Last year at Thanksgiving, I wanted the focus of the meal to be around gratitude. Remembering an exercise I learned in graduate school, I modified it to fit my family and it was a huge success. I am sharing it with you and your family as my gift to you this Thanksgiving.
Think of what most people in your group are likely to say they are thankful for. For this example, we can say, “Faith, health, family and friends.”
Prior to the meal, by phone, text email, or carrier pigeon, or even as they arrive, take each person aside for a moment and ask them, “In addition to your faith, health, family and friends, what two specific things are you grateful for?” Write the answer down, without their name, on a small slip of paper in a bowl.
During the meal, pass the bowl and have everyone take two slips. Alternate going around the table, with one person reading the slip and everyone guessing who wrote it. In addition to the immediate things most of my family was grateful for, my son said blueberries and my brother said strawberries! Interesting coincidence, especially when neither are in season in Maryland. Other fascinating similarities were indoor plumbing and air conditioning, again submitted by two different family members. What about pet iguanas or colleagues who make us feel great or fuzzy bathrobes?
Both the gratitude and the guessing were a fun way to spend time together. May your holiday be filled with warmth and gratitude.
My son Josh taught my daughter Katie about Luck Surface Area. It is a concept coined by Jason Roberts from techzinglive.com.
Katie gave this example of Luck Surface Area. Imagine that every person begins life with a dartboard and one dart. Some of the dartboards are the size of a pin head, while others are the size of a football field. The dart is their luck, the board is the luck surface area. The dart can only bring more good luck if hits the dartboard. They go through life making choices, and if those choices are appropriate for the situation, their dartboard enlarges and of course the chance of the dart hitting the dart board is greater. However the converse occurs when they make poor choices. When the person makes bad choices, the dartboard becomes so tiny that it seems like they are terribly unlucky and nothing good can ever happen for them.
I notice luck surface area with the employees I coach. Many of the employees I consult are continuously exhibiting behaviors that increase their luck surface area. They show up on time, they are generally positive, they share information, they seek and appreciate feedback. When these employees give critical feedback, they have solutions. They attack the problem, not the person. They meet their deadlines and when they can’t, which is rare, there really are extenuating circumstances. All of these positive behaviors increase their luck surface area at work.
What are you doing to increase your luck surface area?
When a man is outspoken and direct in the workplace he is often described as passionate or ambitious. Men in the workplace are not first judged in a personal way, first considering whether he is kind or friendly and second deciding if he is capable. Why then, are women so often judged this way?
Like it or not, gender bias remains a strong undertone. Men and women and are expected to act differently in the home, in the community and the place where it impacts the budget the most: in the workplace.
Too often – if a woman operates in a strong and decisive fashion, she is described as ‘emotional’, ‘aggressive’ or ‘irritable’ and is generally not well liked. On the flip side, if she is friendly to everyone, she is well-liked but studies also show that in this case she is typically viewed as less competent.
I am the first to say that working women shouldn’t have to make a choice between being viewed as either: ‘nice and incompetent’ or ‘competent and disliked’. And while it upsets me that women should be judged based on competence, not likeablity, I am not going to ignore the reality. While we are working toward change, we must understand, even if we do not embrace, today’s reality.
Think about this “likeability penalty” in your own workplace. Are the men and women judged and treated exactly the same? Are their skills measured without any consideration of their ‘likeability’?
Sheryl Sandburg’s, “Lean In” was the catalyst for this article.