I recently spoke and conducted One on One Coaching Sessions at the CMAA conference in Miami.  On the flight back to Vancouver I was on the same plane as the President.  You can imagine my excitement of sharing re-circulated air with George W. Pinches and his First lady, Trish.  Yes, I was able to have a chance to catch up with the President of the CSCM.  While speaking with George I was able to catch up, and during our conversation I asked him if he was reading any good books.  He was reading one fiction and one non-fiction.  The non-fiction book was "The Four Agreements" by Don Miguel Ruiz.  He asked me if I'd like to read it.  This book had been recommend to me a few times so I eagerly said yes.  It is a book that has powerful messages and can be read in an hour or two.

Reading this book presented one of the great lessons of the week for me.  The second agreement in the book is to not take anything personally.  As I read about this principle I thought it was such a good lesson for me and also for the people I had coached and spoken to that week.  We as human beings, we as club managers, we as friends and spouses and teammates all too often take things personally.  Right away, I thought of two instances that had happened to me that very week. 

When I coach people I am very good at realizing that the accountability for their success lies entirely with them.  If they choose not to take the action, that's not about me.  Conversely, if they have great gains and great successes that's not about me either.  I've learned the lesson as a coach but as a speaker it was a lesson that I had forgotten.

My first speaking session was in front of over 300 students that were attending the conference.  As I was speaking to these young minds many of them were fixed on me and engaged.  But I couldn't help but notice the six or seven students in the first few rows that were sound asleep.  And although that shouldn't matter it took it personally.   Maybe my message wasn't good enough.  Maybe I wasn't interesting enough.  I must be a pretty bad speaker if they're sleeping!

On the bus back to the hotel from the conference center I was sitting by a young man who praised me for the speech I had just given.  I thanked him for his comments but mentioned that there were a number of people sleeping during the presentation.  He looked at me and said, "I hope you didn't take that personally".  He said, "You see, as students we are here in Miami away from our parents, away from our studies and we have been having fun.  I've had one hour's sleep in the past three days and I think I'm the leader.  The fact that they were sleeping had little to do with you  it meant they needed sleep". 

During my second presentation to approximately 400 to 500 club managers, I was thoroughly enjoying sharing ideas with the mangers and all of a sudden I noticed one manager get out of this seat and leave the room.  Again I took it personally.  Earlier in the presentation I had announced that because the one-on-one coaching sessions that I was presenting were totally booked that we had opened up four new sessions for people on the wait list to sign up.  A few hours later I was in one of those sessions coaching a Club Manager that I had never met before.  He told me he'd been at my presentation and really enjoyed it.  He said, "You were talking to me and about me.  I was so moved, and I don't know if you noticed, but I got up and left in the middle of your speech because although I wasn't on the wait list I had to go down and reserve one of those coaching spots."

When we take things personally it takes away our energy.   Over 400 people were in the room waiting to get a message from me and I gave some of my energy to the one person who was leaving the room.  When we take things personally it can effect how we act toward people in the future.  And the worst part is that often we're wrong about what the action or comment meant.  Have you ever let a few members or a few of your staff take the energy that the majority deserve?

I see this as such a big challenge for Club Managers.  As Club Managers, we are a group of people who love to serve.  We care deeply, we have pride about our competence, and we truly want to deliver the best.  But when someone makes a comment about us falling short of that target or someone doesn't agree with the great new idea we think will work for our club we can begin to take it personally and it can affect our performance in the long run. 

I had coaching sessions in Miami with people who had just recently lost their jobs.  It is so hard not to take that personally. Because it hits us right where we live.  But sometimes it's really not about us.  In the book Don Miguel Ruiz says that if someone says something to you, for example "you're not a good person", the statement says more about them than it does about you.  The statement comes from someone with a different perspective than yours and they are making that statement based on their perspective.  If their perspective is substantially different than yours it's ok to accept that that's the way they feel without taking it personally.

On the other side, if someone thinks you're the greatest person who ever lived that is also coming from their perspective which may or may not coincide with yours and it's equally important to not take that personally.  Allow people to have their beliefs but don't connect your energy to their feelings.  If we are dependent on getting validation from everyone we are in for a rough ride.

Do you take things personally?
Have you ever made the fact that someone disagrees with you mean they don't respect you?
If you have ever lost a job did you worry about what the world would think of you?
Have you ever allowed a few members to change the way you look at the whole membership?
If a staff member did something wrong or failed miserably, did you take it personally?
Do you act as if other people's actions are directed towards you?
If your teenagers leave towels on the floor does that mean they don't respect you?
Are you overly sensitive to what people say or don't say?

I challenge you to take a close look at yourself to see if you are taking things personally.   How is it benefiting you?  How is it getting in the way, changing who you are or taking your energy?

Don't take it personally!

Kevin MacDonald is a principal of Clarity Success Coaching, a practice based in the Vancouver area.  He does one-to-one coaching as well as programs with Management Teams and Employee Groups.  He has served as Club Manager at Quilchena Golf and Country Club and Northview Golf and Country Club, both in the Vancouver area.  E-mail: [email protected] 
Telephone:  1-604-507-1288 Fax 1-604-507-1289.

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Don't TakeThis Personally

by Kevin MacDonald