Make room for those who’ve let you down.

Chances are, you have a collection of those! If you’ve lived long enough, some people will have let you down in one way or another. Not that they mean to, but unless you have absolutely NO expectations for the people around you (A rare thing in the people I’ve come across in my lifetime!), you know exactly what I am talking about here.

Take my client this morning. She was complaining that one of the individuals on her team – exactly her nominee for “most likely to succeed” – just acted in a dishonest way that made her question what was going on. She felt hurt and “took it to heart”, she said. Feeling let down, she was considering never trusting this particular colleague again. So much for her hopes for the future of this person’s carreer! It was a dumb move to make and an awkward subject for both of them to discuss.  In a way, it seemed she might be covering up for someone else. It reminded me of the incident in Scent of a Woman (see my post at LeadChange Group later this week for more on that) and how I was unsure if the kid’s sense of loyalty was well placed. Still, he was acting according to what he thought was right, and just. He was simply being the kind of person he wanted to be in the first place. You have to respect that.

Otheresteem is all about acceptance. About moving past incidents where things are not exactly as they should be. How can this be done? For all the heartache and anger and fear that people bring out in each of us when they let us down, we still have a choice. We can accept what is. Protect ourselves only of what we need to and not throw out the baby with the bathwater. Is there no place for appreciation of someone who has proved less than perfect? Someone who did not live up to what we had expected?

Make room for those who have let you down. Be generous, if you may. Be kind, if you need to distance yourself from them. But always learn a lesson. Understand why that particular thing was so important to you. And if you can move beyond the fear, talk about it.

I told my client this morning that if she wanted to move forward and continue to build her collaborator’s potential as she had originally intended, she needed to do a few things.

First, set the record straight. Tell your truth. Listen to hers. Get the facts in line and the feelings on the table. Explain why this is important to you and tell her how you feel.

Then, lay out the groundwork for a different future. It can be something like: “This is NOT the way I want us to relate.” or “I really want this to work.” or “I will do everything I can to get this relationship back on track, and I would like you to do the same.”. There are many creative ways to set great expectations. The fallout is a wonderful time to practice the third aspect of otheresteem.

And last but not least, remember: Trust is yours to give. It is always an act of generosity and a risk to take. There is payoff for giving it as there is for retaining it. Choose wisely, but don’t fool yourself into believing that it is up to them to earn your trust. In the end, it’s about losing your own fear that things will go terribly wrong.


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Otheresteem for Leaders

Last week I had the great opportunity of attending Leaderpalooza! So many valuable people were there! Some that I have admired and appreciated for some time now, and some new to me and great to meet. A lot of what we were discussing, related to Character-based Leadership had to do with the notion that a great leader values people consistently! How else can a leader build more leaders if not by taking otheresteem from practice to art? So today, I want to explore a few ideas fitting for leaders of any sort, in any context. And yes, that means you! I know that some of you will question whether everyone is a leader (and we could definitely get into that someday), but consider this: if nothing else, be a leader at otheresteem and see where it takes you.

Here are a few practices true leaders engage in:

Upmost respect for their fellow human. Disrespect and mistreatment of others are not a part of leadership: not a necessary evil, and not a desireable trait. Leaders that understand this have a strong conviction that dignity is always to be protected. That means that they are mindful of how they challenge others to perform, how they treat people that they are letting go, how they face difficulties, how they stand up for what they believe in and how they confront bad behavior.

Actively appreciating people near and far to their core work. Leaders that go out of their way to thank people and make it a point of appreciating the things that people put in daily to their cause generate an honest, committed  and sincere following.

Expecting the best is exciting instead of coercive. Great leaders will expect the very highest of standards from others and themselves. They will see people as the potential they possess and entice them to reach their highest goals. They expect nothing less of people, but do so in a way that is consistent with their belief that it is others that will materialize their vision. When faced with shortcomings, they will take them as learning experiences on the path to greatness, and they will show others to do the same.

Deep Gratitude. Great leaders are grateful every day, every hour, every minute for the people around them and the opportunity to build things together. They know in their heart that nothing would be possible without their relationship to them. They treasure it and understand the power it brings to be shared and sacred.

That’s the spin I have seen leaders take to the four practices. I have witnessed each of these in admirable people I have had the privilege of knowing through my work and my life. What about you? Do you know leaders that experience others like this? Did I miss anything? I would love to hear your comments on this one!

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It’s Not Denial

Uh-huh! That’s what deniers will always say, right? It is meant as a pun of course, but seriously, when we talk about otheresteem building and the practices, some people interpret that you can never have any bad feelings about someone or decide you would rather not be in a relationship with another person. Nothing further from the truth!

Otheresteem as a practice is meant to build YOU up, to bring perspective to relationships that are important to you but currently difficult.

The practice of otheresteem will allow you to explore possibilities that are otherwise not apparent, it will open up space for people to change and react differently to you and more importantly, it will help you experience deeper feelings than the hurt and anger that have been holding you back. Otheresteem practice does of course require that you suspend judgement for a time, that you leave resentment behind and that you learn to seek out the positive in relation to others. The idea is to build the foundation first and create strong enough relationships with yourself and others so that they can later withstand any test. Consider how you deal with hurt, anger or disagreement when you do it well. Its not about denial. It’s about reclaiming your responsibility and power. It’s about choosing your reactions, building relationships and getting to a point where you can be totally open and honest with eachother about the good, the bad and the ugly. How do you feel about that?

P.S. Becky Robinson of LeaderTalk has featured me and Otheresteem on her amazing blog today! Thanks, Becky! I had a great time getting to know her more in the interview and am very honored by her interest in this work.

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Is Otheresteem for YOU? OR… Whose fault is it anyway?

I really believe that the practice of Otheresteem benefits anyone that tries it out. That said, the section in the book on “Roadblocks to Otheresteem” touches on the fact that it is not necessarily as easy as it seems. There are several things that will get in the way of your exploration on how to value others more, for instance:

  • Playing the Blame Game
  • Fear of Getting Hurt in the Process
  • Unreasonable expectations for outcomes (Nightmare Scenarios or Fairytale Outcomes)

Lets focus on the first one today.

“In the context of learning about yourself, blame is not a useful concept.”

Although it is socially accepted, assigning blame is usually a futile process.  It locks our thoughts in the past and does little to improve relationships.  Once I have decided to blame someone else, there is not much more for me to do but wait for them to see the light! Not very empowering, is it?  On the other hand, if I blame myself, I may wallow in my guilt instead of stepping up to the future. Either way, we get cast into set roles that are firmly grounded in the past.

Responsibility, on the other hand, does quite the opposite.  It empowers the person in question to realize that they have a choice.  You can continue as you have done in the past, or you can change to create a different future.  Choose responsiblity instead of blame every time and you will see relationships develop, skills build and possibilities open.  But don’t take my word for it! Try it out.  See what it means in your everyday interactions to reassess how you face difficulties with others.  Build on otheresteem by steering away from guilt and blame, being mindful of your expression and communication about responsibility.  Find ways to hold yourself and others responsible without playing the blame game and watch what happens.

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