Friendly or hostile?
One of my favorite quotes by Albert Einstein is “The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.”
This fundamental belief drives how we experience our lives, how we make decisions, and how we act. People who believe the universe is hostile look for protection and control. They tend to see others as potential enemies. They expect unwanted things to happen and anticipate daily struggles. On the other hand, people who believe the universe is friendly don’t fear other people’s actions and are more likely to show kindness. Instead of depleting their energy trying to feel safe, they use their energy to support others, collaborate, and create.
What do you believe?
Administrators often underestimate their tendency to expect hostility. They may say they view the world as friendly, but their emotions and actions reveal otherwise. Here are some common examples:
They tend to take personally things that were not personal.
They expect certain people to have bad intentions.
They are more competitive than collaborative.
They seek to control people, projects, and decisions.
They fear repercussions if they make a mistake.
They assume people have hidden agendas.
They expect to be mistreated.
You might think “I don’t do that.” But what about the time you were upset that you weren’t invited to a meeting and you assumed someone thought you weren’t important or clever enough? Or the time you avoided saying something to your boss because you expected her to over-react and punish you, even though she has never given you a reason to believe that is how she would react? Or the time you didn’t get a budget increase you requested and assumed it was because someone less deserving manipulated budget allocations through unethical practices? How often do you get upset because you make assumptions that may be false?
When in doubt, choose friendly
While we can’t deny that higher ed. is highly political and not everyone is friendly, it is critically important to stop making negative assumptions. Attributing negative intentions to people or negative meaning to events makes leader less able to problem-solve and lead.
The next time you get your feelings hurt because of something someone did, give them the benefit of the doubt. In most cases, what people do has nothing to do with you. They do what they think is best at the time, given the information they have, and you may not even be in the picture. So don’t make things personal.
Having a positive perspective on the past is important for you to remain empowered and not let the past taint your present and future. When you create expectations for the future, instead of fearing what you don’t want, define what you do want and invest your time and energy into making it happen.
When you expect good things, trust people rather than try to control them, and lead from a place of inspiration and empowerment, you can accomplish far more than you ever could while expecting hostility.
How can you be friendlier?
Think of ways you can be friendlier and more supportive of your co-workers. How about helping others gain more confidence, helping them advance their projects, and showing trust and appreciation? When your mindset transforms from needing to protect yourself to wanting to help others, everything will change for the better.
You shouldn’t give to others in order to get back, but that’s what is going to happen anyway. People have an unconscious need to reciprocate what they receive and how they are treated. If you make yourself an enemy, they will respond as such, but if you act like a friend, they will be friendly with you too.
There may be one or two people it wouldn’t be wise to trust, I can’t deny that, but these are the exceptions. Most people will reward you when you become less controlling, less competitive, and more empowering and collaborative. Give it a try!
When you choose to drop your weapons and see the universe as friendly, you will feel less pressure and stress. You won’t have to fear the worst and spend all your energy trying to prevent problems. You will no longer feel isolated or unsupported. You won’t fear being taken advantaged of or being underappreciated.
You will be more enthusiastic about coming to work in the morning because you will feel part of something greater than yourself. You will feel more joy and satisfaction from feeling connected, helping others and feeling supported.
Expecting good things to happen will improve your creativity and resourcefulness. You will become a better leader and a happier person. Need help? I am only a phone call away. If you would like to speak with me about working together to feel more empowered, click here to schedule a complimentary call.
About the author: Dr. Audrey Reille has empowered thousands of professionals through one-on-one coaching, group coaching, speaking engagements, online courses, and interviews on international telesummits. Audrey is the go-to coach for leaders in higher education administration. She empowers them to thrive by reducing stress, optimizing strategies, improving professional relationships, and developing a strong and empowered mindset.