Monday, April 15, 2013

Do you notice a growing sense of entitlement?

Stress for Success

April 16, 2013

 Is a sense of entitlement a growing problem for you, whether from employees feeling entitled to certain benefits or customers expecting the impossible?

Many would answer with a resounding “yes!”

A sense of entitlement is:
“… a belief that one gets what they want because of who they are vs. what they do. When this rich nation stopped requiring performance as a condition for keeping a job or getting a raise, it created a widespread attitude of entitlement, which destroys motivation, lowers productivity and crushes self–esteem.”  Judith Bardwick author of Danger in the Comfort Zone

The following are some of the symptoms:
·         Self-focused (WIIFM?);
·         Expect others to meet their needs - and w/out appreciation;
o   Pout when their needs aren’t met;
·         Have an, “It’s not fair!” outlook AKA: “It doesn’t satisfy my needs.”;
o   E.g., An employer had to cut costs so stopped providing continental breakfasts for staff meetings. An employee complained, “It’s not fair!” What they really meant was having no breakfast does not satisfy their needs.
·         Focus on what they’re owed vs. what to offer;
o   Often leads to anger and resentment;
·         Past accomplishments should earn on-going benefits;
o   E.g., “I’ve been here 20 years and deserve a raise.”
·         Self-admiration;
·         Excessive blaming and complaining about what they don’t like; 
o   Gossip to others about their complaints;
·         Expect and require excessive praise;

The scary prospect is this condition is dangerously close to a very unpleasant psychological diagnosis of narcissism, whose symptoms include:
·         Grandiose self-importance;
·         “I’m special!”
·         Exaggerate achievements, talents;
·         Unrealistic fantasies of success, beauty, etc.;
·         Arrogant, haughty;
·         Unreasonable expectations of favorable treatment;
·         A SENSE OF ENTITLEMENT;         
·         Other symptoms below in table;

Researchers of this growing social phenomenon are calling the watered-down version of narcissism, “Normal Narcissism (NN).” Symptoms are less obvious with a definitive difference between NN and diagnosable narcissism is that true narcissists don’t care much about relationships. They lack empathy.

Normal narcissism seems to be afflicting more and more Americans.
“As we Americans have prospered … we have lost sight of what made us great. We have become … soft and have created more and more entitlements that allow us to have smaller lives focused on day-to-day satisfactions … that are, in the great scheme of life, not all that compelling. ” Brad Hams, author of “Ownership Thinking”

Not only is the spread of NN bad for us individually, it is very damaging to team work. The “we’re in this together,” becomes “everyone looks out for #1.” Traits of NN are the opposite of what is needed to effectively work as a team. Here are just some of the negative consequences on team work:
  • Leads to conflict;
  • Those afflicted are less likely to:
    • Empathize with others;
    • Share credit & reciprocate (a small pie mentality: if you get something positive there’s less for me);
    • Give others a break (more judgmental);
  • Confuses hard work with accomplishment;
    • “I worked hard on this and deserve a promotion!”
  • Expect more and more:
o   E.g. Close earlier and earlier for holidays;

Normal narcissism is also not good for our country. Compare our founding values with those of NN:
  • American founding values:
    • Strong work ethic, religious freedom, equality, “can-do” attitude, pursuit of innovation, self-reliance, frugality, etc.
    • Get things done vs. admire yourself;
  • NN values:
    • Self-admiration;
    • Self-expression;
o   Self-promotion;

In the next couple of articles we’ll explore the causes of this growing mentality and ideas to minimize it and to encourage better team work.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Be grateful for Spring!

Stress for Success

April 2, 2013, Week 430

Here’s a stress truism: you find what you look for. If you’re an optimist you’ll look for and find evidence of how great the world is. If you’re a pessimist you’ll look for and find the opposite. If you believe most people are sexist or racist, you’ll find evidence of it, even where it doesn’t exist.

This has huge implications for your stress level since stress is in the mind of the beholder. If you believe that life treats you unfairly, you will find plenty of evidence --- even where none exists. Your life will be more stressful than others who have the exact same stress (if that’s even possible) but who focus much more on what they’re grateful for in their lives.

What are you grateful for? Here’s a few things on my list:

• Southwest Florida traffic will soon return to normal (largely) after a very, very busy tourist season. I’m also enormously grateful that the season was so successful for area businesses.

• Our fall/winter/early spring have been absolutely gorgeous. The weather could not have been better – for me at least.

• Spring’s renewal is visible everywhere. OK the allergens are also thick but the beauty of freshly re-leafed trees and plants is reassuring.

• The Great Recession seems to be receding more and more into our collective memory.

• Even though summer is not my favorite time of year, I’m looking forward to the awesome Florida rains to nourish my husband’s and my newly planted trees and hedge. You can almost see them growing daily.

When you’re grateful for a myriad of things, it puts your focus onto the positive. Don’t get me wrong, positive thinking alone is limited in reducing your stress. But true gratefulness does balance, therefore reduce, stress. Gratefulness helps you put things into perspective. Yeah, you may have a cranky co-worker to tolerate every day but it’s gorgeous outside!

In other words, your entire life doesn’t have to be brought down by stress. There is so much to be grateful for.

Plus, when you focus on what you appreciate, you bring more of that into your life. (Obviously this isn’t a 100% or we’d be living in spring-like weather year-round.) For example, if you appreciate your partner’s considerate nature you’re more likely to notice when he’s considerate and less likely to notice when he’s not.

To practice gratefulness:

• Daily, upon awakening or before falling asleep at night, review the little and big things for which you are genuinely grateful: from your good health to waking up to birds singing. It’s a wonderful way to start or end your day.

• Practice gratefulness before your family evening meal by saying what you appreciate today.

• When you complain about anything, consciously look for something about it for which you could be grateful. For example, if you catch a cold be grateful for not catching it while you had guests visiting. (If you jump to, “They gave me the cold,” you’re missing my point.)

• Thank someone who has done something you appreciated. Make it a genuine expression of how you feel.

To lighten your heart be grateful and count your blessings. The more grateful you are the more you’ll be aware of the good things you already have.

And stop and smell the roses on a daily basis. Appreciate the small things in life, the beautiful things around you, the people you love; all help to balance the stress in your life. Happy Spring!

Jacquelyn Ferguson, M. S. is an international speaker and a Stress and Wellness Coach. Order her book, Let Your Body Win: Stress Management Plain & Simple, at Email her to request she speak to your organization at