Rules of Conflict: Attack the Process not the Person!

Community Kindness Respect


What does attacking Muslims have to do with work?  The short answer is… a lot.  Nicholas Kristof’s article in last Sunday’s New York Times, raises the question, “Is this America?”, partly on the observation of the recent attack rhetoric aimed at Muslims. He cites a blog post in The New Republic magazine where the editor in chief asserts, “… frankly Muslim life is cheap, most notably to Muslims.” Kristof questions the personal venom in this New Republic article and then goes on to commend Christian, Jewish, and Muslim leaders for denouncing the anti-Islam discourse overall.

It is perfectly acceptable, perhaps even desirable, to question the shortcomings of Islam and any other religion. “Attacking” ideas, processes, and/or situations is appropriate. Attacking people or groups of people is generally not. (Self defense from physical harm most believe is an acceptable exception.)

In the workplace, obviously on a much smaller stage, the same guidelines exist. Attacking the process, ideas, behavior, or situations can lead to learning and continuous improvement. Attacking each other verbally is counter productive. Think about how often personal or department criticism happens in a week in your workplace. Why? What good does it do anyone?

If we set the example on the smaller stage perhaps we can demand the same character from those on the big stage. We can change this in our work environment right now by what we expect from ourselves and our team mates.

Let’s do it. We can. Respect belongs to all of us.

with Character,


Who You Are? How to Characterize Your Personal Brand

Accountability Contribution Purpose


A key driver for being self accountable is to have a personal brand. Dan Shawbel’s book Me 2.0 is the inspiration for this concept. What is your personal brand? Regardless of our position at work and life, it pays to reflect on this and to consciously establish one. You and I have a brand one way or another. People describe who we are by the behavioral traits we display. Why not take proactive action in defining and living to it? John Antonios does a nice job of interpreting this on his blog.

Phase 1 – Discovering YOUR Brand.  This is the stage of self-discovery. We will learn to more about ourselves at this stage of our Personal Brand development. We should be asking yourself some of these questions:

  • Who am I?
  • What makes me unique?
  • What are my strengths? How can I turn these strengths into opportunities?
  • What resources can I draw on?
  • What are my weaknesses? What can I improve? What threats do these weaknesses expose me to?

Phase 2 – Crafting OUR Brand.  After discovering our brand, you need to see how to best package it. Here’s what we need to think about:

  • What is my slogan?
  • How should my avatar look like?
  • What tone should I use to reflect what I intend to deliver?

Phase 3 – Connecting OUR Brand.  At this stage, our brand is ready to go out and play. We need to share with our brand with our audience and earn their attention. Consider the following question:


  • What are the best platforms to communicate my brand?
  • Where is my audience located and how can I reach them?
  • What tools should I use to deliver my brand promise?


Phase 4 – Managing OUR Brand.  This is where Reputation Management kicks in.  The brand has been released into the wilderness and you need to develop a brand listening station.  Some questions you might want to consider are:


  • What tools can I use to monitor my brand conversation?
  • Who is talking about my brand? And how can I connect with them?
  • How should I react to negative feedback about my brand?


Thank you to Swabel and Antonios for giving us more tools to drive the Character Triangle and specifically self accountability.  We are our brand. If you have a Brand Slogan, please post it as a comment to this blog. We can all help and learn from each other.

with Character,


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Overcoming Self Doubt

Accountability Authenticity


It is so natural to have self doubt from time to time. Almost all (if not all of us) feel that way sometime. Tim Ferriss is a self-made super star from a commercial point of view. Yet of course Tim is in “early days” of his self development. I think it helpful to note that people like Tim are very human. In fact Tim self-reflects on this in one of his blogs:

“Business icons, superstar professional athletes, billionaires — it doesn’t matter how rich or how accomplished — I’ve had them all tell me the same thing…  There are moments when you feel the world is too much. Days and even weeks when you want to (or perhaps do) pull up the covers and half-sleep in bed until nightfall, avoiding a feeling of hopelessness that seems insurmountable. Long-awaited deals fall through without warning, haters attack you without reason or fact, circumstances turn good decisions into awful realities — sometimes it just feels like the deck is stacked against you and there is nothing you can do about it.  I’ve felt the same on more than a few occasions, and more are likely on the way.”

Tim’s mom sent the wonderful video above as an inspiration for dealing with self doubt. Please watch it and if you’ve seen before, it is only five minutes long , it’s worth seeing again.

At work and life we are going to fall or feel like we’re falling. Once we accept that it is easier to overcome it. Often we need others to give us a boost. Self doubt rides “shotgun” with self accountability. I think the key thing is to use it to motivate us to take action. And that drives self accountability.

with Character,


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A HUGE Issue… The Character of Fitness

Accountability Growth mindset


Jamie Brunner was over 300 pounds. He was managing a restaurant, bent over one night while serving his customers and split his pants from stem to stern. This was a humiliating experience. One year later, he and his wife Meagan were crowned world fitness champions. They collectively dropped over 100 pounds. More importantly they developed a lifestyle system that they are now sharing world wide.  Read the whole story at

This is an unsolicited commercial for Kinetix. I’m working to live and apply their system. It is a habit system on the physical side, kind of like the CT is on the behavioral side.

I think Jamie (I’ve met with him several times) and Meagan’s story is so remarkable. They are in many respects like you and I. They have no special super human powers. But they chose to change their situation and are continuing on that journey!

Jamie split his pants and they decided to change their personal situations and to take on obesity head on. Now Howard Shultz, Chairman & CEO of Starbucks, and the world’s biggest companies are starting to get involved with Kinetix. This is such a great story about every aspect of the Character Triangle. So much so that Jamie and Meagan Brunner are the first couple in the Character Hall of Fame.

When did you and I feel that we “split our pants” in public? How did it feel? Most importantly what have we done about it?

The only people who can confront the splitting pants feeling is you and me. That’s the beauty and honesty behind self accountability. It’s up to us and we can do it! Ask Jamie and Meagan. Please read their story. Learn from them and the thousands of people they have influenced. No gimmick. No BS …just applying the CT in every way.

with Character,


Respect and the Act of Saying “No”

Communication Productivity Respect


Respect involves listening and finding a way to a positive and constructive interaction with other(s). So how do we listen carefully and still respectfully say “No” without burning bridges and making it a negative personal matter?

In the workplace we are often asked to do things and frankly it is in the best interest to say “No” rather than saying “Yes” and failing. It is a little different when our boss asks us to do something. Saying “No” has a few more complications in that case. But often times the request is from elsewhere in the organization and in these situations the following is a reasonable framework for a respectful response.

Celestine Chua of The Personal Excellence blog has presented helpful guidelines for respectively saying No. Her view is that an effective process of saying No is more important than the actual No. When we say “No” thoughtlessly or clumsily, it can become more of a negative than the act of declining.  In this case respect refers to both:

  • Respect for Self: valuing our time and space; knowing what we want.
  • Respect for Others: saying “No” the right way to others who want the “Yes”; valuing their time and space as well.

Ms. Chua suggests the following process guidelines. Often times they are used in combination and my belief is that they are best applied after we’ve listened carefully and then are most sincere in our reply:

  1. We have to say “No” because we couldn’t meet the commitment if we said “Yes” (our plate is too full); we would likely fail and disappoint ourselves and others.
  2. The timing is not right; how about a different time (be specific)? We have to be genuine if another time would be acceptable.
  3. I would like to but….be specific why we can’t (only if we sincerely would like to).
  4. Let me think about it first (only if we really want more time to consider factors).
  5. This doesn’t meet my needs now but I will keep it in mind if my needs or situation changes (only if this suits us and the requester).
  6. I’m not the best person because of….; you may want to try person x.  Be sincere if we think we are not a good match and if steering them elsewhere, be sure of adding value.
  7. No, I’m sorry I can’t. Sometimes the immediate and direct approach is best for all. As an example, I know that most sales people feel that the thing next best to winning a deal is a fast and direct “No.”

Skill in saying No is important to the value of respect. The over arching principle is to make the No honestly and sincerely around the situation, process, idea or process, versus the person making the “ask.”  It is more respectful to provide a timely conclusion with a “No” rather than avoiding the perceived conflict and hoping the “ask” goes away.

with Character,


Surprise, Surprise, Surprise… Be Generous

Abundance Community


Thomas Friedman, the author and New York Times columnist, wrote an article (with the same title) on leadership in the August 21, Sunday edition of the Times. He refers to Nelson Mandela’s leadership as portrayed by Morgan Freeman in the recent movie Invictus. When the black-led South African sports committee moved to change the famous (previously all white Springboks) rugby team’s name and colors, Mandela intervened. He called this selfish thinking and is quoted as saying: “We have to surprise them (the white community) with restraint and generosity.” While Freidman’s article refers to a larger political context, there is a lesson that applies to every day life for us….the surprise of generosity and abundant thinking.

When one thinks about the mental distance one has to travel from the greatness of Mandela to our everyday lives, it should be quite easy for us to surprise people with our daily generosity…right? So I challenge us to go to work this week and genuinely surprise someone with our generosity. Don’t expect anything in return. Why don’t you and I thoughtfully give, and let’s see what happens.

with Character,