Permission to help (pt 2)

July 28, 2012 (San Diego)                        This helping situation is a bit closer to home. My son is looking to transition to another job. The job he has now he “hates.” (You readers that would love to have a job to hate might not sympathize much with the scenario. Life does have its enigmas. )

            My son wants a fast smooth transition to a job that pays the bills, has benefits, and is more or less 8 – 5. Right now he has a job that pays the bills the other two items are totally off the table.

            I need to encourage my son to stay the course to success that is taking more time than anticipated. Being a totally focused on personal success does not come easy for many and my son is one of the “many.”

            If you have an opportunity to pray or write a note to this blog please do.

Permission to help another

July 13, 2012 (San Diego)

            Last evening I had a wonderful opportunity to help another person become a bit more self assured. The opportunity was presented at a Toastmasters meeting. I was scheduled to be the speech evaluator for another member. When I asked that person about the speech, she said she was totally not prepared. She only could give a speech if prepared. In fact she did not even want to be at the meeting she was so distraught. Not only that, but she hated giving speeches.

            Wow, that was a lot more than I bargained for. Take a breath David. What can I do for this person?

            I asked two questions:

  1. What is it that brought you to Toastmasters? Answer: getting better at my job.
  2. Is getting better at your job important to you? Yes, very important.

           I then made an offer. I could do a speech and she could evaluate me or she could do a speech and I would evaluate her. There was some time, so I asked her to give me a thumbs up/down as to whether she would do the speech or not.

            She did the speech and won the “best speaker” award for the evening. She felt good about her speech and the heartily acknowledged by the club.

            What a blessing to be able to help a person go from: “I hate giving speeches” to an award winning speech in 60 minutes. Love it.

            I know this battle for success in giving speeches is not over for her, but last night was a wonderful success for all.

If Leaders would only … Pt II

July 1, 2012 (San Diego)

         In my June 5th blog I started this conversation from a business functional point of view. Connecting with employees makes good business sense. In fact if you are going to optimize your business or your part, your group, your team you must connect with the people getting the job done. They need to know you are in the game and have their back with authority and resources. Employees will always hold back if they sense that in any dimension they are being “thrown under the bus.” All my blogs on time management are aimed to help us all be people of integrity. People who keep our word and our employees know that what we say we will do, we will do.

          Beyond the purely functional point of view is the psychological aspect of being connected. Humans are created to connect and be connected which is why it is often said that “solitary confinement” is the most awful of punishments. As leaders are employees want to identify with us and the organization. They want to know there is more to the relationship then just a “transaction.” For both parties this level of connection has risks because separation in business happens from time to time and the relationship is broken. A broken relationship will hurt more than a broken “transaction.”

           If we want the best for all parties let’s get connected. One step at a time.

Clearer Communications

April 24, 2012 (San Diego)

                                        Clarity in communications

            In the last 4 days I have heard 3 prepared speeches and one impromptu speech that all were delivered in the same mediocre fashion.

  1. Minimal vocal variety
  2. Almost no passion for the topic
  3. And to the point of this blog – no segmentation of the material. The purpose was totally lost

First a fact, no two facts,

  1. Your audience is not always mentally present while you are talking
  2. The audience can only keep track of a certain amount of non-segmented data before the data becomes confusing, which by the way will add to their desire to check out mentally

Our primary job as a presenter is to give the “gift” of our message to the audience in a manner that they are most likely to receive it. If the “gift” is clouded or obscured in a “sea” of words, the audience will just not get it. In the world of “sound bite-sized data bits” this “not getting it” will only grow worse unless we

  1. Are totally clear on the purpose of the message, the “gift”
  2. Segment our data
  3. Follow the 3 “B’s”: be brief, be brilliant, be gone.

For example: I was coaching a person in preparation for a 30 minute professional presentation. The presentation was 15 pages long, large font, with no segmentation. I needed to read it several times before I could “get” the message. The message is now 13 pages, with 3 clear main points, supported by anecdotal stores and quips. It is amazingly clear and I am sure the audience will “get” the message.

            Funny, after I gave some coaching concerning the original speech, the revised speech was a slightly different message. When the author became totally clear on the purpose of the message, the “gift”, it took a different tack.

Owning more of me

August 30, 2011 (from San Diego) I just completed a nice customer service program. The program began with a look at the question of how much do I own myself (June 19 / 23 blogs). The idea was that to be effective with others I needed first to be effective with myself. As I gain personal effectiveness I am more in charge of the direction and decisions I make and there is less and less delegation of self and abandonment of decisions to others. In the customer service arena it will show up really strong when there is the classic “customer from hell.” Do I allow that customer to steal my autonomy and self respect or do I maintain myself in the maelstrom. As I noted on 1 August, discomfort is my friend, the discomfort I feel with the difficult customer is an indicator of where I do not own as much of myself as I need to own. I know for me, working from my personal mission statement ( April 1, 2010 blog) helps me to get better at owning myself so that I am stronger and more useful to myself and others in all circumstances.

Being all I can be will help others be all they can be

July 20, 2011 When I am upright and with moral courage then I am helping others by modeling and encouraging. It is not all positive, but I will get to the other side of the coin in the minute. Seems when I am upright and with courage others see me as transparent and understandable. They do not always agree with me, but I am understood. In a group study I was in last night, I had a different opinion on a topic than the other person. Rather than a direct “right wrong presentation” I proposed an example from which the other person “discovered” that their position was not correct. Actually if they did not come to that conclusion life would go on. I did not need to “win” the point. Since the other person was a bit outspoken there was an element of exposing myself to some verbal abuse. That did not happen. There is a risk in taking a risk and there is a risk in not taking a risk. If I am going to be all I can be for others, be courageous with my convictions, then I chose to take the risk. The downside in taking risks and clearly presenting one’s opinion is that from time to time I am presenting to a person who is risk adverse. When I am clear and forthright with them it seems to come across as a threat and the response is rather aggressive. As Covey has often stated, “many people do not own enough of themselves to be successfully interdependent.” I would encourage all my readers to step up to their personal plate and share their thoughts, ideas, musings of their heart to any who would listen. Maybe someday I will get to be the listener and I will be blessed by what you share.

Tip #3 – Connect with your audience

May 5, 2011

            I have shared two tips for expanding one’s person effectiveness in front of a group On TIP #1: Be passionate about your topic: Being passionate drives all other effectiveness aspects of your presentation.

TIP #2: Be crystal clear about the point you wish to make.  Clarity of the point and outcome of the message keeps me and the audience on track and away from tangents. ( I am prone to go off on tangents.)


             Tip #3 is part of the last two entries I made on April 5th and 15th: being connected. When we are in front of an audience, we are the message. There is the content of the message and certainly the content must be relevant and meaningful, but bringing it alive is our job. A key skill in connecting with the audience is solid eye contact. Look at an individual for 2-3 seconds (or to a sector of a larger audience, everyone in the sector will think you are looking at them) break that contact and move to another person, connect for 2-3 seconds and so forth and so on. The eye to eye contact makes the connection between you and the member of the audience.

Ironically to do good eye to eye connection you must “die to self” a bit. I cannot be thinking about my next words, or what does the audience think of me or my presentation because I am connected to the person or the sector of the audience.

The eye to eye contact will also send a message of genuineness and sincerity to the audience. You are exposing yourself a bit thus being vulnerable and transparent. You might think that such a move is crazy.  I do not want to be vulnerable I want to be in charge. I want to hide behind the data. I am only the messenger and the data is the meaning. You can take this position, but it will reduce your effectiveness because people will sense that you are not being genuine to the content of the message which will tend to diminish the power of the content.

I would say that we reduce our effectiveness at our own peril.

Connect cont

April 15, 2011 (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)

                                       Connected continued

              I have just finished a 5 day conference on leadership for 80 or so emerging leaders from as far and wide as Bolivia and the Dominican Republic on one side and Nigeria on the other side, while most of the attendees where from Asian countries.

              Towards the end of the conference we asked the small groups to list on paper their significant learning. I found that many of the learning were related to being connected, with self or others.

  1. 1.      Morally courageous. Being willing to stand on principle in the face of opposition or convenience or popularity. For the most part we know what correct moral decisions are for any situation, but due to other influences we abandon the correct principles. Imagine what life would be like if we could depend on leaders at all levels to be morally courageous. I wrote to a colleague in my home town about putting up a candidate for the office of mayor. The initial response I received was that a person would need to be trained over a few years. In response to his note on training I asked if we did not have a candidate that was morally courageous. The mechanics of the office was not that challenging. No response.
  2. 2.      Continuous refinement.  We discover things about ourselves and others that need to be improved to be better people.  Am I willing to be on a continuous improvement program to be a better person? As I get older I find that the improvements become more personal and a bit more challenging. The things that need to be improved have been in my life longer and I have learn how to rationalize them as correct. I am learning better how to take a stand on issues that are a bit dicey rather than just saying nothing. I can easily justify being silent, but it is not morally courageous. Alas, I am a “work in progress.”
  3. 3.      Spend time developing others. I have written on this in previous blogs. In particular my blog of April 4 I wrote on being connected. Part of what will help me take time from my “more to do than there is time to do it day” to develop others is if I really see them as valuable humans who I am privileged to have in the organization. Connecting, investing, and developing others takes time which is not readily available. It takes some moral courage because it is not widely practiced and some things that normally get done by the leader will need to be done by others who might not be as proficient as you. To make this investment in others is an element of continuous refinement of myself to be a better leader. Alas, a work in progress.
  4. 4.      Without shared authority and empowerment there is limited unity. I really do need to let people do things, encourage their progress, and celebrate their results rather than micromanage their work and malign their errors. Humm… Alas, I am a work in progress.

Connect to others

April 4, 2011 (Manado, Indonesia) 

 I have just reviewed my last 5 months blogs below. There is a theme there that has been brought to my attention by a book I am reading: “Leadership and Self Deception” by the Arbinger Institute.” The theme I am seeing/feeling is that the critical action for a person who wishes to influence another is to be connected to that person at all levels of engagement.

1. For beginners it means that I must be totally present in the engagement: not thinking of other things, not worried about my next appointment, not looking at my vibrating i-phone.

2. Second, I must value the person as a person. How often have I look on another as just someone to get a job done, a bit of a robotic relationship? It is not that I discounted the person intentionally, but I did not “count” the person as a person but as someone who could get the job done.

3. Third, to do the first two I must truly value myself and who I am. I have found when I am crushing others it comes at times when I am feeling bad about myself and need another carcass to stand on so I can be a bit taller and self assured as I crush another. Whaaa, so sad. I need to think further on this and see if at the practical level I can practice this understanding.

Being Present at all times

Feb 8, 2011                                                        I saw a t.v. commercial about buying an automobile. The reason for buying the auto was because the great braking and 360 degree sensor system. What was most striking were the reasons they were showing for the need of the 360 degree sensors and great braking.

         A person texting while walking through a parking lot

         A lady doing her makeup while driving

         A kid riding his bicycle with no regard for his surroundings

         Hummm…. all situations where people were routinely “not being present” with their mind where their physical body was

          I just received this in an email from a friend:  “The list for today feels huge – lots to attempt to accomplish. Need to remove all distractions and hindrances. “ Remove the distractions and hindrances = put them somewhere so that the mind can be 100% present on the task at hand.

          How to keep your mind and your body in the same location = be present.

          I have written on the idea of “unloading the mental ram” before. If the need has reached the proportions that the “load” is so demanding that it is part of our culture and showing up in t.v. ads as a “negative”, the situation is huge.

           Today I will write a few notes on why worry about loading up the brain or not being present.

  1. 1.       The t.v. ad gives us a first warning. It is dangerous for everyone. I am sure you have seen the conversation that they want to pass a law that makes crossing a street with your ipod on as illegal.
  2. 2.       In the business world they have done the due diligence: stressed and/or distracted minds are more than somewhat underproductive.  A person may feel that they are being productive, but against potential, the feeling is an illusion.  You are very busy but not really productive.
  3. 3.       It is rude. When was the last time in the last few hours when you have been talking to someone on the phone and you could clearly tell they were not present. They were doing something else. Or perhaps it was you that was not present.

I understand that all of us suffer from the “oh my God, I have so much to do” syndrome.  We do have way

more to do than there is time to do it, just like my friend in the email noted. If having the mind do one thing while the body is doing something else is dangerous, underproductive, and rude: what to do?

                Next blog I will write some suggestions.