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Monthly Archives: August 2012

Inner Sustainability: Would it be alright with you if life got easier? – Join Author, Ingrid Martine September 15th!

Join The Un-Game: Four Play to Business as UNusual author, Ingrid Martine for a live presentation – Inner Sustainability:  Would it be alright with you if life got easier? on Saturday, September 15th, 2012 from 1:00 – 3:00 PM at:  Green Planet Sanctuary in Houston – 13424-B Briar Forest Dr., Houston, TX 77077.

INNER SUSTAINABILITY: Would it be alright with you if life got easier? with author and life coach, Ingrid Martine in a special GPS presentation. Learn how to live with clarity, focus, ease, and grace from one who knows and wants to share her secrets with you!

Class fee $25 at door or $20 if registered by 9/7/12. PLEASE RSVP TO coach@Ingridmartine.com.

Don’t Just DO Something… SIT There

Un-Game Principle: Beware of driven behavior. Although valued in American culture, it’s not always the best course of action.

I was on a radio show recently, and it was a complete bust for me.

Man sitting in a chair imageI’m not innocent in the matter. There are plenty of things I could have done differently. I could have listened to a previous show. I could have paid attention to previous guests (knowing that a Donald Trump surrogate had been a guest might have given me pause). I could have asked questions before   the show when I realized that no one would brief me ahead of time. I didn’t.

That said, there’s always something cool to learn or relearn.  I learned again how much we love prescriptive lists for changing behaviors. If you want to have no regrets, do 1, 2, 3, and 4. Do it and regret no more!  Do the steps on your list and become the slender beauty or the muscled jock of your dreams! We love “How To” books. We love the quick fix. The radio show host was no exception. She pressed me for a list of how to get over regret of the past.

Searching for the quick fix as exemplified by many a prescriptive list may be driven behavior we’ve come to see as normal and desirable. Especially in the meteor-paced world of business. It’s a familiar way to deal with obstacles or patterns of behavior. “I have a problem. Quick! What are the solutions?”  Never mind that it may not even be a problem. Never mind that perhaps we’re not articulating the correct problem. Never mind that what we perceive as the problem may be more nuanced than a quick solution can address.  And yet, we’re attracted to prescriptive lists as bees are to honey.  If this one doesn’t solve our problem, maybe the next one will be the right list. Or maybe we’re just not doing this list right. “What’s wrong with the list? What’s wrong with me?”

The radio show hosts knows what we want. We want to feel we’re OK, that there’s nothing wrong with us, or if there is, we can fix it.  And we want the right prescription NOW.

You are OK. There is nothing wrong with you. And there is nothing to fix.  Recognizing symptoms of driven behavior is the first step to not playing into the hands of the driven behavior. Here’s a list of symptoms.

 “What? A list?” you ask. “Didn’t you just say?…”

“Yes. I did. But notice. This list is not prescriptive!” Here’s how you can recognize driven behavior in yourself. Could recognizing driven behavior be useful to you?

  1. Repetition: You think or do something repeatedly even if it doesn’t get you where you want to go. For example, you want to delegate but routinely end up doing the work yourself.
  2. Fleeting Satisfaction: Checking stuff off your “ to do” list only to create another one just as long.
  3. Perfectionism: Comparing yourself to an unattainable standard and then “should-ing” all over yourself for not reaching it.

Driven behavior wastes the precious energy you can better focus on achieving your goals and dreams.  To interrupt driven behavior you must first notice it. Once you do, try this (as exploration  not prescription).  Ask yourself: “What’s in my control?” “What do I need to let go of that’s not in my control?” “What’s really important to me?” “Would a ‘TO NOT DO’ list give me some breathing room?” “What would be the first thing on it?  The second?”  “Am I willing to create such a list even though I hear screams of protest from that pesky chatter?” Concentrate on what you can control. Talk to someone who won’t collude with you.  Are you willing to be uncomfortable to see what the discomfort has to teach you rather than jump to your prescriptive “to do” list?

Exploration gives you your own answers. It also doesn’t make you stop after you get your first answer. You can ask again based on what you’ve become aware of when you asked  the first time.

Growing is not quick. Rather than shopping for a prescription, consider yourself a gardener. Prepare the soil. Consider what you want to grow. What’s important to you and to your hopes and dreams? Growing doesn’t have to be hard work, but it does take time, good soil, sun, and water. In a garden you don’t go from seed to harvest in an instant.  Neither do you in growing your Self. You might try on this sage piece of advice: Don’t just DO something. SIT there! Find your own wisdom. Driven behavior is not always the best course of action.

What do you see about driven behavior in your life? I’d love to hear your comments.

Ingrid Martine, MA, PCC, author of The Un-Game and mind-ZENgineering coach works with organizations and individuals to empower them to move their lives from a 7 to 10 at work, home, and play.  For her FREE report, “Reap the Harvest of a Quiet Mind:  Empower Self, Empower Others”, or “Management Training for Business as Unusual”, visit:  http://www.yourleadersedge.com, or connect with Ingrid at:  www.Twitter.com/ingrid_martine and www.facebook.com/coachmartine.  

Discomfort: Your Good News Messenger

Un-Game Principle:  The more able we are to observe our most closely-held thoughts, beliefs, opinions, and conclusions, the less likely they hold us captive. Self-observation and self-awareness are sources of freedom and power.

Let’s face it. Few of us understand our own human nature. For evidence, we need only look at how we handle “difficult” conversations.  Ironically, the common strategies for dealing with them perpetuate the very problems the conversations seek to correct.  We Fight, Flee, Freeze, or Fix (try to control) hoping against hope that this time it’s going to work out.  Clearly our problem-solving brain isn’t using the messages from our old instinctual brain to our advantage. Rather, it’s capitulating to the old brain.

brainIt doesn’t have to be that way. We can welcome, not submerge, the message from our old brain (our discomfort is the message).  Contrary to popular belief, it’s really a good-news message. We’re up to  something BIG…a change…and our old brain screams “DANGER! If I were you, Baby, I wouldn’t risk a new conversation! Stick with what you know. Know what I mean? Fight, Flee, Freeze or Fix.”

We can politely decline the brain’s invitation to Fight, Flee, Freeze, or Fix. The danger our old brain is warning us about isn’t real. There are no tigers out there. The real danger is the status quo of our comfort zone when it has become a cage.

Mr. and Ms. Manager, I invite you to embrace the message of discomfort from your old brain. While it tries to seduce you with a promise of false safety, it does offer you a potential breakthrough.  Yes, your employee has ignored your requests twice. Bummer?  Maybe. But would it serve you to learn what really leads you down the well-worn path of the four F’s?  Yes, because surely you want to move from being a reactor to being a chooser of your behaviors. Here’s a path to both, even without a coach.

  1. Notice when you’re uncomfortable regarding a future “difficult” conversation. Notice if you want to engage in one of the four F’s.
  2. Consider that your inner chatter about “difficult conversations” isn’t the truth but is designed to keep you from learning new conflict-resolution strategies.
  3. Talk to a coach or mentor in order to gain new perspective. It can get you off the four F merry-go-round. Don’t talk to someone who colludes with you. Their agreement is an example of one of the four F’s and offers you short-lived satisfaction at best.
  4. Choose attributes you’re willing to demonstrate in your conversation with your employee (for example, generous, kind, truthful, courageous). They are always a contribution and will keep you from being manipulated into one of the four F’s.
  5. Choose which intention will guide you in your conversation. As an effective manager you want to develop and motivate your employees. Parents/Teachers, you want to help your kids grow, not only to accept your requests!  Your intention may be to demonstrate your longing to be an effective manager or an effective communicator.
  6. Let go of requiring a particular outcome (Yes, you want the other to not ignore your requests in the future, but your primary objective is to develop this person.).
  7. Set aside your positional power (you have more than your employee/child/student), and simply interact from an equal platform. Both of you have personal power. Doing so will be a living demonstration of 4 and 5.

Reducing the perceived power difference between you and your employee creates an environment in which both of you can breathe and feel safe to learn. It’s possible to not Fight, not Flee, not Freeze, and not Fix when it’s just you and me and we’re in this conversation for learning and for a team-win.

A conversation might now begin like this: “Ian, I made a request several times and didn’t hear from you (The facts, just the facts). It caused a delay in my response to headquarters (the impact, just the physical impact. Hurt or angry feelings are yours to deal with alone or with your coach.).  I want to be able to count on every team member’s response when I make a request. That said, I know stuff happens.  Please skip the explanation, Ian.  Do you have  everything you need to fulfill my request. Was I clear? Not clear? Talk to me.”

Then see what happens. Let the conversation be a dance (a jazz dance, not the Texas 2-step). Yes, out-maneuvering our old brain isn’t easy. But wouldn’t you rather use your old brain than have your old brain use you?! Value its message but for now dismiss the messenger. Your rational brain and your heart are in charge. Heart thinking is your portal to choice, authentic conversations, and rich rewards.

Ingrid Martine, MA, PCC, author of The Un-Game and mind-ZENgineering coach works with organizations and individuals to empower them to move their lives from a 7 to 10 at work, home, and play.  For her FREE report, “Reap the Harvest of a Quiet Mind:  Empower Self, Empower Others”, or “Management Training for Business as Unusual”, visit:  http://www.yourleadersedge.com, or connect with Ingrid at:  www.Twitter.com/ingrid_martine and www.facebook.com/coachmartine.

“The Un-Game” Reviewed in The Dallas Morning News

The Dallas Morning News and business book reviewer Jim Pawlak only review 2 of every 40 books they are asked to review each month.  I am pleased to share that The Un-Game: Four-Play to Business as UNusual was recently chosen and featured by Pawlak in The Dallas Morning News and at dallasnews.com.

Below is the review as it appeared on August 12, 2012. Even in its shortened version (Jim Pawlak has an editor too), The UnGame‘s main message was preserved.

“Ultimately we cannot only change programs. We have to change visions. A new world in business as in the rest of our life depends on changed minds.” By Jim Pawlak – Special Contributor

“The Un-Game: Four-Play to Business as UNusual” by Ingrid Martine (Your Leaders’ Edge Press, $19.95.) Ingrid Martine says the unaware life is incompatible with success. She introduces the COSA management process – Choose, Observe, Say Yes, Act.

If you choose to be a catalyst rather than a drone, controller or corrector you can constantly expand your comfort zone – and those of your staff. To observe you have to rid yourself of “monkey mind” – the Buddhist metaphor for self-limiting talk.

The monkey mind says “I can’t,” but really means “I won’t.”  It usually interprets situations in terms of what you’re willing to do, rather than what you can do.  Observation helps change our minds because it shows us other perspectives.

Being uncomfortable can lead to “aha moments.”  The monkey mind fears saying yes because it forces us to look at things differently.  Only continuous improvement moves you from where you are to where you want to be. And when you act you’re engaging with others, not telling them what to do.  Showing people why, gets them thinking about how.

Jim Pawlak reviews business books for The Dallas Morning News. 

Dare to Be Yourself: The Appeal of the Real Deal

Un-Game PrincipleBeing unself-conscious in interactions with others generally occurs only in a safe environment. Wise managers can consciously create a safe environment.

I buy at my local Farmers’ Market. I love the enthusiastic, proud faces offering samples of freshly-baked bread, showing off just-picked apples, and telling me to imagine their tomatoes dramatized by Beth Johnson’s gourmet sea salts. It’s the real deal.

We hunger for the real deal, and not just in food. We hunger for real conversations. And if we think it might be a difficult conversation, then many of us resign ourselves to going hungry. Real conversations are still relatively rare. Manipulative conversations—the weapon of the weak—abound…as does fake food, rich in calories but devoid of nourishment. It doesn’t have to be that way.

In previous posts we set ourselves up for successful conversations that tackle the tough stuff AND enrich the relationship… where the other could see that NOT responding to a request is counter-productive for winning friends and influencing people (or moving the project forward). Now we’re ready to talk.

Not yet. Allow yourself a little more preparation to “get your mind right.”

There’s no right or wrong way to have an effective course-correction conversation.  There are no formulas.  But here’s what fosters (not guarantees) successful outcomes of course-correction conversations.

  1. Define what success means to you. If success is that the person always responds to your requests after the talk, you’ll be disappointed.  New behaviors take practice. Practice doesn’t make perfect. It makes progress. Why not define success as developing your employees?  As a manager that’s a large part of your job. But be a catalyst for change. It increases your chances of success. Controllers and fixers are so 20th century, as my grand-son Ian might say.
  2.  Shift your focus to the other and trust your self-preparation (see 2 previous posts).  Ask yourself: “What does this person need in order to see that their behavior has negative impact?” “What would support their willingness to change it?”

In the old command and control days you didn’t see it as your job to ask those questions.  “Shape up or ship out, Buddy!” was more like it. Sorry, but that’s the lazy manager’s way out, and it takes no skill, only positional power to implement that strategy (Parents. Are you listening?). If you want an authentic conversation to occur rather than a “I’m-going-to-give-you-what-you-want-to-hear-and-then-do-what-I-want” conversation, you’re going to have to do the work. And the work is to create a LEARNING ENVIRONMENT for the other!

A learning environment is safe. It’s an environment in which there is freedom to experiment and where failure exists only as the forerunner to success. It’s an environment where you’re expected to grow.  It’s an environment where it’s understood that we sometimes grow in leaps and bounds and sometimes in inches. Therefore there is understanding and compassion in addition to accountability. But perhaps more than anything else, a safe environment is one where the person with more positional power…YOU, the manager…mother, father, teacher, principal…recognize  that greater positional power tends to intimidate the one who has less. He or she feels at risk. You hold the power to reprimand, to fire (Parents and teachers, are you listening?).

The greatest chance of launching the course-correction conversation on the road to success is to signal to the one with less positional power that you are equals in terms of personal power…that you’re willing to level the playing field…that you aren’t there to use your positional power coercively. You’re on the same team, and you’re committed to a team-win.

How might such a conversation begin?  In the next post we’ll look at how an authentic conversation between you and someone with less positional power might begin. Later we’ll look at creating a safe environment among equals, for example a husband and wife, and one where your positional power is less than another’s. Don’t you sometimes need to confront your boss?

 Ingrid Martine, MA, PCC, author of The Un-Game and mind-ZENgineering coach works with organizations and individuals to empower them to move their lives from a 7 to 10 at work, home, and play.  For her FREE report, “Reap the Harvest of a Quiet Mind:  Empower Self, Empower Others”, or “Management Training for Business as Unusual”, visit:  http://www.yourleadersedge.com, or connect with Ingrid at:  www.Twitter.com/ingrid_martine and www.facebook.com/coachmartine.  

Nurturing the Seeds for a Powerful Course-Correction Conversation

Un-Game Principle:  Producing an extraordinary result out of an interaction is less dependent on what we do than on who we are willing to be.

So how do we approach a person who has twice responded to the same communication with silence? A course –correction conversation is a good and courageous choice.

As Americans we want to jump right in. Action is our middle name. “What do we do?” you ask.  Advice for doing abounds, but it may not be where we get our greatest empowerment to produce a hoped-for outcome.

Where to start?

First we must recognize and accept this: We’re uncomfortable.  Making a difficult request or sharing our displeasure is not easy for most of us who, after all, care about the relationship we now think might fracture. The knee-jerk response with discomfort is to get away from it …FAST…on the path of least resistance. Sound familiar?  Therefore I’m not talking face-to-face. E-mail here I come. Hello, path of least resistance!

 If I let my feelings dictate my response, am I not saying “I AM my feelings?” Or I have no arsenal of alternatives? I reject both.

If we’re not our feelings, then who are we?  We’re beings who HAVE feelings and who can choose who we’re willing to be in any interaction. We can also choose which important-to-us value we’ll demonstrate in the conversation. The key word is CHOICE.

In my example with Ian, I’m willing to be uncomfortable, and I’m committed to demonstrating being a good grandma. Pretty good set-up for a course-correction conversation.  I choose who I’m willing to be—clear, focused, generous, truthful, courageous, compassionate maybe?  Hmm.  If I demonstrate some of those qualities, what would the experience of the conversation be? Go ahead. Imagine it. Different than if I’m being Grandma Fix-it who’s sure she has the answers for my inexperienced grandson, right?

“Yes, but,” you say. “What if…let’s say somebody on my team…really IS a jerk, and she’s not sufficiently committed and doesn’t have her own answers, and I do. Don’t I have to fix her?”

 I’m sure you can find plenty of evidence for “jerk,” but if you were willing to be generous…let’s say, a quality you chose…then  could you focus away from “jerk” in this particular conversation and focus on seeing her as someone who’s  learning   and needs your support?  Would seeing her in that way be a demonstration of you being generous?

“Yes, but” you sputter. “I don’t WANT to see her that way. She’s a jerk.”

“Uh, huh. I can hear that you don’t want to. Nevertheless are you willing?” (I hesitate to remind you that you aren’t your feelings, because you’re pretty heated up right now, and it might fall on deaf ears.)

“What’s the difference?” you ask, looking pretty surly.

“Have you ever done anything you don’t want to, not because you saw no other choice but because doing it was in the service of a commitment that was dear to you?”

You brighten up. After a moment of reflection you take a deep breath.  “Well, yeah. When I was in college, there were plenty of times I would’ve rather chilled than do the work, but…”

“But what?”

“I guess I was willing because it was important to me to be well educated. Hmm…”

“What are you seeing about what you’re saying?”

“I’m seeing that when I was in touch with my commitment, then I HAVE been willing to do something I didn’t want to do. It’s true. I’m not my feelings. That’s pretty cool. Seeing it clearly gives me a lot of power to do something I don’t want to do but am nevertheless willing to do… by choice.”

“It does, doesn’t it? Learning to master the distinction to be willing has the power to transform your life…forever. Would it be ok with you to have greater power to produce an extraordinary result out of an interaction you don’t want to have?”

I welcome your comments and questions. Next time we’ll look at having the course-correction conversation that made possible from the seeds we’ve sown.

Ingrid Martine, MA, PCC, author of The Un-Game and mind-ZENgineering coach works with organizations and individuals to empower them to move their lives from a 7 to 10 at work, home, and play.  For her FREE report, “Reap the Harvest of a Quiet Mind:  Empower Self, Empower Others”, or “Management Training for Business as Unusual”, visit:  http://www.ingridmartinelifecoaching.com, or connect with Ingrid at:  www.Twitter.com/ingrid_martine and www.facebook.com/coachmartine.