Friday, April 1, 2011

When you’re on the road, do you notice RED CARS?

Author, innovator, and workplace dynamics coach Laura Goodrich thinks everyone can be more successful in the workplace if they just focus on “seeing red cars.” Does this sound like weird advice? If you read her manifesto, “Seeing Red Cars – Think It, See It, Do It,” you will learn how to “drive yourself, your team, and your organization to a positive future.”

Consider this scenario: how many times have you been in a meeting with co-workers, supervisors, subordinates, members of other departments, and after someone assigned you a task, you thought: I can’t do that – how many times? You have an internal discussion with yourself and begin to list the reasons why you cannot accomplish the project: not if I have to work with the people on my team, not without more resources, not without a larger budget, not without a different deadline, etc. Based on Laura Goodrich’s vast research, a myriad of examples, and yes, even your (the reader’s) real-life examples, we tend to focus on “what we don’t want” which leads to unwanted results.

Now, instead of the first response, consider this alternative: If I focus on my strengths, I can accomplish the assigned task. With this mindset, you can build a positive future for your team and entire organization. Try the “Seeing Red Cars” mentality – if you think about red cars on the road, you immediately start seeing them all over: one parked by the mailbox, one making a left turn at the corner, one leaving the drive-thru at McDonalds. You begin to wonder, does everyone have a red car? The answer is no, but you are noticing red cars because you are focused on red cars. Now, imagine how different your workplace would be if all employees focused their energies in a positive manner. Results would dramatically change: product launches would happen quicker, deadlines would be met with less resistance, opposing departments would no longer complain about working together.

Which of the following two team members would you want to work with?

Choice 1: Does anyone really say this? Sadly, too many employees speak or behave like this uninspired example.

“What I want is to engage in a conversation and say something offensive so that the other person says something that is equally or even more offensive. I’ll then respond in kind and storm away from the conversation steaming mad.”

Choice 2: Here’s an example of the Seeing Red Cars mentality:

“I want to effectively manage conversations so that I bring out the best in others and create trusted and open conversation.”

As Laura Goodrich says, “In situations large and small, it comes down to intention and actions. It takes discipline, but it really works. It’s simple, but not easy.” So, try looking for red cars, and you just might witness impressive changes in your workplace.

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