Years ago, I was working with a dental office team to build stronger relationships by improving communication to impact their team performance and improve customer service. One of the doctor’s continuously said things to the staff that were hurtful and she didn’t realize the impact the negativity was creating in the office environment. One exercise during the retreat was to create core values so all team members would be in alignment of what they felt would take them to the next level as a team. One of the concepts this group shared centered on a white flag.

A white flag is an “internationally recognized protective sign of truce or ceasefire, and request for negotiation. It is also used to symbolize surrender, since it is often the weaker party which requests negotiation. In this office, there was a culture of every man (or woman) for him/herself. The level of excellence adhered to on a daily basis was off the charts and people were afraid to ask for help, because it may make them look weak or incompetent. One of the reasons the doctor snapped at people is because she was stressed, still learning her craft and lacked the human relation skills to connect with her staff as a leader. The staff had not been trained on how to resolve conflict, understand different personality styles and how to ask for help. The white flag core value gave staff members permission to ask for help, and no one would judge, criticize or condemn.

The culture began to improve over time as people committed to live these core values on a daily basis in the office. I thought of this white flag concept, because as leaders it can be very difficult to admit that you are overwhelmed, need help or that life just seems to be super challenging. I recently called my intern from last year and asked if she could begin helping me again with events because I felt my schedule was getting crazy, began to miss deadlines and felt unorganized. I also, transitioned more responsibility to one of my business partners because she is better with attention to details to free up time for me to focus in my areas of strength.

Another friend is rebuilding a business, juggling two other businesses and struggling to focus on anything positive at work or at home. He’s only focusing on what he’s lost in the past and the negative aspects of being overly scheduled and overly tired. My hope is that he will use the white flag core value and ask for help. Focusing on the blessings instead of troubles is a timeless stress and worry principle. In your personal and work relationships, remember that for some making the mindset shift can be difficult because it’s much easier to stay stuck. Be willing to use the white flag core value to ask for help or encourage others to ask for help to be a catalyst for positive change.

White flags are a sign of change, a sign of strength.

Blessings and make it a great day!