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The Boomerang Factor

The boomerang is an instrument originating from the Australian aborigines that is designed to be thrown into the air and then it returns to the thrower of its own volition. The expression Boomerang Factor is about the universal principle that states the following: “Everything we send out in life comes back to us in one form or the other” – like a boomerang. It is an expression that supports the universal law of cause and effect.

Every action has consequences.

Let’s look at some examples of the Boomerang Factor in practice.

As a child we learn that spitting against the wind is not a good idea. I recall experiencing something like that as a kid. However, often we may not be aware of the negative impact of negative boomerangs. I once overheard some young people talking about attending a large sporting event. They were sitting on the top pavilion. When the game ended and thousands of people were streaming home, they decided to have some fun and spat from the top balcony onto the departing crowd below. They would duck back to make sure that nobody spotted them. They seemed to get away with their prank and thought it was very funny. How would the Boomerang Factor apply to their actions?

Negative Boomerang Factors

Those who spit upon others become ‘spitters’ by their actions. This means that the immediate consequence of acts such as ‘spitting on others’ rebounds on the nature and self-image of the perpetrator. The Boomerang Factor implies that the negative actions we send out into the world may come back to us in several ways. The most harmful rebound may well be the impact it has in corrupting our characters and confidence in doing the right thing in life. In other words, if I perform actions that I know are wrongful and harmful to others, I will personally be harmed in terms of the negative impact this may have on my own self-image and confidence under pressure.

Positive Boomerang Factors

The Boomerang Factor also applies to positive aspects of life. Whatever positive actions we send out in life also comes back to us in some form of other. The most important positive consequence of our positive actions is probably the impact it has on our own values, courage and confidence as good leaders. This is how invaluable assets such as trust, tenacity, unity, confidence under pressure and happiness are developed! They are the consequences of many small and positive actions in the past that may often seem inconsequential at the time.

All of us who are parents or leaders in the workplace should be encouraged to continue day by day, month by month to try to install positive character traits in our children and fellow workers. In the vast majority of cases such perseverance and love eventually results in positive results. Good characters are not built in a day.

Unseen consequences of the Boomerang Factor

I do not think it is possible to over emphasize the impact that our attitude has on our motivation as leaders! Often we may believe that our attitude is hidden from others, but the truth is that hidden or not, our attitudes have profound impacts on our self and on others around us. Our attitudes, either negative or positive are probably the most important manifestation of the Boomerang Factor. To provide evidence of the powerful impact of our ‘hidden’ attitudes, I want to share a recent amazing experience.

As I was waiting for a senior leader in a large organisation for our monthly personal leadership conversation, he arrived with one of his senior foreman. He then shared the following experience with me:  We will call the senior engineer Harry and the foreman Joe.

Harry used a meeting with his senior staff of about sixteen leaders to illustrate the immense impact of attitudes. He asked for a volunteer to step out of the meeting for a few minutes. Let’s call him John. He then briefed the remaining leaders and asked John to return to the room and to sit in a chair facing the rest of the group. For a brief period of about twenty seconds the group did not say a word. They were briefed to think negative thoughts towards John in the chair. The volunteer was then asked to leave the room again and requested to return a few moments later. On this occasion the group also did not say a word for about twenty seconds, but they now deliberately aimed positive feelings towards John in the chair.

Harry asked Joe, the foreman, to relate the story from that point. Joe told me that he was amazed at what John told them of his brief experiences in the chair. Bear in mind that the time he spent in the chair on both occasions was about twenty seconds or so but he felt it was at least several minutes at a time. He says that during the first session he could feel a tangible negative spirit in the room towards him and this was quite alarming to him. He felt threatened and insecure. When he returned for the second short session, also for only about twenty seconds or so, he felt a completely different kind of feeling. He felt positive and good and enjoyed being with the group. His attitude changed completely.

This was an amazing experience for Joe. He is a tough foreman, close to retiring age and this was something he had never experienced before. The group had not said a word yet they somehow evoked a profoundly negative and subsequently a profoundly positive feeling in the candidate in the chair. Joe felt moved by this experience and was determined to apply the principle in his dealings with a problem person (we will call him Jack) working for him. He was on the verge of firing Jack because of his record of sloppy work and negative attitude. He was considered a threat to the other workers who worked in a physically dangerous environment. Joe called Jack in and told him in effect that he wanted Jack to know that he believed in him and that he had the potential to be an excellent worker. Joe made a committed effort to portray genuine positive feelings towards Jack.

Joe was amazed at Jack’s response! His attitude responded immediately. His work level showed a profound improvement. What impressed me the most was not just the response of Jack, but the change in attitude of Joe towards the power of a positive attitude towards others. Not only was Jack a changed man, but Joe now also looks at life differently. This is a great story of the almost immediate impact that the Boomerang Factor can have when applied in the unseen realm of attitudes.

The Boomerang Factor states “Everything we send out in life comes back to us in one form or the other”.

Are we ‘spitters’ or do we believe as Joe does now – that our ‘invisible’ attitudes have profound impact on both our self as well as on others in one way or the other?

This article appeared in:

Workplace

Do you recognize some areas in yourself or your team that need improvement? Email Louis on louis@leadershipplatform.com for more on creating “Leadership Fit” leaders that generate successful movement (performance) inside your organisation.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Adriaan Groenewald

Adriaan, as an accomplished author and leadership advisor, has been interviewing and working with top leaders for more than 15 years. He is the Co-Founder and CEO of Leadership Platform. (Twitter: @AdriaanG_LP)

Call: +27 (0)12 653 3022
Email: info@leadershipplatform.com

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Leadership Platform is a specialist leadership development consultancy, focusing on creating measurable impact to the bottom line through the enhancement of leadership understanding and engagement.

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