If you’re in a leadership position of any kind and you haven’t read Seth Godin’s blog, you really should. His brief little insights are really profound and helpful. Here’s a bit today’s entry on the problems with cynicism:
Someone betting on the worst outcomes is going to be correct now and then, but that doesn’t mean we need to have him on our team. I’d rather work with people brave enough to embrace possible futures at the expense of being disappointed now and then.
Don’t expect kudos or respect for being a cynic. It’s selfish.
You can read the rest by clicking here.
It’s important to recognize cynicism for what it really is – a defense mechanism. The cynic attempts to shield him/herself from the heartbreak of disappointment by expecting disappointment in the first place. And that can be effective. However, it often sets up a self-fulfilling prophecy, skewing the results of your efforts. Go into a project expecting failure, and you’ll get failure more often than not.
It is an alluring trap, though. “If I expect failure, I’m not disappointed when a project fails. If it succeeds, it’s a pleasant surprise!” In a team situation, that attitude focuses all your attention on yourself and your own emotions. It places your feelings above the team’s efforts.
I’ve never heard a hitting coach tell a batter, “Step into the box expecting to strike out. That way you won’t be disappointed when you do.”
Instead, hitting coaches tell hitters to think about where they want to hit the ball, to look for the pitch that will help them put it there, and remind them of their swing mechanics. Their focus is on the process that can lead to the desired outcome. Cynics and tend to focus on outcomes.
When you design a plan for your churches, do you focus on the process or the outcome? Sure, each plan has a desired outcome. The best plans have ways of realistically measuring those outcomes. But from the get-go, it’s essential not to become cynical and selfish. Focus on the process. Evaluate the results later.