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Name of author Rick Baker, P.Eng.

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Favouring a realistic approach to Values, Virtues & Rules

by Rick Baker
On Jan 4, 2017

Values are concepts covering things important and admirable to us (our minds). Values are our perceptions of intrinsically valuable or desirable ways of doing things.

Virtues are concepts about good behavior and character, reflecting how other people think of us…perceptions they carry in their minds about us.

Rules are concepts, which set boundaries on thoughts and action. Rules are determined by our values. Actions are things we do. Actions are governed by our rules.


When you have Integrity – I mean when you have Integrity as I define it - your actions are closely aligned with your values. You say what you mean and you mean what you say…and you do what you say. Put another way, when you have Integrity your perceptions of your values closely match other people’s perceptions of your virtues.

When your values and virtues are closely aligned people find it easier to trust you. Trust grows naturally…organically. You feel no need to advertise your Integrity and other people have no need to witness such advertising. They observe the ‘real thing’ when they see the consistency of your behaviour and that’s the way trust is built between people.

There’s a saying, “Rules are made to be broken.” That’s a fair and accurate statement considering the reality of human behavior. All rules get broken…by someone…sooner or later…(and often we don’t have to wait for later). 

Even rules based on our deepest and most-admirable values get broken. As one example – nearly everyone lies…even to the people who mean the most to them. People have their secrets and certain questions defy honest answers. While it is admirable to think people can behave like open-honest books, that expectation is inconsistent with reality. Those who seek perfection in others will find the human condition is laced with imperfections. So, when considering others virtues and drawing conclusions about their personal values and their character it is important to set the bar at a reasonable level.

When people slip up - when people who matter to you clearly illustrate they have broken their own values-rules - 

  • Fight the urge to question their virtues and write them off [as Covey described the reality of human behaviour] by quickly emptying their ‘trust account’,
  • Step back and consider the reality of your own values-rules breaches and try to counteract your natural attribution bias, and
  • Be open and candid with the people, but stop well short of dragging them through the coals or humbling them as if you are blessed to administer that right. 

Do you aim to give people more, less, or exactly what they expect?

by Rick Baker
On Nov 9, 2016

When you aim to give people more than they expect…

  • You must be ready, willing and able to go the extra mile.
  • You must embrace Napoleon Hill’s ‘QQS’ principle: deliver more Quantity and Quality of service and do it with a winning Spirit.
  • You must seek out problems, knowing you can solve them because you know how to take advantage of new technologies.

When you aim to give people less than they expect…

  • You must be ready, willing and able to drive hard bargains.
  • You must be prepared to lie, cheat and steal.
  • You must be wary of the inevitable reciprocation that is sure to come your way.

When you aim to give people exactly what they expect…

So -
  • What are your Values?
  • What do your clients value?
  • What value will you deliver to your clients?

Negative Thinking – now, isn’t that a textured problem

by Rick Baker
On Sep 13, 2016

Not only is it textured, negative thinking is thick out there.

Negative thinking cannot be band-aided into insignificance: it is a thick, multi-layered, multi-textured problem.

  1. Some people overtly express their CAN’T DO viewpoints.
  2. Some people covertly express their CAN’T DO viewpoints to coworkers, friends and family - when the boss ain’t there.
  3. Some people hide in their safe spots [from cubbyholes to bunkers], victims thinking and thinking and thinking CAN’T DO.

#1 people, sometimes, just need an attentive ear to hear them out. Their intentions may be OK-to-Good while their communication skillsets are not. Or, sometimes, these people are just having one of those bad days. It’s worth exploring to determine if hidden gems exist beneath the complaining crust. Sometimes – likely, often - #1 people are crying out for help. As Eckhart Tolle said, “Most people respond to a cry for help with a cry for help”. That pattern is broken when people respond to a cry for help with listening ears, seeing eyes and thinking brains.

#2 people carry on because insidious behavior enjoys company. But that company is only enjoyed when it is limited to people who support or at least grin and bear relentless rainstorms of complaints and criticism. When confident people enter the conversation negative thinking is challenged. The solution is in the zone of crisis/wake-up-call. Unfortunately, more often than not, when the crisis subsides or the alarm bell stops ringing the negative thinking returns and takes full control.

#3 people can be ticking time bombs…nowadays, we can take that literally as well as figuratively. These people defy but need intervention of some sort. Perhaps, they have the ability to snap out of their deep negativity? Perhaps, wise, kindly-delivered help will support the development and use of new good habits aimed at moving from negativity to positivity? Likely, most people do not possess the wisdom and skill required to assist people who possess deep-rooted/fear-filled negativity. 

When you witness negativity, what do you think?

When you witness negativity, what do you do?

What if that negativity you witness is your own?

Motivation, Hormones, DNA & all those self-help books

by Rick Baker
On Aug 30, 2016

...and, let's not forget Willpower!

Maybe motivation is just a byproduct of hormones? 

Our bodies create hormones and those hormones influence us. There’s cause and effect in action which is consistent with motivation and, perhaps, there's an argument this hormone-induced motivation is the only motivation. I mean, without our hormones we wouldn't be doing anything and with our hormones we do the things we do. And as hormones ebb and flow people do different things and act in different ways...which is consistent with experiencing a range of motivations. So, without hormones we would have no motivation.

And, there's scientific evidence 'proving' that hormones serve certain roles and different hormones trigger/motivate different thoughts and behaviour. 

No question – hormones play a role in motivation.

And, that raises some questions –

Are hormones the sole cause of motivation?

Are hormones the root-source of motivation?

How does DNA fit in?

Are motivations simply genetic [destined/predestined] legacies?

Are self-help books a complete waste of time and money?


Does willpower provide each of us the opportunity to decide and influence our motivations? 

Does creativity crave structure?

by Rick Baker
On Aug 25, 2016

I have heard opposing viewpoints. 

Some people think creativity happens when a group of brilliant young people bounce ideas off one another in zany bright-coloured open workspaces. My mind is conjuring up images of Google people accomplishing amazing Google things. 

Some people think creativity sparks, sooner or later, if persistent focused effort is performed under well-defined scientific testing. Now, I’m picturing Edison and his people exhaustively going through those 5,000 [or was it 10,000] failures before they found the solution to incandescent lighting.

Some people believe solitary efforts in seclusion, silence, and stillness are the routes to creative intelligence. Elmer R. Gates comes to mind…this self-proclaimed psychologist and prolific inventor was sought out and  paid to sit for ideas and he achieved such success sitting for ideas he impressed Napoleon Hill [author of the classic, ‘Think And Grow Rich’].

Some people think creativity is closely linked to if not the result of personal suffering: whether physical in form or emotional or mental. Examples of creative people who have suffered include Gandhi, Van Gogh, Mandela, Beethoven, Lincoln, and pretty much all the great poets…and, of course, I better include Jimmy Morrison or I will later feel remiss. 

All that considered – 

How does structure fit in?

While there is no question – the environments for creativity vary considerably and the personalities of creative people vary considerably…and there are many different routes that lead to creativity – the question remains, does creativity crave structure?

What does your personal experience tell you?

Think about performing at your creative best…how did you get there?

Do you have flashes of intuition/genius…how do they arise…what was happening before they ‘hit you’?

Do you set aside time to be creative...if you do, do you ‘plan and structure things’ prior to beginning to spend that time?

PS: A year or so ago, after a great deal of deliberation, I changed one of my personal values from 'Creativity' to 'Curiosity'. I wonder if that gives away my answer to the title question.

How do you go about making yourself useful?

by Rick Baker
On Aug 24, 2016

Do you want to be useful?

If so -

How do you go about making yourself useful?


First -

What does ‘being useful’ mean to you?

  • Is ‘being useful’ about thoughts?
  • Is ‘being useful’ about action?
  • Is ‘being useful’ about both?

Next -

When you envision yourself being useful what, specifically, do you see yourself thinking or doing?

Why did you choose these things as being useful rather than choosing other things?

What's the relationship between these useful things and your personal values?

When you do these useful things, how do you do them?

Then –

How do you go about making yourself useful?

Do you set goals around your useful things?

Do you monitor the things you do and regulate yourself in an effort to maximize the time you spend doing useful things?

Do you refuse to do things you deem to be not-useful?

When you find yourself doing not-useful things do you stop and shift toward doing useful things?

When you feel bored do you intentionally choose to remove that boredom by doing useful things?

When you feel stressed do you check to see if you are doing useful things?

When you face problems do you intentionally focus on how to make yourself useful?

When you see people struggling do you automatically make yourself useful, helping them?

Throughout the day, do you ask yourself, "Am I making myself useful?"? 

At the end of the day do you ask yourself, "What useful things did I do today?"?

Do you commit to being useful tomorrow?

Do you commit to being useful every day from here to eternity?


Has making yourself useful become one of your good habits


Questions?: The Art of Asking Good Questions | Thinking as in Think and Grow Rich

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