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Name of author Rick Baker, P.Eng.

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Self-Improvement happens when talent-laden mind-sets come to the aid of skill-sets.

by Rick Baker
On Mar 28, 2017

The Thinking Behind The Tweet

Some people embrace life-long learning. Those people become the best leaders. They tend to understand their talents & strengths. They tend to apply their brainpower to focused work-tasks. That allows them to build skill-sets and master work-tasks. They take talent to task. They bolster that talent with knowledge, thinking, and practised-skills.

Crossing the transition line in a close-knit group

by Rick Baker
On Mar 27, 2017

Every time I take on a new succession-planning project I stop and think about the best ways to share what I have learned. While some may approach succession as if it lends itself to a pre-planned set of procedures, I don't view it that way.  Succession is one of those extremely personal things, and by 'personal' I mean succession is wrapped up in the needs of more than one person. And, we have to face the fact – people’s needs can be multi-faceted, nuanced and complex. 

I found myself comparing success to sports. I concluded it would definitely fall in the zone of some sort of endurance competition…an endurance competition involving a team…perhaps, an amazing race. As I was thinking along that direction I thought of bicycle racing teams like the Tour de France. A big problem with that analogy is only one person gets to win the bicycle race.  In successful succession projects all the players on the team have to win. Another big problem is, if it's done right succession planning really isn’t a race at all. It isn't a contest that lends itself to stopwatches or time-clocks. In fact, when it is run against time-clocks succession falls short of full success, creating at best some winners but also some losers.

After spending some time thinking about the various sports analogies, I decided there is no real-life sport that can be used to explain business succession. The closest I could do was to create a new sport which would go like this: 

  • there's only one team playing it, so external competition is not a key factor – on the other hand, internal communication is a critical factor; 
  • every player on the team takes turn piggybacking other players, carrying them from time to time for various distances, exerting strength to offset others’ weaknesses;
  • all of the players must cross the transition line as a close-knit group, within arms-length of one another; and,
  • the final requirement is after the transition line has been passed everyone on the team feels good about themselves and each of the other players on the team.

Doesn’t that sound like an interesting sport...a wonderful thing to experience!

Character reigns supreme

by Rick Baker
On Mar 21, 2017

I heard today that assessments aimed at finding high-calibre personnel are no longer considering intelligence and talent but are now concentrating all attention on character.

While I expect this is an exaggeration of the current state of recruiting practices, I think it is wrong to underestimate the value of intelligence and talent. And, I believe the use of character assessment alone is a very troubling way to go about determining people’s wherewithal.  

Intelligence, Talents & Character: it seems to me all three of these things are critical to success. I can't imagine any meaningful achievement that does not contain portions of all of these attributes.  

Intelligence is multifaceted and can work in mysterious ways.  Regardless, it's hard to imagine anything being built without a significant level of intelligence. Intelligence correlates the success…in all endeavours.

Talents are the fundamental pieces required for mastery of task and the construction of all meaningful things. When people use their talents at work they take steps to fulfill their ultimate potential. The more they use their talents the greater their opportunity to succeed.

Character is the overriding quality that inspires thought, promotes trust, and influences action. Character is a construct of personal values, personal rules & morals, and a number of other facets, including self-control and power of will. Character is about authenticity and trueness, consistency and doing the right things. 

Clearly, character is an essential ingredient. It is easy to accept that character is the key ingredient. But, that should not confuse the facts around the importance of intelligence and talent

In support of self-consciousness

by Rick Baker
On Feb 27, 2017

In our lexicon self-consciousness has a weakness connotation.

We have been conditioned to think of 'self-conscious' people as timid people, people who cower under negative self-images.

Let's give this another think.

Better still, let's replace it all with constructive thought.

Self-consciousness is a good thing:

  • It means the person is giving some thought to self...it’s an acknowledgement that thinking about self is an important thing to do.
  • It means the person is aware of self...it’s a foundation upon which self-control can grow.
  • It means the person is growing knowledge of self…it’s the vital step toward self-improvement.

Like all other skills self-awareness, self-control, self-knowledge and self-improvement require guidance and relentless practise. And practise leads to mastery of skills when its guidance-system is housed in an educated, open and self-conscious mind. So, self-consciousness leads to strength in thought and action. Conversely, strength cannot exist when self-consciousness is absent.

Never should we assume self-conscious thought and awareness is only directed toward the negatives. For each of us, self is the essential ingredient. We ought to be conscious of that. And, we ought to wrap that consciousness in constructive mindsets, allowing as little room as possible for negativity.

We face an awesome choice – we can choose to accept self-conscious thought as the recipe for finding our most-positive things…like our talent, our courage, our confidence, our conviction, & our curiosity.

How to develop your positive mental attitude

by Rick Baker
On Feb 21, 2017

Above and beyond everything else, Courage is the mind state that promotes positive mental attitude.

Like every other mind state, with focused and persistent effort, Courage can be developed.

Courage is about facing fears and acting against them. So, Courage is a mind state laced with emotion. It is a mind state where fear is tamed and transformed into something more positive and constructive.

Often, Courage is developed accidentally - for example when someone acts impulsively in reaction to a dangerous or fearful situation.

Deeply rooted Courage can also be developed intentionally with forethought and planned action steps.

People know what causes them to feel fear. People can anticipate most of the situations that cause them fear. As one example, people can anticipate other people’s actions that cause them to experience fear. More specifically, in business, people can anticipate the specific actions their bosses do that trigger feelings of fear.

Most of the situations that cause us to be fearful can be anticipated. 

Because we have this ability to anticipate fearful situations we also have the ability to plan ways to counteract those fearful situations before they visit us. In summary, we can role-play fearful situations in our minds long before those fearful situations happen in reality. While we role-play those fearful situations in our mind we can role-play various reactions to those fearful situations and, in effect, we can train ourselves in advance on the best ways to react to fearful situations. Then, later, when fearful situations arise in real life we can face them and take pre-planned actions. And, because we know what we are doing and why we are doing it we can be more objective. We can 'self-analyse' to assess, rate, adjust, and improve our performance in fear-situations. Following this approach we can improve our handling of fear-situations and build Courage until we reach the level of Courage we desire.

The more fearful situations we can anticipate and plan for the more opportunities we will have to test different fear-countering actions… the goal being ‘fear management’...i.e., Courage.

The process described here helps us master our fears, build Courage, and build self-confidence. This is the optimum process for development of Courage because we control the pace and we get first-hand feedback as we succeed in small steps. It is also an excellent way to build self-confidence, that state of mind where we know we have the ability to address and handle situations when we face them.

Courage and self-confidence are the states of mind most conducive to building positive mental attitudes toward other people and situations and, of more importance, toward ourselves.

Personal Values, Rules of Engagement, & setting off those Hot Button alarms

by Rick Baker
On Jan 31, 2017

When it comes to personal values, there are a handful of common Hot Buttons where differing views about personal values cause problems. Examples include: money, failure to deliver on commitments, personal organization and timeliness, attitude, manners, and communication styles.

When we look at businesses that are succeeding and those that are not, we see these different values 'in action', sometimes meshing together and other times grinding against one another. When businesses are succeeding we see alignment, consistency, and harmony in people's personal values and the rules that guide conduct. When businesses are struggling and failing, we see misaligned values, misunderstood values, disharmony, and disconnected approaches to the rules that guide conduct.

When individual's personal values do not align, business challenges always follow. It is only a matter of time. Sometimes, while people are struggling to start up a business or get over a difficult period in business differences in personal values are set aside…as in – setting aside differences in order to focus on a shared goal. On the other hand, when the dust of the problems clears the differences in personal values start to dominate the mindsets and influence the interactions for the worse. This explains why many businesses fall apart or plummet right after achieving plateaus of new success.

Here is another personal-values Hot Button: Sense of Urgency!

Sense of Urgency & the setting of priorities, particularly in entrepreneurial environments...these are things that often set strong reactions into play. Some people, for example Stephen R Covey, strongly embrace the concept of making time for the Important things. Other people embrace a fleet-of-foot-action approach that always favors Urgency over Important…continuously pressing for prompt action.

When we mix these two ways…

When we see the merits of executing work with a sense of Urgency and we take the time to create strategies and plan our most Important work…

...we maximize success, both with people and with profit.

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