Tag Archives: effectiveness

Family Wealth Alliance Webinar – Sept 14

15 Aug


Criticism–used well, this powerful leadership tool can promote positive change and strengthen relationships in business and life. Is it possible to use criticism at work without breeding resentment?

Dr. Deborah Bright, best-selling author and business coach, joins Family Wealth Alliance CEO Tom Livergood for a free webinar and fireside chat about the highly misunderstood topic of using criticism positively in the workplace.

Dr. Bright offers valuable techniques from her most recent book, rated by getAbstract as one of this year’s top 5 business books! She pulls tips from her book The Truth Doesn’t Have to Hurt: How to Use Criticism to Strengthen Relationships, Improve Performance, and Promote Change to help us:

  • Understand the essential role of criticism in the workplace
  • Overcome common mistakes made when giving criticism
  • Gain insights on handling difficult work-related situations

Register now for this free 1-hour webinar on September 14th, 2:00PM EDT. Turbocharge your workplace and career by learning to strengthen relationships and enhance performance with criticism!

Note: Dr. Bright’s 30-minute fireside chat will follow Bob Legan, of Whitnell & Company, discussing unique issues and planning opportunities with family owned or closely held businesses.

“Personal Responsibleness”: The All-important Active Ingredient In Personal Responsibility

29 Feb


Part Two: Personal Responsibleness vs. Personal Responsibility

If you have been watching the news at night, as I have, you may have heard from some reporters and politicians, alike, the argument that our citizenry needs to take more responsibility and rely less on handouts from the government. Similarly, a few of my clients have complained to me about how their employees need to take more initiative. While the sources are very different, what they have to say has a lot in common. When you combine the need for initiative with that of responsibility you come up with personal responsibleness. Perhaps, personal responsibleness, which is in the dictionary, hasn’t typically been in use because it’s quite a mouthful. However, after repeating it several times, it begins to roll off your tongue.

What is personal responsibleness and how does it differ from responsibility?

Personal responsibility is something that we take, or is given to us. In contrast, personal responsibleness is a state of being. It describes a characteristic that engenders an inherent competence and trustworthiness dedicated to the maximum fulfillment of responsibilities.

Perhaps a simple example will help to illustrate the difference. A manager asks an employee to send an e-mail to notify a client of a meeting cancellation and to offer some new dates. The manager after several days hears nothing. The manager asks the employee for an update and the employee responds, “I sent them the e-mail, as you requested.” That’s an example of taking on a responsibility. Someone with Personal Responsibleness would have kept track of the e-mail request. If the client hasn’t received any word, the employee would take it upon themself to call the client to make sure the e-mail was received. Perhaps it went into the Trash folder or was blocked. After all, what’s important is not sending the e-mail but making sure the client receives the information and that a new date is established. That’s making sure the end result is achieved and a valuable difference is realized.


Through law and ritual, society can impose responsibilities on its citizens, but ultimately it’s those citizens who must discipline themselves and adopt personal responsibleness if laws are expected to be followed. Fulfilling responsibilities entails just doing specific things for others. With personal responsibleness, when individuals are given or assume a task, they look not only at how they can fulfill the responsibility but also, how they can use their energies and personal expertise to ensure the result and make a valuable difference.

Personal responibleness is a characteristic that defines one’s being. Hence, taking initiative, where one accepts the power or right to do something, falls right in line with the person who operates with personal responibleness. The reason is because the motto for those who operate with personal responsibleness is, “it’s up to me to make things happen … unless that is made impossible by circumstance beyond my control.”

If you are reading this blog while spell check is on, you may have noticed that spell check wants to delete the word “responsibleness” and regards it as non-existent. Well, as a manager or supervisor or someone with responsibilities, you must make it not only exist, you must make personal responsibleness a key part of your working vocabulary. So, in today’s times, in addition to giving people responsibilities, what’s needed if we want the best results is personal responsibleness. It’s time for this word to enter into our dialog because we want people to take initiative and we want people to look not only to themselves, but to family, community and place of work to strive to add value.

For a more in-depth look at Personal Responsibleness see Chapter Three of my book On the Edge and In Control.

Deb Bright, Ed.D., is founder and president of Bright Enterprises, Inc., a consulting firm devoted to enhancing performance. Her roster of clients includes Raytheon, Marriott, Disney, GE, Chase, Morgan Stanley, and other premier organizations. She is also a best-selling author. Her newest book is entitled The Truth Doesn’t Have to Hurt: How to Use Criticism to Strengthen Relationships, Improve Performance, and Promote Change (AMACOM Books).

“Personal Responsibleness”: The All-important Active Ingredient In Personal Responsibility

22 Feb


Part One: Introduction to Personal Responsibleness

Most of us realize that it takes a very special kind of person to get through Special Forces training or flight school in the U.S. Army, Navy, Marines or Air Force. These schools take the most qualified candidates they can find and each one that they choose must be a genuine team player who can be trusted by his comrades. But, early in their training, as much as they trust one another, deep down they learn to trust themselves the most when it comes to packing their parachutes on flight missions. For if that parachute is not packed and prepared perfectly, it’s failure to open will be the fault of no one but the one who packed it.

Now, while in your own job and in your own life you may never need to worry about the reliability of a parachute, there are always going to be times and situations where you will have to count on someone else to act on your behalf for something that is crucially important to you. So, take 15 seconds and think hard about this: Among all your friends, fellow workers and associates, which ones, if any, would you put your trust in when it comes to “packing your parachute” regarding a matter that is very important and where a failure would cost, maybe not your life, but, a lot of money, prestige or embarrassment.

Your 15 seconds are up!

After you pick this person, think about what the true traits are that they seem to have that all the others don’t when it comes to your trust in them. It’s likely that you’ll conclude that they have a value structure that seems to guide what they do most of the time. They are probably the kind of person who puts doing what is right before what is simply most beneficial to them. More often than not they take the initiative to move the ball forward for the benefit of all and stand ready to celebrate the success of the overall mission of the organization rather than their own contribution.

This type of person is described by most who come in contact with him or her as “having responsibility”. But wait just one minute! A lot of people have responsibility but what exactly do they do with it? Generally speaking, “having responsibility” refers to something that is just given to us. What we do with responsibility is where our character, self esteem, values, and degree of reliability come into play.

And that is what Personal Responsibleness is all about. It describes a characteristic that engenders an inherent competence and trustworthiness dedicated to the maximum fulfillment of responsibleness. In essence, it’s the acceptance of control!

More about Personal Responsibleness in my next blog.


Deb Bright, Ed.D., is founder and president of Bright Enterprises, Inc., a consulting firm devoted to enhancing performance. Her roster of clients includes Raytheon, Marriott, Disney, GE, Chase, Morgan Stanley, and other premier organizations. She is also a best-selling author. Her newest book is entitled The Truth Doesn’t Have to Hurt: How to Use Criticism to Strengthen Relationships, Improve Performance, and Promote Change (AMACOM Books).

Tips for Accepting Control

16 Apr

We’ve recently been exploring control and what it is you can do to accept control in order to achieve your goals. To wrap up this larger discussion, here are a few tips for what it is you can do to take personal control in your life. They are great reminders!


  • Stop thinking that control is something bad, and that by seeking control you’ll become a “control freak.” Remember, you are seeking control over yourself (and your situation) in order to reach a desired outcome.
  • Stop equating control with rigidity. Rigidity can trick us into thinking we have control, when we really don’t.
  • Stop allowing yourself to get caught up in routines. Sometimes, those routines can become the emphasis and focus, rather than a desired outcome or goal.
  • Stop thinking that you have “no control” over your emotions and your thoughts.


  • Start realizing that control is equated with flexibility. Build flexibility by developing a repertoire of skills that will allow you to be more adaptable. In turn, your confidence and self-reliance will grow.
  • Start building flexibility into your day by introducing new routines.
  • Start letting go of negative situations. Learn to “absorb the mistake and remember the lesson.”
  • Start building more choice into your life by asking yourself if you “want to” do certain things.

Remember, “total” control is unattainable; what you are striving for is a true sense of control. By attaining this sense of control, you will no longer feel overwhelmed, boxed in, or unable to do anything about a situation.

Working with Choice

4 Apr

Another key element that underlies the ability to have a sense of control in our lives is choice. Simply put, as long as you have choices, you are in control! By creating more choices in your life, you advance your pursuit of control. Here are a couple of suggestions on how to create more “choice” in your life:

Pose what-if questions and create your own fallback positions. How does one go about creating fallback positions? A key step is to think about what’s important to you, and then create your own what-if strategy for it. For example, what if you were to lose a big sale that would mean not reaching your quota? Or what if you lost your job?  These are simply examples, but you get the point. Many people I have worked with and interviewed over the years commented that they have a fallback position in case their jobs are eliminated. They will oftentimes identify something they enjoyed doing earlier in life, for example, such as waitressing, flipping hamburgers or being a greeter at Wal-Mart. These same people keep their resumes current and make a continuous effort to network so they are prepared for an unexpected change in their job situation. Thinking about what’s important to you helps you to retain perspective. After all, we could ask ourselves what-if questions about everything in our lives, and that would be an exhausting endeavor. So for starters, identify what’s important to you, followed by establishing a what-if plan.

With that said, you can invest time thinking about how best to handle everyday situations that frustrate you or really get under your skin. If your bane is being stuck in traffic, develop your what-if plan. For instance, your plan might include loading your car with a selection of educational CDs or audio tracks so you can make productive use of the time. If you are frustrated by last-minute appointment cancellations, call or email a day or two ahead to arrange and confirm your appointments to minimize surprises.

Another way to create more “choice” in your life is to operate more often on a want-to basis. Choices are often perceived as being limited when you are operating on a “have to,” should,” or “must” basis. The easiest way to operate on a want-to basis is to ask yourself questions that get you thinking about whether you have to or must or should do something. For example, ask yourself, “Do I have to move all the furniture when cleaning?” Clearly, you don’t have to. But if you want to have a clean home and you are going to do it yourself, then you want to do it, even if it is only a “little want.”

By coupling the question of “want to” with the achievement of desired outcomes, you’ll develop a greater level of enthusiasm, because you are acting out of choice instead of feeling as if you’re limited in what you can do – which leads us back to not taking control – because you already have it. Rather, in the big picture, it’s learning how to utilize the control that’s already yours!

Letting Go of Negative Situations – Part 2

1 Apr


Some of us have a difficult time visualizing things. Others (and this may be you) may not care for the Wastepaper Basket Quick Charge or Helium Balloon Quick Charge introduced in my previous blog. Not to worry. Not all of us are visual. So, you might want to try other types of Quick Charges which can be just as effective at helping let go of negative situations.

As you may recall from my earlier blog, Quick Charges are easily implemented techniques designed to help users perform at their best when in difficult situations. They are instantly effective and undetectable by others. Here’s an example of a Quick Charge you can use if you prefer to talk to yourself. Try the “So What? What Now” Quick Charge. There are two steps that are always involved with this Quick Charge: the first is to ask yourself, “So what if…?” followed by, “What now?” or “What am I going to do about it?”

Take, for example, a situation where you have a meeting with your boss and she asks you a question that you are not prepared to answer. You are flustered and embarrassed about your lack of preparation. Rather than dwelling on the situation the rest of the day, stop and use the “So What? What Now” Quick Charge by saying to yourself, “So what if I didn’t have the answer? So what if I looked a little unprepared or unprofessional!” Give yourself 15 to 30 seconds to beat yourself up. (Most of us can beat ourselves up royally in 5 seconds!). Then ask yourself, “What now?” In other words, address what you are going to do about it. You can’t erase the mistake or negative situation, but you can take control by making the necessary corrections. You can also take control to manage or influence your image. For instance, besides deciding to get back to your boss with the appropriate answer, you may reassure the boss that you typically work hard at being prepared and that this is a rare incident. From there, make an effort to take extra measures to be prepared and point out periodically how you’ve lived up to your promise.

What’s valuable about using this Quick Charge is that your negative feelings and emotions are dealt with instantly, and it leaves you with little need to carry them over into your next effort. Whatever the negative situation, the important thing is to “absorb the mistake and remember the lesson.”

Letting Go of Negative Situations – Part 1

28 Mar

Letting go of negative situations and outcomes is an important skill to have in your toolbox. It allows you to refocus and reinvest your energies into more positive channels and can help you in establishing a sense of control. But how exactly can we harness our energies to rebound from temporary setbacks, disappointments, or even mistakes?

Here are a few simple methods you can use which I like to call quick charges. Quick Charges are easily implemented techniques designed to help users perform at their best when in difficult situations. They are instantly effective, giving their users a “boost” that helps them through high-pressured moments. Even better, they are undetectable by anyone but the person using them. They are like a “secret weapon” working to keep their user in control of a situation.

A Quick Charge that is particularly effective at eliminating negative thoughts and for rebounding from mistakes is the Wastepaper Basket Quick Charge. Begin by envisioning a sheet of posterboard. Take up to 15 seconds to mentally scribble whatever negative thoughts you are having at the moment onto the posterboard. Maybe you’ve just returned from a presentation you were giving where your boss pointed out two errors in your PowerPoints. You can mentally jot down, “How could I have been so stupid? Why didn’t I double-check my figures? I should have caught that! They’re never going to let me give another presentation, now!” At the end of your 15 seconds, envision yourself taking a very big paintbrush and painting a large ‘X’ across those negative thoughts. Then picture a big wastepaper basket – take the poster, crumble it up or tear it to pieces, and dump it into the waste basket. Then light a match and burn the whole thing!

If you are really pressed for time, the Helium Balloon Quick Charge may be your best bet because it’s an even faster way to let go of a negative thought. Simply picture a balloon being filled with helium – as the gas is pumped into the balloon, include your negative thoughts. Then release the balloon and let it fly away, taking your negative thoughts with you.

If you are visually-oriented, or have had visualization training, either the Wastepaper Basket Quick Charge or Helium Balloon Quick Charge will probably work very well for you.

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