Today’s newsletter is a twofer. It contains two stories (albeit shorter than usual) for the price of one. I was going to call it BOGO but since you’re not buying the first one to get the second one free, that would have been a fake headline.
In every business, there eventually comes a point where a really nice member of that organization – maybe even a good friend; hopefully not a spouse – turns out to just be the wrong fit for the only seat available to them. At that point, the single viable alternative is to let that person go, and that sucks – or does it?
Looking back, I can honestly say that the two best days of my career were days I was let go from what I thought at the time were good jobs. Those were both painful experiences but not everything painful is damaging, nor is everything pleasurable profitable (think dentist’s office and AA meeting).
The first time it happened, I was outright fired from a mid-management position for ignorance (the ignorance of not knowing the vendor I outed for bilking the company was the daughter of our primary shareholder). The second time, a major electronics manufacturer encouraged me, along with 1,500 of my cohorts, to start new careers elsewhere. After forty years, I finally understand that both of those jobs were dead ends which I couldn’t walk away from for fear of losing the salary they provided. My fear exceeded my ambition.
In his book, “The Five Secrets You Must discover Before You Die”, John Izzo quotes Henry David Thoreau – “The greatest tragedy in life is to spend your whole life fishing, only to discover that it was not fish you were after.”
If we’re not doing what we believe in, we’re wasting both our lives and our employers’ money. If those who work for us don’t believe in what we’re paying them to do, we’re bribing them to waste their lives accomplishing our dreams instead of their own.
Safety Isn’t Always “Safe”.
A few weeks back, I met with a couple guys who were starting up their own MasterMind group. These are two of the sharpest guys I’ve ever known and their goal is to get even sharper. They asked me to share my experience with MasterMind groups, assumably so they could learn from my mistakes and avoid the same pitfalls. They got more than they bargained for.
One of the key principles for a successful MasterMind group, or any team for that matter, is creating a secure environment for shared vulnerability. Maintaining an atmosphere where everyone understands they are supported without judgement and accepted without reservation is the only way to facilitate constructive confrontation — an essential factor in group-member growth.
After I’d communicated that concept to my two friends, one of them opened up and admitted that in any group setting, he struggles with the feeling that he’s the least qualified person in the room. My compassionate and supportive response to his courageous admission was to laugh out loud. I wish you could have seen the look on my friend’s face when the guy who was extolling the power of acceptance laughed at his deepest fear. You probably wish you could have seen the look on my face when I realized what an ass I was being.
But that one slip caused me to engage in immediate and honest self-assessment. I realized I was laughing not because my friend’s deep fear was humorous. Nor was I laughing because one of the most astute people I know was expressing feelings of inadequacy. I was laughing out of discomfort because it felt like he had somehow burglarized my psyche and plagerized one of my deepest fears as his own. The only possible responses were to laugh or to cry and everybody knows us macho-men never cry.
That makes me wonder how many of you, reading that last paragraph, just said “shit”? Yeah, cussing is the third option because, maybe, just maybe, inadequacy is one of your secret fears as well. We’re all a whole lot more alike than we want to admit and somehow, that’s a relief. Maybe if we dropped our guard long enough to communicate honestly, we might all be able to laugh at our own fears. We might also be able to share our conquests over those fears and laugh for joy when our personal experience results in the success of our friends.
“The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.”
— Proverbs 16:9
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Books to Consider
There’s no need to remind me that I recommended this book two weeks ago. I’m currently on my third pass through it and furiously making notes – it’s that good. Whether you want to start a new group or fix a broken group, this book provides the secrets to your success. I even bought extra paperbacks to give away. If you’re one of those old-style learners that prefers ink on paper, let me know and I’ll bring you a copy when we have lunch.
The Great Quest
Full Disclosure: I haven’t read this one yet but it’s by a great author, and it was recommended by a reliable source, and by the time you get this newsletter, I will have read the book. It’s not yet available on Audible but my paperback version arrives Saturday and nothing is on my calendar for Saturday night. I mean, it’s not like I’m going out dancing or bar-hopping so I might as well learn something useful. Right?