This model sets out two ways we relate to circumstances: we react to them, which we call being Below the Line or we generate our responses despite the circumstances, which we call being Above the Line.
Below the LineFrom Below the Line, we experience life as if it is happening To Me. Something happens, we are triggered and we react. Our reactions are automatic and often full of emotion. Below the Line, we feel fear, anger, depression, frustration, overwhelm, resignation, and cynicism. Sometimes we may feel positive emotions such as happiness but, like our negative feelings, our positive ones are triggered reactions to circumstances.
There is nothing wrong with being Below the Line. Most of us live from there quite often. The trouble is that when we are Below the Line we have given up our power, our ability to make choices and to influence the results - to the circumstances.
Below the Line responses are triggered by emotions, thoughts and behaviours, we generally don’t see any other choices and we feel victims of our circumstances.
Above the LineAbove the Line, we experience life as: I make life happen. We refer to this as By Me.
Above the Line is where we go when we generate what we are committed to no matter what the circumstances are. When we are Above the Line we feel our resolve, we connect to our compassion, we practice generous listening, kindness, empathy, power, care, we are relaxed, self-expressed, we feel joy etc.
The gateway for moving from Below the Line (To Me) to Above the Line (By Me) is responsibility – choosing to take responsibility for what is occurring, letting go blame and opening through curiosity to learn what life has to teach us.
Shifting from Below to Above the LineThere are three basic steps
- Become aware of where you are right now – Below or Above the Line?
- Ask yourself: Am I willing to shift?
There may be times when nothing much is at stake and you are perfectly fine staying in reaction or Below the Line. There may be other times when you know you will be more effective and more likely to create the outcome you want if you shift. One of the biggest challenges to being willing to shift is deciding what is more important to you: being right or getting your outcome. If you decide to shift there are five common ways of moving Above the Line.
- Go back to what you are committed to
- Remind yourself what you are committed to the kind of person you want to be and the outcomes you want to accomplish.
- Ask yourself whether staying Below the Line will serve this purpose?
- Remind yourself that you have options and ask: what choices do I want to make?
- Change your perspective
- If what is happening is not personal then what do you see?
- If there is nothing wrong with you, them or the situation what do you see in this?
- What else is here?
- Take a few moments to look at the situation from 3 perspectives: what is your position, what is their position and what is the position from the balcony seat?
- Ask yourself: what do I have to have faith in myself, others and the situation?
- Notice the future scenarios you are imagining and remind yourself that you have handled this kind of thing before and can handle whatever comes up.
- Get physical
- Remind yourself there is no urgency here. You can take your time to decide what you choose to do?
- Notice you are Below the Line and take 3 deep breaths. Allow your breathing to drop down. Feel the calm that is waiting for you.
- Go for a walk and create a bit of distance and space.
- Get curious
- Ask open questions of the other person. This buys you some time to unhook from your reaction and helps you understand and reconnect with the other person.
- Listen at a deeper level: listen for their concerns: are they worried about looking good, being liked, being right/wrong, whether you agree/disagree.
Checklist of Below the Line Behaviours
That’s me Check
That’s me Check
That’s me Check
|Blaming||Being sarcastic||Making assumptions|
|Withdrawing||Getting confused||Feeling misnderstood|
|Gossiping||Getting righteous||Getting tired|
|Spacing out||Ignoring||Watching too much TV|
|Trying too hard||Shopping||Treating interpretations as if they are facts|
|Whining||Obsessive organizing||Checking my phone|
|Facebooking (or other social media)||Cleaning||Looking “interested”|
Sources of Influence
Leader’s questions to explore this source of influence
|Personal Motivation||Do the staff enjoy the task, work that I want to motivate them to do? How can I tap into this?|
|Personal Ability||Can they do it? If they take this on can I assist them in experiencing some success from the beginning?|
|Social Motivation||Do others in the workplace encourage them to enact the wrong behaviour? Or, do others encourage the behaviours I want to motivate?|
|Social Ability||Do others enable the behaviours I am looking for?|
|Structural Motivation||Do rewards and sanctions encourage staff in the direction I am trying to motivate them?|
|Structural Ability||Does our workplace environment enable staff to move in the direction I am trying to motivate them?|
- Record 3 good things that happened over the day.
- Why did each good thing happen?
- What does each mean to you?
- What can you do tomorrow to enable more of this?
- What ways did you and others contribute to this good thing?
The chart below summarizes this evolution in what motivates us.
The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us
|Motivation 1.0 Biological||Motivation 2.0 External||Motivation 3.0 Intrinsic|
|Basic Drive||To survive, satisfy our basic biological needs||To seek rewards and avoid punishment||To be autonomous, self-determined& connected To do things that are interesting, challenging, and absorbing|
|Belief||Humans are driven by their basic urges||Work is not inherently enjoyable. You have to coax people to do it with external rewards and punishments||Work is often creative, interesting and self-directed; People seek engagement & responsibility|
|Suited to||Survival, emergencies||Routine & repetitive work. Work that has a single pathway to one conclusion. Short term spike in performance||Work that is non-routine & requires invention, creativity & devising new solutions|
|Limitations||Does not support working in complex social systems||Undermines intrinsic motivation Rewards tend to narrow our focus & limit creativity Fosters short-term thinking & shortcuts||Can be negatively affected by rewards since they undermine our sense of autonomy. May require shifts in management approaches|
|How leaders can create settings to encourage this||Threaten Harass Be unethical, arbitrary, overly controlling||Reward behaviour you want/discourage behaviour you don’t want Use rewards rationally, fairly Carefully monitor employees Provide structures, goals, timeframes, measures||Focus on meeting 3 needs: Autonomy – the desire to be self-directed. Mastery – to get better at what you do. Purpose – to be part of something larger than yourself.|
Six Lessons in How to Cultivate Motivation 3.0The following six lessons are ways to reinforce a sense of mutuality with your employees, not to control your subordinates but instead to engage, empower and motivate them to contribute their knowledge and experience.
Your interpersonal behaviour is the difference-maker between being great and near-great!
- Be modest
- When interacting with employees don’t try to prove yourself
- Prove to your employees not that you have a record as a problem-solver but that your ideas and advice can help them.
- Share both your successes and failures/mistakes
- If you really don’t have to add an edit, correction or comment, don’t; ask yourself: does my desire to do this come from my desire to be of value or is it really needed for the quality of the work
- Listen seriously and show it
- In meetings with employees make notes of their suggestions
- Move away from your computer, put blackberry aside when having discussions with employees
- Invite disagreement
- Tap into their expertise
- Solicit their advice
- Focus the agenda
- Set time limits on discussions
- Open meetings up to discussion but structure them
- Don’t try to have all the answers
- Don’t feel you have to come up with solutions on the spot
- See yourself more as a catalyst
- Don’t insist that a decision must be made
- Don’t jump in to make a decision if it isn’t being made
- People may think you have made up your mind in advance
- Don’t rush to impose a decision
Source: What Got You Here Won’t Get You There by Marshall Goldsmith
The Four mechanisms for jump-starting 3.0 motivation
- Provide decision-making discretion
- Share information
- Minimize incivility
- Offer feedback
Leaders are more effective in providing positive feedback and appreciation when they do so in the language style that means the most to the other person. Below are the Five Languages of Appreciation as described in the book, The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman.
#1 Words of Affirmation
If this is your language of appreciation, you feel appreciated from:
- Words of appreciation
- Words of thanks
- Kind words even when someone is expressing a complaint
- Humble words such as someone making a request versus making a demand
- Being affirmed by others even when you aren’t there
- Someone emphasizing what is strong or positive about you
- Email saying you did a good job
- Being told your extra effort is acknowledged
- Being told you are a valuable member of the team
- Being told your innovative ideas are appreciated
#2 Quality timeIf this is your language of appreciation, you feel appreciated from:
- Undivided attention from others
- Others doing something with you
- Quality conversations focused on listening to you and having discussions that show an interest in shared understanding
- Quality activities experienced together
- Communicating with you in person versus by email
- People stopping in to check in with you
- Having coffee together
- Having regular meetings
- Taking you to lunch
- Being there for meetings with you and not cancelling or missing the meeting
- Individual time with the boss
#3 Receiving GiftsIf this is your language of appreciation, you feel appreciated from:
- Receiving gifts that show the other person thought of you
- Gifts of self – others being there for you, such as attending a presentation you are giving
- Gifts in the form of information, such as an article on a topic of interest to you or a debrief from a higher level meeting
- Giving something to you that shows they were thinking of you i.e. bringing your favourite treat to a meeting
- Being able to attend a training session or conference
- Being able to make adjustments to your work schedule that you have requested
#4 Acts of ServiceIf this is your language of appreciation, you feel appreciated from:
- Others providing help
- Someone booking a meeting room for you
- Someone cleaning up a work space for you
- Someone hand delivering material you need
- Someone setting up a social event
- Help when your work load is high
#5 Appropriate Physical TouchIf this is your language of appreciation, you feel appreciated from:
- A hand shake
- A pat on the back
- A high five
- In special circumstances a hug i.e. at retirement party, announcement of a wedding, or a personal situation where you would like some comfort
To find out your preferred language(s) of appreciation:
- Observe what you do for others.
- Observe what you request of others.
- Listen to your complaints.
- Ask yourself: what do others do that hurts you the most? The opposite will often be your preferred language of appreciation.
- When you notice that you are feeling stressed. Slow things down by taking 3 deep breaths. Try to pay attention only to your breath. Count to 3 as you breathe in and 3 as you exhale.
- Each time the phone rings take a breath before answering.
- As you sit down at the table for a meeting take a deep breath and connect with yourself in the moment.
- When you are stopped at a Red light use that time to connect with your body and deliberately slow down your breathing.
- Take a short break every 90 minutes during your day. Build these into your agenda. During the short pauses connect to your body, how you are feeling and bring your attention to your breath.
- To become more aware of your pace and its effect try walking at different speeds.
Notice the speed with which you normally walk during the day. Then vary it. When going to a meeting or visiting a colleague walk at 75%. When going to the rest room slow down to 50%. At all speeds connect to any tension in your body and relax it while attend to your breathing. Try using slower speeds more often during the day particularly when heading to a demanding meeting.
- When you are planning, plan. When you are in a meeting be in the meeting.When you are in a conversation with someone be in speaking and listening. Whatever you are doing be in each thing in the moment.
- No multi-tasking.
- When moving from one activity to another, bring your attention to stopping the previous activity, moving toward the next one, and entering fully into the new activity. As a reminder of these steps say: STOP, CHANGE, START as you move through them.
- When you are in meetings notice when your attention starts to wander.Bring your attention back to the here and now. You may do this by changing your self talk: ask yourself what else is here that I have not been noticing up to now? Or give yourself permission to listen expecting to be surprised.
- Practice a can-do attitude. Each time you encounter a problem assume the solution exists and your task is to discover it.
- Bring your attention to the stories you tell yourself about the future i.e. where a project is going or how someone is likely to react to a request you are planning to make. Identify the kind of story you are telling yourself. If your stories tend to be about all the things that could go wrong remind yourself that a positive story is just as possible and tell yourself the positive version of the same scenario.
- At the beginning of each day set an intention for the day. During the day notice when you have drifted from your intention and remind yourself what the intention was. Observe whether there are patterns in the kinds of people or events that move you closer or farther from your intentions. Keep track of when your intention influenced your day.
- At the end of each day identify 3 things you are grateful for from your day.
- What is one thing I did well today?
- What is one thing I received today?
- What is one thing I trusted today?
- What did I stay open to today?
- What did I say yes to today?
Accepting means we have to let go – let go the one who is worried, angry, indignant, or self- berating.
There are three steps to shifting from resisting to accepting and creative engagement.
Relax –The first step is physical. Resisting always is accompanied by a tension in the body. So the first step is to drop that tension by exhaling and dropping down in the body toward your centre or lower abdomen. Breathe deeply. The key to cantering is to get out of your head, and allow tension in the upper body to drop away. The more cantered and relaxed you are, the more completely you can take the next step.
Enter –To enter is to merge with what is going on in a completely relaxed state. It is not a tentative dipping of one’s toe into the water, but instead a complete immersion. Acknowledge any resistance that might come up such as fear, anger, and confusion.
To enter is to become part of the situation. If you imagine the flow state you enter when doing one of your favourite activities, you can get a sense of how total entering lets you disappear into an activity.
Add Value –Having fully entered, take action and add your value to the situation.