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If you would have told me a year ago that we were about to spend a year in isolation due to a Global pandemic, I would have told you to find some medication. Things were going well professionally and personally for so many people. A little money in the bank, friends waiting for you at the bar, new relationships, travel plans… then the world became ill.

People have lost their jobs, family businesses have closed after 100 years of operation and some have lost their lives. The petty differences we may have bickered over on 1.1.20 seem a million miles away. What we wouldn’t do to get time back.

The more optimistic will assure us that we will get through this but words fail when the table is absent of food.

The world will right itself but the damage is done.

If you are alive and have a source of income, that’s a start. From there, one cannot help but reevaluate their place in the world.

What is really important to you?

… in times when things are fine the question above may address bigger picture bullshit written in greeting cards. Things aren’t fine. It’s time to ponder importance in your life.

Who are the people in your neighborhood?

There was some quote about a person being the sum of the 3 people with whom they spend the most time. That makes no sense. What is fantastically true is that your friend network is made of three types of people: enablers, complainers and ass kickers.

At the lowest point of my motivation in life, I surrounded myself with “Yes Men” — people who listened for hours to my self-obsessed complaining while validating my theories as to how everyone in the world was conspiring to construct my failure. I had gotten comfortable in my success. I had no back up plan, I was resistant to change and anyone who opposed my point of view was met with vitriol. In truth, I had gotten so used to winning (and being celebrated) that the first sign of adversity threw me into defensiveness.

As we grow older, we see our friends less-often. Acquaintances from the neighborhood or the kid’s school serve a social purpose (aka the time between work and sleep). When we do gather the energy to meet with an old friend, the exercise needs to be devoid of effort. In essence, we want to meet up with someone who takes our mind away from the pressure of work, parenting and domestic operations. Then you sit in the lounge with an old pal only to hear him/her complain about their life. Not gonna meet up with her again, what a mess. You will arrive at a point in life when negativity simply isn’t an option anymore. Sure, people love to gather at the bar and play Larry David to satire society’s incompetence, but people who drag you down simply don’t have a spot on the calendar anymore.

Then there are those who call you on your bullshit. These conversations happen very seldom but this person is usually someone you respect who (without shaming you) will tell you, you are being a baby and it’s time to get your shit together. After this conversation, you sit in your car stewing and write that person off forever (you may even call an enabler). You then sleep on it and realize the pain in the inability to deny responsibility forever.

Confront Fear

We cannot let the enablers assure us that just OK is acceptable. As comfortable as it is to hear that you are doing great, if your gear finds neutral getting back up to speed is very difficult.

The greatest asset every human being has is the ability to set standards for yourself greater than those your “superiors” will place upon you. You know when you haven’t fully committed to progress, being afraid to take action will only make things worse.

Eliminate Negativity

How many times a day do you look over an email from someone and type out a response calling them the highest form of idiot (only to delete it). Being a professional has a very unfair compromise: you have to be humble in victory and accountable in defeat (yes, I said the A Word, we’ll come back to that). The truth in your tribe revealing your character exists in the shrapnel effect: If you surround yourself with negative people it will rub off on you. The minute you accept excuses for your inefficiencies you give power to the forces that will destroy your motivation.

The A Word

I sat with a young person who had asked me for professional advice several years ago. When I asked her how she held herself accountable to her goals she sharply commented that young people don’t like the word Accountability. I certainly have come to understand that motivation by the carrot is stronger than that of the stick, but if you don’t accept accountability for your effort you simply will not achieve results.

Some day there will be a vaccine to the coronavirus. We’ll get back to the office, the bar across the street, the airports and hotels.

Will you go back to the company of enablers and complainers or will you allow yourself to get kicked in the ass?

Let’s not waste another moment of our freedom being victim to our own self-shaming.

Go Change The World

~ Dave

Engagement Strategist, Organizational Culturalist & Behavioral Economist

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