Loyalty

Loyal is defined as giving or showing firm and constant support or allegiance to a person or institution. A pet dog is a great example of loyalty. Your dog always greets you when you arrive in your home. It happily displays its love and loyalty.

We can be loyal to a person, an idea, a custom, a cause, or a duty. We would like to believe that loyalty does not waver regardless of the situation. We cannot be partially loyal to something, can we?  How should we handle loyalties that are in conflict with each other? The truth is a situation can affect your loyalty.

In my experience, I find it useful to always step back and view things from the perspective of my values. Loyalties develop based on external factors and experiences. But values are more basic. they have already been internalized and built into your daily actions.

If you find yourself in a situation where your loyalty is being tested, be sure to reflect on your values before you decide your next action. Be authentic. It helps.

3 Lessons I Learned About Keeping a Positive Attitude

President Thomas Jefferson said, “Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.” Keeping a positive attitude can be challenging in certain situations. Here are some lessons I have learned that help me.

1. Protect myself from negative attitudes that I encounter. If I am not careful, I find myself adjusting my attitude to those around me. Attitude is contagious after all. But when the surrounding attitude is negative, I must be strong enough to keep my positive attitude. I have two choices, allow my attitude to influence others, or leave the situation.

2. Focus on tomorrow’s possibilities rather than yesterday’s results. When I find my attitude slipping away from the positive, it is usually because I am too focused on what has happened rather than the opportunities of tomorrow. Walt Whitman said it best, “Keep your face always toward the sunshine – and shadows will fall behind you.”

3. Learn more about myself. Carl Jung said, “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” When I find myself getting irritated, it affects my attitude. The aggravation however is within me, not with the other person. If I spend time understanding myself, then I am better prepared to turn negative situations into positive situations.

Another thing to consider when faced with differing attitudes. My attitude is mine. The attitudes of others are owned by them. I am not better, just because my attitude may be more positive at the moment. As Ziad K. Abdelnour said, “Don’t judge someone’s attitude until you’ve felt their pain.”

Stopping the Distraction

When I agree to something I really don’t want to do, it can remain on my list of things to do for a long time. It can make me feel unproductive. It affects my attitude about my day.

It’s funny that most of these commitments are made with myself. Repairs around my house that I need to do. Emails that I intend to write. Books that I would like to read. You get the idea.

All of these open commitments slow me down. The more I have open the less agile I am during my day.

The lesson learned for me is to not accept responsibility until I am ready to take action. Instead I keep a list of all the things I need to do, but not yet ready to start.

Then I focus my priority on three to five areas that need my attention. This system makes me more effective. I accomplish more within a shorter period of time. As I complete one item, I add another from my list.

Too simple? It is easy to manage on a daily basis. Aren’t the best systems simple?

If you feel overwhelmed with all that is on your daily agenda, maybe a similar system will help you. With this approach, I am able to stop distractions and create a sharp focus.

You Can Be a World Class Mentor

Almost 25 years ago, I was assigned an employee to mentor for the very first time. I had no idea how to mentor someone, but proud and excited to be asked. I was also scared. Mentoring is not a skill that was taught in any class I took. I never received training. I was just expected to know how.

I scheduled the first meeting with my new mentee with no agenda. We were just going to meet each other and talk. My plan as a mentor was to share experiences and give advice. That is what a mentor does, right?

After the first meeting I became discouraged. I felt inadequate and worthless. I had no sense of the direction to lead my mentee. I was not sure how I could help this person.

We continued to meet, but the meetings were not productive. I struggled adding future meetings to my calendar because I had more important things to do. Activities in which I provided more value to the company than mentoring. After a few months we just stopped meeting. I had failed with my first mentee.

I am glad that over the next 25 years, I was able to develop world class mentoring skills. It would never have happened if I had not failed first. People that avoid failure, risk never experiencing the event that will positively change their life forever.

For some time, I avoided mentoring, but soon I was assigned another mentee. The second experience was better, but ultimately a failure. In fact, I continued to fail several more times. I learned from my mistakes. I sought out training. I learned more by doing than from books. I had to be willing to face my mistakes, and do the work required to improve.

Being a great mentor is not easy. There is not one single skill that automatically makes a good mentor. Good mentors have a long list of skills including listening, teaching, training, guiding, storytelling, coaching, and most importantly human personalities and motivations.

You can be a world class mentor. It requires life skills that grow through experience, failure, improvement, and practice. What lessons have you learned making you a better mentor? Have you learned more from a book, or by practice? What are you learning now, that will make you a better mentor?