What we call the X-factor as that mysterious “something extra” that make the difference between mediocre and exceptional.
The Y-factor isn’t that mysterious, but it’s what makes the X-factor possible. The Y-factor is the YOU-factor. Each individual contributes to the magnificence of the human experience. You make X happen. When you allow this force to work creatively in you, you open yourself to being INPowered.
Quantum physics claims that we all share a common field of energy in which we live and move and have our very being. When quantum particles collide, there exists at that moment infinite possibilities of what might follow.
So it is with people. When you meet another person, at that moment there are infinite possibilities of what might follow from that contact. Every Y on Y interaction, no matter how unremarkable it might seem, possess infinite X-factor possibilities.
A brief story: Recently I assisted in a pre-K classroom in a local school. One boy latched on to me that morning, and I spent three hours attending to his needs: putting a puzzle together, doing arts and crafts, and holding him in my lap while the class went through its morning routine of alphabets, counting, naming shapes, an singing.
Later I learned from one of the teachers that “Charlie” is the child who disrupts the class due to a suspected learning disability, and that my presence contributed to a more normal day. She said that Charlie had never connected with a volunteer as he did with me that morning. She told me she had never heard Charlie sing along with the rest of the class, and at the end, he stood with the rest of the class and did the final “dance” with the others–something he had never done. I assure you, all I did was be there. But being there made a difference to Charlie, and to me. I think Charlie changed me as much as I might have helped him that morning. Hence: X-factor at work through the Y-factor.
By the way, I was not supposed to be in Charlie’s class that day. I had responded to a different assignment, but the principal thought I was more needed in that room. I guess she was right. Another “X-factor (quantum)” experience?
Conclusion: YOU matter, as does every other YOU. Every person is uniquely remarkable, and to treat them any less, regardless of age, gender, race or ethnicity, creed or religious belief, is to subtract from the possibilities of living. The Y-factor crosses all boundaries for all time.
Application: Be open for the X-factor possibilities in every encounter,
and you will be
YOU might make an X-factor difference in someone’s life today, and you will probably never know it.
It’s absolutely true that everyone, at any particular time, is always right – at least in his or her own mind. That’s my opinion.
Opinions are not facts, but they are more powerful than facts.
An opinion is one’s spin on the facts. An opinion is what one believes to be a true and accurate interpretation of one’s experience. Facts are merely the data points we string together to support what we choose to believe.
To be factual, something must be observed to exist or to have existed. To say, “it’s 60° F.” is a fact, because it can be measured. To say, “it’s cold,” is an opinion about the fact.
I believe the opinions we adopt are more powerful than facts because we work so hard on constructing a valid reason for them. Once we express an opinion, we put ourselves on the line, and that opinion becomes somewhat fixed in our psyche. Why would be possibly adopt an opinion that we knew to be wrong? We wouldn’t. That would be intellectually, emotionally, and psychologically inconsistent. And that’s why our individual opinions are inherently right – to us.
Here’s the paradox. Opinions are not inherently right or wrong. They are agreed with or not. An opinion is one’s personal understanding and explanation of one’s experience; it’s not necessarily a statement of absolute fact no matter how many people might agree. So, if we hold different opinions about the same situation, it’s fair for me to say, “I disagree with your opinion.” But it’s not fair for me to say, “Your opinion is wrong.”
The right (and logical) thing to do would be to review the supporting facts, premises, and conclusions to arrive at a better understanding. Easier said, than done.Why?
Because opinions have their roots in belief systems.
A belief is a fundamental element of how we define who we are. We accept these beliefs as true for us, and therefore, those things that are not me must be equally not true: it is NOT ME.
For example, one might say:
- I am an American (and I believe things that I understand as “American”).
- I am a Christian (and I believe things that I understand as “Christian”).
- Furthermore, I am a Methodist (an I believe things that I understand as “Methodist,” as distinguished from Baptist, or Lutheran).
- I am a Republican (and I believe things that I understand as “Republican”).
As the saying goes, “Birds of a feather flock together.” A more interesting discussion, however, is how does one become, “of a feather?” The simple answer is that we tend to associate with whom we feel safe and comfortable for whatever reason that matters: physical survival, ideological alignment, familial roots, common interests, etc. We flock into groups, be they nationalities, religions, political parties, or other interest groups.
We identify with an individual or group, we hang out with them, we bond. There is nothing inherently wrong with this. The challenge is to avoid thinking that anyone not like us is (in our opinion) automatically a potential threat that must be minimized or eliminated.
Some will stoke that fear and use it to manipulate the fearful. The more serious the perceived threat, the more extreme our attitude against the threat, and the more justified we feel in eliminating it. There’s nothing quite as unifying as a common enemy.
The Sneetches, by Dr. Seuss make a powerful point about opinions, beliefs, and identity. Watch the You Tube version here,
or get a copy.
The INPowered seek to be liberated from the shackles of mind-numbing bias and stubbornness stemming from emotion driven opinions.
Take time to think through differing view points and conclusions.
Challenge assumptions, beliefs, and staunch positions — yours as well as other’s.
And you will be
Ideologues and demagogues know how to present fiction as fact to further their cause. INPowered leaders know how to separate fact from fiction to lead followers toward practical solutions.
Consider the following quote:
(I)n the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation. For the grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down, a fact which is known to all expert liars in this world and to all who conspire together in the art of lying.
Those are the words of Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, vol. I, ch. X (as translated by James Murphy, 1939 and approved by the Third Reich).
The message is clear: people are susceptible to a big lie if told in such a way as to appeal to their more base emotions, such as fear, which act on us outside our conscious awareness (the deeper strata of our emotional nature).
Here’s the way demagogues work: tell people they should be afraid of (fill in the blank) and make up emotionally compelling reasons why (facts be damned). Then tell them, you are the one (and only) who can either lead them to safety or fight off the evils that you tell them are a threat.
Here’s the catch – it works almost every time.
BEWARE: It’s used by people of all political, religious, and social persuasions.
By the way, Hitler wasn’t the first one to use the technique. His propaganda machine used it eloquently to rally his supporters. Even if we realize later that a big lie was being told, the damage to the innocent is already done.
I’m a fan of Karl Albrecht, a renowned thought leader in business consulting. His book, Brain Power, should be on your bookshelf. He warns of the big lie strategy and mentions several techniques that make it work (chapters 3 & 8).
- Use incorrect facts – information presented as a fact that simply isn’t true.
- Use weak facts – weak facts (or incorrect facts) anchored by a couple of sound ones that make the weak ones seem irrefutable.
- Tell the big lie until enough people accept it; then, the lie itself can be used to build additional logical propositions.
- Use irrelevant data – information that has no bearing on the issue, but sounds compelling.
- Use misleading terms, euphemisms, and name calling to mislead or bias the listener. When all else fails, say it more often and louder, with an occasional finger wag.
Here’s the point, friends. Learn to think for yourself,
and you will be
Leading is about taking care of the followers. But it appears many, so called, leaders think leading is about grandstanding, thumping their chests, and saying, “Oh what a great leader I am.”
As I’ve written in previous posts, “A leader is someone who takes us places we cannot go by ourselves.”
Just as a company’s brand should be about the customer’s experience with the company, a leader’s brand must be about the follower’s experience with the leader.
With that in mind, I believe there are four questions we followers want our leaders to answer for us.
- Where are we going, and why?
- How will we get there?
- Will I be O.K.?
- How will you help me arrive at the destination safely?
Where are we going, and why?
Leaders are about going places. The destinations are places, or circumstances, that are an improvement over our current status. We are off to someplace better. Why would we want to go to someplace that’s worse than where we are?
The leader must vividly express the vision and make us feel like true believers. We have to be able to see ourselves in that future state, safe, comfortable, successful, happy, and proud. Otherwise, we are not interested.
How will we get there?
What’s the plan? It’s great to have a vision of a better world, but how will we get there? I would be reluctant to put my future at risk without some idea of what is going to be involved, even if the journey will be difficult. I, at least, want to know what I might be facing so I can make plans to deal with the challenges and risks.
The only reason I might be tempted to follow without a plan is if the current situation is unbearable, and the risks of uncertainty are worth escaping the pain of the current situation. I hope I’m never that desperate. But some people are, and that makes them vulnerable to leaders who are more interested in taking advantage of the desperate for their own purposes, instead of being truly concerned for the followers.
Will I be O.K.?
We have to trust in the capabilities of the leader to keep us physically, emotionally, and psychologically safe. It’s a matter of survival. Will they scout ahead and find the best way? Or will they lead us into blind alleys and box canyons out of their naiveté, lack of experience, or bravado?
Only in the direst of circumstances are we willing to put ourselves in harm’s way. Most of us, for sure, would not risk our loved ones’ safety and security.
How will you help me arrive at the destination safely?
If we have trouble, will the leader help us, or leave us behind to fend for ourselves? There is comfort in knowing our leaders have the resources and foresight to help us cope with the perils of the journey. We aren’t just along for the ride. We need to know that we will learn how to thrive in adversity. We want to arrive better equipped to be successful than when we began. What assurance do we have that they have our best interest at heart?
Do you aspire to leadership?
Keep these questions in mind, and you will be