A friend of mine out in Baltimore used to tell me, “Should-hood leads to Shit-hood”. This is particularly applicable to those of us in management roles. Whether you’re managing a project, a team or even your own life, focusing on the ‘should’ can be a good thing or a bad thing.
“Should-hood” – the mindset of focusing on what should be – isn’t bad in the right context. Focusing on what ‘should be’ is how we apply our core values to our own words and actions. ‘Should’ is a very powerful mindset…..when applied to oneself. The problem comes when we focus on what ‘should be’ when it comes to the words and actions of others.
There are countless factors that impact everything we do and while we have varying amounts of influence over each of these factors, rarely do we have control of them. The good news is that there is one element in every situation over which we have 100% control – ourselves. The bad news is that we often focus on those elements that, even on our best day, we can only hope to influence….which inevitably leads to “Shit-hood” – that terrible feeling that nothing is as it should be and that life and work are hopeless.
So what to do?:
- Accept the fact that you can only hope to influence anything or anyone that isn’t you. Even if you hold a gun to someone’s head and tell them to start dancing, they can always say “screw you – shoot me.”
- Instead, focus your efforts on the elements that are 100% within your control – your own words and actions
- With this fact in mind, work to observe and listen to others to gain an understanding of what IS
- With an understanding and acceptance of what IS, focus your energy on what you can do, say or write to influence those elements of your work that you need to manage in order to be successful.
Ultimately, “should” is a word best used when looking in the mirror. Obsessing on what ‘should be’ when dealing with others will provide you countless ways to be frustrated and unhappy. Focus your energy on those elements of every situation that are 100% within your control – your own words and actions – and avoid ‘Shit-hood’. It’s not that nice a neighborhood anyway.
© 2011, Mark E. Calabrese