A Hidden Power

Successful Relating
Fulfillment through Connection and Community
Alice G. Vlietstra, Ph.D. Editor

May 2006

In this issue:

1. Welcome
2. A Hidden Power
3. Why is a Code of Honor Important?
4. Guidelines for Forming a Code
5. Announcements
1. Welcome

Welcome. At the heart and soul of successful teamwork, whether it
is personal, family, or business, a Code of Honor exists. It is
deeply ingrained, almost unnoticeable, yet its presence is undeniable.
Great relationships don't happen by accident, there is usually a
common understanding of the rules holding them together.

This is the third of three e-newsletters on the role of a Code
of Honor and values that bring out our best. By the end of this
newsletter, you will better understand the power of a Code of Honor,
why it is important, as well as what is needed to define a code.
Then we will help you discover the adventure of using it.

2. A Hidden Power

In the past e-newsletter, we learned how identifying our strengths
help us bring out the best of ourselves and others. It is the Code
of Honor that helps us transcend our individual pursuits to serve the
common good. When we use our strengths to honor our higher ideals,
we experience a deep sense of inner gratification that comes from
self-mastery in serving a higher purpose.

This gratification is much more enduring and powerful than simple
pleasure. Frequently, we are bombarded with advertising from the
media to purchase items to help us gain pleasure. All too often,
however, the pleasure that results is short-lived and on its own,
is meaningless and empty. By contrast, a much deeper gratification
comes from our relationships with others. When pleasure and
celebration is experienced as part of the teamwork needed to
accomplish a goal, it is much more meaningful and enduring.

The power of an internal code can be seen in a simple experiment
launched by Walter Mischel around 1970. He left a succession of
four-year-olds in a room with a bell and a marshmallow. If they
rang the bell, he would come back, and they could eat the marshmallow.
If, however, they didn't ring the bell and waited for him to come
back on his own, they could have two marshmallows. Note – the children
had a choice; they could go for their immediate personal pleasure,
or they could honor the relationship. This was the hidden power.

In videos of the experiment, the children squirmed, kicked, and
hid their eyes, desparately trying to exercise self-control,
so they could wait and get two marshmallows. Their performance
varied widely. Some broke down and rang the bell within a minute.
Others lasted fifteen minutes.

Follow-up research showed the children who waited longer got higher
SAT scores, were received into better colleges, and on average had
better adult outcomes. The children who rang the bell the quickest
were more likely to become bullies. They received the worst teacher
and parental evaluations and were more likely to have drug problems
at age 32.

What works, says Jonathan Haidt, the author of the "Happiness Hypothesis,"
is creating stable, predictable environments in which good behavior pays
off. Moreover, it improves with practice. Young people who are given a
series of tests that demand self-control get better over time. I would
say, "stable, predictable relationships" pay off, and add that a code
does not need to stifle creativity.

This is the power of honor. In any group situation, it defines
the behavior and performance that pays off for the best interest
of the whole.

3. Why is A Code of Honor Important?

The Code of Honor is the physical expression of a team's most fundamental
philosophies, ideals and goals. It is important because it allows these
values and goals to be reflected behavior by agreed upon rules.

In the absence of agreed upon rules, people make up their own rules.
Often when individuals, cultures and organizations come together they
have a tough time understanding what is important. Then they wonder
why others don't understand their way of doing things. They ASSUMED
the rules were the same. Bad assumption.

One of the easiest ways to avoid upset, misunderstanding, and disharmony
is to make sure everyone is playing by the same rules.

Note that agreement does not result by HAVING a code written down and
tacked up by one person on the wall. A Code of Honor has to be developed
through discussion by all members, agreed upon and taken seriously.
Once agreed upon, the rules are not negotiable or subject to multiple
interpretations. They are fundamental to the success of the team, and
everyone needs to commit to respecting them. For example, in a workshop,
a code can reflect simple agreements such as showing up on time after
breaks and turning off the cell phones.

Developing a Code of Honor creates accountability and a feeling of support.
It is a powerful statement of who we are and what the team stands for.

4. Forming a Code of Honor

My favorite book on developing a Code of Honor is "The ABC's of Building
a Business Team That Wins,” by Blair Singer. He believes the code whereby
one conducts their business is more important than the services provided.
The following is a summary of some of his thoughts.

First, for the success of any team, all members need to clearly understand
the priorities -- mission first, the needs of the team second, and the needs
of the individual third.

Second, the code forms the criteria for drafting people to the team. For example,
one obvious criterion for potential team members is whether they would want to
submit themselves to a code. Other criteria for selection of team members might
include whether they have a high energy level, a desire to win and let others
win, and whether they are personally responsible. A final criterion might be
whether they have unique talents and abilities to contribute. In family businesses,
not all family members may want to be on the business team. An honor code allows
this to be openly discussed. That is OK; they still can contribute to the family
in other ways.

Third, the code allows team members to support each other for optimal performance.
Singer gives the following guidelines in forming a code:

*Create the code in a "sane environment."
*Get everyone involved.
*Isolate recurring behavior that interferes with optimal performance
and discuss what was productive and unproductive and how people felt.
This becomes the basis for creating a code.
*From the discussions, write down rules that support optimal
behavior and performance.
*Be sure the rules are specific and enforceable without ambiguity.
*Don't make too many rules. Stick to fewer than ten.
*When someone breaches the code . . ."call it!"  
A sample Code might include:

*Celebrate all wins.
*Keep agreements.
*Talk to people directly (not behind their back).
*Be on time.
*Be responsible (no laying blame on others).
*Be loyal to the team.
*Be willing to "call" and "be called." 
This is just the beginning of the adventure and gratification that
comes from participating on a team. The next step is becoming
prepared to maintain optimal performance when the pressure is on.
When pressure is on, emotions can run high and disrupt performance.
A Code of Honor helps a group to maintain optimal performance in
situations of change. In the next e-newsletter, we will be learning
the benefits that come from of this kind of growth.

Warm Regards,

Dr. Alice

Resources:

Haidt, Jonathan. "The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in
Ancient Wisdom." NY: Basic Books, 2006.

Singer, Blair. "The ABC's of Building a Business Team That Wins."
New York: Warner Books, Inc., 2004.

5. Announcements

Upcoming Workshop: Life Directions - Finding your focus
in times of transition and change. This is a six-week
workshop beginning June 12 at my office. We will meet every
two weeks. If you are interested, E-mail me for a flyer.

We are getting ready for a fun community event,
"A-Tractor Pull" at the Soul Esteem Center, August
20, 2-5 PM. E-mail me for a flyer.

Copyright 2006 Alice Vlietstra. All rights reserved.

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About Dr. Alice

Alice Vlietstra, Ph.D., formerly of the University of Missouri
St. Louis, was first trained as a researcher in Human Development.
This training provides the integrative developmental focus of her
work. Currently, she works as a family psychologist, coach,
and family business consultant. As a graduate of the
Authentic Happiness coaching program, she is trained
in promoting the positive. As a certified practitioner
of mind-body techniques, AFT and NET, she is also highly
skilled in understanding and releasing our blueprints
from early childhood conditioning. This combination leads
to high-powered strategies for enhancing our well being by
advancing our consciousness.

Alice Vlietstra, Ph.D.
12131 Dorsett Road, Ste. 220
Maryland Heights, MO 63043
314-729-2855 

Newsletter Name: 
Successful Relating