Learned helplessness is a term coined by the father of positive psychology, Dr. Martin Seligman. If you haven’t read his seminal book Learned Optimism, you’re missing out on some golden nuggets. According to Seligman, learned helplessness is growing to epidemic proportions in our country and it’s kinda like the ultimate “gateway” drug, if you will. Once you begin to tell yourself that you are not responsible for your plight, for digging your way out, and ultimately for yourself, it’s like taking a pill that will quickly have you tumbling down the bunnyhole and landing in victimhood. Seemingly, this village has lots of well worn trails leading in and no roads out. Do not swallow the learned helplessness pill.
We see the effects of this pill all over the world of work, mostly around the relationship between associates and leaders. Very few teammates have learned to help their leader, partner, or even teammate. This is the epidemic of the “I,” and it’s not helping any of us. So, if you find yourself in a place of work where you are earning a paycheck, try changing your mind. Instead of seeing your leader as someone to avoid, work around, play passively with, or placate, see your leader as someone in need of your help. Learn to lead up. Good.
Here’s the short recipe for learning to help your leader. Step one is a big one. Step one is be a solid performer. Nobody listens to the whiner who is barely holding onto his job. Get your stuff together before you open your mouth. Perform. Be a good teammate. Help those around you perform. Be accretive. Now you’re ready to step up. Instead of complaining about your leader, schedule some time to talk. Ask him/her if they want to hear your perspective. If they don’t, you depart. If they do, you speak ccd. If they listen and then go all triple d on you (defend, deny, destroy), you depart. If they listen and ask clarifying questions, you answer them with truth in love. You tell them hard truth because you want both them and your system to learn. Once they’ve got the nugget, you thank them for their time and depart. You rinse and repeat as necessary. You have left learned helplessness and taken up residence in the village of high performers. This village is a place filled with high performing peers. It’s name?
Learntohelpyourleaderville. Where are you taking up residence, friend? Good…