Point Lookout: a free weekly publication of Chaco Canyon Consulting
Volume 4, Issue 8;   February 25, 2004: When You Need a Lift

When You Need a Lift

by

When we depend on praise, positive support or consumption to feel good, we're giving other people or things power over us. Finding within ourselves whatever we need to feel good about ourselves is one path to autonomy and freedom.

As they walked out to the parking lot, Ellen tried to console him. "Maybe they were confused and didn't want to admit it," she said. "It took, what, three hours till I finally got it, didn't it?"

Two coffees

Two coffees. Photo (cc) 2.0 by chichacha

Bob was unconvinced. "I don't know, they all just kinda sat there. Like they'd heard the idea before, and they were so bored they just wanted to move on."

Ellen persisted. "Look, I have to get going. Let's meet for coffee tomorrow morning, 7:30."

"OK, but if I'm not there, don't call the paramedics. I'll probably be sleeping off a bender. Just kidding."

Although he's still able to make lame jokes, Bob is feeling pretty low about how his presentation was received. He wanted a more obvious expression of approval, and he was disappointed.

When you depend on praise from others to feel good about yourself, you're giving other people a lot of power. Here are two other forms of this pattern:

When you depend
on praise from others
to feel good about yourself,
you're giving other people
a lot of power
Approving multitudes
Dependence on universal acclamation or honor can be even more dangerous, because it can be difficult to achieve. Bob might be caught in this trap.
Acquired treats
Acquired treats are goods or services that anyone with enough money can buy. For some, the intensity of the reward is in inverse proportion to the number of people who can acquire the treat (legally or otherwise).

Instead of praise, approval, acclamation, or treats, rely on yourself. You'll experience a level of happiness that's otherwise unavailable. And with it comes a bonus: you can give yourself a lift whenever you want it.

Here are some things to keep in mind as you build your power to appreciate yourself:

Begin within
When you want to give yourself a lift, focus first on your breathing — a few slow breaths at least. Find your center.
There's no one else like you
We're all unique. People are so complicated that there are too few of us to require repetition. There are some situations that we alone are able to handle best. The needed combination of skills, knowledge, abilities, and interest resides in no one else.
We don't appreciate each other
Think of a colleague at work. Ask yourself, "How often have I thought about his or her uniqueness?" If you're like most of us, not often. And other people think about your uniqueness about as rarely as you think of theirs. In part, this is why so many of us feel unappreciated.
You're the world's expert on you
No one knows as much about you as you do. When you need a lift, rely on the world's expert on you.

If you haven't yet appreciated yourself today, now would be a good time for it. If you have, appreciate yourself for having appreciated yourself. Go to top Top  Next issue: Names and Faces  Next Issue

Rick BrennerThe article you've been reading is an archived issue of Point Lookout, my weekly newsletter. I've been publishing it since January, 2001, free to all subscribers, over the Web, and via RSS. You can help keep it free by donating either as an individual or as an organization. You'll receive in return my sincere thanks — and the comfort of knowing that you've helped to propagate insights and perspectives that can help make our workplaces a little more human-friendly. More

Your comments are welcome

Would you like to see your comments posted here? rbrenUpiJzDBrxYLnhEponer@ChacIzWeqsAKKFVyCXVZoCanyon.comSend me your comments by email, or by Web form.

About Point Lookout

Thank you for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed it and found it useful, and that you'll consider recommending it to a friend.

Point Lookout is a free weekly email newsletter. Browse the archive of past issues. Subscribe for free.

Support Point Lookout by joining the Friends of Point Lookout, as an individual or as an organization.

Do you face a complex interpersonal situation? Send it in, anonymously if you like, and I'll give you my two cents.

Related articles

More articles on Emotions at Work:

Hard at WorkThe Tweaking CC
When did you last receive an email message with a "tweaking CC"? Probably yesterday. A tweaking CC is usually a CC to your boss or possibly the entire known universe, designed to create pressure by exposing embarrassing information.
The Grand CanyonWhat's So Good About Being Laid Off?
Layoffs during the holiday period of November 15 through January 15 are far more common than you might think. Losing your job, or fearing that you might, is always difficult, but at this time of year it's especially helpful to keep in mind that the experience does have a bright side.
Elevator doors at the Spalding Building, Portland, Oregon (2012)Demanding Forgiveness
Working together under stress, we do sometimes hurt each other. Delivering apologies is a skill critical to repairing those hurts and maintaining our relationships.
The musical energy behind "Shall We Dance" (1937)What We Don't Know About Each Other
We know a lot about our co-workers, but we don't know everything. And since we don't know what we don't know, we sometimes forget that we don't know it. And then the trouble begins.
Richard Posner, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in ChicagoSome Subtleties of ad hominem Attacks
Groups sometimes make mistakes based on faulty reasoning used in their debates. One source of faulty reasoning is the ad hominem attack. Here are some insights that help groups recognize and avoid this class of errors.

See also Emotions at Work for more related articles.

Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout

Office equipment — or is it office toys?Coming July 25: Exploiting Functional Fixedness: II
A cognitive bias called functional fixedness causes difficulty in recognizing new uses for familiar things. It also makes for difficulty in recognizing devious uses of everyday behaviors. Here's Part II of a catalog of deviousness based on functional fixedness. Available here and by RSS on July 25.
Tim Murphy, official photo for the 112th CongressAnd on August 1: Strategies of Verbal Abusers
Verbal abuse at work has special properties, because it takes place in an environment in which verbal abuse is supposedly proscribed. Yet verbal abuse does happen at work. Here are three strategies abusers rely on to avoid disciplinary action. Available here and by RSS on August 1.

Coaching services

I offer email and telephone coaching at both corporate and individual rates. Contact Rick for details at rbrenGRbOmZkYIymZBMShner@ChacPOomgqffmGYasuYdoCanyon.com or (650) 787-6475, or toll-free in the continental US at (866) 378-5470.

Get the ebook!

Past issues of Point Lookout are available in six ebooks:

Reprinting this article

Are you a writer, editor or publisher on deadline? Are you looking for an article that will get people talking and get compliments flying your way? You can have 500 words in your inbox in one hour. License any article from this Web site. More info

Public seminars

The Power Affect: How We Express Our Personal Power
Many The Power Affect: How We Express Personal Powerpeople who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program.

Follow Rick

Send email or subscribe to one of my newsletters Follow me at LinkedIn Follow me at Twitter, or share a tweet Follow me at Google+ or share a post Subscribe to RSS feeds Subscribe to RSS feeds
The message of Point Lookout is unique. Help get the message out. Please donate to help keep Point Lookout available for free to everyone.
Technical Debt for Policymakers BlogMy blog, Technical Debt for Policymakers, offers resources, insights, and conversations of interest to policymakers who are concerned with managing technical debt within their organizations. Get the millstone of technical debt off the neck of your organization!
52 Tips for Leaders of Project-Oriented OrganizationsAre your project teams plagued by turnover, burnout, and high defect rates? Turn your culture around.
Go For It: Sometimes It's Easier If You RunBad boss, long commute, troubling ethical questions, hateful colleague? Learn what we can do when we love the work but not the job.
101 Tips for Effective MeetingsLearn how to make meetings more productive — and more rare.
Ebooks, booklets and tip books on project management, conflict, writing email, effective meetings and more.
Comprehensive collection of all e-books and e-bookletsSave a bundle and even more important save time! Order the Combo Package and download all ebooks and tips books at once.