Emotional Intelligence When Hard Change Must Come


I frequently write what I feel I must learn, and so it is today.  Daniel Goleman teaches about “emotional intelligence” and the practice of “self-regulation.”*  It’s a practice especially necessary if you are facing the fact that reality must give way to major change. 

Here’s the story.  The governor and legislature are under enormous pressure to craft a grueling budget compromise.  Taxes will need to be raised.  And painful cuts will be implemented.  Many legislators will face mighty resistance when they vote to enact these necessary measures.  It’s death to the status quo and perhaps political death, too.  Such realities are hard to face.  People march or muck through them as Kubler-Ross described how we confront death: through stages of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.   

Jennifer diagnosed the illness and prescribed a treatment program seven months ago.  But the stages had to be walked.  Republican leaders and many Democrats spent months in denial and helped keep the media and public in that unfortunate state.  Voters became increasingly angry.  Bargaining – with band-aids on deep wounds – continues.  And some are just depressed.  The personal and collective emotions can be overwhelming. 

Given such hard realities, the search begins for a scapegoat! – a search rooted in the stages, I suppose, of denial and anger.  It’s Engler, they say.  It’s Granholm.  It’s Dillon.  It’s Bishop.  It’s DeRoche.  It’s the whole bunch of ‘em!  For me, some days the emotions have felt as real as a tazer-charge or the descent of the dementors — especially when I’m feeling for my besieged yet battling wife.  I too wish for a simple enemy:  those bloody Republicans; or the media, whom I lash in my thoughts for provoking public anger, instead of helping the public to understand and accept, then make tough choices and move on.  Sometimes I feel the depressive, thousand-pound pull of the prospect that our fiscal illness may continue indefinitely.  Maybe in your  family or organization or state you too have at times been in denial, lashed out (or wanted to), or just gotten depressed about potential loss.  If so, you know these emotions are INTENSE!   Well, that’s where Goleman’s wisdom about self regulation comes in, with solid advice for all of us who must confront the death of some untenable reality: 

“Self regulation, which is like an ongoing inner conversation, is the component of emotional intelligence that frees us from being prisoners of our feelings.  People engaged in such a conversation feel bad moods and emotional impulses just as everyone else does, but they find ways to control them and even to channel them in useful ways.”  Here’s to self regulation — becoming aware of, controlling and channeling our powerful emotions to face the tough realities before us.  Practice the inner conversation to  Lead with your best self, 


* See, e.g., Goleman “What Makes a Leader?” Harvard Business Review, November-December 1998.




  • It’s the whole bunch of em! What happened to the core values of teamwork and integrity. Who cares what party you came from, collectively you are the Michigan Legislature. The Michigan Constituents expect you all to WORK TOGETHER making decisions and taking actions for the good of the people(ALL people) you represent. That is your reasonable service. Put and end to these PARTY AGENDAS, and TURF WARS. You are elected by the people, won’t somebody stand up and really be for the people. Michigan has a heritage rich in innovation on many levels: science, manufacturing, entertainment, natural resources, etc. We need our leaders to recognize the great Michigan potential and maximize it. This gross mismanagement is unnecessary and nationally embarrassing. Grow up and Do the job we elected you to do, TOGETHER. (term limits are killing us)

    • I heard Mike Bishop this morning on WJR and he is frustrated in the lack of discipline when it comes to spending cuts. Jennifer is pulling an old Washington trick by calling a decrease in the increase on certain progams a cut! I agree with the republicans that we have a historic opportunity to make real changes in the way this disfunctional state government has been doing business. Democrats need to understand that increasing the burden on the citizens is not the answer. We need to reduce the burden on business and voters so that business comes into the state so we can stop exodus of business out of the state!! The gvernor needs to grow a backbone and make REAL cuts. It is her obligation.

      • 1) Please remember Dan’s comments about removing emotions to lead with your best self. Personal or parisan attacks are emotion-based, and not condusive to solving the problems facing Michigan right now.

        2) Business hate uncertainty more than anything. Low or high, business can deal with taxes if there set at a certain amount. Businesses can deal with cuts in government services if they’re expected cuts (and compensate for them as necessary for their business & customers). But, they can’t deal with no government, which will happen without compromise.

        3) It’s hard to determine, decide, and implement the reforms required to make $1.7 billion in cuts in 7 days. Major reform never happens quickly, neither in government nor in private business.

        4) Constitutionally, it’s the legislature’s job to pass a budget (stating how much money we have) – and the governor’s job to sign a budget into law (acknowledging that the government can be run at the amount of money allocated). At the very least, the legislature and governor’s office need to work together, as neither (we can obviously see) have sole power and discretion – which requires compromise.

        • Anon:

          1. I did not consider my reply emotional.

          2. You need to remember we are competing with 49 other states that are trying to draw business into their own states. So far we are losing out to plenty of jobs. I get call every week from other states stating the lower cost of doing business. If I had the money to move I would have to consider it.

          3. Again – reducing an increase is not a cut!!

          4. The governor should lead. So far it seems she is held up in her office and not truly engaging in the negotiations.

      • Help me out here, please. Business taxes are lower than ever and the state lacks income. How will cutting business taxes further balance the budget?

        Also, please tell me how the governor can cut lifelong health benefits to legislators who have served just six years in the legislature? Isn’t that up to the legislature to do, starting with this session? It would, if they had any backbone and were sincere about cuts, or so it seems to me.

        Also, please help me understand how cuts to education help businesses. Businesses in Lansing have openings they are not able to fill because jobseekers lack the education to perform information technology jobs.

        And I really don’t understand what’s dysfunctional about previous legislatures that did pass a budget in a timely manner so that administrators around the state can make plans on how to fulfill their statutory obligations.

        I realize that people get locked into judgments about all this: it would be bad if we raised taxes, it would be bad if we cut health care, etc. These mini-judgments get in the way of one major one: it would be bad if there were no budget at all, and state government shuts down.

        Maybe when bad choices are the only option, it’s time to opt for something bad rather than something cataclysmically worse. Choices seldome come in black/white, either/or configurations, though simplistic people want us to think that. How about a both /and solution? Raise income taxes so those who are employed can help keep the state, state services to at-risk populations, and employers / businesses, afloat, because people need to plan beyond next week. At the same time, look to savings in the legislative portion of the budget, like becoming a unicameral legislature. State government, and therefore the state budget, has three sections: the executive, legislative, and judicial departments. Help me understand why, according to the senate, all the cuts have to come out of the executive portion of state government.

        I suppose, like any employer, the State could lay off everyone. While that would be a tremendous savings, who would do the work? Can’t we be real here?

        Help me understand the scenario you describe, please, rather than casting all the blame on one scapegoat or another. Instead of fixing blame, let’s look to fixing the problem.

  • I understand that Michigan is one of the hardest hit states in America today. What I do not understand is the fact that our Michigan Legislators have voted themselves a raise and get full health benefits for life after only serving one term minimum. Why should us tax papers pay for that when no in todays economy gets that kind of benefit. I believe that should be on the auction block to save our state an enormous amount of money. I feel as citizens we should ban together and make our legislators cut out of their own pocket like so many Michiganders have had to do in these very tough times.

  • Self talk, or talking to yourself – once a sure sign of insanity, is an important part of emotional intelligence. As are the four simple ‘rules’ provided by Ruiz in his little book “The Four Agreements”, to wit:

    1.Be impeccable with your word.
    2.Don’t take anything personally.
    3.Don’t make assumptions.
    4.Do your best (within the context of the time & place).

  • The Michigan budget crisis – Who is to blame, but the usual, the lazy, the cowards, the power seekers, the temporary ones, the paid to influence, those who pay the professional influencers, the voters, the media, and just about everyone else.

    It is the mindset, and the lack of discipline in not studying: government, sources of revenue, the role government plays in the balance. If more money is spent by the government, it is not the amount of money spent,but how it is spent, and that is not an argument for less government spending, but an argument for understanding the economic consequences of government spending.

    Some government spending has a large payback, some is necessary for a safe society, some is for things that will not be done unless government does them; some can most economically be done by government.

    The problem is how set minds are that taxes cannot be raised, and spending must be cut, without any study, or appreciation for the benefits of government spending, and government services.

    A central question of politics is, What kind of world do you want to live in? I spent a while calling and e-mailing state offices more than a month ago for a column I was writing for the Alpena News. I decided to give up on writing about the state budget since the information I received made me fear all the more that even those closest to the budget process knew very little about the relationships I wrote about above.

    One lady in the governor’s office sent me a generally helpful document by e-mail on how an international organization solves such budget questions. Apparently the state of Michigan has no such device. I have no criticism of Jennifer Granholm. In meeting and speaking with her in the last year, I saw a determined, politically talented person, who was up against craziness. I could think of nothing she could do other than do her best to educate the public about what would be lost, if the Republican gridlock continued.

    AS to the Republicans, I blame the elected officials of the party I belong to, to the extent they have allowed their thinking to be taken over by those paid to influence, and horrific public relations devices like the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. A majority of Republicans who get elected are not true conservatives, but followers of the great political oddities called “free market” think tanks. If the republicans in the state legislature were true conservatives, it would have been very easy for them to settle the budget issues while Engler was still governor.

    There were a few of us predicting this day during the end of Engler’s second term and on in to his third term. Why did the legislators keep putting patches on a sinking ship?

    And will someone respond to the person who said that state legislators get health care for life, for serving only one term.

    Mark John Hunter

    • Mark:

      The fact that you are STILL blaming Engler speaks volumes about the ineffectiveness of your party. Always the victim never the leader…

      • Vince,
        I would humbly invite you to look into your accusatory tone. You are frustrated. Lots of us are. But statements about others like “get a backbone” or “always the victim” tend to generate hostility not understanding.
        Marginal tax cuts are no cure-all nor are increases an utter curse. If taxes were everything then the 93 tax cuts Jennifer has signed, including a $500 million personal property tax ememption for business last year, as well as the significant tax cuts implemented under Governor Engler should have us swimming in business. Knowledge economy jobs require knowledge workers not a 4.5 vs. a 3.9% income tax.
        And I’m not sure where you are getting your facts on a decrease vs a decrease in the rate of growth. The overall state budget is increasing, but the general fund is absolutely NOT. The general fund is approximately $9 billion of an overall $40-ish billion budget. Money from “restricted funds” – like federal highway funds cannot be tapped for the general fund. The general fund will be 40% lower this year than 9 years ago. I hope this will help you understand the facts.
        I hope you aren’t insulted by my first line. It’s not my intent. And perhaps you don’t appreciate that your lines feel like attacks. I hope you can keep your passion and thoughtfulness but perhaps find slightly different language to communicate your ideas.
        Trying not to be preachy cuz I sure get hot, too,

      • Vince:

        I am a Republican. Yes, Engler is to blame for a lot of the budget problems. He spent down reserves to cover shortfalls form his tax cuts and then left the mess behind.

        Mark John Hunter

    • Mark John,
      The legislative health care provision which allows legislators to get life time health insurance after 5 years is morally and financially untenable. The (Democratic controlled House) passed a bill weeks, if not months ago, to eliminate that provision. I can’t imagine the Senate will not pass it.
      It needs to be done, and unfortunately it is a drip in the sea of economic troubles. But per the “4 agreements cited above,” the legislature needs to eliminate it in order to be “impeccable in their word.”

      • Thank you for the information. I was being told that it only took one term for a state representative to get life long health insurance. Five years is not enough either. As it is, a term or so, as a state representative or state senator is a great deal. It is becoming a school for lobbiests and similar occupations, which get paid far better than legislators.

        Mark John Hunter – Alpena

  • Your comments Dan, and those of these others, are all necessary, now it is time to set aside the Thinking, set aside the Pondering, Now is time To Act. Brave are the ones who ACT & LEAD as no one is 100% right or wrong.
    Where will Michigan Govt Go with No Budget to date.
    Will anyone be left to turn off the lights?
    This hurts us all.

    • Maybe tonight Rick. Jennifer has been trying to find practical compromise for 7 months. Hopefully her insistence that the legislature MUST do their constitutional duty will get them to accept the least painful and most acceptable compromise they can create.

  • Dan,

    Thanks for speaking frankly about our budget crisis.

    I am sure there is plenty of blame to go around for the current state budget crisis. I also don’t believe that scapegoating is very useful. This is a time for bi-partisan effort to make the tough calls.

    This budget shortfall has been coming upon Michigan for a long time.

    If our economy is like a bath tub and the goal is to have more revenue coming into the tub than going out of the tub, our collective State tub has been leaking revenues out the bottom of our tub faster than we have been adding them for about a decade. From where I sit one of the big reasons for this reversal of fortune is that many of our biggest “tub fillers,” corporations that used to bring excess revenues into the State have been bought out by out of State concerns so that excess profits that used to be invested here in dividends and executive salaries are now being invested elsewhere. Here are a few companies where this is true from the Muskegon area where I used to live: SPX, a fortune 500 company moved its corporate headquarters out of State, Gerber got bought by a Swiss firm, SAPPI, Muskegon’s paper mill got purchased by a South African Firm. Many of the locally owned banks are now headquartered out of State. Michigan Adventure, our largest amusement park is now owned by an out of State firm. Owners of Muskegon’s largest shopping mall are headquartered in Tenessee. Horizon Group, the world’s largest developer of Factory Outlet Malls was bought out by an out of State Firm. Farm and Fleet was sold to Tractor supply, again, an out of State Firm. Brunswick moved its corporate offices out of State. In this new day, corporations avoid the high costs of unions and the high cost of taxes by moving operations to more profit friendly environments. Until we figure this out and change our climate they won’t be moving back any time soon.

    I believe that another net loser to Michigan is our reliance for revenue on Casinos. According to a study done by a Casino economics expert from the University of Las Vegas for a proposed Muskegon area casino, casinos in many venues can be a bigger drain on a local economy than a stimulator of them. Taxes, profits, annual costs to upgrade the slot machines, and gambling loss related social expenses are all drains to our collective economic tub.

    The long term solutions to our budget woes will be when we create a state wide climate that is conducive to business success. We need to redesign our State governmental structures so that we don’t have so many redundant levels of government which adds expense. As I understand it such State wide structural redesign has to originate in Lansing, which is perhaps an explanation for why it hasn’t happened. Muskegon for example has if I remember 14 separate city, township, and county governmental units to provide services for a little more than 100,000 people. The costs of providing this redundant infrastructure is much higher in Michigan than other parts of the country that have learned to operate on a larger and leaner scale.

    Laws favorable to urban sprawl also have to be rewritten to encourage brownfield redevelopment. Sprawling populations cost more per person to administer.

    Our State needs to get a handle on a major concern that is alcohol and other drug abuse which afflicts the vast majority of our prisoners and causes corrections to be our largest single budget line item in State government. We will continue to grow in the direction of our investments. I would rather see us invest our dollars in health care, schools, housing, scientific and technological advancement, environment, business development but until we get a handle on our addictions we will be plagued by the costs of incarceration to us all.

    I personally believe that it is time for Michigan to end our experiment with term limits. We need lawmakers with wisdom and experience to provide leadership in difficult times. From what I have seen via the media there is very little responsible leadership being exercised in our State House.

    Two institutions that give me hope for Michigan’s future exist as a part of Grand Valley State University on Muskegon’s lake shore: the Water Resources Institute, and the Alternative Energy Resource Center. Two things that Michigan has in abundance that the world needs are access to fresh water and minds bright enough to come up with new solutions to our energy issues. I am not happy that currently we have given license in Michigan to a Swiss firm to bottle and sell our water. If anything, the State should be using this franchise for the common good.

    Anyway, thank you Dan for raising the issues and for providing a forum where ideas can be shared. Your wife has a tough job. I am sure that there are no easy answers that we all agree on to a budget deficit of this size.

    If we raise taxes we could drive more jobs from our State and if we cut services we will certainly cause a great deal of hardship and pain to many. In my church, the State of Michigan has already lost a valued employee, a computer specialist in the area of collecting child support payments who with her expertise easily brought in more for the State and its families than it cost to keep her. Her job was slashed and she was hired immediately by New Jersey. We lost a valued church family.

    Your comments about the State’s budget issues also brought to mind a helpful book from several years ago which helped me to understand change that is applicable here, “Who Moved My Cheese,” by Dr. Spencer Johnson. I would recommend it to our legislators as mandatory reading. Michigan’s “cheese” has moved and the sooner we all recognize that we need to change our way of doing business the better off we will be.

    • Those are excellent points and I read “Who Moved My Cheese” and you are right, it would be perfect reading for our legislators.

    • Glenn,
      Two weeks in a row you have offered many great thoughts.
      Your litany of Muskegon companies takes one’s breath away. It points to the deeper issues we face. They weren’t leaving because our income tax was only lowered (by Engler and Granholm and the legislature) from 4.6% to 3.9% and they wanted it lowered to 3%.
      Many, like Brunswick a 100+ year old Muskegon institution left for those delicious Mexican wages. Do we want to get that competitive? GM and UAW just signed a deal that dramatically dropped the incoming wages. We ALL understand why. Better a lower paying GM than no GM. But those cuts in wages mean less income, less income tax, less spending, less sales tax.
      So, we must generate whole new industries. And industries that do something besides fast food, lawn care, etc. We have to generate real value in the world. That requires innovation, education, whole new workplaces that are collaborative and risk-taking – where the cheese keeps moving. This foolish old debate about half a percent of income tax is leading us off track. So, too, are the sacred cows — corporate loopholes or sacred public cows (your example of 14 governmental jurisdictions) that we can’t afford any more.
      We need a lot less finger pointing and a lot more action. It breaks my heart that this legislature has bogged Jennifer down for 7 months, when she should be doing what her mind and heart tell her she needs to: bring in energy companies, bring in foriegn capital, challenge our school leaders to excel, grow Googles, attract companies to fill the Pfizer hole in Ann Arbor.
      We have to think a whole lot bigger to solve these problems than we are thinking now. And we need to work together, not at each other’s throats.
      Thanks again, Glenn, for challenging us all.

  • “It’s death to the status quo and perhaps political death, too. … Jennifer diagnosed the illness and prescribed a treatment program seven months ago.”

    Though I would say, even today in my political disillusionment, that JMG and Mary Lannoye diagnosed and prescribed a very thorough regimen of treatment and therapy rather earlier than seven months ago; namely in the first year’s budget of her first term, which was largely rejected originally, but some parts of which have managed to pass out of obvious necessity years later. Still, sometimes “difficult” patients refuse treatment or fight with their therapists. And in Michigan, “death to the status quo” is like a skin-flaying, and “political death” is a blood-drainingly sufficient deterrant to any political action whatsoever… which we’ve become familiar with, heightened now to a daily exercise in prolonging the act of doing next-to-nothing.

    “And some are just depressed.”

    It can be depressing to feel isolated and neglected. My question is, wherever has been the acknowledgement and recognition that you, Mr.DMG, have called for from Michigan’s regular, everyday leadership, specifically acknowledgement of grassroots?

    I and many others did grassroots work — that we were told would be so important — over last election season, in support of both D’s and R’s — that “reaching across the aisle” we were told would be important, but we found little to no example of. I felt our team of volunteers based out of Missions Accomplished, LLC in Gregory, MI managed to have quite an effect on the local area. We knew it was deep “red” territory — which is why we put up such an effort. But as time has gone by, the necessary acknowledgement has been given to those who took part in official “satellite campaign” business — and for the most part by way of automated form-letter. Whatever happened to “genuinity”? For a little while there I was spelling it “Jen-U-Win-ity”. So imagine my disillusionment, something not far from “depression”.

    And I even went through all that, pushing that hard for the governor’s re-election, after your personal head-of-security had pegged me “crazy homeless guy” and put my name on some kind of (apparently leaky) police list as a “stalker”, based entirely on the fact that I “write too many letters”. What is expected of somebody who writes some, may I praise myself, fairly intelligence discourse to absolutely no response from the recipient? And now I have the personal question of wrongful discrimination and pollution (secret lists, if they exist, aren’t supposed to be a public matter, but it’s already had to come around to bite me once — now imagine if I needed to get bonded in order to obtain a decent job in, say, security) to mull over in my mind. All because one day I was a dirty, rag-wearing homeless person who just wanted to offer what he had to a cause he felt was necessary and just, I had to bear how it was overlooked that the next day I very well could have been (and indeed became) a nicely-dressed, politically and legally apt, business-leading, change-making, Italian-suit-wearing, Wall St-hairstyle sporting individual. In literally the space of a day. In my internal conversation, I praise how I’ve managed to exemplify exactly what’s wrong with jumping to conclusions and discriminating based on status quo. We don’t need to always judge based on status quo: heck, if six letters a year seems like a lot, try paying attention to and considering a personal response to one a week (not that I find RFL anything at its worst but a refreshing challenge, and at its best everything from inspiring to redeeming); and heck, there’s no “harassment” if some response hasn’t been made to the effect that “I really can’t handle / don’t want your letters any more, Mr. Modern Man of Letters”.

    Sometimes the status quo that needs to die is, yes, thick throughout Michigan — sometimes thickest in particular leaders, or yet sometimes outweighed by their followers — but also carries more than its share of dross across our official leadership. It can be hard for feelings to die, though, and the status quo isn’t just a plot or a recipe: it’s composed of multitudes of feelings in each individual. We can’t just say “status quo — die!” and see it done. According to what you say, defeating the status quo in yourself would be the best first step — doing that before others in leadership would be next, and I think you’re right about that.

    “Sometimes I feel the depressive, thousand-pound pull of the prospect that our fiscal illness may continue indefinitely.”

    Disillusionment is a powerful compromise, and can lead to a complete reversal of ideals, even if more out of experiment than resolve. Imagine the person who never offers the chance to become “illusioned”, again. My ex-boss, a lifelong Catholic, has yet absolutely no faith in this entire country’s political mechanations: he refuses to vote for anything in any election, anywhere, saying “they’re all a bunch of _ _ _ _ _.” (FITB: “liars”, “thieves”, “crooks”, etc.)

    That’s not to scapegoat. I don’t want to give the impression that anywhere from one to all of the members of our official leadership (government) are personally or morally responsible for the emotional losses felt by the citizenry. That’s altogether too much of a responsibility to place, going against right independence, and it was never the intent of the framers that we should enact pharmakos by way of elected office. But disillusionment comes because the illusion wasn’t proper in the first place. It’s not the same as realization (observing the manifest); disillusion is a formal necessity of one’s self-development. It’s just a wonder that so much weight of disillusionment is falling on those who aren’t really in power to directly force changes to the government, and yet I discern little or no such disillusionment being suffered by any of our elect, in terms of maybe having to rethink their parties or their parties’ motivations.

    It’s harder to perceive, because it’s not only over the removal of something (an illusion), but it’s also currently a matter of something not being done (the disillusionment not gone through by our official leadership), but… there is sort of an inverse scapegoating occuring where the really powerful efforts aren’t being undertaken by our official leadership, and the rest of us are left to go through these undertakings on our own — but all of those elected offices have been empowered in ways that we as citizens are not and can not be. The whole point was that the elect would struggle as much as one person and that the positive effect would have been bestowed upon all of us. So let’s not so quickly jump to cries of “scapegoating”, even though — even right now when — Michiganians aren’t proving quite capable of showing the same kind of internal weight-pulling that they are calling for their leaders to show. Though you do have a point, some scapegoating is going on, I’m just pointing out that some double-inverse scapegoating is going on, as well.

    Now let’s clear the air — not everything that’s going on between the elect and the citizenry can be contextualized entirely as a blame-game.

    In this case, it’s not about whether we can hold elected officials responsible for our own shortcomings and failings as citizens. What has so many Michiganians fed up is that we’re learning, by way of sublime example, that we apparently can’t hold our elected officials responsible for their own shortcomings and failings, either. Literally, that we can’t expect even the seemingly best of representatives, in any branch, to do what they say they will. And especially: to really think what they’ve been telling us they think. Oh, and: to act like they are who they say they are.

    And I don’t mean the big-item talking-points, like “I’ll fix this budget”, or “we’ll never raise taxes”. I mean the little things that stretch into our hearts: “reach across the aisle”; “do what’s best for all of us”; “I’ll never leave Michigan”; or “acknowledge”; “own your challenge”; “don’t just tell me how far I have left to go, really cheer”; ETC.

    I mean, inspiring words are great, and I thank all of my elected (and un-elected) leaders for their inspiring words. But over the last five years, at no one person’s — nor even any mere one-hundred peoples’ — fault but my own, I’ve learned that if there’s anything lacking in Michigan, it’s honesty. I say it’s my fault because I’ve had the opportunity to focus on all the facets of honesty in my own life, and I took that opportunity as soon as and at every moment it was offered. I don’t just mean the “don’t lie or omit” kind of honesty. I mean great internal conversation such as: “don’t be afraid”, “be who you are”, and “do what you say you will”, and “if you say it, mean it”, or “if somebody needs to hear it, then let them”, and “if you make a mistake, own that”, and more. All of it, a whole lot more! And I really, personally believe that all of it is severely lacking in almost all of Michigan.

    The one or two great people we meet from time to time, they can be really inspiring, and great, and really change our whole day — even our whole year — to the positive. I used to call these people “redeemers”, as in, “I really felt louser about the whole human race (or maybe just the ones around here and now), but you know what, just because this person is around, I feel that humanity has been redeemed”. But see their cause as the inverse of the plight of the scapegoated government: we can’t expect this loose band of disparate, even dwindling “redeemers” to carry the weight of our emotional requirements for us. And there aren’t enough of them to make a social climate concentrated enough to really provide this sort of inspiration as a daily, normal environment. They’re too few and far between. We need more of them — a lot more!

    So what do we need? Somebody to say the things that are deeply inspiring enough to instantly turn people down the path of this redemption. And I did think, wholeheartedly, that JMG would be that super-inspiring somebody, and that several legislators would be those people, but they have barely used their opportunity to say the things that would be really inspiring.

    Things that are inspiring? How’s this one: what if a popular, democratic leader, who’s already one “first” (first woman Governor) pulled a second “first” — first popular, elected Dem to carefully, cautiously, and compassionately criticise the Union? That’s one to think about as a potential example: instantaneous, hundreds of thousands of people would be inspired just due to the fact that it hasn’t been done yet. Especially in a climate where “the same old things keep on happening”, anything that shakes the trees is going to drop us a heck of a lot of apples.

    And I don’t mean to make that a purely union-issue statement: I’m saying that there have been numerous opportunities for our leaders to say numerous things, and it’s so portentious that here we’ve been, following along, the words we’re waiting to hear practically dripping from our own lips, and yet the opportunities pass and the words aren’t said. So it’s not always so one-sided, Mr.DGM, with “acknowledgement” and “recognition” (things that come on down from high above) — sometimes the leader has to humble down before not only their current followers, but before the followers they envision they would or could have, as well as before their own long-held ideals — the followers they did have (or never did but really wanted).

    So if anything could be said at this time by our elect, it should be what should be said: and if anything should be said, it’s probably a lot closer to what “the other side” is used to being the ones with exclusive rights to saying — and that holds true for anyone (D or R) who sees this as a partisan issue. Though, really: how much are we hearing about “no more partisanship” while hearing actually very little that really blurs the lines? I say, go ahead, quit the partisanship — say or do something that nobody is sure what party it came from. I was really looking forward to that kind of administration from JMG, especially since she made early claims as to her “centrism”, and since she seemed to primed to know exactly what was right for us, having shown so much sense of justice as State Attorney.

    How frustrating, because sometimes I feel like we just have to wait for America to grow up!” – K.GMulhern

    I firmly believe that like K.GMulhern said in comment to your last RFL, it’s about growing up. Michigan is severely lacking in the maturity to see through matters for what they are, and to avoid playing the unnecessary blame-game against the people they are supposed to be mature enough to interact with and give guidance to — their leadership. And it’s not just that some people have made it impossible to interact with them. It’s that most Michiganians don’t want to interact, at all. It might only be arrested development (which would also explain the out-of-control waistlines and test scores) but the vast majority of them have the limited scope of vision to blame just one person for everything. And only one branch has one top-notch, top of the hill, top of the morning to ya ello guvnah person, the Executive. That one position takes a lot less time, thought, and crucial energy focusing on than alllll of those countless legislators or justices. So there goes the blame. Or, for the slightly more involved (but with just as little heart in it), the blame can fall upon an oversimplified version of a whole branch. As you’ve noted, that’s about all we’ve seen out of the press (supposedly really intellectual folks) and even the people.

    “Here’s to self regulation — becoming aware of, controlling and channeling our powerful emotions to face the tough realities before us.” – DGM

    I’m not saying to give it all up, but I am saying that sometimes the return isn’t worth the investment. If you really have the resources to invest in the good feeling you get just knowing you’re alive, being a good neighbor, and doing what’s responsible, then four more years to you, if you can get them.

    Otherwise, especially in an economically depressed state, unless somebody can explain to the entire citizenry — and without finding a single “deaf ear” (no offense to anyone with disabilities) — about the reward that comes from changing your world for the better one person at a time if you have to, starting with your own self, then to most Michiganians there’s simply no connection proving that “good behaviour is its own reward”. And there are a lot of stimuli that in fact lead Michiganians to believe the exact opposite. Not that K.GMulhern is wrong, but sometimes we can’t always find a child guilty, especially if they’ve been raised in the completely wrong way. What about depraved negligence? Have you seen who the state is giving money to, these days? Who they’re favoring and who they’re doing everything short of kicking right out with their own boots?

    Anyways, I don’t hear much from our elected officials about how everyone could wisen up, and the only solution I can think of is a mass Exodus out of the state, poorest first (which is what is already happening). The only possible benefit of this is that many beautiful properties in a much-overlooked, beautiful part of the country will be up for sale (and to make it easier, we’re at record foreclosures). And I would hate to think that this is what is intended for Michigan: to become a much smaller handful of much larger estates. I don’t often use that word, “hate”, but here we go again: I’d hate to think that, staring this potential future right in the face, that our elected officials, doing little to stop it from happening, might thereby be complicit in a little land-seizing frenziment of their own.

    Good luck to everybody.

  • I know this is a relatively long comment- and not on any subject recently discussed – but I think it’s very important and wanted to bring it to the consideration of you all.

    This was sent around to the managers and supervisors of our agency by Keena Jones, one of our Leadership Academy graduates. It was sent to her by carrotculture@carrots.com . It’s a very good analysis of effective praise in the workplace in general and how it pertains to generation Y specifically. I thought you might like to see it, in the chance that you weren’t already aware of it.

    I’ve known for some time that managers and supervisors are particularly unskilled in the use of praise and recognition, and that includes us in state government especially. In this day of budget uncertainties and abnormalities, a mechanism that can improve motivation, work production, and morale, among an array of other positive results, is absolutely essential. Especially in light of the fact – and this is a big advantage – it costs virtually nothing ! Except, perhaps the time it takes to learn to skillfully use the technique and then put it into practice. Few management training programs even address this subject, let alone treat it with any real importance. I believe that needs to change.

    Here it is…..

    “A generation of over-praised young workers are entering the workforce. Do you know how to manage them? Millennials or Generation Y (born between 1979-1995) have been over recognized throughout their adolescent years. Not only has the volume of praise heaped upon them increased significantly from previous generations, but the vehemence of the praise has risen as well. They’ve been told they aren’t just smart, but gifted; not just pretty, but drop-dead gorgeous. They’ve been praised for being special, for trying hard, even for showing up.The result? The group, as whole, has been trained to focus on themselves and what will best serve their needs. Some pundits have called this generation the most “narcissistic” on record. Not a popular opinion with our younger readers, we’re certain, but it’s an increasingly pervasive one. What does all this mean? The hard truths for both sides:

    For the emerging workforce: The boss isn’t mom or dad and doesn’t have time to praise you 24/7. When he or she does offer a sincere thank you, let it take you further than it would have when you were younger. And when they do offer constructive criticism, don’t get offended. Respect your manager’s opinions. At this point in your career you should be seeking out honest feedback and, when hearing it, you should work to get better.

    For managers: Your younger workers are going to demand more recognition than you may have been used to giving, and if you ignore them you’ll probably lose them. It’s that simple. Just make sure it follows our formula outlined in The Carrot Principle: It should be Frequent, Specific and Timely.Let’s go through each, starting with frequent praise.

    Gallup’s research shows that for employees to feel valued and committed to a workplace, they need to receive some form of recognition every seven days. Counting just workdays, that’s 35 times a year. However, that doesn’t mean you’ll be handing out iPods every week. Employees are also interested in verbal reinforcement of their work. Managers who earn the most trust and dedication of their people do so with many simple, yet powerful actions: writing a sincere note of thanks, sending a food basket to the home of an employee, highlighting a team member’s performance in a staff meeting, doing their least favorite task for a day, sending an e-card of praise to an employee and copying your boss, and so on.

    Next, in addition to being frequent, recognition must be specific.

    Non-specific praise is disheartening for an employee, especially younger workers, since it implies that their manager has no idea of the unique value they bring to the team. Many managers who offer this type of general praise may think they are rewarding the entire team with comments such as, “Thanks, everyone, for all your hard work,” or “You all make me proud.” But such general praise has no effect, and has even been shown to have a negative impact on those in your charge.

    Finally, recognition should be timely to the action. After all, that’s whole point of calling it “day-to-day” recognition. It’s frustrating for our people when they do something great and hear no praise. To be recognized days, weeks, or even a month later is of some reward, but honestly, in 99 percent of cases a manager will forget if she puts it off. If we want to reinforce the right behaviors, we must reward them in a timely fashion.Money is important to twentysomethings, but it’s not as important if the work’s not enjoyable and exciting. Managers have the opportunity to retain this zealous and enthusiastic generation of workers by recognizing the behaviors that drive the organization forward. A win-win for all.Today’s Carrot A Day – The Art of the Compliment

    The Wall Street Journal’s recent article, “The Most-Praised Generation Goes to Work,” offers several guidelines to praising younger workers.

    Limit the adjectives: Saying “you’re wonderful” may lift someone for a few minutes, but great bosses provide specific reasons why, such as, “The statistics you used in your presentation really drove home your point. It got everyone to pay attention. Nice work.”

    Don’t “mass-market” your praise: A well-crafted email of praise to an employee is great, but sending a mass email of praise to a hundred underlings is next to useless. If everyone gets a pat on the back, no one feels special.

    You have no choice: Younger employees can be disgruntled, or you can give in and praise and recognize them and get more out of them. It’ll only take a few minutes a day, but the resulting gains in morale, productivity, and retention will be well worth your time.”

  • It is interesting to think about the support networks for leaders. We don’t often take the time to think about who has the ear of the leader and how that person or persons words and actions help or hinder. More often we simply think about the leader as this sole entity out there who ‘does onto’ others. Also interesting is to watch, often helplessly, as our States ‘leaders’ work on the budget issues. True leaders not only take the time to strategically analyze and debate and negotiate and work toward sculpting the best solution for the citizens of Michigan; but, true leaders, also look all the way through the issue to the resolution phase and identify how they want to behave through the issue to the other side. So that when all is said and done the leader isn’t looking back with regret in terms of behavior, comments and ethics, but rather looking back and reflecting on the process and being proud of the efforts, the leadership and the focus that facilitated an effective resolution. So, the question then comes back to each of us. Sometimes we are the leader and sometimes we are the support network for a leader; How can we in each of these roles better work with the support that is available and help move, what sometimes feel like polar opposites, closer together. Back to politics….because ‘it ain’t over yet’ it is certainly time to think about, if you haven’t already, how can we as citizens provide the support our leaders need to get the work done that needs to be done and while doing that don’t just see ‘to it’ see ‘through it’.

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