Friday, December 9, 2011

Comment on "The Magic of Truthfulness"


I always love your messages. Point 3 especially touched me, "don't underestimate the goodness of people." I learned that is true even in prison. I saw women with literally NOTHING find ways to share with others and help those suffering in a dark and dismal place. I learned a great deal there about truth and goodness.

Congratulations on keeping the magic alive.


Sue EllenAllen
"Education, not incarceration, is the cheapest form of crime prevention." - Sue Ellen

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Magic of Truthfulness

Imagine you work for a company that's about to terminate you. Not such a hard thing to imagine these days. It's an odd scenario in this case, though, because you're told that your job will be over in three months. Yes, you'll be fired then, but in the meantime they ask you to keep working for the three months, attend the upcoming National Sales Meeting, and not leave until the end of the year. And oh, by the way, keep growing the business in those last three months! 
I was the speaker hired by my client, Manny Gerolamo, Nat'l Sales Manager, to address his pharmaceutical sales and leadership team at their final Nat'l Sales Meeting.
In over three decades of corporate seminar speaking, this was one of the most unusual requests I'd ever received.
My first question to Manny was: "Will anyone even be there?" But I didn't know then about "Manny's Magic."  Here's what he did, and here's what happened.
First, Manny informed everyone of the facts -- the cold, hard, disappointing facts. The conditions people signed up for the year before had dramatically changed. The parent company had chosen a different direction and the promises they had made to the sales team couldn't be kept. Yes, the team had achieved every sales objective required of them. Yes, their mission had been very successful. But tough luck, they would be turning the sales effort over to the parent company. Game over. 
Second, Manny informed his team that if they stayed on for the three months till year's end, and got good results, they could earn a big bonus. During that time he would help them, wherever possible, to find new employment. He'd provide support, counseling and even some special training materials (my "Build a Better You" CD series for example) to help them cope and stay positive during the transition.
Third, Manny asked them to leave their loved ones for three days and attend the upcoming National Sales Meeting in San Antonio, Texas. There they would be recognized for their past successes and trained in the new programs for the "final quarter." They would join their fellow team members for one last group hug, a few laughs and a lot of tears. 
Now what would you have done if you had been one of those team members? Would you have gone to San Antonio just to vent your anger, frustration and bitterness? Would you have contacted your customers and bad-mouthed the company? Or would you have quit and begun job hunting immediately?
As I stood on the stage at the Hyatt Regency in San Antonio that September morning, it was magical. There were  200 people, over 97% of Manny's team members, all sitting in that audience -- smiling, laughing and so excited about their last few months together.
What made that happen? Manny Gerolamo was the single most important factor in their decision to stay.  He had earned not just his team's respect, he had earned their TRUST. He told the unvarnished truth from day one. And he offered them the opportunity to be paid a bonus if they fulfilled their commitment to the company, a company that was going to terminate them. It was "Manny's Magic!"  
Here's what you can do to use Manny's Magic in your career:
1. Tell the truth -- even if it's not good news. Tell it like you see it. Be known as a truth teller. Be known as a person who can always be believed!
2. Offer people an incentive if they are willing to go above and beyond. Reward the high achievers!
3. Don't underestimate the goodness of most people, who deep down want to do the right thing, because it's the right thing to do! In a business world that is often drowning in greed, dishonesty and self-interest, it's thrilling to know there are still great people out there, willing to do difficult things, and do them with courage and grace! 
Remember: Success Comes in CANS, Not in Cannots!  
MAKE it a great day!                                                         

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

"Pandora's Hope" Whispers in Your Ear

You've probably heard the term "Pandora's Box" used as an expression. "Oh, it was as if he had opened Pandora's Box!" meaning to unwittingly unleash chaos or misery upon yourself or others.
Maybe you've actually done that very thing. You think something could be good, and then discover it's the exact opposite. Like the family that gets their young kids their first pet -- a six-month-old mutt from the pound that looks so cute and lovable -- only to find three months later, they've opened "Pandora's Box" and now have a nine-month-old 90-pound monster destroying their furniture, shoes and even chewing on the walls.
Chaos is a word often used to describe many people's lives today. Here's where Pandora's Box can help you. Yes, help you through the toughest of times, the biggest of challenges and the mind-numbing effects of change! How?
First you need to go back to the Greek mythology that created the story of Pandora's Box.  Here's the short version: The Greeks considered Pandora to be the first woman on earth. Zeus had her created and he told Pandora not to open a special "jar" she was given. Overcome by curiosity, she opened it. Upon doing so, she released all the evils it contained into the world. This myth is supposed to explain why evil exists in the world, and probably to blame woman for it!
When Pandora opened that jar and released all the evils into the world, she managed to save one thing inside -- HOPE. Oh, those wise Greeks knew that what the world needed to cope with and overcome evil was hope! HOPE is defined as "a belief in a positive outcome related to events and circumstances in one's life."
You need hope in your life right now, today, this very minute! Whoever you are, whatever your age, your career or your circumstances, there is always HOPE.  
When the world says to you, "Give up, you can't win," HOPE whispers in your ear, "You can do it! Give it one more try, and if that's not enough, give it one more again."
My next door neighbor for many years was an F-105 pilot in the Viet Nam war. Tom Browning's plane was shot down, he was captured by the Viet Cong and held as a prisoner of war for over six years. He was held at the same time as Sen. John McCain and James Stockdale (who ran for Vice President in 1992).  All three of these men, along with so many others, endured unimaginable torture and hardship.
Tom, who is now a retired Brigadier General, explained that one of the main reasons they were able to survive their ordeal was that they never gave up the HOPE that they would be freed. The survivors had proved that hope is what will keep you going in the times of your life when you feel lost, imprisoned, helpless and discouraged.
Shakespeare wrote, "The miserable have no other medicine, but only hope." Hopefully you're not miserable! But you may at times become discouraged and pessimistic, and feel, "What's the use?"  This is the time to think of Pandora's Box. In spite of all the evils she released into the world, HOPE remained safe inside the box, so it could help you in these challenging times.
I hope this gives YOU hope!
MAKE it a great day!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

"Who's Got The Mustard & the Kidney?"

Ever been camping, about to have some hot dogs around the campfire, and someone asks, “Who's got the mustard?”
“Oh,” the cook says, “I forgot it.” OK, so hot dogs without mustard won’t kill you. It could annoy you and take away some of the enjoyment of your cookout, but it’s not that bad. It’s just a minor inconvenience.
The simple solution would have been to have, well in advance of your trip, a “Camping Checklist” with everything you need on it, and then as you gather your supplies, you just check off each item, mustard being just one of them.
Ever have a kidney taken out of your body and replaced with a newer, healthier one? Most likely not—and neither have I. But in an unnamed Midwest hospital’s operating room, a doctor was about to remove his patient’s damaged kidney and replace it with a donor’s kidney, when he suddenly realized the donor’s kidney wasn’t in the room!
Where was it? No one knew. One surgical nurse thought the other surgical nurse had gotten it. The surgeon stopped the procedure. Finally the kidney was located and fortunately no harm was done.
Crazy, you say? Impossible, you think? Amazingly enough it happens way too often in medical procedures and sometimes the results are devastating.
I became aware of this situation when a long time client, Donley Service, hired me to speak at their company meeting. Their objective was to get their HVAC service technicians to use checklists on every job.
As good as Donley Service already was, top management wanted them to be even better, and they knew that checklists could be part of the answer.
During my research for their meeting I found “The Checklist Manifesto,” a best selling book by Dr. Atul Gawande, a surgeon and Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School. Along with this book and lots of other information, I became even more committed to checklists.
People close to me would roll their eyes if they heard me say “even more committed to checklists!” Heck, I use a checklist for almost everything in my life!

Are you a checklist person? If you are you know the joy of embarking on a project and having everything you need with you. If you’re not a written checklist person, you might need to become one. It can help make your life’s experiences so much better. Oh, and if you do use checklists, there’s a lot more you can do to make them even better.
As a professional speaker I have a Travel Checklist—what I need when I leave home to speak in some distant city. There’s a Room Set-Up Checklist, a Client Checklist, a Post Presentation Checklist where I check off every story, humorous example, prop or activity I used in that presentation. Why? So that when I go back to that same group next time, I’ll know exactly what I’ve already used and not repeat anything.
I use a checklist for our recreation as well. Judy and I have owned our own 72 ft houseboat at Lake Powell since 1989. We have spent over 1250 nights on our boat … with my checklists! We have a Packing Checklist, Arrival Day on the Boat Checklist, an Anchoring Checklist, a Guest Info Checklist and a Departure Day Checklist. Each checklist has lots of items. On our Departure Day Checklist there are over 70 items we physically check off on the last day of our trip. Why do we do that? So the next trip will be even better!
Yes, I’m a checklist nut! Unfortunately not too many people are, but maybe more people should be—and if you’re not convinced, keep reading.
It’s shocking to learn that the use of medical checklists has only become a recent practice. It wasn’t until 2003 that medical checklists were used in surgical operating rooms in the state of Michigan.
According to the New England Journal of Medicine, when surgical teams used a simple checklist, patient deaths were cut in half and complications due to infections were reduced by 66%. In Michigan alone it’s estimated that over 1500 patients’ lives were saved, just by using a Surgical Checklist.
One more example, Peter Pronovost, a critical care specialist at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, devised a five-step checklist just for reducing infections from special intravenous lines, from such simple items as “wash hands with soap” to “wear a sterile gown and mask.”
Now you may be thinking, “Oh, come on, how basic can you get? Anyone would know that!” Right? Not so in that facility. When Dr. Pronovost checked the results over a two-year period compared to previous two-year periods, he found that his five-step cChecklist prevented 43 infections and eight deaths, and saved over $2 million in costs.
Based on those startling statistics, the World Health Organization tested the checklist concept in eight hospitals worldwide. They created a 19-Point Checklist including “count sponges.” You’ve heard of sponges being left inside a patient after an operation, right? Not when they use the checklist! Now if they have 17 sponges to start, they have to have 17 when done. Their results showed that as a result…
·    Surgical complications fell 36%.
·    Extra trips to the operating room fell by 25%.
·    Deaths fell 47%!
And those results changed medical procedures worldwide.
Decide now to become a Checklist Creator for the important things in your life! Here are a few suggestions:
·    A Vacation to the Beach Checklist
·    A Ski Trip Checklist
·    A Fishing Trip Checklist
·    A Gardening Checklist (What to do and when to do it.)
·    Giving a Speech Checklist (I can help you with this one.)
·    An Emergency Evacuation Checklist - If you had to exit your home in
15 minutes, what would you grab? Not sure?

     Better make a checklist!
And MAKE it a great day!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Leadership & the Paradox of Power

In 1513 Niccolo Machiavelli wrote these two bold statements: “It is much better to be feared than loved” and “One who deceives will always find those who allow themselves to be deceived.” These two quotes come from his well-known thesis on the art of politics, called The Prince. His philosophy has given rise to the Machiavellian approach to leadership and the cliché, “Nice guys finish last!” Do you think so? From your experience and the leaders you have known, how do you rate them on the “nice person scale”?
Think back to the people you have met who had power. Start with the bosses you’ve worked for, the political office holders you’ve personally met and the friends and acquaintances you’ve spent time with who were in a position of power.

OK, now decide, does power create caring, considerate and charming people—or does it create insufferable, impulsive idiots you just can’t stand?
Back in 2010 an article in the Wall Street Journal titled “The Power Trip” by Jonah  Lehrer began with this statement: “Contrary to the Machiavellian cliché, nice people are more likely to rise to power.” Well, I guess that settles it. Machiavelli was wrong and nice people do rise to the top.
But wait! In the next sentence Jonah says, “Then something strange happens—authority atrophies the very talents that got them to their place of power.” Oh, was Machiavelli right after all?
You’re smart and experienced, so you can decide for yourself. Here’s my read on this important question for you to answer as you progress in your career and your personal life.
Over the past 3½ decades I’ve personally met hundreds of CEOs and presidents of the world’s leading businesses, as well as thousands of top level executives with lots of power. Plus dozens of famous people from politics, sports, entertainment and the sciences.
Most of these encounters were at business events where I was a guest speaker. Many others occurred on airplanes sitting next to celebrities. Of course, I’m not a psychologist or a behaviorist, but I do know people, and without a doubt, my vote is cast with the anti-Machiavellian group. “Nice people do rise to the top!”
Are there exceptions? Absolutely! There are many insufferable, impulsive, self-centered, arrogant and obnoxious individuals who hold positions of power. They once were only a small group—but—they seem to be growing, and that’s why you need to be aware of the power trip!
Today in our world of electronic wonders where words and images can be captured and stored forever on hard drives, secrets are difficult to keep.
Remember Tiger Woods, Brett Favre and Wikileak’s release of government secrets? All involved emails, voice mails, cell phone photos and electronic data. So beware, because what you say and what you do can be seen and heard by a much bigger audience than you might intend or even imagine.
A cliché from the past, “power corrupts,” comes into play here. Often the individual who rises to a position of power—whether it’s in a company, a homeowner’s association, a civic club, a religious organization, in politics or on a sports team—does so because of their positive qualities of being intelligent, honest, considerate, caring, and just overall a “nice person.” Then it gradually changes. The very traits that helped these people acquire control in the first place, all but disappear once they rise to a position of power.
The result is what we see, almost weekly, in the media. Celebrities and heroes go amuck! They think the rules don’t apply to them. They think they’re special and because they’re “special” others aren’t. They disregard feelings, traditions, standards of behavior and, in short, they act like jerks.
A study at the University of California by psychologist D. Keltner found that the students who were considered the “most powerful” also were considered the most considerate, outgoing, agreeable and, in short, “nice people.” His conclusion after similar studies in the corporate world was, “People give authority to people they genuinely like.”
Here’s what you can do…
  1. Decide for yourself, was Machiavelli right or wrong?
  2. Study those in your life that are in positions of power and authority, and identify the qualities you think got them there.
  3. Make sure that if your role is one of power and authority, you don’t lose your concern for and connection to those you’re leading.
Oh, one last perception from my own experience. I’ve found that the higher you go in most organizations, the nicer the people become. What’s your perception?

Friday, April 29, 2011

"The Fog of Worry"

Think of the last time you saw fog. You might have been at home, away on a business trip or on vacation. You got up early in the morning and stepped outside to see the gorgeous mountain view you had been enjoying each day, only to see... but wait a minute! You couldn't see the mountain at all! It had completely disappeared!

Or had it? In the next instant you realized that of course, the mountain was still there, but it was completely fogged in! And unless you'd seen it before on a clear day, you'd have no way of knowing it even existed!  When you're fogged in, what's really around you can't be seen. It's all there, but it's hidden from view, covered by the tiny droplets of moisture floating in the air, produced by a combination of temperature and humidity.

In the same way, worry is the mental fog that prevents you from seeing things clearly. Don't let it blind you to what's really out there! Like moisture fog, the mental fog of worry hides from view the opportunities and solutions that are all around you right now. It clouds your thinking with thoughts and images of a negative nature in which mental attempts are made to avoid anticipated potential threats. Excessive worry turns to anguish and anxiety. Not a good thing! 

Over 40 years ago I heard Earl Nightingale tell about the "fog of worry." On a visit to San Francisco he found himself one morning surrounded by fog, a common event in that city. But if you were to check with the U.S Bureau of Standards you'd find this surprising fact: that a dense fog 100 feet deep, covering seven city blocks, is composed of ... less than one glass of water...that's it! What seems to be so dense and so capable of blocking what's around us can be condensed down to just a tiny amount of liquid, not quite filling a glass.

The same is true of what we worry about. It seems so dense, so all encompassing, yet, in reality almost all our worries are needless! That's right. Experts on the study of what worries people found these numbers. About 40% of what people worry about will never happen. Yes, 40% of what people worry about just won't ever happen!

 Next, the experts say, is the 30% of the things people worry about that can't be changed by all the worry in the world! Worrying about the weather will do nothing to stop the rain or to bring you sunshine. No, worry won't alter, in any way, 30% of what the uninformed fill their worry bucket with! Next is the 12% made up of needless health worries. Does wearing tennis shoes cause cancer? Is my heart beating enough?

Then those same worry experts calculate that about 10% of people's worries are just petty, miscellaneous things. Will I get a parking spot at the big game? Will the all-you-can-eat buffet run out of food? Needless worries! And finally that leaves you just 8% that are real, legitimate worries.

That means 92% of things most people worry about have already happened, will never happen...or if they did happen, there's nothing you could have done about it anyway! It's like the fog over those seven city blocks that couldn't even fill a glass. Your job is to focus on the things that are worthy of your effort and energy!

Dr. Edward Hallowell, a psychiatrist and the author of the book aptly titled Worry, describes "good worry" this way: "Good worry leads to constructive action, such as taking steps to resolve the issue that is causing you concern."

What you can do is start a "Worry List."  When you find yourself worrying, stop! Write down what it is that you're worrying about! When you have five to ten things on your list, do your own evaluation. Ask yourself: "Self, is this a good worry? Or is it a 92% that's already happened, will never happen or there's nothing I can do about it anyway?"

Your "good worries" will lead you to positive action. Fastening your seat belt when you're in a car or truck is a constructive action, based on your concern for safety. Buying insurance to protect yourself or your property is a constructive action, to solve your concern about loss. Worries about having enough money to retire some day should get you to act now to prepare for your financial future, to save more or to earn more. This is good! Worries about that extra weight you might be carrying around should get you back to the gym, walking more, eating better and getting fit and healthier. That's good!

So, next time you find yourself in a fog, smile, reflect about the "fog of worry," and put that fog in its proper a glass, not even full.

Then you can MAKE it a great day!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Creative Ideas are Unlimited! There are 293 Ways to Make Change for a Dollar!

How would you make change for a dollar bill? You could give someone two 50 cent pieces, four quarters, 10 dimes, 20 nickels, 100 pennies, right? Or you could give another 288 combinations of those five different coins. Yes, there are 293 ways to change that dollar bill. There are also hundreds and even thousands of possible ways for you to solve your problems and life’s challenges. There is an answer to every challenge—if you dig deep enough and make the effort to find it.
As the old Abraham Maslow quote goes, “If you only have a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.” In other words, you tend to see only one solution to a challenge you’re faced with. But realize that whatever challenge you’re faced with—money, time, health, career, relationships—  there are an infinite number of possible solutions. Let me give you some suggestions on how you can find the best solution to what you need help with.
Here are some starting points…
1.    Clearly define what the challenge is. That’s not a new idea, yet so often people faced with a challenge haven’t clearly identified exactly what result they are attempting to get.
As an example, a friend called me and said he wasn’t happy in his job. Sound familiar? Millions of people feel that way—but what does it really mean? After a brief series of questions it became clear to him that he really loved his job. What he was unhappy about was his boss didn’t seem to appreciate his efforts and didn’t give him much positive feedback. That’s a lot different than “not liking his job.” So now my friend’s challenge is defined. “How do I get my boss to give me the recognition I feel I need and deserve?” If there are 293 ways to change a dollar, there’s many ways to solve that challenge!
Make sure you know exactly what it is you’re attempting to solve.
2.    Ask for help. Call in your cavalry! Use your contacts and ask those you respect for their help. They’re your friends for a reason. They like you and want the best for you. Put your pride on hold and just say, “I can use some help. Will you talk with me about a challenge I’m having?”
3.    Use the Internet. The Web can provide you answers to almost any question. Google has over a million servers that process over a billion search requests a day!  What used to be information only experts possessed is now available to you instantly. Like, how many ways can you make change for a dollar? 293. Or that a dime has 118 ridges around the edge, and that all 50 states are listed across the top of the Lincoln Memorial shown on the back of the five dollar bill. OK, most likely that’s not the kind of help you’ll need! But it shows you how you can find information on almost any subject you want. So don’t guess! Search it out.
4.    Then take action. Doing nothing is the cause of more difficulties than making the wrong decisions. A wise man taught me years ago that if you’re driving and you get lost without a GPS to guide you, and you’re not sure which way to turn (right or left?), always turn right, and go as fast as you can! If you’re wrong, you’ll find out soon enough and can double back. Action is the key! You don’t need to be right 100% of the time. 51% positive makes you still a winner.
Yes, you’ll have challenges and, yes, they can be very difficult ones. Trust me on this—Ideas are unlimited. There is an answer, even to exactly how many ways you can make change for a dollar!
MAKE it a great day!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Begin the New Year by Answering 7 Key Questions! It's Like Having A Crystal Ball!

December 31st 2010 has come and gone, but there's something you can still do right now to get 2011 off to a great start! You're busy, of course -- but time is running out, and before 2011 gets away from you, why not take stock of your priorities for the coming year?  We're not talking about New Year's Resolutions here! They don't work! In fact, based on Gallup Poll research findings, 24% of New Year's Resolutions are broken in the very first week! 53% are broken within six months! And get this, 92% are broken by year end!
As an alternative, here's an exercise my friend, Les Taylor, shared with me. I think you'll find it helpful as you visualize your desires for the coming year. The exercise consists of asking yourself these seven questions about the year 2010:
1.  What was your biggest success in 2010?
2.  What was the best decision you made?
3.  What was the most important lesson you learned?
4.  What made you the happiest?
5.  Who had the greatest impact on you?
6.  What big risk did you take that paid off for you?
Now I've got one more question to help launch you into the New Year ...
7. Just supposing you could re-live 2010, what would you do differently?  
That's right! Knowing now everything that has happened in 2010, and everything you did to make things happen the way they did, what would you have done differently?
The answer to that question will help you clarify your choices for 2011. And answering all seven questions is like having a crystal ball! Save these and your answers to them in a safe place. At the end of each year, answer them again. You'll find clarity and conviction to carry you through the year, as you accomplish whatever you decide is really important to you!
And forget New Year's Resolutions! Instead, make a commitment to yourself that you WILL MAKE 2011 a wonderful year, in spite of change, in spite of conditions, in spite of circumstances!

Your life is your choice! What 2011 brings up to YOU!

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