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Day 1. Manners: The way out of a corner

Manners are the lubricating oil of an organization.

Peter Drucker, Managing Oneself

Think back to a time when you were cornered. When I say cornered, I mean, you had to own what you had done. For me, this time came a few years ago when I was doing an executive offsite for a multi-billion dollar, worldwide company. We’d spent a little too much time on one point of the day-long session. Truthfully, as the facilitator, I had kept us there too long.
During of our breaks, one of the executives called me out. “You’re wasting our time on unimportant points. Our time is too valuable for this,” he said. To make matters even more awkward, we were standing at the urinal in the men’s room while all this was taking place. I was, without a doubt, cornered.

What do you do in those split-second moments when you are cornered and don’t know what to say or do?

When you develop a lump in your throat, listen to it. It’s your body’s way of saying “something important is happening here!” Thankfully, I listened to the lump in my throat as I responded, “You’re right. I apologize. We did spend too much time on that point. That’s why it’s important that we keep moving.”

What was the executive’s response? He thanked me and we moved forward.

The ancient book of Proverbs provides wisdom here. It says “be not wise in your own eyes…” (Prov. 3:7) In other words, be humble and admit that you make mistakes and can always grow. Then carry on.

How might you apply this lesson to a current situation you are facing? I encourage you to not be wise in your own eyes. Listen to Drucker. Have some manners and your organization might run a bit more smoothly.

Are you cornered? When did you demonstrate a humility that moved you forward? How might you apply that to your current predicament? I’d love to hear your stories.

This is day one of an exercise I’m engaging in called, 40 days of action, how to generate momentum on your most important goals. If you’d like to read the original blog, click here. If you’d like to participate in 40 days of action, click here to email me.

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