Getting my own “writing” act together.

Nov 5th fm Riyadh

Each week I have an entry to remind myself to come to this blog site and make an entry. The most recent entry prior to this one, June 22nd. That is a mere 19 consecutive times I have deleted the calendar entry and have not written anything here. Based on my last blog prior to this one, I need to decide for myself if writing is important. If it is important then I need to “show up” on this site and make a thoughtful entry. Or at least make an entry.

Lets see how this feedback to myself works.

Blessings to you all.

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.

Critical Actions rebooted

Critical Actions (CA’s) revisited. CA’s are those few actions/ activities in which a company or individual must have favorable results to be prosperous or successful.  CA’s are the sine qua non, in which there is nothing. If CA’s are not achieved with distinction all the other activities combined will not be able to make up the difference. Therefore it is the CA’s where a manager needs to focus his/her effort at developing the staff.  I am reminded of the segment in “Apollo 13” when the nature of the disaster was clearly understood: they needed to scrub the atmosphere of CO2 or they would die. Tom Hanks, as Neal Armstrong, needed to draw everyone’s attention to a few specific ca’s. If the atmosphere was not scrubbed of CO2 they would die. Nothing else matters. That is what ca’s are.

Once again I am part of a journey at making Blanchard’s Situational Leadership II a measureable success with a company. The will to move it forward and make the difference is there. That will power is an essential first step.

To gain the measureable difference is the next step. To gain a measureable difference will require that managers to use the model on essential activities, activities which I have labeled as CAs. To get individual managers to think through their “sea” of activities they manage and focus on the critical few that make their responsibility fulfilled is a challenge.  Part of the challenge there is to help them push the pause button in the daily deluge of activities and problems to be solved, activities and problems which already take more than the time allowed, and think of the bigger picture.  The second challenge is to help them get out of the mental rut that, “all their activities are critical.” This exercise is totally important when considering using Blanchard’s model on the job.  Since Blanchard’s model is about developing employees and taking time to do it, time which does not exists; where that time is used is beyond important.  If managers are actually going to use precious time to do something they have never done before to accomplish something they have never done before, but the company is doing “good enough” already, the payoff must be high in recouped time.

Let’s see how it moves forward this time.

Where do people get any time from?

From your perspective Urgent Not Urgent
Important 1. A crisis. Will almost always get time and immediate attention 2. The domain of your ongoing future.

Not Important

3. A crisis imposed by another. Will usually gain time and attention. 4. Just for fun. Company outings, dinners, etc. Where one gets to just enjoy being with others.


April 02, 2016 (Seattle)

Your initial surge of “new time” will be coming from the “time wasters” of blocks 3 and 4.

Block 3 time wasters are mostly exerted on you by others. Meetings that do not need your attendance. Help others on things just to be nice. Interruptions. Popular things that are not necessary.

Block 4 time wasters are the “do it to yourself” time wasters. Games on your phone. Prolonged lunches. Junk mail. Mindless TV.

To overpower these time wasters takes discipline upfront.

Will you do it for yourself so that you can begin creating a better life for you and the others you care about?

Be all you were created to be – in action

March 13, 2016 (Riyadh)

In my post of March 6th, below, I wrote that owning your situations in life will help you persevere, endure hardship, solve problems, etc.

I saw an application-extension of that idea last night. I was at a speech contest the other night. Two of the speakers who placed 1st and 2nd both had great presentations. In fact the person who came in 2nd probably had the better overall presentation. The person who came in 1st had one factor in his decisive favor. He had personally experienced the key story that he used in the presentation. By having experienced the story he could not only intellectually own the story, he could emotionally own the story. Since he had been in the story he could share it at the emotional level with the audience and thus bring the into the story. He owned the story and he helped the audience “own” the story as if they were right there with him. It was captivating and he thus “captivate” the judges and won over a superior presentation.

We see politicians use this tactic all the time. They want us to “buy into” an idea not only at the intellectual level but also the emotional level. Since they often have not personally experience the situation they want to fix, what do they do? They bring in someone (s) to be the “story” in the audience. It is not as good as owning the story yourself, but it is better than no emotional-owner of the story at all.

Owning your life’s events not only can help you defensively as it did Nelson Mandela on Robben Is, it can help you offensively when it comes to persuading others.

Working across the “aisle”

December 20, 2015 (San Diego)

            Seems our politicians, save a few, are highlighting how well they “work across the aisle” to get things done. Over the last few months I have been studying a book with a half dozen men about a man who excelled at “working across the aisle”. The man was Daniel. He was the deputy chief of state, the second in command, to Nebuchadnezzar in the geographic area which is now known as Iraq. The time frame was around 600 – 560 BC.

Daniel was Jewish and a captive slave. However he excelled in learning the key concepts of a state leader at the time and became well versed in the theology of the land. He was a super student in comparison to all others including the local learners.

Daniel demonstrated 3 key characteristics that would serve others who want to excel at “working across the aisle.”

Hope: Daniel had his focus and belief system built on transcendent factors way above, politically expedient or “what is good for me.” Daniel operated on transcendent truths of which even his jealous competitors could find “nothing wrong.” Imagine a politician in which nothing could be found wrong. His competitors were really good a finding error in others. One might say they excelled at it.

Humility: Daniel knew he was less than the transcendence factors of life and below king Nebuchadnezzar. Though Daniel had control of everything but the actions of the king alone, Daniel never took advantage of his power or position for self aggrandizement. He took care of the king and the country first and foremost: no corruption, no embezzlement, no lying, no sexual adventures, no complaining, and no blaming, just honoring the king and his God.

Wisdom: Daniel was smart enough to let his hope and humility run his life.

I would imagine only a few politicians will take up the Daniel way of life.

Maybe a few of us can do it though?

Maybe a few of us can bridge the gaps in society?

FEAR driven behavior is a paradox

September 19, 2015 (San Diego) – FEAR driven behavior is a paradox

            In the world of auto insurance the underwriters usually raise you rates after the first accident. Why, because they know there is a much higher probability you will have a second accident than that you had the first accident.

What is the phenomenon? After the first accident we are far more cautious because….. we are afraid of having a second accident. Reality….. that increased caution makes one more likely to have an second accident. Thus the paradox: fear driven behavior is nearly self fulfilling. In the above example one is so afraid of having a second accident that they induce the second accident.

I listened to a speech the other day. The person said that most of his life he had been afraid of rejection. Guess what: he is single and many of the physical gestures during the speech were not attractive. We do our selves in.

Back to my August 30th post. People avoid peak performance out of fear of something. That “fear” in fact assures one that they will not get to peak performance and the “fear” will become reality even though they are not a peak performance.

We need a powerful way of dealing with FEAR: the dragons in our lives.     dragons

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.


Doubling the “other 6%” to 12%

Jan 24, 2015 (Munich)

            In my last 3 posts I have written about the distinction of tasks being performed way above goal level performance, at d4 in the Ken Blanchard Companies models. My research has shown that about 15% of tasks are done in this zone: 9% of the tasks by self starters and 6% of the tasks by those who have received some encouragement and support to move beyond average, mediocre, d3.

For the 6% who received encouragement and or support on tasks, that effort at encouragement and or support seems to be happenstance rather than a planned leadership strategy. Yes, some for sure it is a planned leadership intervention, but most? I think not. I base this conclusion on the fact that if it were a sustained purposeful leadership strategy more of the 55% of the tasks being done in an average fashion would have moved into the high performing zone. (Remember, one of my previous observations is that most people can perform their tasks at a high performance level with supportive leadership.)

Why isn’t there a sustained leadership strategy by many managers? Though the answer for each manager is unique and often personal, the broader answer is that top management is not behind the growth and development of staff beyond profession “hard” skills.  They pay lip service to training and development, put money and time into giving training and development, but that is where it ends. Application of learned skills on the job is totally up to the trainee. The pursuit of excellence is totally a self initiative project. The trainees experience from top down that real growth in self driven so they pass that the same effort to their staff. An axiom of behavior in organizations is leaders “you get what you role model.

Managers can break this on/off encouragement and support of staff with some basic planning, personal initiative, and a desire to help others maximize their contribution to the organization and themselves.

  1. A spread sheet of critical tasks and current performance levels: beginners, 3 – average goal level performance, and 4 – exceeds goals.
  2. Use the spread sheet to guide development at least once/ week
  3. Base the use, step 2, on the immediate needs for bench strength improvement
  4. After about 6 months you will have moved development from “immediate” needs to longer term needs out in the 6 month window.

The “other 6%” The will to progress

Jan 18, 2015 (San Diego) –

            A bit late, but “better late than never”:  a happy and prosperous New Year to you.

In my Dec 14th blog I wrote that I would write on the “will to progress”.

My experience as a manager and consultant is that almost anyone can

                                 get to be one of the 6%ers on their critical tasks if they want to. Their

                                 major obstacle is their will to progress and having a coach to help them

                                 move from average to way above average.

                                      In my next blog I will write about the ‘will to progress.’”

              I get to do a lot of training of managers. They gain skills and get the practice those skills while we are together. The amount of application after the session is often very low. They said that the information was good. The presentation was good. The usefulness was good. What then happened to application?

For the 9% who already have the discipline skills to apply a new skill without additional guidance, you can forgo the rest of this blog entry. For the rest of us, read on.

A key tool that I use to systematically begin learning a new skill or to perform a non-routine task that is calendarcumbersome for me like completing my taxes I use my calendar.

  1. I schedule 15 minutes to 30 minutes a couple of times / week to work on the task or the new skill
  2. More time than that will prove overwhelming as our plate is already full
  3. I need to start the task with enough 15 – 30 windows to complete the task before the deadline
  4. I need to know what the deadline is
  5. If I miss a scheduled “window” I need to do two thingsclock
  1. Reschedule as the deadline is coming
  2. Check why I missed the window. I may need to rethink the planuntil the day before you meet with your tax preparer or the 13th of April and go into “crash” mode to either get the taxes done or file for an extension. Either last minute action will require more time and can potentially set you up for error. Not good.
  3.             Take the easier road and systematically schedule things on your calendar. Try it once you will like it.
  4. Of course you can completely forgo all this proper planning and just leave it