Rick Baker Thought Posts
Left Menu Space Holder

About the author

Name of author Rick Baker, P.Eng.

E-mail me Send mail
Follow me LinkedIn Twitter



<<  November 2018  >>

View posts in large calendar

Recent Comments

Comment RSS

15 Ways to Influence Thinking & Inspire Action

by Rick Baker
On Dec 22, 2016

Vision inspires

Leadership has a few essential ingredients. For example, the leader must possess a level of intelligence and the leader must possess a character that appeals to followers. Another essential ingredient is Vision. Good-to-great leaders hold a long-lasting, vivid image of what they want in their minds and they communicate that message to their followers. Some good-to-great leaders have an innate gift of communication. Other good-to-great leaders learn the art of communication.

Values fuel the right actions

Everyone lives by a set of personal Values, whether or not they are expressed verbally. The greatest of leaders naturally live by their Values in a most consistent manner. And they have a habit of painting verbal pictures around their Values. Good-to-great leaders' thoughts and actions and communications are consistent. This clarity around Values sends a consistent message to followers. The message energizes followers. In this way, the leaders' Values fuel everything.

Goals provide direction

Good-to-great leaders set long-term goals and they set short-term goals...they know the importance of little milestone steps that guide positive actions toward the long-term goal. Good-to-great leaders know the linkage between good habits and long-term goals. Good habits help people achieve their long-term goals whereas bad habits do not. Short-term goals provide the opportunity for testing, doing, failing, learning, and adjusting the next sets of short-term goals and actions. 

Intent doesn't go without saying

Good-to-great leaders, when compared to average people/leaders, somehow, do a better job of understanding other people. So, somehow, they do a better job of choosing people whose intentions are more aligned to fit on common ground...rallying around a cause. Some good-to-great leaders possess natural gifts of empathy. Other good-to-great leaders figure out how to read other people and they start the process by sharing discussion of Intentions. When in doubt, they ask.

Stories get remembered

Great leaders are great communicators. They are attuned to their life-experiences and how some of those life-experiences serve as excellent examples that can be shared with other people, followers and others who could be followers in the future. Great leaders create powerful, magnetic stories around these pertinent life-experiences. They practice delivering these stories. Then they use every opportunity to present and repeat the stories...to anyone and everyone who will listen.

Take Immediate Steps to Improve Communication

When communication gets off track, straying from the desired direction, good leaders work to improve communication so it returns to the right track. Good leaders do not let interpersonal conflicts fester. They know success relies on a level of harmony between followers. So, when dysfunction is evident they address it. Good leaders communicate to ensure their followers' harmony and focus.

Design Tools to Help People

Tools serve people...making their lives easier, making their lives more productive, adding quality to their lives...assisting them as they build. Good leaders know the power inherent in tools. Good leaders ensure their people have access to good tools. And, to maximize opportunities for performance good leaders ensure their people have customized tools...creative, customized tools.

Focus on Solutions

Leaders see solutions. Solutions and solution-thinking are around the essence of leadership. Good leaders connect with followers who are like minded about solutions. Some followers are naturally solution-oriented, others need to learn that problems are the routes to solutions, growth, and opportunities. Leaders do 2 things to promote solution-orientation: they lead by example...and...they teach.

Seek Simple 

When people go about business things can get complicated and that can happen quickly. Good leaders know the difference between simple, complicated, and complex. Good leaders conserve their energy, saving it for the complicated and complex things. One strategy that ensures energy is conserved so it can be put to best use is Seeking Simple...separating wheat from chaff...helping followers do the same.

Understand Business Contains Only 3 Things: People, Process, & Situations

"People, Processes, & Situations" is an example of seeking simple.  Good leaders know success is all about people...so good leaders invest time connecting with, serving, mentoring, and strengthening good people. Good leaders ensure processes [including tools] serve people, helping people convert actions into results. Good leaders know situations have a most-powerful effect on behaviour, so they plan for and construct situations.

Understand People Do Only 3 Things: Good Habits, Bad Habits, & New Things

Good Habits are things people think and do that help them achieve long-term desires and goals. Bad Habits are things that people think and do that do not help them achieve long-term desires and goals. Good leaders use these simple definitions to inject clarity into their lives. Then good leaders work at reducing their performance of Bad Habits and expanding their performance of Good Habits. And, good leaders test New Things...relentlessly seeking more Good Habits.

Take Talent To Task

Good leaders are fascinated by people's talents. When people's talents show a capability of aligning with the trust of the leader's goals, good leaders ensure the talented person has access to (1) opportunities to put the talent to productive use, (2) specialized knowledge to complement the talent, and (3) time to practice skills to hone the talent into a personal strength. Then good leaders don't leave things to chance - they help people connect personal strengths to important tasks. 

Don’t force change…construct it with comfort

Good leaders know change is constructive only when people are comfortable. And personal and business growth happens when people learn how to expand their comfort zones. Knowing these things, good leaders consider people's comfort/stress levels and design change in increments that help expand comfort zones without triggering the destructive consequences that naturally happen when people are forced into discomfort zones. Good leaders also know this correct approach to change 'dominoes' as confidence escalates.

Repeat clearly, "I do have time!"

Good leaders know the importance of leading by example. So, they know if they say "I don't have time" or "I'm too busy" their followers will pick up on that, think the same way, talk the same way, and act accordingly...spreading the lack-of-abundance mindset to one and all. Knowing this, good leaders remove the "I don't have time" & "I'm too busy" bad habit from their thoughts and words. They replace the bad habit with good habits: as examples, they apply the 80/20 Rule and they practice abundance thought and solution talk.

Change character for the better

All great leaders changed their character. Perhaps Abraham Lincoln performed one of the greatest self-transformations. When he was a young man he had the habit of openly criticizing other people. In 1842 Lincoln publicly criticized Illinois state employee James Shields. Shields took exception to the criticism and challenged Lincoln to a duel. The 2 men faced one another with weapons in hands. Fortunately their seconds intervened. Lincoln used the incident as a life-lesson and he chose to change his character for the better...rarely criticizing others. Lincoln's change of character took him from the dueling field to the White House. 



Strengths & Weaknesses…close neighbours

by Rick Baker
On Dec 7, 2016

We must never forget, the DNA of our greatest weaknesses lurks within our greatest strengths… and vice-versa. The fine line separating strength from weakness may be as thin and fragile as humility. Or, when humility isn’t present, perhaps, strengths resist the temptation to become weaknesses as a result of some other tempering wisdom.

Regardless, strengths and weaknesses are close neighbours and they are reliant upon the direction of thought and action. Thoughts and actions aligned with true goals, long-term goals aligned with personal values, bring strengths to the forefront. Conversely, thoughts and actions that stray from the paths paved by true goals and personal values are the bad habits that grow weaknesses.

To a degree, at least a material degree and possibly a huge degree, our strengths owe their existence to our thoughts.

And, to a degree, again at least a material degree and possibly a huge degree, we possess the ability to choose our thoughts.

So, we have the ability to choose our strengths, first in our thoughts then in our actions.

When we fail to choose our strengths our indecision gives life to our weaknesses.

Our strengths and their related good habits are the consequences of the good choices we make. Our weaknesses do not have to wait for our choices. Our weaknesses may be the consequences of bad decisions or they may arrive on the backs of our bad habits of indecision.

Controlling the common littlenesses of human nature

by Rick Baker
On Aug 29, 2016

William MacDonald described Benjamin Franklin as a man who could control the common littleness of human nature1. It is clear MacDonald had tremendous respect for the special gifts Benjamin Franklin brought to Mankind, as a citizen of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the United States of America…and the rest of the world.

When MacDonald talked of Franklin controlling the littlenesses of human nature, he was describing Franklin’s innate ability to understand the littlenesses housed in himself and other people and adjust himself in order to get around those littlenesses so he and others could accomplish great things. 

By the mid-1700’s, when he was less than 50 years old, Benjamin Franklin had become a worldwide phenomenon…a true polymath…a true leader of men…a true leader of thought...a leader in scientific thought...a true hero.

Franklin’s accomplishments are mind-boggling.

As examples:

By his early 20’s Franklin was a self-made business success.

By his late 40’s Franklin was recognized [worldwide] as a gifted scientist.

Between those milestones he had:

  • created a mastermind, gathering intelligent friends to philosophize, share ideas and create practical solutions to Philadelphia's problems [his Junto, also known as the Leather Apron Club]
  • created time-management/personal-organization tools and decision-making tools...his pioneer work in this area lives on in legacy, for example - 'Franklin Covey'
  • co-founded an early [if not America’s first] subscription library
  • co-founded an academy that became the University of Pennsylvania
  • led the community movement that funded the first paving of roads in Philadelphia
  • built an international printing empire by creating partnerships, funding & franchising a series of strategically-located print shops 
  • built a successful newspaper - the Pennsylvania Gazette 
  • created a bestseller – 'Poor Richard’s Almanack'
  • created Philadelphia’s first volunteer fire brigade
  • taught himself French, Italian and Spanish languages
  • served as Philadelphia's postmaster
  • invented the Franklin Stove, an energy-efficient heating system still in use today…then refused to patent it because he felt he had benefited from others’ inventions so others should benefit from his

Of course, Franklin was a well-respected civic and provincial politician…long before he became America’s political representative to other nations prior to, during, and after the American Revolution.

Yes – Franklin was one of the 56 who risked the gallows2 by signing the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

And, of course, Ben Franklin did that experiment with a storm, lightning, a kite and a key…and he invented the lighting rod and the best methods of installing it. This invention illustrated to the world that electricity could be controlled, to a degree, by Mankind. That illustration helped introduce a new era of scientific thought and experimentation that is still advancing today. And the lightning rod saved countless lives and reduced, on a world-wide basis, damage and loss of property caused by lighting fires.

On top of these things, Franklin was a commissioned Colonel who built a series of fortresses to protect Pennsylvanians from the French and Indian invasions in the mid-1700's, He personally led Pennsylvanians into battle against these invading forces...he led peace talks with the native Indians and, after the war had ended, he ensured the protection of peaceful Indians from unruly Pennsylvanian mobs.

Benjamin Franklin did much more than these things.

Here's another sampling...

Franklin left Boston at the age of 16, venturing out on his own to Philadelphia. He was a vegetarian during his teenage years. He understood the value of character and he practiced character-building ‘virtues’ throughout his life. This practice started when Franklin was about 20 years old. Somehow, he was wise well beyond his years. Somehow, he understood his ‘littlenesses of human nature’ and he committed to removing his own to full extent he could accomplish that goal. Benjamin Franklin worked on that throughout his life, for over 60 years. Franklin's desire to design and build his character along strict guidelines allowed him to control many, but not all, his ‘littlenesses’. He was candid about his shortcomings and he took a humble stance on his amazing accomplishments. 

Benjamin Franking is a man worth studying…and his practices - his good habits - are certainly worth emulating. 

It is never too late to start emulating heroes.



  1. 'The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin:  Now First Printed in England from the Full and Authentic Text', (1905)
  2. These are words Napoleon Hill used to describe the ‘founding fathers’ of what is now the U.S.A. 

Curiosity bolsters self-confidence.

by Rick Baker
On Aug 5, 2016

Curiosity opens the door to alternative realities: this is discovered when you are curious, when you ask questions and when you listen to other people's self-stories. 

When people see your [sincere] curiosity at play, most will reciprocate and share their realities with you - realities that are as true and accurate as yours...but, often, remarkably different than yours. 

There are, of course, other ways to learn about other people's realities. We live in the age of The Internet of Things and enormous volumes of information are available online. Consider Facebook and Twitter. These two online social media venues offer insight into people’s realities, or at least insight into the way they want to present their 'realities' to you in pictures and stories. 

To really get a full perspective on other people's realities it is better to interact with them face-to-face. Have real conversations. And to maximize those conversations, it is best to be curious and to ask good questions then observe and listen intently. 

Give people plenty of time to share their stories with you.

Curiosity is an innate talent. We all possess it. At least, at one time when we were young we certainly did.

Curiosity is also a learned skill. 

If life experiences have beaten curiosity out of you – don’t give up. Your curiosity can be resurrected. Your curiosity can also be enhanced so it will become a lifelong tool. Curiosity will help you understand other people in ‘your world’. Curiosity will allow you to understand how you differ from other people in very fundamental ways. And curiosity will help you understand why other people disagree with your views and sometimes refuse to embrace your views. As you gain understanding of the differences, the knowledge you gain will build your self-confidence. 

When you understand your perspectives differ from other people’s perspectives, you have the ability to construct your messages in ways that do not threaten other people’s perspectives. At the same time the messages embedded in your questions will help others understand your views. In effect, communication preparation – question preparation – is the key to building both self-confidence and personal relationships. Choose to deliver your viewpoints in ways that will be understood [questions] rather than in ways that will be poorly received [instructions]. When you develop skill in this area you will grow self-confidence. 


About Todd Henry's 3 Types of Work & 4 Worker Profiles

by Rick Baker
On Jul 5, 2016

Todd Henry presents a very helpful way to think about work and the types of work people favour.

This perspective on work and workers' natural preferences can be used to complement the wisdom embedded in Gallup's Talents and Strengths tools. Of course, for Gallup, 'Developer' has a different meaning.

An introduction to Todd Henry's thinking

Your Peace of Mind ...&...Your Character

by Rick Baker
On May 23, 2016

There's a sweet spot where your thoughts & actions, your talents & strengths, and your values & virtues align and overlap.

This sweet spot is the place where your peace of mind lives. For many people, peace of mind is hard to find...like that tiny font in a sweet spot.

Here's the picture:


Other people can sense but not really feel or see your peace of mind. Other people cannot truly know your thoughts. AT best, other people can guess your talents and your values. However, they can and do observe your actions and make conclusions about your virtues, values, talents, strengths, and thoughts. They sum all these things up very quickly and, in a word, they call them your character. This all starts with first impressions, which get corrected each time you perform and they observe new actions. And, in their minds, you character remains fragile...slow to build and quick to demolish. Their minds are harsh judges, always opining on your actions. And, again, their opinion of your character can easily sustain damage and permanent injury.

Your character, as they decide it,  becomes the framework they use to determine the nature of the relationship they will [or will not] have with you. 

Here's the picture:

Of course, you have a biased view of these aspects of your peace of mind and your character...as do others who observe you.

490 Dutton Drive - Suite C6 - Waterloo ON N2L 6H7 - phone 519-886-6522 - fax 519-886-8795
Copyright © 2012. W.F.C (Rick) Baker. All Rights Reserved.