What’s Next?

By David Favor

Planning is something that nearly everyone would agree is important. Still, most people ignore the positives and shrug it off as too much work or pointless. Planning is the act of anticipating what you will need to know, what you will need to have, and what you will need to do, to achieve your personal goals.

If you have not defined your goal, it is hard to know exactly what you will need. Over the years, I discovered most people do not know the goal. They use whatever the immediate need is as the goal. There is no futuristic goal, just real time. I have seen this in both personal and business situations. Even if there is a future goal, people tend to let immediate needs take over. Here is an example:

We are in a meeting, and we all agree that in three days we will publish an article. I get the assignment and develop my three needs. The next day I start to execute my plan. My first need is for information, so I start to research. While I am busy doing my research, I am told to stop doing that and instead do something else. There is no discussion of the relative importance or priority of either action. I execute the new task and get back to doing my research until I am again told, stop doing that and do this. Again, no priority or thought of importance. By day two nobody remembers that we were to publish an article tomorrow until we get a notice. Everyone is shocked, and on day three, we scramble to write an article.

In many cases, I have seen a discussion about all the interruptions concluding that none were important. So why didn’t the team stay focused on the primary goal? I would say that the leadership was focused on immediate gratification, not quality deliverables. There is not an easy resolution. I have met many people that are quite capable of planning but sill focus on the immediate needs. Sometimes they get tunnel vision and do not even consider the planned projects. They constantly get surprised by events and interrupts.

There is something else going on here. Sometimes the planning sessions are not complete, and the goals we develop are not real. There is no real buy-in on the goal developed and no priority assigned. When that happens, any interrupt that comes in has the same priority and buy-in as the original goal. There is no incentive to focus on the goal developed in the planning session. The result is a reactive team with loose plans that quickly fall apart.
Planning provides a list of needs to make effective decisions about how to allocate resources to enable the organization to reach its objectives. Being constantly focused on immediate needs prevents a good allocation of resources. The business process eventually becomes very inefficient.

The problem I see with all of this is our inability to foresee the future. Planning would be easy if we could see the future, but without that, we do our best to predict what the future will be like. The planning process is a lot of predicting and best guessing. The measure of how effective you are at that process is a measure of how close your plan matches reality. Back in my corporate days, we would measure the effectiveness of our planning departments by measuring how close they came to schedules and cost after a project was completed. They hated that measurement and often complained by saying it was not fair. I would always point out that developing an accurate plan was what they were hired to do. I carried some of that logic with me when I started working with law firms. I had a client that would ask his attorneys to predict the value of a case when they accepted it. So, I developed a set of metrics that would measure how accurate that prediction was after the case settled. You should have heard the noise I got after I did that. The same principle applies, part of their job was to evaluate potential cases before accepting.

Strategic planning includes a set of business analysis like the SWOT to gather the information that can be used to predict the potential for a plan. We use historical data and competitive performance data as well in that mix. Now stand back and look at what strategic planning is all about. Stage one is developing what you want. This includes the values you intend to adhere to, the vision of what success looks like, and the audience you want to serve. Then stage two is the analysis phase where you do the SWOT, collect historical data, and evaluate what you have in place (talent, resources, and competitive advantages). Stage three is where you develop the plan, and stage four is where you execute the plan.

I would never suggest that a strategic plan should never be altered, but I would say that a good strategic plan would provide the most effective execution. The best strategic plans have the best prediction of the future with built-in tools to handle course corrections. A lot of that course correction will be dependent on the performance metrics selected and the relevance of the data.

Did you find some neat ideas in this blog? What are the exciting ideas you came up with, and how are you implementing them? Let me know by contacting me at dwfavor@catalystgroupinc.com.

For more information on creating a strategic plan that works, contact cheryl@catalystgroupinc.com.

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What’s the Purpose?

By David Favor

When people feel like they have no purpose in their life, it’s often because they don’t know what’s important to them, or they don’t know what their values are. Well, what about businesses? I have found the same to be true. Based on my research, I found businesses with a defined purpose (other than making money) were more successful than most.

The businesses I worked with that primarily focused on making money usually had only financial metrics and KPIs to measure performance. That seemed natural to me, so why were businesses focused on a more inclusive purpose more successful?

Over time I discovered some clues. If you are focused on money, you work harder to make more. The world around you is against that focus, so you have to work even harder. Eventually, you are working too hard for too little. Often you get such tunnel vision that you do not see what is happening around you. It is a never ending cycle.

Then I looked at businesses focused on a purpose instead of profits. These businesses did not see their efforts as work. They enjoyed being focused on their purpose. Here is what they did:

  1. They developed a vision – what is the desired future?
  2. Now the mission – what are we going to do?
  3. Strategic plan – how are we going to do this?
  4. Goals and metrics – how well are we doing?

Make no mistake: making money is a requirement if you want to stay in business, but for these companies profits were de-prioritized in the mission and the strategic plan. Their focus was on the vision and the purpose; this gave the business much more wiggle room to adapt to the environment in which they participated. Their measure of success included several metrics outside of financials, much like the balanced scorecard idea developed back in the 70’s.

This idea of a vision and a purpose is often foreign to many of the people I talk with. The idea that we were each born with a mission and it is our purpose to find out what it is, is kind of daunting. This, and many other childhood lessons have fallen by the wayside for me. We are on this earth for an undetermined period. During that time we do things, experience opportunities, have failures, and generally keep busy. Some of that busyness is wasted on dumb ideas, and some are very fruitful. A lot of that wasted time for me was sitting on a couch munching on snacks and wondering what the meaning of life was. I would have better spent that time getting up and discovering what feels right.

Instead of waiting for the answer to appear, experiment. What did I enjoy doing or eating? What caused people to say good things about me. My problem is, I feel safe on the couch. Right now, there is something that I am thinking about doing, but I never do it. I have great reasons why I should not do it, but in the end, I stay on the couch eating snacks. Most of the time, my reason is what I think other people will think. If that is how you feel, that is how you will run your company.

Did you find some neat ideas in this blog? What are the exciting ideas you came up with, and how are you implementing them? Let me know by contacting me at dwfavor@catalystgroupinc.com.

For more information on creating a strategic plan that works, contact cheryl@catalystgroupinc.com.

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The Party is Canceled

By David Favor

I have been given opportunities in life for over 75 years. After 75, I stopped counting but kept on learning. What I have learned is that there are no absolutes and no guarantees in life. I have been through self-mastery training and learned that I have more control over my life than I first thought. I learned that my emotions, bias, and experiences would determine how I feel and act. That suggests I can monitor and change the way I react to circumstances. If I can do it, so can you.

I learned that while I may have more control than I thought, I am not in full control. I have had my surprises in life with health, relationships, and business. I learned through six years in the Navy, 32 years in corporate America, several major surgeries (heart bypass, prostate cancer, and joint replacements), a diagnosis of Muscular Dystrophy, and two primary long-term relationships. All these added to my bucket of experiences and changed the way I react to life. How big is your experience bucket?

One day out on my deck I was thinking about all this, getting ready to have a pretty good pity party. You may know about these parties. That is where I say life is not fair, woe is me, and other crazy thoughts. Today was going to be different. It occurred to me what a total waste of time a pity party would be. If I was in control of how I interpreted events and that interpretation controlled how I feel, then why not choose to be happy? I could even take it a step further and suggest, why not be joyful? Then a negative thought crept in: is this reality? A job, a business, our health, or a relationship can be given and taken away at any time. Crap; talk about negative vibes. But I don’t have time to waste with negative thinking.

When we are at the end of our lives we will determine if our life was well lived. OK, so the people around me may judge my life, but that is their burden. Getting back to my plans for today, I had better get busy and start adding some positive experiences before that day comes. I think that we all choose to stop or continue, believe or blame, have faith or be afraid. We need to take the chances we are given in life. I now have a new day ready to start. The pity party has been canceled. Let the joy commence.

Many years ago, when I was in the Navy on board a destroyer, I had a friend that had this crazy theory. When we had the chance to go ashore, he would ask every young lady he met if she would go out with him. He got a lot of slaps, but every night he went home with a girl on his arm. The rest of us just went home bummed out. Perhaps not the best example of virtue, but the theory works. So go ahead and live your life and get rid of the “what ifs,” the fears, the worries, the judgments, the second-guessing, and know that you might as well take a chance and live your life the way you truly want to live it, knowing that life can be short, so don’t waste a lot of time.

Now it is up to me how this day will roll out. Do I have what it takes to ask for what I want, express what I truly feel or risk taking a chance? Well, I am thinking here I am staring at old age (not there yet), with more than a few health issues, and feeling pretty good. What the heck, may as well take that chance. This should be an exciting day.

Did you find some neat ideas in this blog? What are the exciting ideas you came up with, and how are you implementing them? Let me know by contacting me at dwfavor@catalystgroupinc.com.

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Just the Facts

“Just the facts” was attributed to a radio satire called Dragnet back in 1953. That statement seems strange today amid all the fake news we hear. “Fake news” was not a term many people used four years ago, but it is now seen as one of the greatest threats to our way of life.  I thought about the current political environment. Last week there was a news special report that implied that the current administration created “fake news” 97% of the time.  Some of that is our perception, like my truth and your truth, but it impacts us every day. 

This is more than politics these days.  I have seen this happen in business, politics and our personal lives.  Sometimes it is hard to know what to believe.  Today I received a call telling me that someone was on the way over and would be at my home in ten minutes.  I ran around getting everything ready, and 45 minutes later a car drove in my driveway.  A simple thing but typical of what happens.  Over time we tend to adjust our interpretation of statements, and when I hear ten minutes, I determine that what was meant was within the hour.

With all that storytelling I found a lot of rationalization. A rationalization is a form of self-deception by which we convince ourselves that what we just did is justified to achieve a good result. Often we tend to rationalize for people we care about. If we were true stewards, we would hold them accountable for their actions and promises. We should do the same with our selves.

If you have a value system that rejects lying, or fake news, you will not experience joy in this environment. The problem is, we rely on what we are told to adjust our life.  We change schedules and activities based on what we perceive was said. Now imagine if you were running a fast-paced business.  You would rely on what you are told and what you perceive to be true to manage that business. Things can get very confusing very quickly.  At some point, we tend to give up.  The energy it takes to interpret every response we hear becomes so invasive that we can not make good decisions. We tend to try and control the situation.  One of the most popular methods of regaining control is to do everything yourself.  We do not rely on anyone.  We soon get overwhelmed because there is not enough time in the day to do everything.

I have not found a simple solution to this.  We have to rely on others and learn how to communicate better.  The best results I have experienced were when I repeat back what I heard and what my expectations are.  As I develop a level of trust, I adjust my expectations and often make those expectations known.  I have also learned that if I do not say anything there is no correction made and the situation becomes worse.  You cannot ignore that our culture is changing. We must adapt.

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Just Give it Up

Can I be honest here?

Today was not one of my better days.  I started by dropping a bowl of tuna casserole resulting in glass and casserole all over. Next, I backed the car into the garage door resulting in $1200 of damage to the car. It is easy to say the damage is done now get over it if it is someone else; however, I kept these events alive and active for hours.  The next day I was still attacking myself for these events.  As I was driving to the body shop to get the estimate on the damage, I kept reminding myself that dwelling on this was wasted time.  Not only was I keeping it alive and active, I was expanding it.  By lunch time on the second day, I had worked up a great story.  There was clearly a problem with the car that caused the mishap.  I was upset, but that was not my fault either.  My being upset was caused by the people around me not acknowledging the pain I was in. 

I was headed for a great pity party.  Somehow, I slowed down enough to realize that I was alone at this party.  I had caused the events, I had embellished the events, I kept them alive, and I had this feeling that I could end this party.  This reminded me of a management class I had taken many years ago called “The Care and Feeding of Monkeys.”  The class had nothing to do with monkeys, and I think it was based on an article in the Harvard Business Review back in 1974.  That course was all about delegating and management style but had some similarities to what I was feeling now.  In this case, I am creating the monkey and feeding it.  I needed to get back to my party, but the spell had been broken.  Party was over.

I had wasted almost two days feeling bad.  All that self-mastery training tossed aside.  Why do we keep doing this? I suppose there are a few out there that love to beat themselves up and really enjoy the pity party, but I always felt that I was not in that group.  In my earlier blogs, I stated that this was the year I was going to be more positive and find joy.  It just seemed to be so difficult to accept that it happened, and it is over. It was easy to tell people that I was over it but not so easy internally to believe that.  I was still trying to prove that it was not my fault, or that I had no choice.  The truth is, I was rushing when I took the food out of the microwave and I was not paying attention when I backed the car out.

The moment of truth came when I arrived at the body shop.  The first question was, how did this happen?  Well, it could be vandals, or a defective tailgate, or bad lighting.  As these thoughts swirled in my head, I caught myself saying it was me. Nothing fancy, I just backed into the door.  I felt relieved as that monkey jumped off my back.  The body shop manager thought that was the best story he had heard. 

I have no idea what the circumstances will be for your traumatic event, or if you ever have had one.  But if you do, I know how you can save yourself some time…quit feeding the monkey!

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Strategic Planning for a Law Firm

Before I begin the strategic planning process, I always ask what the values and purpose of the business are. Strategic planning is related to what the defined product of the business is. If you manufacture cars, the definition of your product is easy. But what are you selling if your business is a law firm? I have heard answers that include a financial settlement, justice, client peace of mind, or a settled case. When I ask about purpose, I have heard answers such as make money, be recognized as a leader, help people, serve justice, or punish evildoers. There is no one right answer; however, there is an answer that matches your values and your purpose.

I once asked a law firm owner what his secret to success was and he said to always focus on the questions how much and how fast. That set of questions would suggest that the business was focused on making money, but if you read their vision or mission statements, you would get the idea that their purpose was client satisfaction. When I asked which it was, making money or client satisfaction, he said both. I pointed out that most surveys by the bar associations would suggest that money was not the goal of most clients, he was shocked. I often find a mismatch between the vision of the business and what the perception of success is.

To continue with this example and the ‘how much’ component, I discovered another surprise. I asked for some good examples of cases that would represent the ideal and they were all high dollar settlements. That was no surprise, but what was a surprise was the realization that all but one of the examples lost money. By that, I mean that the return on investment for those cases was negative. When I looked at the performance measurements for the business, they were focused on how much revenue was being generated, not profit, client satisfaction or realizing the vision.

If I stand back and look at the big picture, it is not very clear what the business is about. That leads to my next question – what was the focus of the strategic plan? Well, no surprise here, there was no strategic plan. The business was being built on the brute force philosophy. This is my term for a process that pushes resources until they produce a profit.

One of the benefits of a strategic plan is a chance to look at all the elements of the business. To start the planning process, you identify the values and principles that are important. We talked about that element in an earlier blog (Get Ready to Build a Strategic Plan). The next step is to define the deliverable of the business along with its characteristics. Next, you develop a list of the resources you need to produce your deliverable. To stay on track, you create a set of metrics that will measure your deliverable. If you have all of that defined, you can stand back and ask how fast can I deliver and how much revenue can I generate.

Law firms measure financial results with real consistency, but beyond financial measurement, we find very little else is tracked and what we do find is often not connected to the firms’ strategies. What would be nice would be an approach that enables the business to track performance in four primary categories: financial, internal operations, client satisfaction, and staff. This is known as a balanced scorecard. Now you can get a true picture of “how much and how fast.”

It has been our experience that improving the performance of the staff enables the Firm to improve its internal process. This increases overall efficiency and improves the return on investment measured. This enables the Firm to improve the client satisfaction and financial areas.

Did you find some neat ideas in this blog? What are the exciting ideas you came up with, and how are you implementing them? Let me know by contacting me at dwfavor@catalystgroupinc.com.

Catalyst Group is a national mentoring company that works with professional practices and small businesses in designing common-sense plans that incorporate profitable business practices with a balanced work life.

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What If I Could

I have been reading about the law of attraction, the rule of positivity, and similar theories and find there is a lot to consider.  There are so many books that say the same thing that it is hard to ignore, so I decided to research it and implement what I found.  First of all, the theory states that we each have control over what happens to us.  Well, we know that already. In fact, if you have gone through some of our self-mastery classes, you heard us share that.  I found there is a bit more to it as I continued to read.  Taking it to the next level, the theory is that if you believe in something, there will be a tendency to move your life in that direction.  Bottom line: if you believe you can, or you believe you can’t you will be correct.  The first reference I read with that saying was by Henry Ford, and it seemed correct to me.

The theory is aimed at all aspects of life and business.  For example, if you believe you are poor or wealthy, successful or a failure, sick or well, just for some examples, then that’s what you will be.  I am in my late 70s, have a muscle myopathy, and have a few negative beliefs.  Most of those negative beliefs are self-limiting.  A new belief just popped up, so I figured, what if I tried the power of being positive?  No, I don’t mean that I am positive that I can’t do something.  May as well get that argument out of the way.  What if I focused on the positive instead of the negative?  For example, I believe that I have no stamina and will never travel again.  I can forget about ever enjoying that vacation with my granddaughter.  Well, forget that negative thought.  What if instead, I believed that I could go on a Disney cruise.   Sounds kind of outrageous, but what if. 

What I discovered is that if you truly believe something will happen, you start to do things that make it happen.  So, if I believe that I cannot do it, I would sit in the recliner and give up.  If I believe I can, I will start to do things that would overcome obstacles as I found them.  There are many books and teachings about this theory, and they all have the same message.  The way I see it, I have nothing to lose from being positive.   

The same theory is true in business.  We talk a lot about strategic planning, and I have seen many nice plans put on a shelf to gather dust.  I will tell you that if you truly believe in what you put down on paper in that plan, you will do it.  You may change a few things as you learn more, but you will move in the direction of realizing your vision. Besides all that advice, why did you spend so much time and resources to write the plan if you were going to ignore it?

I have discovered that you learn a lot when you are focused on the positive.  You may decide you are a mountain climber and after some time learn that you are not.   That is OK because you learned something that you can use in your next idea.  That is what really happens with these theories.  The more you try, the more you learn.  The more you do this, the faster the lessons come.  If you give up on the first day, you never learn anything, and the negatives build up just as fast. 

I wanted to do a seminar. After looking at the project, I could have decided against trying.  Instead, I presented a seminar.  Not my best and I only got a few people to attend, but I learned a lot.  The next presentation had a full room attend.  What is stopping you from implementing your strategic plan or even beginning the work?  I know it is comfortable in that recliner, but it is time to get up and start living. 

Here is what I suggest you do beginning today.  Listen to that inner voice that is telling you that you can’t and start talking back. Yes, you can.  You may not have a clear picture on the first day, but it will get clearer as you go.  Stop the negative thoughts and start with positive thoughts of what you could do now to realize that joyful life that is waiting for you to discover.  One day, not too far from today, you will be surprised to find that you can. You may wake up someday to discover a five-year-old helping you pack your bags for a cruise.

Did you find some neat ideas in this blog? What are the exciting ideas you came up with, and how are you implementing them? Let me know by contacting me at dwfavor@catalystgroupinc.com.

Catalyst Group is a national mentoring company that works with professional practices and small businesses in designing common-sense plans that incorporate profitable business practices with a balanced work life.

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Get Ready to Build a Strategic Plan

Before you begin your strategic planning session, stop and do a self-check to see if you are ready. I have seen many people start the process by announcing they know what they want. That’s not realistic because circumstances change so fast, but a vision of where you’d like to go is a real plus. I have seen other groups start a strategic planning session by designing a business plan or doing a SWOT analysis (Strengths; Weaknesses; Opportunity; Threats).  Neither one is a good starting point. 

Starting Your Strategic Plan

My experience tells me that being overly specific in defining your destination is too restrictive.  A strategic plan explores where you want to go.  The starting point for that discussion merges your values, your experiences, your needs, and your expectations. 

So where should you start? I recommend beginning with personal values and gradually building to a composite set of values for the group.  Then define the list of needs that could be addressed by the business.

Now, what about your partners or team members? Fold in their experiences and the expectations of the group, and you have enough information to start a plan. If you begin planning or spending money too early, you can get your team in a bind. You can become a slave to a decision that was made before you understood what you wanted. Having a strategic plan guides your business decisions so they are in line with your goals and wants.

Defining Your Values

Bringing a team together with a common goal is the best incentive to start the process.  It will be the combined experiences, skills, and values of your team that will create the strategic plan. Start by identifying the values that are important to you.  Add the values held by your team.  Below are common values we often find when we meet with a team:

  1. Authenticity - Don’t act differently in front of your parents, friends, co-workers, in-laws, and strangers. Stay your true self. If you keep changing who you are it is hard for people to relate to you.
  2. Honesty - Be honest about who you are and what you’ve done. You’ll be able to look at yourself in the mirror with pride. Keep your promises, and people will know you as being dependable.
  3. Joyfulness - Life is short. Do things that bring you joy. This may not be possible all the time, but it should be your intention to seek joy.
  4. Responsibility - Be responsible for your actions and mistakes. Understand what’s in your control (self-mastery) and fully own it. If you do not own it you cannot change it.
  5. Love - Build intimate and deep relationships with a few people.  Love is defined as an intense feeling of affection for someone, which means that you view someone as desirable based on your beliefs, judgments, and experiences.
  6. Loyalty - you don’t necessarily have to love someone to remain loyal to them, but if someone loves you then obviously you expect them to be loyal. Loyalty builds trust, and trust is very important. Even though you might not see your old friends, co-workers or team members, stay loyal. But most importantly, stay loyal to yourself.
  7. Contribute – If you contribute to something, you say or do things to help to make it successful.  Contribute to your community, team, family, or culture.  Be part of the solution, not the problem.
  8. Be Present– Become aware of what is going on around you in relationships, at work, and play.

The list of values held by each team member may be different, and that is ok.  There will be a set of overlapping values that will represent the team; those will become the values of the business.  Before you agree on the makeup of the team, look for values that are not compatible with your personal set.   You need to decide if someone with values outside of your list should be on your team.  If the values are different but not in opposition to the main set, that is acceptable.  Once you define the team and develop your composite list of values, build consensus by asking the team if they can support this list that will represent the business.  

There is no absolute correct list of values, but there will be a list that best fits the culture and audience of your business. With that list in hand, you can start to gather more information by doing a SWOT analysis. As you collect data, your list of values and perhaps even your team may change. After everything settles down, you can start the strategic planning session.  You now have a defined starting point to build your business.

Did you find some neat ideas in this blog? What are the exciting ideas you came up with, and how are you implementing them? Let me know by contacting me at dwfavor@catalystgroupinc.com.Catalyst Group is a national mentoring company that works with professional practices and small businesses in designing common-sense plans that incorporate profitable business practices with a balanced work life.

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Each of Us Plays a Part

There is something deeply wrong with the moral culture of our society in this country. There has been an increase in hate crimes. There has been demonstrated a lack of belief in the value of human life. We say mean and terrible things about and to each other. Why? We believe it is a values issue. Perhaps we have become immune and put our head in the sand, assuming it is someone else’s job to fix the problem.

We must all come together to fix the problem. How? Let’s start by refusing to tolerate hate. By encouraging civility in every action. By demanding respect for all individuals. We must all take a hard look at our own values. We must come together and demand change. Firm owners and managers can take an active role in encouraging this change by defining and living their values—both personally and professionally. Give it some thought and ask yourself how you can make a difference.

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Let’s Talk

I have noticed several discussions or meetings where I thought I understood the message but found out that everyone else had heard something different. The worse case was where we all had the same understanding and can repeat back the same message, but still believe there is a difference.  We talked about that in a past blog — this time I want to focus on the element of emotions. I have always leaned towards a literal translation of facts instead of what my partner would call reality.  Here is my experience of the past week.

I was searching for a lively discussion, so I went into the clubhouse to see what groups were there.  The first room had a sign saying there was a discussion about the Confederate Flag.  This topic has become popular in Raleigh the last few months. Well, I like history, so I thought this would be fun.  I was involved with a group many years ago researching the history of the war, the uniforms and the human element of the conflict. I remember one morning waking up with this group, in a Sibley tent to coffee grounds and hardtack for breakfast.  Lots of memories, but I digress some.

I stepped into the room, and there was not a confederate flag in the room.  OK, a little overstated, I found several of the battle standards used by the Army of Northern Virginia, and that was it.  There was a discussion going on, but the speaker didn’t seem to know the difference between a battle flag and navy jack, so I left that room somewhat confused.  Oh well, a few more places to check out. 

The next room had a sign saying that the group was discussing the true meaning of Christmas.  A few years back I toyed with the idea of going to a seminary so, I thought, this would be interesting.  I found people talking about a birthday, but they didn’t seem to know the date and minimal discussion about the actual event.   I left that room as well. 

Now out in the hallway, taking a break from all the walking, I thought about what I had just seen.  None of the discussion groups were talking about facts that related to the topic posted.  This got me to thinking, what were they talking about? I went back and listened for a while, and I noticed a pattern.  In each room they were talking about emotions and feelings, not about facts.  In the flag discussion, they were talking about the symbolism of the banner used by the troops during battle.   The discussion was about what that banner represented today, not historical facts.  In the Christmas discussion, they were talking about what the season has become to represent, not an anointing or even a mass. In each case the group was not interested in facts or a history lesson, they were focused on their emotions.

The more I thought about other meetings, and discussions I have been involved with I realized that this happens most of the time.  The participants were only interested in facts that would support their position. The focus was on their emotions.  If they felt joy, they wanted to expand that joy.  If fear or anger they tried to expand that awareness as well. Kind of like most of the political discussions I have heard.

What this all suggests to me is that if you do not understand the emotions, you won’t understand the message.  I have been in several discussion where I thought the message was understood only to be surprised by what I perceived everyone else understood.

I also believe that there are circumstances where you have to change the discussion.  Sometimes you need to change the expectations to get back on track.  I remember some of my discussions with my medical team.  I would explain in detail how I was feeling, fully expecting an emotional response justifying what I was feeling.  What I usually got was a response of something like this: Oh, that is to be expected — no battery of test needed.  If I wanted to get back to healing, I had to change my focus.  I will point out that I had some great pity parties.

Sometimes at work, I find the same thing happening.  Have a small party and then it is time to get back on track.  As a leader or a manager, it will be your job to know that balance point.  You can’t do that if you do not recognize the part emotions and feelings play in the discussion.

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