Insurance Industry News from ProgramBusiness.comHelp Others Reach Potential
Some people are born striving for excellence. They're great believers in constant and never-ending improvement. They set big, audacious goals for themselves — and then go for it! Probably 10% to 20% of the population is wired this way; certainly no more than that. These high achievers like hanging around other high achievers. They also enjoy the opportunity to help others achieve in the way that they have. And, that’s where the challenge begins.
Whether you’re a high-achieving executive, line manager, schoolteacher, or parent, it can be very frustrating to see the people with whom you work or live not attempting to reach their full potential. That's because to do otherwise would be inconceivable to you.
Whether it’s a co-worker, subordinate, student, or child, the question remains the same: How do we coax, encourage, and inspire others toward success without destroying our relationship with them in the process? How can we show that we care without generating destructive fight-or-flight responses? How do we create a sense of hope, opportunity, and achievement, without being villainized in the process? Although there’s no single “right” way, here are some guidelines that might help:
Realize that you’re not responsible for another adult, only to another adult (unless you’re in a truly dependent relationship). Being responsible to another person means that you have given them the resources and opportunity to succeed. Whether they choose to do so is their responsibility. Let the other person become their own hero. In the end, it has to be their idea, not yours. You can certainly provide them with awareness and incentive, but it has to be their triumph. Coax them with a gentle nudge toward action by saying, “I know you can do it.” Inspire them with a story of someone else (perhaps yourself) who has gone on a similar journey. That’s how we help people become their own hero. Learn to let go. You can’t coax, encourage, or inspire everyone to success. Some people either don’t “get it” or just don’t want to. When it comes to the workplace, ask yourself this: If this person quit would I be relieved or upset? If you’d be relieved, it does no good to keep them trying to save them. Respect diverse views of the world. Some “low achievers” are perfectly happy, content people. Although they might be leaving a lot of potential on the table, they’re “at one” with themselves. Who are you to tell them that their life should be better? If they choose not to improve, remember: It’s their journey, not yours! Be cautious about providing non-solicited advice. In general, when people want your advice, they’ll ask for it. If you get the sense that they’re seeking advice, but are too timid to ask for it, ask a question such as “Is there any way that I can help?” You will have no choice but to be satisfied with any answer you receive. Finally, being a hero does not have to be about self-sacrifice. That’s mythology and not necessarily reality! Self-sacrifice is justified only in true emergencies. Here’s an interesting exercise that I encourage between two people in a relationship, whether they’re boss/subordinate, partner/partner, or even two co-workers: If you were asked to list those things that the other person would like to see you do differently, and then have the other person do the same thing, the chances are that you’d both be deadly accurate in your lists. Fact is, most of us know what other people would like us to do differently. The only question is: Do we care enough to do it? If we don’t, why not? If we do, and we’ve been making an effort, how effective have we been?
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