Actions <- Attitude <- Atmosphere
(A person's actions are influenced by their attitude,
which is influenced by their atmosphere.)

Managers of old often believed that they could control their subordinates by controlling their actions. People were not given options as what to do, they are told exactly what to do, how and when. Sometimes they were called masters, and the employees were called slaves. Some of these dinosaurs are still around today. It is also important to understand that for some people, that are not ready to grow on their own, this is the only valid approach. I believe that people in certain institutions must be 'cared for' in this way, but these are people that are very far from what we would consider 'healthy'.

Some of the more modern managers consider themselves enlightened (today the word is 'educated' or 'politically correct', though once it was 'civilized') enough to know that one should not control another's actions in a free country, so they go for control of attitude! Yes, they will praise you for having the right attitude, or correct you for having a bad attitude.

The problem is that it is possible to have an emotionally bad day that is very productive, and have an emotionally great day that is not productive. Attitude doesn't always relate to short-term performance, and good actors and actresses can fake it. America is not the only country that has many good actors and actresses. Some of them are in the entertainment business! Besides, whenever I was told I had a bad attitude, the person was unable to give me constructive feedback on what they meant, or on what I needed to change. Usually, they meant that I didn't respect them, and I took that to mean that they hadn't yet earned my respect. I was a tough nut to crack.

Neither of these approaches to dealing with people is as effective as focusing on controlling the atmosphere in which people work. Consider the farmer, who plants seeds, but has no power to make them grow! The only option to the farmer, and it is a very laborious option, is to optimize the known conditions for growth, at all times.

That's why the farmer plows, and sows, and waters, and covers in times of frost, and checks soil acidity and so on and so on. The farmer works very hard to: learn about, create, optimize and maintain the conditions optimal for growth.

The farmer can not control the amount of rain fall, but the farmer can try to compensate for it. The farmer can not control outside air temperatures, but can try to compensate for them. The farmer learns what conditions are best, and then as much as possible, keeps the crop under those conditions. That makes sense to all of us.

Guess what, the wise manager does the same thing. When the manager's people are under a frost, or being drenched and flooded, or being scorched, the wise manager tries to compensate for the conditions, so that the people may flourish.

Just as the farmer doesn't doubt the crops ability to grow, neither does the manager doubt the ability of the subordinates to meet their challenges. Remember that the farmer does get rid of crop that has spoiled, so should the manager.

By the way, the sweetest oranges and other citrus fruits get that way only after they have been through a frost or two. Some of the most humane people I know have also been through a frost or two.

In summary: It is a short-sighted way to influence actions by working on them directly, especially if these are people that are capable of growth.

It is a more enlightened method to work on a person's attitude, though extremely difficult to give quality direction and feedback, knowing that attitude controls actions, and if the attitude changes, the actions will also change.

Even better is to gear one's own efforts on another's atmosphere. Work on the atmosphere, the environment in which the person works and thinks, and this will, in time, influence the person's attitude, which will in time influence their actions. Why do so few do this? Because they are too impatient and overly concerned with short term results instead of long term gains. Their faith in people doesn't match their focus on visible results. Thus spiritual directors often have a better grasp of how to truly be of value than many coaches and counselors and managers.

Do you love people? Then trust that they have the ability to grow into their destiny, learn the conditions best for their growth, maintain those conditions in your relationship with them, and be patient about harvest time.