Managing Workplace Politics

Sarah walked into the conference room with her report. Her boss had praised the strategy she had developed for the brand she was working on. It was the flagship brand of the agency and she took pride that he approved it without edits. The room was packed with the creative team and the boss’s boss. She took her seat and before she could begin, her boss took over and began discussing her strategy. As he spoke, she found his tone changing. He was picking holes in it. Sarah was shocked. Perplexed. What’s going on? Last evening, he was filled with praises. What happened between then and now? The creative team sniggered and laughed. The boss’s boss felt that time was wasted. She looked at her boss, enquiringly. She tried to interject, however, he wouldn’t let her speak. She realized she was being annihilated. Her thinking process ridiculed, her understanding, belittled.

When the meeting concluded, she found herself shuddering with pain and the tears flowed, relentlessly. She sat back and reflected, My boss had never quite liked me. It was evident from the first day of the interview. And, at the meeting, he found the opportune time to hit me with all he had. She put a call to her friend and explained the situation to her. What could I have done? She asked. “It’s workplace politics. You need to be political. Politics is everywhere, degrees vary. There will be people who hate your guts. There will be people who hate your confidence. There will be people who want to be like you, they can’t, so they detest you for who you are. There will be people who hate the fact that you have it all. More so, if they perceive you have had it easy, you are an easy game. There will be people who will hate your affluence or the way you connect so easily with people you meet. There will be those who will be affected by your ‘attractiveness’. You will be picked because of your gender. You will be picked because you’re ‘luckier’ or because you are from a different tribe. And, you’ll have to deal with them and the games they play to maraud you and your self-esteem. It doesn’t matter whether your organization is big or small. When there are two or more people, the power struggles will emerge”

Office politics are actions and behaviours involving competition for status or power in the workplace. It arises when employees tend to misuse their power to gain undue attention and popularity at the workplace. Employees mostly indulge in work politics simply to tarnish their colleague’s reputation to obtain advantages and come in the good books of their superiors. This may occur by criticizing the co-worker, talking down about him/her to the superior, or taking credit for their work.Workplace Politics reduces the productivity of individuals and eventually the organization is at a loss. People tend to spend their maximum time in pulling each other down and playing nasty mind games. It increases stress as corporate politics yields a thousand times more stress than a healthy workplace culture. It majorly affects the relationship amongst the individuals. Friends turn foes due to politics. People stop helping and most importantly trusting each other. Office politics also increase conflicts and tensions in the workplace.

Although it is grossly unhealthy, workplace politics is inevitable. The reality is that every organization in one form or another will deal with workplace, office, or what is generally called “corporate politics.” It is a byproduct of efforts to develop a sustainable company culture.You cannot avoid office politics. It’s a fact of life. You may have negative feelings about it, or think you’re taking the high road by ignoring it. However, your lack of attention to what’s happening in the workplace can be extremely dangerous. Avoiding office politics can sabotage your career because in reality, it takes both great performance and political savvy to get ahead, especially in a complex competitive workplace. Due to the negative connotations associated with office politics, many people see it as something to swerve. Yet, it’s no secret that if someone learns how to play their part well and utilizes office politics without hindering their peers – then they will be in a much stronger position to advance their career. You need to be politically savvy. And the good news is that political savvy is a skill that can be learned. You will apply this skill in such a way you don’t need to compromise your integrity and principles. To manage workplace politics, you need to be in awareness of what is going on in your workplace. You need to understand the culture, power, and influence, the rules and system of the organization.

Understanding the work culture will help you know if the culture is conservative, innovative, or hierarchical. Does the work culture encourage patriarchy? Are there gendered roles and stereotypes? Also, is the company aligned with its said values and do these values align with yours? What are the rules, and most importantly, what are the unwritten rules? Does your company have unwritten rules? What are they and how do they affect you? You need to know these things to better plan your political strategies. Understanding power and influence helps you know who has power and influence over your career. Who makes the key decisions about your future in that company? Who influences those decisions? Is it your boss? If so, who is in their circle of influence? Power and influence are constantly shifting so make sure you stay tuned into the dynamics in the office and create visibility with the influencers.

Secondly, develop your people skills. Politics is all about people, so strong interpersonal skills will stand you in good stead when it comes to building and maintaining your network. Reflect on your emotions, what prompts them, and how you handle them. If you can learn to self-regulate, you’ll be able to think before you act. This kind of emotional intelligence helps you to pick up on other people’s emotions, too, and to understand what kind of approach they like or dislike. Also, don’t be that staff who always take sides or play favorites. Be mostly focused on the business objectives and don’t take sides with colleagues who are at loggerheads over a task – even if you like one better than the other. Rather than take sides that could affect you in a long run, place them on a common communication platform and ensure open communications among all parties, so that no one blames you for anything.

By not taking sides, you’ll help to direct conflict resolution in an objective manner. You’ll also build trust with both parties. That’ll help to keep the engagements constructive and focus on business objectives.

The Best Preparation For Tomorrow

A man who lived a long time ago believed that he could read the future in the stars. He called himself an Astrologer and spent his time at night gazing at the sky. He was always busy worrying about the future and villagers often came to him, hoping to know what their future holds.

One evening he was walking along the open road outside the village. His eyes were fixed on the stars. He thought he saw there that the end of the world was near. As he was looking at the stars, he kept walking without looking down. Suddenly, he fell into a ditch full of mud and water.

He was sinking in the muddy water, and madly trying to claw at the slippery sides of the hole in his effort to climb out. He was unable to crawl out and fearing for his life, he started screaming for help. His cries for help soon brought the villagers running.

As they pulled him out of the mud, one of them said, “You pretend to read the future in the stars, and yet you fail to see what is at your feet! This may teach you to pay more attention to what is right in front of you, and let the future take care of itself.”
“What use is it,” said another, “to read the stars, when you can’t see what’s right here on the earth?”

Just like this man, many of us spend too much of our time, focusing on our future, meticulously planning it to the last detail, and sacrificing the present moment for some illusory sense of happiness instead of appreciating and balancing the focus with our present. We have a blueprint of the perfect life we want for our future, but constantly rather than best prepare for that future with every day that passes, we neglect today. Doing nothing with it other than hope for that obscure future we want.

We all get worried about our futures, then spend a huge amount of time every day thinking about it. Many of us fear thinking about uncertainty while others just imagine living the bright tomorrow. But is there anyone who thinks of taking the steps today to improve the future?

Probably very few people are there who are putting an effort today for the better tomorrow. These kinds of people grow in the future while the rest remain in the same place with the same thoughts of improving the future.

The world is full of dreamers and doers. The daydreamers sit down and think about the perfect life they could have, the great places they could go in the future, but never follow through with actions that will help them achieve those feet. A dreamer is a person who spends a lot of time thinking about or planning enjoyable events that are not likely to happen. They like the idea of perfection and mostly live in the fantasy of it with every day that passes than they live for the reality of it with the actions they take each day.

There are writers who constantly talk about how they want to write the next big film or book, or have an idea that will revolutionize the world. As time goes by, the only thing they still have is that dream of being a New York Times bestseller, but in the real-life, they are not putting efforts to write anything. They are always at the same point in life as they were before: the “I have an idea…” stage.

Dreamers have their feet in the air and their heads in the clouds. They are people who live with the idea of having a perfect future whilst they can’t see clearly their present. They live each day pursuing the idea of tomorrow than they are working for the reality of it. And, that is how most people live their lives in constant pursuit of the future they do not prepare for today.

“Every action today will define the future”

We need to understand that there are only two days in the year that nothing can be done. One is called yesterday and the other is called tomorrow, so today is the right day to mostly live and do all you can to achieve the tomorrow we desire. We all want our future to be bright and happy, but the time doesn’t stop for anyone. Each tomorrow turns into today, your present is also a part of your future. There is always a tomorrow to look forward to and improve, but you can’t go back to yesterday. So, maintain the balance of your present life while you work for a better tomorrow.

In actuality, the best preparation for tomorrow starts from the day before tomorrow. It simply means if one needs to improve its future, he/she must have to take the best reasonable efforts today. An effort that is directly or indirectly related to your future goals.

To best prepare for a successful tomorrow, we need to give our best effort today rather than only worrying about the uncertain tomorrow. First, you need to write down your short term goals and take action. The difference between the dreamers and achievers is “action”

It is superficial to think that long term goals (future) will be achieved at once without short term goals to keep us on track. Short-term goals also minimize procrastination. They lay down a clear and defined path to success, allowing you to focus on one thing at a time. This focus will not only help you stay motivated, but it will also help your productivity and have you achieving your long-term goal quicker.

Secondly, ask yourself questions to be in the present. Remind yourself of where you are by asking yourself, ‘Is this what I should be doing right now?, ‘Am I feeling happy doing this thing?’, ‘What is the one thing I can do to make today count?’ Become self-aware and listen to your present feeling. By doing this, you are not conscious of the present, not only being roped in the feelings of the future.

Also, practice gratitude. Take time out to appreciate the things going well in your life, or the things you take for granted. Gratitude is a powerful catalyst for happiness, and rather than only being focused on future fulfillment, gratitude keeps us appreciative of the present moments that could eventually lead to that desired future. You will need to find the good in every situation and look for miracles in the mundane.

Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have. Make now the primary focus of your life.

“Yesterday is gone, tomorrow has yet to come we have only today, let us begin” – Mother Teresa

The False Human Belief

As a man was passing the elephants, he suddenly stopped confused by the fact that these huge creatures were being held by only a small rope tied to their front leg. No chains, no cages. It was obvious that the elephants could, at any time can break away from their bonds but for some reason, they did not.

He saw a trainer nearby and asked why these animals just stood there and made no attempt to get away. “Well,” trainer said, “when they are very young and much smaller we use the same size of rope to tie them and, at that age, it’s enough to hold them. As they grow up, they are conditioned to believe they cannot break away. They believe the rope can still hold them, so they never try to break free.”

The man was amazed. These animals could at any time break free from their bonds but because they believed they couldn’t, they were stuck right where they were.

Like the elephants, many of us go through life hanging onto a self-limiting belief that has conditioned us to think that we cannot do something simply because we have failed at it once, or others said it was impossible. Self-limiting beliefs are assumptions or perceptions that you’ve got about yourself and about the way the world works. These assumptions are “self-limiting” because in some way they’re holding you back from achieving what you are capable of.

A self-limiting belief could make you feel stuck in the rut, or dissatisfied with your life but then believe there is little to nothing you can do to change that. It makes you conform to stagnancy and create the illusion that success is the end product of mediocrity, hence can be achieved with a closed mind.

These beliefs include thinking you are too inexperienced for a job, believing you shouldn’t take a risk because you’ll fail, thinking it is too late to try anything, thinking you don’t need more money because you are merely comfortable, or not trying relationships anymore because you think it’s not worth it since the last one sucked anyway. When you think about the possible negative outcome of everything and become discouraged to take any new action based on that negative assumption, you are operating within your own self-limiting beliefs, and may never discover the extent of success you can achieve in life.

Beliefs are the lens through which you view the world. They can influence your perceptions, define for you what is good, bad, true, real, and possible, skew your perspective in positive or negative ways, direct and/or limit the actions you take, shape your character, and establish a specific course you will follow, and for these reasons, we need to be careful that the belief we carry is positively influencing us.

If you always put a limit on everything you do, physical or anything else, It will spread into your work and your entire life. And, if we would only see that all limitations are self-imposed and chosen out of fear, we would learn to leap at once.

People create a ceiling above their dreams so these dreams will always seem impossible. You begin to fly when you let go of self-limiting beliefs and allow your mind and aspirations to rise to greater heights. When we have empowering beliefs, our achievements can feel almost effortless. If we have self-limiting beliefs, however, then it can often feel like we are pushing a big rock up a steep hill.

Success is not birthed by limitation because the most successful people were able to live beyond boxes of the average man’s imagination and mind. Self-limiting beliefs can shrink your goals, impair your skills, blind you to your purpose, and deteriorate your confidence. Also, the problem with some people is that they mentally limit themselves in life, but then turn around and become very envious of those who aren’t willing to settle for less.

Don’t limit yourself. Many people limit themselves to what they think they can do. You can go as far as your mind lets you. What you believe, remember, you can achieve.
When it comes to building an incredible life, there is no limit to what you can do. The only thing keeping you from reaching your potential is a lack of self-belief.
No matter what shape you want your life to take, knowing you can have all the things you see in your mind is the first step. This power of visualization primes us for step two: casting your dreams and desires into the universe with daily, life-changing actions.

If you have any self-limiting beliefs about achieving your goals, start feeding your imagination with positive truths―because if your imagination has no limits, then neither should you. To overcome your self-limiting beliefs, you need to acknowledge that you have these beliefs and be honest with yourself. What limiting beliefs do you think you have? Take a piece of paper and write down the self-limiting beliefs that you know are hindering your personal growth. These beliefs could include anything from fear, excuses, experience, etc. for example; I can’t talk in front of large audiences, I can’t smile/interact with strangers, I can’t open my heart and love someone.

Next, find the core reasons for those beliefs. After you list all of those self-limiting beliefs that you have, try to understand the reasons why you have those beliefs. These reasons could be various, but usually, it’s because of your childhood experience/societal programming. For example, I can’t open my heart and love someone because I’ve been deeply hurt in the past, I can’t talk in front of large audiences because those audiences are judging me and my every move. I can’t smile/interact with strangers because it’s creepy.

Lastly, arm yourself with new, empowering beliefs. The next step to take after acknowledging that those beliefs you held are simply not true, is to form new beliefs. Use this time of epiphany to form new beliefs that serve you. Choose your new beliefs carefully, because these new beliefs will manifest in your life. After changing all of those limiting beliefs with new, empowering, and positive ones, start acting as if. Start acting like you are the new person that has all of these positive beliefs inside of them. It might be hard to change (It might take weeks or months), but with proper dedication, you will get there.

Taking Accountability For Your Life

One day all the employees reached the office and they saw a big note on the door on which it was written: “Yesterday the person who has been hindering your growth in this company passed away. We invite you to join the funeral in the room that has been prepared in the gym”.

In the beginning, they all got sad for the death of one of their colleagues, but after a while, they started getting curious to know who it was that hindered the growth of his colleagues and the company itself.
The excitement in the gym was such that security agents were ordered to control the crowd within the room.

The more people reached the coffin, the more the excitement heated up. Everyone thought: “Who is this guy who was hindering my progress? Well, at least he died!”

One by one the thrilled employees got closer to the coffin, and when they looked inside they suddenly became speechless. They stood nearby the coffin, shocked and in silence as if someone had touched the deepest part of their soul. There was a mirror inside the coffin: everyone who looked inside it could see himself.

There was also a sign next to the mirror that said: “There is only one person who is capable of setting limits to your growth: it is YOU.”

Accountability refers to an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility for one’s actions. If you take responsibility for your own actions, you show accountability. When individuals are accountable, they understand and accept the consequences of their actions for the areas in which they assume responsibility.

In the workplace, an example of accountability is when an employee admits an error she made on a project likewise an example of accountability in life generally is when we take ownership of our mistakes and failures without pointing fingers at the next available person. It is admitting that you, more than any other person has the powers to shape your life and whatever wreck or success you have made out of yourself is entirely your making.

Accountability is a statement of personal promise, both to yourself and to the people around you, to deliver specific results, and when you do not deliver such results, you need to hold yourself responsible. In our world, majority of people use the blame game as a sort of defense mechanism to protect their ego and to avoid confronting their inadequacies. They rather not take responsibility for anything.

When they fail a test, it is their friend’s fault for not reminding them on time about the test, When they make a bad presentation, it is the fault of a colleague who did not stop smiling during the meeting, and even when they make an error in a document, they could go ahead and blame Microsoft. They barely take a moment to analyze the situation and see how they have contributed to a problem.

Taking accountability for your life means that you are in total control and have the power to influence your life. It means that you refuse to make excuses or blame others for anything in your life that you are not happy about. Whilst blaming others is easy and could be soothing at first, you need to understand that the only person who can revolutionize your life. You are the only person who can influence your happiness, your realization, and your success. You are the only person who can help yourself. Your life does not change when your boss changes, when your friends change, when your partner changes, or when your company changes. Your life changes when YOU change. When you go beyond your limiting beliefs, and when you realize that you are the only one responsible for your life.

Taking accountability is essential for personal growth as well as team growth. How can you improve when you are never wrong? If you do not admit a mistake and take responsibility for it, you are bound to make the same mistake. When you take responsibility for your life, it is easier to have your life in order. You are able to see what mistakes you make, what your weaknesses really are, and areas your flourish at. You are able to escape the victim mentality and not come across as toxic to people around you as no one wants to be around anyone who blames them for all their problems.

Accountability is the difference between success and failure because when people don’t take accountability and things start to go awry -as they don’t feel ownership- they go into spectator mode and watch as things fail. If they thought it would fail from the outset it’s even worse; they go into “I told you so” mode, which nearly always becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Whereas when people take ownership if things start to go wrong, they step into solution mode and start to figure out what’s going wrong and fix it.

To cultivate the attitude of taking account of your life, you will need to stop playing the victim. Playing a victim is like creating a storm and getting upset when it rains. It is only when you stop victimizing yourself that you can accept that there is a real problem you need to solve. That is when you can admit that you have a hand in a problem. Stop being a victim of your circumstances and start taking action towards the life you want.

Secondly, you will need to stop in your tracks and ask yourself, “How am I contributing to this problem?” Instead of thinking that your current challenges are all about what someone else is doing or factors outside your control, accept that you’re 50% of this situation. What are you doing, thinking, and saying that is sustaining this problem? How can you shift your behavior (and do something VERY different from what you normally do) to intervene in this chronic pattern of conflict? It’s been said that if you’re unhappy about a situation, you have only two choices: Change the situation, or change your feelings and thoughts about the situation. It’s time to change what is happening by recognizing your role in it.

Lastly, seek solutions on how to solve the problem or correct the mistake you have already made. By seeking a solution to a problem, it means you have taken total responsibility enough to retrace your steps. For instance, if a school girl is always punished in school for coming late, maybe her mother has a role in her lateness by making her do morning chores that take up her time, but then again, she could see that she would have been able to do the majority of those chores the night before instead of watching late-night TV programs. Once she is able to ferret out how she is contributing to the problem, she must adjust and take corrective steps into producing better results.

Accountability equals responsibility equals ownership. And a sense of ownership is the most powerful weapon a person, team, or organization can have. At the end of the day, we are accountable to ourselves-our success is a result of what we do.

Practicing Delayed Gratification

In the early 1970s, an experiment was carried out to test children’s ability to delay gratification. In this experiment, a researcher offered hundreds of children a choice. Each child could have one marshmallow now or 2 marshmallows if the child could wait for 15 minutes. The researcher left each child alone in the room with one marshmallow on a tray whilst filming the child with a secret video camera. Most of the children couldn’t wait and soon ate the marshmallow.

However, about 30% were able to delay gratification and get the second marshmallow. Interestingly, the children were tested for the next 30 years, and guess what? The ones who could wait for the second marshmallow were more successful later in life! They got higher test scores in school. They had fewer problems with drugs. They were much more likely to go to college. They had lower body fat, and they made more money as adults.

The ability to delay the impulse for an immediate reward to receive a more favorable reward at a later time is a standard definition of delayed gratification.

Without delayed gratification, goals are not achieved and objectives do not get accomplished. For instance, ever had someone try to lose weight, yet cannot delay gratification on junk foods? They fill up your plate with fattening goodies that derail their diet for instant gratification. But, if they had managed to resist and eat salad or munching on carrot sticks, then they will presumably receive an even greater reward down the line—shedding those unwanted pounds and being able to fit into your favorite pair of skinny jeans.

You have people complain about not having enough money or being in debt, yet they will not resist the temptation of buying a new iPhone, a new car, or fashion accessories. What these people have done is choose a long-term reward over immediate gratification which will eventually pose a major challenge in many areas of their lives.
As humans, we have wants that we are desperate to satisfy, like buying designer clothes, the luxurious car, the big mansion, the latest gadgets, etc. We have things we want to do simply because they give us certain gratification, even though they are not so beneficial, like our television time, games time, social media time, party time, and other frivolities. Whilst it is only human to have these wants and hunger to indulge, recognizing when to practice discipline; choosing between what you want now and what you want most is ultimate for success.

From avoiding a slice of chocolate cake when we are trying to lose weight to staying home to study instead of going out to a party with friends, the ability to delay gratification can mean the difference between achieving our goals or not.

Do you have the ability to resist and receive a later—but even better—reward?

Practicing self-control and self-regulation in the short term to enjoy greater rewards in the long term, is the indispensable prerequisite for success. Success usually comes down to choosing the pain of discipline over the ease of distraction. And that’s exactly what delayed gratification is all about.

Right now when you’re younger, you have more time and energy to sacrifice and put in the work. Choosing to Invest and putting off spending now to receive something better in the future. Putting in the time, struggle and effort now can pay huge dividends for the rest of your life ensuring your long-term financial freedom and security.

Delayed gratification is critical for success in life and if you look around you, you will see this playing out everywhere.

• If you delay the gratification of watching television and get your homework done now, then you’ll learn more and get better grades.

• If you delay the gratification of buying the fancy and expensive stuff people your age group is buying, you will save more.

• If you delay the gratification of buying desserts and chips at the store, then you’ll eat healthier when you get home.

• If you delay the gratification of finishing your workout early and put in a few more reps, then you’ll be stronger.

If you want to succeed at something, at some point you will need to find the ability to be disciplined and take action instead of becoming distracted and doing what’s easy. Success in nearly every field requires you to ignore doing something easier (delaying gratification) in favor of doing something harder. If you don’t feel like you’re good at delaying gratification now, you can train yourself to become better simply by making a few small improvements. To become better, you will need to set realistic deadlines. When trying to achieve a goal, such as losing weight, people are sometimes prone to setting either unrealistic deadlines or benchmarks.

For example, a person trying to lose weight will set himself up for failure if he makes a completely unrealistic goal of losing 10 pounds per week. When he fails to lose those first 10 pounds, he might then give up and give in to temptation. A more realistic goal of one pound per week would allow him to see the real results of his efforts.

Secondly, get yourself an accountability partner. An accountability partner is a person who helps another person keep a commitment. You can find an accountability partner in almost any context. At work, you have colleagues. If you go to church, you sit next to someone who can encourage you to attend sermons. If you have a goal to lose weight, your friend can be your accountability partner where you share your weight loss goal with them, agree on consequences in case you slip up, and ask them to hold you accountable.

Lastly, Reward yourself. Delaying gratification can be hard-work. Depending on what you want to achieve, it may take weeks, months, years, and sometimes even decades. Breaking down your goals and rewarding yourself along the way can remind yourself that delaying gratification is leading you to where you want to go.

The Modern man is conditioned to expect instant gratification, but any success or triumph realized quickly, with only marginal effort, is necessarily shallow. Meaningful achievement takes time, hard work, persistence, patience, proper intent, and self-awareness. The path to success is punctuated by failure, consolidated, renewed effort, and deferred gratification.