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Name of author Rick Baker, P.Eng.

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Ancient communication wisdom: "Men trust their ears less than their eyes."

by Rick Baker
On Feb 20, 2017

The Thinking Behind The Tweet

"Men trust their ears less than their eyes."


Greek Historian, 484BCE-425BCE

Now, 2400 years after Herodotus, psychologists are completing experiments that confirm Herodotus' ancient wisdom...our eyes overrule our ears...truly, we do believe what our eyes see them do more than what our ears hear them say. This applies to their major actions and to their minor body-language signals.

Don’t be Passionate about Shorthand Abstractions…they have no Integrity

by Rick Baker
On Jan 12, 2017

Over the last few years, I have written and talked about the communication problems that happen when business leaders use words like Passion and Integrity to lead/encourage/inspire people to be the best they can be at work. The words Passion and Integrity are laced with double entendre and have been overused and misused to the point of obfuscation. Put another way, these two words have been clichéed to the brink of uselessness. Their use has evolved and become mostly bad habit.

Like many of the words and phrases we exchange with one another, the words Passion and Integrity are shorthand abstractions. You can also think of these two words as troubled memes. The words Passion and Integrity have been passed down the generations and passed around the tables for so long and by so many that intent and meaning have been bastardized as happens in ‘telephone games’. 

Business leaders should exercise care when they communicate, especially when they use shorthand abstractions that are likely to touch sensitive territories including personal values, morals, emotions and powerful feelings. 

Why should leaders take greater care when we use shorthand abstractions?

Here’s some thoughts from Tor Norretranders’ –

“That is also the point with abstractions. We want them to be shorthand for a lot of information that was digested in the process leading to the use of the abstraction but not present when we use it. Such abstractions have depth. We love them. Other abstractions have no depth. They are shallow, just used to impress the other guy. They do not help us. We hate them.”

Article – ‘Depth’ by Tor Norretranders, Science Author. An excerpt from John Brockman’s edge.org inspired book ‘This Will Make You Smarter’, (2012)

PS: Yes - interesting use of the shorthand abstractions ‘love’ and ‘hate’ in the quote above. That goes right to the heart and brain of my message here.

PPS: Yes - much of what we communicate has the forms of both shorthand abstraction and bad habit. That's why we provide definitions of words and explanations: this is one way to help people understand what we are trying to communicate. 


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.



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.


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

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