July 1, 2023: Daily Discipline Mailbag
The mailbag is back!
What do you do if you want to instill a new culture at your org, but the other decision makers don't seem to see the benefit of your trying to move in a better direction? Where they stick to the same old ways that doesn't provide any progress? Or where they just want the W on the scoreboard, quick fixes instead of a long term solution (Charlie - 49 - Genadendal, South Africa)
This is by far the most common question I’m asked about culture. Some version of, “How do I instill a new culture without the support of leadership (or the rest of the team)?”
I’ll turn the question around: How would you instill a new culture if you were the leader?
You could lean on the authority of your leadership position to force it, but then you’d create a culture of compliance or a culture where people are afraid to push back on your initiative.
You don’t need positional power or authority to affect change in culture. You need social power. When you know how to move the levers of value, influence, and social capital, you can affect the culture far more than you thought possible.
One disgruntled athlete can influence the culture in an entire locker room.
One loving grandma can shape the culture of an entire family.
One ego-centric salesperson can affect the culture of entire departments.
One committed activist can transform the culture around an entire social issue.
Don’t wait for permission, support, or a fully aligned plan. Lead the culture you want to see from where you are starting right now by (1) living it yourself, (2) influencing one person at a time, (3) speaking the truth out loud about what’s working and not working in the culture, and (4) being a positive supporter and believer in everyone rather than judging them, even if they express resistance and resentment towards your effort. Care about them too, but never lower the standards for them.
I may have missed the boat on this... Is there anything planned with the Daily Discipline podcast down the line? I still refer to the inventory you have on Spotify & continue to find value there. (Mitch - 32 - Joplin, Missouri)
Do you guys want the Daily Discipline Podcast to come back? Because I would love to dive back in. We had some internal changes that made the podcast logistically difficult and expensive, but we’ve solved those. I’m ready bring it back if you’re ready to listen.
I’ve been crafting some vision for what it could evolve into over time as well. I’d be super curious to hear your ideas for Daily Discipline Podcast formats.
First things first though. It’s probably the right time to get back on the airwaves, don’t you think? Maybe I can answer mailbag questions on the podcast too. Hhhmmmmmm.
When you feel that things should operate differently in a work environment but you do not have control to change it, how do you stay engaged and disciplined in the work that you are responsible for? (Matt - 32 - Columbus, OH)
We all feel this. The seriousness of the feeling varies based on the work environment, initiative, teammates, and context. But we’ve all been in this situation before and we will be again.
I mean, I’d like some things in my family to operate differently but I don’t have control to change even that. So the first thing I’ll remind us to do is keep things in perspective. We control nothing beyond ourselves.
So before I get to what you can do, let’s make sure we all understand the situation we’re in.
Here’s a principle I share with the companies and teams I work with: Organizations operate in a constant state of imperfection.
Most work environments are incredibly complex networks of rules, requirements, systems, egos, stakeholders, processes, dependencies, and more that people don’t understand, see fully, or see clearly.
For example, a huge % of the American population believes our country should operate differently than it currently does and are convinced they have the right answers. Meanwhile those same people can’t even figure out how to scale their business to achieve their dreams. They can barely navigate the politics of their community HOA but they’re convinced they have the answers for American politics.
Or watch how people react when their flight is delayed or cancelled. Do you have any idea of the logistical miracle it is that an airplane can fly, let alone coordinate all the airports in the world to make sure everything runs as close to on-time as possible?
If my flight takes off the same DAY it was scheduled, I consider that a minor miracle, given the complexity involved.
The point is, we need to observe, understand, and respect that the complexity of our work environments guarantee a certain amount of imperfection and even dysfunction at times.
What can you do when you find yourself in that situation?
Your purpose is bigger than your circumstances. Your mission is bigger than your constraints. No one and nothing can stop you from bringing the absolute best to everything you do at work.
Our challenge is not allowing our frustrations to diminish our willingness to give great effort and act with the highest levels of discipline.
Strategically, the best way to be influential for change is to be the most aligned, effective, and reliable teammate in the current set of circumstances. Be as valuable as possible and people will trust you, involve you, and consider your in put more seriously.
Most of all, don’t allow differences of opinion or preference to elevate above, well, opinion or preference. I see a lot of serious conflict in workplaces rooted more in opinions and preferences than in anything substantial worth addressing, let alone conflict over.
And lastly, in any circumstances you can focus heavily on the good or heavily on the bad. It’s all there to see. Decide which way you’re going to look.
I'm about ready to retire. I've been coaching and teaching for 32 years with a super busy grind schedule. I'm excited for retirement but what would you do in retirement? How can I relax but stay disciplined, focused, and motivated at the same time? (Sarah - 56 - Newton, IA)
I don’t view retirement as I’m done working. To me, it means the reason I’m working changes. I’m no longer working for money. I’m now working exclusively for purpose. Every minute is mine to use on my purpose. Or purposes.
How do I plan to relax and stay disciplined in retirement?
I look at three things:
If even one of those gets weak or fades away, my quality life changes drastically. And it’s well within my power to strengthen each of those until my final day.
I’ve always considered retirement to be a deeply meaningful section of my life, not because I relax, but because it’s when I expect to do most of my best work.
What habits help you go from determination to do something to actually making a change to get it done? (Kevin - 40 - Melbourne Beach, FL)
It’s not a habit. It’s an active choice. I make the choice to act immediately. If I’m determined, then I act. If I don’t act, I’m not determined. Determination doesn’t count until its action.
If we didn't answer your question this week, stay tuned, we got A LOT of questions. We will do our best to answer every question at some point.