Are you Waiting for People to Fail, or Looking for How They’ll Succeed?

“When you look for the good in others, you discover the best in yourself.” Martin Walsh

Right before the holidays, I hosted Allie Chipkin on LinkedIn Live; you can watch our conversation here. You’ll want to hear her story about how she ended up on The Tonight Show, Starring Jimmy Fallon.

In addition to that great anecdote, Allie shared a hack during our conversation to improve how you show up when presenting in public. It’s short and sweet, and I think it’s super valuable. I hope you will too.

Allie is a singer and songwriter, and when she was in middle school, she auditioned for the school play. As she watched other performers audition, she developed a killer case of jitters. She approached her voice teacher about her nerves; this mentor wisely asked her what she was thinking about as she watched the others.

As it turned out, she was thinking about their failings.

No wonder you’re nervous, paraphrasing her teacher. You’re expecting that when you get up there, everyone else is doing that too. “Scanning for the negative.”

Instead, Allie says, she’s discovered how effective it is to “actively scan for the positive” instead and, in doing so, show support and encouragement and lift others up. It doesn’t mean she doesn’t notice mistakes others make, but she views them as learning opportunities rather than occasions to find fault. It’s been helping her overcome performance anxiety and stage fright.

Powerful –– right?

Something we can think about, whether on stage, sitting in a meeting with colleagues, participating in an online group, or in any situation where we feel we are on the spot, is what/how do I think about other people?

Are we scanning for the negative and watching for others to fail? We do it for primal, evolutionary reasons: we are sizing up the situation, determining whether we are safe or not, better than safe, or worse than not safe. That’s not really a good way to live. If our feelings of safety are derived because we feel that we are better than others, then we put them in the undesirable situation of being unsafe. This reminds me of the conversation I had with Steve Young on the podcast if you’d like to revisit it.

Can we instead actively scan for the positive and look for ways to be helpful and uplifting? When we’re speaking our piece in a meeting or delivering a presentation to a group of one or a group of 10,000, can we focus on the positive contributions of the people who speak before and after us?

Because chances are good that the way we color our perceptions of other people is the way we believe—or fear—they will color their perceptions of us. 

This week’s podcast guest is Jon Clifton. He is the CEO of the global analytics firm Gallup, which focuses on strengths-based work and creating healthy workplaces. One thing that stands out in our conversation is that there isn’t a crisis of individuals wanting to work but a problem with the nature of the available work. 

It’s easy to forget that the people who work for us want to be engaged, recognized, and grow, and that starts with straightforward expectations, clearly articulated. If you create those conditions, people will want to work with you and for you.

Let’s do this even better than we already are!

As always, thanks for being here!

My best,

P.S. We are going to do an experiment. In the next couple of months, we’ll do a roundtable podcast with a handful of you, our wonderful listeners. If you’d like to potentially join me for a discussion of what you’ve liked, just hit reply, and give me a list of five episodes that have resonated with you. In the coming couple of months, we’ll invite a few of you to join us on air for a special episode of Disrupt Yourself. 

Click to access the login or register cheese