5 Ways to Seize Opportunity, According to Entrepreneur’s Editor in Chief

It's all about how you look at things.

What’s the “why” of your job?

Collecting silly kid jokes becomes a pastime when you have young ones in your life. “I’ve been trying to memorize the alphabet, but I only know 25 letters. I don’t know why.”

That joke was top of mind this week as my husband and I were trying to enjoy breakfast in a restaurant’s outside courtyard.

The early-morning serenity was ruined by landscapers armed with buzz saws cutting down trees in the neighboring parking lot. We were annoyed by more than the noise. The trees were beautiful and provided the only shade in the area. Why were they being chopped down? A woman sitting near us was dismayed, too. She happened to be a landscape architect and explained the trees were a drought-tolerant variety perfect for this setting.

My curiosity got the better of me. Waving to get one of the landscaper’s attention, I asked the obvious. I was frustrated by their response: “We don’t know. We wondered the same thing. These are perfectly healthy trees. It makes us sad, we can’t understand why they should be cut down.”

I asked another seemingly obvious question: “Then why do it?” Their answer pained me: “Because our boss told us to.” I continued to pry, but it became apparent that even as adults, they didn’t know the whole alphabet. They didn’t know why.

In the interest of your own self-development, you would be wise to be sure you know why you do what you do each day. Whether your goals or objectives and key results are cascaded down or set by you, take the time to clarify, negotiate or reframe them so you can fully engage.

Clarify

If your goal is to buzzsaw perfectly healthy trees, be sure you understand why. When your parents told you to do something as a child, they might not have appreciated your impertinence when you countered with “Why?” (They probably answered with,” Because I’m your father and I told you to do it.”) But as an adult, you have a responsibility to understand why you do what you do at work.

You might still get labeled as impertinent, but if you ask for clarification in the right way, you might also earn respect -- and maybe have people thinking twice about the fairness of what they are asking from you.

What if that landscaper had asked, “I understand that this morning you want me to remove all the trees in the Mount Carmel parking lot and transfer them to the chipper where another team will pick them up. I want to meet your expectations, and I’m also hoping to learn as much as I can about our business, so I have a couple of questions.

"Why are the trees being taken down? Are they diseased, interfering with parked cars, or being replaced with more drought-tolerant varieties? Do the leaves cause a problem or have there been complaints? If customers ask us why we’re taking them down, how do you want us to respond?”

If you think those questions are too formal and you have a good relationship with your manager, you could simply ask, “That’s a strange request, we’re used to planting trees, not chopping them down. What’s the story?”

Negotiate your goal

If you find your goal unfair, unattainable or not important to your role’s purpose, be proactive and present alternatives. If you need more authority to get the job done, be specific about what you need and why.

Allay your manager’s fears of giving you the authority you’ve earned by providing examples from the past, a rationale for the present and a plan for the future. Do your due diligence and build a business case for changing your goal to one that is reasonable and relevant.

Reframe your goal

If the way your goal is written or defined doesn’t align with your values or generate interest and meaning for you, reframe it so that it does. Focus on what you can learn or how you can contribute by pursuing your goal.

The skill of self-leadership includes having the mindset and skill set to proactively clarify, negotiate and reframe your goals. So, whatever you do, don’t start your day with only 25 letters. The "why" is essential to your quality of motivation, well-being and performance.

 

Susan Fowler implores leaders to stop trying to motivate people. In her latest bestselling book, she explains "Why Motivating People Doesn't Work ... And What Does: The New Science of Leading, Engaging, and Energizing. She is the author of bylined articles, peer-reviewed research and six books, including the bestselling "Self Leadership and the One Minute Manager" with Ken Blanchard. Tens of thousands of people worldwide have learned from her ideas through training programs, such as the Situational Self Leadership and Optimal Motivation product lines. For more information, visit SusanFowler.com

If you enjoyed this article, sign up for SmartBrief’s free e-mail on leadership and managment, among SmartBrief's more than 200 industry-focused newsletters.

What’s the “why” of your job?

Collecting silly kid jokes becomes a pastime when you have young ones in your life. “I’ve been trying to memorize the alphabet, but I only know 25 letters. I don’t know why.”

That joke was top of mind this week as my husband and I were trying to enjoy breakfast in a restaurant’s outside courtyard.

The early-morning serenity was ruined by landscapers armed with buzz saws cutting down trees in the neighboring parking lot. We were annoyed by more than the noise. The trees were beautiful and provided the only shade in the area. Why were they being chopped down? A woman sitting near us was dismayed, too. She happened to be a landscape architect and explained the trees were a drought-tolerant variety perfect for this setting.

My curiosity got the better of me. Waving to get one of the landscaper’s attention, I asked the obvious. I was frustrated by their response: “We don’t know. We wondered the same thing. These are perfectly healthy trees. It makes us sad, we can’t understand why they should be cut down.”

I asked another seemingly obvious question: “Then why do it?” Their answer pained me: “Because our boss told us to.” I continued to pry, but it became apparent that even as adults, they didn’t know the whole alphabet. They didn’t know why.

In the interest of your own self-development, you would be wise to be sure you know why you do what you do each day. Whether your goals or objectives and key results are cascaded down or set by you, take the time to clarify, negotiate or reframe them so you can fully engage.

Clarify

If your goal is to buzzsaw perfectly healthy trees, be sure you understand why. When your parents told you to do something as a child, they might not have appreciated your impertinence when you countered with “Why?” (They probably answered with,” Because I’m your father and I told you to do it.”) But as an adult, you have a responsibility to understand why you do what you do at work.

You might still get labeled as impertinent, but if you ask for clarification in the right way, you might also earn respect -- and maybe have people thinking twice about the fairness of what they are asking from you.

What if that landscaper had asked, “I understand that this morning you want me to remove all the trees in the Mount Carmel parking lot and transfer them to the chipper where another team will pick them up. I want to meet your expectations, and I’m also hoping to learn as much as I can about our business, so I have a couple of questions.

"Why are the trees being taken down? Are they diseased, interfering with parked cars, or being replaced with more drought-tolerant varieties? Do the leaves cause a problem or have there been complaints? If customers ask us why we’re taking them down, how do you want us to respond?”

If you think those questions are too formal and you have a good relationship with your manager, you could simply ask, “That’s a strange request, we’re used to planting trees, not chopping them down. What’s the story?”

Negotiate your goal

If you find your goal unfair, unattainable or not important to your role’s purpose, be proactive and present alternatives. If you need more authority to get the job done, be specific about what you need and why.

Allay your manager’s fears of giving you the authority you’ve earned by providing examples from the past, a rationale for the present and a plan for the future. Do your due diligence and build a business case for changing your goal to one that is reasonable and relevant.

Reframe your goal

If the way your goal is written or defined doesn’t align with your values or generate interest and meaning for you, reframe it so that it does. Focus on what you can learn or how you can contribute by pursuing your goal.

The skill of self-leadership includes having the mindset and skill set to proactively clarify, negotiate and reframe your goals. So, whatever you do, don’t start your day with only 25 letters. The "why" is essential to your quality of motivation, well-being and performance.

 

Susan Fowler implores leaders to stop trying to motivate people. In her latest bestselling book, she explains "Why Motivating People Doesn't Work ... And What Does: The New Science of Leading, Engaging, and Energizing. She is the author of bylined articles, peer-reviewed research and six books, including the bestselling "Self Leadership and the One Minute Manager" with Ken Blanchard. Tens of thousands of people worldwide have learned from her ideas through training programs, such as the Situational Self Leadership and Optimal Motivation product lines. For more information, visit SusanFowler.com

If you enjoyed this article, sign up for SmartBrief’s free e-mail on leadership and managment, among SmartBrief's more than 200 industry-focused newsletters.

Not Your Parents’ Career Development

In today's world, professional success doesn't mean what it used to.

Here Are LinkedIn’s Top 10 Startups of 2018

The companies have their hands in transportation, finance and ice cream.

What does your FOMO look like?

Lead Change is a leadership media destination with a unique editorial focus on driving change within organizations, teams, and individuals. Lead Change, a division of Weaving Influence, publishes twice monthly with SmartBrief. Today's post is by Nate Regier.

People are more involved and connected than ever before. There’s always something going on, and somebody’s posting about it. Are you in, or are you out?

With all this awareness, fear of missing out, or FOMO, is rampant. It’s easy to get seduced into thinking that just because we can be involved or included, we should be. Or, if we aren’t, something bad might happen. The pressure is unbelievable.

While today’s FOMO might be more intense than in previous generations, the psychology behind it is the same. Fear of missing out comes in two forms: Victim FOMO and Rescuer FOMO.

Drama and fear of missing out

Victim and Rescuer are two of the three roles people play in drama. First identified by Dr. Stephen Karpman, a psychiatrist specializing in interpersonal group dynamics and distress, the Drama Triangle shows constellation of three unhealthy roles humans play in order to feel justified about unhealthy behavior.

Each one needs the other in a dysfunctional way. The Persecutor believes that everyone else is the problem, the Victim believes that they are the problem, and the Rescuer believes they are the solution to everyone else’s problems.  

How does this relate to FOMO? It has to do with how humans assess and evaluate their OK-ness relative to others. When we have a healthy sense of self-worth and ego boundaries, we can rest assured that we are OK and others are OK, even if we aren’t involved or included in everything. Not that we won’t have feelings about it, but simply that we are OK regardless.

It’s when we slip out this existential position and start to question ours or others’ OK-ness that things get dicey.

Victim FOMO

Victims believe that they are only worthy when they are included. When they aren’t included or don’t know what’s going on, they assume it’s because nobody likes them or somebody is mad at them. Comments like these let you know you’re dealing with a Victim FOMO.

“Why didn’t anyone tell me we were leaving at five?” (with a whiny tone)

“They didn’t include me, what did I do to make them mad?”

Victim FOMOs cope with their fear of rejection by becoming needy for affirmation or smothering people with offers to help. They push themselves on others in a way that inadvertently invites rejection. At Next Element, we’ve named it victim-helping. When victims receive comments like, “Stop worrying, it’s fine,” they interpret the tone as a sign of rejection.

If you are a Victim FOMO, here are some tips to regain your balance.

  • It’s OK to be angry or sad or worried. It’s what you do next that makes all the difference.
  • Check your assumptions by asking curious questions before jumping to conclusions about what people say or do.
  • It’s OK to ask for what you want.
  • Use your great skill of empathy to help others feel included.

Rescuer FOMO

Rescuers need to feel smart and competent to boost their ego. So they look for victims to save by giving unsolicited advice and swooping in with solutions. They fear missing out on an opportunity to be the hero by saving saving the day. Rescuer FOMOs say things like;

“Why don't you call her and tell her you don’t like it.”

“You don’t need to feel worried, just do what I do.”

With these types of condescending comments, Rescuers invite others to feel grateful on the outside, resentful and dependent on the inside.

If you are a Rescuer FOMO, here are some tips to help you back off and let others be the hero too.

  • You are smart and capable. You can be most helpful when others ask you first.
  • You are a great problem-solver and will be most appreciated when you help others find their own solutions or learn a new skill.
  • You are observant and resourceful. What problem of your own can you solve today instead?
  • There will always be more opportunities to help.

Fear of missing out can be a negative influence if you allow yourself to question your own or someone else’s OK-ness. Accept that you are OK and so are others, regardless of what’s going on and who’s included, and you can break free of Victim and Rescuer FOMO.

 

Nate Regier is the co-founding owner and CEO of Next Element, a global advisory firm specializing in building cultures of compassionate accountability. A former practicing psychologist, Regier is now a certified Leading Out of Drama and Process Communication Model certifying master trainer. He published two books: "Beyond Drama" and "Conflict Without Casualties."

If you enjoyed this article, sign up for SmartBrief’s free e-mails on leadership and management or any of our more than 200 industry-focused newsletters.

4 Things to Consider When Choosing the Right Career Path

How often have you asked yourself: 'What is the right career path for me?'

How to Escape the Trap of the Career Dead End — Without Going Back to School

Not sure what to do next in your career? Read this first.

10 Steps to Help Get Your Career Back on Track

Up or out? Here's what to do when your career stalls.

Know a Good Accountant? Cannabis Companies Are Looking

Accounting and financial services have become the unlikely stars of a complicated ecosystem. No matter what your skill level, there may be an opportunity for you.