement, which helps you better understand the other persons needs and motivations. Once you do, you have a better foundation for effective communication, collaboration and enabling change.

The reality is that our own thoughts are not necessarily the most reliable source when it comes to the truth. Yet it’s so easy to forget that. When we do, we become rigidly fixed in our own perspective, closed to seeing things any other way, and very attached to being “right”. I said it before and will repeat it here: remaining unattached to your position and curious about that of others isn’t admitting you’re wrong, it just means you’re open to learning.

Where is the righting reflex showing up in your life and relationships? Once you answer that question you have a choice to make: you can choose to be effective in a winsome way or you can choose to be “right”.

Comments are valuable, so please share yours.

1 Fundamental You Have To Ditch

To Better Succeed With Relationships And Results

When it comes to fundamentals, basic building blocks of knowledge and skills that lead to mastery and success usually come to mind. What we don’t realize is that there are certain fundamentals that can do the exact opposite for us and lead us to demise.  The Fundamental Attribution Error or FAE is one of those.

The FAE, which also goes by the name of correspondence bias or attribution effect, is probably best understood when described: it’s when we attribute ill-intentions to what another person says or does. The pernicious “other side of the coin” is that when it comes to our own behaviors, we almost always attribute it to our circumstances or environment and not our intentions. In other words, we’re really good and giving ourselves the benefit of the doubt while denying it to others….after, it’s the other person who has the problem, not you (right?).

The FAE isn’t some new concept, it’s been described in the psychology literature for some time. What was new and a jolt for me was being aware of how often I commit it.

What does that look like practically? Here is an example:

Your kid has destroyed part of the drywall in the garage by throwing a screwdriver into it about 100 times and making it stick.  You see it and immediately think how ungrateful and disrespectful the kid is. You also begin to worry about the destructive behavior you know he is beginning to develop.

While I’m not sure that’s what my parents thought back in 1975 when they first saw the garage wall mentioned above, I do know they weren’t happy.  I also know the reason that I did it had nothing to do with the reasons given in the example. It’s just that I had gotten pretty good at throwing a screwdriver and making it stick in the wall.  I simply needed extra practice so I could take it to the next level….with a knife in a tree (oops! didn’t notice I tore up a wall in the process).

After what you just read, are you starting to get a bit of a jolt too?  My guess is you are because the FAE is one fundamental that seems to be inherent vs acquired (although some of us learn to make a fine art of it over the years).  My other guess is that results you get when you make the FAE are the same as mine: not good for either your relationships or outcomes.

So what to do?

First, be aware of 5 signs that indicate you may be tromping around in FAE territory:

  1. Disappointment in the other person or pride in yourself.52285885 - the concept of people opposed to judging system
  2. Self-justification, excuse making, and giving yourself the benefit of the doubt.
  3. Anger, frustration and casting blame and judgement toward others.
  4. Inferring motives to others you wouldn’t ascribe to yourself in the same situation.
  5. You feel these same things from others and feel judged or victimized.

Second, replace a trending FAE mindset with:

  • Curiosity and Interest – observe behavior and results from a place of curiosity.
  • A key question- what are some other reasons  an otherwise sane and rational person would do this (besides the one you are inferring)?

If want to improve your relationships and results, consider how the FAE is impacting you.  It’s one of those low-hanging fruit kind of things you can begin to address and get really positive results fairly quickly…with practice. Like many things, it’s simple and not easy.

If this is all new, where and with who is the FAE showing up most in your life?  If you decided to address it, how would it positively affect your relationships and results?

If you’ve already recognized FAE and are addressing it, outstanding!  What’s working well for you and what isn’t?   Please leave a comment and share the wealth.

How To Make The Most From Mentorship

To Get You Where You Want To Go

I’m convinced that behaviors that appear to be instinctual may not come without the modeling we get from spending time with a mentor. In fact, I believe that mentoring is essential for acquiring the subtle things that can make the biggest difference to our success. I know it has for me and I am thankful for the many mentors God has put in my life.

There are several “helping conversations” that can fuel both our personal growth as well as enterprise and each have their place. These would included teaching, mentoring, coaching and consulting.  Knowing the differences between these and when each is needed is important in order to get the most out of each of them.  If your curious about these differences, I’ve described and summarized them in a previous video post.

I do want to say a bit more about mentorship.  While mentorship is similar to teaching, there is a critical difference: mentorship imparts knowledge and wisdom that can only be gained through someone else’s personal experience. And while coaching often extends what mentorship begins, it too is very different. Mentoring is taking what God has given me and imparting that to you, whereas with coaching I’m taking what God has given you and drawing it out of you or making you aware of it. The former is taking your place on the stage as the Sage. The latter involves being a Guide on the side.  Both of these as well as teaching and consulting have their place… the right time and right context.

So how do you make the most out of your mentoring experiences? Here are six that I have found:

  1. Be humble- forget about whatever status or acclaim you’ve had in the past, assume the role of novice 10320952 - young college student tutoring an older classmate.and learner.
  2. Admire- remember it’s not all about you. Sincerely appreciate what attracts you to your mentor and do so in the right way, time and place.
  3. Understand- seek first to understand their perspective first instead of trying to show them how much you know.
  4. Give- reward and repay your mentor by seeking ways to add value back to them. Sometimes it comes by maximizing what you do with the mentorship you’ve been given, other times it’s something more reciprocal.
  5. Produce- successful people and companies won’t continue to give to what doesn’t reward them. Make sure you’re adding progressive value to the individual mentor as well as the enterprise.
  6. Communicate- know what to say, when to say it and how to say it. Sometimes the silence is just as important as the words spoken.

The reality is that you need great mentorship to maximize your success. And what you get out of your mentorship experience depends more on you than it does your mentor.

What do you need to do differently in order to maximize your own mentorship experience? More importantly, to what are you willing to commit?

Please leave a comment and share what you’ve found to be important in your own mentorship experience; you just never know who you might touch and provide some mentoring to along the way.

Why We Lose Our Influence With Those That Matter Most

And How To Get It Back Again!

Why is it that we often fall so short in our influence with the colleagues, friends and family that matter the most to us?  Because we assume we know what they want and need even though we don’t 99.9% of the time.

I can’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve started down a path with someone only to find out I’m on the wrong road. To make matters even worse, my approach has caused them to be actively disengaged as well. Been there?

So why do we keep doing it?  Probably for a lot of reasons, the biggest one being our familiarity with those closest us.  And because they are familiar to us, we fail or forget the importance and need to build rapport with them.

Leadership is influence, plain and simple. And you can’t influence someone effectively if you haven’t built rapport.  Building rapport is a dynamic, ongoing process. The problem is that we treat it like it’s a “one and done” event. That leads us to assume we have rapport with others, especially wth those that matter most, when we don’t. That includes key members of the team(s) we lead. 

So what’s the key to building rapport so you can lead from the heart and maximize your influence? It’s this: remember to ask more than tell.

And while asking is simple, it isn’t easy. Why? Because asking runs counter to our nature; we simply like to tell people what we know and what to do. If you doubt that, just hangout with a kindergartner for a about 5 minutes (either a chronological kindergartner or a functional one, makes no difference).

What is it we are asking them about? Here are some essentials:203 AskvsTell I

  • What do you really want in this situation:
    • for you?
    • for our relationship?
    • for our family, team or organization?
  • What do you need in order to make it happen?
  • What’s do you think the next best step is?

What makes asking vs telling so effective? Relationally, it let’s them know its more about them than it is about you. Practically, it allows the other person to:

  • Discover, clarify and align with what he or she wants to achieve
  • Gain self-awareness
  • Elicit solutions and strategies they own

I think Blaise Pascal said it well:  “People are generally better persuaded by the reasons which they have themselves discovered than by those which have come into the mind of others.”  And building rapport through asking may be the best way to help start and guide them in the discovery process. 

So how have you build rapport lately with those that matter most to you? With who do you want more?  It may be that all you have to do is start asking.

How you build rapport with those that matter most?  Please leave a comment, I’d love to learn.

What’s Most Important For Your Career Success: Passion Or Skill?

Why "Follow Your Passion" Is Bad Advice

Most people take their work and careers very seriously. Who doesn’t want to succeed? Of course, what it takes to succeed is the million dollar question. At the same time, there also seems to be a million opinions on how to answer that question. How do you sift through the noise and come to the right answer? Simple: Just take the two most common concepts about career success today, flip a coin, and go for broke….just kidding (about the coin toss).

The two most common ideas that claim to be the key ingredient for success are the “Passion Hypothesis” and “Be So Good They Can’t Ignore You.” The former was popularized after Steve Job’s 2005 commencement address to Stanford’s graduating class.  The latter, ”Be so good they can’t ignore you” is Steve Martin’s (the comedian) advice to aspiring entertainers. Who’s right, the brilliant computer guy who was also a business genius or the laughable comedian? Believe it or not, the comedian.

The advice to just “follow your passion” and take a “courageous leap” into something that intrigues or captivates you is over-rated at best and dangerous at worst. On the other hand, putting in the hard work to build something valuable (“career capital”) to become excellent at something valuable is much more likely to lead to enduring success.

So where is the disconnect? After all, both Steve Jobs and Steve Martin are both tops in their field and wildly successful. The key is to look at what they actually did and not just what they said: both were so good that no one could ignore them.

A lot more could be said on the this topic. If you want more detail, read my post on the EIM blog. Better yet, read Cal Newport’s book “So Good They Can’t Ignore You”.

If you simply want the bottom-line road map of what it takes to maximize you chances of success in whatever you put your hand to, here you go:

  1. Know your talents and strengths.
  2. Look for opportunities and take the initiative to develop Mastery of something that embodies #1 above and then work at it like crazy.
  3. Look for opportunities that allow you to do #2 above and hone your mastery to the point of something rare and valuable to the market, even if you have to give up (what ever) or pay up (some times a lot) to do it.
  4. Lather, Rinse and Repeat # 2 – 3 above!

One more thing. The reality is that neither Steve Martin nor Cal Newport were the first ones to give us this answer. That would be the bible in Proverbs 22:29 (NIV)- “Do you see someone skilled in their work? They will serve before kings; they will not serve before officials of low rank.”  Looks like the comedian was right after all.

The salient point is this: its more about doing work the right way vs “finding” the perfect work. You’ve got to get good and have something valuable to offer the market place before you can expect really good work that leads to success.

Given your current situation, what do you need to do to become “so good they can’t ignore you?”

Please leave a comment, I’d love to hear what your doing!

3 Ways to Stay Focused When Actively Listening

And Keep From Drifting

I’ve come to realize that one of the things about a conversation that energizes and refreshes me is when I know that the person I am talking to is really listening to me.

I’m also aware that nothing can be quite as deflating as thinking someone is listening to you and then realizing they’re not. Bummer. Enough has been written about listening to know that most people feel exactly the same way.  Unfortunately, it’s also pretty well known that most people don’t listen very well.

And while we don’t like others just passively hearing what we have to say (vs. actively listening), we do the same to others. More often than we think. I know I do. So why the disconnect?

As I started thinking about which of my own passive listening examples to share, I realized I can be at my worst when it comes to my 6yr old grandson and his young friends. In addition to the energy required, they seem to always want to have a conversation at the most inopportune times (like the one I just wrapped up with him while trying to write this post!). Then to top it off, they are often hyper-excited and talking really fast or are upset and talking between sobs and screams. Finally, most of what they have to say isn’t stuff I’m necessarily strongly interested in (like, say Steve of MindCraft fame or “who took what from whom”).

Isn’t that similar what most of us encounter all day long? Being 022 Settled 3 11396588_linterrupted at inconvenient times, having to refocus, and listen to emotionally charged folks talk about things they feel deeply about and in which you don’t have much personal interest.   That is especially the case if you’re in a leadership role.  Without a plan, it’s no wonder most of us start to drift…….

The good news is that you can maximize your ability to effectively listen by using these three active listening competencies:

  1. Listen for understanding- this means you listen in an attempt to not just understand, but with the intent of being able to recap and summarize what the person said as accurately as possible once they are done talking.
  2. Keep Perspective- Determine up front you are going to connect,tune-in with them as closely as possible, and see it from their view.
  3. Ask permission to see if you got it right- Commit to asking them if your understanding of what they said is correct.This does several things for you and the person to whom you are listening:
    • Bestows respect and dignity on them
    • Lets them know your not trying to be sarcastic. 
    • Let’s them know you intentionally paid attention to what they were saying.
    • Ensures they have control in getting their message across.
    • Allows an additional opportunity to clarify.
    • Provides an ability to focus the dialogue.

I could have also included not interrupting in the list above. But 99.9% of the time that means you aren’t listening in the first place and a list of three is easier to remember than a list of four. 🙂

Given the need to actively listen is great, the befits so many, and fact that its simple, then why do so few of us do it?  Because it’s hard. And remember, just because you know how to actively listen doesn’t mean you do it. You have to first get over yourself, make the others persons best interests priority for the moment, and then expend the energy.

Just like I did a few minutes ago with the 6 year-old who interrupted me. The same 6 year-old I’ve failed to actively listen to so many times before (and almost blew the chance to do so this time).

Which three active listening competencies, if you acted on it, would improve your ability to actively listen? Which do you succeed at and which do you struggle with the most?

Please leave a comment so we can listen in on what’s working, what’s not and how to get better.