Thursday, January 26, 2012

Would Warren Buffet Hire You?

I really love being consulted by the media on topics within my field. Several years ago when I first started appearing on TV I was intimidated and a little scared. But now I enjoy the challenge of discussing breaking stories and sometimes controversial issues. Barry Carpenter from The CW33 is particularly great to work with because he and his camera crew are professional and fun. And, more importantly, he shows integrity in his work. Watch his recent TV segment where he talks to me about gossip.

Recently I was asked to appear in a national TV series on a cable network. The catch was - I would have to compromise my principles as a person and a psychologist. The opportunity was spectacular but my integrity wouldn't let me do it. I respectfully declined. Living with integrity helps me Live in the Smart Zone.  

Here's a great point by Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway: 

"I look for 3 things in hiring people. The first is personal integrity, the second is intelligence, and the third is a high energy level. But if you don't have the first, the other two will kill you." 

I believe that integrity is sticking to your own code of conduct. It's being honest and ethical. Just for fun, check out his recent Gallup poll that ranks the amount of honesty  in different professions. Hint: nurses, pharmacists, doctors and teachers at the most trusted professions.
Consider the following rationalizations for not using integrity:  

  • No one will know.  Who is going to know you stuck an extra ream of office paper in your briefcase? 
  • It's not hurting anyone. I bet professional baseball players who take steroids feel it isn't hurting anyone.
  • Everyone does it.  I remember my mom saying, "If Lisa jumped off a bridge would you?" One of my clients recently told me of her first professional experience in her career when her coworkers explained how to "pad" her expense report to make up for low entry level salary.

Use these Smart Moves to increase your integrity:   

  • Be loyal to others when they're not present. People will trust you when they have confidence that you can be trusted when they're not present, and that may not happen until they experience you behind the backs of others.  Don't gossip or speak for other people. Instead, encourage communication between two people instead of triangulating yourself into the communication of others. 
  • Demonstrate respect for those you work with. One-sided respect in relationships is temporary and delicate, yet over time it builds into respect that is reciprocal. 
  • Follow through on your commitments. Walk your talk. People can smell insincerity when a commitment is not followed through. 
  • Be Congruent.  Make sure your behavior and intent are the same.  If you are a manager, then don't say, "My company values family time" and then demand long working hours and weekends for you and your employees to get the job done.
  • Be the same in public and in private. Some people are better at acting than others. It's better to be transparent than to be fake. When people can count on you being the same in private as you are in public, they'll trust you to be who you say you are. They'll also trust that what you say today will be consistent with what you say tomorrow.    

By living with integrity you will have fewer regrets, enjoy respect from others and people will want to know and work with you. You are also less likely to be sued, fired or dumped!  And you are more likely to Live in the Smart Zone

Thursday, January 12, 2012

How Fear Factor Puts You in the Smart Zone

I recently posted on my Facebook page that I was watching Fear Factor with my three boys. I commented: "Talk about will power and talking yourself into doing something you don't want to do." One of my Facebook followers questioned me by posting:

"Talk to us about 'how come' YOU are watching this. And, then, please address why the heck you are allowing your kiddos to view this. Please and thank you."

Well, if you say "please and thank you" then I'm on it. Thanks for the invitation because when I'm watching something like Fear Factor with my kids, I'm deliberate about what I want them to learn. I can see almost anything as an opportunity to keep you in the Smart Zone.

The Smart Zone is where you work to the best of your ability emotionally, behaviorally, and intellectually. It is where we produce our best and feel the most satisfaction in what we do.   

While the stunts on Fear Factor are gross and sensational, it's the contestants that teach us the most. As you watch the process they go through to talk themselves into doing what they set out to do, you see the same strategies CEOs go through when they do the hard stuff. You also see what people go through when they make difficult decisions in their relationships, their careers, and other life events. 
To be in the Smart Zone in a Fear Factor sort of way, be deliberate about doing the following:

  • Keep walking through the fear: In my clinical practice, I find myself pointing out how often someone says they are afraid. Fear can paralyze you and keep you from moving forward. The goal isn't to eliminate fear but to feel it and keep going.
  • Pay attention to your internal dialogue: We can talk ourselves into things and out of things. Sometimes people say what they are thinking out loud and they don't even realize it. It is important to have an awareness of what you are thinking so you can be deliberate to change it if it is holding you back. I love it when someone says, "I can't do that" and then decides "Yes I can". Sometimes all it takes is deciding that you "can" do something to make it happen. 
  • Do what makes you uncomfortable: We grow in discomfort. When I was 24 I participated in a 14 day Outward Bound experience. I thought it was going to be a physical test but learned very quickly that it was more of a cognitive challenge. This experience is a frame of reference that I use frequently to remind myself that I can do more than I think. If I can fast for 3 days and 2 nights in the wilderness during a solo camp then I can have the difficult conversations required in my job as a psychologist, consultant, expert witness, and media expert.
  • Seek your own satisfaction, even if it is unattractive to others: I knew a guy when I first moved to Texas who worked in a mortuary. On the surface, it seemed so weird to me that he chose that career. I thought it was kind of sad and creepy. Once he talked about the reasons he chose the profession and how he viewed his role, I gained a great respect for him and for the profession. He paid attention to his own occupational desires despite the discouragement of his friends and family. He was loyal to himself, despite the discomfort of others.
  • Sometimes it's not about winning - it's about being proud of yourself: It's about effort and working towards your own personal best. To me, that is winning in the Smart Zone.
So why do I watch at TV show like Fear Factor with my kids? Because it is a great way to talk about the power we all have to dig deep and do the hard stuff. The beauty of watching with my kids is that I can slip in the lessons I think are important for them to learn. I want them to know that they don't have to eat bugs or dive into a vat of raw meat to prove anything to themselves. But they can learn from watching others do what it takes. After all, successful people do what others are unwilling to do...even when it's on Fear Factor.