Quick! What’s the first word that you see?
And what do you think of seeing that word first?
Does it fit your mood? Or your outlook on life? Or your environment or desire? And how do you feel about that word?
I recently had an opportunity to do this exercise with a group of 20 people that I have been working with for several months. We’ve been working on a corporate culture “upgrade.”
Interestingly about 5 people saw the word “Change.” Another 5 or so saw “Ownership.” And a couple saw “Articulation.” Other 1st words were Inquiry, Embrace, Present and Culture.
All of these words seem pretty fitting for the project that has us working together.
And then there were a few outliers like: rap and hip. (I think they’re Millennials or Gen Z’s…!)
And a couple people wanted a do-over because they didn’t like their word. My favorite was the person who was disappointed that the first word she saw was “Downer…” only to realize if she looked again, she saw “ownership” with a D in front.
At that point, we coined a new word: “Downership.”
“Downership” occurs when someone sees the negative side of things, resists taking ownership and accountability and sees the glass as half full. Debbie Downer. Woe is me.
Think about it.
How many people do you work with, live with or know, who, when presented with an opportunity to grow, expand or change, only see the pitfalls or reasons to stay in their comfort zone?
They’re the ones who will tell you all the reasons why something won’t work.
So what’s the difference between a “Devil’s Advocate” and a person who demonstrates “Downership?”
The person who demonstrates “Downership,” halts creativity and innovation. Their opinions and ideas become roadblocks, rather than pathways. While they may say they are playing the role of the Devil’s Advocate, the bottom line is that others feel stifled and thwarted. There’s little room for collaboration. Projects often end up in a black hole or experience delays and setbacks. Lethargy ensues.
On the other hand, a person who is a “Devil’s Advocate” will often preface their comment by saying that’s a role they’re playing for the sake of finding the best solution to a problem. Their approach is proactive. Their intent is to explore options and possibilities. See what’s missing, find loopholes, or test boundaries to get the best result. Ideas are presented in a way that can contribute to brainstorming and collaboration, creativity and excitement.
How do you see the world? How do you approach life?
Are you a Debbie Downer or a Devil’s Advocate?
Marty Stanley, CSP, is a national speaker who works with leaders who want to stay ahead of their competition by developing and leveraging a winning culture. She does this through executive coaching, consulting and training. If you and your team are ready for culture “upgrade,” or refresher, contact Marty today: 816-695-5453 or 858-432-6764. firstname.lastname@example.org www.alteringoutcomes.com