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  • Peter Bouloukos

Cheshire Cats in a Tree?

One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire Cat in a tree. "Which road do I take?" She asked. His response to the question: "Where do you want to go?" "I don't know," Alice answered. "Then," said the cat, "it does not matter."

Trust involves trustworthiness. In order for someone to trust, you must be confident, consistent and trust yourself. Good intentions never compensate for bad judgement. It's a sad fact, but "perception" can become a false reality if you are not true and consistent at core. In my humble experience, "perception" is a tricky concept to both understand and attempt to master. “And how do you know that you're mad? "To begin with," said the Cat, "a dog's not mad. You grant that?" I suppose so, said Alice. "Well then," the Cat went on, "you see a dog growls when it's angry, and wags it's tail when it's pleased. Now I growl when I'm pleased, and wag my tail when I'm angry. Therefore I'm mad.” ― Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass When you change the way you view a problem perhaps the entire perception of reality can change if you are aware and open to it.

People need a model in life to visualize how they might work and lead in a different way. People need a leader to help show them which road to take and how they can look at a problem or a situation from outside of individual life story. It is difficult for people to do something breaking from current habits and different from the culture of the organization they work in. Furthermore, it's tough for any human being to see outside of a reality they have come to define-complete with all of the good and bad references experienced in a happy or sad life story. Now, in the workplace, it is also important for leadership to buy into standards, simple ones like showing up to work on time. Each manager must be consistent with rules, regulations, quality control points and integrity principles. If one person allows an individual to break a rule, big or small, what might you think how others will feel about rules or foundational values? As leaders in the workplace you can't blow an uncertain trumpet because nobody is going to dance.

People are defensive, threatened, and challenged to move or think outside of their comfort zone. Human ego loves comfort! We all want to be validated, trusted, loved and respected for our unique talents and contributions. But some people want their poor life choices to be validated and cancerous habits of complaining, comparing, contending, criticizing and excuse making can quickly infect a corporate culture. Feedback is something everyone needs and it never has to be the final the Cheshire Cat it exists to simply make you think. If you fail to provide consistent modeling and messaging to your team, they will lose sight of what makes work profitable and important. Leadership is creating an environment where people want to be part of the organization, part of the relationship. Leadership is supporting and serving team members without enabling poor choices or habits. Too many so-called leaders become friends with staff and when the question of let's say "absenteeism" arises they make excuses for the employee rather than providing counseling on the importance of something as simple as a schedule. If people slack on one or two basic rules, what do you think they will do when nobody is watching?

Leaders make people "want to" rather than "have to" do it. People want to feel part of something. Most have difficulty understanding how life, and mutual understanding is bigger than oneself. The Cheshire cat asks Alice to "give her mind" to the question, not the specific task. Think about it. Move into that space.

If you want to take the road to the left, or road to the right then do so. Do not be afraid to change. Do not be afraid of a personal challenge. Never lie to yourself and remember trust involves trustworthiness. In order for all of us to trust others, we have to be totally confident in who we are. We have to have integrity. Listen first to understand and then move to be understood. Be certain, and never tell yourself that it will get better without some form of change. Make it happen or move forward, but don't let weaker minds or bad habits poison foundational strengths or any portion of your personal integrity. If you are achieving average results and continue doing the same things, nothing is ever going to magically get better!

Finally, when faced with a tough situation, define personal fears first then ask yourself "Where do I want to go?" If someone or something does not change and you are not perfectly consistent with it, nothing else will ever matter. We are all a product of the choices we make and our habits and thoughts define all decisions. I always say to follow your heart with great passion, but the Cheshire Cat would offer “You just go where your high-top sneakers sneak, and don't forget to use your head.” Originally written March 2, 2006 by Peter Dean Bouloukos

Originally written March 2, 2006 by Peter Dean Bouloukos

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