communication

There’s truth to Jim Rohn’s notion, “You’re the average of the five people spend the most time with.”

We really are. The things we do, stories we tell and even the food we eat is in many ways determined by the preferences and actions of those closest to us.

Which, in turn, are determined by the preferences and actions of those closest to them, and so on, and so on.

On a macro level, this is how cultures solidify. Unless you’ve got plans to pack up and leave, you don’t have much control over the culture you’re born into.

What you do control is who within that culture you choose to admire; those you wish to emulate, those you respect, and those you grant the gift of your trust.

Trust doesn’t transfer through blood or by law. It can only be earned.

Look around. If there’s someone close to you who you don’t trust with your future – what’s wrong? What needs to change?

My Jiu-Jitsu team, Legion 13, won the state championship last weekend for both the kids and adult competition.

In the week since, it’s been interesting to see how bound together everyone feels.

There’s a unity which shared success can generate which is infectious and highly motivating.

Like shared trauma, shared success brings people together.

Successful teams relish the relief of success together through shared pride. In order to be proud of the team’s achievements, one needs to be proud of themselves and also their teammates.

By definition, the team is larger than any one of the individuals which make it up. Great teams relate to one another as such.

The social benefit of this shared success compounds as the team does better and better; the more unified a team, the higher their chance is of succeding.

We have seen this in every era of every sport; mythical teams who found success and went on to seem undefeatable.

That’s all a bit grand for our local Jiu-Jitsu club, but the comradery and respect amongst team members this week has been a privilege to witness nonetheless.

If you’re not involved in some team activity, sporting or otherwise, it’s worth considering seeking out a tribe.

You might be surprised by how much can accomplished in unison with others.

Image via the Legion 13 Facebook page

The other day I genuinely heard an adult human complain after someone mentioned that blueberries were only $2 a punnet. This person felt hard done by because they had paid $5 only a month or two ago. They seemed honestly upset by this $3 differential. For the purposes of this post, I’ll call them Bob.

There’s a couple of interesting things to unpack here.

Firstly, Bob’s frustration didn’t spring from the initial $5 price tag on the blueberries he purchased. In fact, at the time, he was quite happy to pay the money.

Bob only became upset once he realised someone else had been offered a better deal, and felt like he’d been treated unfairly; the Blueberry gods had shafted him, and he wasn’t having a bar of it.

The reason this all seems silly is that of course, Bob hadn’t been treated unfairly at all. The availability of blueberries, like most fruits and vegetables, changes throughout the year. At times when they are less abundant, prices go up. It’s sad that mass supermarket availability has shrouded this commonly understood natural fact, but here we are.

What I find interesting about this whole thing is that while it’s not grounded in any truth, Bob still experienced the same frustration he would have if he had been mistreated. The emotions he went through were based purely on the perception that he had somehow been maligned.

This frustration was only possible because Bob had preconceived assumptions about blueberries, supermarkets, supply and demand. These assumptions informed expectations which did not align with his experience.

By nature, all expectations involve the risk of emotional pain.

It’s easy to laugh at Bob for not understanding that fruit costs different amounts at different times. But before you do, ask yourself; when was the last time you became upset or frustrated because someone didn’t go as I expected it to? When was the last time you experienced road rage despite not being put into any immediate danger? How often are you frustrated when a USB doesn’t go in on the first attempt?

These reactions are as useless as Bob’s being upset by cheap blueberries.

When we experience resistant cognitive dissonance over things which do not threaten the safety or security of our lives, the unpleasant experience of those feelings is by our own design.

Dilute your expectations of the world. It’ll never make as much sense as we’d like it to. And even when it does, you might find yourself sulking over $2 blueberries you have no reason to. Worst of all, you might not even realise that you’re being a fool.

We have a cognitive bias towards our own ideas, because we make them.

Partnering with people, or working in teams, is a step towards insuring against that bias.

That’s not to say your ideas aren’t good, you might just have a harder time picking the good ones from the bad ones than someone who doesn’t share your bias.

An even more compelling argument for teamwork is that finding good ideas requires a mass of bad ideas to be had and filtered through.

“The goal isn’t to get good ideas; the goal is to get bad ideas. Because once you get enough bad ideas, then some good ones have to show up.”

Seth Godin

If you’re working with a partner, the amount of ideas you generate doubles. This means you find the good ideas faster, and can work together to capitalise on them.

Don’t be afraid to make ruckus. Be honest when ideas are bad, especially when they’re your own. And commit to the good ones with everything you’ve got.

Some people are under the illusion that they can change another person’s mind by being more ‘correct’ than them.

Usually, this isn’t the case.

At least, being correct isn’t the only requirement to changing somebody else’s mind.

One of the best teachers I ever had later admitted to me that one of her favourite things to do in class was to facilitate class discussions that didn’t feel like they were relevant, even though they were.

Sometimes it’s easier to trick people into learning than it is to actually teach them.

When we learn, it’s usually in one of two ways; either we were already primed to learn, and were open to and anticipating new ideas; or we were made to feel like the new idea is something we came up with ourselves.

This means that if you’re trying to pass on ideas, be it as a coach to your team, a communicator to your partner or and teacher to your children, you have consider;

Does the person I’m speaking to want to understand the idea I have to share?

If the answer is no, it doesn’t matter how right you are. If you can’t find another way to communicate your ideas, they’ll never be received.

Screaming righteously into the ether is all well and good.

But being able to change someone’s mind by helping them rethink their entire perspective on a problem is that’s priceless.

Especially if you can relinquish the credit and empower them to feel like they got there themselves.

Imagine that every person in your workplace wanted to accomplish the same thing; that you were all motivated by the same clear objective.

And each day you all gave everything to see that objective accomplished.

No stalling. No work for work’s sake. No dodging responsibility.

Now snap back to reality and identify why that’s not the case.

How does your organisation motivate the people who define it to do great work?

Do they do a good enough job?

If not, tell them.

If they don’t like it, there’s never been an easier time to start something.

The best way to ensure that your organisation has your best interest at heart is to be your own organisation.