How would you describe the nicest vacation you have ever taken, if you could only use one word? How about how it felt the first time you got your feelings hurt? What word would you use to describe your earliest positive or negative memory? Chances are you cannot remember and describe every detail about these experiences, but the labels you have given them are probably firmly etched in your mind. When you think back about these or other memories, the first thing comes to your mind is the label, and your mind then uses that label to fill in the blanks around it. The fact is, this doesn’t apply only to memories, because we are constantly applying labels to every experience we have. The labels we choose—or let other choose for us—are what ultimately determine the context and meaning behind everything we experience, good or bad.
We live in a world in which the vast majority of people are simply tolerating their jobs and we think it’s normal for things to be that way. Very few people are excited about going to work, something that holds true regardless of industry or place on the organizational chart. Although there are some solid statistics that show this is the case, you don’t have to look further than the people around you or your friends—or even in the mirror—to know that most of us aren’t celebrating the opportunity to go to work and participate in making a meaningful contributions to our teams and clients while growing and feeling recognized and rewarded.
When I was growing up, one of the things I remember always hearing my mom say was something like, “I have so much to do that I’m not doing any of it!” As a kid, I didn’t know quite what to make of this saying—probably because, as a kid, I didn’t have many important things that I really had to do—but I eventually came to understand exactly what she meant. You’ve been there haven’t you? You have so much to do that you feel like a deer in the headlights, and end up getting nothing done! […] That’s because it is far easier, though not exactly exciting or rewarding, for us to panic in that crisis mode rather than sticking to a few important priorities and doing what needs to be done.
When it comes to the outcomes in our personal and professional lives, there is basically no factor more important than the decisions we make, or fail to make. Our decisions are at the root of almost every experience we have, both good and bad. While our starting points may differ, our decisions are what set things in motion and initiate behaviors that will become habits that deliver the results we produce. That being the case, it would make sense for us to approach our decisions as effectively as possibly, but unfortunately, in many organizations especially, that is not the case.
Let’s face it: just about every organization out there is full of opportunities to improve communication. The only real difference between them is that some realize it, and some don’t. For every organization that has acknowledged the issue and is actively working on it, there are many more that either have a case of “deer in the headlights” or are in full-blown denial.