Throw for the Catch

It’s fourth and goal.

Time for one play to determine the winner of the game. You drop back to pass. One receiver’s wide open. You throw a “frozen rope” spiral — right on target. You hit the receiver so hard in the chest that there’s no way they don’t make the catch.

But they don’t. And you lose. (More than the game).

You race to the “would be” receiver, now crying and laying on the ground. “What’s wrong?!” you ask, amazed that the catch wasn’t made.

“You fwew it too hawd”, your 2-year old (nearly 3) whimpers.

How would this make you feel? Good play?

So, why? WHY, do we insist on presenting, solving, doing things our way when success so clearly depends on more than just you?

The Downside of Strength 

Don’t think you’re above this. It happens to all of us. We become especially proficient in our ‘game’ and work it like a soft-serve ice cream dispenser on a cruise ship.

We play to OUR strengths in complete disregard of OTHERS’ strengths.

Sure. The example is a bit extreme, even for a low-ego, former second-string high school QB with a fairly advanced 2-year old. But even if we recognize that while many/most of us would gently toss the ball underhanded from a distance as close as we could get to our son or daughter, we DON’T do this at work. What’s this all about?

It’s about a couple things:

  1. Our need to appear proficient (i.e., “show off”)
  2. Our inability to rightfully assess the “receiver’s” needs.

Even worse, these two things interact to make our decisions even more self-centered.

Two primary psychological factors are in play here. (Regular readers will know I intend all puns.)

First, our need for achievement, influenced by our self-confidence predicts that we will use our “strongest club”. We can’t help but to near reflexively show off – we’ve been doing it all our lives.

Second, our inability to assess other’s needs or readiness is huge. It also includes our unwillingness, by the way. We are, for the most part, not about the other person. I’m sorry to break this news, but altruism is a very rare commodity. We think first and foremost about OUR needs, OUR strengths, OUR selves, thus completely overshadowing any interest, or ability to assess another’s needs, strengths and selves.

The Solution 

The path to completion depends on addressing the two psychological states previously mentioned. Here are a few techniques to do this:

  1. Manage your ego. This is typically addressed via self-awareness techniques and reminders combined with acknowledgement that you are good enough not to have to prove it.
  2. Dial up your consideration of others. This takes discipline because, for the most part, we all tend to think others think like us and are more capable than us. The consensus of many studies continues to show that more than a majority feel less capable than others. Therefore, a “they can take it” mindset prevails. Again, our self-centered tendencies dominate.
  3. Raise your emotional “tipping point”. Stress brings out the side of us we don’t like. We act more out of “fight or flight” reactions that are highly emotional and un-rational. We lose our cool and begin to act to attack or avoid critical issues.

Helpful Hint

As often as you can, do what Marshall Goldsmith advises: “Imagine everyone with a post-it note on their forehead that reads, “Make me feel important.”

Your son or daughter really want to catch the ball. So do your colleagues. Throw for the catch.

It really matters.

Psychways is owned and produced by Talentlift, LLC.

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