A Simple Adjustment Makes a Big Difference
There’s an expression that I’ve found myself using more and more recently when speaking with people, but I don’t think I’ve used it in writing that often.
When I talk about the principles behind much of the work that I do with families, as I try to guide them to prepare for the transition of their business or their wealth to the next generation, I often marvel that things are actually quite simple.
“None of this is rocket science!”, I typically state as some point.
Regular readers may recall that I also like to remind everyone that “simple” is not the same as “easy”.
So this week I want to share a concept that is far from rocket science, that is relatively easy to explain, and that while not necessarily easy to do at first, does get easier with practice.
I’ve been trying it myself since I learned it and can attest to its usefulness.
A Book Recommendation from a Podcast
For the past few years I’ve been serving as one of the hosts of the Let’s Talk Family Enterprise podcast, which continues to be a labour of love for me.
(My Dad used to say “There are only two reasons to do something: Love or Money”. Mystery resolved for the curious.)
One of the standard requests we have for each guest at the end of every episode is for a book recommendation, and I’ve been nicely surprised by most of the responses.
I’ve ordered many of them based on the suggestions of my guests, and enjoyed the vast majority.
And so it was with episode 45 when I spoke with Kristin Keffeler about her book, The Myth of the Silver Spoon, and the book she recommended, Good Inside, by Dr. Becky Kennedy.
I ordered that audiobook from Audible, and listened to it during a car trip.
While I only have one take-away as I reflect back on it, it’s a major one, and it’s the subject of this post, which I’m finally getting to!
People Generally Are Good Inside
The premise of the book is that, generally speaking, people ARE good inside. It can be easy to forget that from time to time, especially when we’re dealing with our own family members.
What the author then suggests is to adopt the MGI method, in order to minimize our over-reactions to situations, especially when we still don’t have all the information around something that has occurred.
And when you think about it, when we first learn about anything, we almost never have all of the information, we typically only have our own, quickly arrived at, perspective.
Kennedy suggests learning to always defer to the Most Generous Interpretation of what you learned.
That’s the MGI, and it sits at the other end of the continuum most of us default to, which is to ascribe the worst imaginable view of what has happened, usually basing this on some assumptions, many of which turn out to be wrong!
Examples in our Own Families
There are many everyday occurrences this applies to, so there are plenty of opportunities to learn to put this into practice.
Years ago I began a daily meditation practice, which continues today, and it has made a similar difference to my stress levels.
Say I come into the kitchen and I see someone left some dishes in the sink. I could simply get angry inside and assume some forgetfulness or laziness on the part of whoever left them there.
Or, I could apply the most generous interpretation to what I see, and say to myself that the culprit got distracted or was in a huge hurry.
If I send a text to a family member and then notice hours later that I am still waiting for a reply, I could assume that they are purposely ignoring me and waiting to reply in order to make me angry.
Or, I could use the MGI method, and tell myself that they must be very busy, and maybe my text arrived at a very inopportune time for them.
Making a Habit of This Practice
It’s a simple mind trick that can become a habit, and that’s the secret to making it work for you.
Any single time you do it is almost irrelevant, like meditating once, or going for a jog once a year.
But as you do this more and more, it can help in keeping you calm.