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You Do It, Too – Part Three – Problem-Solving and Change on the Inside

Clear and Open - You Do It, Too

Truth appears as angels
Or devils, depending on
How well you receive

This is the last part in the You Do It, Too series. I’m sure there’s quite a few of you ready to cheer about moving on to something else. For now, we look at problem-solving and change on the inside.

Last week, I gave you real examples of problems you create in your own business—all while complaining other people are doing the exact same thing.

We discussed how the irresponsible acts your employees commit are the exact same ones you are doing yourself.

Am I calling you a hypocrite?


I know, I know. You’re busier. You’re more important. You have more responsibilities. It’s different. Yadda, yadda, yadda.

No, it isn’t.

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You Do It, Too – Part Two – The People and Business Problems You Complain About

Clear and Open - You Do It, Too

Be the change you want,
Means looking at how
You’re part of the problem

Last week, we discussed American politicians and their flaws. Oh… And we also talked about how you’re exactly like all of them—no exceptions. It’s just a matter of degree.

Now, I’ll give you a real-world example to compare against your own business problems.

I have a group of about ten mid-level managers I meet with twice a month. Their problems include overwhelm, employees needing too much supervision, and lack of staff engagement. Sound familiar to what you’re experiencing? I thought so.

Guess what? They don’t reliably show up to the meetings. Many don’t answer my messages. I had to give them an assignment to tell me how they’re going to get more engaged and threatened to tattle on them to their managers if they don’t respond. I’m sure they didn’t like it. Neither did I. I had a short stint as a babysitter in my teen years and it wasn’t for me.

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You Do It, Too – Part One – Self-Improvement and Perspective

Clear and Open - You Do It, Too

Before you judge them,
Look in the mirror,
“Do I do it, too?”

This series may upset you. Don’t read it unless you want to be challenged to be better, and to embrace self-improvement in both your personal and professional worlds.

Part of you is not going to like this one bit.

In the United States, there is probably more complaining about politicians than ever before. On one level, there’s understandable upset. On another level, many complainers would benefit from looking in the mirror. I’ll explain.

What are the perennial complaints about politicians?

  • They lie and don’t keep promises.
  • They make excuses and avoid responsibility.
  • They only care about getting/keeping the job and maintaining the status quo.

Do any of the above describe you? Ever? Even a little bit? (Even something as simple as being late, by the way, is breaking an agreement.)

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Own It – Business Leadership, Over-Responsibility, and Under-Responsibility – Part Five

Clear and Open - Own It

Those that talk of their
Greatness and power
Have the least amount.

If you haven’t noticed, the entire Own It series has been about taking a long look in the mirror and claiming ownership of your faults. Good, bad, or indifferent. Business leadership, personal relationships, and all.

I know, it’s cliché, but here’s yet another: “There are two kinds of people in the world.”

Over-responsible people and under-responsible ones. Everyone errs on one side or the other. Over-responsibility is largely undiagnosed in our world because we value martyrs, selflessness (whatever that is), and think that generosity means putting yourself last.

The irresponsible in our world hold the over-responsible up as heroes—they have to, or else they’d have to look at their own irresponsibility. Most of the hundreds of leaders with whom I worked are over-responsible, and they grow their businesses to a point where they have the capacity to shore up the under-responsibility of their people…then it plateaus. It stops growing precisely at the point where they cannot spread themselves any thinner. Business leadership of that kind can only take you so far.

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Own It – The Real Purpose of Business Systems – Part Four

Clear and Open - Own It

What lengths we travel
To avoid the short path
To uncomfortable truth

Up to this point in the Own It series, we’ve discussed the importance of responsibility and the employee-manager dynamic. Now we look at business systems and where they fit into this great big business machine.

The fundamental misinterpretation of systemization is that “systems are the solution.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Systems are a means to achieve the solution. The solution is ownership. People who want to avoid the challenge of management tightly grip the belief that systems are the solution.

It’s surely a lovely idea. People manage themselves. All the instructions exist in operations manuals. Everyone knows their role and follows the systems. Systems do the work and people run the systems. It’s seductively simple: management, the most challenging part of business, is no longer necessary.

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Own It – Empowerment and Ownership – Part Three

Clear and Open - Own It

A parent is done
When the children
No longer need them

In the previous part of the Own It series, we discussed the employee-manager relationship and how the balance of power between the two is crucial for a functional dynamic. Now, let’s go a bit further.

There is a lot of talk about “empowerment” in the business world without a deep understanding of what it really means or how to foster it. (Again, more stock language.) While it’s the employee’s job to adequately perform work “for” the manager, it is the manager’s responsibility to develop the career of the employee and aid their professional growth such that the employee doesn’t feel like they’re doing it “for” someone else. In other words, the employee is self-interested.

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Own It – The Manager-Employee Relationship – Part Two

Clear and Open - Own It

If the owner could
Remember their last boss
Everything would change

In the first part of the Own It series, we discussed how your business is a reflection of you and the choices that you make. We also talked about how hiring employees with challenges similar to your own can create a conflict.

This leads to a very important concept about the manager-employee relationship. The agreement between a manager and an employee is that a manager pays the employee for services performed to the manager’s satisfaction. This is the nature of a job. The employee, in their own self-interest to keep their job, naturally wants to please their boss.

If you have not worked “for” someone in a long time, this bears a moment of reflection.

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Own It – Your Business Responsibility as a Reflection of You – Part One

Clear and Open - Own It

How often do you
Merely glance in the mirror
And pretend to see?

This is the first part in a five-part series called Own It: Creating a Culture of Responsibility and Why It Matters. Quite the mouthful, right? That’s why we are just going to simply use the name Own It and move on to what’s really important—facing your decisions and how they play a role in your business. The good, the bad, and especially the ugly.

I talk often about stock language and how you’re essentially lying without even realizing it. However, there are a few good lines that lead to something deeper, which I want us to explore.

Let’s begin with the classic leadership premise, “The business is a reflection of you.” This well-worn phrase is often used and just as often under-appreciated. It is an orientation for business development that asks for a profound level of self-responsibility. It means that whatever you don’t like about your business, you look at your contribution before you try to change it.

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The Benevolent Dictator – Leadership Qualities – Part Three

Clear and Open - Leadership Qualities

To fight for beliefs
Is to reveal how afraid
You are of their untruth

What are the most important positive leadership qualities? Keep reading. Up to this point, we have talked about the importance of being a benevolent dictator and how becoming overwhelmed at work is a symptom of our choices. Now, we are going to take this a step further by remembering again that a business is not a democracy.

Not only do we Americans live in a democracy, but in a leading world power that asserts the idea absolutely that democracy is the greatest form of government and literally justifies acts of war with the notion. Of course, this isn’t unique to the states. More people have been killed in the name of someone’s supposed absolute truth than anything else in the history of our world.

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The Benevolent Dictator – Overwhelmed at Work – Part Two

Clear and Open - Overwhelmed at Work

Is the comfort you seek
A reward for your hard work
Or a flight from it?

If you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, at home, and in your position as a leader, it is time to dig a little deeper into the topic of being a benevolent dictator. Last week we talked about how a business is not a democracy and that being a benevolent dictator in a position of power takes great responsibility. We also discussed how real independence includes the ability to surrender (in one’s own self-interest) to an authority who is smarter and more conscious than you are. Real independence means that you can lean into another whom you recognize aims to serve your highest good.

As long as people are more concerned with their comfort, security, and happiness rather than their personal growth and highest good as human beings, their choices will be based in self-stagnation rather than the pursuit and embodiment of human thrival. It takes a “philosopher king” to compassionately hold an individual’s feet to the fire and lovingly urge them to do what is uncomfortable in the short-term but will in the long term serve their highest good.

Happiness and comfort are sought so avidly not because they are the ultimate heights for human beings to achieve, but because the vast majority on our planet are struggling in some form of survival mode and so seek respite from their difficulty. This is, of course, understandable and to deeply feel the pain every moment of every day in our world takes a strong heart indeed.

But it is also tragic.

The tragedy is that individuals in survival mode are too often trapped in a negative feedback loop. A struggling survivalist has no space to step back and look at how they make decisions and express behaviors that are causing them to stay struggling. So, their overwhelm and difficulty justifies their inability to work ON their lives contextually, keeps them blended with the content that they swim in, and keeps them infinitely spinning in the painful life they do not realize they recreate for themselves every day. This is why they are overwhelmed at work and beyond.

This applies to the many people on our planet who spend most of their time each day taking care of basic needs like food, shelter, and water, obviously. What is not appreciated is how this loop also traps very successful looking, first world, business owners.

Owners who struggle to make payroll, to complete their to-do lists, to put out fires, to meet deadlines…this is the survival mode of the business world and it is called overwhelm. However, in the same way, a poverty-stricken person might likely assess their situation, business owners too often hold this as “just the way it is”—as if they have no choice in the matter.

You are not a victim of being overwhelmed at work, home, or anywhere else. You create it through your choices every day, probably without realizing it.

Being overwhelmed at work is a symptom, not a root cause.

Got it? Good. Next week, we’ll talk about being a leader—whether it is in your business, at home, or elsewhere in the world.


Josef Shapiro is a voice for excellence and the end of business problems in the coaching industry, and the end of needless business trouble.

Trained first at EMyth in 2002, one of the pioneers of business coaching in the 1970s, he later joined its management team and led EMyth’s program development. He created their coach training program and trained coaches worldwide for several years.

Clear and Open is a collection of powerful online courses and real-time mentoring for professionals passionate about productivity, culture change, and business growth. Josef is a coach, mentor, and trainer for serious, driven leaders and managers who hold learning as a way of life and excellence as an intrinsic value. To learn more, and to sign up for a free, time-saving mini-course, please visit clearandopen.com.