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The One-Life Solution
Reclaim Your Personal Life While Achieving Greater Professional Success
By Henry Cloud
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.
Copyright © 2008
All right reserved.
The Core Problem
It would be easy to look at these scenarios and put them into some clear kinds of categories of common business or training problems and prescribe the appropriate training: management skills for Maria, people skills for David, time management for Ryan, focus for Sophie, sexual harassment for Sarah, sales growth for Kevin. In fact, there is real value in doing so. Failing to fire the right person is a key management error and begs for leadership development and coaching. Bully bosses are a threat to any culture, and bullied people need help from HR, at least. When work increases, time-management skills and priority management are vital. Sexual harassment should never be tolerated. And salespeople, good ones, usually can be taught to sell more.
Often, when we see scenarios like these, we know something must be done. So we train people in the appropriate business practices, skills, and disciplines that apply to the individual problems that are quickly visible in all of these situations. These are important issues to tackle. Take a browse through the business book section in the airport and you will likely find good sources to address all of these situations with some helpful answers. But is that just treating thesymptoms? Is that all there is? Is there something more, or something better you could do? More to the point, if you are one of these people or have one of these issues in your own life, is there something that you could do to be better and not ever be in that situation again?
As a business leader once said to me, "There is something missing from the way that we do training to fix problems. We give people a lot of content—the 'what to do' in specific problem areas—but for some reason that does not seem to be enough. A lot of times my people do not seem to be able to do what the training tells them to do. They don't seem to keep it going past the seminar and the initial enthusiasm of it all. I have seen it over and over again."
I agreed. While content training is important, there is an even bigger problem than a lack of knowing what to do. The bigger problem is this: A person still has to go do it.
Whatever "it" is, whether in ethics, time management, or sales, the person is the ultimate piece of equipment, not just what he or she knows. There is a big difference between going to a seminar on anatomy and being able to do open heart surgery. One requires knowledge only, and the other experience, ability, and character. The page that says, "cut here" doesn't turn you into the person who can pick up the knife and slice someone open to heal them. The CEO knew the VP was underperforming, and yet could not pull the trigger. Something was missing inside.
So, if there is more to rectifying these situations than just the obvious ethics or management-training content, what is it? How would each individual turn into the person who can go do it, whatever it is in each of these contexts? Is there a magic bullet, a path? Yes, there is.
The One Solution
What if I told you that there is one solution—one issue—that is the central issue in all six scenarios, as different as they all seem? What if I went beyond that and said not only is there one solution to the scenarios, but there is one solution that will affect not only their business problems but all of the other issues they have in life? And, what if there was one solution that made each of them the kind of person who was the same kind of person at work that they were at home, or with friends? In other words, what if they no longer felt like they had two lives, but one? Is there one answer that can integrate all of that?
What is that one answer—or issue—that drives all of these other problems?
That one answer is called "boundaries." In each one of the scenarios, the issue in common is that no matter what their positions—from CEO all the way to assistant—the people above had lost control of themselves in one way or another. They all lacked an internal core from which they were able to define themselves, and then express that "defined self" in a way that made life work. While there were six different situations mentioned, one issue underlies all those problems: lack of boundaries. The issue of boundaries is one of the biggest issues that all of us will face in business and in life.
Boundaries provide the structure to your character that will make everything else work.
Here is the key. What the people in each scenario do not realize is that while they think they have certain situational problems, if we looked back over time and could see the video of their entire careers, or their entire lives for that matter, we would see that this is not the first time they felt that way. We would see that is not the first time that being controlled by external forces had affected their performance and well-being. And the common denominator in all of their past situational problems was themselves. They actually had done the same things in different situations over and over again. Once, when I pointed out to a fifty-year-old leader of ten thousand employees how this issue was affecting his performance, he said, "You have just described my entire career since college." It was only then that he was able to change the pattern that had held him back for three decades. He realized, at that moment, that he did not have a problem with one of his key reports. He realized that he had a problem with himself.
Excerpted from The One-Life Solution by Henry Cloud
Copyright © 2008 by Henry Cloud. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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