Friday, April 28, 2017

Part 9: How Not to Suck at... Delayed Gratification

I was in a leadership class on influence the other day. A small section of the class dealt with the topic of delayed gratification and how people who have learned to practice the art of delayed gratification were generally more successful in life.

This applies to saving, dieting, relationships, jobs, school, shopping... just about EVERY area of life.

However there is a balance between delayed gratification and instant satisfaction. There are trade-offs to everything, so in our microwave society, how do you influence yourself and others to give up at least some instant satisfaction for future gratification?

For instance, let's talk about saving for the future. The class taught me that simply telling someone that they should save does not work. They know that they should save... for retirement, for a vacation, for a newer car, and the kids’ college tuition. They already know so telling them isn't going to help anything. In fact, it might even hurt the situation. People don’t like to be told what they already know!

So, instead of telling, we need to influence them.  Per the book, there are 6 sources of influence… and therefore 6 ways to influence a person to save, per say a vacation.

·         Source 1 – Personal Motivation – whether you want to do it.
This is the easy one, I doubt there are many people who don’t want to take a vacation. I don’t think there will be much convincing there.

·         Source 2 – Personal Ability – whether you can do it.
So here is a harder one. Can we save? Is there anything to save? Do we have enough to live now – pay bills, rent, car note & buy food - and save for a trip? If there is not enough for now, a vacation is out of the question.

·         Source 3 – Social Motivation – whether other people encourage the right behaviors.
My circle of friends like to travel. They like to do big things and go on grand adventures. I have that motivation from the people around me. They encourage me to travel, which in turn encourages me to save. Be that for someone else.

·         Source 4 – Social Ability – whether other people provide help, information or resources.
I had to learn the hard way how to budget, so showing someone else how to save a few dollars here and there will go a long way. Helping them realize that there is enough will strengthen their personal ability to save. Budgeting & saving are skills we need for life but probably weren’t taught in school. If you can teach someone else, do it. Not everyone really understands how money works.

·         Source 5 – Structural Motivation – whether the environment encourages the right behaviors.
Another hard one. Our culture and society is motivates us towards NOW. We are regularly bombarded with images and advertisements to act now and get instant satisfaction. And the most attractive offers seem like they wouldn’t hurt our budgets (and savings) that much – but when I look at my credit card bill, it’s never the big purchases that surprise me. It’s all the $15 ones that add up!

·         Source 6 – Structural Ability – whether the environment supports the right behaviors.
To combat the lack of motivation, we can set up a system to helps us save. Have a set amount transfer from you main bank account to a saving account every paycheck.  Forget about this account and don’t touch it – until it’s time for the trip

They say that if you want to influence change, hitting just one or two of these areas isn’t enough. You need to reach them in three to four areas at least before there is real momentum to act differently. So if you are someone hasn’t be successful in saving before, look at things you can do in each of those areas to influence them to act in delayed gratification. 

Friday, April 21, 2017

Part 8. How not to suck at… Addressing the Issue

I’ve been a supervisor for a short 8 months, and I just went through my first performance review with each member of my team. Fortunately I have a great group everything went smooth. But what if it hadn’t? What if there was some issue I needed to address with a member? At work, is mostly business but in the real world, friendships and relationships can be devastated by unresolved issues.

I’m naturally passive aggressive – so I’m generally pretty easy going, let allot of things slide and just pick my battles when necessary. But I’ve also been guilty of letting things fester and build up so that when I do address the issue it’s a full blown explosion instead of simmer. And here’s the added bonus, as man you’re often labeled a sensitive or moody when you bring up an issue. We’re supposedly not supposed to care, feel or be bothered. Just “man up.” That is not healthy and we need to stop teaching young men that. The things that bother us need to be addressed. How we feel needs to be heard. That unresolved issue adds stress to your life and stress kills.

As a supervisor, the official performance review shouldn’t be the first time an employee hears about a problem in their performance. The same holds true in our daily lives. It’s better to talk through an issue after it happens than to let it build and let an explosion come out of nowhere. Yes, the other person may be defensive but a conversation allows both parties to be heard. Plus, they may not even know that there’s an issue until you tell them. It may be a complete misunderstanding and easily fixed. However, an argument, especially one seeded from an explosion is not going to do much but piss the other person off.

The only way to deal with the issue is to talk, I mean real communication. A conversation where both people are able to be truly heard and allowed to get stuff off their chest… not the kind of conversation where all you do is think of your next clap back. Don’t discredit how they feel by talking over them or saying why they shouldn’t feel the way they do. It’s their feelings. Let them feel! The need to understand how the issue makes you feel and you should understand why they do what they do. Even if the issue doesn’t get resolved, a little understanding of the situation will go a long way. You should offer constructive feedback, solutions, and help. Not judgement!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Part 7. How not to suck at… Encouragement

Contrary to popular belief, most people do care what others think. They may not want to, they may not want to admit it, and some definitely won’t tell you… but they care. We all care on some level, its human nature.  Its part of how we are designed and rise of social media proves this!

Everyone has a bad day, week or even a bad year. They will feel bad and like life sucks, like the world is against them, like nothing they do is right. At these moments especially, people care what others think. They will be especially sensitive to everything said to them, about them and around them. This is your moment to be a hero… or a dick. You have a choice to positively motivate and encourage them or just make the situation worse.

We live in a world where it is easy to focus on the bad. It’s what we remember, it’s what sticks out and grabs our attention. It gets noticed because it negatively effects our lives. The news, Social Media, gossip – all highlight and reflect what’s wrong in world. But what about the good? All the things that people do right everyday go largely unnoticed. When we ignore the good and only point out the bad, people start to feel unappreciated and abused.

After a strong drink, we all need a little encouragement, validation and appreciation. Realize that and provide it to a friend in need. Bring them back the good place and give them a boost to keep moving forward. Don’t be a dick. Be a hero.