Growing Self-Acceptance

Authenticity Growth mindset Respect

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Key Point: My relationship with my mirror has its ups and downs. I still occasionally stand in front of it, even though I’m likely in the last quarter of my life, and wonder, “why?” Essentially, I’m still asking myself if I’m “good enough,” and/or disgusted with something more trivial, like wishing my “expanding belly and love handles would magically dissolve.” Anyway, those are very private and personal moments. Do you have them? For me, they are often more acute when I’ve faced some real or imagined rejection. So, I’m continually learning more about myself, and how my thinking helps me show up or not as a leader. Subsequently, I believe there is something important about connecting two very important concepts: Having a growth mindset and embracing self-acceptance. 

Carol Dweck‘s work at Stanford regarding having a growth mindset is so vital. As an example, her more recent research involving romantic rejection reinforces that people with a growth mindset (versus fixed) are more optimistic that rejection won’t necessarily be a pattern in future relationships and that their own personality traits can change with practice. People with a growth mindset also pause to think about what happened that wasn’t about them. What were the situational factors that might have led to this outcome? What was going on with the timing or with the other person? People with a growth mindset plod on with optimism, look forward and are more confident in the “next.”

In Nathaniel Branden‘s superb book, The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem, he notes:  “Self esteem is knowing that something will hurt and will be painful, but you will proceed anyhow because deep inside you, you know that it’s practice and exercise. Similar to how muscles need training to grow, the soul needs practice to grow. Practicing, whether you fail or succeed builds your confidence and self esteem”.

 One of Branden”s big six is the practice of self-acceptance: “The willingness to own, experience, and take responsibility for our thoughts, feelings, and actions, without evasion, denial, or disowning – and also without self-repudiation; giving oneself permission to think one’s thoughts, experience one’s emotions, and look at one’s actions without necessarily liking, endorsing, or condoning them; the virtue of realism applied to the self.”

Branden goes on to say: “We can run not only from our dark side but also from our bright side—from anything that threatens to make us stand out or stand alone, or that calls for the awakening of the hero within us, or that asks that we break through to a higher level of consciousness and reach a higher ground of integrity. The greatest crime we commit against ourselves is not that we may deny or disown our shortcomings but that we deny and disown our greatness—because it frightens us. If a fully realized self-acceptance does not evade the worst within us, neither does it evade the best.”

So my argument for your and my continued personal growth (regardless of our unique stage in life and personal development), is to practice the daily application of a growth mindset along with embracing full self-acceptance. It improves the quality of conversation we have with our mirror. As I’ve noted many times before, the conversation is the relationship and the relationship is the conversation. 

Character Moves: 

  1. Refuse to be in an adversarial relationship with yourself. Heed Branden’s advice when he notes: “Self-esteem is an intimate experience. It occurs in our inner most being. It is what I think and feel about myself, not what someone else thinks and feels about me.”
  1. Consciously practice embracing a growth mindset AND self-acceptance.  Remember that ‘practice’ implies a discipline of acting in a certain way over and over again – consistently. It is a way of operating day-by-day, in big issues and small, a way of behaving and being. It’s the journey that never ends and of course, that is paved with gratification, happiness and hope. 

 Growing self-acceptance in The Triangle

Lorne 

One Millennial View: I recently heard an interview where the beloved Bill Murray said that his late SNL co-star, Gilda Radner, used to walk into interviews with the mindset that she already had the job. A sense of, “well of course you want to hire me and I belong here.” It was a recipe to her success. It’s no secret that confidence is one of our most desired traits, and although the mindset isn’t always easy to achieve, it’s always worth pursuing and constantly improving.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

‘How’ Versus ‘How Much’

Accountability Authenticity Personal leadership

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Key Point: “The more cashless our society becomes, the more our moral compass slips.” 

The above quote is based on solid research conducted by Dr. Dan Ariely, one of the world’s most respected behavioral economists. I work in the financial industry, and it is clear that we are rapidly going cashless (Apple Pay, etc.), so this conclusion is bothersome if not downright scary. In his book The Honest Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone–Especially Ourselves, Dr. Ariely believes that cheating is contagious, and that a group’s behavior will have a powerful effect on each individual.

Two current and very popular television series (House of Cards and Billions) portray contagious behavior by all participants in spades. The overall theme is that “the end justifies the means” and that “greatness” is determined by achieving “how much” at any cost, instead of honoring “how” the end is achieved. Ariely’s work points out: “We all want explanations for why we behave as we do and for the ways the world around us functions. Even when our feeble explanations have little to do with reality. We’re storytelling creatures by nature, and we tell ourselves story after story until we come up with an explanation that we like and that sounds reasonable enough to believe. And when the story portrays us in a more glowing and positive light, so much the better.”

In a very relevant HBR article by Dov Seidman, he stresses the importance of reframing greatness from the how much definition to the how“How do we conduct ourselves in life and business? (Do we act fairly? Do we treat our colleagues, customers, and community with respect)? How do we sustain success so it lasts for decades, not just fiscal quarters? How can we all work together to build something greater than ourselves?”

Seidman says, “It’s in how that we should find our inspiration for greatness. And this is not idealistic: The individuals, organizations, and even countries that end up consistently winning over the long term are those in the grip of how, a far bigger idea than how much.”

Maybe Seidman’s viewpoint needs to connect with Ariely’s conclusive comment:  “Acts of honesty are incredibly important for our sense of social morality. And although they are unlikely to make the same sensational news, if we understand social contagion, we must also recognize the importance of publicly promoting outstanding moral acts.” 

Character Moves:

  1. We need to constantly challenge ourselves to emphasis that the “how” is ultimately more important than the “how much.” The workplace is a living daily laboratory for emphasizing and celebrating the “how.”
  1. As imperfect beings, we have to be on guard for the social contagion that convinces us the end justifies the means. It is so easy to tell ourselves it’s “ok” when we know darn well it’s not. 

“How” in The Triangle,

Lorne

One Millennial View: I work in media, and I know for a fact that we’re not helping to fix this. And we never will. Ariely’s above comment, “and although they are unlikely to make the same sensational news,” blew up at me, because it’s the absolute truth. Sorry, “how” just doesn’t get advertisers buying like a “how much” story does. But don’t sleep on the general public, because they know when a “how much” story becomes loathsome. Eventually, a genuine “how” becomes the true subject worth reporting about and learning from. “How” will never be breaking news, but do you want the instant cover page? Or do you want to one day be featured as someone who did it right?

– Garrett

What You Seek is What You Are

Authenticity Personal leadership Respect

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Key Point: Find what you’re seeking in others and elsewhere in yourself first.

I must know that I am, at least in part, the very thing I am seeking.”  In fact, that is what makes me seek it! As St. Augustine also profoundly expressed, “What you seek is what you are.” 

This first quote is from Fr. Richard Rohr, one smart Franciscan who operates at a much higher level than I can ever aspire to. The second from the above mentioned mystic, St. Augustine. While this blog is totally secular and work focused, I do occasionally refer to traditional religions for insight. In this case, Fr. Richard and Augustine remind us to emphasize that we most often already have what we are seeking. It’s a matter of digging deeply into understanding our emotions and behavior to find it. 

This thinking is a foundational premise of my blog. I believe it’s very difficult to lead others without being able to lead yourself first. As an example, if we want to be able to inspire others, we first have to be inspired. If we want to respect and listen better, first we must find that within ourselves. When we want others to be more accountable, we must show the way by being first and foremost self-accountable. When we cherish authenticity, we must have the courage to be authentic. And so on. 

Every New Year, of course, is a time for most of us to reflect and seek more. In our “Knew Year” blog, we encouraged investing in a self-development process to help with that. In parallel, we want to remind ourselves that while we can and should seek insight from others, there is the wisdom of ages in the quotes above. That is, recognize that you and I are already what we’re seeking. Let’s go find it and expose it more. 

Character Moves:

  1. Recognize that for most of us, a personal dig is hard. We have to be very curious in understanding why we think, feel and do. That’s challenging work. Very few of us are taught how to do that. Often, we build a think veneer and just chug along. Be curious and really be better at digging into to yourself to find what we’re seeking is already there. 

Seeking what you are in The Triangle,

Lorne 

One Millennial View: Twice this week. Two times. I’ve been sitting watching “Making a Murderer” (like everyone else on the planet, it seems)… While sucked into this show, I briefly thought to myself that I COULD (probably should) do ___, ___, ___ instead. All those ___ options would be more pertinent and useful activities towards finding and building upon what I’m “seeking.” Nope. Roll, Netflix, roll. Now that I’m finished with the show, I hope I can be as interested and devoted to pursuing what I seek, as that latest must-stream phenomenon you can’t seem to turn off.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

You Can’t Skip ACT 2

Accountability Authenticity Resilience

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Key Point: Every great story, as noted by the geniuses at Pixar, has an ACT 2. This is when the protagonist is confronted with the biggest challenges,  “darkness” and usually the “lowest of lows.” The lead character usually realizes, “Holy crap, finding my way to a ‘happy ending’ is going to be tough.”

I remember working for a Fortune 50 company where I was one of seven people reporting directly to the Chairman/CEO. For a number of reasons, including timing and luck, I had a mercurial rise from director at a subsidiary to VP on the company’s top team. Then, after one celebrated success after another, I ran into a major “S#!% Storm.” I felt alone, unsure, a loss of confidence and I could feel myself losing support. The “Golden Boy” wasn’t as shiny. While I was always sure footed and believed I could navigate anything thrown my way, I found myself becoming afraid. Rather than running at my fear, I looked for a “way out” and took it.

Upon much reflection, I realized I tried to “skip Act 2.” I have given that situation a lot of thought over the years and here is the big “a-ha” that may not be so big for you but it has been to me… You can try, but one way or another you can’t really skip Act 2! Furthermore, you can’t just go to Act 3 without playing out Act 2. That middle “darkness” is always waiting for you. It’s only a matter of time and it’s never just once. Geez! If this is a truism in life, what does that mean to each of us?

The great news is that all the pain, hurt, frustration, disappointment, sense of failure (yup, it’s a full emotional buffet), is where the ultimate “magic” comes from too. This is where we need to park ourselves and really learn. There are many lessons in the darkness and when we take the time to shine a light, important lessons emerge that help us navigate Act 3 and better equip us for the next second act. Isn’t that a great thing?

Character Moves:

  1. Do not think you can skip Act 2 in life. And there is no sugar coating the experience. It usually just sucks. Like the researcher Brene Brown notes, there is no real authenticity in just bragging about “golden grit;” where you pump your chest and only describe the happy ending. Most times, Act 2 involves a fall and it feels like landing in a bucket of dung.
  1. Rising up, dusting ourselves off, being resilient and moving forward is everything. However, it also involves investing in self-awareness that requires the courage to undertake an honest self-assessment and confront the stories we make up in our heads. It’s this process that brings wisdom and the changes that allow us to live richer lives, personally leading others and ourselves in much fuller ways.

Loving Act 2 in The Triangle,

Lorne

One Millennial View: Upon speaking and reconnecting with friends over the holidays, I realized that many people feel like their “movie” isn’t necessarily as short as they may have expected. I don’t know if I’ve reached an Act 2 yet, but sometimes I think it’s common to feel like you’ve just paused the story, and maybe it’s more difficult to “press play” because you know an Act 2 is likely the next scene. Act 1 can’t last forever, either.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

The Courage to Show Up!

Accountability Authenticity Courage

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Key Point: Allow yourself to be vulnerable. Have the courage to really show up in work and life. Make up your mind to be a friggin’ badass and just bring it! 

This week (as we regularly do with ALL new recruits), our CEO and I personally connected with our new hires and asked them to declare themselves “All In” or “All Out.” After 90 days, when team members have enough information to know if they can connect with our culture to become impact players and story creators, we ask them to declare which category they identify with. If they are “All In, they individually tell our CEO that they choose to go forward. If they honestly think they can’t or don’t want to be, we want them to leave with dignity and a month’s pay… No questions asked. When we describe what being “All In” means, we ask people to “show up and bring it.” This is not about perfection or having every day go smoothly. We understand that’s not realistic for any of us. However, we want people to be vulnerable and courageous. Vulnerability is not about winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up, especially when we have little or no assurance of the outcome. And most often at work, even though we want to manage risk as best as possible, we can’t control everything. Hence we must have team members who will step out, stand out, speak up, invent, reimagine, connect, advance and story (a verb). When we create own our stories, we avoid being trapped as characters in tales someone else is telling. We consciously see ourselves as both author and protagonist based on what we actually think, feel and do. You can’t just think you’d like to step up, and stand out… You have to feel it and do it too. 

We can choose courage or we can choose comfort, but we can’t have both at the same time. Having the courage to be vulnerable means knowing that you’re going to do something you want to do—and that you may fail at doing it. Leaning into this fear and failure is uncomfortable, and probably causes our stomachs to rumble. But that’s something we’ve got to be okay with if we want to fulfill our highest potential—both personally and professionally. And that’s what we expect of ourselves as leaders in our company and how we want ALL people in ALL roles to think, feel and act. 

Dr. Brene Brown is one of my favorite authors and teachers. Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. Brené’s 2010 TED Houston talk, The Power of Vulnerability, has been viewed more than 20 million times and is one of the top five most viewed TED talks in the world. (Watch it here). She has spent the past 13 years studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame.  She has numerous best sellers and her brand-new book is titled Rising Strong. In it, she writes,

“A lot of cheap seats in the arena are filled with people who never venture onto the floor. They just hurl mean-spirited criticisms and put-downs from a safe distance. The problem is, when we stop caring what people think and stop feeling hurt by cruelty, we lose our ability to connect. But when we’re defined by what people think we lose the courage to be vulnerable. Therefore, we need to be selective about the feedback we let into our lives. For me, if you’re not in the arena getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback.” 

We want everyone in the arena engaged, with scraped knees, and “dirt on their uniforms.” You can’t be a story creator, and real impact player without being vulnerable and stepping out… That means failing, winning, failing again and ultimately rising strong as Dr. Brown emphasizes. If you sit on the sidelines, we want you “all out!” Have the courage to be vulnerable, and then we know you’ll be “All In!”

Character Moves:  

  1. Recognize that while failing is not something we intentionally set out to do, the practical physics of vulnerability is that we will eventually fall. But learning from the fall, if we really listen to those who deeply care for us and ourselves, helps us grow and changes us for the better. How great is that?! 
  2. Being vulnerable includes self-respect and fully accepting that we as individuals are more than enough. However, our thinking, feeling, and action may NOT YET be. It fills us with optimism and the courage to take chances and create our own story! 

Vulnerable in The Triangle,

Lorne 

One Millennial View: Did you get chills? I got chills. I bet everyone (myself included) can think of 10 real time scenarios in life where we could be a little more vulnerable, but we may keep telling ourselves the safe zone is “best for now.” Even as a Millennial I somehow get an “excuse” for more time wasted, as if my clock isn’t ticking. But realistically, the confidence to attempt what I’m scared of is always the most attractive option, and even if my dismount doesn’t land, it’ll only draw a clearer map for the next course of action. That’s scary and uncomfortable. But I’d like to accept that life should be scary and uncomfortable sometimes.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis