The Goal “reloaded” for commitment

June 19, 2016                              

            In my post of March 18, 2011 I wrote on goals and their importance.

           Allow me to take a slightly different tact today.

           Our goals should direct our energy and commitment for day to day, hour to hour allocation of time and energy.

           As the adage goes: “if you are not working on your goals you are using your time for someone else’s goals”. I find it hard to imagine that on a regular basis someone else’s thoughts and aspirations would be more important for another person’s life and future than their own. Yet on a daily basis I see people not willing to commit to time investment they could make in order to be flexible for any activity that might come along. The thought goes that ‘I will miss out if I commit.” True enough one will always “miss out” on everything there is to do once you have chosen to do a particular task. However, if the particular task you do chose is part of your life goals and mission then that focus is strategic for you.

            The outcome I get is the summation of the choices I make. If I make choices based on specific goals then the outcomes are more likely to align with those goals. If I make choices based on someone else’s goals I will get outcomes that are aligned with those choices. If I make choices based on my mood for the moment then I will get sporadic and meaningless outcomes. Focus on what is really important to you and act on the outcome of that focus. You are more likely to be pleased with what is coming into being in your life.

            I am involved with Toastmaster, a self development skill building organization. Every fortnight I build the agenda for our 1 hour development program. 1 hour in two weeks to focus on self improvement: a minimal time footprint for great personal skill building. The turnover in the agenda over the last 3 days before the 1 hour program has been at least 60%. Clearly the goal and subsequent activities for self improvement are happenstance, lacking in motivation and importance. I have been richly blessed by my membership in Toastmasters. Blessed enough that I regularly hear people say that they wish they could be a Toastmaster with the same skills that I have. That is totally possible based on the choices they make and the time they invest for improvement. If the choice is for the goal of skill building they can become even better than myself. If their choices are based on happenstance their skill development will suffer.

Be all you were created to be – Decisiveness

March 26, 2016 (Riyadh) –

Being decisive is a key to fulfillment. There are just too many things to do and too little time to do them all. One must decide what is “best” from the sea of “good” and “better”. Below is an application of being decisive when it comes to the task of developing employees. This is a spin off from a 2010 blog.

How to develop a person in any skill area is well documented. The question is not “how” mechanically but “how” within the existing morass of things to do. The requirements of understanding 2your job takes more time than most of us have to give in the first place and then to add development of others on top of that can become quite overwhelming.  I see a lot of managers “delegating” the development to a concept: “if you are any good you will figure it out on your own, after all that is what I had to do.”

clockWhere does a person get the skills and time to consistently apply development to others in order to create a better than average organization?

  1. I believe it is a matter of the will and determination. You will be overcome by the day to day activities of the job. Guaranteed there is more to do than you have time to do it. Full stop. You must decide that you are going to do development activities.
  2. This decision will require good delegation and follow up. This will also mean that there is the possibility that some things might not get done as well as if you did them delegationyourself. You cannot live with that in all areas but it is amazing how many areas when done “good enough” still allow for better than average overall results.
  3. This decision will require you knowing the critical actions of the job. This year I have been having a lot of conversation about employee development. As a leader I see everything in terms of how things add to or detract from employee development.
  4. The decision will require focus and continuity. This must be a “way of life” not just a “one off” announcement.

Status Quo or the “Rut we are in”

October 24, 2015 (Riyadh) –

            In the previous few blogs I wrote on “fear” driven behavior, the paradox of fear driven behavior, and how at times others want to bludgeon opponents due to the fears they have about their opponents.

I wonder how many “fears” are held in place by one’s comfort zone? As the clique goes, “I would rather deal with the devil in know then take up something unknown.” Children of alcoholics who are sometimes abused and mistreated turn right around and marry alcoholics and are at times abused and mistreated once again. Why would someone go into such a tenuous marriage already knowing the possible consequences? Maybe because an abusive relationship is the “devil they know” and they would rather not flee to the unknown.

Another side of the story is the “fear of the unknown.” From my experience I am never afraid of the unknown per se. What I am afraid of is the mental stories from my past that I put in the unknown. The day before one attends their birthday celebration, though the specifics are not known, one is not afraid of the ensuing party. Experience has told you that it will be a good event. When one has some premonition of an upcoming event that things will not go well, we fill the “unknown” with all sorts of bad thoughts. Where did those thoughts come from? While the specifics of what is coming are unknown, the premonition of what is generally coming is bad. One starts filling the unknown with all sorts of “bad” things that one freezingthinks one deserves based on whatever their life’s story has told them.

The story of Watson as CO of IBM is illustrative. An employee made a $1 million dollar error back when $1 million meant a lot to the business. The employee walked into Watson’s office, an unknown, with his resignation in hand. The employee had a premonition based on the employee’s own history that such an event resulted in a dismissal.understanding 2 He had no idea what Watson would due but the employees “bad thoughts” were running wild. The employee goes into Watson’s office and hands him the resignation form. Watson’s response could be an entire blog in itself. Watson said, “I have just paid $1 million in training you. Why would I fire you? Now get back to work!”

How many times has your fear of the unknown with subsequent bad thinking proven to be baseless other than it was fed by your history and your sense of blameworthiness? Or worse still, you go into the unknown argument 2with such trepidation that those fears in and of themselves precipitate a bad outcome. An outcome that was not planned but happened because of your own fear driven hallucination of what was about to happen.

One aspect of Toastmasters is helping people with their public presentation skills. Going up in front of people is a huge unknown for many. As the story goes, for many there is such trepidation of presenting up front that if they had to chose between giving the eulogy at a funeral or being the person dead in the box they would chose the person dead in the box every time. What are many afraid of: exposure and subsequent rejection? Why do they think they will be rejected? To some extent that is what their history has told them about themselves. Anyway they go to the front of the room, and what do they do but all sorts of things that in any other environment would insure rejection. Their fears alone started precipitating behaviors in themselves that in any less of an environment would have insured rejection.

One thought that I have found that helps me deal with the unknown is being “OK” in my own skin. I do lots of public presentations; lots of opportunity to have trepidations before an event, in fact several every month. I do my preparations, focus on the gifts I am giving and move forward. Yes, I have been rejected but then I move on.  guy one I have not rejected David.

Here is an extract from Shakespeare which is germane to this blog:

Hamlet, Prince of Denmark

Act 3 Scene 1

To be or not to be…… that is the question

Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer

The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune

Or take arms against a sea of troubles

And by opposing them, to sleep….. to die…..

But that dread of something after death

The undiscovered country, from whose bourn

No traveler returns, puzzles the will

And makes us rather bear those ills we have

Than fly to others we know not of


That conscience does make cowards of us all

And thus the native hue of resolution

Is sickled over with the pale cast of thought

And enterprises of great pith and moment

With this regard, their currents turn awry

And lose the name of ACTION

Test that thought again

September 13, 2015 (San Diego) – Test that thought again             One would hope that the “James Blake” mistaken arrest in New York would be a one-off event. When similar events happen to one’s self it is an eye opener. No I was not falsely arrested nor was my event with the police. My event had the common thread with James Blake as experiencing the capricious use of blunt force power without even so much as a check-in with the person.  challenges I had done an online registration of a single group as part of a larger collection of groups. The registration had been in place for 3 weeks and the first confirmation of a group meeting had been done. I have been a member of the larger group for 12 years. Out of the blue the group was removed from the site with the group registrations. When I checked with the coordinator it was unknown why the group was removed. A guess was put forth that one of the other coordinators might have “cleaned” up the site and my group was removed by error. But why do anything without checking? All the contact data is there. No one is going anywhere. There are no financials involved. Perhaps, just perhaps we are getting too linked into too many things and thus it is too much  trouble to check before taking action. Perhaps the thinking is “just take the action” and if it is wronindifferenceg the person will complain and fix it. Humm, seems like “customer beware.” Or perhaps, it is an issue of power, responsibility, and frustration. As our country slips towards anarchy and people doing what they think is right with little to no accountability, people with power tend to do the same thing. Perhaps even thinking that they can do whatever they want to do? With people in power not using the prescribed channels to get things done perhaps others are beginning to do the same thing?      This will get way out of control before it begins to fix itself.  exploding

Test that thought

September 5, 2015 (San Diego) – Orange Man Detective with Magnifying Glass

            Over my years of life I have often found that my most current thoughts often become “tested” to determine if I am merely “spouting off” or if I have learned my own thoughts.

Over the last two weeks I had been experiencing a lot of “under communications” with a potential client/project worth about 6% of planned budget for the year. Though the project seemed to be “on” and I had invested about $600 in Visas and support work at the last minute a total turn of the agreement showed up in my “in box.”

Wow, what to do?understanding 2     Here it was 7 days before I was to start the project and the reversal of the agreement was huge. I could capitulate, go with the reversal, and wonder if there would be any further reversals when I came to final payment for the project. OR….. I could reference the original understanding, no contract, and see what would happen.

To be high performing for yourself one needs to be willing to stand one’s ground and agreed standards even it there appears to be a loss coming.

I wrote back upon receiving the reversal in “terms” with the cut and paste lines of the original understanding. That was a week ago. Not a “peep” from the prospect.

I stood by the standards agreed upon and only received silence. Wow, how might this have proceeded if I had agreed to the reversal of terms? Would more reversals be forth coming? Who knows?

Be true to standards is important in high performing companies. If managers rewrite the rules as and when it suits them there will be underperformance from the employees. Guaranteed.


Tip #4 – Practice with a supporting group

July 27, 2014 (San Diego)

Why do people often “freeze up”, lose verbal fluency, and become nervous when merely moving from their chair to the front of the room to make a presentation? When making a point to the same audience from freezingtheir chair there is no loss of fluency. However, when they move to the front of the room the world seems to have changed.


There seems to be 2 general reasons for the “freeze up”:

  • They feel exposed, naked, transparent       That alone would not cause the troubles, but couple it withnaked
  • They feel the audience will not like them or their message.



Where do people get the idea the audience will not like them or the message when delivered up front, but there is less worry when making the same point from the chair? I am sure part of it comes from their own asking questionslearning environment. When they were listening to others where they listening to learn or listening to critique? My guess is that they were listening to critique and that is what they think is then happening to their presentation, so they are worried. As they worry more and become more self absorbed by the worry their message starts to deteriorate. They become so absorbed with doing poorly that the message literally becomes worse.


Tip #4. To overpower this predisposition practice in safe environments where the audience is there to learn and appreciated your message, not to critique it. As one gives more messages in the safe childrenenvironments one becomes more confident of one’s message and his/her ability to deliver the message in all environments. Toastmaster Chapters are a wonderful places to find these safe environments:


While you are following this tip be sure to incorporate tip 1, tip 2, and tip 3.


Presentation tip #2 – Intentions – reloaded revised

My first tip was “be passionate about your topic or do not be passionate.” Ok, I am passionate about my topic, now TIP #2 my intention:…ip-1-re-loaded

Do I intend to share my passion, involve the others in the passion, persuade the others to become passionate also, or delegate the passion and have the audience move it forward? I suppose I am most interested in this question because for the longest time I gave presentations without having first determined the answer for my self. My presentations were good. They received good reviews, but nothing came of them since I had not thought in advance of the outcome I wanted to occur.

However as I became clearer on my intention from my perspective I could determine how to arrange the data of the message to gain the outcome. I became purposefully better at presentations.

If I am sharing data for information purposes only, then making the data attractive, keeping the audience’s attention, and making the data memorable will all be important.

On the other hand if my intention is to move the audience to action as a result of hearing the message, not only do I need to do all the above I also need to get the audience to own some action as a result of the message. I need to connect with intrinsic needs of the audience to allow them to see that resultant action is in their best interest.

The current political contests in the USA were a clear example that a speaker is greatly hindered if he/she attempts to get the audience to do something of great magnitude, but their personal history or integrity does not support the plea. In this case the speaker’s intentions were undermined by the speakers history. It was in fact the history that told the audience about the intention regardless of what was being said.

The more your speech tends towards a call to action the more the speaker had better best be “connected” to the audience. This of course is true for speeches as well as leadership.

Expand your effectiveness upfront: tip #1 re-loaded

June 21, 2014:

I have the privilege of working with hundreds of people who want to expand their effectiveness while in the front of an audience.

The 5 principles entered on 2 June 2014 are why people want to expand their effectiveness, now I will write one tip on several blogs of how to be effective.

TIP #1: Be passionate about your topic or do not be passionate:

Being passionate drives all other effectiveness aspects of your presentation. Think about the last time you were “passionate” about something: amorous towards another, angry at the kids, really happy about the outcome from an employee. You did not need to tell yourself to be energetic, to have vocal variety, to demonstrate your passion with body language. You were very passionate about the topic and your voice and body language backed you up. We all know how to be really pleased with something. We know instinctively how to communicate “really pleased.” Parents are great at this. Dad or Mom comes home and all they need to do is say your name and you know, you know how the conversation is going to go. All you need is the content. The disposition of the conversation was announced in one word: your name.

When we are upfront we tend to be neutral on a topic, but simultaneously we try to be animated. This is as being “Liked” and Facebook. There is no energy in it, just a check in the box.  This level of being “nothing” creates a problem when you want animation. The presenting mind is neutral and is sending out messages to the rest of the body to be neutral also. Your conscious mind is telling the body to be animated, do something. . The body is confused, it “knows” both signals. This will definitely generate a “mixed signal” to the listening audience.

                                                                                                                                                                                  The tip: be passionate and let the body follow the emotion. The opposite side: if you do not really care guy oneabout the topic, be careful if you are trying to “fake” the presentation skills. If you are having trouble being passionate about a topic:

1. Determine if it is a topic you want to be passionate about                      challenges

2. Check yourself: am I willing to take a public stand on something?

For more tips go to




Five levels of presentation

Over my years as a member of Toastmasters and as a professional helping others with their presentation skills I have found five level of development.

First Level: is to be comfortable not only up front of people but also in life in general. When I am upfront I am well aware of my personal concerns and worries about being upfront. As I find my self upfront in a supportive club, overtime I learn to overpower those worries and concerns. When I am less worried and concerned about how others think, while I am up front, I become less worried and concerned about what people think in my daily living. I become more of me which opens the door to the second level.

Second Level: is to become reasonably articulate when upfront. Being articulate is linked to and is a normal follow-on to the first principle. If I am not comfortable it is hard to be articulate. On the contrary though I could be comfortable up front and not particularly articulate. Most people join  Toastmasters to be both comfortable and articulate.  For most of us, being articulate is a learned skill. When we are upfront we are often so self aware and disengaged from the audience, that are words do not really communicate and there is a plethora of “word fillers.” In fact when I am really disengaged I do not care if my words communicate or not. I just want to say the words and get off the platform. I am totally not present.  When I am connecting to the audience my ability to be articulate is high. Toastmasters helps people perfect the skill of getting out of my own head and connecting to the audience.

Third Level: OK, I am comfortable and reasonably articulate, now say something useful, give a logical well organized presentation. Be able to talk from 5-15 minutes and stay on the same story line, no tangents. While presenting the story line stay connected with the audience to determine if they are getting the message. If they get the message, you have succeeded. Staying connected to the audience is often more challenging than learning to present the story. To stay connected I must know my material well enough that I do not need to think so much about what I am going to say, but stay more focused on the readiness of the audience to receive the message.

Fourth Level: There is a principle between being articulate, #3 and being a “world  changers” , #5. The fourth principle is being intentional and passionate about your presentation topic. We hear this level from the TI World Champion Speakers. The speech is said with passion. The passion drives voice inflection and body movement. Each thought is ‘weighed’ and given the intentional emphasis so that the audience receives an impactful message. World Champion speeches are not influential speeches in their intent to get you to do something, but they are influential speeches in their intent to arouse emotion in the audience.

Fifth Level:  Give a message that moves people to action, a world changers. This I find particularly difficult. First I must believe in the topic enough to be willing to be ridiculed. I must believe in the message enough to give the time to follow up with those that do respond to the call for action. I must believe in the message enough to follow my own call to action: integrity. I must believe in my message enough to really sell an idea and be willing to deal with the angst of people feeling uncomfortable about being “sold.”

 Helen Blanchard, PIP, once said, if I get all there is to get out of Toastmasters, I will never get out of Toastmasters. I have been in Toastmasters since the spring of 1989 and I am still growing.

You are the captain of your life – Invictus

Feb 02, 2014 (Houston)

There are times when I feel that Lilly Tomlin’s homily fits my life:

         Life is a rat race and even if you win you are still a rat”

To be effective with what gifts and talents I have I need to lift my self image above “rat-hood”.   I find the poem “Invictus” helps me see above the mess of life


Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

William Ernest Henley

I trust as you reflect upon Henley’s ode to life that it will help you take charge of your own being. Blessings.