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Integrity Scan

So I have recently been through a soft skills based training program at my current company. This coupled with the business coach that the company provided has been a tremendous boost to me both professionally and personally. I have grown so much over the last year and it is all finally starting to come together and I am learning to cope with situations that I would never have dreamed I could handle. As part of this training I was provided a list of books that one of th coaches thought would help polish some of my skills. One of those was “Fierce Conversations” by Susan Scott. I am not very far into the book and I have already found it very inspirational and as far as I am concerned a must read by everyone. The book has some hard hitting stories of issues within companies that result from the companies values not aligning with how they are acting. The same is also applied to you personally, if you are acting in a way counter to your values then you have an integrity issue and you need to perform an “integrity scan”. There is also a really interesting section on Psychoneuroimmunology, which is something I am going to need to read more about, but the basic introduction is very interesting.

With all of this said, I just wanted to blog about this as a way to get this written down. This is going to serve a purpose for me and I hope that you find these items interesting too. So a few interesting quotes have appeared in a matter of about ten pages that have simply sparked something inside me. I am going to share them here as I found this are very shocking to the system even though I feel that we all inherently know this information, but sometimes you just need it plainly stated.

The quote below is in reference to mission statements, but I find that it can be applied to a lot more than mission statements.

You cannot impose those beliefs and values on people by twisting and banging and rewarding and sanctioning and inspiring and motivating and hanging your imposition on the wall, no matter how noble a statement you have conceived, because if you do, you become a propagandist and you spend your corporate life’s energy attempting to push, pull, and persuade rather than get on with the business of your business, whatever it may be.

— Susan Scott, Fierce Conversations

Isn’t this statement so true? Sometimes people spend so much of their energy trying to get people to think like they do than just focusing on their business. I find myself doing this very thing. As a developer and technologist, I find that at times I am trying to push my own propaganda than getting on with business. Maybe that is why I really like Dan North’s stuff, right, it is all about adding business value and frankly, most of the crap we talk about in meetings doesn’t really add much value. I can only imagine how effective companies would be if we spent more time on doing the business of our business, than trying to push strategies, agendas, etc.

Then there is this quote.

As a leader, you get what you tolerate.

— Susan Scott, Fierce Conversations

Wow, what a gut punch. This just rung my bell and cut deep. As a leader in your organization this has to hit home, it does it for me. I feel that I have a high level of integrity and I am usually quick to let people know if I don’t like something, but I am not always there after the statement, I let it float there. So if you get what you tolerate, then how do you go about letting people know what is intolerable? No clue, but I think this needs a little caution, right. So know I have to pull out a Thomas Jefferson quote.

In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.

— Thomas Jefferson

I think we need to make sure that it is truly a matter of principle before we become intolerant. We have to respect that people work and solve problems differently and we need that diversity to be a successful business. However, in matters of principle, those core values, beliefs, etc. that are fundamental to who you are personally and as a company, you cannot tolerate the compromising of those. I find myself very stressed and in constant turmoil because I have not stayed true to the fundamental of who I am. I am not behaving in a manner that is true to my core values. I am not far from them, but I am not as aligned as I have been in the past and I can tell. As a company, I think this can be seen and felt based on moral, turnover, etc. How do you address a team member, group, or business unit that is not behaving consistent to company values? How do you continue to be true to the values and your values if they are not aligned?

So I am going to work on getting real with myself and work through these issues above. I have lots of personal items to work through in addition. So the book proceeds after the information above to tell a story from Studs Terkel’s book “Working”. This statement I find very true with pockets of people through out my entire life. To frame the quote below it is about a young woman you landed her first job and wanted to give it her best.

The problem was, her coworkers made it clear in subtle and not so subtle ways that if she brought everything she had to the task, she would wreck the curve for everyone else.

— Studs Terkel, Working

Hopefully that hit home for many people, it did me. I am not very tolerant when people are not bringing their best to their job. I don’t expect it all the time, but I expect it the majority of the time. People can have off times, but if you are not bringing your “everything” to what you are doing then why even do it. If you don’t feel it is worth your best effort, then find something better to do with your time. I expect technical excellence from my team and I expect them to bring their best. What I have found is people like it when others believe in them and want them to do their best. I will take someone who brings their best and is willing to work than someone with “natural talent”(I know about Malcom Gladwell and I agree with him). Then next part of the book came this statement.

Within a month, I had absented my spirit from my work.

— Studs Terkel, Working

That makes my cringe. I don’t want people to feel absented in their work. I want people to feel excited about coming to work. People that are excited are going to give it their all and that is what you need and that is what they need. It is a win-win-win for everyone involved. I get the distinctive feeling with some groups of people that they have “absented their spirit”, gave up on their values, and now their psychoneuroimmunology has been compromised. With it compromised for a few we lose out on herd immunity at work. With our immunity now compromised as a group we can start losing others that are less resilient to it. As example provided in the book was Enron, I would have to agree, it is how companies and individuals go from doing what is true to themselves to doing things they would never believe. Now just when you think I cannot ramble any longer, I assure you this book keeps throwing punches like Muhammend Ali. Here is another hard hitting quote.

If you want to see someone in real pain, watch someone who knows who he is and defaults on it on a regular basis.

— Pam Murray

This calls me to action and is the main driver for even making this post. I feel at times I am in pain, do to the decisions that I am left to make. I feel that none of my decisions are desirable, but then I realize that actually I have more freedom and don’t have to make a decision based on the options that I am given, I can always choose an option that is not presented. This is a false choice, logical fallacy, grifting, manipulation, etc. You always have the option to choose an option that was presented. People use this to manipulate you to the outcome that they desire and try to steal your joy in your work.

However, if your job is no longer appropriate or sufficient for you and the situation cannot be remedied unless you were to become a different human being entirely, it’s time to leave.

— Susan Scott, Fierce Conversations

This is a powerful statement and one that resonates. After all of this, I am going to let the previous one and this last one simmer on my mind.

I am successful to the degree that who I am and what I live are in alignment.

— Susan Scott, Fierce Conversations

If you made it to the end, I really appreciate the time that you took to read what is on my mind. I hope to get back to the regularly scheduled program, but it may take a few more of these to get it all out.

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