I had the distinct pleasure of seeing Ryan Estis tell this story again yesterday at dynamic NEHRA conference. The hero of this true story, Lily (#LilyEffect), demonstrates powerfully how we can create purpose that fulfills ourselves, wow customers, and create “evangelist customers” who spread the word about us.
Our brains do some weird things when we are successful. It can pay to prepare for it. Especially, because we can get what I call “expertitis.”
I have a confession to make. After getting some really rough feedback about ten years ago I realized that I had come down with a bad case of expertitis. I had become successful as a change agent, and at helping people transform. This success unfortunately went to my head (which swelled a few sizes). I began to lecture people who had no interest in my advice. I was showing the first two symptoms below. No surprise, my success rate (and popularity) began to decline.
Symptoms: Expertitis is that dreaded egotistical state that shows itself in one or more of the following behaviors:
- Knowledge bias: (pompous chest puffing-up) “I’m an expert in one area which of course means that I’m an expert in a bunch of areas.”
- Teacher bias: (unwanted professorial air) “Of course you want my advice! Let me tell you how to do it right“
- Specialist jargon: (speaking in terms no average person can understand – see the urban dictionary for more.)
- Narcissistic bias: (with nose up in the air) “I’m so smart that I deserve better treatment than others.”
My solutions to priming by brain to be more realistic and helpful were simple, if not easy.
- First, I posted above my desk the following quote. “Focus on learning, not knowing”.
- Then, I made sure with every program that my goal was to “Add as much value as possible, rather than show my expertise.”
I’d love to hear what you do to balance yourself and prevent expertitis.
Also, I love learning about other brain geeks that use research to help us all learn how to work and live better.
I’ve followed Dr. Srini Pillay for a while. Here are his great suggestions for counteracting expertitis in the Harvard Business Review blog. The Unexpected Consequences of Success
Tom Raffio interviews Bob Faw about how to get your ACT together on their radio show.
Here are tips for motivating yourself, and others, particularly during busy or stressful times.
Tom Raffio is the leader of Northeast Delta Dental. He is also the co-author of “There Are No Do-Overs: The Big Red Factors For Sustaining a Business Long Term” with Dave Cowens and Barbara McLaughlin
Wonderful article illustrating the problems with negative feedback and how it limits motivation and creativity. He also talks about some fantastic brain research showing the positive advantages of talking about positive future states.
The Caveman and Thinker do better when they work together. This funny, brief animation gives a great example of the problems when one of the brain characters takes over. The blue character is similar to what I call the Thinker, and the red one has the passion and impulsiveness of the Caveman (or Cavewoman, if you prefer). This part of the passion of the Caveman is not one we talk about much in class 🙂
This young man epitomizes keeping a positive attitude, even in the middle of a living nightmare. It also shows the power of loving family and friends.
He is truly living into his Best DNA, and inspiration to us all.
I love those wonderful discoveries that show how doing what we love is good for us physically.
Click on The New York Times to read this fascinating, and heartening article.
This is particularly exciting for living into what we call our “Best DNA“.
Feedforward is usually far easier to give than feedback. Most of the time it is more helpful: specific, clear, actionable, and positive. Learn what it is, and how to do it well. Improve relationships at work and home. Achieve success more easily.
This video is Bob Faw teaching how to use feedforward, in performance management, and elsewhere in life.
Reframing: This is a powerful motivational tool. Reframing our language helps us to influence the “inner movies” that we and others see in our minds. This can make a huge difference in how others perceive us and what we’re telling them. This is also true with family and friends. This truly can help “Make Friends and Influence People”. Because of our caveman, our immediate gut reactions are often to focus on risks and only see problems. This can blurt out “caveman comments” that activate F Responses in others. Positive reframes create inner movies in people’s minds of the goals and the action needed to reach them. They also inspire the emotion needed to motivate people to action.
Wendy and Kevin, of the Litle & Co’s Leadership University class of 2012, give real-life examples of how they use reframes for great leadership.
Here are some other great examples of wonderful reframes from one of Litle’s stars. More will follow in later posts.
- Student with daughter Susan (age 9)
Susan and I watched the video on Bob’s blog “Influencing your Inner Movie – The Thinker & The Caveman” together. Susan was eager to “get to the caveman” portion of the video. As we were viewing the overview of the caveman…
Susan: “Caveman. That’s like Ellen when she’s fighting with me!” (Ellen is her 7 year old sister)
Lisa (mommy): “Yes, that’s right!”
Susan: “Or like you when you yell at me.”
Lisa (mommy): “Yes…that’s why mommy is taking this class. So I make better choices and reframe my words to be more positive.”
We talked about caveman behaviors and thinking behaviors, positive and negative comments and even about our Inner Movie. Caveman and Thinking behaviors seem to resonate the most with Susan. We agreed going forward when we got upset with each other or saw caveman behavior in each other we would use a shared “code word” as a reminder to reframe and choose our words more carefully. Susan picked our code word: octopus flare. I agreed it was good choice and would definitely snap me out of my caveman moment!
We’ve reference the caveman and thinker throughout this week since our lesson – and our code word is definitely working. It’s impossible NOT to smile (and laugh) when you’re saying/hearing octopus flare!
- Student with John (husband)
I shared the lesson of The Thinker & The Caveman with my husband John after my conversation with Susan. John’s first observation was how Susan was quick to recognize/call out caveman behaviors in others, but not herself. J
Over the course of this week we’ve talked each night about different segments of the training. Slightly different from my lesson with Susan, John and I have focused more on inner movie, reframing and 10:1 positive to negative comments. And our greatest challenge: TONE.
We both realize an opportunity to reframe our communications with the girls to be more in line with the 10:1 positive to negative comments. Most obvious has been our combined efforts to shift from telling them what NOT to do and reframing it into HOW to do something differently.
We also talked about the Chameleon Effect. Specifically making judgments/assumptions about the girl’s abilities or presumed limitations (our inner movies perhaps?) and allowing that to guide our approach with them. The story of the teacher with gifted/non-gifted children really hit home on the potential negative ramifications.
We’re not perfect – but we are definitely more aware! As you’ll see in the reframe examples following…
I. Caveman Urge: I wanted to ask a team member what they were thinking (sarcastically and with annoyance!!!) offering a client a free trial after we’d already offered the trial as a risk free trial (pay for service upfront with a money back guarantee).
Reframe: I checked my temper and my inner movie and took the time to ask some qualifying questions about what conversations led up to the discussion and how the offer evolved.
Result: Instead of letting my caveman loose and my temper run wild, I asked questions and took time to listen and understand how the situation evolved. In doing so I learned the team member was inadvertently not included in several key discussions leading up to the client call, limiting their insight and resulting in lack of direction. I took the opportunity to review the sequence of events, apologize for my oversight in the process and offer positive observations on where the team member took initiative and responsibility to move the opportunity forward.
II. Caveman Urge: My seven year old daughter, Ellen, is having some trouble with separation anxiety in the morning before going to school. I wanted to tell her not to be sad and to focus on happy things versus how much she misses mommy and daddy during the day.
Reframe: I remembered that referencing the feelings of sadness and missing us would bring up the feelings/thoughts that caused her to be upset in the first place. So instead I said, “I feel like today is going to be a great day!” and steered the conversation toward activities happening that day that I knew she liked (e.g. gym, recess, etc.).
Results: The first day it took a lot of reframing/redirecting and we still had some tears. Today she was less focused on sadness/missing and more focused on feeling like it would be a good day.
III. Caveman Urge: I wanted to tell my nine year old daughter Susan that there would be no more TV in the morning before school unless she started listening to me (and moving faster) when I told her it was time to get dressed and ready for school. (In a loud, frustrated tone)
Reframe: I stopped to consider how my previous comments along those lines had failed to make any difference in our morning routine, and potential for conflict. I thanked Susan for making her bed that morning before being asked and asked her what else was needed done before we headed out to the bus stop.
Results: Susan brushed her teeth and her hair without further prompting and I kept my anxiety (and unnecessary caveman comments) to myself. That night before bed we talked about ideas of things we could do to make getting ready in the morning smoother and less rushed and agreed to set our clothes out the night before.