Ever heard of “Theory X & Theory Y”?

First proposed by Douglas McGregor of MIT in 1960, it was one of the most famous management school innovations in business history. It boils down to this: effective managers have an optimistic view of human nature -Theory Y. Ineffective managers think that people are basically unreliable and lazy – Theory X.

investing in wrong thing

And it is widely accepted that a well managed company requires a Theory Y orientation. Who do you work for? If you are having trouble sorting this out, call me.

Often people come to me because they are unhappy at work and have become depressed and anxious because they feel trapped. Sometimes this boils down to their poor self-talk. Other times it relates to the fact that they need their job and cannot realistically make a sudden change. They are actively choosing what is best for themselves and their families at the time, but they don’t tend to recognize this as a positive idea for the here and now.

On the first point, when you talk to yourself, and we all have running monologues going, some of us at 100 MPH, notice if you tend to criticize yourself using words like “I’m such an idiot,” or “Why can’t I ever think of the right thing to say?” Or simply constantly telling yourself you will never get anywhere in this department, company, etc.

A very simple change in your inner dialog can help. Start using your name instead of personal pronouns. Get a little distance on the situation by saying “Tom, you can deliver this presentation. You have done it before.” Notice that the way you speak to yourself is not the way you would speak to a friend or colleague. We tend to be much more punishing with ourselves than others. This is a strategy which brings a little healthy distance from the problem. It is a useful habit to begin, and may buy you time to consider what steps you may need to take to get yourself somewhere else if you work in a negative atmosphere that reeks of Theory X! This amounts to investing in yourself, and viewing yourself as the best long term investment strategy possible.

If you are not investing in yourself first, you may want to reconsider your strategy.


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