Shake it off
It’s easy for little things to hang you up at work. A customer tells you they are unhappy with a job, your boss gives you that dreaded look of displeasure or a coworker mocks your new haircut. Negative memories can linger for a long time.
Well, you’re about to get a leadership lesson from a dog. This is not a typo. Dogs are naturals at exhibiting the leadership they need to be a leader of the pack. And they are the masters at shaking things off.
Ever watch a dripping wet dog as it gets out of a pool or a lake? Once it’s on dry land it just shakes it off. No towel or hairdryer needed, just a hypnotic back and forth motion that sprays unwanted water in every direction. And when it’s done the dog just moves on as if nothing ever happened.
At work, we need to learn how to do the same. Many of us make mountains out of molehills. Instead, we need to practice how to shake things off. After all, that little jab about your new mullet hairdo was meant as a good-natured joke. Heck, they’re probably jealous of your smokin’ hot new Billy Ray Cyrus look.
So how do you shake off these little things at work? Pivot from what you don’t want to what you do want.
Trust in others’ positive intentions. It is overwhelmingly more likely that your co-worker is not out to undermine you. So if they jab you for the way you did a project, take it as a learning experience. Pivot to how you can do better the next time.
If you’re on the receiving end of a mean-spirited joke, talk privately with the perpetrator. Pivot to what you want—a good relationship—and let them know how their comments made you feel. Leaders speak truth to power, but in a way that helps everyone come out a winner.
If you’re the leader of a team or office you also need to create an environment where everyone feels happy at work. If you see someone who is not able to shake things off, step in and make things right. Don’t allow the inmates to run the asylum.
Great leaders set the right tone. They show their team how they pivot from the negative—“we lost a good customer”—to the positive—“let’s redouble our efforts to learn from that and win a new customer.” Leaders don’t allow the little things to get under their skin.
There are, of course, some things that we should not shrug off. Constructive criticism, safety concerns and feedback on company policy can be critical to our success within the organization. These big issues are valid and require our buy-in.
It’s easy to wallow in misery. If you find the right compatriots you can wail and moan for weeks or years. But it won’t do you any good. Take a leadership lesson from a dog. Pivot from what you don’t want to what you do want. And shake it off.