Monday, October 24, 2016

How to Deal with Negative People

This article is based on one by Raj Raghunathan, PH.D, published in the March 19th 2013, issue of Psychology Today.  As usual, you can read the full article and view all the advertisements by clicking on the link.

Staying positive is a key element of the Design Thinking Process. As both team members and facilitators, knowing when and where criticism fits and works is a powerful skill.

A Fistful of Fears

A practical approach to dealing with pessimists is to start by understanding the reasons for their negativity. Almost all negativity has its roots in one of three deep-seated fears. Being aware of them can make a big difference in your approach.

  • Being disrespected by others
  • Not being loved by others
  • “Bad things” are going to happen (to them)

These fears feed off each other to fuel the belief that the world is a dangerous place and people are generally mean, but on a deeper level they are basically self-focused. From the perspective of someone who feels afraid, it makes sense to question the wisdom of pursuing dreams and be adverse to taking risks. Negative people also find it difficult to trust others or follow others' plans.

These fears manifest themselves in a variety of ways, including:

  • Sensitivity - Taking umbrage at others’ innocent comments; e.g., “You look good today” is interpreted as, “You mean, I didn’t look good yesterday?”
  • Judgmental - The tendency to impute negative motivations to others’ actions. Guests who don’t compliment a meal are judged as “uncouth brutes who don’t deserve future invitations.”
  • Ambivalence - A sense of helplessness about one’s ability to deal with life’s challenges, leading to anxiety and to shame or guilt when the challenges are not overcome.
  • Demanding - Although negative people are diffident about their own abilities, they nevertheless put pressure on close-others to succeed and “make me proud” and “not let me down”.
  • Pessimism - Belief that the future is bleak; Negative people can more readily think of ways in which an important sales call will go badly than well.
  • Aversion to Risk - especially in social settings. This leads to reluctance to divulge any information that could be “used against me,” leading, ultimately, to boring conversations and superficial relationships.
  • Need for control - especially in close relationships. Negative people have strong preferences on what and how their children and spouses should eat, what type of car the should drive, what clothes to wear, etc.
Remember - No idea is perfect, failure is not fatal and it's about other's needs.

It might seem paradoxical that negative people can simultaneously express shyness and modesty about about themselves and feel entitled to others’ respect and love. Similarly, it may seem paradoxical that negative people feel pessimistic about their own future and yet need to goad others to succeed. It’s precisely because negative people don’t feel respected and loved enough and don’t feel sufficiently in control of their own life that they demand others’ respect and love, seeking to control them. From that perspective, negativity is a poorly disguised cry for help.

In short, negative people need help, but have difficulty expressing it.

The simplest way of responding to negative people might seem to be giving them the respect, love, and control they crave. However, by fulfilling their desires, you are also rewarding their negativity.

Three Keys to Success

The most tenable option for dealing with negative people involves three elements:
  • Developing and expressing compassion for the negative person (Listen)
  • Taking responsibility for your own happiness.  Don't own the criticism. 
  • Maturity in how you interact with the negative person.
The compassionate element involves not advising the negative person about changing their behavior. It also involves never lecturing or preaching to them about the sources of their negativity.

Most of us already struggle with critical feedback. Negative people are already particularly resistant to it. It may be difficult for you to not react in some way to the negative person,before you do, remember, that while you have to deal with the negative person in doses, they have to deal with themselves all the time! This realization will hopefully help you feel some compassion towards them.

Taking personal responsibility for your own attitude requires doing what it takes to protect your own happiness. If you cannot maintain your outlook and composure you can't be much help to anyone else.

Act to preserve your set of positive attitudes; You may have to take time away on a regular basis to maintain your composure. At the same time, you don’t want to simultaneously trigger their fear of abandonment.

The Simple Truth of the Matter

The most reliable way to steer the negative person towards being more positive is to be positive yourself. While this seems simple and obvious, and has been the best advice for thousands of years; "Let your light so shine..." The best way to do that is act like someone who is respected and loved by others, being in control of the important aspects of their own life.

Pursue dreams, take healthy risks, and trust. (Yes, that sounds a lot like Faith, Trust and Pixie Dust.) Authentically, spontaneously, act in a positive and trusting manner. If a negative person makes skeptical or cynical comments you will have a confident base to respond from.

If the negator warns you of the futility of pursuing your dreams, let him know that you feel differently about your chances. Calmly explain that you would rather than take the chance and fail than not try at all. Likewise, if the negative person warns you of the dire consequences of taking what you think is a healthy risk, tell him calmly, “We'll see what happens.” This is easier in the context of a DT session, because as a Facilitator you can set the rules - No criticism in this phase, we'll do that later.

Over time, the negative person will recognize that, while your tolerance for taking risks may be higher than theirs, you are reliable and trustworthy.

Finally, if the negative person chastises you for trusting people too much, consider asking them (calmly) to recount instances in which you have been taken advantage of on account of your trusting nature. You could also point out that research shows trust is the foundation of strong teams and meaningful relationships and those contribute to greater success.

People like being around positive people, so the negative person will, even if only grudgingly, have to appreciate your positive outlook and attitudes. People also like feeling positive themselves. So, as the negative person experiences your positive influence they will like themselves better. This hopefully will lead to a virtuous cycle of greater trust in others and optimism about the future.

A Closing Look in the Mirror

Finally, dealing with negative people takes humility. If you find it difficult to deal with others’ negativity there is probably at least a seed of negativity in you. If you didn’t feel constricted or deflated by others’ negativity and were fully secure in how you view yourself you probably wouldn’t find the company of negative people to be adverse.

Realizing that you probably have to work on fixing your own negativity even as you are helping another person deal with their negativity will help you gain the compassion, optimism, and maturity that is needed for this tricky, but ultimately satisfying, endeavor.

Friday, October 21, 2016

A Breath of Fresh Air

Aesop's Lions and Oxes

In a recent article from TheStreet, Brad Hall described the eight things Google's Project Oxygen discovered about truly effective management; He wrote:

"As a young PhD student, I read thousands of academic articles on leadership. But one day a friend asked me a simple question on how to coach a struggling manager. I was baffled. I could compare and contrast almost any prominent leadership theory, but I had no idea how to fix the simplest management problem. I realized that I was lost in a sea of knowledge. The more I learned, the less I knew."

Google's Project Oxygen was designed to identify what successful Google managers do. Too often, training departments try to help managers improve their "skills" or "traits." But changing traits is very difficult. Instead, Google chose to teach managers what to do - after doing a lot of very disciplined research.

"The team spent one year data-­mining performance appraisals, employee surveys, nominations for top manager awards and other sources. The result was more than 10,000 observations of manager behaviors. The research complemented the quantitative data with qualitative information from interviews. The interviews produced more than 400 pages of notes, which were coded using standard behavioral science methodologies."

The final result was eight behaviors great managers do that make them great. (I broke one of them apart into two, so now there are nine. -df)

They are, in order of importance:
  1. Be a good coach
  2. Empower (don't micromanage)
  3. Be interested in direct reports, personal and work success and wellbeing
  4. Be productive and results ­oriented
  5. Listen to your team
  6. Be a good communicator
  7. Help your employees with career development
  8. Have a clear vision and strategy for the team
  9. Have key technical skills, so you can advise the team. 

Interestingly enough, these correlate with another list, complied by Professor Jeffrey Pfeiffer in his 1998 book The Human Equation - Building Profits by Putting People First, which he called Seven Practices of Successful Organizations. These are not in any order of priority. Pfeiffer is known for his steadfast commitment to data backed recommendations, not fluffy leadership advice backed by guesses.

  • Extensive training
  • Employment Security
  • Selective hiring of new personnel
  • Reduced status distinctions and barriers across levels
  • Self managed Teams and decentralized decision making
  • Extensive sharing of financial and performance information
  • High performance driven compensation compared to your competition

Sheryl McMillan took it one step further in her July 8, 2016 posting, which began with a re-telling of Aesop's tale of the Lion and the Oxen;

"A Lion used to prowl about a field in which Four Oxen used to dwell. Many a time he tried to attack them; but whenever he came near they turned their tails to one another, so that whichever way he approached them he was met by the horns of one of them. At last, however, they fell a-quarrelling among themselves, and each went off to pasture alone in a separate corner of the field. Then the Lion attacked them one by one and soon made an end of all four."

United we stand, divided we fall."

Cheryl wrote of how she was once part of a leadership group formed from two merged organizations. Headcount reductions ("right sizing") followed, and all leadership jobs, including her new boss’s, were under scrutiny. The new boss only liked ideas that supported his position. many felt that he didn’t care about others' opinions. As a result, instead of being encouraged to work together for the good of the organization, everyone felt pitted against one another and found themselves protecting their own “corners of the pasture”.

Cheryl observed that in every interaction with your employees, you are either creating a psychologically safe or unsafe environment and gave three concrete suggestions to help build what Simon Sinek calls a "Circle of Safety:"

Actively Seek and Take Feedback

Understand that as the leader, you hold position power and can directly impact the livelihood of your employees. You must make it safe for your employees to challenge you and to give you candid feedback. Share some examples of your own past bad ideas and decisions, and explain the dangers of future one’s going unchallenged. Frequently request feedback and grateful to receive it. Never rebuke what is offered. Instead, restate what you heard and thank the giver for the feedback.

Learn to Listen with Empathy

Learn how to really listen so that your employees feel your empathy. Restrain yourself from reacting and responding before the other person acknowledges that you understand their position. Be curious about their perspective and ask open questions when you need clarification. Having empathy means you understand and respect the other person's point of view even if you end up not initially agreeing with it.

Work is About Relationships

As social beings, we are wired with a strong need to connect and belong. Only when employees feel safe will they pull together as a unified team.

According to a research study published in Harvard Business Review about key leadership competencies, “Making sure that people feel safe on a deep level should be job #1 for leaders.”

Note that none of these points say anything about using your position or authority to direct or order the other person to do anything. Quite the opposite; Your role as a leader is to figure out how to bring the best out in your employees and make a safe space for them to discover and do what needs to be done. (Even the Norwegian Bachelor Farmers.)

Now, go out and ask your people some open ended questions. Listen. Take notes. Thank them for sharing and encourage them to tackle the problem as a team.

You'll be amazed at the results.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Workplace Psychology; Bullying and Ostracism

What happens when a schoolyard bully grows up and enters the workforce? Or worse, when a bully becomes your boss? The result can be passive-aggressive behaviors and subtle psychological battles that sap your energy and destroy teamwork and effectiveness.

Workplace bullying is more common than you might expect. A 2007 Zogby survey found that 37% of workers - representing 54 million people -- reported that they had been bullied at work. Some research indicates that workplace bullying is a greater problem than sexual harassment.

How can you tell if there are bullies on the loose? Employees experience fear and anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder like symptoms and physical illness. This contributes to absenteeism and turnover as bullied employees avoid or simply leave the workplace.

Some Definitions

Workplace bullying has been defined as “the repeated, malicious, health-endangering mistreatment of one employee (the target) by one or more other employees (the bully, bullies).” To be identified as bullying, the behavior has to occur regularly, repeatedly, and over a period of time.

Common workplace bullying behavior includes;

  • Assigning unreasonable or impossible targets or deadlines 
  • Removing responsibilities and replacing them with trivial, or no, tasks
  • Shouting and verbal abuse 
  • Persistently picking on people 
  • Withholding information
  • Blocking promotions
  • Constant criticism

The Federal Bureau of Investigation places workplace bullying on a continuum of workplace violence, a continuum that includes “domestic violence, stalking, threats, harassment, bullying, emotional abuse, intimidation, and other forms of conduct that create anxiety, fear, and a climate of distrust in the workplace.”

David Yamada, author of the Healthy Workplace Bill in the United States, lists common bullying behaviors as follows:

  • False accusations of mistakes and errors
  • Hostile glares and other intimidating non-verbal behaviors
  • Yelling, shouting and screaming 
  • Exclusion and the “silent treatment”
  • Withholding resources and information necessary to the job
  • Behind the back sabotage and defamation
  • Use of put-downs, insults, and excessively harsh criticism 
  • Unreasonably heavy work demands 

Yamada further states that Workplace Bullying is not:

  • Everyday disagreements and “dust ups” in the office
  • Someone having a bad day and losing his/her temper
  • Reasonable instructions, directives, and employee reviews

Telltale Signs


Bullies are usually insecure and cowardly. That is why they picked on the smaller kids in school. Once they grow up physically and get into management roles they threaten the employment or career status, competence and performance of other employees who they perceive as challengers to their authority and ability to get things done.

Threats of being fired, docking of pay, withholding shifts, assignments or training opportunities and devaluing others work or knowledge are common tactics. The intent is to make the threat uncomfortable enough to go away without a fight. That can be accomplished in a number of subtle and often deceitful ways.

The Silent Treatment

Often a bully gathers an "inner circle" and encourages them to ostracize targets to the extent of completely ignoring them - refusing to even acknowledge their presence. In a modern sort of way its a type of murder. Bullies will stop talking when their target enters the room, then continue talking in hushed tones, casting furtive looks at their target, as tho they are not to be trusted. Destruction of trust is the game. Once trust is broken, the group will naturally align to push the target out.

Rumors and Gossip

One way to destroy trust is spread lies and rumors about the target. These can sometimes be quite vicious. Even though they are untrue, rumors and gossip can spread throughout the organization and tarnish an individual's reputation. In insidious cases, where a bullied target sought to fight back, the bullies spread rumors that their target is merely a "complainer" and a "problem employee."


This tactic is particularly subtle. Bullies may go so far as sabotaging their victim's work. They may destroy or steal a work product, republishing it under their own name or without attribution. They may alter someone's PowerPoint presentation or report, omitting pages or information. 

This tactic has a collateral effect of further isolating the target by burying their work from the rest of the company and contributing to the impression that the target isn't contributing or pulling their weight.

The Deeper Roots of Ostracism

Bullying is a sign of much deeper issues in the workforce and can cripple an organization. By its nature, its goal is to reject outsiders and preserve existing groups. It can be particularly difficult to detect because of its often subtle nature.

Kipling Williams, professor of psychological sciences researches ostracism at Purdue University makes several relevant comments about ostracism in his book, "The Social Outcast: Ostracism, Social Exclusion, Rejection and Bullying."

"When a person is ostracized for even a brief period of time, the anterior cingulate cortex, the part of the brain that detects pain, is activated. People experience the same initial pain when excluded by strangers or close friends, or even enemies. However, the pain may not linger once the person has had time to consider the importance of the group which has excluded him or her or had time to talk about it with a friend."

"Ostracism is one of the most widely used forms of social punishment, and some see it as more humane than corporal punishment, as when used in a time-out, but there is a deeper psychological impact that needs to be taken seriously. We know that when people are ostracized, it can affect their perceptions, physiological conditions, attitude and behavior - all of which sometimes can lead to aggression."

"First, they're powerful and second, you can get away with them. If people are physically or verbally abusive, they can be punished. But it's hard to punish someone for not making eye contact or ignoring another person. If the person is confronted by asking, 'Why are you not talking to me?,' the person can easily deny the accusation."

Temporary employees frequently report that they feel ostracized. "They feel invisible." Other workers don't want to make friends or even introduce themselves because that person is not expected to remain with the company for long. Temporary workers feel ignored and excluded, and this can affect their performance in the office."

"Ostracism is present in the animal kingdom and is often used to increase a group's chance for survival by basically excluding the weakest link. For example, if a lion is hurt and holding the pride up, then that lion may be pushed away." However, humans use ostracism for more complex reasons. 

The people who are doing the ostracizing often feel a strong sense of belonging with each other, as well as feeling empowered. People who are excluded react one of two ways. The most common reaction is to try to improve a person's characteristics or behavior so they are included or fit in. On the other hand, people who are excluded frequently become destructive and vindictive. Many people also use ostracism as a tool to gain control of a situation.

The silent treatment also can be an asset when you are trying to argue with someone who is more articulate. Williams suggests that if a person reverts to using the silent treatment, then you should reply with; "I can't talk to you about this right now, but we will talk tomorrow."

Williams, along with Wayne A. Warburton and David Cairns from Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, found those who are ostracized tend to respond aggressively when they lack control of the situation. Their research, which is scheduled to appear in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology is available online.


People who are the targets of bullying may experience a range of effects. These reactions include:

  • Anger
  • Shock
  • Headaches
  • Stomach Pains
  • Loss of aAppetite
  • Disruptions of Sleep
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Family tension and stress
  • Low morale and productivity
  • Increased sense of vulnerability
  • Feelings of frustration and/or helplessness
  • Panic or anxiety, especially about going to work

This posting was developed with material from: Psychology at Purdue - Cold shoulder, silent treatment do more harm than goodWorkplace Bullying: Applying Psychological Torture at Work, Workplace Bullying as an Occupational Safety and Health Matter: A Comparative Analysis and Workplace Bullying: A Global Health and Safety Issue

Monday, October 17, 2016

Seven tips for delivering negative feedback.

The Engineering Manager's Mug

On July 20th 2016, Syed Balkhi wrote in Entrepreneur Magazine about several ways to deliver positive feedback about negative things - thus preventing a challenging conversation going from good to bad to I wish I'd never brought it up. Here is an edited - and commercial free - version.

1. Build positive relationships over time.

If you want to deliver negative feedback without creating divisiveness and angst, you have to work on building long-term relationships. Would you be more receptive to receiving negative feedback from a close friend you trust, or a manager you only interact with once a month? 
You’re more likely to accept negative feedback from someone you trust.
This is why it’s so important to build positive rapport with your employees. This lets them know you are interested in their success and aren’t just going to come around to shame them. (Syed schedules regular one-on-one calls with each of his team members at OptinMonster.)

2. Don’t bury it.

Sometimes you’ll hear motivational speakers tell you the best way to deliver negative feedback is to bury it between compliments.  According to a study out of the University of Chicago, half of the people who received "sandwiched" negative feedback concluded they were doing great; the middle (negative) part went straight over their heads. Avoid burying negative feedback. If you’ve spent time building a positive relationship with the individual, it won’t be necessary to concoct a compliment just to soften the blow. 

3. Seize the moment.

Because giving negative feedback is an uncomfortable task, many people will put it off until it absolutely must happen. The problem is that you end up psyching yourself out and making a bigger deal of the endeavor than it is.
The best feedback surfaces when you’re in the moment. The more timely and relevant the feedback, the more it will resonate with the recipient, too. If you wait days, weeks or months before you say something, the listener will wonder why you waited so long. It also diminishes the importance of the event and opens the door to being challenged with; "If it was so important why didn't you mention it at the time?"

4. Never make it personal.

There’s a big difference between negative feedback and a personal attack. You should never confuse the two. When delivering negative feedback, try to remove the person from the matter as much as possible. 
Let’s say one of your employees has been consistently producing reports with punctuation errors and faulty grammar. Delivering negative feedback will entail calling out the problem and asking the individual to be more careful. However, you want to avoid the mistake of calling the individual lazy or inadequate. Let the person know you believe he or she is fully capable of fixing the problem, but it must be addressed immediately.
If you make the feedback personal, the individual will get defensive. This diverts attention from the actual problem and substitutes a “me versus you” dynamic, which defeats the purpose and creates an entirely new problem.

5. Offer positive reinforcement.

Don’t only give negative feedback. You should also be giving your employees regular encouragement when they do things right. Here’s how to tell whether you’re doing both or not. Do employees shudder when they see you coming? In other words, when people see you approaching, do they expect you to deliver bad feedback? 
If the answer to this might be yes, then you aren’t awarding enough encouragement and positive reinforcement. Make this a priority moving forward, and you’ll see a lot of positive changes.

6. Make yourself available.

If you’re going to dish out negative feedback, you must be willing to take feedback from your peers. Employees are much more engaged when their managers ask for feedback on their own performance. This makes sense, but it’s easy to forget.  
The key to opening up to feedback is making yourself available. Maintain an open-door policy, allow people to submit anonymous suggestions, and never punish someone for speaking up. When you show your employees you’re willing to accept negative feedback from them, this makes it much easier for you to deliver negative feedback when they don’t perform well.

7. Put it in writing.

By writing down the feedback and emailing it to the employee, you give yourself time to gather your thoughts, and explain clearly your position. Ask the individual to come see you in your office or if you're remote do a Skype or Zoom call. It’s essential to have the face-to-face conversation. The written statement is primarily a way to break the ice.

Don't forget - the company IS the employees.

As a business owner or manager, you have to do what’s best for the employee -- and ultimately what’s best for the company. Sometimes this means delivering negative feedback, or having to state something that isn’t comfortable and endearing.
Good employees can be hard to find and even harder to retain, particularly if the work environment is something out of David Copperfield. In today's free wheeling job market it's critical to everyone's success.

Friday, October 14, 2016

The Contingent Workforce Contradiction

Why are these Contingent Workers smiling?

In a recent article entitled "No Longer Just A ‘Temp’: The Rise Of The Contingent Worker,: Maria Wood quotes some interesting statistics about the "Contingent labor" workforce.

"In 2014, the average share of contingent labor was 18 percent, up from 12 percent in 2009."

"Elance-oDesk and the Freelancer Union report that 53 million people — or 34 percent of the workforce — did freelance work in 2014."

"By 2017, contingent workers, including independent contractors, statement-of-work-based labor and freelancers, will account for nearly 45 percent of the world’s total workforce."

"MBO Partners’ most recent “State of Independence in America” workforce report revealed 30 million classify themselves as independent workers, either as “solopreneurs” who work independently as their only source of earnings, or “side-giggers” — those picking up outside assignments for extra income. That number is projected to grow to nearly 40 million by 2019."

"Ardent’s found that 92 percent of enterprises indicated non-traditional staffing was a vital to moderate facet of their overall corporate strategy."

At the same time one of the most popular speakers on TED is Simon Sinek. His message is almost the polar opposite;

"The best organizations foster trust and cooperation because their leaders build a Circle of Safety. 
This safe culture leads to stable, adaptive, confident teams, where everyone feels they belong."

If a contingent workforce is "a provisional group of workers who work for an organization on a non-permanent basis, also known as freelancers, independent professionals, temporary contract workers, independent contractors or consultants." there is something seriously wrong.

Do you see the conflict?

For some insight into this, take a look at Benno Bos' EDSO in Action.

Please note, this isn't touchy-feely, guru-speak, munmo-jumbo. We're talking neuro-biology. The type of human neuro-biology at the heart of all the web chatter about Emotional Intelligence, Empathy, and Design Thinking. The neuro-biology that your most basic actions and thoughts are built on.

Quoting from EDSO in action;

"When we are in an environment where we feel safe, with the people around us, we naturally protect them and look out for their interests. Our leaders protect us and we protect our leaders. We hope to make our leaders proud, showing them that their sacrifice to protect us and help us grow has been worth it. We are more capable of overcoming the constant dangers from the outside and creating a Circle of Safety on the inside."

When Simon Sinek asks what it would be like to have a job where you are in a Circle of Safety does working for an organization on a "non-permanent basis" immediately spring to mind? How about being in a family on a "non-permanent basis"?

This isn't about that availability of insurance benefits, or equal pay for equal work, or protection from discrimination of any flavor. It's about belonging to a group with common goals and beliefs.

To get a feel for what Americans are worried about Chapman College publishes an annual survey called America's Top Fears. The group area with running out of money and unemployment ranked #5 in 2015, just behind Man-made disasters, Technology, Government and the Environment.

Its part of the reason 70% of workers report they are disengaged in the workplace and a thinly veiled disguise for lack of commitment, even infidelity in the workplace. Staffing agencies love it. Selfish management loves it. Stopping it should be in the platform of any viable political candidate or party.

Its time to call foul on the Contingent Workforce Revolution for the baldfaced lie it really is.

(End of political rant. We now return you to our regular programming. -df)

Thursday, October 13, 2016

This Truly Changes Everything

An article by Bryan Kolb, Robbin Gibb and Terry E. Robinson of the Canadian Centre for Behavioral Neuroscience at the University of Lethbridge could literally change your-self perception, enough that you might change your world.

 Yes, you read that right. I said the information in the article could change your world.

The abstract states;

"Although the brain was once seen as a rather static organ, it is now clear that the organization of brain circuitry is constantly changing as a function of experience. These changes are associated with functional changes which include memory, addiction and recovery of function. Behavior can be influenced by a myriad of factors including both pre and post natal experience, drugs, hormones, maturation, aging, diet, disease, and stress. 

Understanding how these factors influence brain organization and function is important not only for understanding both normal and abnormal behavior, but also for designing treatments for behavioral and psychological disorders ranging from addiction to stroke."

The popular term for this phenomenon is brain plasticity and the implications are huge.

Generations were taught that the brain grew until we reached adulthood, stopped growing, and that was that. By the time you reached your mid-twenties, the die was cast, the organic computer between your ears was built and the rest was just about applying the information that was stuffed into it at school. That idea was a pillar of education and the law, what we taught and how we taught it, our ideas and definition of crime and punishment, treatment of disease and who you could become in your career and family.

There have been a few who thought about this differently - Carol Dweck and Albert Bandura, for example - scientists and sociologists who dared to suggest that what we teach our children can have a dramatic effect on their success and that even the most primal fears can be overcome. But this confirmation that our brains and behaviors are plastic from cradle to grave, even to the point of recovery from massive loss of function, is more than ground breaking - its game changing.

And it couldn't have come at a better time. The challenges we face in our families and at work are literally tearing the fabric of our society apart. As long as we believed that there was some immutable, organic reason why we couldn't change there was an excuse not to change.

That excuse has been blown away and what is left opens a range of possibilities which could literally change the world.

Don't take my word for it. Read the article

Think about it. Do something about it.

Stop making excuses.

Be the change.

Design it.

Do it.