Category: Consulting

Consulting, Leadership

Get Off the Hamster Wheel

Stress

How are you doing? Better yet, how are you feeling? If you answered ok or fine to either of the questions, you are not being honest with yourself or lack a true moment of self-awareness. Give yourself a moment to pause. Take this opportunity for some self-care. Stop everything you’re doing. Now close your eyes. Focus on your breath. Inhale a nice deep breath in and exhale out. If you need, take a couple more slow cleansing breaths. Next, settle your mind for a second. Push all thoughts to the side - clear your mind. Keep breathing. When you’re ready, open your eyes. Finally, ask yourself quietly, out loud, or internally, how do I feel today? You should get a clearer response. Are you surprised by the answer? I’d be surprised if you weren’t. So what are you going to do about the stress? 

Like many people, you probably feel stressed, overworked, and underappreciated. We all feel like that sometimes, and we can usually shake it off. What happens when you can’t? How do you cope with the long-term effects of the constant stress, anxiety, and expectations of work and personal life? In the short term, we usually find ways to cope and navigate the immediacy of our work and personal lives.  Our coping ability erodes when the stress continues and becomes a long-term situation. We continue to follow our daily routines with a little focus on self-care to get through the day. When the stress is long-term, things rarely change in our routine, including stress. You have to break the pattern for things actually to change. The reason most people don’t break the pattern is a failure. They believe that changing the pattern is a sign of failure and weakness. Well, that may be true. It’s an issue of comfort, routine, and feeling stuck in a pattern you can’t escape. When the comfort and pattern of continuing to do the same thing are easier than the looming stress of stopping. You, my friend, are on the hamster wheel.

I jokingly call that feeling of feverish exhaustion, unending stress, and caffeine-fueled adrenaline driving need to continue as “being on the hamster wheel”. It’s the feeling of running with no end in sight, feeling like you’re not making any headway, and not knowing how to stop. We all have been there. Some are still there and are constantly in that state of anxious panic. I’m telling you to “get off the hamster wheel”. 

We can not avoid stress in our life. We get it from both our personal and professional lives. Managing it is a real challenge. When you can’t balance it or have an imbalance of stress from one side or the other, our natural inclination is to power through. Powering through is a short-term solution. The stress has to end to let your nervous system recover. When you are in this state, your nervous system is in flight or fight mode. When you do, your body doesn’t know how to cope as it thinks you're being attacked. You can not power through long-term. Your body can not stay in this state for long periods. When you do, this triggers long-term issues with your health. If this is you, how will you let your body heal and come down off the stress so it doesn’t think it's being attacked? 

There is a healthier way. Finding harmony is hard work. Acknowledging when you will have stress, communicating it to others, announcing it has a deadline, and letting your body get the reparative rest it needs to reset itself is vitally important. How do you do this? It is all one word some people do not like: boundaries. You have to establish boundaries in your personal and professional life. Start small. For example, boundaries on communication methods and times, preferences of work, time commitments, and the need for healthier behaviors. If no one has told you today, you must eat and go to the bathroom many times daily. Work or personal commitments should not interfere. These are necessities of self-care. That is an easy boundary to set. Declare it to others, say no when it is an impediment, and stay firm in your decision. After a while, you will reap the benefits and find your perspective changed. 

So what’s next? How are you using your time to foster your self-care? How do you make healthier eating and activity choices? If you are not an avid exerciser, do something - anything. I like to stop, walk in the park during sunset, and people-watch while listening to music. It’s just me and nature. Also, rediscover your hobbies. Find a new one or restart a hobby. Stress robs us of our joy. Find any opportunity to bring joy back into your life. You’ll be glad you did!

If you are still struggling or need additional guidance with your business, contact us at Pensivetastic. Let’s collaborate to define your path forward. We’ll help you get there. 

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Business Support, Consulting, Data & Reporting, Technology

Software Selection

software selection

Let’s talk about the sometimes difficult process of making a software selection. While Important, the software selection process is time-consuming and not fun for everyone. Companies invest in software tools to fill gaps in their workflow and improve the user experience. I’ve been part of many software selection committees that get bogged down in the decision-making process that they never actually make a decision. Taking your time to make a proper decision is not always your friend. At the rate technology changes, the more time you take creates a large ongoing challenge for your users. The ongoing delay means your company may struggle to keep pace in the market. To help, we have gathered key concepts to consider when selecting software.

We've created a guides section on our website with helpful white papers to support your business. Recently, we posted a software selection guide to help you make an informed software decision. This guide does not help you define your process or help you set one up. This guide considers ten factors when evaluating software regardless of business size or type. This post will highlight three important concepts from the software selection guide

User Functionality - Besides the business need, your users should be the central focus of your software selection. They are the reason software is created and should be made a priority. If the user does not have a good user interface (UI) experience, they will not use the software, no matter the opportunity it creates for your business. Focus on your users' experience navigating the software and completing their tasks. From the moment they reach the login screen, is the experience inviting? Is the navigation intuitive? Is it easy to understand without any training? Are there more than three steps to complete a simple task or navigate to a widely used tool? If the answers to these questions are no, this is not a great user experience and not the software for your company.

Current Capacity - When deciding on your next software purchase, focus on the software that can meet as many of your business requirements today.  A common mistake in choosing software is betting on the future capacity of the reporting tool. Software that can’t meet your business capacity needs today with the hope of meeting them in the future is a marriage heading for divorce. Vet all data and reporting tools. Ask for access and experience it for yourself. If it doesn't meet your current needs, find software that can. Choose your software partner, not your wishlist items, that meets your critical needs. Prioritize your needs to have the correct conversation with the software partner.

Integrations - Choose a software system with the most current integrations to help your company and users grow. Your business has a need now, and the existing integrations should help you immediately. Don’t rely on the promise of new integrations that may never come. This delayed strategy will get you stuck with a product that may hinder growth. 

Need more help, download the full software selection guide. In your software selection process, find the best fit for your company at this time that provides you with the most flexibility. Cast a wide net. Do your research. Do all the software demos you can in a short amount of time. As you get closer to your decision, choose a vendor and partner that fits your company well. The reality is that software is always changing, like your relationships. If the product does not evolve with your organization or the partnership changes in an unhealthy way, you may need to find a new software product and partner. That can happen anytime in the future. Nothing is forever. I will caution you on one thing. The new shiny toy is not always the best solution. Just because others use it doesn't mean it is right for your business. Do your due diligence.  

We’re here to help you get where you want to go. Contact Pensivetastic today to discuss and collaborate on a path forward for your company and data.

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Consulting, Data & Reporting

Data Quality Basics

what-is-data-quality-and-why-is-it-important-300x220

Having and maintaining excellent data quality is a goal for many organizations. Good data will make your decisions more sound, protect, and stabilize your business. Bad data may alert you to the wrong priority, show an inflated crisis, or even point to a problem without one. Understanding the state of your data and developing a plan to improve your data will improve your storytelling and give you more confidence in your decision-making and prediction accuracy. If the data tells you the wrong story, you are inappropriately allocating resources that could hurt your business or clients. 

Let’s start by understanding data quality basics. Regardless of the size of your data set or data system, these basic principles should be considered when estimating your data quality. You must understand that committing to improving your data quality, while necessary, is a major commitment. Data improvements are not a one-time project, but an ongoing effort to enhance your business infrastructure. The larger your data set, the harder the challenge is to clean. Many fear data quality because they don’t understand the data quality basics. Let’s give you some basic guidance. 

Data quality is broken down into six principles. Each principle is important and should be considered collectively. These principles all start with the letter “C”. 

Clean - Cleaning or cleansing is about detecting and correcting corrupt or inaccurate records. It is a column-by-column and row-by-row effort to repair missing data or discrepancies. The best place to start is to pick an area of your most critical data - data you use most frequently. Start with rows of data that are missing or blank. Fill in those empty holes. Next, clear the data in the same categories with spelling errors or old data categories. Update them to your new data standards (see the compliance section). Any data errors must be addressed and resolved consistently and ongoing for data to be clean.

Complete - Completeness refers to the comprehensiveness or wholeness of your data. For example, which data set is the most comprehensive if you have merged an old data set with a new one? You would need to bring the rest of the data set to the same level of completion as the best of your data set. Ensuring every data row has exactly the level of completeness as every data row. Completeness is not achieved until all rows and columns have the correct and appropriate data, including no missing or blank data. 

Compliant - Compliance ensures that sensitive data is organized and managed to meet all enterprise business rules, legal, and governmental regulations. Earlier, I mentioned your data standards. Your data standards may come from established industry standards or business rules you create around meeting these data basics principles. Review the various types of sensitive data you collect. How is it being collected, improved, and reported? Who has access to change the data set? You will want policies and procedures around data access, collection, and reporting. To help you begin to design a plan for data cleaning, most importantly, you want to detail by field name, type, and answer the data you collect. 

Consistent - Consistency means, regardless of the platform or formats the data lives in, all data reflects the same information across all systems within the organization. As part of your cleaning, redundancies need to be removed as a part of the preparatory step known as data normalization. The format of the data also must be your standardized format.

Credible - Credibility views the reliability of your data. In other words, the data must be perceived as verifiable as coming from a reliable source to be credible. To what extent can your data source be relied upon to ensure the data correctly represents your business status and client profile?

Current - Data is often time-sensitive, so it must be up-to-date across all systems, considering any changes that may render it obsolete or worthless. Integrations and APIs can help move data between systems. Caution - if your data is dirty, you are moving dirty data directly between systems. Try disabling integrations into you clean the data in your primary system before you enable your integrations. 

If your organization makes data driven-decisions, you must take the time to understand the current state of and improve your data to be seen as credible and current. While overwhelming, it is important to move your business forward. Start small and expand from there. Understand the state of your existing data and then create a standard. Next, choose a place to start to improve your data. 

Contact Pensivetastic today to discuss and collaborate on a path forward for your company and data. Supporting you is what we do. We’re here to help you get where you want to go.

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Consulting, Culture, Human Resources, Leadership

Pros & Cons of Feedback

Feedback Bubbles

Politician Frank A. Clark declared, “Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man’s growth without destroying his roots.” What is relatable about Franks's quote is why many struggle with feedback. While Feedback is fickle for many, it is recognized as an important tool for growth. How can feedback nourish growth without buckling the foundation growth is built upon? Let's discuss the pros and cons of feedback. 

Feedback is the formal or informal information exchange regarding performance, skills, or teamwork. Formal meaning as a company-sponsored performance review. Informal means during an unstructured conversation or after an event where performance, skills, or teamwork was not perceived as excellent. Its official dictionary definition, related to psychology, is the “knowledge of the results of any behavior, considered as influencing or modifying further performance.” Feedback is a tool to help someone move from one stage of understanding and skill to another. When done right, feedback can be a pleasant and welcome experience. The challenge is that feedback alone can not move the needle. It must be accompanied by knowledge, skill, and aptitude tools to move the improvement needle. When done effectively, feedback improves workplace communication and performance. Leaders will express that feedback is a necessary part of the growth process. Impactful growth comes from effective feedback, commitment to improvement, and appropriate development opportunities. 

Employers believe they must immediately provide feedback. Often reflection can be its own teacher. Negative feedback rarely achieves growth. Psychologists say that people will only hear negative feedback in a conversation regardless of the positive provided. Carl Jung, the Swiss Psychiatrist and Psychoanalyst, said, “Knowledge rests not upon truth alone, but upon error also.” Employee wants truth, but not at the expense or threat of their mental health or job tenure. According to Buddha, the South Asian Religious Leader and Teacher, “Whatever words we utter should be chosen with care for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill.” Here is a case where words matter. It underscores how you approach the conversation also makes a strong impact. Why do employees feel that feedback is bad? 

A challenge arises when feedback and advice are included in the same conversation. If you look at the definitions for advice and feedback, they are different. Feedback is “a reaction or response to a process or activity.” while advice is “an opinion or recommendation offered as a guide to action, conduct, etc.” When feedback and advice are married into the same conversation, it confuses both parties and makes the receiver feel more vulnerable. The conversation leans more personal instead of objective. When it feels more objective, it provides more opportunities for reflection. 

I have participated in the giving and receiving end of solicited and unsolicited feedback at work. Whether delivered intentionally or haphazardly, feedback is rarely received well when unsolicited, not asked for, given, or done voluntarily. Unsolicited feedback within the performance review structure is stressful, awkward, and unsatisfying. Heavily negative feedback is perceived as critical and accusatory. Even if the conversation was solution-oriented, it was mostly one party providing possible solutions, making the conversations weighted and uneven. Where the conversation was overtly positive, it felt insubstantial. Each party felt cheated with nothing tangible or new to work towards — the good news resulted in a nothing experience. 

Employee development will be more successful if feedback is solicited instead of unsolicited in the work environment. Employers should permit and find opportunities for employees to request solicited feedback as they need or want it. There has to be a better way to provide and structure feedback where both parties find it a rewarding experience. 

Contact Pensivetastic today to discuss and collaborate on a path forward for your company. Supporting you is what we do. We’re here to help you get where you want to go.

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Business Support, Consulting, Culture, Human Resources, Leadership

Future of Employee Support

Feedback Hands

My continuous conversations with colleagues and friends expressing their discontent with company culture and employee support are increasing. From major corporations to small nonprofits, employees struggle with workload, work stress, being overwhelmed, underappreciated, feeling burned out, and lacking daily support. These dedicated employees are struggling with the words to describe how they feel and what they need. They all agree they need to feel more supported as an employee. What’s the answer - they have no idea!

Something shifted during the COVID pandemic. Both companies and employees have changed, but they are not on the same page. Some call it a mental health crisis. I believe it is more than that! Employee needs have exponentially evolved. Employees need more grace, patience, freedom, and space to do their jobs holistically. Employees are voicing their struggles, but companies are not listening, and those who are listening do not have the right resources to help. To recruit and retain employees, companies must support employees daily in all aspects of their life. Whole jobs need whole people. Valued and happy employees are productive employees. Culture and value are not solved with free lunch once a month or the random “Atta Boy!”. 

Employees do need support every day, but different support every day. Companies historically have tasked this to Human Resources or the People and Culture department. Unfortunately, Human Resources or the People and Culture department fails to provide holistic employee support. It is not their fault. The model for HR was designed in the 1700s as a pro-business model to increase employee productivity. The model never factored in employee wellness and culture needs. The model needs to be improved. 

Employees' needs have significantly changed and are more complex than ever. There is a chasm between what companies provide and what employees need. This chasm is where expectations, good intentions, hope, resources, referral, and follow-up fall into. It’s a deep well of misunderstanding and missed opportunities. As previously discussed in our blog article “HR and Culture”, HR should not be the gatekeeper for culture.  Managing culture is everyone's responsibility, but it does need to be stoked like a fire. It is more complex than only focusing on diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility. The work is hard to repair and get right. 

I propose a radical shift in how we perceive and allocate resources to support employees. HR has a critical role, but can not be the lone support. HR should be one of several sources in a company to provide employee support. There needs to be more than one department to support employees. These new departments must be equipped to offer the necessary resources required to effectively and wholly support employees. HR has a role to play and we need to let them play it well rather than continue to add to their responsibilities. New departments must be developed to improve retention, culture, and wellness outside HR. These departments should not be allowed to take punitive action against employees - that is the opposite of support. When employees struggle, they should be acknowledged, respected, and lifted up with the support they need. Listen to the employee as they express their situation and needs then wrap compassion, empath, and resources around them. 

As industries and employee change, rarely at the same rate, employee support will shift to meet the demands of the change model. This shift is a large commitment to research, implement, experiment, and evaluate what works for all employees. Some companies are experimenting and finding moderate success. Once you find what works best for your employees, the next shift will begin, and you will need to revisit your support model. It is a living, ever-evolving, and collaborative model. Small companies will need help achieving the long list of employee support needs and this level of engagement. Even small businesses need to think about employee support outside the bounds of human resources. 

We would love to hear from you about your needs for support at work or how your company is evolving its employee support. Contact Pensivetastic today to discuss and collaborate on how we can support you while you do what you do best. We’re here to help you get where you want to go. 

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Consulting, Culture, Leadership

“Because I’m the …”

"Because I'm the ..."

Have you been in the room when and on the receiving end when a leader says, “Because I’m the ... [insert title here]”? I have experienced both occasions. I am stunned each time that phrase leaves a leader's lips. When voiced, it reeks of immaturity. It is a statement steeped in power and control that unravels goodwill and destroys relationships. I have never understood why leaders think this is effective. What’s the purpose of exuding your authority and power by lashing someone with your title? 

It is said more frequently than leaders like to admit. Whether spoken in person, dictated virtually, or used in an email, this tactic has no good purpose. It is an outward and obvious signal of the leader's frustration about the circumstances. It negatively shuts down and ends the conversation. When used, it’s a very irritating response and alienates the receiver immediately. This tactic does not foster healthy communication, promote healthy dialogue, or emphasize respect for others. 

All leaders must make missteps to grow in their leadership journey. This behavior is frequently attributed to new or inexperienced leaders with upgraded roles or responsibilities and entering a different power dynamic. It is a lesson taught to inexperienced leaders by other leaders. To make an impact quickly, the new leader will make these statements to show others they are in control. This phrase breaks down team dynamics, often leading to poor long-term results. 

Experienced leaders often perform this tactic for the same reasons as new leaders. When they do it, it is the most disappointing. It does not give leaders the gravitas they think it does. When said by experienced leaders, they present themselves as petty and egotistical. It is a micromanagement technique that signals the leader distrusts their team. It signals to the receiver that they are inconsequential and that this person, topic, or situation is beneath the leader. It is weaponized to create and perpetuate toxic company culture and puts unhealthy leadership behavior on full display. It purposely makes others feel smaller. The unintended consequence is that staff start to distance themselves from the leader. It is noticeable as the company experiences staff turnover and decreased performance as the team stops following their leaders. I have never seen it positively affect a conversation or relationship. 

Why do leaders think this tactic is effective? 

It is never an effective tactic to use in any situation. This tactic perpetuates the company culture's power struggle by dividing “Us” from the “Them” - lengthening the separation between management and non-management staff. It erodes the leader's brand and leadership potential. It signals fear and manipulation as the principal leadership drivers. This tactic does more harm than good, no matter the circumstances it is wielded. 

Why is this an intentional strategy leaders continue to use? 

  • It is a learned behavior passed down like trauma. Someone did it to the leader so they do it to others. We all learn by example. 
  • Leaders who do this may be unaware of their behavior. They may need to be made aware of their behavior and a compassionate course correction. 
  • Leaders purposely do this to control others; they may dislike sharing power and responsibility. When they exude power, they believe that moving forward quickly is easier than giving others the space and time to discuss issues and foster relationships. It’s another attempt to micromanagement the situation. 

What should leaders do instead?

When you are feeling challenged, listen more. Embrace normalizing challenging conversations with staff with other points of view. Learn by asking questions to understand the circumstances better. Consider some of the following questions:

  • I would like to hear more about your point of view. Please share more of your thoughts with me. 
  • How can I provide more clarification, guidance, or support to you?
  • How can I help you achieve the set direction? 
  • Do you have the resources you need to move forward? 
  • Is there something you need that will help us move forward together?
  • Can something be clarified in the vision or task so we can move forward? 

Asking open-ended questions signals a leader with empathy and compassion who fosters cooperation and team building. It is the opposite of using fear, manipulation, and control. It is a relationship builder and not a relationship destroyer. 

Power struggles always negatively impact your company culture. When leaders use statements that demand power, it erodes trust every time. When used too often, trust disappears, culture degrades, and relationships become impossible to repair. 

Culture is what you do, not only what you say. Leaders who create frequent contradictions in written messages or policies, during company conversations, or between their behaviors and actions are the reason for cultural misalignment. These contradictions become the employees' dominant experience. Thereby, the employee internalizes the contradictions as the unspoken definition of your company culture. It creates a misalignment in company culture between what you say and what you do. You can read more about the impact on culture in the “Words matter, but…” blog post. 

Everyone deserves a chance to learn, reflect, and grow eternally with grace, patience, and understanding from others. Everyone is human, everyone makes mistakes, and everyone is a leader. Therefore, leaders make mistakes. Leaders can make mistakes as often as they need to become better leaders. Failure is often the best teacher. Allow leaders to make mistakes and grow from them without persecution (unless they break the law).

How will you learn and grow in your leadership today? If you need additional guidance, contact us at Pensivetastic. Let’s collaborate to define your path forward. We’ll help you get there. 

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Consulting, Culture, Leadership

Words Matter, But …

Words Matter, but

Google “words matter,” and your search results will fill with articles, research, and podcasts. Language is important, and clearly defining your intention can mitigate future challenges. Leaders tend to focus on the messaging - what we say matters. 

In speeches and marketing, words matter. Positive words can inspire, change someone’s direction, and unify. When focusing on the intention of our message, something special happens. Unclear messaging creates chaos, confusion, and conflict. 

Many companies work hard to define their message, policies, and values. They spend much time wordsmithing language to find the perfect vocabulary to represent their company culture and brand. It is a good marketing tool for the website and potential employees. It brings in new customers and can endear people to a brand. In these instances, words do matter. 

What happens when all those words become a deception? When your company’s culture contradicts your messaging. When employees express frustration or push back against the dominant culture. While words do matter, actions speak louder than words. 

Your company culture is not defined by what you put on paper. It is the embodiment of what happens every day. The words in each daily conversation or company meeting; the contradictions of your decisions; the actions of your human resource department; the positive and negative reinforcement of all leaders; the inequality of performance appraisals; the communication or lack of in expressing your vision; or the way you pivot your business model. When the company's actions contradict your written words, employees believe your actions. Period - Full Stop! 

You can refer to the written policy or values all you want, but if you do not breathe life into them daily, they are just words. Culture is a living organism. It grows and changes in space between words and actions. When words fail - actions speak the truth. In many ways, the action becomes the primary vessel for communicating and expressing culture. In these instances, words do not matter. 

Employees always see through your company’s contradictions. It frustrates them. They want you to practice what you preach. They see the contradictions between your words and actions and perceive them as lies. When employees begin to ask questions or challenge leadership decisions, it is because of your contradictions. This is not always a commentary about leadership. It is a reflection of your declining company culture. Sometimes, it’s a combination of the two. 

Contradictory department culture happens as a way to correct broken or unfair company culture. It perpetuates an “Us” versus “Them” culture. It allows departments to have their own culture that contradicts the company culture. What happens when the culture is divided? When this happens, company culture needs a reset. This means many leaders listening to each other, employees listening to each other, and leaders and employees breaking down silos. The goal is to find common ground and a way to course correct. 

What can companies do to turn the tide? Recently, in a conversation with a couple of  leaders, we talked about how easy it is when decisions, operations, and community collaborations are black and white. I burst their bubble by explaining how life is all about the gray areas. First, companies need to spend more time in the gray area between words and actions to understand better how these gray areas affect the company   culture. Next, communicate the intentions of your written policy. What does the policy mean, and how does it improve your culture? Policies are no longer just business decisions. The employees demand to understand the impact on their lives. Then, Dialogue often - company-wide - about how the little things contribute to your identity and why it’s important to a supportive culture. Finally, listen, ask for feedback from all company employees in person and in writing, and then take action based on the feedback. Since accountability for all companies, employees, and leaders is important, tell your employees what can be improved quickly, what items will take time, and what items may not change.

Finding a healthy balance between words and actions is hard work. It is a long-term business challenge. Keeping the cultural living organism alive must take consistent and constant reflection. It is the role of every company board member, leader, employee, and volunteer. 

If you need additional guidance, contact us at Pensivetastic. Let’s collaborate to define your path forward. We’ll help you get there. 

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Consulting, Leadership, Strategy

“Kill ‘Em with Kindness”

Kill_Em_With_Kindness_(Official_Single_Cover)_by_Selena_Gomez

Hopefully, you know of the actress, advocate, celebrity, and singer Selena Gomez. For those who are not Selena Gomez fans, find a millennial - they will help get you on board. There is a terrific song on Selena’s Revival album called “Kill ‘Em with Kindness”. It’s a set of poignant lyrics tied to a catchy beat. I recommend listening to it and adding it to your exercise playlist.

This simple song starts with a firm declaration:

          “The world can be a nasty place

          You know it, I know it, yeah

          See, we don't have to fall from grace

          Put down the weapons you fight with

          And kill 'em with kindness…”

So far, so good? Although, if you’re in a fight, please don’t surrender your weapons. I digress. 

She continues the song with these impressive statements. 

           “We're running out of time chasing our lives

           Every day a small piece of you dies

          There's always somebody you're willing to fight, to be right

          Your lies are bullets, your mouth's a gun

          No war and anger was ever won

          Put out the fire before igniting

          Next time you're fighting

          Please, kill 'em with kindness”

I was stunned the first time I heard this song. Let's face it, deep-meaning-dance songs are not a genre. If so, I would be a devotee. This section of the song speaks to me the most. In our overly busy lives, it can often feel like a little piece of us dies every day. I mean, we do get older daily, so it’s technically accurate. 

The song was written about treating haters with kindness. It was inspired by the hate Selena received on social media during a trip to Mexico. Pictures of Selena on a beach surfaced online and she was body-shaming by media outlets and social media. 

Selena Gomez expressed the inspiration behind the song. 

"You have to wake up with yourself every morning, and people are going to give you their worst, and it's so easy to be mean. I'm Latin; I can be mean, real fast, if I want. But I don't feel good about myself, and I think people need to hear a message like this. I do know that deep down in my heart that I have to believe that we can love each other and always be kind no matter what it takes in us. I believe that we can do that, no matter what."

We can all agree there needs to be more songs about putting haters and bullies in their place. A long line of amazing artists has rallied against the bullies and haters in music. You can Google them. Make sure you support them. 

There is one line in the song that Selena repeats several times that I want to address. It's an important statement for reflection. The lyric is, 

          “There's always somebody you're willing to fight, to be right.” 

That’s powerful. This song is not just about taking the high road when angry. It is also about checking your ego. Ego is “a person's sense of self-esteem or self-importance.” The ego is the “I” or self of any person. The thinking, feeling, and willingness, and distinguishing of a person's self from the selves of others. We all have moments in our careers when our hubris gets out of control. Whose ego hasn’t gotten in the way? It is human nature. Here are some questions to help you reflect on the impact of your ego on others. 

  • When does your ego go too far? 
  • When your ego is in the way, how do you regulate it? 
  • What mechanisms do you have in place to put your ego in check? 
  • How do your leaders and employees react when your ego makes demands on them? 
  • How do you apologize to your leaders and employees when you lash them with your ego?

Our ego gets in the way as leaders when we wage war during a simple battle. I suspect it is as Selena said when “…you're willing to fight, to be right.” Is waging wars with others over being right the sword you will fall on? How often do you fight to be right? Do you always have to be right? Is that what’s important? We should not war all the time. If you are, then you’re not listening enough. Conversations are not a competition outside a courtroom. Fighting to be right is just another version of perfectionism. 

I recommend Selena Gomez’s advice. Stand up to the bullies and haters, kill them with kindness, and release your ego. When do you “Kill ‘Em with Kindness”? Michele Obama always says, “When they go low, you go high”. In situations where there are egregious bullies and haters, it is excellent advice to go high and kill them with kindness. It is hard to go high when you are being attacked. However, speak up! Label the bully's and hater's behavior publically. Let them know that you see them and the unnecessary and unprofessional behavior they bring to the table. Their words are not tolerated. When picking your battles, you often must let the microaggressions float by you to move forward. It is professional to smile, excuse yourself, and quickly remove yourself from the situation. Don’t continuously put yourself in unhealthy situations. Your mental health and reputation deserve better. 

Let’s collaborate to define your path forward. If you are still struggling or need additional guidance, contact us at Pensivetastic. We’ll help you get there. 

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