Archive for May, 2012

Manifest THIS!

I’m tired, tired, tired of hearing the dollar store new-age experts tell me how to get results with the Law of Attraction.  “Just manifest a job,”  they say. “Manifest money.  Just visualize it.”

I’ve experimented for longer with the Law of Attraction than most of the self proclaimed experts have been in this incarnation.  The bright young things in yoga pants who feel that they have mastered the subject matter after a class at Unity seem to think I just don’t get it.

I’ve actually taken a number of classes at Unity and think they are pretty darn good.  I’ve also read hundreds (literally) of books on the subject.  I’ve been positive, visualized good things and gotten results:  bizarre results… or no results…and once-in-a-blue-moon miraculous results.  I would think it was just my inherent negativity and curmudgeonly personality except for… um… well, …everyone else’s experience seems to be pretty much like mine!

The bright young things who tell me to be positive or detach from results are not generally all that successful themselves and I’m just too polite to point that out to them.  Thirty percent of the population pursue self-improvement, but fewer than one percent get results.

Face it:  Whom do you know who has manifested a fortune, the love of their life, or a fabulous job using the Law of Attraction?  Why are we in a huge economic downturn after Oprah’s huge audience was exposed to The Secret?  The fact is this:  It isn’t working for most of us.

Do I think the Law of Attraction is real?  Generally, yes!  I’ve experienced it, but not usually as I’d expect.  There is actually quite a bit of high quality scientific evidence that the mind affects reality.

I am experimenting with Law of Attraction now.  I have decided to follow some programs for focusing my thoughts on success, for clearing out negative beliefs, for promoting good feelings.  (I hope I can manifest enough money to pay for these products!)

It’s been interesting.  I am recording my experiences here: or at  in the Law of Attraction Diaries.  Read them and let me know what you think…but please know that I will delete any comments that say, “All you need to do is…”  And, if you tell me to cancel my negative thoughts, I will block your comments!

When the Pack Needs an Alpha Dog

There is a right use of power. Some of us are squeamish about exercising power. Perhaps we confuse power with control. It isn’t the same. There are times when it is necessary to exercise power or lose control. We rightly exercise power over those for whom we are responsible. It might be to protect a child or an invalid or to protect our rights from those who don’t respect them.

I once worked in a group which had a leader who was an information expert but not really a manager. This happens quite a bit when a great technical expert becomes a group leader but has never learned how to manage. It happens a lot in IT, healthcare, and sales teams. Technical experts are expected to know things and know how to do things. Managers need to know how to exercise power appropriately and relate to people.

This person left most decisions to the group of a dozen employees. I believe that group management can work. I must admit, however, that I have never personally seen it happen (or even heard of it.) If the pack has even one member who operates in a dog-eat-dog reality, it needs an alpha dog to see to the group’s welfare. The alpha dog can have a style that is participatory or he can be a hard core enforcer, but to be an alpha dog, he must influence group behavior. That requires power, not expertise.

When a technical expert is rewarded for expertise with a promotion to management, her experience is all…well…technical. If this person develops leadership skills as well, then she can exert power. If the technical expert is not a leader, he will not perceive the exercise of power in the work group, so he may not see that there is an enormous difference between participatory management and no management at all. The manager who won’t manage is usually a good employee who wouldn’t dream of dropping the ball in any of his technical tasks, but who fails to even see the ball in his managerial role.

Political power governs the group with no leader. The workplace becomes a series of Survivor episodes and the games tie up energy that could be used productively. If there is no management at all, the group will either get nothing done, or accomplishment will be on the backs of one or two of the group members. Staff may like but will not respect the manager who doesn’t manage. Eventually they will feel resentment.

Employees suffer a lot of unnecessary stress from not knowing how a decision will go and from competing for time and assignments which should be doled out equitably. They feel open to the manager’s judgment but do not feel protected or supported in any real way.

When this team leader says, “Here’s what needs to be done. You all figure out how to do it.” He walks away having no idea that all hell just broke loose behind him. Manipulation takes the place of management, and all sorts of dysfunctional behavior occurs.

The tough nut takes the plum assignment; the narcissist takes a prolonged break; and the dutiful pick up the pieces while trying to avoid being bossed around by those who did none of the real work.

The same scenario plays out in a family in which the parent will not parent and allows minor children to make decisions. The appropriate use of power can steer the family or workgroup into constructive and cooperative behavior. This doesn’t mean being a drill sergeant or throwing your weight around.

Unfortunately, use of power cannot be learned from a textbook or even an MBA program. It must be learned by doing and practicing. When I coach new managers, I teach them to imagine that power is a visible force so they can direct it appropriately.

They soon learn that their imaginings are quite real. Power may be invisible but it is tangible to most of us.

The Power of Positive Practice

Now and then I receive a call from a client who is in shock from the abusive power play of a spouse or boss. A typical call came in a couple weeks ago from a man with an urgent need to be validated and reassured after yet another crazy making interaction with his department head.

I was able to provide some reassurance, and I gave this man advice on how to manage his interactions with his boss in ways that would respect her, but also invite her to respect him. I gave him several practical things to do which I consider proven to help a person be less affected by the petty tyrant in their life.

“OK, ok, ok,” was his response. In a follow up call, I asked if he had practiced those tips and he wasn’t sure what I was talking about. I jogged his memory and he remembered that he had practiced those tips for a week or so, until the crisis passed, and then forgot about them.

Practicing a new skill enough to pass an exam or weather a crisis is good. But if you really want to change your experience, you must practice it until you are competent without consciously thinking about it; much the way you probably drive a car.

The idea of trudging through practicing something new is not very sexy compared to the notion of getting instant results. I love quick, easy and efficient ways of doing things. I recently began learning Theta Healing, for example, because it seems to improve my feeling state very, very quickly. I use other techniques like NLP and energy management for the same reason. But the truth is I haven’t found any new skills whose mastery doesn’t require some plain old practice.

This client had experienced thirty years of emotional abuse and thirty days of being in a different state that would encourage respect.  Without practicing, the knee jerk reactions of thirty years would overcome the new unaccustomed behavior or thirty days.

I encountered this myself recently, when I couldn’t get past some old emotional reactions that no longer serve me. When I examined my life, I saw that I practiced feeling better and acting more deliberately just until I got past the current crisis, then I went back to my old, comfortable (but ineffective) way of being.

I am making a concerted effort now, to practice, practice, practice, every single day, until I achieve unconscious competence with the new feelings and behaviors. Is it fun? Well, not especially.

Is it working? Yes, indeed, it is!

Remember the visitor to New York City who stopped a man on the street to ask, “How can I get to Carnegie Hall?” The man replied, “Practice, practice, practice!”

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