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Name of author Rick Baker, P.Eng.

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Better you have problems than problems have you

by Rick Baker
On Aug 15, 2016

Hindsight is 20/20...and while hindsight conversations can be annoying, that's not going to stop us from having them. Something in our nature causes us to want to second-guess decisions we have made and action we have taken.

Foresight is an energy-consuming process that often yields unreliable results...but that's not going to stop us from planning for future events. We want to believe in cause and effect, we want to exercise our willpower and we will fight to hold onto a level of control. 

Presence - our ability to be present -  is so rare it seems to be close to an unnatural state of mind...we spend so much time thinking about the past and the future we hardly ever do justice to the present. Of course, we are distracted in the present: the present is chock-full of external stimuli - all changing rapidly.

Hindsight, foresight and presence have one thing in common - Problems. 

Hindsight deals with second guessing past events: with old problems in mind, we ponder the possibilities of better decisions and better actions; we waste time thinking about and sometimes agonizing over what we could have done, what we should have done, etc.

Foresight deals with anticipating problems and creating strategies and tactics for dealing with those problems...we use foresight when we anticipate outcomes, seek solutions and seek opportunities. While we know we cannot accurately predict the future we gain a level of comfort thinking about the 'right things' to do to get to where we want to go.

Presence - our ability to be present - is only as good as our ability to set aside hindsight, set aside foresight, and filter through all the current/present stimuli to find the really important things...the things worthy of our attention and our thoughts. 

And, some of those really important ‘present’ things will be problems...problems we should tend to. It is OK to ‘have’ these important, present-problems  – it is good to ‘have’ and deal with these present-problems. Other problems, especially those from other time zones, are less real and less important and beyond our control – it is not good to let them ‘have’ us.

Tags:

I'm too busy! - I don't have time! | Solutions & Opportunities

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.

But...

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.

Got No Time & Ineptitude

by Rick Baker
On Apr 22, 2016

Many people believe they have no time because they think they are far too busy. Since we all have the same amount of time each minute/hour/day, when people feel/think they don’t have enough time they are experiencing a flawed mindset. Actually, these people do have time and their mindset is clouded by some form of ineptitude. Sometimes it's their ineptitude...their inability to identify their talents and use their talents to perform their work. Sometimes it's the ineptitude of people they work with...again, the problem often boils down to a mismatch between talents and work tasks.

If the people are bosses then they can't blame others...they have to accept the fact their ineptitude is the source of the problem [and the cause of the alleged shortage of time]. 

Herein lies a Catch-22. People get so busy 'in their minds' they have no time to address their own ineptitude or anyone else's.  When this problem takes full hold, their too-busy mindsets fuel their ineptitudes and their ineptitudes fuel their too-busy mindsets. The result is a never ending cycle - a shrinking spiral -of work, busyness, stress, and distress...in a paycheck-to-paycheck business environment...[if business is doing that well]. 

When I hear people complain about poor business practices at their company, I know they believe they are too busy. 

When I hear people complain about being too busy, I know their company is experiencing poor business practices. 

Busyness and Ineptitude: These things regularly travel hand in hand, creating a tightly-clutched Catch-22. To excel, people need break the Catch-22 by doing at least one of two actions:

#1 - stop saying & thinking "I am too busy" and

#2 - start injecting better goals, better procedures & better disciplines into their business practices. 

***

Of the above 2 actions, #1 is the easier starting point.

But, what if people try #1 and cannot do it... 

 

 

Tags:

I'm too busy! - I don't have time! | STRENGTHS: People-Focused for Success

Spending time complaining about not having enough time - Don't you think that's being silly?

by Rick Baker
On Mar 14, 2016

Everyone who knows me well knows I have a serious interest in the concept of ‘Time’. [I mean a strong interest in the philosophy and the physics around the concept of Time]. And, people who know me well accept the fact I maintain an ongoing ‘serious peeve’ about self-talk and expression of thoughts like, “I’m too busy” and “I don’t have time”. 

Of course, when you have a serious peeve [i.e., much more than a pet peeve], you tend to want to explain it to people. You want to try to persuade them to buy into your way of thinking. And, if you are like me then you write things in an effort to express your thoughts and arguments. 

Here are some samples of the things I have written:

  • If you think time flies, try holding your breath while your boss is telling a story.
  • A person who chases two rabbits is 'too busy' to catch either.
  • Beware those vagrant thoughts. [Unless, of course, you want to waste a lot of time.]
  • When Opportunities seek out people to visit, they pretty much avoid all the too-busy people.
  • Only a silly person would waste time talking about not having enough time.

Life is a state of mind.” [The U.S. President said that at the end of one of my favourite movies…in 1979.] Actually, life is a relentless stream of states of mind. [I said that in a little Thought Post titled ‘ It's all a matter of mindset’.] 

If you believe life is a relentless stream of states of mind then you may be drawn into thinking about the content of your states of mind. You may be drawn into thinking about how those states arrive in your mind. And, you may be drawn into thinking about controlling your states of mind.

That’s what happened to me:

  • I accepted life is a relentless stream of states of mind
  • I recognized some of those states of mind are positive, while others are negative
  • I decided I can, to a degree, control the thoughts that exist in my states of mind

Then…

I decided I did not want my states of mind to contain thoughts like “I’m too busy” and “I don’t have time”.  

With effort and practice, I pretty much removed these ‘time-constrained’ states from my mind. I found this improved my quality of life…increased my peace of mind. 

This sequence of events compelled me to try to help others remove 'time-constrained thinking' from their states of mind. 

 

Tags:

Brain: about the Human Brain | I'm too busy! - I don't have time!

Be There, Be Positive.

by Rick Baker
On Feb 8, 2016

Sure, we can be distracted or negative but let's remember we have these other two choices: being there and being positive.

If you are not naturally inclined to ‘be there’ and ‘be positive’ it will take some time and effort to adjust your mindset into those zones. 

Being There: It is easier to 'be there' when you are curious, tolerant, and truly interested in other people.

Being Positive: It is easier to 'be positive' when you are genetically predisposed toward optimism, hopeful about the future, and creative enough to envision alternatives and possibilities.

Perhaps, you are not at this time blessed with any of these traits.

Regardless, you can become an expert at 'being there' and 'being positive'.

Yes, any normal human being can become an expert at 'being there' and 'being positive'. It will, of course, require some effort. It will require some thought. It will require some education - ideally, self-education over a patient period of time. In addition, it will require a desire to grow and excel as a person. And, a good sense of humour will help you along the way.

There is no perfect approach to developing the abilities to 'be there' and 'be present'. These abilities are built over time, by trial and error, and you will make missteps along the way.

It seems to me one of the most important considerations is 'control'. To fully succeed you must understand and (wholeheartedly) believe you can control yourself. To fully succeed you must understand and (unconditionally) accept you cannot control other people or situations. The more you believe in and practice self-control the greater your ability to 'be there' and 'be positive'. The more you accept the limitations around your ability to control other people and situations the greater your ability to 'be there' and 'be positive'.

To be clear - I'm not talking about 'fundamentalist' perfectionism...or about taking huge leaps or about making major sacrifices.  I'm talking about taking some initial small steps aimed at 'experiencing the moment' as an observer. I'm talking about setting personal desires/goals aside for brief moments...long enough to listen to one other human being. I'm talking about imagining another possibility that isn't laced with annoyances (or doom-and-gloom thinking). I'm talking about trusting others. I'm talking about thinking between the lines of other people's comments/actions rather than jumping all over them and proving you are right and they are wrong.

 

PS: Now this all makes sense doesn't it? I mean, it makes sense at least until all that adrenalin and cortisol kicks in.

Fixing Attention-to-Detail problems

by Rick Baker
On Jan 4, 2016

I have recently been bombarded by people talking about situations where people they work with are illustrating a lack of attention to detail. The sheer volume of problems brought to me recently cause me to wonder if there is something in the air causing behaviour shifts where people suddenly experience massive difficulty paying attention to details.

Sure, from time to time all of us experience problems paying attention to detail. This happens when we are overstressed. This happens when we are attempting to multi-task. And this can also happen when we are experiencing excessive interruptions while we are attempting to work.

However, this cannot or at the very least should not become a normal state of affairs. We cannot achieve business success if we cannot attend to details and perform with accuracy. Attention to detail is essential to successful performance of business tasks.

Putting two and two together, it certainly appears that many people and many businesses will not be successful…unless we can help them do better in the area of attention to detail.

So, how might we do that?

It's probably a good idea to start by asking questions. That's certainly better than assuming we know why the person is having difficulty paying attention to details.

We can ask a question like, “I notice this error - how do you think that happened?

When we ask that question, we cannot accept an offhand answer. We cannot accept a shrug of the shoulders coupled with, “I don't know.” We cannot accept unclear excuses like, “I'm too busy.” We must make sure the answer has been thought through, at least to a degree.

Sort attention-to-detail problems into two categories:

  1. The person has never had an ability or skill in the area of attention to detail. Under this category, we cannot expect any better performance than the person has illustrated in the past and we should not set attention-to-detail goals that are unachievable. Solution: people who have never exhibited attention-to-detail skill should not be doing work that relies on attention to detail.
  2. The person has exhibited skill in the area of attention to detail but now those skills appear to have slipped away. In this case, something has happened to create a change. Solution: to remedy this problem we must understand what has happened. Who can answer that question? Likely, the person is in the best position answer the question. Make sure the person understands you are committed to understanding what’s happened. Ask the person. That’s the right place to start.
***

As you hear people answer your questions consider how you might help them improve attention-to-detail skills. For example, some thoughts...

  • Consider the power generated by Napoleon Hill's advice: “Plan your work and work your plan (‘Think and Grow Rich’, 1937). Embedded within this advice: schedules help us remember to do the right things at the right times. Doing the right thing at the right time promotes focus and concentration on that thing. Timing, focus, and concentration are the ingredients of attention-to-detail.
  • Be Present - when struggling to concentrate, at the very least a person can pause and work at removing thoughts about the past and thoughts about the future. When we remove thoughts about the past and the future we are at least limited to thoughts about the present situation. That's a good step toward focus and concentration.
  • Airline pilots confirm check-lists save lives - if check-lists work in the airline industry that proves check-lists have some value. And, what about medical teams in operating rooms. And what about shoppers in grocery stores. Check-lists have proven their value. People who choose to ignore check-lists are bucking a successful trend.
  • Know how to say, “No” - this applies from small "No" to large "No", from saying "No" to co-worker interruptions to saying "No" to boss work-dumps.
  • Don’t fight the fact you cannot multi-task and achieve meaningful success - multi-tasking is the route to mediocrity.

First published October 7, 2014

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