Recently, I was talking to my youngest daughter, who is now a wife and mother of three children. I was suggesting how she could help Alix, her daughter, to have a happiness-producing environment. I said, “Have her make some pancakes for her four-year-old brother. She’ll feel a sense of accomplishment, and her brother will also feel great.”That’s a happiness-producing event.

Or, I said, “help Alix bake cookies, and take them to a neighbor. She will be happy to serve; you will be happy with her accomplishment; and the neighbor will be happy with the gift.”

These happiness-producing events don’t need to be something done in faraway places or at the top of the cost scale.

I said, “Or, Alix could paint a picture and take it to great grandmother. Great-grandmother will be thrilled with the picture; she’ll put the picture on the wall. It will mean happiness for great grandma, happiness for Alix, and happiness for you.”

You can sit and wait for somebody to invite you to a party or make a party. Do good things happen from the outside or do you cause them? Am I the only one that causes parties? No. If somebody throws a better one, I go. But if they don’t throw one, I plan one myself. Every day is a happiness-producing event for me. Diane and I create them all over the place.

doctors team

In your teams and organizations, create happiness-producing events, in addition to whatever else you do. In your social and professional interaction with other people, exchange constructive ideas and positive suggestions. Such talk creates a positive feedback loop that has the power of stopping dysfunctional and negative behaviors.

Suppose you have an obnoxious 13-year-old who’s driving you nuts. He’s profane, uncooperative, irresponsible. If you affirm: “I can’t get along with this kid nobody can,” you perpetuate the reality you see today. If your verbal and nonverbal feedback to the kid is negative”You can’t get along with anybody! You’re irresponsible!”the kid will perpetuate those same problems.

So, if you have an obnoxious 13-year-old, you must visualize not what the kid is, but what you want the kid to become: a happy, successful, responsible, cooperative, mature, 25-year-old. Then, when the kid acts like an obnoxious 13-year-old, you say, “Stop it! I won’t tolerate that. You’re much better than that. You’re a much nicer person. I see you as” and then you describe the way you imagine him to be.

See the difference? You establish a positive feedback loop; you feed back not what the kid is, but what you envision him capable of being in the future. You already see him as a nicer, more mature, 25-year old. The kid will reflect back on the spirit and the power of your affirmation, visualize it, and, hopefully, move toward it. In effect, you deny the kid’s present reality and shut it off even if it’s true and create a new reality. In other words, “You are cooperative. You are responsible. You are a nice person. You are pleasant to have around. You are mature and I will not accept less from you anymore.” You can do the same with employees or anyone else you manage and lead.

Why do you and I sometimes treat the people we love the worst? How do you treat your siblings? How do you treat your spouse? How do you treat your parents? How do you treat your closest friends, your closest business associates the people you absolutely rely on the most? Do you communicate to them: “What’s the matter with you anyway? How can you be so dense?” Almost like you expect them to raise their hand and say, “I was hoping you’d ask me that. I never thought you’d give me the chance to tell you.” See how dumb that is? But we do it anyway: “I’ve been meaning to tell you what an irresponsible person I am. I’m sure glad you brought it up again.”

Those closest to us are most vulnerable because they love us. We have their attention, and we know their flaws. If you tell your seven year-old, “You’re the messiest kid I’ve ever seen!” what’s that picture look like when you’re seven? What will the kid affirm with his own self-talk? Cleanliness? Order? No: “I’m the messiest kid he’s ever seen. My dad says so. It must be so.” And what’s the kid going to continue to affirm? “It’s like me. I am messy. Everybody says so.”

great teams

Once that “takes,” they act like the person they believe themselves to be. So now they’ve got to throw their clothes on the floor, or else they’ll feel crazy. Then you come in and you see the clothes scattered all over the place, and you think, “There they are again!” You get the kid and say, “Look at those clothes! This proves it; this is the biggest mess I’ve ever seen!” And the kid thinks, ”I know. I’m good at it. You’ve been telling me I’m the greatest at it for years!”

Because you have tremendous potential, you must become very aware of the power of words and the spirit of intent behind them.Words trigger pictures that bring about emotions. What pictures are we painting when we bring up how incompetent we think somebody is? Does it trigger the constructive change we want in that person or the constructive zone we want in the organization? Absolutely not. It triggers the exact image for tomorrow that we want to move away from today.

Every minute you spend describing to your children, your spouse, your friends and associates, what you don’t want in them, without knowing it you’re helping them perpetuate those very things, especially if they consider you to be the great wizard.

You can set great aspirations and goals, but you need the help and cooperation of others to realize them. The key question is not “How many people do I know?” it’s “How many people can I get to help or join me?” Do you know anybody who’s efficacious who will help you? Developing your credibility, personality, character, and relationships increases the size of your aspiration because you say, “I don’t know how, but I know someone who does, and I can get him or her to help on this one.”

You collect capability around you to bring about end results in places you want to make a difference. As you increase the size of the goal you set, you can’t do it all, but now you have a bunch of people around you who know how.

As you get bigger and better and stronger and bolder, soon you’ll see opportunities in your PTA, your community, your political leadership, your church, or wherever you happen to be. You’ll seek to make a very significant difference.