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Name of author Rick Baker, P.Eng.

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Favouring a realistic approach to Values, Virtues & Rules

by Rick Baker
On Jan 4, 2017

Values are concepts covering things important and admirable to us (our minds). Values are our perceptions of intrinsically valuable or desirable ways of doing things.

Virtues are concepts about good behavior and character, reflecting how other people think of us…perceptions they carry in their minds about us.

Rules are concepts, which set boundaries on thoughts and action. Rules are determined by our values. Actions are things we do. Actions are governed by our rules.


When you have Integrity – I mean when you have Integrity as I define it - your actions are closely aligned with your values. You say what you mean and you mean what you say…and you do what you say. Put another way, when you have Integrity your perceptions of your values closely match other people’s perceptions of your virtues.

When your values and virtues are closely aligned people find it easier to trust you. Trust grows naturally…organically. You feel no need to advertise your Integrity and other people have no need to witness such advertising. They observe the ‘real thing’ when they see the consistency of your behaviour and that’s the way trust is built between people.

There’s a saying, “Rules are made to be broken.” That’s a fair and accurate statement considering the reality of human behavior. All rules get broken…by someone…sooner or later…(and often we don’t have to wait for later). 

Even rules based on our deepest and most-admirable values get broken. As one example – nearly everyone lies…even to the people who mean the most to them. People have their secrets and certain questions defy honest answers. While it is admirable to think people can behave like open-honest books, that expectation is inconsistent with reality. Those who seek perfection in others will find the human condition is laced with imperfections. So, when considering others virtues and drawing conclusions about their personal values and their character it is important to set the bar at a reasonable level.

When people slip up - when people who matter to you clearly illustrate they have broken their own values-rules - 

  • Fight the urge to question their virtues and write them off [as Covey described the reality of human behaviour] by quickly emptying their ‘trust account’,
  • Step back and consider the reality of your own values-rules breaches and try to counteract your natural attribution bias, and
  • Be open and candid with the people, but stop well short of dragging them through the coals or humbling them as if you are blessed to administer that right. 

10 Thoughts for Firing Good People

by Rick Baker
On Nov 16, 2016
  1. Fire when the cost of presence exceeds its value: that's on the self-serving end of things [...and that is one of the ends]
  2. Fire when bad habits violate master rules: have as few rules as possible; know where lines must be and will be drawn
  3. Fire when troubling attitudes become contagious: protect your Culture
  4. Fire when skills do not keep up with change: not ruthlessly; in planned ways...after training & education have been exhausted, without success
  5. Do it yourself, don't delegate your way out of it: it's about courage and confidence [...these are 'in action', one way or another, for both parties...choose the better course]
  6. Be concise, yet not rushed: no value in prolonging the stress [...and you better experience some stress, otherwise you are too accustomed to firing people and you will not handle it well]
  7. Be calm and clear, and not insensitive: expect emotional reactions and negative feedback and know exactly how you will not react poorly to it
  8. Be kind, and decisive: this is not a time for negotiation
  9. Be overly fair about money
  10. Help the person find a more-suitable job: remember, whenever you are firing people you are firing good people

10 Thoughts for Keeping Good People

by Rick Baker
On Nov 15, 2016
  1. Have Culture - if it isn't defined it will define itself
  2. Give Compliments - everyone wants to use talents to create value...and get regular pats on the back
  3. Embrace Communication - especially listening; especially not criticizing
  4. Show desire for industry leadership; embrace differences and change-for-the-better
  5. Show excitement around not-Routine work: nurture curiosity; build skills for innovation and creativity
  6. Show lots of organization, talk little about it - illustrate process clarity
  7. Nip performance problems in the bud: it's about courage, confidence, conviction & communication
  8. Don't fall into the attribution-bias trap: keep egos, especially your own, in check
  9. Don't confuse personality mismatch with role/task incompetence
  10. Train the brain: the leader's job is thinking; thinking is the catalyst for progress...think...pass it on

People resist new things

by Rick Baker
On Jul 19, 2016

I think most people object to, argue against, or otherwise resist New Things (...as in - People Do Only 3 Things: Good Habits, Bad Habits & New Things).

Other people bombard us with advice and suggestions about 'better ways' to do things. When we understand "People Do Only 3 Things", it is easy to see how our Bad Habit ruts make it very difficult for us to see value when other people talk about accomplishing New Things.

This is especially true when other people's New Things are grandiose goals. And, of course, regardless of their size New Things face criticism. One person's BHAG is another person's grandiosity...and worse - many small-but-fresh ideas and little innovations face stiff arguments and criticism from those who 'know better'. That's to be expected. There's a lot of entrenched thinking out there.


We can buck that trend.

We can take time to understand other people's thinking.

We can choose to keep our minds open to possibilities.

Reawakening 'Positive Controls' [Your Controls...self-control]

by Rick Baker
On May 5, 2016

Every human being wishes, to a degree, to control his or her environment, including the actions of other people.  

For some people, this need to control the outside world remains a lifetime desire. For others it shrinks with time. And sometimes the need to control others seems to almost completely disappear…repeated doses of criticism can do that to you.

For some people, this need to control gets out of control. We all know people whom we go out of our way to avoid because their dispositions are too critical or too instructive. 

And some of these people remain 'controllers' throughout their lives...not necessarily 'control freaks' but highly prone to provide feedback/opinions whether or not these communications are appropriately timed and placed or beneficial to anyone. This last type of person is the type I am writing about now: I mean I am writing about the people who have the habit of trying to control others by expressing opinions/criticisms at most [if not almost every] opportunity, without having the ability to observe or understand the real reactions others have to the repeated opinions/criticisms.

Let me break that last sentence down:

  • some people almost always try to control others,
  • these people regularly express their opinions and criticisms,
  • the people who receive these opinions and criticisms do not receive benefit, in fact the opposite is true, and 
  • the people who donate the opinions/criticisms are oblivious to the impact their communications have on the people who receive them.

For these people, self-monitoring and self-regulation are either fully dormant or mostly asleep. In other words, their positive controls are sleeping. There's no question - their self-monitoring and self-regulation abilities exist somewhere [because all normal human beings possess those abilities]. However, for these people, those abilities are not awake.

I have observed many of these people as they communicate with others. What is most intriguing, is the fact most of these people are virtually unaware of the impact they have on others. In fact, in many cases these people feel they are the victims of unwarranted criticism rather than the critics. At least, that is what their complaints lead you to believe. For example, they complain about their inability to inspire others to think and act properly.  They complain about the feedback they receive from their followers. But, based on my own experiences, I wonder if their complaints aren't more about failed a battles of wits than desires to inspire or lead. Regardless, some people carry on with excessive criticism and expression of opinions while others do everything possible to tune them out, avoid them, and think about other things.

A challenging situation arises when the overly critical person is the boss, holding a position of authority and power. In this situation, everyone's motivation suffers...and business performance and productivity suffers.  I see this situation so frequently that I wonder what has changed in the last 20 years. Have bosses become more overly-critical? Have employees become more sensitive to and intolerant of criticism? 

It's interesting to consider the situation from both the boss's perspective and the employee's perspective. The boss is generally frustrated, perhaps angry, and feeling under-appreciated. The employee is feeling abused, dis-respected and under-appreciated. It is interesting to note that both hold a victim's mindset. 

How do you remedy the situation? 

I believe an intervention of sorts is required. First, the boss must do some self-analysis and figure out how to become more comfortable with holding back on opinions and criticisms. That's easy to say, but, in practice it is very difficult to do. Most people, for one reason or another, are unable to make a change that large in the way they express themselves to other people. That's unfortunate because if the boss cannot change then the situation will never be remedied. 

(repeating)…if the boss is not able to change then the situation will not change…if no change is made everything remains the same…(it is so simple, when repeated it almost sounds sarcastic)  

The employee will have to make a change too. The employee will have to figure out how to remove sensitivity and resistance to criticism, which has probably become a habit [for self-protection].  This too can be a hard thing to do, especially if the boss and the employee have been operating in this criticism/resistance mode for a long period of time. 

While these changes are difficult, they can be achieved. When they are achieved, I call them Reawakening 'Positive Controls'.

Bully Fantasy

by Rick Baker
On Mar 1, 2016

Troubled underdeveloped minds grind away, trying to rule their frightened little worlds. Oh yes, those troubled minds argue and assault...especially, when they feel trapped in their own sticky webs.

And, when cornered by a stronger, more-impressive bully we find them whining weakly or cowering in victimized silence.

But, most of the time they live the bully fantasy...parading bully-deviations...oozing bully-bluster.

Wrapped up tightly in their own fears, they eagerly gobble up the gifts of tolerance they receive from most of the people they encounter.

The bully fantasy is a personal-strength-fantasy…a half-believe in personal strengths and self-worth…a strength-seeking mind under never-ending siege…completely surrounded by relentless personal weaknesses…always losing ground…always fighting…losing…denial…internal turmoil.

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