Let me stand next to your fire

You know that boring video they show at the beginning of every flight, the one that says in the event the cabin loses pressure, you should first put on your own oxygen mask before you help anyone else? There’s an important message there, so look up from your smartphone and pay attention!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARecently, I was IMing with an old friend. He’d generously purchased a copy of Luisa and my book – An Honest Living: be wildly successful without being a jerk – and was thinking about how he could convince some of his leaders that being honest, trusting, accountable, personal etc. at work was the way to break past some of their serious log jams. At one point he actually considered dropping anonymous yellow envelops stuffed with copies of An Honest Living on their desks. These are the desperate musings an employee who is sick of his current culture and feels powerless to change it: “somebody, anybody, please hit these jerks over their heads so they can see the error in their ways!”

Of course, that approach rarely works (though I’d give it a go in a pinch, honestly). It’s better to start where you have the most control: with YOU. What are YOU doing that is making work untenable? Are you enabling bad behaviour? What can YOU do to set a good example, to influence others to make it better? How about starting the conversation with your own team… “I was reading this book…” Share it. Spread the word. Start a grass fire.

I’m so convinced the basics of An Honest Living lead to success and happiness at work that even if you can’t change others in the beginning, you should change yourself, or at least sharpen some of the edges that have dulled over time. Once others see the way you behave and how it affects your ability to get things done, they’ll sit up and take notice. And many of them will want to live a similar kind of life at work too, so they’ll start mirroring you. It’s magnetic. It’s magical. It works.

So get out there and start the fire, fan the hell out of it and watch it grow. It’s way more fun (and far more productive) than an anonymous yellow envelop. Warmer too…