Archive for October, 2012

To follow the Golden Rule or the Platinum Rule?                       

We’re all familiar with the Golden Rule, right? You know the one: “Do unto others as you would have done unto you.” 

Simply put: Treat others the way you want to be treated. 

Sounds good, doesn’t it? But how does it really work in practice? 

Let’s consider a couple I once knew, Matthew and Katie. Katie is a stay-at-home-mom, who happens to be an extrovert. Katie spends a lot of time with small children during the day, with little substantive interactions with adults – which is how she recharges her batteries. Matthew works outside the home and happens to be in introvert; he enjoys being with people throughout the day but it drains his battery, so he needs time alone to recharge. 

When they are apart – during the work day or on the rare occasion when one of them gets away for some “alone” time – they follow the Golden Rule; each treating the other the way they want to be treated. Katie, looking to charge her batteries, calls Matthew frequently, just to check in and chat. Matthew, on the other hand, is less likely to call Katie when she has some alone time as he knows how much he values it when he has alone time. Both end up frustrated because they are getting what the other wants/needs, but not what they desire for themselves. 

So, what would change if they followed the Platinum Rule? It says: “Do unto others as they would have done unto themselves.” 

Do unto others as they would have done unto themselves.

Simply put: Treat others the way they would prefer to be treated – not the way you want to be treated.

The wise soul who coined this phrase recognized that “one size does not fit all”!

If Matthew and Katie were to practice the Platinum Rule, then Matthew would make a point to call and check in with Katie more often, knowing she needs more contact and wants to talk about what’s going on throughout the day, or what she’s up to when she gets to go out without the kids. Katie would recognize that Matthew needs more quiet time to himself, and wouldn’t call to check in as often or interrupt his alone time just to see what he’s up to while they are apart.

This change in behavior would require some thoughtful attention, because it would require each of them to step out of their comfort zone and focus on the needs of the other first, rather than to assume what they want is what the other wants, as well.

Take it one step further and consider how it might work at work or in organizations you are involved in. Take recognition for example. Some people crave public recognition for their accomplishments, others cringe at the thought and would prefer to do anything but be recognized publicly. If you aren’t aware of these preferences, you could make a stellar mistake and damage key relationships by making the wrong move. 

How would this awareness and change in behavior change the organizational dynamics and morale of your teams and companies? What if we could step outside ourselves more often and focus on what others need? 

It’s true: If you help others get what they want, they will be more willing and interested in helping you get what you want. It’s a key foundation for effective leadership.

What could you learn by practicing the Platinum Rule?

What relational dynamics could you change?

How much more satisfying could your work and personal lives be, if you practiced the Platinum Rule? 

I wonder…would love to hear your thoughts.   

Laura L. Prisc, Founder

Leadership & Life Potential, LLC
Helping you grow into your leadership and life potential…

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Picture it…beautiful, sunny, tropical island. You’ve seen it in travel brochures, Corona commercials, and countless web links. Amazingly clean white sandy beaches, palm trees, a hammock or oh-so-comfy lounge chair overlooking ocean that is an impossibly blue-green color. Sounds delightful? Unfortunately, it’s the wrong place!

Several weeks ago, I was on a coaching call with a client and he shared this quote with me: “On the road to success, we often find ourselves living on Someday Isle,” attributed to Brian Tracy. (My sincere apologies, Brian, if I didn’t get it exactly right.) This thought has reverberated through my brain ever since.

On the road to success, we often find ourselves living on Someday Isle.

Clearly, the Isle is not some tropical island in the South Pacific; what he’s really referring to is “someday I’ll,” as in “someday, I will…” presumably do something, that one seems to never really get around to.

Sad to say, I am intimately familiar with this Isle; it is the place a dear woman once in my life repeatedly told me she was going to get to “one of these first days.” I resisted the urge to ask her exactly which days on the calendar “these first days” were, because in my heart I knew they would never appear on any calendar and she would never do any of those things she spoke of.  Perhaps she, too, recognized she would never do those things either, and maybe it felt better to her to say it that way than to admit she had no intention of following through. Maybe she thought it would feel better to those people who would someday be on the receiving end of all those delightful things she said she would do “one of these first days.” I don’t know about the rest of them, but it left me feeling disappointed and sad.

I have to admit, I struggle with procrastination, as well. Not on the very important things, most of the time. But I sometimes find myself wanting to do the easier things, the more rewarding things before tackling the things that will be less immediately rewarding but are important nonetheless. As I’m becoming more self-aware, I am quicker about recognizing my lapses in focus and can get back on track faster than I did earlier in my life.

With increased self-awareness, I strive to be more intentional in my thoughts and actions, with a keener awareness of the consequences of my actions and inactions. And I recognize that when I procrastinate, I am the one who really loses. And I am acutely aware that this is “not a dress rehearsal.” It’s important to me that I not reach a point in my life when I look back and say things like: I’m so sad I never….I wish I would have gotten around to doing…I wonder how my life would have been different if only I had…

I’m currently reading The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth, by John Maxwell; I’m currently facilitating a Mastermind Group studying this book.  In one of the early chapters, John recounts a lesson he learned about procrastination and his focus on “do it now.” It’s a mantra he repeats each day before rising and each night before drifting off to sleep. I think it’s invaluable advice; a practice I am working on myself.

This is truly a hard habit to break. So allow yourself time to develop and internalize new habits, ones that better serve you and what you are striving to achieve. The key is getting started. And there’s no time like today, right now, this minute!

What are you procrastinating about getting done?

What are you missing out on by continuing to put things off?

Just how much time are you willing to spend on Someday Isle?

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Coach or Mentor?

I’ve been in corporate America for more than 22 years, now, and for a lot of that time I’ve heard a lot of people talk about providing coaching to other employees. I’ve also heard — and read — a lot about mentoring programs — both formal and informal.

While the discussions seem to be focused on the same preferred outcome — improvement in some level of a person’s performance, over time, I came to the conclusion that while people were using different terms — coach and mentor — they were really talking about the same activity. To wit, what they are really doing is advising, guiding, directing, sharing the benefit of their experience, and often saying things that sound like, “If I were you, I would…” In essence, they are talking about mentoring.

And there is absolutely a lot of value in mentoring people (or being mentored) when you have the opportunity. But mentoring is not coaching.

What’s the difference you might ask? There’s a world of difference, and here it is: Coaches don’t have all the answers and they don’t attempt to provide any! In fact, when I’m discussing coaching with people I tell them I don’t have any of the answers — at least not any of their answers — but I do have all the questions…questions that will help them find the answers — their answers.

You see, we function from different values, beliefs, and experiences. So, the decisions I make and actions I take will make sense for me within my paradigm. But they may be all wrong for you and because you will recognize this, you won’t likely act on my direction. If I can help you draw out the values, beliefs, fears, hopes, and whatever other factors are affecting your ability to make decisions and take actions, then I will be able to add more value.

Think about it; if I can help you come to the solution on your own, it will fit you better, and you will be significantly more likely to follow through than if I tell you what I think you should do. Based on experience, I think it will feel better, too.

I’m now on a bit of a mission to distinguish between coaching and mentoring. Again, not because one is inherently better than the other; it really depends on who you are, what situation you are facing, and how you want to approach finding a path forward. I simply want people to recognize there is a difference and to be able to recognize it when they see it.

And I admit I often function in both roles, sometimes with the same people on the same day! You see, I’ve been working in all areas of communication for more than 20 years, so I have a lot of experience in strategies and tactics one might want to use to communicate more effectively. So, I am absolutely qualified to mentor someone in this area. But you wouldn’t want me to mentor you in the area of finance, or scientific methods, or how to play a sport…or a myriad of other things.

At the same time, I’m qualified to coach people who are striving to achieve something in a number of areas in which I have no expertise whatsoever…remember, as a coach, my role is not to tell you how to do anything. My role is to truly listen to what you say, to observe how you say it, and ask you the kinds of questions that make you really think.

If you haven’t worked with a coach, I encourage you to try it. I promise, if you truly engage — and you find a true coach (not a mentor) — the experience will change your life. It’s a proven way to implement significant and lasting change.

Interested? I offer complimentary sessions.

What would you like to change?

How are you approaching it?

How will you know if the path you choose is the right one for you?


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A couple of weeks ago, I was listening to Christian Simpson, the Coaching Mentor for the John Maxwell Team, and he said something so profound I wrote it down. 

He said: The architect of your success is not your intellect; it is, in fact, your belief system.

The architect of your success is not your intellect; it is, in fact, your belief system.

In essence, he is saying it doesn’t matter how smart you are; being smart will not guarantee your success. The key is what you believe about yourself and your abilities. 

I grew up in what I believe is actually a pretty normal family (defining “normal” as some level of obvious dysfunction, which I think most of us have; as I don’t believe the “Leave it to Beaver” or “Ozzie and Harriet” families were real…). Because of my circumstances, I learned, very early, to be independent and self-sufficient. This has served me well in many situations, and has been detrimental in others. However, because of – or in spite of – those circumstances, I also grew up with what turns out to be a pretty strong belief in my ability to succeed at whatever I set my mind to.

I can remember the first time I verbalized this to someone, during a job interview more than 20 years ago. I said, “Unless you ask me to do brain surgery or something akin to nuclear physics, it doesn’t occur to me that I might not be successful. I am self-aware enough to recognize what I don’t know, which means when faced with a challenge I realize I will likely need to learn some new things along the way, pick up some new skills, find some new resources, perhaps meet some new people…but I’m confident I can succeed.”

And when given the opportunity and the challenge, I have set forth to do just that, acquiring the knowledge and resources I’ve needed along the way. And when I’ve made certain decisions in my life, I didn’t have a Plan B to fall back on, just in case. Perhaps it was fool-hardy, but I was determined to reach my goal.

This is not to say I haven’t failed, for surely I have, and plenty of times…in minor ways and in major, life-changing ways. On those occasions, I have taken the time to reflect on my actions and experiences, so that I may carry the lessons forward, and hopefully not make the same mistakes twice.

I’ve just started facilitating a Mastermind Group using John Maxwell’s newest book, The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth. The group was blessed, on October 2, with John himself teaching the first two chapters. Last night, I facilitated the Chapter 3 lesson: The Law of the Mirror.

Simply put, the law says, “You must see value in yourself to add value to yourself.” John goes on to explain that the value we place on ourselves is usually the value others will place on us; the world isn’t likely to up your price tag.

The lesson: What you believe about yourself will determine your future success. How you talk to yourself makes an enormous difference. So nurture the voice in your head that is supportive, encouraging, and confident in you. Let the other voice know you really don’t have time for it these days; it will eventually get the message and quiet down.

Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you are right

When Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you are right,” he hit the nail on the head.   

What do you believe about yourself? And how is that belief propelling you forward or holding you back?


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It’s been a week since I said I wanted to start a movement and challenged you to ask the simple question, “If you could have a small miracle today, what would it be?”

I wonder, have you done it?

I have asked a number of people and have received some interesting responses. Most notably, several people repeated the question, seemingly rolling it around in their mouths to really get the feel for it before responding…and when they did, they typically said they had pretty much what they needed, and didn’t feel the need to ask for anything more. 

I got the sense they really appreciated the simple gesture of my asking the question and then truly listening to their response.

I did, however, have the opportunity to act in a few cases. I did a little research on invitations for a co-worker who is planning a birthday party for her twin boys, with a “spy” theme. I provided more than a few people with Hershey’s dark chocolate kisses. One person wanted to send “peace” to someone she was once close to, whom she knows is struggling with some serious issues. Of course, I’m not powerful enough to actually put this person at peace, but I can send focused, positive thoughts in the right direction.

So, the week may be over but the opportunity is ever present. I will continue to ask the question and do my best to respond to the needs of the people around me.

What about you? What response did you get when you asked the question, and how did you respond? How did you feel? 

Please, don’t be shy…we’re all waiting to hear your stories…just click into the “comments” box below!

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I’ve been teaching communication skills for ten years and this simple fact is one of the key lessons. My hope is for people to become more self-aware, to really think about what they want to accomplish and how they approach what they’re doing, so the impact (the outcome) of their actions is in fact what they hope to have happen.

Let’s consider a couple of examples:

It’s late evening and you are driving through the dark. There’s not a lot of traffic on the road, and to see better you have turned on your “brights.” As you travel along the road, somewhat lost in thought, your focus is pulled back in full to the road ahead, as there is a driver coming toward you in the opposite lane, flashing his brights at you, trying to capture your attention, so you will flip your lights back to normal.

If you are the oncoming driver, what’s the first thing you think?

“Jerk! What are you trying to do? Don’t you realize you are blinding me?”

If you are the “offending” driver, what’s the first thing you think?

“Oh!” you think, quickly flipping your lights back to normal. “I didn’t mean to do that. Sorry!” Wishing you could telepathically send this message to the oncoming driver, so they understand it was not your intent to temporarily blind them!

Here’s another, heart-wrenchingly harder example to consider, from an actual incident in the local news.

On September 1, a four-year old girl died in a car outside a day care center. As the story goes, the day care was owned by a husband and wife. On occasion, the husband would provide transportation for one of their clients, picking up a mother and child, dropping the mother off at a local university, and taking the child to the day care for the day.

On this particular day, for what is an incomprehensible reason (there has been no explanation given that I’m aware of), the man dropped the mom off, drove to the day care, and left the child in the car…for about seven hours, on a sunny, 89-degree day. The child was found dead in the car around 5 p.m.

Clearly, there is no way for us to know what he might have been thinking – or not thinking – as he arrived at the day care, went inside, and went about the business of his day. We have no way of knowing why no one in the day care asked about the child when he arrived without her. Having not been to the location, we have no way of knowing if there might have been someone outside who might have seen the girl in the car earlier in the day.

Of course, we are outraged that such a thing could have happened, and as we are not personally involved, will likely never know all of the things that happened that day, what the people may have thought or said or did. And yet, this story isn’t unique. We hear this kind of story more frequently than we’d like, with both children and animals paying the ultimate price.

We could easily jump into blame, anger, accusations, cries for justice, etc…Let’s stay focused now, though. We’re talking about intent. In both the situations described above, I think it’s safe to argue that neither of these people intended harm to another. The outcome – or the impact – of their actions, however, did in fact result in some negative impact to the others involved — to a very minor degree in the first case, and to a life-altering and inexplicably tragic degree in the second case.

Fortunately, most of our experiences will tend toward the less extreme end of the spectrum of potential outcomes. The key here is to understand the lesson — intent does not equal impact – and to be thoughtful about our words and actions. The goal is to be self-aware enough of how others may perceive and experience us, so that when we interact with others, we have a better chance of having what we intend to happen actually be what does happen.

What are you intending to do today? How might you approach it to ensure the outcome is positive?

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At my last corporate job, I taped Christmas cards to my office door during the holiday season. When I received a small gift in the office, I taped the gold bow that was on it to my door also. After the holidays, as I was taking down the cards, I decided to leave the bow, as a reminder of my purpose: To be a gift to the people whose lives I touch each day.

I know, it may sound corny, but it’s true. And, each morning, while I prepare for my day I talk to God and I ask him for the tools I’ll need to do his work, my job, and fulfill my purpose.

Several months after the holiday season, the bow was still on the door when a colleague stopped by to discuss something. As he was leaving, he asked about the significance of the bow, so I explained it to him. He laughed a little as he left, and looked back at my office once while he walked away. He appeared to be a bit uncomfortable with what I’d said to him. Perhaps it was unusual, certainly unexpected, not your average office conversation. I hope it made him think.

You’re probably familiar with the movie Pay it Forward, in which a young boy starts a movement of Random Acts of Kindness in response to a school assignment. Last year, through my Leadership West Virginia class, I was introduced to Anonymous Acts of Kindness (check out Secret Agent L, also).  I have taken on these Acts by paying for cars behind me when I go through toll booths; I also sometimes pay for the orders of people behind me at drive-thru windows. It feels good to do something unexpected for someone, and hopefully brighten their day.

A couple of days ago, I was flipping through a magazine and saw an article on this topic, with a little different slant. The author (her name escapes me) wrote about the many struggles — large and small — we all go through on any given day. She suggested, when one encounters someone in need, asking this simple–yet profound, perhaps even life-changing–question: If you could have a small miracle today, what would it be?

If you could have a small miracle today, what would it be?

Then, do something about it. You may not be able to fulfill the whole miracle, but you may be able to do something that makes an enormous difference. And the simple act of asking the question and actually listening to the answer is a gift in itself.

So, let’s start the movement. If (conservatively) 25 of us committed to asking the question just once this week, and following through, we could positively change the lives of at least 25 people.

Let’s carry it a step further. Each of us has the opportunity to influence at least four other people each day. If we shared our quest with each of them, and encouraged them to join us, potentially 100 other lives would be positively changed. If each of the four people we influenced, influenced at least four people in their lives, and so on and so on…you can see, the movement could grow exponentially.

Simple. Profound. Life-changing (for both giver and receiver). An amazing way to recognize the many blessings we already have in our lives. An opportunity to truly understand the difference between need and want.

Are you with me? Will you join this movement?

Let’s all meet back here in a week, and share our stories (use the comments section!). I can’t wait to hear of the amazing works we’ve done.

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