Winning At Full Contact Office Politics



Carol came to that coaching session with an agenda. See, she was smack dab in the middle of a hairy situation at work – full contact office politics played at the master level by professionalsseasoned at the game. And Carol (you know that’s not her real name, right?) found herself caught up in it. Big time.bigstock-Many-yellow-sticky-notes-with--23860859

It seemed that a silent war was being waged and while Carol was aware of the tensions, she wasn’t really sure who was on which side. All she knew was that her old SVP had left and a new SVP had come in and somehow Carol’s VP life had gotten a whole lot harder.

She was getting “feedback” which felt more like threats. She was excluded from meetings she had previously led. There were new restrictions on her travel. She felt like people were just waiting for her to screw up today so she could be beat up on even more thoroughly tomorrow.

In fact, she was at the point where getting fired might be a mercy – but the SVP didn’t appeart to be the merciful sort. More the type who enjoys pulling the wings off ladybugs, Carol said.

So Carol came to her coaching session armed with some specific tactics she could use to defend herself, and a couple that could also do a little damage. “Balance things out a bit,” she said, with a bright gleam in her eye.

It’s hard to be where Carol is – suddenly the ground shifts below your feet and you don’t know what the rules are any more. What worked in the past no longer works. All relationships are up in the air. You begin to doubt yourself, and wonder what the hell is wrong with you/with them/with the cosmos.

You start a downward spiral, punctuated with bouts of real anger. But mostly, your self-esteem takes a hit.

You feel powerless.

Lower than low.

Like you’re nothing.

At all.

I took a deep breath, let it out, and said to Carol, “So, who do you want to be through this?”

No doubt this felt like a total non sequitur to Carol. She thought the two of us would be doing battle strategy so she could win the war.

Instead, I called her to another mission – the mission of being true to herself.

I repeated, “Who do you want to be? How can you conduct yourself so that, a year from now, you can be proud of the way you acted in the face of this challenge?”

Because ultimately, that’s really all that matters.

Jobs come, and jobs go. People come, and people go. Days, months, years – they all come and go.

You, however, get to live with yourself every moment of your life. So, “how do I want to be?” turns out to be one of the most important questions you can ask.

Especially when things get hard, and when people are attempting to get you to be something they’d like you to be. But you know that to be that way would suck the very soul from your body.

“As I remember, you told me that your integrity was one of your key values,” I said to Carol. “Is that right?”

She nodded, thinking.

“So,” I went on, “what does your integrity tell you to do right now, in this situation?”

Carol smiled. Shook her head. Said, “That’s absolutely right. My integrity is the thing every single person I’ve ever worked with has said is best about me. This SVP is basically challenging my integrity – pushing me to be something that I’m not – that’s really the problem.”

“Right,” I said. “And you have the power to decide if you’re going to let that happen. Are you going to?”

“Not on your life,” Carol said, with resolve. “Integrity always wins. I am going to be a person of integrity and let the chips fall where they may. And a year from now, I can be proud of staying true to myself.”

Yep, she surely will. And, I’ll bet you that when Carol disengages with the war and re-engages with her own knowledge of who she is at her best, then that cranky SVP will simply move on to another target. And, ultimately, will probably leave the organization with a wide trail of destruction in her wake.

And who will be ready, willing and able to step into the breach, with her integrity and reputation intact and whole?

You know what? I call that person “Carol”.

Random Thoughts #3



Sometimes little thoughts flit through my mind, so I thought I’d share them with you…

A person who’s nice to the busboy is my favorite kind of person.

The older I get, the more I understand math and science. Such as: Task divided by Time plus Enjoyment = Fun.

Making new friends at any age is a joy.

Rediscovering old friends is a blessing.

Politics just get weirder and weirder.

Speaking of weird, the Pirates of the Caribbean movies have grossed $3.72 billion dollars. Now, there’s an idea for the federal budget deficit…

It’s only because of the past that we can see the future.

Sometimes the challenge is in making peace with what is realistically possible.

Technology allows me to have clients all over the world. I can visit the Philippines, Brussels, South Africa, Alaska all in one day. And still get to the grocery store.

I need a vacation.

To be financially secure, spend like someone who’s financially secure.

The phrase “in this economy” needs to be banned from use. Indefinitely.

This is a great article about negotiation.

We need to fully honor and acknowledge women heroes.

Little kids playing tee ball for the first time are the most inspiring athletes.

Couples who have been together 45 years and still hold hands inspire me.

There is profound wisdom in pop songs.

Today’s teenagers are more committed to change than we were at their age.

What goes around really does come around. So live your life accordingly.

The only thing I can truly control is my own energy and attitude toward the moment I find myself in.

Random thoughts are not that random after all.


Do What’s Right

Jackie Robinson


On August 28, 1945, a man made a choice. He had to decide between doing what was conventional or doing what was right.

That Tuesday,  Branch Rickey did what was right, and hired Jackie Robinson to play for a minor league ball club associated with the legendary Brooklyn Dodgers.

I recently saw the new movie “42″ about this pivotal moment, and highly recommend it to you. It’s inspiring, and beautifully made, with outstanding performances from Harrison Ford as Rickey and Chadwick Boseman as Robinson.

And the message I kept returning to was the strength of character these two men showed.

Robinson, an educated UCLA man who had served as a Lieutenant in World War II, had to take the abuse heaped upon him and not react – because an angry reaction might doom integration of baseball.

Rickey, a die-hard baseball fan and hard-nosed business man, had to hold on to his vision of a future where baseball was integrated despite the intense opposition he faced.

Why did they do such a hard thing?

They did it because sometimes you just have to do what’s right.

Despite the backlash,  threats and challenges, Robinson and Rickey knew that doing the right thing always pays off.

Today, business is all about analytics, metrics and utilization rates. If the numbers line up nice and neat, the bean counters and money people say we can go with something. If they don’t line up, we tweak and tweak the algorithm until the metrics say, “go”. This clean and clinical approach has led to dying department stores with no staff to run the cash registers, and venture-funded companies whose harried employees each do the work of four people – all in the name of “efficiency”.

But service with heart is not always efficient.

The value of excellent performance based in integrity can’t be calculated.

And deep personal connection can’t be quantified.

Sure, Branch Rickey thought that the popularity of the Negro leagues meant that African-American spectators might flock to big league parks to see integrated baseball. But something else – something ineffable – drove him.

Something important. 

“I may not be able to do something about racism in every field, but I can sure do something about it in baseball,” Rickey said about his decision.

See, he just needed to the right thing.

And that right there is the essence of character.

In your own life and work, you may not be able to do something as big as Branch Rickey did,  but I know there’s something you can do. You know it, too. Doesn’t matter what the metrics might say to do.

Your heart knows.

Just like Robinson and Rickey, sometimes you just have to do what’s right.



You Are What You Choose


You have a lot of options.

You may not feel that way right at this very moment. You may feel rather claustrophobic and limited. Or stuck.

Or, you see endless possibilities and aren’t sure which one to pursue.

Either way, it’s all about your choices – cuz you’ve got ‘em. You just have to make ‘em.

So commit to good choosing:

Choose the things that feel right, in your bones. Regardless of the naysayers.

Even if you are that naysayer.

Choose to do something today that you’ll be proud of in twelve months.

Choose to be honorable.

Choose, in every situation with another person,  to look the other guy in the eye, ask good questions, and listen well.

And do the same thing when you’re with yourself.In all things, choose to be decent. To be kind. To be human.

And while it is entirely human to want to win, let go of the need to one-up everyone else. You will find that when you let go of the neurotic, anxiously striving need to beat others, you allow winning to naturally unfold. On your terms.

For you.

Because when you’re not anxiously striving, you’re free to push yourself to the place you need to be.

Choices, then, are ultimately about internal drive, not external forces compelling you.

Choosing is about your own performance, not other people’s competition.

It’s about wanting to, not having to.

It’s all about your path.

Yours.  Nobody else’s.

So, choose well.

Choose today.



Noticed a little bit of conversation these days about politics? Not only in the U.S., where we seem to have a permanent presidential campaign in place, but also in Europe, in Asia, in South America…

Commentators in this country continue to refer to the nation suffering from a “crisis of confidence”. Maybe that’s true.

Maybe we are tired of the law partner who pockets a record bonus but tells the associates and support staff that there’s no money – again this year – for their raise.

Perhaps we’re too used to hearing about the minister with the $100,000 Mercedes parked in front of his mansion.

It could be that we’re fed up with hearing that people are going to “change Washington” and yet nothing ends up getting done.

We see real incongruence between what we expect and what we get, and that’s precisely how our confidence is undermined.

That’s a word I’m loving these days: Congruence.

It’s when things line up. It’s when what you see is what you get.

Congruence is truth.

Congruence is whole.

Congruence makes sense.

And a person who is congruent – they mean what they say, and predictably do what they say they will – is truly a person of integrity. Pundits may see the world suffering from a crisis of confidence, but I’d call it an Integrity Deficit.

Somehow or other, many leaders – some of them self-appointed – seem to have forgotten that people eagerly follow those with integrity. Whether you’re a politician, an office manager or a life coach, being a person who means what she says, and does what she says she’s going to do, is the person who’s really successful.

Now, we all know people whose integrity is, shall we say, “compromised”, and yet they seem to thrive and maybe even get ahead.

That’s an incongruence right there, huh?

But what goes around comes around, and I have never, ever met an incongruent person whose personal narrative ends well. Have you?

That karma thing is plenty powerful.

And it always works.

So, now is as good a time as any to assess your own personal integrity.

  • Do you ever say yes when you mean no, and wince about it shortly after the words have left your mouth?
  • Do you consistently miss deadlines and break commitments?
  • Do you fib about having sent in the payment, when really you haven’t even written the check yet?
  • Do you concoct a story about where you just were, rather than admitting what you were really doing?

OK, you’re human.  But do you feel good about this stuff? Or does it add to your stress?  Create overwhelm?

Then get congruent, baby.

Start in a small way.  Start by making only those commitments you know you can meet. And then acknowledge to yourself that you did what you said you’d do. Maybe even give yourself a little reward for that.

And, make an effort to really watch your words.  In The Four Agreements, author Don Miguel Ruiz suggests that one way to insure happiness is to:

“Be impeccable with your word. Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.”

I hear you – truth and love in the workplace? Just for a minute, drop your skepticism and think about it a different way.

I know from experience that shifting toward integrity will profoundly change your work experience. It will profoundly change your marriage, your parenting, your friendships and everything else in your world.

Integrity changes anything it touches for the better.

That is the truth.

You know, I have a dream.  I dream that one day our global crisis of confidence will be replaced with the peace, certainty and progress that integrity engenders.

But that will only happen – our leaders will only become people of integrity – if we, first, become so ourselves.