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

Search

Calendar

<<  January 2019  >>
MoTuWeThFrSaSu
31123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28293031123
45678910

View posts in large calendar

Recent Comments

Comment RSS

Discern, then Do - and make a Difference

by Rick Baker
On Dec 21, 2016

Nike says, "Just Do It!"

While that may lead to better health, more energy and more fun it sure creates inefficiencies when it happens at work.

The tech gurus used to say, "Fail quick, fail often" and maybe they still say that. While that may promote curiosity, experimentation and learning it also can create havoc in the typical workplace.

Putting these sorts of slogans/advice together we have experienced a groundswell of advice promoting action without sufficient consideration of the appropriateness of that action.

In the old days, business consultants presented "Ready, Aim, Fire" analogies to help business people understand the need for thinking before doing...paraphrased, "Ready, Aim, Do". That advice was meaningful, specifically because it included the concept of 'aiming', which of course brings to mind pictures of 'aiming at targets'.

Business targets and goals are important. If in doubt, just ask any business consultant…or your boss…or your CEO. Targets and goals help us clarify where we want to go.  With the end-point in mind we can figure out how we want to get there. Specifically, we can figure out what needs to be done to get there.  Similarly, we can figure out what we don't want to do because we recognize some actions will not help us get to our goals.

While that all sounds simple enough, most people in business don't do it.

Most people do not test their actions against their goals.

Put another way, the 80/20 Rule applies: most business people spend most of their time (perhaps 80%) doing things that do not take them toward their goals.

Here are two practical tools that can be used to improve your “Ready, Aim, Fire”:

 

Personal Organization Tool #1

To be accurate, Pareto inspired tools like the one above. He recognized that in many situations 20% of the 'causes' generate 80% of the 'effects/results/outcomes'. The key message here is: when it comes to doing things, be discerning so you increase the likelihood your performance of work will deliver the results you desire.

 

 

Personal Organization Tool #2:

 

Stephen R. Covey understood tasks had 2 major dimensions: Importance and Urgency. He designed a simple matrix/grid to help people be more discerning when performing work tasks.

More details to follow...

‘Belief’ brings peace of mind, confidence & success

by Rick Baker
On Oct 13, 2016

Have you noticed when you truly believe something will happen you become calmer and have a greater clarity of focus?

Have you noticed when you truly believe something will happen your worries melt away and/or are replaced by feelings of certainty and confidence?

For example, consider situations where you have been confused…situations where you face many options and are trying to make an important decision.  In these situations, you consider and weigh some options. You deliberate. You decide. And, sometimes your thinking produces an incredibly clear decision, backed by not just decisiveness but also a belief that the actions to follow will result in achievement of the desired goal.

Of course, this does not happen with all of your decisions. However, it does happen for some. And, when you fully believe in the outcome - would you not agree - the successful result is almost guaranteed?  When your decisions are backed by strong belief, your confidence is bolstered, you have greater peace of mind, your actions are definite, and success inevitably follows.

Belief is the prime ingredient, the catalyst for results.

Stated another way…

"Belief is the thermostat that regulates what we accomplish in life."

David J Schwartz, 'The Magic of Thinking BIG' (1959…2015 audio book)

***

Belief enables us to accomplish:

  • Success – achievement of our goals
  • Confidence – an essential trait of character
  • Peace of Mind – which allows us to enjoy our successes, learn from our errors, and accept other people’s frailties

***

Napoleon Hill said...

What the mind can conceive and believe the mind can achieve.

[What a wonderful thought to keep top of mind...always!]

Why feel fear and sadness?

by Rick Baker
On Oct 5, 2016

Why do we fear the loss of other people? Why are we sad when people leave us? I've given a fair bit of thought to this topic, both from the pre-perspective and the post-perspective. 

I've talked to people who are in pain, and I felt some pain myself. I've wanted to be able to ease their pain, and fallen short of being able to do that. Also, I've talk to people who have been very puzzled about why this happens. Why are other people so in fear of or worried about others leaving. I mean leaving permanently, for example - dying.

Why do some people fear the death of loved ones? How can we help them reduce that fear? These are the questions.

The fear of death is a powerful and quite common force. Napoleon Hill included the fear of death in his short list of the six most-common fears. I suppose the death of another person brings to home the fact, the cold hard fact, of our own mortality. In addition, the pain tied to  loss of love [which will inevitably happen when a loved one departs] is another of Napoleon Hill's six most-common fears. 

I believe the antidote suggested by Napoleon Hill can be summed up as follows:

  • We must accept our own mortality, as being part of the human condition.
  • We must accept that death brings unknowns to us because none of us knows with certainty what will happen to us when we die. We may choose to except beliefs about what will happen, but no one has first-hand proof. So, consciously or subconsciously, the topic of death brings ambiguity to our minds. We must accept that uncertainty and ambiguity as part of life [part of the human condition] and embrace it as being beyond our control.
  • If we can accept death as inevitable and beyond our control then hopefully we gain peace of mind and that will be accompanied by a reduction in the fear we feel. 
To a degree, even to a large degree, with thought, plans and proactive we can control our fears.

 

Tags:

Beyond Business | Emotions & Feelings @ Work | Hero Worship | Wisdom: Surviving the Test of Time

"Is that so."

by Rick Baker
On Oct 3, 2016

Sometime ago I read a book about calmness, peace of mind and the cultures that promote these things. The book talked about a fellow, initially well respected in his community, who due to an unfounded and unkind accusation became the subject of community scorn. This fellow illustrated minimal reaction to either the respect or the scorn. Being most wise he first received his community's greatest accolades. Then, under peculiar circumstances he received his community's worst humiliations. Regardless, his response to news and to others' opinions and comments, whether bad or good, whether just or unjust, was always "Is that so". His singular response -  "Is that so" - wasn't presented as a question, it was presented as an acknowledgement that he had heard the news or the opinion. Internally, he was conditioned to accept situations as they arise and not allow them to destroy his calmness or peace of mind.

***

Napoleon Hill served U.S. President Woodrow Wilson for many years and the two men were very close. After helping end WWI, Woodrow Wilson became a champion for a new cause, the League of Nations: an international organization designed to promote world peace. While Wilson was appreciated world-wide for his efforts he failed to obtain his country's support to unite with other countries under the League of Nations. This failure 'broke Wilson's spirit' and the man slipped into poor health and death. Napoleon Hill visited Wilson at his death bed, wanting to help his friend pass as peacefully as possible. As Wilson lay on his deathbed, still agonizing over his failures Hill calmly looked down at Wilson and said to him, "Ultimately nothing matters". After thinking on it, Wilson looked up at Hill and, with a calmness taking hold, confirmed his agreement.

***

These two thoughts, which I learned from books - "Is that so" and "Ultimately nothing matters" - seem most fitting for today's situation. 


Written September 22, 2016.

Tags:

Beyond Business | Hero Worship | Wisdom: Surviving the Test of Time

It's time to stamp out Passion and Love in our Workplaces!

by Rick Baker
On Sep 28, 2016

When people say “passion in the workplace”:

  • What does that mean to you? 
  • What does that mean to them?

It seems the ‘motivational gurus’ cannot break the habit of using the word 'passion' when talking about ideal workplaces and their followers cannot get beyond feeling little twinges of inspiration, albeit incredibly short lived twinges, when they hear messages about 'passion in the workplace'.

But – really – what does all this talk about 'passion in the workplace' mean and does it contain any value?

Bottom lines… 

For donors of motivational messages about workplace-passion: Do these people actually care or think about the meaning of the word passion or do they just spew out the word, because they believe it’s in vogue or because they cannot stop themselves from riding the wake of a cliché? 

For recipients who are inspired by workplace-passion messages: What, exactly, are they thinking when they get inspired? Specifically, what does the word passion mean to them?

Some context…

Here’s the way the Merriam-Webster Dictionary presents the various meanings of the word passion:

Simple Definition of PASSION

  • a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something
  • a strong feeling (such as anger) that causes you to act in a dangerous way
  • a strong sexual or romantic feeling for someone

Full Definition of PASSION

1. often capitalized: a) the sufferings of Christ between the night of the Last Supper and his death; b) an oratorio based on a gospel narrative of the Passion

2. obsolete :  suffering

3. the state or capacity of being acted on by external agents or forces

4.a) (1) emotion his ruling passion is greed (2) plural the emotions as distinguished from reason; b) intense, driving, or overmastering feeling or conviction; c) an outbreak of anger

5.a) ardent affection : love; b) a strong liking or desire for or devotion to some activity, object, or concept; c) sexual desire; d) an object of desire or deep interest

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

So this does not get too complicated…

…let’s just consider the Merriam-Webster dictionary’s Simple Definition of PASSION

  • a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something (Bullet Point 1)
  • a strong feeling (such as anger) that causes you to act in a dangerous way (Bullet Point 2)
  • a strong sexual or romantic feeling for someone (Bullet Point 3)

Bullet Point 1 – Yes, this definition fits workplaces. At least, in theory, enthusiasm/excitement has the potential to be a productive driver in workplaces. Obviously, in practice, enthusiasm/excitement will face limitations in working people and in workplaces:  

  • for the former, there will be ‘good days and bad days’ where enthusiasm/excitement do and do not happen – after all, we are only human
  • for the latter, there will be ‘right times and places’ where enthusiasm/excitement fit and do not fit – after all, all those other people at our workplaces are also only human

All considered, the first simple definition fits workplaces. For example, if we were to say “We are enthusiastic about our work” or “We are excited about our work” then people would interpret these as good things…which makes me wonder – why don’t the motivational gurus just say those things instead of using the word 'passion'? [It seems to me the answer to that last questions rests somewhere between hyperbole and thick syrup.]

Bullet Point 2 – No, we do not want people to get angry and act in dangerous ways when they are at work. To the extent motivational gurus use the word passion to inspire people, most of us hope that inspiration will not result in angry mindsets and dangerous actions…which makes me wonder…why would the gurus take the risk of this interpretation by using the word passion? [It seems to me the answer to that last question must be they are 2nd bullet-point passionate about using the word 'passion' in their motivational messages.]

Bullet Point 3 – Now, you might find it discomforting that motivational gurus argue in favour of bringing strong sexual and romantic feelings to work…i.e., bringing love to work. I mean, you may be thinking there’s a time and place…and the workday isn’t the right time and the workplace isn’t the right place. Regardless, the motivational gurus, many of them for many years, have been arguing in favour of bringing passion and love to the workplace! 

As one example, here’s a very-recent Simon Sinek quote:

“True love exists in business. It's when employee and employer are amazingly grateful to have each other. We should all have true love at work.”

When I read that quote, I wondered if Simon Sinek has ever read a dictionary definition of the word ‘love’. For example, has he read the Merriam-Webster definition:

Simple Definition of LOVE

  • a feeling of strong or constant affection for a person
  • attraction that includes sexual desire : the strong affection felt by people who have a romantic relationship
  • a person you love in a romantic way

In this English language we use, there is a considerable difference between loving and being grateful. Arguments promoting "we should all have true love at work" are patently silly. And, unfortunately, Simon Sinek is not alone in his passion and love arguments. Clearly - the motivational gurus are going too far in their quest for catchy slogans and advice: they are squeezing clichés beyond the limits of common sense. 

Clearly, it's time to stamp out Passion and Love in our Workplaces!

PS: If you are eligible and you meet a willing recipient for your love and passion at your workplace then the above is not intended to dissuade you or the object of your affection. However, I must extend two suggestions of caution: (1) there is a time and a place so you may want to consider off-premises and after-hours for your exchange of love and passion and (2) don’t confuse your wonderfully-human emotions and mind-states with arguments that suggest your love and passion have anything to do with business cases, workplace excellence or ROI.

PPS: In recognition of my motivational hero, Napoleon Hill. Yes – Napoleon Hill championed the value of transmuting sexual energy into energy to be used for workplace thought and action [see Hill’s 1937 classic, ‘Think and Grow Rich’]. Hill saw the tremendous energy embedded in the emotions he described as 'love' and 'sex'. He recognized, if sex energies could be channeled [i.e., transmuted] into different endeavours, including business work, then the results could be stupendous. I expect the current motivational gurus haven't misunderstand/misinterpret Hill’s messages…after all, it seems they haven’t even taken the time to read dictionaries let alone the works of motivational leaders who did take the time to do very deep thinking before putting thoughts to their audiences.

PPPS: I recognize some workplaces rely upon passion and/or love - most of them deliver incredible humane and charitable services...others are are just plain illegal. 

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.

 

Footnotes

  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. 

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.