Narcissism in the Workplace (Part 2) – What to Avoid When Dealing With a Narcissist

Last week we looked at “How to Spot a Narcissist” . Click that link for the 9 Narcissistic Traits, as well as the difference between a self-promoter and someone you truly need to steer clear of.

This week we’ll look at what to AVOID when you think you might be dealing with a narcissist.explosion-147909_150

You’ve just stepped on a landmine. You have unleashed an unexpected “lash-out” – a personal attack from a coworker. You do what comes naturally … appease and run away, wondering “What the heck was that?”. You make a mental note:

“Don’t push (insert name here). Bad things will happen.”

Your head hurts and there are far too many more important things to focus on. Chalk it up to experience. Let it go. Move on. Maybe (insert name here) is just having a bad day/time/life.

step-98742_150The next time you are in a room together (insert name here) doesn’t apologize. He/she might even pretend that nothing happened. Afraid to cause the same reaction, you work extra hard to compliment him/her, appease, build, assure, maybe even promote. You walk away proud of yourself, thinking you have restored your working relationship. All is right in the world.


You have just been conditioned by a narcissist. He/she has taught you a lesson and has established control.

chess-56257_640You were made to feel that you had to “fix” the working relationship, with no acceptance of responsibility from the other person. You had the greatest of intentions. Maybe you believed you could keep the peace. Instead, you have rewarded bad behaviour … maybe even promoted it.

There is a cancer in your workplace and now you are part of it – a pawn in a mind-game, where the player seeks control and security to protect his/her fragile ego or self-image, without responsibility or regard for others.Narcisized

Dealing with a narcissist feels like you’re in a turf war, armed with a nerf gun.
~Authentic Carol Carterism [Click to Tweet this!]

Unless you have managed this kind of battle before, and learned what not to do, you will make mistakes. You are not alone! Be encouraged by this article! Forgive yourself. Carry on. Focus on doing the right things for the right reasons for the sake of your workplace … and your own health.

When you realize you are dealing with a narcissist, here’s what to avoid:


Doubting Yourself – A true narcissist will “truth-twist”, remember things VERY differently than you do, or out-and-out lie to preserve his/her self-image at all costs. You are not insane. You are not losing your memory. Anyone who is not working toward mutual understanding for the benefit of others, is a problem person. You are not the problem.



Arguing – A true narcissist will not EVER admit he/she is wrong. You will never win an argument with a narcissist. In fact, if you ever DID manage to change his/her mind about anything, (insert name here) will switch the argument and remember you as having the wrong opinion and him/her being on the actual correct side. Mind numbing? Yes. Remember – you have a nerf gun. You aren’t equipped for this game. Don’t bother.


Defending Yourself – Yes, this sounds and feels counter-intuitive. Just like the argument, you won’t gain by standing up to (insert name here)’s insults and false accusations, meant to tear you down to build him/her up. Any defence you offer will be twisted into “proof” of your guilt and lack. Anything you say or do can and WILL be used against you as this person sees fit. Don’t offer anything, even if you know you are right.


Trying to Please – Align yourself with a narcissist in any way, shape or form and you WILL pay. Feeling sorry for this person will not help. He/she needs far more than your kindness, care and understanding. Narcissists are constantly given undue praise, gifts and promotions. They receive special status, privilege,  information and opportunity, simply to make them “happy”. It seems to work … for a while.

Don’t kid yourself. Nothing is ever enough for a true narcissist. Give an inch, expect to lose twenty more, and then some down the road. If a narcissist promises a reward for your loyalty or sacrifice, he/she will always have an excuse to get more from you than you expect. That promised reward? It may never happen. A narcissist is so internally focused, he/she has no care about your feelings or expectations, unless you can cause him/her pain. Even then, they may never honour their promises. Ever wonder how abusive marriages happen? This is how. Don’t start. You cannot finish. Remember … nerf.


Giving In – Just because you do not argue or defend yourself, doesn’t mean you roll over and take what a narcissist dishes out. If you stop  doing what you know is right for you and others, you put this person in control. What does he/she want most? Control. While you may feel you can afford to let him/her have a little control (you have big shoulders and can take it), you do no one, including the narcissist, any favours. This is another illustration of how abusive marriages happen. To enable a narcissist is to cause you, others and this person, future harm.

What CAN you do instead?

Find out next week! (I’m not teasing you. This is already too long of an article.) Enter your name and email above to the right of the page to make sure you don’t miss the next article!

Also, click here to sign up for a FREE webinar Wednesday, July 30th on “How to Handle High-Stakes Conversations Without Getting Heated”.   I’ll share some key tips to keep your cool around ANYONE (yes, including narcissists).

Are you responsible for a team? Do you suspect you have a narcissist in your midst? Contact me for options on how to handle your tricky situation. Learn how to regain the trust and respect of your team, and take back control over your work environment.

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Narcissism in the Workplace (Part 1) – How to spot a narcissist

“I don’t care what you think unless it is about me.” ~ Kurt Cobain

Narcissus by Caravaggio depicts Narcissus gazing at his own reflection.

Narcissus by Caravaggio depicts Narcissus gazing at his own reflection.

Do you know how to navigate around the landmines of other people’s personalities in your workplace … and your life? Have you come across one “landmine” you could not get past without a career (maybe even a personally) threatening explosion?

The word “Narcissist” is tossed around freely when talking about bosses, co-workers and people who boost themselves up by crushing others. I recently read an article about the benefits of being narcissistic … I tried to comment. I think the writer had disabled comments. I don’t blame her. Imagine the kind of feedback she was receiving!

This is one touchy subject. Narcissists can do irreparable damage to people, and to businesses. The problem is, many people in positions of authority do have some narcissistic traits. Are they truly narcissists? If so, how do you prevent them from doing harm?

Here’s a little-known, very misunderstood fact:

Most people on the planet exhibit at least one of the 9 characteristics of a narcissist.

narcissistYes, shocking! Be careful before you label anyone. There’s a distinct difference between the urge to be considered important, want to be heard, prefer special treatment, strive to get your own way or  purposely pursue paths which will promote you to get what you want, and actual narcissism.

WiseGeek has this summary of a narcissist:

“Typically, a person with (Narcissistic Personality Disorder) NPD will believe he is better than others and may indulge in fantasies concerning amazing levels of success and far-reaching power. He may have an exaggerated view of his own attractiveness and achievements, and feel a need for continuous praise. He may set unreasonable goals and feel deeply wounded by any type of criticism.”

Do you have someone like this in your life? Few people have not been imposed upon, and left feeling used and abused by a narcissist. This muddies the waters and makes us wary of anyone claiming to have expertise and abilities. Who do you trust? How do you know someone is for real? How do you weed out a team-imploding narcissist from someone who is simply trying to promote his or her abilities to get a job, greater opportunity, a raise … not easy stuff to catch in the workplace until it is too late.

I’ve split this article into 3 parts:

  1. How to identify a narcissist,
  2. What to avoid when dealing with a narcissist, and
  3. What you can do when you MUST work with a narcissist.

Dr. Sam Vaknin in his book “Malignant Self-Love” provides the following list of nine narcissistic traits of which an individual needs to possess at least five before being diagnosed with NPD.

number-146021_150Feels grandiose and self-important (e.g., exaggerates accomplishments, talents, skills, contacts, and personality traits to the point of lying, demands to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements);


number-146022_150Is obsessed with fantasies of unlimited success, fame, fearsome power or omnipotence, unequaled brilliance (the cerebral narcissist), bodily beauty or sexual performance (the somatic narcissist), or ideal, everlasting, all-conquering love or passion;

number-146023_150Firmly convinced that he or she is unique and, being special, can only be understood by, should only be treated by, or associate with, other special or unique, or high-status people (or institutions);


number-146024_150 Requires excessive admiration, adulation, attention and affirmation or, failing that, wishes to be feared and to be notorious;



number-146025_150Feels entitled. Demands automatic and full compliance with his or her unreasonable expectations for special and favorable priority treatment;



number-146026_150Is interpersonally exploitative and uses others to achieve his or her own ends;



number-146027_150Devoid of empathy. Is unable or unwilling to identify with, acknowledge, or accept the feelings, needs, preferences, priorities, and choices of others;



number-146028_150Constantly envious of others and seeks to hurt or destroy the objects of his or her frustration. Suffers from persecutory (paranoid) delusions, as he or she believes that they feel the same about him or her and are likely to act similarly;

number-146029_150Behaves arrogantly and haughtily. Feels superior, omnipotent, omniscient, invincible, immune, “above the law”, and omnipresent (magical thinking). Rages when frustrated, contradicted, or confronted by people he or she considers inferior to him or her and unworthy.


If you have checked off 5 or more of these traits in someone you know or work with, there is one thing you must understand – YOU cannot make this person see his/her narcissism. Do NOT take this person on as a pet project. If you are married to this person … seek professional help. You will need it. Oh, and if you know someone with 7 of these traits, get out! (I’ll tell you more in article #2)

The human mind is a powerful machine. The mind of a narcissist is powerful without the usual restrictions (conscience) that help healthy human minds channel their power toward the good of others. Even when the narcissist does good, it ultimately is for his/her own benefit. Believe me, there is always a price to pay for aligning yourself with, or trying to help, a narcissist.

Next week’s article will cover “What to avoid when dealing with a narcissist”.

Don’t miss this article! Opt in for tips and insights from GetThrival to the upper right on this page!

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Transform your leadership, transform your life

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity” ~Seneca

101922758The best leader I ever had the pleasure of working for was never stressed. He always smiled, greeted you warmly, asked about your kids and actually remembered their ages and names. He knew every member of his staff.

Every single employee wanted to make Jim proud.

“Nice, but who has time?” you ask. I know! I asked the same thing. Jim McLaughlin had mastered several key skills I only unraveled years later.

  • Perspective – Jim knew who he was, what mattered to him, what his purpose was, that he worked to live (not the other way around) and that people who worked beneath him would follow his example both at work and in life.
  • Forward-Thinking – Jim knew he could not do the work of the company. He was there to support his team and remove obstacles so they could do their best work … which made him look brilliant. Jim wasn’t interested in pointing out blame for the past. He created a smooth path to success, removing red tape and other obstacles in our way, before we were even aware of them. Jim looked toward the future, read industry publications, kept in touch with knowledgeable people, and ensured that we had the talent and the resources to be as cutting edge and relevant in the future as we were today. In return, we trusted Jim and did our work without question, knowing there would always be meaningful work for us in the future.
  • Honest Communication – There were no hideous rumour mills under Jim’s watch. He talked privately to problem people. He shared openly what needed to be shared. His door truly WAS open and as you entered, he put his work away and gave you his undivided attention. His goal was to empower you to make good decisions. You walked away feeling competent and responsible. Jim built strong people through healthy, honest, purposeful communication.
  • Competence – when chaos or crisis reared its’ ugly head, it was quickly handled BEFORE the rumour mill caught hold of it. Jim always connected with the right people in the right way and made the right decisions for the right reasons. He gave the problem employees enough rope to hang themselves with, and expose their own underhanded activities (they would be caught in their own web of deceit). Jim was a masterful leader in every sense of the word.

Who was the best leader you ever worked under? What made him/her so great?

Starting September 8th, 2014 – Transform Your LeadershipFor busy “no fluff” leaders who don’t have time to stop and take a course, or do hours of reading. Here are the details:


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Temperatures and … Tempers

It was a hot, sunny, July day in 2006. I started that morning looking great in my Power Suit, hair perfect, just enough makeup to make me flawless. By 1:30 pm, my makeup had melted off my face, my hair had taken on a life all its own, and my patience lasted about as long as it took fried-18967_150to fry an egg on the sidewalk. “What kind of business owner doesn’t fix the air conditioning before the only three weeks of the year we really need it???!!!” I loudly shared with a co-worker … yes … within earshot of the boss.

How are the tempers around your office in the hot summer season?

Hopefully you have a fully functional air conditioning system. Mornings are brilliant with extra daylight, no need to struggle with heavy jackets, and that fresh, “new day” smell. By 2:00pm, everything has changed. You can think of about 18 places you’d rather be today, and so can each of your co-workers.

Here’s a tip from  Transform Your Leadership that will help “cooler heads prevail”.

When you feel that emotion start to rise from your stomache to your chest, bubbling toward your head …

STOPnumber-146021_150! Yes, physically say “Stop!” if you can (generally not good when superiors or subordinates are close by).

Just the act of saying this word, even if just in your head, will stop the mind from it’s current path and bring back curiosity. “Stay curious, not furious.” ~Carol Carterism #30



Step back. Physically take a step back. If sitting, physically push yourself and your chair backward.

This physical movement will help your entire brain look for a new perspective.


Breathe… In with the good, out with the bad.

When you are stressed your chest and neck tighten and your brain is starved for oxygen, which makes for lousy decisions (and more apologies later). Feed your brain. Open your chest and throat. You’ll feel, sound, and think better


Try this simple formula – STOP, Step back and Breathe – the next time you feel your temper rising. It may just keep the storm clouds from invading your office this summer season.

Tell me how it goes!

PS – if you want more great ways to manage your credibility and increase your influence, click here to find out more about Transform Your Leadership’s Summer Self-Improvement Adventure!

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June is a Crazy Month! Overcoming the overwhelm.

It’s the end of the second quarter … Did your stress level just jump 5 notches? You are not alone!119533154

My email inbox is crammed with frantic people trying to get their message out before I escape for the Summer! There’s celebration banquets, graduation ceremonies, TONS of birthdays … June seems to come earlier and earlier ever year.

So much to do, so little time. The minutia of things that do not matter is a sexy, slippery slope to zero – Zero progress, zero accountability, zero job and life satisfaction.

woman-241327_150How do you know what to ignore and what distractions, invitations and interruptions are true opportunities? How do you know when to file that info for future reference or process it right now?

Here’s a quick tip to help you let go of the minutia that disguises itself as “Priority” and get the greatest results every day.

Set your intentions!

Obvious? Maybe. Easy? Not at all. If you have practiced setting intentions, you know the power! Whatever you set, your mind will begin to work on… and a war begins…

BrainPlainInside your brain is an “auto-pilot” that makes up to 97% of your daily decisions for you. If it wasn’t operating, you’d never get anything done. When you set specific intentions, your auto-pilot will resist, causing stress. When you are stressed you’ll move back to old patterns to feel safe … as the saying goes, “The definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over, expecting different results.”

Want to win the war in your brain? Here’s a quick solution I teach in the first course of “Transform Your Leadership“.

Remenumber-146021_150mber the saying “Three years from now this won’t matter”? Decide where you want to be three years from today. Look back at your life from that future date. What did you accomplish? What are you celebrating? Be “future YOU” for a moment … right now … future YOU that has to live with all the decisions you make in the next 10 minutes. What would future YOU tell you to do?

This is your inner CEO, the visionary that you need to answer to at performance review time.

number-146022_150Pick your 1/3 mark. What do you need to have accomplished by this day next year to be 1/3 of the way to your 3 year vision of your life? Be specific. These are your main priorities. Anything outside these priorities is not in your box. Email messages, coffee dates, other distractions that pull you from these priorities are a waste of your precious time.

number-146023_150List all projects that will help you hit your 1 year target. List any and all things you can do to make that 1 year mark happen.

CHOOSE … as your inner CEO. This is your time to help you focus on what’s best for you. You must choose three (ONLY three) projects to tackle in the next 90 days. Once you complete each, you can choose other projects from the list. Choose wisely!!!! What 3 projects are going to make the greatest impact on you reaching your 1 year targets? Any information or opportunities outside these 3 projects can be filed in the “nice to know” box or “for future reference box”. Move them out of your inbox or … for the very brave … delete them altogether. They do not matter. More information will be available by the time you decide they are new priorities.

Focusing on three major projects that lead to a clear picture of the future you want, will help you cut through the millions of distractions this month and seize the right opportunities.

computer-33521_150Want more help with this lesson? Register here for this Friday’s FREE Webinar “Distraction or Opportunity? An Easy Way to Know What to Ignore and What to Pursue”

TYLlogoBlackComments? Thoughts? I would love to hear from you! Leave a comment below. Don’t know your 3 year or 1 year plan yet? Get your intentions on track before the 4th quarter with a fun but powerful Summer Self-Improvement Adventure, the first course from Transform Your Leadership => “Getting Your Inner Game On Track”

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When the workplace goes very, very wrong

With recent workplace murders hitting far too close to home, is WCB’s Bill 14 too late? Has the damage from years of neglect of employee care and management leadership training, left us all exposed and vulnerable?

What happens when our workplace goes very, VERY wrong?

I was 18, bright, energetic, a living knowledge sponge, eager to make a difference in the world. I imagined a workplace full of unique people with different strengths, skills, talents and knowledge, creating a better future for clients, company and themselves. These people were trading time for dollars, new skills and know-how. If they cared and contributed, they would grow to become future managers or entrepreneurs, offering opportunities to a new generation of workers, with new strengths, skills, talents and knowledge to exchange.

Reality? Not so much.

86531341I walked into a workplace full of the walking wounded. My co-workers just wanted a safe spot to hide, switch into auto-pilot, do what was expected of them and collect a paycheque to fund the life they really cared about. They lived for the weekend, vacations and stat holidays with family and friends. Here’s the advice one middle manager gave me after I shared some ideas to improve our workplace:

“Keep your head down, mind your own business, do your work and be happy to collect a paycheque. There’s a lot of people in front of you in seniority who don’t want change. You’re lucky to have a job.”

It’s not that my expectations of work life were wrong. It’s that the reality of the opportunities to advance and people’s ability and aspirations to access those opportunities didn’t connect.

  • Were their hopes squashed somewhere along the career path?
  • Were they unequipped to progress and never shown how to get equipped?
  • Were they just content to float along, living for the weekends?

The truth is that companies use people and people use companies.

dollar-76008_640Workers hope to have a slack day and make the same money. Companies hope to squeeze maximum productivity out of every dollar they have to spend. Employees want the right to walk out the door to a greater opportunity elsewhere. Companies want to cut unneeded resources when profits and demand for its products are down. There is no loyalty up or down.

A job is no guarantee of a financially secure future. A workforce is no guarantee of future competitive advantage. All workers need to continuously learn and improve themselves. They need to learn skills that will be in demand in the future. Their companies need to encourage and support employee education and personal growth. Looking out for number one means constantly improving what you have to offer. The future of a company depends on its ability to adapt to a changing world.

We need leaders with one eye on the future and another on every human resource under his or her care.

82399225I wouldn’t claim to know what runs through the mind of a man who would walk into the office of his former employer and kill people he once worked with. I do know that one Nanaimo ex-employee felt completely justified to do exactly that … which means he was, and likely still is, a very sick man. No excuse can justify his actions, but to prevent this in our own workplaces, we do need to ask some painfully close-to-home questions.

  • Did he feel backed into a corner in life because of losing his job?
  • How did we, as a society, fail him and the families he’s thrown into chaos?
  • Who else is dealing with the same mind fracturing life conditions?

Can we stop this recurring horror?

Our government is generally ten to twenty years behind in creating policy. They have tried to address mental health issues with Bill 14 and several Occupational Health and Safety program initiatives. Bill 14 places responsibility on managers and supervisors to identify and fix workplace bullying and other repeated stressors that may damage a worker’s mental health. There’s another vital part that bill can play, not only for our workplaces, but for our society as a whole.

Imagine …

  • a team of managers, fully equipped to see the warning signs in people who can use help they will not seek out on their own.
  • workers who care enough to stop turning a blind eye to the off-handed comments, actions and reactions that would signal deeper problems a co-worker is trying to mask over.
  • a society that places responsibility on workplaces to not only trade dollars for time, but to maintain the “human resources” they currently rely on. That maintenance includes providing access to the right help for the sick and the walking wounded, then placing responsibility back in the individual’s hands to take that help and improve their lives.

Workplaces that…

  • nurture leadership rather than simply management,
  • encourage that leadership company-wide, regardless of title and seniority,
  • focus on accountability to their workers and hold those workers accountable to their own potential for improvement,

… these workplaces can make our world a better (and safer) place to live, work and play. So … let’s get to work!

Change Your Leadership … Change Your Life.



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Speaking of Meetings … How To Stop “Brain Drift”

You’re running a meeting. You are sharing  information that could be helpful to other members of your team. Well … at the very least, you’re keeping everyone in the loop. No one can say your leadership is not transparent. You are a communicator, right?

As you look around the room, to your horror, you realize you are Charlie Brown’s teacher “Mwa mwa mwa-ma mwa-ma mwa mwa mwa” . No one cares. No one is listening. You have become part of the “Drift Factor” .

How did this happen?? You are trying to do the right thing, but the results are all wrong!

“Brain Drift” is one a list of factors that destroy team productivity. Imagine each employee’s mind is an ocean of information about work, home, hobbies and interests. You hope they stay in the work zone throughout their day. The reality? They don’t. People work to live. They don’t live to work.

You can’t eliminate the Drift Factor. You can only make it easier for your team to stay anchored in your harbour. ~ authentic Carol Carterism #19

Have you watched your team “float away” during a meeting?

Maybe it wasn’t you. There are many Drift Catalysts that can pop up in a meeting:

  • The team member who HAS to have “input” at every meeting to be seen and heard. (Watch entire team roll eyes and shift in chairs)
  • The tangent-thinker who takes the discussion in a completely unproductive direction. (See team check watches, shuffle papers and look longingly at door)
  • The interrupter who has to point out the folly of each new idea … before you are asking for input and discussion. (See all credibility for you and your idea die. Bye-bye buy-in)

Suddenly your team’s minds are full of shopping lists, dinner menus and random trivia. The cost of the “Drift Factor” is more than lost productivity, it’s lost faith in meetings themselves, and the leadership and direction of your company.

How do you reduce Drift?

Here’s an innovative way GUARANTEED to make a quick and effective change. It won’t be popular at first, but it will improve everyone’s quality of delivery almost overnight!

Video tape each meeting.

That’s right! And YES, you CAN do that! Here are some of the benefits of taping meetings:

  • Word-for-word record of what was discussed
  • Note who was paying attention
  • Have documented proof of the need to improve certain speaking habits and see actual improvements made over time.

Your offending speaker (sometimes that’s you) has no idea how bad his/her “Driftability Level” really is. If you have footage (especially if it includes other peoples’ reactions), you can let that poor, unsuspecting Drift Catalyst see and hear exactly what other people have to endure, then offer a few digestible tips for improvement, sandwiched between ANY good points you can find. You will be shocked and amazed at the difference in your very next meeting.

Here’s an example of “digestible”.

In the above video, this poor manager needs help! You can’t over-load him with all the changes he needs to make, so pick one or two that will create the greatest results.

  1. I would tell him to write out his presentations, review them and remove any cliche “jargon” and words with four or more syllables. Jargon and long words are like an “off” switch to listeners brains.
  2. I would ask him to imagine, before he writes his presentation, what he wants his team to feel, think or do differently at the end of that meeting. Starting with a clear intention, will help him focus on what is in the listeners’ minds instead of his own.

If you want more targeted tips to improve the quality and results of your meetings, contact me (Carol Carter) through the form below, or call me direct (Yes! I answer my own phone. I am a real person.) at 778-668-8805.

Contact Us

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Career Booster #5: 3 Major Costs of Not Having Your Solid “Why”

Many smart people make an honest rbc4_40mistake when setting goals for the New Year. They start with WHAT they want to accomplish. They set “Stretch Goals” and create detailed action plans to forge ahead with confidence.

I’m about to share with you how not having a solid WHY on track may be costing you more than just money.

When I was a recruiter for a placement agency, I interviewed as many as ten people daily. It shocked me to realize that most people really haven’t figured out their WHY for taking a job much further than a paycheque.

86531341One day a bright, young woman came in to interview for an accounting position. Within the first five minutes of talking I felt her pain. She had left a position that had squelched her creativity. In fact, she mentioned the word “Creative” at least three times in that brief time. Creativity in accounting? Is there such a thing? Yes … and not the illegal kind. It has to be the right kind of company and you have to have great managers. It is possible. This wasn’t one of those companies.

“I need you to be completely honest with me.” I primed her for a tough question. “What makes you think this new accounting position will be any different from your old one?” … She looked down, sideways, anywhere but at me. She started about three sentences she couldn’t finish and then admitted to me “I just want a job.”

“Yes, I understand,  but you won’t be happy. You’ll feel secure at first and you’ll tell yourself you can make this job different, but I’ve interviewed the company. You will run into the exact same problems and end up miserable, guilt ridden and hating your life within a year.”

Still she persisted. She pointed out that she had all the qualifications. They didn’t have to train her. She was completely ready to do the job. She was the best candidate on paper, but NOT the best actual candidate for my client, because her WHY wasn’t connected.

What do I mean by connecting your WHY?

A true WHY is more than just a paycheque. It’s directly connected to your Values and your unique Interests.

For example, I love meeting with people and learning new things. My top Core Values include Honesty, Creativity, Variety, Quality, Cooperation and Challenge. I took a position as Office Manager for a graphics and printing company once. I had an interest in graphic design and I loved trouble shooting problems, for both customers and staff. It was a new challenge, would fill my need for creativity and variety and I would be in charge of a team (Cooperation). YAY! Until …

  1. they made me lie to a newer worker,
  2. they told me to push production and to settle for “good enough” even when my instincts told me the client wouldn’t be happy, and
  3. they made me lie to a client and sell them an inferior product at the same price, telling them it was actually better than the one they had ordered.

All of a sudden my original WHY wasn’t enough. Research shows that you can only stay106539012 in a position where your core values are compromised for a maximum of 2 years before you will quit or be fired. In the meantime your job satisfaction, self-esteem and performance will drop. I lasted just under 2 years. I quit, but not before I was broken and full of self-doubt.

As a recruiter, years later, I had to deal with many people just like me – broken from staying too long in a painful situation where their core values were regularly stomped on. Do I blame the companies for carelessly destroying these fine workers? NO!

It’s not your company’s job to know your core values and your unique interests. No one but you can determine if you are a good fit for your position. It’s up to you to make sure you’re in the right role and the right company for YOUR right reasons. Trust me, lying to yourself and saying “It’s okay. They pay me well. It’s just a job.” will not float you for very long. In the meantime you will disengage. Your performance will be all over the map. Your credibility and your self-esteem will suffocate.

The three major costs of not having your own personal WHY straight:113552124

  1. Time: If you aren’t certain of why you make decisions the way you make them, your decisions will take longer to make and you’ll waste even more time second guessing decisions AFTER they’ve been made.
  2. Money: If you know why you want to achieve specific goals in your life, you dollar-76008_640will know exactly what your time is worth and the value of anything you choose to trade away. You will stop spending on the frivolous and start investing in what’s important to you.
  3. MOST important – Credibility: Guard your credibility with 104102853your life! It’s far more important than money or position. It determines how much influence you will have on others and how trustworthy they believe you are. When you are inconsistent in your performance or your mood, you will lose credibility in other people’s eyes – at work and OTHER areas of your life. No paycheque is worth that sacrifice.

What’s your WHY? What are your Core Values and Interests? Have you connected them to your current position or are you one of the broken, full of self-doubt, not sure what to do?

You CAN connect your WHY without losing your job. Curious?

I’m happy to do a 30 minute Strategy Session for free.

OR … if you are in the Lower GumShoeMainland on Thursday, January 23rd at 7:00PM, come out and get Un-Stuck for 2014.

Click the picture for more information —>


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What Could Go Wrong?

Canadian Ski Patrol are prepared for the worst and hope for the bestWhy is this woman on a chairlift with no skiis or snowboard?

Meet Karen, my fellow volunteer Canadian Ski Patroller at Manning Park, BC. Every year, no matter how experienced we are, all patrollers and mountain staff practice the dreaded “lift evacuation”. We hope we never have to do a real lift evacuation, but if the worst case scenario happens, we’re ready!

Rick Mercer tries out for the Canadian Ski Patrol:

I’ve been “Shushed” a lot lately. I’ll joke about the worst thing that could happen, and I hear “Don’t put that out to the universe!” or “Quick! Take that back! Only say positive things!” Laughing, I turn to look at these well-meaning friends and peers … they are serious.

So-called “gurus” have people believing that saying what might go wrong will “manifest” it into existence. I started wondering … “Did I cause someone to rear-end my jeep at a red light because I wasn’t focused on positive thoughts?” “Have I caused the horrible housing market I had to sell my townhome in?” … and then I gave my head a shake.

Life happens. All we can do is weigh the situation, work to minimize our risks and try to maximize our rewards. When there’s 9 ways something can end up well and 437 ways it could go wrong, chances are good that something will go wrong. If we focus only on the ways it could go right, we are completely unprepared to handle problems, no matter how minor. People over-react, flap about and point fingers. As usual.

Canadian Astronaut Chris Hadfield‘s book “An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth” suggests “Thinking like an astronaut”. Always consider the next thing that could go wrong. When something actually DOES go wrong, you’ll be more likely to approach it with curiosity and systematic problem solving skills, instead of fear and reaction of the “fight or flight” response.

At work, have you watched people run around like chickens with no heads, busily and urgently flapping hands and pointing fingers when problems crop up? A workday rarely goes perfectly, unless you deal with no people and no change … even then, so much could go sideways. It’s easy to get upset. “Why can’t everything just go right for a change?” “If it’s not one thing going wrong it’s another.” We grumble, as we watch our deadlines get pushed, our schedule turn inside out and our peers either flap about, point fingers or duck and cover.

What if your team brainstormed each week on all the things that could go wrong with a project? What if you articulated the risks completely and then made an action plan to work around potential speedbumps, hiccups and brick walls before they happened?

If the ski patroDSC02542l focused all their energy on willing everyone to have an injury-free day and did not expect any accidents to happen, we wouldn’t notice potential hazards to fix. We wouldn’t practice our skills or check equipment. We wouldn’t be prepared to come to each others’ aid when a call came in. Bad things would happen. Luckily for our patients, we re-train before and during every season. We are prepared for ANYTHING. This keeps us calm, efficient and effective, which helps everyone else stay calm when accidents happen.

The next time you are in a meeting discussing a project, I challenge you to talk about the elephant in the room. Be brave and, in the face of all “the Secret” fans, dare to say “What could go wrong during this project, and how will we deal with that?”

You might be unpopular for about 30 seconds. The meeting chair or project champion may even say “We’ll deal with that at the time, if anything does go wrong. Just focus on making everything go right.” and we all know what happens later. Stick to your guns and say “Of course we’re going to work hard to make all things go right, but what risks are out of our control and how can we jump into action to create the greatest outcome, even if the worst case scenario does happen?”

As your team comes together to plot alternate plans, each member will gain confidence, knowing the team is prepared for the worst. Heads won’t roll. You’ll simply activate plan B. Now they can focus on achieving the best possible results, without fear of the unknown.

Comments? Post them below. I’d love to hear from you!

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A Little Acknowledgement Goes a Long Way

The power of a simple “Thank you” or a well timed gift. It doesn’t take much to boost the loyalty and motivation of your staff. You just need to pay attention to who they are as human beings, and show you think of them as more than just “Human Resources”.

I didn’t have a lot of money for entertainment when I worked in HR and had young kids. The General Sales Manager in my company came up to me late one afternoon when all his staff had left. He had two free tickets to a Canucks game in prime seats. His client couldn’t go and he wanted to GIVE them to me. AGH!!! I was ecstatic … and heartbroken. I had to explain to him that I would have been all over those tickets but I had two kids and they’d never forgive me if I took one and not the other.

A few weeks later, he popped in to see me and handed me four Canucks tickets in prime seating for the last game of regular season … against the Calgary Flames! He remembered!! He singled me out and hoarded those free tickets away from his sales reps to give to me.

Those tickets meant more to me than a $10/hour raise. They were more than a gift. They were a sign that I mattered. That gift was priceless.

Get to know your team members. Find out

  • what they like to do in their spare time,
  • what they really love but would never buy for themselves,
  • who the important people are in their lives.

Giving a gift that shows you know them and you care about them as a person, will go much further than a small cash bonus or a staff party they can’t really “party” … see How to Survive the Office Christmas Party

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