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Name of author Rick Baker, P.Eng.

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You gotta learn how to tune strings before you can become a rock star!

by Rick Baker
On Nov 3, 2015

That concept holds true if you want to be a successful business leader.

It isn't a question of patience. It's a question of competence. It's about what it takes to develop competence.

Competence is about 4 things: 

  1. innate talent
  2. opportunities to try, fail, & learn
  3. specialized knowledge and
  4. skills, gained through practice 

These 4 things define Strengths & Performance Mastery.

These 4 things require time: Malcolm Gladwell claims it takes 10,000 hours...that said, patience is a necessary ingredient...but patience is only a means to the end, which is competence.

And - it's about more than strengths and performance mastery [competence]. 

At the bottom line. it's about leadership, including: 



Inspire People

Influence Action

Grow Wealth!

If you treat people like losers, you will not see them win.

by Rick Baker
On Oct 20, 2015

If you treat people like losers, you will not see them win:

  • You will see some of them lose
  • You will see the rest of them leave

Some people tolerate abuse. There's never a positive reason behind that tolerance.

Perhaps, they tolerate your abuse because they are in fear [and fear is closely related to weakness]. Often, weak people stay in abusive situations. Rarely, do they 'win'...so, you see them lose.

Perhaps, they tolerate your abuse because they have a hidden agenda. If this is the case then their goals do not align with your goals so they stay and work in dysfunctional ways to get what they are after. Meanwhile, you get to sense their dysfunction and watch them fail to achieve the goals you have chosen for them. You see them lose. These people may or may not be weak...unless you define deviousness as a weakness...in which case they will qualify as weak.

Some people are stronger than others. You probably will not be too skilled at perceiving this because you have the habit of abusing people.

On the other hand, if people leave after you abuse them then it is a safe bet they were your strong people.

When these people leave you will not see them win.

[Except when they choose to compete with you…in which case you will have the opportunity to receive repeated doses of feedback about their successes.]


I've never met a leader, including the bad ones, who did not exhibit superior skills in the area of attention to detail.

by Rick Baker
On Oct 1, 2015

I've never met a leader, including the bad ones, who did not exhibit superior skills in the area of attention to detail. [That comment was first published September 16, 2014 - Leaders skills can be damned annoying - and it generated some questions.]


Now – I’m not saying they exhibit a superior overall level of attention to detail. While I believe that is likely true, it is not the point I am trying to make here.

The point is - leaders, both the highly-successful ones and average ones, focus their attention on selected things and dig deep into the details of those selected things. In this way, leaders exhibit superior attention-to-detail skills.


  1. select/choose topics of key interest to them,
  2. focus/hone their attention on those chosen topics, and
  3. sustain/repeat that intense attention for long periods of time.

These 3 actions – selecting topics of interest, focusing attention on those topics, and sustaining that attention – are what leaders do to a far greater degree than other people.

And, these 3 actions promote increased knowledge in specific areas and increased attention-to-detail [in those specific areas].


If you accept the concept of brain neuroplasticity, as described in detail over 100 years ago, and as proven scientifically during recent years, then you will understand how the above 3 actions ‘feed upon themselves’ to grow solid and unshakable thought processes. These deep-rooted thought processes serve specialists as they master action-skills and develop strength in performance.


When leaders do the 3 things described above, they are thinking and acting in ways that take them toward their long-term goals. The 3 things, by definition, are good habits...good leadership habits.  In summary - all leaders do the 3 things: select topics, focus attention, & sustain attention. Other people are less selective, less focused, and give up more quickly.

Of course, some leaders possess far greater skills than others and some leaders make better choices than others. As a result, some leaders succeed and achieve their long-term goals while other leaders do not.


Use your Brain - Improve your Eyes and Ears!

by Rick Baker
On Sep 15, 2015

Before you can accurately measure you must learn to observe.

Isn’t it interesting that we have been taught much about measuring, using tape measures etc., yet we have been taught little about how to observe. Observing is an art-skill that apparently goes without saying so it is mostly left to chance.

We rarely teach how to see [use our eyes], hear [use our ears], or feel [use our sense of touch].

We rarely teach how those ‘senses’ work with our brains to deliver information to our minds.

For example - enhanced civilization has brought to us nano-accuracy in measurements...coupled with the inability to identify trees and their flowers or birds and their calls.

Yes – of course we admonish, "Pay Attention!" We began to hear that from figures of authority when we were very young.

We rarely teach anyone How to Pay Attention…

…Let alone Why they ought to Pay Attention.

[For example – Has anyone ever helped you understand the huge advantages you will experience if you understand both Why you should improve your observations and How you can go about learning the good habits of skilled observation?]

And, another key consideration: How can you fully engage and employ your Talents if you lack the skills and habits of observation?

The answer is simple enough: you cannot; in fact, without development of observation skills you cannot even understand your Talents let alone put them to constructive use.

The good news is it is never too late. You may have never received observation education or training. Your children may have never received observation education or training. That is not a problem. That only becomes a problem if you now choose to ignore the need for observation education and training.

Being graphic -

If you choose to think there is no need for improved observation skills then you are wrong-thinking.

If you choose to think there are no methods for improving observation skills then you are wrong-thinking.

If you choose to 'live and let live' or 'live to learn another day' then you are wishful-thinking and setting the stage for life-long mediocrity.

What engineers know about people's strengths

by Rick Baker
On Sep 14, 2015

Don't go against the grain; stretch in the direction of your strengths.

Engineering teaches us about tensile forces and shear forces.

Tensile forces are forces that stretch things. For example, if we hold two ends of a rope in our hands and pull the rope then the rope is under tension...and it stretches. The more force we apply the more the rope stretches.

Shear forces are forces that cut. For example, if we take a pair of shears we can cut through the cross-section of the rope.

It takes much less force to shear the rope than it takes to pull both ends of the rope and break it into two pieces. Engineers would say it takes less shear force than tensile force to cause the rope to fail.

In layman's terms: the rope likes to stretch in the direction of its strength and the rope is less tolerant when the force is applied against its grain.

People have strengths and weaknesses. With respect to strengths and weaknesses, each person is unique.

People can stretch and grow in the directions of their personal strengths...and people do not do well when we apply force against their weaknesses.

In business, we need to make sure we know people's strengths and weaknesses...this, of course, is better than assuming people's strengths and weaknesses or not bothering to understand people's strengths and weaknesses. This applies in the broadest of terms: it applies to industry-technical strengths and weaknesses; it applies to interpersonal/communication strengths and weaknesses; it applies to situation-strengths and situation-weaknesses; it applies to individuals and it applies to work-teams.

We should help people stretch in the direction of their strengths...this inspires people and provides them the opportunity to be self-motivated and to excel.

We should work to use one person's strengths to cover another person's weakness...this is better than cutting against the grain.

We should anticipate situations that resonate with strengths and situations that resonate with weaknesses.

These are important leader and manager responsibilities.


PS: instead of saying tensile stress, some engineers would call it normal stress. That makes for an even more compelling argument. When we stretch in the direction of our strengths...that's normal. When we cut across our weaknesses...it hurts.

PPS: this overlaps the fact that constructive criticism is an oxymoron. Most of the time, criticism hits people right on their weak spots.

revisited - originally posted October 2, 2012


STRENGTHS: People-Focused for Success

Working In Ihe Zone - Bolstering Your Willpower

by Rick Baker
On Sep 7, 2015

When you are 'in the zone', using your natural talents, your willpower is able to take a time out, rest, and rejuvenate. When you are 'in the zone', focus, attention, and concentration come easily to you so you do not need to draw upon your willpower to sustain productive thoughts or productive action. 

You may have difficulty pinpointing your true talents...many people do. 

On the other hand, most people have no trouble knowing when they are 'in the zone'...or, conversely, when they are 'not in the zone'.

When we are 'in the zone' time seems to pass more quickly. When we are 'in the zone' the routes to goals are clearer - thoughts align, actions fall into place naturally, and desired results just happen. When we are 'in the zone' our minds are free from worries and other negative thoughts. 

When we are 'in the zone' we use energy most efficiently and effectively - this applies to both energy for thought and energy for action.

When we are 'in the zone' we give our willpower a time out...we provide it time to rest and recuperate from all the energy it consumes when we are not 'in the zone' [i.e., when we are plodding our way through tedious work, clawing and scratching our way though meaningless battles, etc.]

If we want to use our energy efficiently and effectively then we must maximize the time we spend 'in the zone'. To accomplish this we must understand our talents and ensure we set aside enough time for them to find themselves in action 'in the zone'.



'In The Zone' = Flow

Copyright © 2012. W.F.C (Rick) Baker. All Rights Reserved.