Archives for April 2010


Validation-Not a Concept for Inductive Reasoning

Full circle, so often we come full circle from the unbridled passion of youth to the wisdom of a certain age…  John Dunning wrote “I had unlimited faith in my own power, I knew what I could do and feared no one.  Such is the foolishness of the young, so goes the ego of the strong.” How perfect is the quote for the concept that I find myself wrestling with.

It’s my sister’s fault.  As we were discussing our relationships with others, she took me down the road of our past.  In our late twenties we both participated in a series of personal growth trainings.  We both listened to a lecture about validation and we both brought the same belief away with us.   The lecture went something like this: Validation – being the act of letting another know that you believe that their beliefs and/or actions are appropriate or acceptable – can be a trap.  Validation can be a trap if your need for validation drives your thinking and your activities.  It can be a trap, if the way that you live is to seek validation before proceeding on a course of action.

The inherent trap of validation is seeking the approval of others before making personal decisions.  It does not then follow (inductive reasoning) that you have no need for validation.  Yet that is what Becky and I walked away from that training believing.  We took the concept of being aware of validation and a need for approval and twisted it into – we don’t need validation.  As a “strong” person, one can say to oneself “I don’t need others to tell me what I did was right.”  Unfortunately – for both of us – that translated into relationship issues with significant others.  I can’t speak for Becky, but I spent the better part of two decades humming along on my own strength.  This allowed me to form relationships wherein I relied solely on myself for strength and validation.

What that looks like in a relationship is, in retrospect, scary.  If my former partner ignored me or “put down” my ideas and philosophy, I simply dealt with it by affirming to myself that I should not need validation from another.  My internal validation and strength is plenty enough for me.  What follows is a series of any number of all types of relationships where I could receive little or no validation – and no conversation followed – I just accepted it as part of being a “strong person.”

As anyone can imagine, relationships evolved that when juxtaposed against my stubborn need to have no validation, showed me that I really did enjoy and yes, even need validation.  What followed is that I became aware of another idea that I carried within myself.  That idea is that a “strong person” makes it on their own “and so goes the ego of the strong”. So here I am, finally, maybe understanding that a relationship should include validation for each other.  It’s okay to use someone else’s warm and positive regard.  It’s okay to need another to tell me that my course of action is correct, or even that who I am is very cool.  I can have these needs without diminishing my strength.  I can expect validation in my relationships and depend on my relationships to support my decisions.  I am speaking to all of my relationships.

I don’t need a boss who ignores everything good that I do and dramatizes my mistakes.  I don’t need a man who consistently badgers me about my decisions, pointing to all of the wrongness that is inherent in being human.  I don’t need friends who lecture me about what I “should” do.  What I need and want in my life are supportive friends who travel the same path as me.  If that makes me weak – then so be it…


An Easter Love Letter to my Family & Friends

We face change and evolution often and sometimes, like now, it feels like too often.  Structures come and go with time, but somehow it seems wrong to change a structure on purpose.  Which is exactly what I have done.  I did this because at this late date and late stage, I hold out for the torch of happiness.  I had to change the structure of my life completely to engender the kind of necessary change that must come to me.  I can hardly believe that I have not succumbed to the ugly kind of “acceptance” that I see all around me.  No, I really want some happiness.  My kids bring me joy, my work brings great satisfaction, yet I need Happiness.  Don’t know if what I have done will bring any happiness, but I do know that where I was – was unhappy.

This isn’t about me.  This is about telling you that I love you.  I cherish every memory, sometimes reminiscing until the wee hours of the morning.  I loved the good times and accepted the bad times.  I love my far-away children, I love my far-away grandchildren.  Most of all, today is quiet, astoundingly quiet.  I am wishing that the structure of my old life still surrounded me, at least for this day.  So that, Cadence could be begrudgingly dressed up and Lily could be chasing her and Shawn could be running to get all of the “dollar” Easter eggs and I could see Tommy later in the day…  All of the twenty-somethings would be wandering in and out of the house and the thirty-somethings would be on the couch talking about parenting.

I miss my old staff terribly, what a great team we made!  We worked and worked and we stayed and stayed. We built trust and hope and faith.  We loved people when they didn’t want it, and gave them a soft place to land when necessary.  We accepted human beings, but not their situation.  And lastly, we grieved together, life being what it is, when you spend that much time together there comes a time when you are forced to grieve.  We did that together unabashedly.

Lastly, I hope that once again, in another time and in another place, I can recreate the structure that I had with you.  Safe, loved and supported.   And in the meantime, I hope that I do not lose you.


Management & Supervision Are Leadership

Whether you like it or not, if you are a supervisor and/or a manager, you are a leader.  Here is the how and the why:  you are observed and copied.  Your reactions are monitored and then mimicked.  You’re statements are repeated and your name is used.  You either approve or disapprove of every single item that crosses your desk and every single behavior that you witness.  This is the simple process that makes all supervisors and all parents leaders.  What you approve of and reward will be repeated.  What you disapprove of will be practiced only in secret, if at all.  Good, bad or indifferent, your actions will affect all of those around you.  Many managers and supervisors are unaware of these facts and so they fail miserably in leadership 101.

As a manager you may turn a blind eye to questionable performance and maybe you do not realize that by doing this you are giving tacit approval to under-performers.  This tacit approval sets a standard for everyone.  For those staff who are high achievers with an internal locus to control, this kind of “blindness” to low performance is demoralizing.  High achievers will accomplish their work, no matter what, but the level of resentment will be high and staff morale will be low.

There is an old saying “The soldier has a right to competent command.”  Competence means that as a supervisor, you are completely aware that you have an obligation to communicate your principles, values and ethics to your staff.  Your staff must know what your value system is and they need to see you enforcing that value system.  Competence means that you understand that you must perform in a visible way.  How you act and what you say broadcasts to everyone the kind of behavior that you expect.  Not saying anything, communicates volumes about you.

The next time you make disparaging comments about your staff, recall this article and realize that, if you have been with a team for a year or more, you are 100% responsible for how they are performing.  No manager in an organization can blame it on the staff.  Staff are only a reflection of the kind of manager that you are.  They act as a mirror to the top…