Be Your Own Uncle Bob

Every day I put aside about an hour to follow various productivity gurus. I look for the golden nuggets that can help my free agent clients succeed. Most of the advice is quite good for the average person, but a good deal of is not helpful for those whose brains are wired differently. Lately, I ran across a tip that I totally disagree with for any brain. The tip was to get mad at yourself for not doing something you should have done. With all due respect, this is really bad advice, particularly for those who already feel guilty about slacking off.

Negative self-talk abounds compared to the kind of talk we need to hear to get us moving. Is there a psychologist anywhere who thinks that berating ourselves is the catalyst for taking action and sustaining a desired behavior? If so, please set me straight.

Have you ever known a golfer who, furious with a bad shot, threw his 9 iron across the green, called himself every name in the book and proceeded to shoot a perfect hole in one? No, because it takes the brain many minutes and sometimes hours to recover focus from that kind of self- flagellation.

Instead, let’s bring out the mentor in ourselves. Perhaps you had a supportive big brother or an Uncle Bob who pointed out when you were doing wrong and when you were doing right. Talking to yourself in this way, aloud, using your name (which by the way is much more powerful than not) is a more positive mobilizer than adding more shame to the mix.  We all disappoint ourselves from time to time, but let’s admit those transgressions then move like Jagger to problem solving mode.

For those that want an example, here it is.  Max looks at his watch and says, “Max, you forgot about your plan to get an hour’s worth in before checking your email this morning.  Now you know why you are running behind schedule. It doesn’t feel good. Therefore, Max, before checking your email again this afternoon put a post-it on your laptop as a reminder to address at least two items on your list before re-checking email. If you can get that done Max, enjoy reading your email at 4:00 with a tall Starbuck’s – you’ll deserve it. Love that Uncle Bob − a tough guy with a soft heart!

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