A Simple Strategy to Defeat Destructive Platitudes
Destructive platitudes work at the beginning of the day and sting at the end. “Do what makes you happy,” is my favorite. Feel free to include two other winners. “Do what feels good,” and, “If it feels good do it.”
Eating Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups makes me happy until it makes me sick.
If I knew what made me happy, I’d do it. The trouble is I’m not smart enough to know what makes me happy. Compound the issue with deceptive emotions and I’m doomed.
“Things that feel good end in sadness and things that feel sad end in happiness,” is better than, “Do what feels good.”
How to defeat destructive platitudes:
Do what feels good at the end of the day.
In the morning junk food feels good. In the evening a balanced diet feels good. Choose to feel good at the end of the day, not the beginning.
Destructive platitudes promise happiness and deliver sadness.
7 Things that feel good now and feel bad later:
- Sleeping in.
- Driving to the donut shop instead of the gym.
- Avoiding tough conversations with toxic employees.
- More butter.
- Yelling at the boss. Emotional outbursts feel good in the morning and embarrassing at the end of the day.
- An extra beer or three.
Doing the right thing feels good at the end of the day.
- Speak the truth with kindness. It might make you feel sick at first. Do it anyway.
- Work hard. Drifting insults your talent.
- Avoid procrastination. Action feels better than avoidance.
- Ask hard questions with openness. Vulnerability pays dividends.
- Practice humility. Arrogance feels good in the morning and stinks at the end of the day.
What destructive platitudes seduce leaders into destructive patterns?
How can leaders live with the end of the day in mind?
10 Stupid Things Smart Leaders Do
12 Things Smart Leaders Don’t Say
Why Really Smart Executives Do Really Stupid Things (WSJ)
Well, Dan, you have done it again. I have a very difficult meeting coming up today. I lost sleep over it last night, going over what I might say and how I might say it. But today I will “speak the truth with kindness,” “ask hard questions with openness,” and “practice humility.” Thank you for your very timely words.
I wish you well. And thank you for your kind words.
This is such a great perspective and something to live by each day. I am adding this to my personal and parental advice buckets. Thank you Dan!
Thanks TS. Much appreciated. Now if I can just live by it.
Good insight Dan. Any suggestions on the list of thinks that you have to do that don’t make you happy when you think about them, don’t make you happy while you do them, and still make you unhappy even after they’re done?
Interesting question Mitch. There are some things that fit into the category of being happy that they’re over. Then there are some things that just feel like crap regardless. I wonder how much of work can make us miserable and still be able to say we enjoy work.
Then there’s the problem that some people don’t have options. They need their job to put food on the table, so they do stuff that makes them unhappy. I suppose you could say that putting food on the table is the point of happiness that motivates them to do things that make them unhappy. Or paying bills.
It seems reasonable to try to stop doing things that make us miserable if we can. (Unless the things that make us miserable are moral imperatives like don’t kill, steal, or lie.) When not killing makes us miserable then we should endure misery.
Related guiding question:
> “What would the person you want to become do?”