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Just do it

There is something to be said about “just doing it.” I sometime refer to it as “Fake it till you make.” Alternatively, in plain English this means: “Doing what you said, even when you don’t feel like it.” Sometime it feels like: “Doing what you don’t like doing in order to achieve what you do want to achieve.”

It seems a simple enough concept. However, so many people struggle with this personally and/or professionally.

One of the biggest reasons why people don’t achieve what they want is lack of sufficient action. Most people fail to achieve their dreams and aspirations because they don’t make the effort, they don’t take the action or they don’t stay the course with their actions. They give up too quickly.

I have heard different statistics about this, however it is said that it took Thomas Edison around 5,000 to 10,000 trials before he invented the light bulb. If it were up to most of us, we would still be in the dark ages.

One of the biggest reasons people don’t take action is because of the numerous stories, explanations, justifications and excuses we fall prey to when it is time to take actions.

As I have written in previous blogs, our mind – or: our inner voice – tends to go out of its way to subtly and smoothly get us out of any vulnerable or uncomfortable situation. And, as we know, most things that are worth doing or accomplishing require at least some degree of vulnerability and comfort.

Have any of the following things ever happen to you?

  1. You are sitting in a meeting and you know that some important detail is being avoided in the dialogue because of internal politics. You want to say something to put things straight, but your inner voice says to you, “Don’t do it! It’s risky! You are doing so well, why do you need the trouble? Let someone else be the sucker!” You sit there and don’t say a word.
  2. You are trying to lose weight and as part of your program you have committed to getting up early three times a week to exercise before you go to work. Your alarm clock wakes you up at 5:30am, you feel groggy and your inner voice says to you, “Getting up this early is crazy. You barely slept enough. It’s unhealthy. It’s much more effective to exercise in the evening or midday than this early in the morning…” You turn to the other side and fall back to sleep.
  3. You are trying to lose weight and as part of your program you have committed to stay off all sweet things and desserts, which you really love. You have kept your discipline for two weeks now, but it is not easy for you to avoid the temptations. In fact, you’ve lost more weight than you had planned this far. You come home late in the evening after another long day. You are tired, cranky and hungry from eating lettuce all week. You open the fridge and you see a slice of your favorite cake that someone didn’t finish. Your inner voice says to you, “You have been so good this week, plus you are doing so well in your diet. There is no harm in eating just one piece. It won’t ruin your diet. You deserve it!” You take the cake and eat it up.

There is a reality out there and then there are all our internal conversations about that reality. Our internal chatter is usually geared around why we shouldn’t or can’t do or have things. Unfortunately, you cannot stop the internal conversations. They are a built-in feature of being human.

However, if you understand this internal human mechanism, you have the option of bypassing it. What that means in reality is “just do what you say, regardless of how you feel about it or what your inner voice is telling you.”

It’s easier said than done. However, if you can overcome this, you will have a big advantage and power in achieving your objectives and dreams.

The good new is that the more you just do it, the easier it will become to repeat this behavior, because your inner voice will have less control over your actions.

Stop the Passive Aggressive Behavior

In most organizations, passive aggressive behavior is rampant.

The dictionary defines passive aggressive as: a type of behavior or personality characterized by indirect resistance to the demands of others and an avoidance of direct confrontation, as in procrastinating, pouting, or misplacing important materials.

In reality, passive aggressive behavior is actually much worse than this definition suggests.

Typical passive aggressive behavior happens in environments where people don’t feel they can fully express their feelings and thoughts–especially the negative ones. So, instead of communicating openly, authentically, courageously and effectively, people tend to pretend that everything is going well, even when they really feel the opposite – irritated, upset and/or angry about what is going on.

They say the positive, politically correct things out loud in the most positive, politically correct and “respectful” manner. But inside, they feel otherwise. This dissonance between the spoken and unspoken conversations creates tension, stress and awkwardness and people often feel they have to walk on eggshells around each other.

Because people who are behaving in a passive aggressive manner make such a big effort to appear as if they are positive about things, they often feel no one is noticing that they are inauthentic. However, for the most part, everyone around them sees through their behavior.

In a passive aggressive environment, the problems go beyond simply walking on eggshells. People also become reluctant and afraid to push back on sensitive topics, address conflict or hold each other accountable for behaviors and performance. People often say “yes” to things and then pay lip service to these. As a result productivity is significantly compromised and undermined.

Some people behave in a passive aggressive manner because they are afraid of their own volatile reactions to challenging situations. They don’t trust their ability to communicate effectively, especially when it comes to conveying criticism and disagreement. They fear that if they really express themselves, especially their frustration and anger, it will get out of hand. Others are afraid that if they fully expressed themselves they’ll get into trouble with their superiors and as a result their career will suffer. So, people simply avoid conflict and don’t say what is really on their mind. This only perpetuates and fuels the source of the passive aggressive behavior. I see this dynamic at all levels of all companies that I am exposed to.

Pent up emotions, frustrations and unexpressed communications are like bottled energy. Eventually, this energy must be released. The more it stays bottled up, the more likely it is to explode when triggered. This often happens at the most inappropriate times, in the most unproductive ways. When people “lose it,” it usually creates damage beyond proportion.

Other avenues of release for the unexpressed feelings are gossip and background noise. As we all know there is a lot of this going on in most organizations. People say one thing in public and another in the conversations around the cooler. And, again, that dissonance hurts organizational spirit, trust and performance.

So, how do you stop it?

Given that passive aggressive behavior lives in communication, it has to be transformed in communication. This requires leadership, ownership, commitment and courage, first by the leaders and managers.

If leaders are willing to create an open, honest environment for communication where people can fully communicate and express their views, they can stop the passive aggressive behavior. But it has to start with them.

However, if leaders are too afraid to be vulnerable, or they don’t trust themselves to create a more powerful and authentic space of communication around them, or they are simply too caught up in the passive aggressive behavior themselves, nothing will change. In fact, they will continue to be a part of the problem.

They will most likely continue to hide behind their title and authority in order to avoid hearing bad news or criticism, especially about them selves. By doing that they will perpetuate the issues and drive their team to more passive aggressive behavior.

Individual team members can also transform passive aggressive dynamics with other individuals, independent of their leaders and managers. They too have to behave with courage and commitment. They could show up as genuinely open to feedback, coaching and open, honest, authentic and courageous dialogue by enrolling and engaging others to always interact with them that way.

The more trust people create with others around them, the less passive aggressive behaviors will take place.

A manufacturing plant supervisor I worked with once told me: “I make sure to have lunch with my people every day, because people don’t screw someone they have lunch with.”