Protected: Takeaways from “The Art of Possibility” by Rosamund Stone Zander and Ben Zander

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Angry? Identify your unmet needs

Last week I finished reading “Nonviolent Communication – A Language of Life” by Marshall B. Rosenberg and I can’t get it out of my head.

This book has actionable advice that just plain works. I’m going to share a few quotes from the book and explain how I used these tips in my life to transform anger into understanding.

Here’s the quote that stood out the most to me:

“To fully express anger, request full consciousness of your need. In addition, energy is required to get the need met. Anger, however, co-opts our energy by directing it toward punishing people rather than meeting our needs.” – Rosenberg

Last week I was walking back from Campus Center. I was in a great mood. The sun was shining and I had just gotten paid.

As I walked back to work, two men approached me walking in the opposite direction. The thin sidewalk could only fit two people side by side. The two men approached deep in conversation. One of them pointed to the left with his finger and kept it held out. It must have been part of something he was talking about.

“We are dangerous when we are not conscious of our responsibility for how we behave, think, and feel.” – Rosenberg

As they got closer I started to get angry. There wasn’t enough room on the path for them and me. His finger was still pointing in the air. If he kept this up, he’d hit me with it. As they passed they didn’t form a single line. He kept his finger up. I stumbled to the right and had to walk off the path on the grass so I wouldn’t be hit by his finger.

I felt disrespected and angry that I had had to get off the path just so they could continue talking. Then I thought about the book. This was an opportunity to see if it worked.

I started to think about how I could reframe this anger as an unmet need. I felt foolish but I stuck with it. I stayed with the thoughts and searched for the unmet need. What unmet need was I feeling?

I discovered the stupid, silly, embarrassing fact that I needed to feel safe, seen, and respected.

By leaving his finger in the air and forcing me off the path, this man made me feel unsafe because I might get a finger stuck in my face. I felt disrespected by the thought that his conversation was more important than clearing the way for me to safely pass.

“If we find ourselves reacting reproachfully to something we did, we can quickly stop and ask ourselves, what unmet need of mine is being expressed through this moralistic judgment? When we do connect to the need, and there may be several layers of needs, we will notice a remarkable shift in our bodies. Instead of the shame guilt or depression we likely feel when criticizing ourselves for having messed up again, we will experience any number of other feelings.” – Rosenberg

As soon as I thought about it in terms of my needs the anger vanished. The need for blame evaporated.

The goal of this post was to encourage you to reframe the anger you feel into an internal search for your unmet needs.

Next time you start to feel anger, ask yourself what needs are not being met. You might feel foolish for having those needs. But you may also find that the anger goes away when you start thinking in terms of your needs.

Bonus points if you start using this technique on other people. When someone else is angry with you, try to think about it in terms of what unmet needs they have.

Did this post raise some new questions for you. Did you put it into practice? Contact me, I’d love the hear about it.

A brand that positions itself as the hero is destined to lose

In “Building a Story Brand – Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen,” Donald Miller shares the very important, but easy to miss, distinction between heroes and guides. I’ll start off by sharing a story about a company that positioned itself as the hero and failed. Then I’ll talk about how customers are turned off by brands that position themselves as the hero and why. Then I’ll finish by sharing how you can position yourself as a guide instead of a hero.

On March 30, 2015, Jay Z launched the streaming music service Tidal. Tidal differentiated itself from Spotify by stating that the musicians gained a larger share of the revenue from plays on the service. Music super stars Usher, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Madonna, Deadmau5, Kanye West, Jason Aldean, Jack White, Daft Punk, Beyonce and Win Butler joined Jay Z at the press event to announce the service.

At the press conference Jay Z said,

“People are not respecting the music, and devaluing what it really means. People really feel like music is free, but will pay $6 for water. You can drink water free out of the tap and it’s good water. But they’re okay paying for it. It’s just the mindset right now.” – Jay Z

So what happened?

“The crucial mistake: Jay Z failed to answer the one question lingering in the subconscious of every hero customer. How are you helping me win the day? Tidal existed to help the artist win the day, not customers. And so it failed.” – Donald Miller

Making a fine point even finer, Miller states:

“Customers don’t generally care about your story; they care about their own.” – Donald Miller

He goes on to say,

“When we position our customer as the hero and ourselves as the guide, we will be recognized as a trusted resource to help them overcome their challenges.” – Donald Miller

Are you positioning your company or service as the hero? Cut it out. Instead, position yourself as the guide.

“When giving a speech, position yourself as Yoda and your audience as Luke Skywalker. It’s a small but powerful shift that honors the journey of the audience and positions us as a leader providing wisdom, products, and services our audience needs in order to thrive.” – Donald Miller

Why is it so bad to position yourself as the hero? Why do people react so poorly to it? Maybe they see your message as humble bragging? Maybe it turns people off.

“When a brand comes along and positions itself as the hero, customers remain distant. They hear us talking about how great our business is and start wondering if we’re competing with them for scarce resources. Their subconscious thought pattern goes like this: This is another hero, like me. I wish I had more time to hear their story, but right now I’m busy looking for a guide.” – Donald Miller

So how do you position yourself as the guide rather than a hero? Stop tooting your own horn! Instead of talking about how great a company, person, or hero you are, talk about how much your guidance has helped and aided the fights of other heroes. Showcase your successes as a guide and leave the ego medals at home.

“A brand that positions itself as the hero is destined to lose.” – Donald Miller

In the next post I’ll discuss how important stories are to win customers. Contact me if you have any questions.