What would you do if I sang out of tune?

“What would you do if I sang out of tune?

Would you stand up and walk out on me?”

Images-3This opening verse of the Beatles song, “With a little help from my friends” is ringing in my mind as I reflect on a lesson of a few days ago.

I have been working with a client, “Adam”, for over a year. One of the things that I have observed about Adam is that he is often unreliable in the area of meeting commitments around money. It’s not that he intends to be dishonorable; it’s just that he won’t take a stand for what he believes in within his corporate system. For in that system, if you don’t fight for resources you need to do your job, you are likely to have them taken by others who are stronger. When the resources he needs are reallocated, he gets very embarrassed and sometimes pushes this frustration onto others.

UnraveledI have seen this pattern of behavior with Adam before, and thought that because I was doing such a good job for him – in fact, I was doing an awesome job – the outcome would be different. I expected this because I wanted it to be different.

What happened? Adam and I had a conversation the other day about a financial commitment that he made. He was explaining to me that he was not in a condition to honor his commitment at this time. My reaction was one of anger. How could he do this to me? After all that I had done!

I was aware enough to know that it would not be a good idea to finish my conversation with Adam in the state of mind I was in, so I asked to talk about this matter later. When I had some time to think about what had transpired, I realized that I was expecting Adam to be different that he was. I was not accepting him just as he is, because he did not meet my hidden agenda. I realized that when I did this extra special job for him, I had laid some requirements on him on how he should “take care of me”. These requirements were unspoken and formed the basis of expectations that I had of Adam.

Blue Men Shaking HandsWhen he did not meet my expectations, I was angry and felt unappreciated. All of this reaction was facilitated by my own actions and not his.  If I had thought about Adam and what I could realistically expect from him, I would not have expected him to act differently than he had in the past. After I recognized my role in this situation, I felt calm and was able to finish my conversation with him satisfactorily.

I also have two new behaviors to work with. One is not projecting my needs onto others and the other is not expecting someone to act in a way that is different than what I have experienced from them in the past.

Have you had any experiences like this? What did you do?

Until later,


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Author: Thomas White

Over the past thirty-five years, Thomas White has created and led private and public organizations that initiated breakthroughs in areas as diverse as computer software, publishing, printing, market research, leadership development and organizational change. The common ingredients in his success are simple. He looked beyond the limitations that others believed and found real solutions to needs that business leaders have. He attracted the best talent to translate these innovative solutions into practical products and services that were of high value to customers. He created cultures where people love what they do, work at their best and produce extraordinary results. In addition to his role as a business leader, Thomas has been a pioneer and inventor of technologies in the computer-networking field. He is a patent holder for innovations in business process and workflow technology. As part of his passion for educating others about the interface of human and computer systems, he was the co-author of “New Tools for New Times, The Workflow Paradigm”. He has also written articles for numerous publications. In 2001, he turned his attention from leading companies to supporting leadership teams in creating organizations of excellence. After many years of being a part of the machine of change, Thomas recognized that business is the most powerful force in the world. It has a major impact on public policy and governments everywhere. It is a key influence on how we use our resources and sets an example of the values that shape communities from local to global. He formed the consulting firm of Profoundly Simple to be a guide for exemplary leaders - leaders who wisely uses the power they are entrusted with to serve their constituencies first and themselves second; leaders who know that it is good business to treat people with respect, honor the environment and act with impeccable integrity – leaders who inspire greatness in those around them and by doing so create great organizations that are notable examples of success. Feeling the itch to get back into the game again, Thomas joined with two long time friends, to start the C-Suite Network. This network of business leaders offers an online network, events, services, and insights to its 500,000 member community. In addition, the C-Suite Network produces and distributes television and radio content to an audience of over 5M per month

1 thought on “What would you do if I sang out of tune?”

  1. Thanks for writing this. I think I do this more often than I’d like to admit. And I have to start validating what it is that I see and not changing what I see to what I’d like it to be. 😉

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