December 16, 2011
This week, during my visit to their shop, an oil drain backed up in a pit at Dalton, GA. As the black ooze spewed forth, our team at #404 could do little but watch as the filthy pool spread – rendering the workspace useless and frustrating our staff. As long as the oil flowed, no work could be done.
As I later considered the situation, it occurred to me that the oil was not unlike the ever growing tide of abject negativity that rolls into our lives each day, darkening all it touches, stifling progress, and dissolving trust. Sewers are made to flow out for a reason.
That’s the point for the week.
The identification of that which holds us back is a necessary and healthy ingredient of high-performing teams. But it is equally true that we can discuss negative issues in a positive manner. There exists a vast but fundamental difference between outright negativity and constructive criticism; one includes a suggestion for a better way – the other does not. Pure negativity has no place on winning teams. Like the oil in Dalton, it detracts from productivity and stains all it touches.
Criticism, without corresponding recommendations for improvement, is useless, serving no good end – except our own. It’s fundamentally selfish, borne of a desire to build ourselves up by tearing others down – by making ourselves feel somehow better by making the lives of others miserable. Pointing out what isn’t working without providing ideas for improvement is easy and requires little in the way of courage. Standing in the gap, though, by providing ideas and solutions that enable organizations to achieve their goals, is harder. But little good comes easy.
As with so many things in life, it’s is a choice.
When we choose to provide constructive feedback that includes suggestions for a better way, we help move the teams, households, and communities we participate in forward. By doing so, we encourage the same in others creating a factorial expansion of positive energy that propels us at an ever increasing rate of speed.
By focusing on the positive, we elicit the best in those around us. We inspire others to imagine something better – something above the flow of the oil and something every one of us can be proud of.
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