Many years ago, I was asked to take the lead in the process during a workshop. I had attended it a few times but now was being asked to run a particular process I was not familiar with even though I had observed.
I thought I knew what I was doing, but I didn’t and it showed. The assistant manager for the workshop stepped in and took over for me. I was angry and hurt and started muttering under my breath. The muttering went on for more than a day.
My friend, Bobby, came over to me the next afternoon and asked what was wrong. I explained my grievance and fully expected to be agreed with. We were friends for several years now and never disagreed.
But this time was different.
I have been complemented by many times but what helped me grow and eventually help me lead others was “the cut” I received from Bobby.
“Jeff, you were f***ing up. You saved your bacon. This wasn’t about you. It is about the person you were trying to facilitate but weren’t. I knew you didn’t know what you are doing and, more importantly, you knew it, too, the person you are supposed to be helping knew it. You were f***ing up.”
“I love you too much to let you get away with this with yourself. I know you know the truth. Next time, you’ll know better, won’t you?”
I think we all love to be seen, heard, acknowledged, and understood. I think we all love to believe we do a great job . . . And sometimes we don’t.
Pretending to ourselves and to others that we have doesn’t fool anyone. As my mom used to say, “The only one you’re fooling is yourself.”
Sometimes, a cut does far more than a blessing. Sometimes, a cut makes us look in the mirror and face facts.
Receiving compliments/blessings all the time becomes valueless without a cut when it is appropriate. We start to take the blessings for granted without something to counterbalance it.
As much as I like to praise people, I’ve learned that it’s important for me to tell them the truth is I see it. I will catch my language by saying, “I may be wrong, but I have the idea that . . . “ And I’ll tell them what I see you and what I observed.
Sports coaches correct players with the hope that the corrections will take hold and they will get better. They don’t do it to be mean. They do it to obtain performance that meets standards of excellence but they believe in.
If the player doesn’t perform, they will be cut from the team and the coach will be fired.
Being nice isn’t being nice in performance environments.
Honest feedback based upon observation is.
If you need to cut someone, make it quick. Then, remind them of your belief in them and what they can do.
You’re doing this to help them get better because you care. Don’t forget that.
Don’t do it out of anger. Do it out of love.
They matter to you and you believe in them.
Bobby helped me a lot that day.
You will have the opportunity to help someone, too.
Don’t miss the chance.
Ⓒ The Big Game Hunter, Inc., Asheville, NC 2020
ABOUT JEFF ALTMAN, THE BIG GAME HUNTER
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a career and leadership coach who worked as a recruiter for more than 40 years. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1900 episodes, and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.
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