The Secret Word that Drives Amazing Relationships and Exceptional Results

Blog by Tracy Stock, CSP

In church this past Sunday, the pastor said the most misused and misunderstood word in the English language is “love”. He said that love is not an emotion; rather it is a decision. He went on to say that we don’t fall out of love with someone—instead we choose another preference—meaning we choose to walk away from a relationship because we prefer to no longer be with this person for one reason or another. I thought this point was very interesting and highly relatable to business relationships today.

Do you demonstrate love to your customers on a regular basis? If not, why have you chosen not to?

If you answered “no” or “not as much as I’d like” to the question above, here are three strategies to help you drive positive relationships and achieve exceptional results:

1. Listen to Learn. Rather than tuning into the infamous W.I.I.F.M. (What’s In It For Me) station, differentiate your organization by asking questions and listening to their answers. Most businesses and people today, listen to respond. Instead, listen to learn. Focus on understanding what your customers need rather than what you want to sell them.

2. Be Real and Genuine. Customers usually don’t fall in love with a business; they instead, become loyal ambassadors who choose to continue to partner with those specific individuals who are personal, relatable, real and genuine. And when you demonstrate a sense of vulnerability with your customers, they will often return that gesture which certainly deepens and strengthens the relationship.

3. Deliver Exceptionally Well. Whatever product or service you offer, customers need you to follow-through on what you said you would do. Give them what they asked for and what you promised—like guidance, knowledge, expertise, support—to resolve an issue or fulfill a need/want of theirs. Once you engage with customers to solve their problems, only then can you begin to offer new ideas and suggestions about another value-added option to help them achieve even greater results.

Make the choice to exit the pit stop and accelerate full speed ahead toward falling in love with your customers [again]. When you do, they’ll understand you have their best interest at heart which will open the door to a long-lasting, loyal relationship.

Demonstrate Value and Become Indispensable!

Blog by Tracy Stock, CSP

Organizations need talented individuals who consistently bring value to the organization and to its customers. The more value you bring with you to your job, the more valuable and indispensable you will be viewed by your employer. Not only will you command a higher salary, but you will likely be considered for new opportunities far more than others.

Please don’t mistake indispensable for irreplaceable—because they are not the same thing. As it’s said, everyone can be replaced. But to be indispensable means that you are so good and efficient at your job, that your boss and co-workers don’t want to imagine replacing you. You are the go-to person they count on; the one who simply gets things done. So how can you gauge your level of value?

Consider asking yourself these seven questions and reflect on your answers honestly. Do you have numerous favorable responses or does the self-assessment demonstrate a less-than-positive picture?

  1. Does my work and results exceed expectations?
  2. Am I learning, growing and improving every year?
  3. Am I spending most of my time at work with top performers, emotionally intelligent individuals and those who are upbeat and positive?
  4. Have I recently added to my job description on my own initiative?
  5. Do I set and achieve goals for myself beyond those my supervisor appoints?
  6. Do I regularly ask for feedback on my performance from my boss, peers and direct reports (if applicable)?
  7. Do I collaborate well with others and have good professional relationships?

In addition to the value you bring to your job, have you considered the value or worth you place on yourself personally?

Consider this scenario: If I offered you $20, would you take it? What if I crumpled it up? Stepped on it? You’d probably still take it, right? And do you know why? Because it’s still $20; it’s worth hasn’t changed. The same goes for you. Your worth doesn’t change because someone crumpled you up or stepped on you. You are still just as valuable as you were before.

In times of uncertainty—clearly like those we continue to be in—self-reflection occurs often. Looking at ourselves in the mirror sometimes brings worry, anxiety and even fear. These negative feelings occur because of the unknown and the feeling of a loss of control. The good news, is that we all have some control, and focusing time, attention and energy on those things within our control is a positive choice. Did the answers to the seven questions above reflect optimism or cynicism? Someone who thrives on learning and growing or simply being complacent? A determined achiever or an unaccountable quitter?

All of the above attributes are choices—not talents—and all of them are available to you without paying $20. And what makes you indispensable isn’t usually a certain set of skills or experiences…it’s you. It’s your personality, work ethic, self-discipline, perseverance, flexibility, resilience, optimism, happiness, level of self-worth, etc. Choose to dream more, learn more, achieve more and you will become more.

Achieve an Amazing Wellbeing

According to the State of the Global Workplace 2021 Report just published by Gallup, Inc., negative emotions — worry, stress, anger and sadness — among employees across the world have reached record levels. Not only did 41% of employees said they felt worried often throughout the previous day, 57% of employees cited daily stress levels now topping the charts. Worse yet, though, seven in 10 employees were found to be struggling or suffering — rather than thriving — in their overall lives. This statistic related to wellbeing is alarming and something that needs to be improved.

If your organization, team or you need to focus more on enhancing and/or achieving an amazing wellbeing, here are five strategies to consider implementing:

  1. Determine and live your personal values. Many people don’t have strong values or convictions and end up following others. Determine what’s important to you—not your neighbor, your uncle, your boss, or your friend—then create a plan for carrying them out, and simply live your plan. Being true to who you are and what you want is pivotal. In short, be you—everyone else is already taken.
  2. Surround yourself with positivity—people, places and possessions. Why? Because what you focus on becomes your reality. Hang with those who are real and exude a positive disposition. Hang out in places where you feel inspired and happy. Hang on to things that remind you of pleasurable experiences and ditch those possessions that bring about negative, unwanted emotions.
  3. Live in the present. As the saying goes, “Learn from the past, plan for the future, live in the present.” If you don’t learn from past mistakes, they likely will be repeated. Setting goals and planning for a bright future provides a path to success that can guide you. Then live in the present by enjoying those precious moments you experience each and every day.  
  4. Treat your body well. Get sufficient sleep, which is different for everyone. Fuel your body with the nutrients it needs to thrive—not just survive—while minimizing the toxins many tend to crave when having fun. And, of course, move—by exercising often. Your body needs to remain strong and healthy and it can only do that when we treat it well.
  5. Experience new things! Don’t get stuck in the mundane, boring and dullness life can bring. Instead, dive in and celebrate the joy found in new experiences you see, smell and taste. Take a new route to work or the grocery store and pay attention. You may discover something cool you’ve never seen before. Try a new activity that could become an envied passion of yours. I could never imagine myself liking to dig in dirt and now creating gorgeous and fragrant flower gardens is a true love of mine. Treat yourself to a new menu item or restaurant. Instead of limiting yourself to the same habitual choices, take a small risk and try a new version of a favorite entrée or a shiny new delicacy. Why not? If you don’t like it, you don’t need to eat it.

So what is being done in your organization to help employees attain a thriving wellbeing and perhaps also better manage negative emotions? Engage and educate your team at an upcoming event or educational/training venue from a trusted workplace culture expert. Several results-focused solutions I offer to address common wellbeing struggles include:

  • The One Choice Rule: Transform Your Life and Work by Changing Your Mindset and Behavior
  • Resilience: Courageously Adapt and Build Back
  • Embracing the Challenge of Change
  • Emotional Intelligence: Managing Emotions to Enhance Relationships
  • Control Conflict! Collaborate More. React Less.
  • Tame the Turbulence! Avoid Losing It. Fly Through It.

Choose to enhance your wellbeing and that of your team and organization. Partner with me to inspire behavior change and Achieve Positive Outcomes!

This blog post is dedicated to those who have lost their battles. May their souls finally rest in peace. And let this gesture honor my former husband’s final wish—after his struggle tragically ended last month at the young age of 50.

“Amazing Grace” – Bagpipe Master

Four Ways to Get Unwanted Emotions Under Control

Blog by Tracy Stock, CSP

Have you ever said something out of anger that you later regretted? Of course! We all have. Emotions are powerful. They determine how we interact with others and ultimately the relationships we hold. Unfortunately, as human beings, we are reaction machines. And as the saying goes, “When angry, you will make the best speech you will ever regret.” Here’s how to avoid reacting poorly and better control your emotions when it matters most:

1. Alter your story. How you interpret a situation—meaning the story you tell yourself about a certain set of facts—is what creates your emotions. No one can cause you to feel a certain way. Everyone totally owns their individual emotions. If you want to change your outcomes or results, you must change the stories you tell yourself (the interpretations you make). And just last week I spoke to a SHRM group in Texas about how to better control emotions when it matters most. Here is a snippet of that live + virtual program, focusing on the concept of how to alter your story.

Clearly the stories we tell ourselves impact our emotions, and ultimately our outcomes. Additional strategies to better control unwanted emotions include:

2. Prepare. Think through how the conversation may go. How have you reacted in the past? Have you had a difficult conversation with this person before, and if so, how did s/he respond? Consider and write down what you think the person might say that could potentially send you over the edge. Go through each point and proactively assess why, from their vantage point, s/he would say such a thing. Go into the conversation prepared and you will maintain greater composure and likely handle the situation far better.

3. Listen more than you talk. It feels great to be heard, but if you are not listening to the other’s response, the discussion is pointless. Many people—as unintentional as it may be—focus on what they are going to say next; how they will respond. Instead, try very hard to remain focused on what the other person is trying to communicate. They may not say it as eloquently as some can, but empathizing with them in that moment and acknowledging their feelings along the way is a much better decision than not letting them get a word in edgewise.

4. Label your emotions. Do your best to acknowledge what emotion you are experiencing. Are you frustrated? Do you feel disappointed? Are you nervous? Sometimes the feeling of anger masks emotions that feel vulnerable—like shame or embarrassment. By paying attention to what you are feeling and then labeling it/them, you are consciously identifying at least one emotion that has ahold of you in that moment, which may help you realize how emotions affect your decisions.

Gain control over your emotions and watch your relationships soar! To learn more strategies on how to more effectively do this within your team, across your organization or just personally, reach out to me at tracy@achievepositiveoutcomes.com.

Simply G.R.O.W. for a More Balanced, Meaningful and Fulfilling Life

Blog by Tracy Stock, CSP

We are constantly bombarded with messages to “buy more, do more, and be more.” Life has become overwhelming for many. We feel we need to look younger, become richer, feel happier, work quicker, be thinner, drive harder, run farther, think bigger, dress trendier, eat healthier, walk taller, drive safer, go faster, live bigger…and the list goes on. It’s exhausting to think about and even more wearying to act out. My cure for craziness—while also focusing on continuing to learn and grow in life—is choosing to live more simply. Now, this concept is simple, no doubt; but certainly not easy—which is why I chose to focus on it this month.

Living simply means cutting out the many trivial and unimportant things you do, so you have more quality time for passions, family, friends, and yourself. It means slowing down and getting rid of the clutter, so you can choose to live a more balanced, healthier, and fulfilling life. It is about being present and living in the moment in a meaningful way.

To live a simpler life—while I continue to target ways in which I can enrich my career and personal aspirations—I choose to apply four key strategies using the acronym, “G.R.O.W.” which includes:

G – Goal-setting

R – Reduce

O – Organize

W – Work

The first component of “G.R.O.W.” includes “goal-setting.” When speaking to groups, I often ask those in the audience to raise their hands if they have a list of goals for the year. Next, I ask them to keep their hands in the air if they wrote those annual goals down and refer to them at least on a monthly basis. It is amazing how many hands go down. Developing a plan and setting goals is a powerful process. It helps you choose where you want to go in life. By knowing precisely what you want to achieve, you know where you need to concentrate your efforts. You’ll also quickly spot the distractions that would otherwise lure you off course. By setting clearly defined goals, you can take pride in seeing forward progress and achieving them.

To live a more simple, present and meaningful life, the second component of “G.R.O.W.” is to “reduce” the volume of activities I am involved in. This could mean the number of groups, projects, commitments, or things I am expected to participate in—whether I volunteer for them or graciously have them appointed. Additionally, living simply also means cutting back on the number of tasks I am juggling at any given time.

I am amazed when I hear people proudly verbalize how they can multitask so well. Is this even possible? Can we communicate on the telephone and write an email at the same time? We physically can, but are we doing justice to either activity? Instead of calling this multitasking, I like to refer to it as shift-tasking. We rapidly shift from one thing to another, interrupting ourselves unproductively. I’ve seen numerous research studies on the negative effects of multitasking, and some show that productivity drops as much as 40 percent. When I think I’m doing myself a favor by multitasking, I remind myself to think again. Instead of doing two or three things mediocre, I’d rather be focused and excel at one.

“Organize” is the third component of “G.R.O.W.” which illustrates that the more organized our stuff is, the more productive we will be. If I have a messy desk, I can’t seem to concentrate. When I need to regain organizational control, I block off a chunk of time and that is the task I focus on, whether it is for thirty minutes or two hours. A friend told me she read an article, which stated that people generally spend about one year of their life looking for lost things. Imagine if that statistic is true. Purposefully enhance your organizational skills in as many aspects of your life as possible. Whether it is organizing email folders, your wallet, a pantry, a large closet, or an entire basement; the more organized you keep yourself and your belongings, the less you will have to re-organize and the more productive you will be.

The final component of the “G.R.O.W.” acronym for living a simpler, more balanced and fulfilling life is to “work.” Anything worth doing takes strong discipline, dedication and sweat equity—also known as work. Hard work requires us to be present in the here and now, and to focus our efforts on what we are currently doing. And when you look at high achievers, for example, working hard is not an option…it’s their default. And if you happen to be one of the best at what do you, your work probably feels like play. That’s one of the keys to being successful. Find something you love to do, that you’re good at, and that you can get paid for. That’s true success in my eyes.

Living a happy, successful and meaningful life is a conscious choice. Choose to let go of the craziness and instead focus on continuing to G.R.O.W. by living more simply.

Nasty or Nice? You Choose.

“Be nice. Play nice. Talk nice.” We are told these words over and over as kids, and reminded of them as adults. “Nice guys finish last,” “nice guy syndrome,” and “no more Mr. Nice Guy” (or girl, of course)—all arguments against being nice. So can being too nice actually hurt you? Yes, sometimes it can.

I recently had a new stamped concrete patio poured and the contractor unfortunately didn’t do a quality construction job. Within three months of installation, 20+ cracks had formed. I reached out to him, asked for it to be replaced and was abruptly told, “No.” I tried to reason with him, to no avail. After a very long, emotionally-draining process, I chose to let it go. I wondered, was I initially too nice? Should I have been more ruthless in my approach? Would yelling and screaming at him have helped me achieve a better outcome?

I generally believe in being reasonable and that I should treat others how I want to be treated. We all know this. Yet, common sense is not always common practice. Because of my recent personal experience, I thought I’d research the concept of “niceness.” I didn’t think my opinion of behaving nice would alter, but I wanted to find out what I didn’t know about the cons of niceness:

  • Some people try to take advantage of nice people. Nice can be misconstrued as soft, but certainly better than being mean or rude. Choose “nice” over “nasty.” It just feels good.
  • Some may not strive to meet your needs. This lack of empathy may be due to being selfish or possibly because they experienced a similar situation. Be sure you communicate your expectations and needs to avoid this issue.
  • You may forget to be good to yourself. Nice people can tend to throw so much of their time and energy into the niceness they are giving to others that they may not address or take care of their own needs. Do your best to not get swept up in the negativity and problems of other people—keeping the pessimistic Paul’s and back-stabbing Betty’s at a safe distance.
  • You may be viewed with skepticism and/or mistrust. Sometimes unwarranted niceness is view as suspicious behavior. Sad…but true. Be clear with your intentions and exercise patience so the other person can sense your degree of genuineness versus danger.
  • Some may become jaded and feel that most people are not good. There are plenty of bad seeds in the world, but I choose to believe that most are kind, understanding and strive to be honorable people. Look at people and things through an optimistic lens versus viewing things as inevitably bad. When you do, you’ll see even more random acts of kindness and niceness, which is very reciprocal.
  • You may begin to resent those who are nice to you. Resentment is a dangerous and poisonous feeling. It significantly erodes trust and deteriorates relationships—often beyond repair. Choose to maintain a healthy and positive mindset—one with less resentment and more admiration.
  • Some may find themselves apologizing for things that aren’t their fault. Nice people don’t typically like to see other people upset. In turn, nice individuals can then start to shoulder problems and emotions that are not theirs to carry. Certainly, you should apologize when warranted; but ensure it’s yours to own.
  • You may find yourself overburdened with additional responsibilities. Being too nice is a quick way to become swamped with an unmanageable amount of responsibilities—such as: being volunteered for activities without anyone consulting you or accepting more than your fair share of work. Instead, just say, “No.” No is a complete sentence that nice people must learn. And don’t feel obligated to always justify your “no.” Justification offers a manipulative person a potential in-road to inject self-doubt and undermine your “no.”
  • Some may become a magnet for narcissists, manipulators and users. Nice people tend to be naïve and attract those predators who find it easy to steamroll and manipulate. Instead, ask questions while looking for motives and inconsistencies. Also, establish and enforce boundaries without letting emotions cloud your judgment.

Niceness is a quality that this world is in dire need of. It’s imperative that we spread this contagious, positive way of being; yet, at times, it can definitely cause unwanted issues, which we need to be cognizant of. When you’re too nice—to suppliers who can’t deliver on time, to colleagues who don’t do their work, or even contractors who don’t provide the quality service you pay them to deliver—you’re actually being taken advantage of.

Stand tall and confident, without waver or waffling, while being pleasant and polite—with a strong degree of nice. No one should be taken advantage of, nor stoop to a feeling of reacting emotionally when vulnerable. Often times the negative reaction from you is what is desired most from the other person. Do your best to keep your cool and choose nice over nasty. Handle the situation the best way you can, seeking external professional resources when necessary, but then…let it go. This action is simple, but definitely not easy; yet, is it worth giving up the sanctity of your personal space, peace of mind, and overall happiness? Likely not. Remember…being nice is not a character flaw. It’s a healthy and honorable choice.

Find Joy in Being Wrong

Blog by Tracy Stock, CSP

What do you think of people who are wrong? Common responses are ignorant, lazy, uneducated. And we are taught at a very young age that the way to succeed in life is to never make mistakes…or at least, make as few of them as possible. After all, getting something wrong means there is something wrong with us. And today, many of us will do anything to avoid being wrong. But what if we’re wrong about all that?

Think about the last time you were wrong. Perhaps it was today, yesterday, last week, or last month. Consider how you felt emotionally to feel wrong. Did it feel embarrassing, dreadful, painful? Most of you will say, “Yes, the feeling was similar.” Yet, if you answered “yes” to that question, you were wrong. Being wrong doesn’t feel like anything because you don’t know it yet; however, when you realize you’re wrong, that’s when it hurts.

Last week, I purchased a new vehicle and agreed to trade in my current one. Because it wasn’t in stock, the salesperson had to drive to another dealership to pick it up, five hours away round trip. After it went through inspection and the keys were exchanged, I knew I had made a mistake immediately when I drove off the lot. Did the car not feel right or was it that I didn’t feel right about the purchase? I told myself that the car didn’t feel right; yet I came to realize later that there was nothing wrong with the car—I had buyer’s remorse. The dealership was amazingly understanding…and after being unsuccessful in trying to place me in a different model, they instead changed plates back and handed me the keys to my original vehicle. I even received a pleasant email from the salesperson the next day commenting that he wished we could have achieved a positive outcome for me. I assured him he most certainly did! And guess who I will ask for if/when I decide to purchase that brand of vehicle again? I can guarantee you it will be him.

In contrast to understanding an error though, knowing you are right often times leads to feeling smart, responsible, safe and even happy. It means that your position, belief, or assumption perfectly fit reality. But to aim to always be right is not rational behavior.

We also like to think that we reach conclusions by reviewing facts, weighing evidence and analyzing arguments. But this is not how human beings usually operate—particularly when decisions are important or need to be made quickly. We usually arrive at a conclusion independent of conscious reasoning that fits are existing worldview and doesn’t require us to change a pleasant or familiar narrative. And only if it’s required, we will search for reasons to defend why we are right—like if a newly purchased car is returnable because it just doesn’t feel right.

Rather than staunchly preserving our stance when it appears that we may be wrong, it’s important to realize that the capacity for us to screw up isn’t an embarrassing defect; it is fundamental to who we are. Rather than driving why your point is right and the other one is wrong, try entertaining that your conclusion may not be potentially accurate—likely keeping emotions from escalating and relationships becoming damaged because of a commitment to rightness. Instead, find joy in realizing you aren’t perfect; you made a mistake; you’re wrong; but fixing or admitting to the wrong makes you less wrong than before.

Striving to be less wrong—rather than more right—could also be a beneficial way to better understand yourself in multiple contexts, whether it’s a marital argument or a business decision. I may be wrong about who vacuumed the house last week, or about which vendor to partner with; yet if I begin from the assumption that I’m fallible and striving to be less wrong, a challenge or potential mistake may not feel so threatening.

I encourage you to transform your thoughts about being wrong. Instead, view mistakes as learning opportunities. After all, when do you learn most…when things go great or things crumble? I can assure you that I truly learn when I’m wrong and standing in the rubble of defeat. The first key point here is to learn from mistakes and work hard to not repeat them. A second, and more important key point though, is before you commit to saying you’re right, question your own positions and judgments; test yourself by examining your beliefs and recognizing rationalization when you engage in it. And the easiest way to accomplish this second point is to break out of your warm, comfortable cocoon of safety and consider saying, “Maybe I’m wrong.”

Resilience: The Courage to Come Back Stronger

The first and arguably the most talented singer ever crowned on American Idol is Kelly Clarkson. One of her many hits entitled, “Stronger,” is clearly applicable today. And even though a vaccine is just about ready for the world, none of us are—nor ever will be—immune from enduring tough situations. After all, it’s not the difficult condition that does you in; it’s how you choose to react to it.

Resilience is defined as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or even significant sources of stress—such as family and relationship problems, serious health issues, workplace stressors, financial difficulties, etc. And interestingly, research has shown that resilience is quite ordinary, versus extraordinary. See, people commonly demonstrate resilience—like how they respond to job loss, personal injury, illness, death of a loved one, or even a world-wide pandemic. Resilience is what helps you adapt and recover.

I often hear people say self-disparaging related comments like, “I’m not as tough as he is” or “I just can’t adapt like she can.” Interestingly, resilience is not a trait that people either have or do not have. It involves behaviors, thoughts and actions that can be learned and developed in anyone.

Take a moment and compare highly resilient people with those who struggle with it. What do they do differently? One action that resilient people demonstrate is that they approach and solve problems differently. They take intentional and specific steps to resolve them in these ways:

  • Resilient people are able to spot the solution that will more likely lead to a safe outcome; they rarely have tunnel vision.
  • Calmly and rationally look at a problem and envision a successful solution. Don’t wait for the problem to go away on its own.
  • Focus on the progress you make and plan your next steps, rather than becoming discouraged by the amount of work that still needs to be completed.
  • Whenever you encounter a new challenge, note important details and make a quick list of potential ways you could solve the problem.

For example, let’s say a fellow team-member leaves your organization. More work will likely come your way. How would a resilient person approach this issue? S/he could re-prioritize the work, delegate as many responsibilities as feasible, and practice planned neglect—determine one thing you can plan to NOT do this day, week, or month (or year)—to make time for the new short-term tasks that have been recently assigned.

If you want to “create versus react” as your organization begins the new year, consider partnering with me to help you Achieve Positive Outcomes with one of my most requested training programs entitled, “Resilience: The Courage to Come Back.” After all, resilience is a learned behavior; it is a choice. Choose to not simply react, and instead, help your team put 2020 in the rearview mirror. Arm your employees, colleagues and yourself with results-focused strategies to create greater resilience and success—for your strongest year yet.     

And as I slightly adapt the lyrics of Clarkson’s famous tune…Footsteps even lighter—what doesn’t kill you makes a fighter. Stand a little taller—what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. And my hope…Intentionally and courageously move forward—what doesn’t kill you makes you more resilient.

Don’t Ever Choke Again!

Have you ever spoken with someone who rambles through their thoughts or meanders from one subject to another without ever making a point? This may be frustrating in a personal situation but it’s infuriating as the listener in a professional setting. To avoid similar gaffes and instead, communicate with greater clarity, conciseness and confidence—learn and apply The Rule of Threes. Let’s do a quick activity! Watch and listen to this short video.

Why is this rule important? Because you’ll never be caught off guard—or choke—again. The next time your boss, or someone else, asks you how that project is coming that s/he assigned to you, avoid the common and gut-wrenching answer of, “Fine.” So many people respond in a similar manner and it can not only shatter your boss’ perception of your competence, but it can also strip you of endless future opportunities.

Instead, when you are put on the spot and asked to share a summary or provide an update on a project/process/problem, apply The Rule of Threes using a time-related focus. For example, state your response in a way that answers these three questions:

  1. What [tasks] have I recently completed? (past)
  2. What [tasks] am I currently working on? (present)
  3. What [tasks] do I plan to do in the near future? (future)

Your response may sound something like this: “This project has been interesting and very fun for me! Last week I finished [X], which I’m very proud of. This week I am focused on [Y], which will put us in a better position with our competition. And next week, my plan is to [Z].”

This strategy is persuasive, as your listener is more likely to trust your reasoning with a three-part structure. It’s rhythmical—meaning it creates momentum, moving your listener from point A to B to C. Lastly, this strategy is memorable because it is far easier to remember three things over other numbers like four, five or ten. If you’re skeptical, look at these common examples:

And rather than someone asking you for a project update, sometimes we need to sell or position an idea or product in the best way possible. Obviously, you will want to focus on how your listener will benefit. It is also helpful, though, to place your three reasons/benefits in a specific order. The goal is to start strong, but end with your strongest point of all:

Each time we face the fear of speaking, we gain strength, courage and confidence. With repeated practice it can be executed concisely and brilliantly. So take advantage of every opportunity to practice your communication skills so that when important occasions arise, you will have the (1) style, (2) sharpness and (3) clarity to influence others and achieve positive outcomes. (And be sure to include The Rule of Threes!)

Sheer Craziness!

Today there was some chaos in the community where I live. Water was bellowing up from the ground and flowing as a steady stream down the street. The original thought was that the main water line was damaged, but apparently the saddle valve blew off—which connects the main water line to the service lines. And because the pressure was so intense, it blew a hole in the main water line.

As with most of the hardworking men and women who put forth great energy and effort everyday as the community continues to grow with newly-built homes, today was no different. As soon as the issue was realized, individuals from numerous local agencies were working diligently to resolve the issue. Within five minutes or so of noticing the problem, the water was shut off so the flooding ceased. But over the course of the next five minutes, sheer craziness ensued!


As I looked outside, water was again gushing out of the ground and streaming down the street. But why? Because an inspector had to first see the issue before the water could officially be shut off. A worker was told to physically turn the water back on to watch the surge continue until the inspector arrived. Seriously? Where has common sense gone? This story is not about common sense. It’s about leadership.


So often I hear companies say, “We need to get the right people on the bus and in the right seats.” Yet, all the workers I saw busting their butts to help quickly solve the problem and mitigate more damage, were definitely in roles where they knew what to do in a crisis situation and acted accordingly. But then their autonomy was stripped away until one special person could arrive to say, “Yep! We got a problem! Shut the water off.”

Diligently digging and searching for the leak.


Now, I understand there are rules in place for a reason and employees are asked to follow a chain of command. I get that. Yet, it is a leader’s job to create an environment where employees can do their work—to the best of their abilities—without being judged, scrutinized or told to stand down—especially in a crisis situation. The agile workers who responded swiftly and safely had their autonomy shredded today. What do you think will happen next time there is a similar issue?

Stop asking, “How do I get the right people in the right roles?”

Stop asking, “How do I get the best out of my employees?”

START asking, “How do I get out of the way and provide the tools necessary so my people can be their natural best?”