"When I'm getting ready to persuade a person
I spend one third of the time thinking about myself,
what I'm going to say, and two thirds of the time
thinking about him and what he is going to say."
~ Abraham Lincoln
When I am coaching someone in a leadership position I always want them to understand fear. There's always a hidden fear inside the person he or she is leading and about to talk to.
If they don't understand that fear, they are going to have a very hard time creating agreements with that person. And motivation is all about creating agreements.
Let's say I am that leader I am coaching, and my goal is to get my people to agree to work with me. I may want them to agree with me to perform at a higher level, or to get some work done that I think needs to be done, or to communicate with me differently, or to treat the customer differently. In all these cases, it's an agreement that I need.
But there's a reason (you know what it is by now…here's a hint: it's fear) why the person on the other side will push back at me and try not to agree to agree with me. And once we understand that reason, we have the ability to create agreements much faster.
The focus of my understanding must always be: how do I remove the fear?
Top hypnotists will tell you they can't even begin to work with a subject whom they can't relax. When a person is not relaxed, they are not open to suggestion, hypnotic or otherwise.
Most managers who try to create agreements with other people actually cause the fear in the other person to get worse as the conversation goes on.
So how do you create an agreement in such a way that the employee's fear buttons are not being pushed, and they're not pushing back in self-defense?
By asking questions. Because questions honor the employee's thoughts and feelings.
Most of the time when people fear losing power and balance and push back (with objections, with defensiveness, with a stall, etc.) it looks like strength! It looks like, "well, there's a feisty person! There's a person who knows their own mind. There's a person who's not going to get pushed around."
Not true. That's a scared person!
Because people don't want you to sell them on your idea, they want to sell themselves. They want it to be their idea to do the thing, not yours. That's the secret to motivation, right there.
Let's say you want one of your employees to get forms turned back to you in a more timely manner. If you talk to that employee in an assertive way and say, "You know what, I need to talk to you. I didn't get those forms from you on time." You know what happens?
Defensiveness and fear: "There's no way I could get them back to you on time because our computer system was down for two days. Actually, our people did pretty well given what was going on here at this office. We did very well as a matter of fact. As a matter of fact, we're doing better than can be expected down here."
Your employee is defending what went on, because your employee is afraid that he will be judged poorly, that he might even be asked to leave the company because he can't get his forms in on time. And all you've done--the only mistake you have made--is you've put something aggressively out there that pushed his button, so you've awakened the fear, and caused him to push back.
And if you are clueless about fear and don't know what is going on you are liable to push even more buttons in response to the fear. You might say, "Well you know that computer system was down at another division across town and they got theirs in on time."
And now your employee is more frightened, even more anxious.
"Yeah, but they've got a bigger staff than we do. We're understaffed here. Always have been."
The more you push, the more he pushes back. The more definite you are, the more defensive he is. And the more defensive he is the less likely he is to turn those forms in on time next week. Which is all you wanted in the first place. It was all you wanted, but it was what you yourself made impossible.
This very human push-push-back dynamic challenges marriages, it slows down careers and it makes a manager's life a misery.
What a manager can do is ask gentle questions. Let the people they are leading think and speak and make their own fresh commitments. That's how motivation happens.
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If you are a COACH click here immediately to learn about a professional life-changing event May 11:
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"Amazingly inspirational. Amazingly applicable. Amazingly written. If you only get to read one book this year, be sure it is LIFE EXPECTANCY by William Keiper. If you are going to read several books this year, read this one first. Everyone in the 25-44 year old range, everyone in the 45-64 year old range, and everyone in the 65-84 year old range should read this book immediately. All three age groups will benefit from its contents for unique and different reasons. It will alter what you do with the rest of your life. Will, thanks for writing this book. What a gift."
~ Steve Hardison
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What's your life expectancy?
The great, poetic novelist John Updike talks about the “strange expectancy that getting on any train gives us.” That's the same expectancy I felt when reading Will Keiper's first draft of this book, LIFE EXPECTANCY.
Because prior to this book I'd known Will through his energetic, enthused conversations and, yes, I'll even say “rants” about what is happening in this world we are now living in. Will has clients all around the world, and as a well-known business consultant he is often asked to speak about trends and opportunities facing the world market today.
As he did his research for a speech one day, he came upon some alarming statistics. In short, he discovered, the world was not going to work. Not as planned. Not as we had complacently assumed, living off credit, inflated asset values, infinite benefits and governmental care and feeding. It no longer added up to a sustainable world. In fact, he found it an unsafe condition that would not mend itself.
But Will was not upset. In fact, he was excited. It was a whole new world and we all had a chance to get on board with the same strange (but invigorating) expectancy that we felt when boarding Updike's train.
As he talked to me about the speech he was preparing to give, I realized that my new duty to him as his friend was to urge him to write a book. I knew he had great ideas on many other topics, and I also knew his personal story was riveting. The way he'd turned his life around after a series of personal setbacks and financial challenges was remarkable. It didn't take much persuading. This is a man who loves to write and who loves a challenge. And he had a clear vision.
It was a vision for people of his generation—the baby boomers. He sees that many of them are in a very precarious situation at just the “wrong” time in their lives. He concludes that if they don't wake up to it, at some point in the not too distant future they’ll be brutally blindsided by the reality of how insecure their future really is. But if they could wake up, there would be a great new adventure and a way to live out their retirement years in a much more active and fulfilling way.
What you will be reading is the result of Will's profound whirlwind mind. It is the result of how he urgently jumps on a project and maximizes its potential rapidly. That's his business. Will is a turnaround artist in real life. He is hired by companies (and individuals) who are in distress and need help fast. Will enters and drives the making of bold, innovative, difficult decisions for them and then makes it happen with urgency. He is very successful at this kind of work and that experience has served him well in his approach to this book.
Because he’s now applied himself and his special brand of urgency to America, and, more specifically, the generation we call the boomers.
One of Will's professional roles when he enters stagnant organizations is that of the truth-teller. People inside organizations often live within a complex, fearful web that makes telling the truth an uneasy and often unwelcome prospect. Will moves quickly. He knows that the truth is what will ultimately set them free. He delivers it with velocity and impact.
And he delivers the truth here, too, for those of us in the boomer generation who assumed we could be passive non-participants in life for our last twenty or so years. No longer true!
This book scared me, then woke me up, and then excited me about my future. Will does not spare us our mortality, our ignorance, our insolvency, our laziness, our immaturity or our lack of imagination. This truth hurts. But it is the very truth that can set our generation free.
But there is, throughout the book, a theme of positive expectancy. There are stories that inspire and reassure. There are solutions and ideas that rally the mind. Before I'd read this book I'd never thoroughly understood the concept of creative destruction. Now I do. What is happening is good and in some ways quite necessary. And now my future looks more adventurous than I ever thought possible.
Previously in America, “old people” surrendered their liveliness and allowed the youth culture to dominate as they wasted away in retirement. Will Keiper has made the first strong argument for turning that paradigm on its head as the very solution to our country's problems. He declares a whole new game for us to play, and it's the opposite of fading away.
When Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote in his essay “Self-Reliance” that “Society is a conspiracy against the manhood of each of its members,” it was a pronouncement that many felt was too extreme. But Will Keiper has given it new meaning, new urgency.
Our old passive retirement society was a conspiracy against the manhood and womanhood of anyone over 65. And “life expectancy” only meant a numerical calculation of years left before you pass away completely. This book is a game-changer on that score. It reboots and refreshes the very word expectancy.
Now it becomes, as one of my dictionaries proclaims, “That feeling of optimistic expectancy that fills theatergoers as they wait for the curtain to rise.”
Click here to see Will's book on Amazon: