The Danger of Focusing on What’s Wrong

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Just look at everything we have to do.

-Every leader

Though there is so much to do, fix, and improve (and we will never, ever be done), we can focus too much on what’s wrong. Then we and those around us will feel bad (resistant) and everything will be much harder to accomplish.

The cure? Focus on and give praise for (1) the vast majority of things that are going right and (2) how much better things will be with each fix or improvement. Then the doing, fixing, and improving will feel good and go swimmingly well.


In your corner,



Today’s photo credit: Norbert Eder Grumpy Cat via photopin (license)

If We Focus On What’s Wrong…

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Will=Our inner game
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…we will only succeed in perpetuating it (or something like it).

In other words, we will never solve a problem by complaining about it, wishing or waiting for it to change, or arguing for the power of any obstacles to prevent its solution.

Focus on what’s right, good leader.


In your corner,


PS: And don’t let the how get in the way. Focus on what’s right and the hows will take care of themselves.


Today’s photo credit: ZEISS Microscopy ZEISS LSM 800 for Materials via photopin (license)

New Focus. New Results.

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Leading, Will=Our inner game
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When we notice something right, we can encourage more of it by focusing on it. Appreciating people’s good work, for example, sets the stage for them to do it again and again.

But what about when we notice something wrong? Most of us tend to focus, focus, focus on it. We perform a litany of What happened? How did it happen? This sucks. Who’s to blame? How do we fix it? I hate this. When might it happen again? Why do these things always happen? What needs to be done?

What if we had a different habit?

What if, as soon as we notice something wrong, we make a choice of what we want instead? Then, rather than going through the litany, what if we focused on what we want, how great it will be when it shows up, and on curiously wondering how it might?

New focus, new results.


In your corner,



Today’s photo credit: Mark Hunter cc

We Need New Truth

Posted 2 CommentsPosted in We=All Who Matter
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Truth is what we say it is.

We leaders need this newer definition of truth. The old way is ruining things.

Thinking of truth in the traditional way–that is, as an absolute–always gets us into trouble. Old-style truth has us looking for the “right” answer instead of looking for the best answer. It pits people against one another instead of inviting them to find the superior solutions that come only in collaboration. We see everywhere the dysfunction caused by our addiction to old truth: in governments, among nations and communities, in our businesses, at home, and (importantly) within ourselves.

Depending on how you take it, this new statement about truth is either a threat or a gift. It implies that disagreement–even deep disagreement–is natural and that discussion is necessary. But it also promises dramatic solutions and benefits. We can start by simply asking others to say aloud what’s important to them.

More deeply, this newer version of truth shows us that we are our own jailers and emancipators. What we say is true about ourselves or the world binds us or sets us free. We can start applying this new version of truth to our lives by simply stating out loud what we want.


In your corner,


PS: I am not saying what’s true or false. I am asking us to open our definition of what it means for something to be true.


Today’s photo credit: Daveblog

The Right-Wrong Trap

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Leading, Sales and Influence
Reading time: 2 min.

We fall into the Right-Wrong Trap whenever we try to convince someone we are right. If we fall into this trap, we will have a very difficult time leading, selling, and influencing.

The Right-Wrong Trap proves that leading, selling, and influencing are not at all about the facts, the merits of our argument, or the proof. The trap’s trigger is personal not logical. No one wants to be told what to do, no one want to lose, no one wants to be wrong, no one wants to be rejected, and no one wants to be unsafe. When we try to prove we’re right, they will use habitual defense systems such as arguing back, tattling, saying, “Yes!” but not following through, and avoidance to prevent losing, being wrong, etc.

Thus triggered, we will respond with our own habitual defense systems. And–sproing–we’re in the trap.

The first step out of the trap is to stop trying to convince them that we are right. Having nothing to fight against, they will soon give up their habitual defense moves. The second step is to stand next to them, metaphorically, and put the problem and everyone’s perception of the facts on the table for both sides to explore and solve.

So right.


In your corner,



Today’s photo credit: Minnesota Historical Society cc

bad dog


Posted Posted in We=All Who Matter, Will=Our inner game
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“You are never prepared for our meetings.”

“I really am no good at sales.”

“They are screwing things up.”

“You are wrong.”

Whenever (w-h-e-n-e-v-e-r) we think that there’s something wrong with you, them, or me, we make the mistake of attacking identity.

If you assert (out loud or to yourself)  that I am wrong, I will get defensive and you will similarly react to my reaction. The same reactions happen, oddly, when we think we ourselves are wrong. These reactions delay, distract, and derail us on our way to success.

Though our behavior perhaps was ineffective or damaging, you, them, and I are not the problem.


In your corner,



Today’s photo credit: Darin cc


The Right-Wrong Maelstrom

Posted Leave a commentPosted in We=All Who Matter
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“I am right and you are wrong,” is a pervasive, destructive subtext in many of our conversations at work and home. We fight each other, sometimes in very clever ways, just to avoid being wrong. It’s a big problem that tends to drag us down and down. I have seen it rot individual relationships, harm careers, disable teams, scuttle projects, and even hobble a multi-billion-dollar company.

Yet there is no need to fight over right or wrong.

We can replace this need entirely with the win-win-or-don’t-play principle. First, we listen. Then we clarify and confirm our understanding of what outcomes (as opposed to specific approaches or actions) they seek. Next, we help them understand what outcomes we seek. Finally, we put our heads together to find solutions that help us both win. Or, if we can’t, we choose not to proceed together on this opportunity. In this approach, there is no room for fighting to be right.

Next time you catch yourself arguing, positioning, countering, fighting, or even avoiding others for fear they may try to be right/make you wrong, try changing the dynamic by learning what outcomes the other person really wants.


In your corner,


PS: This version of right-wrong is distinct from merely seeking the truth about a matter. For example, the following conversation is most likely about the simple truth.

“The sine of pi is 1.”
“No, it’s 0. Look at this graph.”
“Ah, yes. Thank you.”

We can tell by how it feels. If we feel bad (maybe challenged, disrespected, rejected, or threatened) while discussing whether we are right of not, we are not merely seeking truth.


Today’s photo credit: στρατός cc


Strong, Perfect, Included, Right

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Leading, Will=Our inner game
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As leaders (with or without title), it really feels like we are on the hot seat, doesn’t it? We feel we need to be strong, perfect, included, and/or right.  And that costs us time and energy. But what for? There is actually no need to be perfect or right or strong or included. Despite any evidence we may see at work or elsewhere, we are fine. We are exactly where we need to be. Now.

Can we grow? Be happier? More effective, more free? Sure. If we so choose. We just need to know our edge, look over that edge, grow past that edge, and repeat.

If we want.


In your corner,


PS: If in doubt, study a child, a pet, a plant, or an amoeba. This edge-out process is how life likes to operate, it seems.


Today’s photo credit: VinothChandar via photopin cc


The Problem with Being Right

Posted 2 CommentsPosted in Leading, Sales and Influence, We=All Who Matter
Reading time: 2 min.

Here’s something that gets in our way. We frequently think that, if only we detail things enough, explain it all just so, show them the data and the logic, or add enough energy and excitement to it then they will see, agree, and act. We want to be nice about it, of course. But, secretly, we think,”I am right and you need to hear it, believe it, and behave as I think your should.” And frequently our need to be right is bound up somehow with our value, identity, or worth. (That’s why being right is such a strong, enduring habit.)

Harsh? Yes, for all involved.

You see, no one wants to be told. Will they seek advice? Sure. Will they follow the leaders’ commands? In short bursts when it makes sense. But telling them what to think, believe, or do only generates resistance.

The good news (there’s always good news): we don’t need to be right and we can get great outcomes without all the resistance. To lead, influence, or sell, enter a dialogue. Ask questions. Let the other person’s genius show up. Listen first and long. Allow yourself to pause, to be wise. Navigate by curiosity. Be willing to be changed.

So much easier.


In your corner,


PS: Sometimes we think, “I am not right; they won’t listen; nothing will change here.” This happens whenever we have run into that resistance so much that we give up. Of course, dialogue, questions, allowing genius, and willingness are the cure for this state, too.


Today’s photo credit: Icky Pic via photopin cc;