Don’t Complain, Create.

At the heart of living a creative life is ability to do something about things you don’t like. What we do instead is keep complaining.

We all have our own circle of influence – things we can change ourselves or exert our influence to create change. Everything else outside this circle are circumstances (or circle of concern). We need to simply accept them and move on. I my post “Circle of Influence”, I wrote –

Acknowledging these concerns is important but constantly spending our scarce energy only on these concerns is futile. When faced with situations, challenges and concerns, it may be useful to ask the following questions:

  • Can I do something about it myself? Is it under my direct control? Is the onus of resolution or change on me? (Direct control)

  • If not, can I influence someone who can address/solve/change this? (Influence)

In this context, I encourage you to spend 20 minutes watching Tina Roth Eisenberg’s super inspiring talk at 99u Conference where she describes her journey of building creative businesses that stemmed from her frustrations. In the talk, she outlines 5 powerful rules of life and one of them is “Don’t Complain, make things better.”

In this thought-provoking talk with many takeaways, she says,

“I have a rule: If I keep complaining about something, I either do something about it or let it go. – Tina Roth Eisenberg

That truly resonated with me and I created a quick Doodle Card that I hope to print and put it on my soft board as a reminder every time I find myself stuck in the whirlwind of complaining.

Also Read at QAspire:

Leadership: Start With Trust

Leadership starts with influence and influence starts with trust. Ability to truly connect with others is vital for leaders to build an environment where a leader is trusted for the intentions before being respected for competence.

I once worked with a new CEO who came on-board, took charge and immediately got into action. I remember when he first met a group of senior folks, he started with his introduction and talked at length about his past experience, competence and all the great things he had accomplished. Soon after requesting a short template introduction from all of us, he started off with his grand plans about the organization. He clearly failed to build a non-threatening space for other leaders and came across as someone who was ego-centric and hard-nosed.

Our first instinct as human beings when we assume a leadership role is to show our strength, competence and skills and prove a point about our fitment to the role.

I was reminded of the CEO (and many other leaders I worked with) when I read the classic Harvard Business Review article titled “Connect, Then Lead” which says,

A growing body of research suggests that the way to influence—and to lead—is to begin with warmth. Warmth is the conduit of influence: It facilitates trust and the communication and absorption of ideas. Even a few small nonverbal signals—a nod, a smile, an open gesture—can show people that you’re pleased to be in their company and attentive to their concerns. Prioritizing warmth helps you connect immediately with those around you, demonstrating that you hear them, understand them, and can be trusted by them.

I think of the CEO again who was, through his aggressive show of strength, able to generate dispassionate compliance to his decisions. One of the biggest challenges for leaders is to create an ecosystem where people exercise their discretion (tapping into intrinsic motivations). Trust is a good place to start.

I strongly recommend that you read the HBR article “Connect, Then Lead” by Amy Cuddy, Matthew Kohut and John Neffinger for rich insights on this topic.

Here is a short summary of key insights that stood out for me from the article in a sketch note form.

Related Resources at QAspire

  • Graceful Leadership 101: Free PDF Book

  • Taking Charge of a Team? Avoid These 4 Mistakes

  • Leading Others: How NOT to be in Control

  • Leadership and Building Emotional Infrastructure
  • Real Influence is a By-Product

    The world today reveres influence and this leads people to chase influence. When influence becomes a goal, you can easily lose focus on what truly builds influence.

    Influence – real influence that changes people and their behaviors for better – is a by-product of:

    1. Clarifying your values to yourself and hence to others
    2. Living those values and setting the right example (being authentic and integral)
    3. Making a meaningful contribution to community (yes, business IS a community)
    4. Being super-generous about sharing your work, insights, art and gifts
    5. And being a champion at listening to others (listening is a way to respect others)
    6. Building trust one contribution, one conversation and one result at a time
    7. Truly connecting with others (technology is just a medium)
    8. Believing in your insights and ideas (strength of belief feeds passion)
    9. And still being flexible and open minded about letting the beliefs and learning evolve
    10. Sharing stories that move people to better position (in thinking and in actions)
    11. Providing a lens to people to see things from your unique point of view
    12. Taking the conversations forward by “adding” meaningful perspectives
    13. Being intentional about being generous
    14. Always being constructive in thinking and ways of working
    15. Being consistent in your pursuits

    What do you think?

    Also Read:

    Sketch Note: How to Influence Without Authority

    My work in corporate quality functions in the past involved influencing cross-functional teams (as an internal consultant) on processes and methods when I had no direct reporting relationships with them. I knew that only technical expertise was not enough and I wished I had some guidance on how to influencing without authority.

    Jesse Lyn Stoner is one of my favorite leadership bloggers and her post “How to Influence Without Authority” offers useful guidance on the what she calls as “8 Portals of Influence”. It is also one of the most loved posts on her blog! Whether you lead backed by a formal authority or you lead without a title, these ideas should help you build influence.

    Here is a sketch note version encapsulating some ideas from her post. Read the full post here.

    6 Lessons On Creating a Lasting Influence

    Influence

    Mahatma Gandhi, as we know, was a simple man who had no position, no wealth, no power and no authority. Yet, he altered the course of history by leading India to Independence through power of people. How could a man with no formal authority take on an empire and influence the hearts and minds of so many people across the country?

    Gandhi’s impact is a testimony to the fact that you don’t need positional power to influence others. No matter who you are or where you are in the order, you can make a difference.

    Every time I think of influence, I think of Gandhi. He worked with others and through others to achieve his objectives. In the process, he never compromised on his own principles.

    In an organizational context, ability to influence is at the heart of a leader’s success in driving changes, building great teams, delivering results and implementing the strategic vision. At an individual level, your ability to influence others is at the core of building relationships, creating a network and achieving your goals.

    How does one generate influence? What are the building blocks to be considered? Here is what I have learned about generating influence:

    1. Having substance is a pre-requisite for generating influence. An empty vessel only makes more noise. Having real accomplishments, experience, subject matter expertise, passion for the subject and credibility are the foundations on which influence can happen.
    2. Trust, as in leadership, is the currency of influence. People get influenced and change only when they trust you. People trust you when you deliver what you promise, speak from your heart and be integral and ethical.
    3. Thought leadership accelerates trust and hence influence. When you challenge conventional beliefs, advance the ideas and provide new points of view, people get engaged and start trusting. Gandhi’s idea of non-violence serves as a great example of thought leadership.
    4. Influence spreads on pollens of generous actions. The process of influencing others start with a genuine intention to share and contribute first. It is not about what you want to say, but what helps others.
    5. Only intention is not enough, commitment is the key. Influence is rarely generated overnight. It requires commitment, patience and being persistent over a long time.
    6. Real influence provokes change. Influence is only valuable when it provokes change in how people operate and think; when it inspires them to take required action. It is a myth that just having an audience and followers means influence.

    Join in the conversation: Who are you influenced by? What are specific qualities that you are influenced by? Share your lessons!

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    In case you have missed:

    Getting Ahead: Interview with Joel Garfinkle

    I had a pleasure of reading a new book titled Getting Ahead: Three Steps to Take Your Career to the Next Level by Joel Garfinkle (@workcoach4you). Joel is the founder of Garfinkle Executive Coaching, author and one of the top 50 coaches in America. Joel was kind enough to share his book with me, which focuses on perception, visibility and influence as key tools for advancing our career.

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    [Tanmay Vora] Joel, it is a pleasure interviewing you. "Getting Ahead’ is essentially a career oriented book. Why did you write this book now and how is it different from a lot of other career books out there?

    [Joel Garfinkle] I spent the last 16 years working with thousands of executives, senior managers, directors and employees at the world’s leading companies. I realized that when a business professional works on only these 3 areas (Perception, Visibility and Influence) they will be successful. It is guaranteed. My research showed that it didn’t matter what a person’s title, background, location or responsibility. The most successful utilized the PVI model better than anyone else.

    Getting Ahead is different than a lot of other career books because it provides immediate benefit, reward and easy implementation. You have only 3 concepts (PVI model) to work on and implement. With less content and concepts to be focused upon, what the reader needs to learn from this book becomes easily known, applied and implemented.

    [Tanmay Vora] What does the book broadly cover?

    [Joel Garfinkle] While some people leave the fate of their careers in someone else’s hands, others determine their future using these three critical skills (1) improve your perception, (2) increase your visibility, and (3) exert your influence. This book will teach you the PVI-model of professional advancement. Through practical advice, true-to-life examples, and action-oriented tips, you will learn how to:

    – Create the right image
    – Increase your profile across the organization
    – Exert influence by driving change and inspiring people
    – Identify and recruit advocates who will speak up on their behalf
    – Become a known, valued and desired at your company
    – Get effective tools to implement immediately so you can become an invaluable–and noticeable–resource for their company.

    [Tanmay Vora] In the book, you talk about improving perception to grow in your career. Perception is a very subjective thing and while we can always be conscious about how we are being perceived, it is very challenging to always manage the perceptions of others. What advice would you share with readers of this blog about managing perception?

    [Joel Garfinkle] If you don’t take control of how others see you, you will undermine both your career and your future success. People form opinions about you without any input from you. You can’t leave the fate of your career in someone else’s hands. Here’s how to manage your perception:

    1. Notice how your behavior affects others. When interacting with people at work, how do they respond to you? What do they say and do? Document the patterns you notice based on your daily interactions. Learn to take the negative reactions and find specific ways to improve upon them. At the same time, it’s important to identify behaviors that cause positive perceptions and engage in them more frequently.

    2. Gain advocates who speak positively about you. You can directly change others’ perceptions of you by having people express their enthusiasm for the impressive work you are doing. Whether it’s your success on the projects you are leading, the accomplishments you achieve, or the recognition you receive from others, it’s vital that you have people in your company singing your praise and promoting your value.

    [Tanmay Vora] If you had to summarize three key messages from the book to readers of this blog, what would those be?

    [Joel Garfinkle] Here they go:

    1. The most successful leaders have gotten to where they are by leveraging and applying perception, visibility, and influence better than anyone else.

    2. The reality you face at work is that talent, results, and competence alone simply will not allow you to attain the success you deserve.

    3. The PVI model is your guiding light throughout your entire career, so you can maximize your potential and realize your professional greatness.

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    You can also find out more and download a free chapter of getting ahead. http://www.garfinkleexecutivecoaching.com/getting-ahead-book.html. View his books and FREE articles at Garfinkle Executive Coaching.