Culture to Personality: Curse & Blessing

 

Image result for culture and personalityEvery day most of us wander out into the world and deal with people.

It doesn’t matter if you lead, manage, supervise, parent or just communicate, you’ll be interacting with complex personalities.

Often it’s convenient to deal with people as groups, in some set manner, but it’s preferable we understand and address them as individuals.

Whether we’re working on personnel issues, negotiating or just generally communicating we are better prepared and able if we understand the unique personality of those involved. This is a complex problem and can be a tall order.

Yet it’s clear that the deeper and more specific our understanding of an audience, the greater our ability to Be Authentic, Connect and Communicate Effectively. So, we should attempt to consider and account for individuality.

Now, unique Personality is defined as: the combination of characteristics or qualities that form an individual’s distinctive character.

No simple explanation of how personality is formed is universally accepted.

However, it is possible to make overarching judgements about what certainly affects personality, even if today no definitive model seamlessly explains how these elements interact.

Personality is created and affected by:

Culture– Programming the self

Experience(s)– Environmental, Physical and Mental

Brain Function– Baseline; also including Development, Growth, Evolution and Performance

Genes– Base Physiology and Persona

Health– Resulting from Lifestyle and Exposure

All this plus a person’s ability to Adapt to these factors helps establish a unique Personality; this fuels the outward expression of individuality.

Further, any of these elements listed above may have a lesser, greater or even disproportionate impact on the outbound personality; and elemental interaction may be either simple or complex.

I suppose this explanation is in some ways analogous to Atomic Theory: Waves explain some things nicely, Particles others and yet nothing comprehensively and elegantly really ties these very complex worlds together, either.

Now, these five (5) Elements (Culture, Experience(s), Brain Function, Genes and Health) individually each warrant extensive comment. But practically, this is a BLOG not a book.

So, let’s just explore one aspect to help advance our understanding of Personality.

I’ve always thought there isn’t enough attention given to the profound importance of Culture. Let’s focus on this

Culture is defined as: the ideas, customs and social behavior of a particular people or society.

I believe we are programmed throughout our lives by culture. Everything we experience is biased by the prevailing culture in which we are immersed. It dictates the very way we perceive the world.

Culture can impact our every action and deed; how we eat, drink, smile, laugh, sit, stand, sleep, bathroom, dress, seek partners, interact with others and more are all influenced at some level.

Religious Opinions, Social Beliefs and Values constantly bombard us though our immediately surrounding culture.

What we might truly independently believe and think can easily be lost with such overwhelming, ongoing immersion and social pressure. Also, many cultures seem to additionally immerse and burden females relative to their male counterparts.

Why is all this important?

Well, if we are raised in one culture versus another, then our behaviors, reactions, values and beliefs can all be quite different; a recipe for likely conflict.

Consider (say) a born-and-bred New Yorker relative to a Saharan Bedouin. Obviously such radically divergent exposure and upbringing would be expected to deliver notable culture (and thence personality) differences.

But must we consider only dramatically dissimilar environments to see such significantly different results? I think not.

Consider (say) the case of Scandinavians: Internally I am told their own various cultures consider Swedes to be paralytically PC, Danes frighteningly outspoken and Norwegians quite dull and less imaginative.

It’s not clear if such characterizations are wholly fair (certainly they’re not PC), but they are commonly held and have substantial general acceptance within these (physically close) cultural groups. These are relative impressions.

I must admit through years of travel and international dealings I’ve found some characterizations to be surprisingly meaningful; be they crude and unflattering in some cases. And the same is true across the world.

For example, a Bostonian is certainly not a San Franciscan; neither are they like a Londoner, Singaporean nor a Muscovite. We are an amazingly diverse species and yet generally quite strongly aligned locally, when within shared cultures.

Each culture when observed from any other often seems quite strange. It is not just the actual cultural differences that create this view but also the perspective from which they are seen.

And, cultural differences can be startling.

I once communicated with supposedly agreed, polite hand-written notes and brief voice-messages to a colleague as a solution to mutual meeting schedule conflicts. What was originally well-meant and efficient was ultimately taken as demeaning and rude. In this case there were pronounced West meets East and other disconnects; inevitably, significant cultural differences are prevalent within multicultural societies.

Never underestimate the importance of contrast existing between cultures. And, human tolerance of such differences is far more tenuous than their acceptance.

We are all products of our cultures. Most of us are heavily programmed to the preponderance of the culture in which we were formatively immersed.

In this sense those of us with very similar upbringing can be greatly alike, sharing many commonalities. And yet in practice, the other elements of personality (Experience(s), Brain Function, Genes and Health along with our adaptability) still cause us to develop unique identities.

It is generally held that our personalities are formed early in life: “Give me the child till age seven (7) and I’ll show you the man/woman.” Many of us will have personally witnessed reasons for such a claim.

So in summary, if we want to interact successfully with others it only makes sense to be well aware of their predominant cultural influences. It is one key window to who they are, what they feel, value and believe.

Are you involved with diverse cultural groups? Perhaps your communications should be better sensitized to serve your audience?

Are you the one from a different culture? Maybe some individuals you meet need more carefully considered interactions than you’ve previously offered?

Take a close look at the folks with whom you interact. Sometimes a lack of cultural awareness can burn both you and others.

 Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter @ianrmackintosh

 

Growth in Pretentiousness Fueling Social Value

Image result for PretentiousI was never a fan of pretension. And, I believe we are experiencing an unprecedented explosion of the behavior.

The Definition of Pretentious is attempting to impress by offering greater importance or merit than is actually possessed.

After the casual observation that pretension is seemingly everywhere these days, I was wondering what might explain the apparently uncommon growth in this trend.

Certainly, there are some obvious current Contributing Factors:

Social Equalization. Lack of growth in or reduction of household economic situations will cause many individuals to seek ways to differentiate themselves and feel special; a human need.

Information Access. Google anything and read for 15 mins and you can usually surpass most people’s general knowledge on any subject; it’s easy to appear expert.

Knowledge Compartmentalization. Experts in maturing, competitive fields must generally evolve more vertical knowledge in lieu of broadening their expertise; they are driven to go deeper and so inevitably become less broadly expert and educated. We are in an era where a thinning veneer of disaggregated public knowledge exists; it is harder to be broadly expert.

Political Correctness (PC). There’s declining cultural willingness to openly expose or confront flawed thinking, facts or claims in social situations; this provides opportunity for pretension to thrive, even in a time of more readily accessible information.

Time is Short. Who can investigate every suspicious or questionable claim?

Unthinking Acceptance. People are often easily fooled. Humans tend to readily believe what’s in print or comes from a perceived, historically reliable source; though Fake News must now be shaking this foundation.

A Pretension is a claim or aspiration to a particular quality. Being pretentious generally connotes such a claim is unworthy.

But how do we KNOW which claims are overstated or false?

Certainly we live in an age where perception is reality as the accepted norm. Indeed today, most celebrity is built on completely manufactured perception. And the speed of acceptance is such that if something looks like a duck, it’s a duck; whether or not it quacks.

We are inundated with facts and information of obvious increasingly uncensored quality. It is an era spewing fake news and prejudicial reporting on every side; so then, who can or would routinely trouble to (say) run down every minute detail of an acquaintance or colleague’s perceivably questionable claims and assertions? There is often too little time or real importance.

Image result for kardashians

If someone lays claims we are unmotivated or unable to check, perhaps we deserve them as our reality. Certainly History itself is built on such foundations.

Personally, I have lived in cultures where pretension is thought of as something as a character flaw. In an increasingly PC world it can become less clear when such behavior should even be outwardly highlighted.

Perhaps if someone purports or displays modest vestiges of some skill, knowledge or association we should always give them the benefit of the doubt with their claims? As individuals I think we tend to do this (to keep the peace; not rock the boat), even when we occasionally also record a question mark about their validity in the back of our minds.

However, if we have questions about people’s pretentions, we are unlikely to ever fully trust them on any matter of importance. Surely Leaders, Managers and friends should educate their acquaintances accordingly.

We’ve all seen people make questionable, pretentious claims regarding their jobs, lifestyles, experiences, possessions, family, associations and expertise. There’s frequently a wannabee expert proffering dubious wisdom and status at every party, dinner and social event, too.

So, it should be carefully noted that bold pretension is generally offered by a very insecure person. Ultimately, they feel vulnerable so need to make themselves more, or others less.

Now, we’ve all tweaked someone’s nose when they’ve made claims with visible flaws. Perhaps we even did this to avoid appearing gullible or unknowledgeable?

Whatever flawed claims and aspirations individuals present to us, maybe we should most commonly just let the buyers beware and bite our tongues? However, in the event of actual or material damage affecting others, it really is time to speak up. Even then it’s always wiser to be discrete and minimize any confrontation when doing so.

Humans possess and will often display unique, complex outward reactions to unwanted stimulus. And, the spur of outrageous pretentious behavior can be truly profound. Despite this, sometimes just being PC and letting things pass unacknowledged is often the wiser approach.

Do you work with a lot of pretentious people? Meet many in social situations? How do you react to these individuals?

It is easy to lose respect for people who put on airs. It is harder to walk in their shoes and understand why they do so.

So, next time you see such behavior, take a look in the mirror and check if your own peacock feathers are on display, or perhaps even stimulating the problem.

 Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter @ianrmackintosh

 

 

Ready? And Prepared?

late travelerI was travelling recently and began to observe the behaviors of people preparing for subsequent legs of their journeys; how they schedule, allocate time, etc.

Over the years I’ve noticed travelers are either generally on-time, hit-and-miss on readiness (unpredictable on every occasion) or routinely, late. And, most folks seem to reside quite persistently in one of these brackets.

I’m one of those people that are always on-time. Any set-backs during preparations and I still stay on schedule. After all, if you’re ultimately ready several minutes early you can grab a drink or make room to move up downstream AIs. So, why not make the effort?

Yet this behavior is hardly the norm. Most travelling companions I’ve had over the years barely make it on-time or more commonly run a few minutes late and seem quite stressed as a result. And this occurs with people from a broad range of professional levels, skill-sets, ages and personality-types. Why is this?

Personally, I find risking schedules and having to rush to recover to be really undesirable. One more glitch can be a tipping point to a blown outing. Clearly, not everybody feels the same.

Certainly, everyone’s motivations are different, too. I find being ready gives me the capacity to adapt quickly if and when those unpredictable events occur, which they often do.

But from observing others it seems most people operate more from reaction than pro-action in preparedness. This is purely an anecdotal observation, but it’s made after many years bearing witness.

So why do most people appear to run late?

Procrastination means people will put things off. This can be caused by many factors; perhaps Fear of Failure, Dread of particular Events, or even Tiredness and Health Issues could all make people engage later than they should.

Whatever their reason, I don’t choose to be one of these folks who run late, miss appointments and need to react frantically when hiccups occur. And in my case, I believe this really is a choice.

Correspondingly, I’m guessing those same people who have such performance and schedule challenges have little desire to push themselves to be the always-on-time guy. It’s safe to assume that at some level this must be their choice, too.

The biggest problem I see with running late (or, close to failure) is that it appears to be symptomatic. And, those that practice this brinkmanship in the simple matter of being on-time for travel are usually the same folks who struggle more broadly with commitments.

The individual who generally fails to be on-time is typically the same person who doesn’t complete AIs in a timely manner, or blows hard deadlines and often seems unprepared, less able to respond to change.

Such performers appear unwilling (or unable?) to push themselves to achieve unless their hair is blowing in the wind as they play catch-up.

My personal philosophy is that we need to push ourselves to perform. If you give yourself too much slack you can hang yourself as a result. This does not mean we all must be constant, stoic Spartans. But we are usually better-off getting ahead of things and proactively addressing even those seemingly simple matters that have downside potential.

The reasoning for this is simple. You cannot manufacture time; it’s a critical dimension in an increasingly busy world. So, if you might run out of it, you’d better already be appropriately ahead of potential liabilities.

I’m not fanatical about risk, either. Allowing a little extra time (seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, even months or years, as is applicable) is generally a matter of Common Sense, Risk Management and Prior Experience. There is usually (NOT always) no point in overcompensating for low-likelihood setbacks.

So what is the conclusion here?

I don’t believe everyone can or should act, plan or schedule the same way. It’s improbable the huge range and variety of human personalities might easily align to prescribed, infallible, drone-like ways; certainly most would not wish to do so. Yet I do believe many folks would help out their Stress Levels, Health, Self and Professional Images if they didn’t underperform and fall-short in the described areas.

And being anxious, failing to achieve goals and objectives is certainly not a recipe for personal success.

Do you blow deadlines? Miss flights, occasionally? Show up late for meetings? Delay results to the frustration of others? If so, first just recognize the fact.

Next, I recommend you consider the consequences of these failings.

Lastly, when there are upcoming events where it’s a problem should you deliver late, be a little more proactive. Think things through and allocate more time. After all, when everything goes smoothly everybody wins in one way or another.

 

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter @ianrmackintosh

Enthusiasm: The REAL Key to Leadership

Image result for enthusiastic leaderGreat Leadership is not common.

The behavior and characteristics of truly outstanding individuals has been extensively studied. It is generally agreed that:

Great Leaders Inspire, Empower and Engage people they meet, their reports and coworkers. This is traditionally accomplished by…

  • Motivating
  • Communicating
  • Accomplishing major Results

      In addition, they share a clear Vision and possess a truly Positive Outlook.

So, there are numerous critical components to this profile.

Yet in many ways it seems to me that the most compelling skill/characteristic is that a leader ENTHUSIASTICALLY Communicate. After all, if they can’t get fired-up about their own ideas and plans, who would?

And, it’s equally clear that too little ENTHUSIASM can damage any message.

This doesn’t mean that accomplished leaders are all outwardly gushing and energetic. Indeed, successful leaders can be seemingly subdued, introspective, yet still convey a truly Positive Outlook.

Invariably, outward Enthusiasm is hard to resist and ignore.

To be a compelling Leader it’s essential to support and recognize:

          Ideas

          Plans

          Results

          Groups (Organizations, Teams and Families)

          Success

          Celebrations

          And, more

Generous, enthusiastic support should be for BOTH yourself AND others, in all these areas.

Lavish, consistent and visible praise should be given freely. People enjoy being recognized, but in appropriate ways.

Maintaining enthusiasm can be a challenge. This can be accomplished more readily when a leader knows and practices good:

          Health Regimes (Sleep, Diet and Exercise)

          Work-Life Balance

And, Enthusiasm needs to be on-tap whenever needed. It’s important to be up for both impromptu one-on-one meetings as well as planned, formal events.

At the same time, enthusiasm should be authentic and genuine. Faked reactions and responses can be a major turn-off.

Remember: The more you seek out the Positives around you, the more readily you exude sincere enthusiasm.

Being overly enthusiastic without bringing some measure of other leadership skills to the table can appear boorish and overdone; outward demeanor should be consistent with leadership stature. So, be sure to continuously raise your game across the entire spectrum of the behaviors described (above).

Now consider your own performance. How is your enthusiasm level at work and in private life?

Take a hard look at just how compelling your own Presence, Support and Interactions are right now. It’s likely you can better serve yourself and others by giving more and Communicating More Enthusiastically. Give it a try.

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter @ianrmackintosh

 

Enjoy Business, Work & Life: Choosing Buckets and Balloons

Image result for choose your attitude quotesWhen it really matters, you choose your mood. At some level, everybody does.

We put on the face/front for that meeting, party or social event. We are already choosing our demeanor.

And, given a level of commitment and practice we can similarly start, or reset each day to the tone we’d most prefer.

Rather than drag ourselves out of bed and run into the turmoil of the day we can set ourselves up for a happy daily entre and even recover crisply from (seemingly inevitable) emergent setbacks.

Most folks carry around their personal, “bucket of troubles.” It seems we all choose how many woes and problems we’ll take on.

Some carry larger buckets than others; that’s a choice. And then, we allow those buckets to fill till they spill over. Only in this way do we limit what we take on.

By analogy, the larger the bucket, the heavier is the load. The weight (burden) is determined by what we are prepared to accept.

What if we simply chose not to allow deposits into that bucket? Just shrug things off (responsibly), don’t let them weigh in immediately and only fully embrace troubles when we choose.

Simply put, take on the issue later when preferred and only drop a note to address the problem into the bucket, for now. (SIDE NOTE: truly immediate issues are just that, so act accordingly. But, most things are not).

This doesn’t mean we ignore problems, concerns or issues. It does mean we should not burden ourselves with unknowns until we’re ready to focus.

Such an approach is truly Zen-like. We should “eat when we eat,” just attending to that of immediate concern to us. In this case, it is the simple, need-to-addresslater note.

This unburdens us nicely. No rapid-fill of that bucket.

We might even soon learn to reduce that bucket’s size as our skills develop. Why leave room to potentially unnecessarily burden ourselves with things we often can’t address till later, anyway?

Buckets weigh us down. Similarly, balloons can buoy us up. So why not carry a few of those around?

Happy thoughts, good news all serve to lighten our footsteps.

Image result for colorful balloonsWe begin each day with a host of blessings to enjoy. Our relationships, work, family, friends, even possessions can boost happiness, enjoyment and self-worth.

So, reflect on a few of these positives to start each day and renew yourself throughout. Carry a few happy balloons around and offset the weight of that essential bucket.

Realistically, we cannot expect to exist in a bed of roses on a flat, stable and worry-free plane. Yet too much volatility in our ups and downs is ultimately wearing, dulls our judgement, exhausts the ability to enjoy life and often harms our health.

Daily routines and encounters can be a grind. Things can wear on us and beat us down.

Life is not all smiles, happiness and positive events. It’s pretty tough for everyone. We need to both reduce our burdens and lighten our steps. So, a handful of balloons and a less substantial bucket can serve us well.

How is life wearing on you? Need to downsize that bucket and lighten the load?

Make life more enjoyable: every morning grab a few balloons, choose a smaller bucket and enthusiastically greet the coming day.

 

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter @ianrmackintosh

 

 

How Sharp are YOUR Mental Skills? Important Insights

Image result for brain gamesI’ve always personally enjoyed mental exercises and games.  They can be great time fillers, keep you alert and in the moment. I believe they offer some level of personal improvement and improve mental acuity.

It turns out the research and writing around this subject area offers some useful additions to my personal perceptions.

A whole industry surrounds the training of the brain. It’s generally accepted that improvements can be made in personal function for Flexibility, Speed, Memory, Problem Solving, Learning Power etc. Progress can be measured on these fronts and dozens of exercises and games can be readily found in books or on-line.

Healthy lifestyle advocates promote Brain Fitness, which includes Proper Nutrition, Sleep, Physical Exercise and Stress Management.

Similarly, it’s accepted that cognitive skills are harmed by Stress, Anxiety, Depression, Aging, Air Pollution and internal Chemical Imbalance (both hormonal and drug induced).

Cognitive Training (aka Brain Fitness) promotes the idea that skills can be developed or maintained by exercising the brain in much the same way physical condition is improved by body exercise.

Scientific material rarely supports or advertises the concept of brain fitness, but personal development materials have promoted the idea with products and books since the 1980’s.

In practice, mental exercises can have measurable benefits; even more so the lower the starting base of the trainee. Any way you look at it, you can improve your brain function to some degree by practicing and training appropriately.

There’s recent evidence that mental training leads to a decrease (33% reported) in the risk of dementia onset. And, training children for academic improvement only appears to have benefits where the specific training is obviously and directly applicable to the specific area of study involved.

So, there is no silver bullet here where one approach fits all needs.

Certainly, some games and puzzles are fun and I personally enjoy a sense of accomplishment taking on new challenges and becoming more skilled and proficient over time.

Many people turn to outlets such as Crossword Puzzles, Sudoku, Solitaire, Bridge, etc. as a more productive use of otherwise dead time. It’s common to see people engaged in such activities in waiting areas, when travelling etc., even where other (such as TV) entertainment is present.

There is undoubtedly an increasing cultural search for alternative occupations that often more directly physically engage and personally challenge us. And there is a huge proliferation of available options.

Whatever our reasons for doing a little personalized brain-training (or self-entertainment), it typically provides us an enhanced sense of accomplishment and is usually a lot more fun than the other immediately available choices.

So, as another alternative suggestion, let me offer you a brain teaser to consider over time. You may solve this in a few minutes or be working on it many weeks from now. Either way, consider this…

There are twelve (12) natives stranded on an otherwise deserted Island.

Eleven (11) of the natives are the same weight, but one (1) weighs slightly less (or more) than the others.

Also, on the island is a see-saw (teeter-totter) that you may use in your investigations, but only three (3) times.

Your challenge is to discover which Islander has the different weight AND if that weight is more or less than the other eleven Islanders.

End of Challenge.

Whatever your predilection for cognitive development, let me recommend its benefits to both your practical personal development and self-esteem. Wishing you the best on your chosen path!

 

Image result for brain games

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter @ianrmackintosh

 

Travelling? Watch Out! Scams & Risks to Avoid

Image result for travel scamsI’m barely half way into a two week jaunt through France, Spain and the UK, unfortunately encountering unprecedented Scams and new Risks.

In just 72 hours after landing at Paris (CDG) I’ve run into some ten different types of problems, which include:

Overbillings/re-imbursement issues: Taxis, Hotels and Flights

Unwanted assaults by Petty CriminalsImage result for travel scams

Robbery and Theft

Personal Security Risks          

Persuasive Extortion

Local Driving restrictions

I’ve been ducking problems like these during decades of global travel. Yet it appears these kinds of liabilities are now on the increase. Attacks and affronts have become more insidious and aggressive.

It’s tough to admit, but I did just fail to thwart a couple of my own problem travel situations. And they occurred, despite considerable prior exposure and much past experience. Fortunately, in these recent situations I can view myself as VERY lucky in the way my troubles were resolved, this time.

Now to business: Its true Petty Theft warnings (primarily for pickpockets) are often well signposted in most high-traffic tourist areas; even helpful cab drivers will provide you with unsolicited warnings. Yet there are a host of other (mostly) organized Scams and Liabilities to avoid, too.

Rather than detail the incidents to which I was personally exposed, let me provide some useful suggestions you can keep in mind to avoid unwanted impacts on your own travels.

Good TRAVEL practices should include:

Online Bookings

Watch out for built-in fees on Hotels and Flights. Check what IS and IS NOT included and keep a print-out or copy readily on-hand of what you bought. For Example: Airlines sometimes charge for bags up-front and then demand payment again while you’re trying to check in. Also, Hotel advance payment and cancellation policies often need checking closely.

Again, it’s essential you can quickly SHOW confirmations and complete, relevant copies, on-the spot.

Street Vendors

Don’t get hassled into the waves of seemingly innocent surveys, petitions or suchlike. Often participation quickly produces unexpected downstream demands for donations as you’re trying to extricate yourself. You’ll be fighting off purveyors once you engage.

Unwanted Purchases

Flower (or other) vendors often gain access to restaurants and bars, twisting the arms of couples and travelers to buy considerate or loving gifts. If you DON’T want them, decline firmly. If you do buy, politely NEGOTIATE on a price. It may not be seem appropriately romantic, but you’ll usually more than halve the initial asking price.

Taxis and Other Transports

Whenever possible know the regular fare involved for where you’re going; ask someone credible if you don’t. Legitimate operators are generally endorsed or secured by Airport/Hotel service staff. Prices are often posted for specific trips. Don’t get suckered by vendors who produce a surprise fare AFTER you’ve made the journey. Ask before embarking and be aware that even pricey Hotels have valets that’ll put you in a known-overpriced Taxi; it’s sometimes surprising to discover who’s working with whom.

Theft/Baggage

Watch over your luggage and bags, always. If you’re in a group have one person keep vigil when working through distractions (like getting a cab, renting a car, etc.) in busy areas. Purses, carry-ons and baggage can be lifted, disguised and gone in seconds. So, carry all critical goods in a single closed bag and never release it; money, travel docs, tickets, credit/debit cards and mobile devices are best kept together whenever possible.

Theft/Room

Room safes are often provided; use them. Check the door of that budget room truly locks when the door closes; amazingly, some DO need to be keyed from both inside AND outside to secure the lock on the handle. And, if there’s a separate deadbolt/chain inside, use that, too.

Money Exchange

Establish what reasonable exchange rates should be expected in countries you’ll visit before you change money. Watch for hidden fees and use ATMs with known-tolerable rates, whenever possible. It’s better to know what your credit/debit card rates will be before travelling, too.

In-Room Services

Honor bars are notoriously pricey. Buy out where you can. Also, keep some track of all in-room purchases for checkout; BE AWARE that auto-recording purchases may occur when you momentarily remove, move or even just lift-up products in stocked bars and refrigerators.

Pickpockets

 These guys are seemingly everywhere folks gather in numbers. Keep your valuables zipped, pocketed and/or covered. Even then experts (often in teams) who target you can and will get access. It’s just wiser NOT to be the most obviously tempting prey in the pack; let others be the easy marks.

Car Rentals

Spanish Police are now fining renters they stop who are not driving on formal, International Drivers Licenses. They’ve specifically notified Hertz employees to this effect at the location I used (with my US, Calif. Driver’s License) in Valencia, Spain. Don’t be surprised if other Countries are already following suit.

I find it amazing that every single one of the vulnerabilities listed above was directly relevant and also immediately present during my current travel.

The list of things to watch for is long. All trips can have downsides and even the smallest bad experience can taint highly anticipated journeys.

We should not be paranoid about our every move when enjoying travel or a well-earned holiday. But the consequences of lost funds, equipment, goods or documents can be both traumatic and cumulative. It leaves us feeling violated.

So, keep your wits about you and make appropriate preparations. Be aware of where you are and what’s going on. Better a little vigilance than wasting time downstream to repair avoidable (and perhaps major) consequential damages.

Got any personal travel panned? Have any more business trips looming shortly? Put a little thought to what you’re doing and who’s around; be alert when these liabilities can exist and make sure YOU aren’t a victim. A little attention and awareness on your part can avoid a lot of grief.

Get ahead of the scams, problems and tricksters. Travel should be fun. So, make sure YOU will enjoy YOUR trip.

Let me wish you Happy Travels and Memorable Experiences!

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter @ianrmackintosh

 

That Comment: Real or Delusional?

Image result for self delusion

I was sitting at the dinner table during a recent event listening to people’s tales of their lives, relationships and work-related activities. It was a full-spectrum gathering.

When later reflecting on this occasion and myriad other recent and past daily interactions I again became starkly aware just how self-flattering individuals can be and what delusional façades most people will present.

In fact, I believe most folks are frighteningly self-delusional when reporting insights to their lives.

This is not surprising, as in practice, self-confidence is closely linked to self-deception, self-delusion and success.

Indeed, to quote

“…, people in positions of great authority are, and perhaps must be, capable of enormously high levels of self-delusion.” (Health-care Hypocrites, Paul Campos, 3/22/10).

And, the Definition : Self-Delusion (Noun)…

The act or state of deceiving or deluding oneself.

The common scientific belief today is that most people lie to themselves; this done to aid them in considering themselves above average and to help them justify even their unjustifiable actions.

Relatedly and ironically, I suspect many of us attempting to present a truly realistic, unbiased opinion have, at one time or another been criticized as being negative or pessimistic. It appears a more rose-colored account of events is usually better appreciated, too; upon reflection, a very troubling reality.

Oddly, it seems that self-delusion is necessary. One writer (Fine) even mentions that a group of individuals truly capable of seeing reality as it is are the clinically depressed.

So, it appears most of us actually need to delude ourselves to make life bearable. This is a disturbing dynamic and a frightening insight to our suppressed, internal views.

People typically resent being referred to as delusional. It is normally perceived as a human flaw.

Yet, given the apparent role of self-delusion in stabilizing our psyche, perhaps it should be considered an asset?

It is true that great shows of bloated self-importance can be ugly to hear, but they are also just a sad measure of, and insight to, an individual’s insecurities.

In any event, the next time you catch yourself or others making enhanced or exaggerated claims, empathize a little. Sometimes it can be wiser to understand and accept the underlying challenge and then just move on.

Unfortunately, on some occasions it is appropriate or even essential to set the record straight with deluded individuals. This is often better done privately, but perhaps sometimes damaging falsehoods must be challenged immediately and publicly. In either situation, be as discreet and sensitive as circumstance warrants.

The stark daily realities we all face can often prove extremely harsh unless portrayed through a biased, tinted lens. So, if such assertions truly do no harm at the time, let the self-deluded enjoy their peace of mind behind that colored glass. Gracefully allow people their space to feel important or avoid their unnecessary embarrassment.

Have you noticed the self-delusion of others? Perhaps you recently caught yourself making exaggerated claims? Take a look behind those stories. It’s amazing the sensitivities and insecurities that come to light.

Above all, don’t fear those delusions. They’re often what’s keeping us grounded and balanced.

 

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter @ianrmackintosh

 

 

When Bad Behavior Goes Unaddressed

I believe Bad Behavior must always be addressed. Delays in redress should be as minimal as discretion and practicality allows.Image result for bad behavior in workplace

So, what is bad behavior? For our purposes here it is actions or inactions that directly or indirectly impact the well-being of yourself or more commonly, others.

Bad behavior can be as small as a look, roll-of-the-eyes or malicious comment. It can be as extreme as criminal activity or even violence.

We see signs of these problems throughout our daily lives; from the workplace to the home and often in social settings.

When we ignore the hurtful or harmful doings of others we inadvertently condone. Such ignorance invariably acts as endorsement or reward, often causing the action to be repeated and worsen. In this way we become enablers.

Those who ignore are an integral part of the behavior.

Intriguingly, leaving matters unaddressed can itself be bad behavior. And of course, all bad behavior is based in insecurity. So, our own inactions say much about us as individuals.

Of course this doesn’t mean we should immediately jump on every minor incident we see or perceive. Sometimes, discretion truly is the better part of valor. But even then it’s always possible to discreetly enquire later about a troubling event and highlight a concern.

How we address behavioral issues can be a matter of opportunity. Some problems are immediate; an errant child might often be corrected quickly, yet an adult will usually respond better to a delayed, private discussion. Greater crimes demand more time and process, but even then the unacceptability of an action can be noted early on.

Why do we insert ourselves in the process of correction? As moral individuals we normally feel the need to both constructively teach/guide/mentor protagonists and protect current or potential victims. Also, it behooves us to establish acceptable norms and define the culture we endorse.

In the case of Justice Systems the goals are more centered on punishment and the suppression of recurrence. Even so, cultural norms are also inherently established through Law.

When I witness behavioral infractions (say) in the Workplace it’s easy to envision the offender in his/her past as a young child behaving badly and not receiving supportive and corrective guidance from an adult. Poor parenting abounds; the arguments are often that life moves quickly, time is scarce and so things get overlooked. Realistically, these are poor excuses.

In practice there is always time for correction and improvements, even if belatedly or later in life. And, if things are important, have future or long-term impacts, time should always be allotted.

As adults we do not live in cloistered, protected environments. Humans communicate and collide with one another all the time. They need the (largely learned) ability to directly defend themselves and take

proactive action. However, it’s generally less chaotic and more civilized for everyone concerned when the most moderate and reasonable actions possible are taken during personal interactions. Sadly, this is not always what happens.

So inevitably, behavioral problems occur frequently. And, as a result we need to address the protagonists and correct the behaviors. The most popular corrective process favored today is somewhat hands-off, less emotional and non-confrontational. For example, the individual addressing a problem behavior might say to an offender:

“When you did ABC it caused DEF as a result. It made me/us feel XYZ. I am disappointed, as you’re better than that.”

There are a great number of people (in business, social settings and private life) that follow and believe strongly in this type of approach. They report it’s highly effective and works wonders in correcting minor behavioral issues. Certainly it is quick and easy; in most all cases likely much better than inaction.

Sometimes we are fortunate (and unfortunate) enough to catch ourselves exhibiting behaviors the world would be better without. Just our awareness of this reality can move us productively along the traditional path of recognition, acceptance and then hopefully on through to appropriate correction. As a consequence, it’s often surprisingly informative to reflect upon our own actions with this in mind.

Now, are you seeing behaviors in others they’d be well-advised to cease? Know anyone who’d benefit from some guidance? Are you responsibly developing others by addressing their bad behavior?

Perhaps it’s time to become a little more active with your counselling. And, enhancing your own actions in this way will make you part of a solution, not the problem.

 

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter @ianrmackintosh

 

Successful Leaders Work Backwards to Results

Image result for backwards product designWe’re taught from an early age to solve problems. It’s what humans do. Our approach is largely intuitive and dates back to our origins.

Typically, we are at Position A and need to get to B. So we immediately focus upon how to progress forwards and reach that goal.

I believe we can invariably achieve more predictable and valuable results by essentially reversing this approach.

In business it’s been long recommended we do NOT proceed in this traditional way. Specifically, in Marketing the wiser practice is to work in reverse.

With this method you focus primarily on the result and then next on the way to get there. First you must understand EXACTLY what Product your customer needs and at which POINT in TIME. And only then develop a Plan to achieve this overall end.

It’s fairly simple, really. If you understand your clients’ needs you just (?!) have to execute, on-time. This is commonly called being Market-Driven.

Using this approach we are effectively working backwards relative to our traditional and original scheme which focuses us more immediately upon proceeding; pushing forwards with primarily what we already have in-hand. The Market-Driven approach dictates we comprehensively understand the goal and only then flush out the details of what and how to accomplish.

The earlier, original marketing style is generally described as being Product-Driven. It causes us to be focused on the product we can deliver, rather than the true customer/market needs. Such methods of pushing products (rather than carefully satisfying requirements) are woefully inadequate in competitive, modern markets.

But more importantly, this newer, Market-Driven methodology equally applies to many, if not most life situations, too.

Today, both timing and accuracy continue to be increasingly critical in business and private life. So why wouldn’t this intuitively wise and somewhat reverse approach be generally applicable?

Let’s think more broadly than just relative to Marketing. Imagine now (say) a common situation where it’s critical you arrive for a meeting by a specific time. Shouldn’t you first recognize this important result and then work back though your schedule identifying only essential items to retain in your plans so that you won’t overrun the limited time available?

The important meeting in this case is a must do; it is your critical result. It is the particular event that has to happen. Just as in being Market-Driven, you first pick the critical result that is to occur sometime in the future and only then organize all beforehand to ensure that goal is achieved.

Through such events we see our very lives to be essentially market-driven. Additionally, we remain Results Orientated. And, isn’t it a result of these same influences that all achievers either intuitively or deliberately organize their lives, anyway?

Making sufficiently detailed plans to achieve a critical goal is the key to reliably delivering quality, on-time results. Trimming and adequately defining steps of a plan to secure the process are essential elements of success.

Additionally, developing clear mental images and specific details of desired results is a proven, powerful self-motivational method regularly used by both businesspeople and athletes, alike.

And realistically, how else do winners predictably achieve critical results UNLESS they make sufficiently thorough plans and schedules?

Are you reliably getting results with important short and long-term goals? Are your people delivering the right results, on-time?

Maybe it’s time to make your world fully Results Orientated and become more Market-Driven.

 

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter @ianrmackintosh