If They Would Only Do It My Way

Pegine Echevarria

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You have the perfect plan, you know how it will play out, everyone has a role and the outcome is assured. Then one or all of the people, or the characters in your play, don't follow your script and you don't get what you want in the way you want it.

This occurs all the time in families, offices, business deals, friendships and teams. You, the director, KNOW how it should go if only everyone would do it YOUR way.

People use a variety of tactics to convince others to do things their way. Guilt, rewards, punishments, praise, begging, and so on.

Everything works sometimes, and you convince yourself that you have ‘the power’ to have people follow your plan and your script, except when your actors don't follow your plan, then the director (you) gets angry, frustrated, stressed, and lonely. Sometimes a director may tell himself that he isn't good enough, that he doesn't don't know what he is doing, that he is a failure. He takes personal responsibility for the outcome by inflicting emotional pain on himself. Other times a director may blame everyone else. She may say that everyone else is the cause of the problem. She had nothing to do with it. She had the perfect plan. Her plan was the best and if only everyone followed her way than there wouldn't be a problem.

Sometimes you may be treated as the actor in someone else's play. If you didn't agree to be a participant you may find yourself feeling resentful, put upon, victimized, threatened, and rebellious. Your behavior may be passive aggressive (smiling on the outside but sabotaging the production with your attitude or actions).

As leaders, managers, parents and team members it is important to realize that 1- everyone has a choice, 2- everyone has their own plan, 3- everyone is the director of their own perception of the world.

The clash occurs when you expect everyone to follow your directions/orders/demands and they don't see the benefits or rational behind it or the “what is in it for me" factor.

We humans are self-centered, it is how we are. We have to decide to ‘think’ of others and not be so engrossed in our selves and our own affairs, easier said then done.

How can we get out of our self-centeredness and be better managers, leaders and parents? This is what this article is all about.


"When I get out of ‘me’ and find ‘we’ I become more successful"

"The one important thing I have learned over the years is the difference between taking one's work seriously and taking one's self seriously. The first is imperative and the second is disastrous".
~Margot Fonteyn

Self-interest is the enemy of all true affection.
~ Franklin D. Roosevelt

"It's hard to follow God closely when your eyes are focused on everyone else around you. "

"When an organism begins to become self-centered, taking only in regard to its own needs and ignoring those of its neighbor, we call it cancer. "
~Ra Bonawitz

"Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live. "
~Oscar Wilde


To eradicate ourselves of self centeredness we have to first accept what we are powerless over:

1. Write a list of at least 25 people, places, things and situations that you are powerless over.
2. Review your list
3. Let the people, places, things and situations go. If you belong to a religious group give your list to your God and let him handle the list for you.

For instance, I have no control of the situation when my son drives his car. He is 19. I'm not in the car with him. I can't navigate the road for him. I can't push cars out of the way if someone gets distracted and sways into his lane. I've handed that situation to a higher being, I know others who have faith knowing that all is well and let it go.

I do not have control over my clients. I'm not sitting in their offices 24/7 guiding their decisions. I've given all the information I can for them to make a decision. Ultimately it is their decision based on all the information that they know (and I don't). I have to let it go.

Kick-butt actions:

Here are some questions to ask yourself when you find yourself trying to direct uncooperative people:

  • How important is it REALLY to have the person do this task?
  • What are the rewards and consequences for the person? (Be clear and communicate those)
  • Can you, and more importantly, will you follow through on the rewards and consequences? If not, don't talk about them. If you don t follow through you will sabotage yourself by losing credibility.
  • Are there actions you want them to do OR do you want a specific outcome and the action doesn't really matter.

    If friction arises be prepared to ask yourself:

  • What role did you play in this?
  • What was your responsibility?
  • What can you do to make this situation right?
  • Do you need to apologize for your self centeredness or human frailty?
  • What will you do differently next time?

    Remember we are all just players (actors) in this theatre of life. As a director/leader your job is to:

  • Inspire
  • Educate
  • Coach
  • Correct
  • Celebrate
  • Speak specifically regarding expectations and accountably.

    If you do not have these conversations and chaos and friction will be the result.

    Taking control and being in control are two different sides of the same coin. One is the beginnings of leadership the other can lead to the illusion that you ARE in control of people, places things and situations. Ultimately you are only in control of your own actions, thoughts, behaviors. So are you a director creating chaos or a leader inspiring a team effort?

    Empowerment guru Pegine Echevarria, MSW and her company, Team Pegine, transforms organizations by empowering people. You might also be interested in Pegine's networking article called, “Go Fish: For Friends, Business and Opportunities", to receive a gift copy simply sign up for her free ezine at http://www.pegine.com .

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