Monday, July 30, 2018

Smile, It’s Monday: Your Weekly Wake-up Call to Live the Life You Have Imagined

Risk is the converse of itself: 
Not to risk is a risk.
--- Anthony Silard

Do you speak the “I’m too” language? Are you “I’m too” conversant?

In case you are unfamiliar with “I’m too” ways of thinking, here’s a crash course.

It’s easier to say “I’m too fat” than to go to the gym and lose weight.

It’s easier to say “I’m too ugly” than to ask someone out on a date and face possible rejection.

It takes less effort to say “I’m too old” than to follow your passion and become an artist.

Which “I’m too” excuses do you conveniently use to avoid taking risks?

You may also underestimate others to avoid risk. It requires much less courage to say, “There aren’t many quality people out there” and stay at home than to risk finding the love of your life and stretch yourself in a relationship.

It’s easier to say, “They’ll never understand” than to attempt to improve a relationship by broaching a difficult issue with a friend, parent, or coworker.

This week, take some time to consider the “I’m too” or “Others are too” excuses you may invoke to avoid taking the risks that the pursuit of your dreams requires.

Then reflect on how you could take reasonable risks to move your life forward in the direction of what you most value.

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Anthony Silard is the president of The Center for Social Leadership, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC and the author of the Simon & Schuster book The Connection: Link Your Passion, Purpose, and Actions to Make a Difference in the World. To receive Smile, It's Monday every other week, enter your email here (1-step only). To support The Center for Social Leadership's Young Leaders Program for disadvantaged youth either directly or through Amazon.com purchases, click here.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Smile, It’s Monday: Your Weekly Wake-up Call to Build Meaningful Relationships

A friend is someone who knows 
all about you and still loves you.
--- Elbert Hubbard

It can be very painful when a good friend, a family member or our intimate partner distances from us. 

The more we can detach from this process—the ever-fluctuating social distance in each of our relationships—and recognize it as a theme on our social stage, the more we become what the psychologist Donald Winnicott refers to as a “container” for the emotions of others.

As a container, we provide a micro-environment, a safe space in which we “hold” the emotions of the other person and allow them to experience these emotions more completely.

Sometimes my three-year-old son speaks harshly to me about not wanting me around and just desiring to be with his mother. I try not to react.

Why? He needs to experience both the exhilaration and the anxiety associated with his independence without confusing his emotions with other emotions I would add to the mixture by reacting strongly to his words.

When I instead act as a container for his negative emotions, he is subsequently able to experience other emotions of love and caring—which, fortunately, he also expresses to me.

The same is true for our friends, family members, or intimate partner: the more we can “hold” their emotions that signal a desire for social distance, the more we enable them to feel the emotions they need to experience to evolve as human beings.

Once they gain this experience, they are likely to bridge the social distance and desire to be close to us again.

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Anthony Silard is the president of The Center for Social Leadership, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC and the author of the Simon & Schuster book The Connection: Link Your Passion, Purpose, and Actions to Make a Difference in the World. To receive Smile, It's Monday every other week, enter your email here (1-step only). To support The Center for Social Leadership's Young Leaders Program for disadvantaged youth either directly or through Amazon.com purchases, click here.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Smile, It’s Monday: Your Weekly Wake-up Call to Become a More Effective Leader

So lonely inside, so busy out there,
and all you wanted was somebody who cares.
--- Michelle Branch

One of the most significant problems in organizations today is the loneliness many people working within them feel. This loneliness can have serious performance implications.

Groups tend to reject lonely individuals, which creates an isolated out-group. Organizational members who feel ostracized tend to withdraw and become disengaged.

A seminal longitudinal study by Hakan Ozcelik and Sigal Barsade found that loneliness triggers emotional withdrawal and reduces both individual and team performance.

From these research findings, it seems loneliness is part of a vicious, self-reinforcing cycle. Lonely individuals see their social environment as more threatening, expect more negative social interactions, and remember more negative social encounters.

Maintaining those interpretations of others’ behavior often results in the lonely individual responding negatively to others, creating further social distance, which in turn reinforces their loneliness.

As a leader in such an organization, how can you reduce this tendency of an in-group to form and relegate some employees to a lonely out-group?

One means is to encourage people to connect with each other in non-work contexts. Off-site events such as bake-offs, group hikes, sports, and other activities that allow people to get to know each other beyond their mutually reinforcing acts of self-presentation at work are likely to help them feel like more of a team.

This week, take a few concerted steps to reduce loneliness in your organization.

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Anthony Silard is the president of The Center for Social Leadership, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC and the author of the Simon & Schuster book The Connection: Link Your Passion, Purpose, and Actions to Make a Difference in the World. To receive Smile, It's Monday every other week, enter your email here (1-step only). To support The Center for Social Leadership's Young Leaders Program for disadvantaged youth either directly or through Amazon.com purchases, click here.