Hello SOTGC community,
Today I’d like to introduce you to an amazing leadership development specialist, author, and lady. Cy Wakeman is the author of “Reality Based Rules Of The Workplace” which is a book on understanding your organizational value, as well as how to increase both your happiness at work. This book was referred to me by one of my mentors at Medtronic Advanced Energy when I reached out to him to ask how can I improve?
What I love about Reality Based Rules is that it’s a “no nonsense, no one is a victim, cut the bull shit and decide to make a change” type of book. Her values and lessons are not only practical and easily implemented in your work life, but can GREATLY help with interpersonal relationships and enhanced communication overall. How did I get this interview? Well I started tweeting her fabulous quotes and when she responded, I asked for it. This is yet another example of Cy’s willingness and true desire to help. I hope you enjoy and get benefit from this interview, and if you aspire to climb the corporate ladder, to be a leader in the community, or even start an entrepreneur venture, I highly recommend her book and the lessons found within it.
Me: Everyone has to have their “AHA moment” before they will be open and able to accept that they need to make an internal change, and that the problem is within instead of due to someone else. You say in your book “if you want to move toward a compelling vision for your future, you need to start from a place of pain.” What was your AHA moment?
Cy: Mine truly did come from a place of pain. In college I was a star student. I got a Presidential Scholarship and excelled in class, but I found myself in a really bad relationship. In fact, my choices had led me to the point where I was homeless, living in a tent next to a lake. After blaming everyone else for treating me so poorly and feeling quite the victim, I came to the realization that if I wanted something different, I was going to need to stop praying for my circumstances to change and pray instead for me to change – my approach, my mindset, my viewpoint, and ultimately my choices.
My second AHA moment was when I was becoming a leader in my company. I was being sent to these leadership workshops and at the same time practicing in the field of psychology. I found that what they were advising us to do…was completely against what is recommended by psychology…and what really worked. I had been teaching my clients simple rules that made sense to me, and that I could actually see working. I began to use these same suggestions with my employees. The first time I got to really implement these rules on a big scale to see how effective they were was when I worked for a large healthcare organization and was in charge of turnarounds and new projects. What I found was that the accountable people loved me and were happy. The others either complained about me or flat out quit. At first my company was worried and wanted to raise my engagement scores with the unaccountable people. But I believe, the people who quit, needed to for the health of the company.
Me: Please explain to the readers how you came up with the equation Your Value = Current Performance + Future Potential – 3X Emotional Expensiveness
Cy: I started my career in sales and even though I was one of the top reps, if truth be told, I was also one of the most expensive to the company. In fact, if they had done better math they would have realized that I actually lost them money on each of my deals because of how “expensive” I was. Companies are now finding that measuring people strictly on performance is bad math because customers rate the company on value. Current performance is delivering results today for the company but if you aren’t growing and developing and preparing for the changes to come, your value is not sustainable. To ensure a positive future potential score you need to constantly improve, learn, and proactively get ready for the upcoming requirements that will be added to your job. Ask yourself this question if you want to know what your value is to your company: “Do I deliver, am I sustainable, and what is my COST to the organization?”
Me: Please explain to the readers what emotional expensiveness is and why it is SUCH a big part of the equation?
Cy: To understand this concept, ask yourself this: “what kind of teammate am I?” A lot of people overvalue technical skills and undervalue teaming skills. Unless you are a solopreneur, you’re in a matrix organization. The rules have changed and things that used to be OK are no longer acceptable. If you cause drama of any sort and bring negativity to the organization…then you are expensive. It’s because of WHAT your attitude does to the team mentality and effectiveness that makes emotional expensiveness 3 TIMES the other two values. Here is the good news, it’s fixable!!!!
Me: I’m not going to lie, when I read your equation and the definition of emotional expensiveness I thought “HOLY COW! I am deep into the red!!!!” How long does it typically take someone to increase their present value and future potential while simultaneously decreasing their emotional expensiveness?
Cy: The most important thing you need to understand is that you don’t have to make up for your past. You can change the course of your present day life in SECONDS and that’s all you have to worry about. You don’t have to change your reputation. The only thing you need to focus on to reduce your emotional expensiveness is to change the moments you are in now. If your goal is perfection it’ll take you forever. If your goal is progress, you can do it in minutes. People are very forgiving if you own up to your mistakes, let them know you recognize what you need to work on, and then move forward to do it. But the key is, be consistent. Don’t just talk about making a change, do it for a few weeks, then throw a fit on the next conference call.
Me: What is the biggest personal obstacle that you think holds a young, ambitious, and passionate person back the most?
Cy: Their ego. When you get in the mindset that you KNOW what is right and HOW it’s supposed to be done, then what you’re doing is judging. Judging does NOT add value. When people realize it’s not acceptable to think “I could do my job if _______ was changed, or if I didn’t have to deal with _______” then they psych themselves out. What they need to understand is, the reality of the situation is that you must succeed despite these circumstances, and so what can I do to make this happen?
Me: What are two lessons you wish you could have learned earlier in life?
Cy: I wish I could have learned, earlier, to be more assertive about my preferences in personal relationships. Not, per say, in a way to try and change peoples’ minds, just to express my thoughts.
Also, today I believe that everything happens for our highest good. I wish I trusted that sooner and didn’t cause myself so much suffering due to the outcomes, instead of learning the lesson from them. You don’t have to orchestrate your life like many women think they do. Work towards your goals, but enjoy the process and be open to the lessons that you need to learn to get to the next level.
Me: What advice would you give to corporettes on the rise, who need to learn how best to match their intentions with what is being perceived by their coworkers and clients? (IE perception is reality and oftentimes when we hear how others perceive us…it’s a total shock)
Cy: The tricky part is making sure you’re getting great, valid feedback that is NOT a projection of the other persons’ “issues or opinions.” Just remember, you are the average of the 5 people you most hang out with…so if advancement is your goal, surround yourself with the top people in your company who do NOT add drama.
Another tip is, sometimes we want to help so much that we often offer more information than is being requested and it looks to others like we’re a bit of a “know it all.” Allow others to come to you and ask for help, instead of just sharing it at will.
Well Cy, thank you for this great advice, for your wonderful book, and for taking the time to chat with me. If you have any questions or want to learn about Reality Based Leadership please visit Cy’s website for questions.
Above: Cy, her husband Rich, and their children