"The Man, The Mission, The Passion" Husband, Father, Attorney, CPA, Steward Leader, Entrepreneur, MBA, Author, Builder, HBS OPM 25 Class, Mentor, Teacher

This wasn’t the kind of campaign you could wage by fiat.

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During WWII, 45,000 American fighting men had to be taken off the front lines of the European Theater of Operations in the winter of 1944-1945. The equivalent of 10 to 15 battle harden battalions; these casualties of experienced, trained veterans were not due to enemy action but to something much simpler, indeed preventable: trench foot.

Trench foot is caused by prolonged exposure of the feet to damp, unsanitary, and cold conditions and if left untreated can results in gangrene, which in turn can lead to the need for amputation. The solution is simple: wash and dry your feet, put on dry socks and shoes.

Simple perhaps but if you are serving on the Western Front in the dead of winter (the winter of ’44-’45 was the coldest in 50 years), hadn’t had a shower in weeks and were dead tired from being on the move all day long, not so easy. It meant finding dry wood for a fire, heating water (perhaps even snow) in their helmets, carefully washing their feet in the cold (sleeping accommodations were generally fox holes or deserted, unheated  buildings without power or light) and hanging their socks out to dry overnight.

Warren Bennis, the well-known American writer on leadership, got his 1st leadership experience as a 19 year old lieutenant on the Western Front during the winter of ’44-’45. Determined that none of his men would fall victim to trench foot or frost bite, Bennis would personally and nightly “go from squad to squad, making sure each man took off his boots, washed his feet, dried them carefully, and put on dry socks before he put his boots back on.”

The key points here are “personally” and “nightly”; in Bennis’ words “This wasn’t the kind of campaign you could wage by fiat.”

Some things, some initiatives, setting or maintaining some norms or standards simply require that managers and leaders get out of their offices (or tents) and get personally involved (i.e. walk the factory floor). You cannot lead exclusively from behind your desk. Leaders must get out and visit the front line, see for yourself, ask questions, look deeply, listen to learn.

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Do You (Or Someone You Know) Suffer From Emotional Impotence?

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Emotional Impotence is the inability to understand or speak about or deal with emotions. Emotional Impotence is most often seen as the inability to comprehend and express one’s own motivations and feelings coupled with blindness toward the sensitivities of others. Emotional Impotence is not black or white, you have it or you don’t condition. Rather Emotional Impotence should be thought of as a RANGE of ability (or lack of ability) to identify and cope with emotions, both one’s own and those of others.

Emotional Impotence plays out in our culture with abundant Mars v. Venus stereotypes: the male who refuses to go to therapy, the girlfriend who complains about not being “seen” or states ”you just don’t get it, do you?”, Left Brain (Logic Focus) v. Right Brain (Relationship Focus).

Emotional Impotence is related to Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and may be thought of having an under developed EQ. The good news is that EQ can be learned and elevated, even self-taught. Frequently, Emotional Impotence arises from some form of fear (i.e. being vulnerable or exposing a weakness or of not being manly or being embarrassed by feelings we do not think we should have) that we dis-own and bury, try to sweep under the rug. Hiding or running from our emotions is a VERY dysfunctional coping mechanisms; feelings buried alive, never die. You cannot solve that which you refuse to face, the unexamined life is a waste of potential. Why live an emotionally constrained, black and white existence when the full range of vibrant colors are yours with which to explore?

Fortunately, awareness is the first step to emotional growth; many good books are available. Some I’ve found interesting are:

-“I Don’t Want to Talk About It”and “How Can I Get Through to You? Closing the Intimacy Gap Between Men and Women” both by Terrance Real

-“Healing the Shame that Binds You” and “Homecoming: Re-claiming and Healing Your Inner Child” both by John Bradshaw

-”You Don’t Understand’ by Deborah Tannen

Closing Quotes

“Let’s not forget that the little emotions are the great captains of our lives and we obey them without realizing it.” – Vincent Van Gogh

“The walls we build around us to keep sadness out also keeps out the joy.” – Jim Rohn

If you don’t manage your emotions, then your emotions will manage you.” – Doc Childre and Deborah Rozman, Transforming Anxiety

“Feelings are much like waves, we can’t stop them from coming but we can choose which one to surf.” – Jonatan Mårtensson

“Follow your heart if you must but never leave your mind behind!” – Unknown

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The Silent Treatment: Shutting Down Your Heart

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Lack of good communication is probably the # 1 reason relationships, personal or professional, get rocky.
One partner or both become uncommunicative, often as a result of a Demand/Withdrawal Cycle.

One partner is not getting what they want or feel they need; other partner perceives demands they feel they cannot or do not want to meet and chooses to respond by withdrawing.
Going Silent is a VERY Dysfunctional Coping Mechanism; it puts the relationship in a vicious downward cycle.
Going silent, ceasing to communicate effectively (i.e. with good intentions and your best heart) is SABOTAGE

Effective communication does NOT include zingers, attempting to score points or engaging in “Ledger Love”
(i.e. holding grudges, keeping score).
A relationship generally creates an obligation to remain in the arena, to continue to engage calmly, effectively OR to be specific/reasonable (i.e. time outs), when one returns
Avoid giving your partner the “Hand in the Face” or “Turning your back”. It’s a huge impact to the Emotional Bank Account

Speak Up! Love does not make someone a mind reade

What we think, from our background and world view, is blatantly obvious can be much less so from another’s perspective
Many sides to every situations, many interpretations of every reality.
Some folks like to process feelings alone verses others that like to talk it out, both legitimate within reason

Balance need to talk to need for space verses disappearing/shutting partner out

Break issues down into baby bites, avoid unloading it all at once.
Do NOT let things build up. Walls form between people a brick at a time. No one brick is insurmountable, the wall can be daunting!

Deliver thoughts with respect, including tone of voice and body language: no sarcasm or eye rolls

In turn, a listener’s shoulder shrug or wandering attention can send a message of indifference
Have the courage to speak your feelings AND to do so before they overwhelm you as stress and resentment
(i.e. bo not bottle your feelings up until you get mad and they burst forth as uncontrolled anger)
Acknowledge fears, yours and theirs

It takes courage and a strong sense of self/safety to open up, it is easy to let yourself feel invaded, pursued, use these feelings as an excuse to run/hide.

Often one partner has feelings of abandonment verses the other partner having feelings of attack, need to self-protection, need for alone time

Ask yourself: Why do I feel this way? What assumptions/interpretations lie behind these feelings? What are the triggers? What behaviors/words/thoughts led me here?

What part do I have in creating this?
Take time outs, go to the balcony/mountain top, practice self-awareness
Learn functional coping mechanisms, good books/courses exist on “Fair Fighting”

Focus on having a dialogue, a discussion; avoid argument framing

Establish rules: Only one partner can be mad at a time and it’s my turn now. Past is out of bounds or no more than 90 days, do not bring up what is beyond the other parties control
“When you do x, I feel y” verse “You make me feel”
Avoid evaluative or judgmental words, they make others feel attacked 
(i.e. words like “selfish, rude, uncaring” are likely to be perceived as an aggressive barrage of criticism and trigger a defensive reaction

Am I/We creating the reality we desire?

Acknowledge differences, the importance of meeting/honoring disparate emotional needs
Awareness is key to both the patterns and each participant’s contributions to it and the perspectives of other parties

Take responsibility appropriate for your contribution to the situation without giving a free pass.

Closing Quotes

“Never close your lips to those whom you have opened your heart.” - Charles Dickens

Going silent,
sweeping significant issues under the rug 

or giving someone the silent treatment is 
corrosive, 
destructive, 
passive aggressive,
self sabotaging 
behavior
that thwarts personal, emotional and spiritual growth.
- Nathan S. Collier

Three VERY Ordinary Rules To Live an ExtraOrdinary Life:
Live Smart
Avoid Dumb
Don’t Sabotage
- Nathan S. Collier

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A BLOG ON PERSONAL LEADERSHIP BY THE FOUNDER OF THE COLLIER COMPANIES
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