Category: Blog

The “Rules”

While reading this afternoon I came across something interesting: in addition to the Golden Rule (which everyone knows about) and the Platinum Rule (which I learned about in the last couple years, and few know about), there’s the Silver Rule (which hardly anyone knows about, and I didn’t until about 3:00 PM).

As we know, the Golden Rule states that we should do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Pretty good advice, but it has its limits in terms of effectively interfacing with the world (and even less utility in attempting to influence it). If you want to have a bigger impact, you’ve got to do more than do to others what you want them to do to you.

That’s where the Platinum Rule comes in. I became aware of this while perusing books at a library, in either the Business or Self-Help sections (where I do most of my borrowing . . . ) (I apologize, I can’t remember where I first saw it . . . ). The Platinum Rule is to do unto others as they would have you do unto them.

Huh? Did you catch that? Do unto others as they would me do unto them?

That’s the magic difference between the Golden and Platinum Rules. When you take the time to find out what people want, and give them that — instead of what you might want — then everything changes. You go beyond being effective with people to being able to influence them. Of course, there’s a fair amount to being able to both know what people want and give it to them (like getting your own needs met so you can discern the needs of others and have the energy and willingness to provide it), but the benefits (to you and the other(s)) are well worth it.

And then there’s the Silver Rule. This one was news to me, and a little dismaying. The Silver Rule is don’t do things to others that you wouldn’t want done unto you. Sound, reasonable advice, but a mere floor for human behavior and interaction. That’s what is troubling for me, that someone had to formalize what should be innate. But, I’m not so naive to think that such guidelines are not necessary; they are.

So (as regular readers know, when I write “So” in a post I am putting my Coach hat on . . . ), we have three big rules for human interaction. They are all useful.

First the Golden Rule: do unto others as you would them do unto you. This is probably best employed with people you have a lot in common with. People that appreciate the same things you do, or know you well enough to understand that what you’re doing is at least thoughtful — because it’s what you would want.

Next, the Silver Rule. Here I want to ask you if there are things that you are, or might be, doing that you wouldn’t enjoy or appreciate (or worse) if they were happening to you. These are often the hardest to see (because we don’t want to see what’s wrong with ourselves (because such requires the courage and strength to change)), but positive changes in this domain often make huge differences. They can heal relationships, bring people closer and strengthen ties. One note: the people you need to make these changes with often won’t be able, or willing, to tell you what they need if you ask them — you need to discover it for yourself (and figure out a way to make it happen).

Finally, my favorite; the Platinum Rule. Do unto others as they would have you do unto them. This works best by discovering what people want, by discerning their needs and desires and giving it them. But don’t wait to figure it out. If need be, ask. In fact, when in doubt, ask right away. As you get better with this “rule” you will begin to see how to use it all the time.

When what you do to, and for, people, and what you give them, and how you show up for them, is what they want, or at least in tune with who they are, then you have laid the foundation of true trust. When trust is established, and maintained,  relationships of all kinds work better. In fact, I would argue that that’s the only way they (truly) work (but that’s a post for another day . . . or you can read this one).

Trust makes influence possible. One way of defining influence is creating or enabling the circumstances you want to see in the world through others. When you have trust you can influence. And when what you’re doing is what people want anyway, there’s no manipulation.

Influence isn’t controlling people and/or circumstances to get what you want. It’s enrolling people in the change you want to see. This, of course, requires that you be around the right people, and the right circumstances, but you figured that out already, didn’t you . . . ?

Success Is A Science

“Success is a science; if you have the conditions, you get the result.” – Oscar Wilde

Success is assembling certain components of thought and action in a certain order. “Failure” is what you get when you have the wrong components, or the wrong order, or both. Either way, you get results. Just keep tweaking until you get the results you want.

Whatever you want, can be had, if you do what is required of the result.

Whatever you have, is what you’ve created by virtue of what you’ve done (or done half-heartedly). Without action there is nothing, other than what you end up with. (The former is created through action, the latter, apathy and fear of action; the former is preferable 99.9% of the time).

And, whatever anyone else has done, can be done by you, if you only do what is required, in the proper order, with the requisite enthusiasm.

[I think this post just ended up being a bunch of related statements. I hope that’s okay.]

Language and Re-Framing

Once again a post is inspired by something from Seth Godin. Here is another excellent post that got me thinking (click here to read the post at his blog):

“I’m under a lot of pressure…”

The ellipsis hides the most important part of this sentence:

“I’m under a lot of pressure from myself.”

When you have a big presentation or a large speech or a spreadsheet due, the pressure you feel is self-induced. How do I know? Because stuff that felt high-pressure a few years ago is old hat to you now. Because it used to be hard for you to speak to ten people, and now it takes a hundred or a thousand for you to feel those butterflies. Because not only do you get used to it, you thrive on it.

Unless you’re in a James Bond movie, it’s really unlikely that the pressure that you’re feeling is anything but self-induced.

What you do with the pressure is up to you. If it’s not helping you do great work, don’t embrace it. Pressure ignored ceases to be pressure.

Initially I titled this post “It’s All (Hidden) In Your Head.” Then I changed it to “Everything Is Hard . . . Until It’s Easy.” As I write this paragraph, the post is untitled. Let’s see where I go with this inspiration from Seth . . . .

My first thought is how we use language and which word we choose (“pressure”) is tremendously important. If language is the key to thinking, and thinking enables our capacities of gratitude, introspection, joy and problem-solving (among many other!), then we should be respect and cherish language, right?

What if we say “This is a tremendous challenge?” That could work if we respond well to the word “challenge.” But if for you challenge (typically) means hard, or impossible, then maybe another word is in order.

What about “This is a great opportunity [for growth]?” Do you get inspired by opportunities? Are you able to re-frame situations into opportunities in your mind? Or is that just some BS wishful-thinking trick that self-help gurus talk about?

I could on, but want to say that 1) pressure isn’t a great choice of words (in my humble opinion, and I know Seth’s use of it was intentional) and 2) whatever word you do use matters.

I do my best to see things as opportunities for growth and/or learning, but when I can’t, I ask myself “Is putting forth the effort and experiencing the discomfort (or “pain”) of accomplishing this in-line with my values and goals?” If it is, I tell myself “I need to do this (and in a (real) sense, I then want to).”

What about you? How do you approach difficult (or scary) tasks, or ones you feel you have* to do, but don’t want to? Can you re-frame them in some constructive way? (Please know: it took me a long time of meditating to gain greater awareness, values-clarification and goals-setting and lots of exposure to excellent ideas before I could remember to pause, reflect and re-frame (if appropriate) and I still drop-the-ball.)

So, everything is hard . . . until it’s easy and it’s all (hidden) in your head.

(* And if you can’t re-frame them, and they aren’t healthy/useful/authentic, then let them go (and/or adapt and grow your life and Self to make them irrelevant).)

A Word on Motivation

It just occurred to me that maybe I’ve never really understood “motivation.” Oh sure, I’ve learned that it’s better to be inspired than motivated and better to motivated than coerced. But what is motivation, really?

Motivation isn’t something real or actual. It’s a word that describes what happens when one puts a motive into action. (A motive is a reason for action, or incentive.)

Stay with me and I’ll try to explain the distinction at play here.

When we’re “motivated” we act in a specific way, to a specific end, with some degree of energy. But so often we just can’t get “motivated.” How many times have you heard that? I’ve said it plenty, and have heard it more. But it’s a word that doesn’t serve us. If we understood the motives of our actions, or that we need to have a motive to act, then it makes much more sense — at least to me.

Think of it another way: being motivated is acting in accordance with one’s values and goals. Or, having reasons or incentives that create action. That’s the key. Without reasons or incentives, there is no action. So, one does not get or find motivation, per se, they are motivated because the have a motive that causes them to move.

We make use of this by getting clear about what our motives are. What do we value that we want to create or see more of in our lives?

We can also use this concept to reverse-engineer the things we don’t want in our lives. Everything we have, or don’t have, is there for a reason; because we either created it by some means, or lack of action, or because we neglected to pursue something or nurture what we do want. That’s a round-about way of saying that there are no accidents and everything can be understood in the light of action or in-action. I know that challenging to read, but it’s a truth that will transform your life.

What are your motives? What gets you moving, both in thought and deed? Ask yourself what motivates the different areas and activities of your life. Find answers, assume that everything you have, or don’t have, can be understood in the context of motives (and remember, desiring the absence of something can motivate). The more clear you get, the happier and more effective you’ll be.


How To Be Successful

“Don’t aim for success if you want it; just do what you love and believe in, and it will come naturally.” – David Frost

I’m writing this post because I needed to hear it. Sometimes I wonder if I am walking the right path, as a coach. I wonder if the challenges of self-employment are worth it.

And then I have a great conversation with someone who asks me some really, really good questions. Questions that get me to thinking about why, even though I’m no natural entrepreneur, self-employment is my best option. And what is it about what I do that is important, to me?

Questions are magic. They get us thinking. They move us to action — if we let them. They give us a chance to think beyond our day-to-day. And if they are well-crafted questions, they can get us to think beyond our typical thoughts — and that’s where the magic is.

So, for me to be successful, I must help people understand who they are, who they want to be and what they want and help them make all of that real (and lasting).

What about you? What do you love, and believe in? That’s where success waits for you.