Change Is a Process — not an event

I think we all know that things are constantly changing, whether or not we are paying attention to the changes. It may seem that everything is the same today as they were yesterday, but they aren’t. Even if we don’t notice, nothing is quite the same today as it was yesterday. Things change, people change, circumstances change, and we change too.

What this fact of life and living demonstrates is that change is a process and not an event. The outcome may appear to be spontaneous but never is. Fortunately, we can usually understand what happened if we stop to consider it carefully. Even if we don’t understand, we know that the change was a result of a process that is just not clear to us.

At times, we decide that we are not satisfied with the status quo and want things or circumstances to change. The change we want may be for us, our family, a specific relationship, our work team, our company or other organization, our community, or within any context where we think change is desirable or necessary. That is when we consider initiating the change process. We know we don’t like how things currently are, and we have a notion about how we would like them to be. Getting from where things are now to how we want them to be is an example of the change process that is always chugging away. For this change though, we intend to be the change agent.

Whenever you intend to be the change agent, there are twelve questions you should ask and answer before initiating the change process that leads to the change you want; and the bigger or more important the change is for you and for others, the more critical it is for you to ask and answer the twelve questions.

Here are the twelve questions. Answer each “Yes,” or “No,” in relation to the change process you intend to initiate. For these questions, “yes” is only “Yes” if you are quite sure. If not, the answer is “NO,” until you are sure.

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Puppy Power

Puppy Power

I’m sitting here watching our puppy bark at his reflection in the window in the door to the back yard. His goal is to get outside but he has a problem. There is a guard dog on the other side of the window, staying right with him, bark for bark, preventing his exit. He first runs up to the other dog, tries to get past him, then backs away to analyze and evaluate. They go back–and–forth like this for a few minutes until pup is distracted by some unseen and unheard temptation in the kitchen.

Dumb, dumb dog. That is certainly not anything you would ever find me doing: barking at my shadow in the window. I’m sure you never behave like that either. After all, we are mature, responsible adults who can distinguish reality from our reflections in the window. The things that frighten us are definitely there and absolutely justify our fear. The barriers to our success are substantial and certainly not products of our imaginations or in anyway self–made.

There is that puppy again. What is he up to this time? He is running around in circles, jumping up and changing directions, yipping at only he knows what, and having himself a right good time. He is having way too much fun. That pup makes three minutes of silliness seem like a day at the circus. There is no point to it. He is just running around like a…, well, like a puppy.

There comes that pup again. What is he up to this time? He has been in the bathroom and now he is in the living room, proudly pulling the TP along behind him. Do I get upset with him, laugh at his antics, or just sit back and appreciate his cleverness? How did he manage to pull the TP out of the bathroom, down the steps, around three corners, and into the living room in one piece? Maybe I will try that just to see if I am at least as clever as a pup; but alas, someone might see me. After all, I’m a responsible, mature adult who has his image to consider.

Wonder when we lost our puppy’s view of the world? Maybe the pup knew that it was his reflection in the window or maybe not. It likely does not matter either way. He is now playing the same game with me. Run up very close, bark, and then scoot back, just out of reach. Do it again, and then again. Woops, there he goes. He is off to other more interesting activities. No, he wasn’t distracted after all. He simply tired of the game. For him, every situation has the potential for fun be it seeing his reflection in the window, taking time to run around in circles, or indulging in the great TP pull.

Look at him, lying in my favorite chair where he is not supposed to be, just resting it seems. I’ll bet he is not there because he is tired, though. He is conserving his energy for his next escapade. Cute puppies!

That pup may have something to teach us, not that he cares whether we learn the lesson or not. He is only being a pup, doing puppy stuff. Still, the lesson is there. If we are open to it, we can learn the lessons of puppy power.

• Puppy power is recognizing our reflection in the window and giving it a good bark, knowing that if we shake it off and walk away, it will walk away too.

• Puppy power is stopping for three minutes of pure fun, time to run around in circles and jump for joy.

• Puppy power is finding out if we really can pull the TP through the house in one continuous pull.

• Puppy power is stopping to rest, not because we are tired but so we will have the energy we will need for our next adventure.

I’ll be dog gone if that’s not one smart pup. Hot dog! my friend; here’s to puppy power.

. . . . .

I’m sitting here watching our puppy bark at his reflection in the window in the door to the back yard. His goal is to get outside but he has a problem. There is a guard dog on the other side of the window, staying right with him, bark for bark, preventing his exit. He first runs up to the other dog, tries to get past him, then backs away to analyze and evaluate. This article has the rest of the story.

Pass It Along

Pass It Along

“If you will think about what you ought to do for other people, your character will take care of itself. Character is a by–product, and any man who devotes himself to its cultivation in his own case will become a selfish prig.” –– Woodrow Wilson

As you think about what you ought to do for other people, passing your character along to your children and to other kids with whom you have contact is both a responsibility and an opportunity. Children don’t come into the world with their character pre–packaged. Rather, it develops and evolves through their early years. Character is learned and thus, is taught. Yes, some kids learn faster and more completely than others; but learn they do. William J. Bennett clearly understood this teaching/learning process when he said, “If we want our children to possess the traits of character we most admire, we need to teach them what those traits are and why they deserve both admiration and allegiance. Children must learn to identify the forms and content of those traits.”

First, do you know what character is and are you passing it on? It was passed on to you when you were a kid; and now it’s your turn. The youngster may live at your house, deliver your paper, be playing across the street, or just walk by; but pass IT on you do. Are you warm and gentle, friendly and accepting? If so, it feels like acceptance and being valued, inclusion and being important. If you are cold and indifferent, detached and suspicious, it feels like…; well, you know how IT feels. That is why you need to pass your character on very carefully, especially to young people.

When describing character, Abraham Lincoln said, “Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.” Your responsibility is to guide and nurture the growth of the tree of character in your children so it casts a clear, stable, unambiguous shadow in the child’s world. Both the tree and its shadow need to incorporate the values, beliefs, priorities, and choices that you have passed on. This is, as Plutarch suggested, not an event but is, rather, something that builds, day to day. “Character is simply habit long continued.” The same point was also echoed by Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The force of character is cumulative.”

Next, as you pass character on to your children, remember that you are the model. To be a great model, you have to walk the walk, talk the talk, have all the right moves, and amaze your fans. If you have kids or hang–around with someone who does, you have already got an enthusiastic following; and follow you they will. Given time, they will walk your walk, talk your talk, and your moves will be theirs. You are the model and they are your work–in–progress. How is your creation coming along? If you don’t have it quite right yet, it will help to know that you need to give more emphasis to being a better model for kids than to molding them. They will do as you do. As the famous Anon. reminds, “The acorn never falls far from the tree.”

. . . . .

As you think about what you ought to do for other people, passing your character along to your children and to other kids with whom you have contact is both a responsibility and an opportunity. Children don’t come into the world with their character pre–packaged. Rather, it develops and evolves through their early years. Character is learned and thus, is taught. Yes, some kids learn faster and more completely than others; but learn they do. This article shows you how you are key to their learning process.

Someone Still Has To Crack The Eggs and Grease The Skillet

“No man ever wetted clay and then left it, as if there would be bricks by chance and fortune.” One may assume that Plutarch intended this rhetorically, since it definitely isn’t literally true. It’s hard to say about wetting clay specifically; but starting a job and not finishing it is certainly not uncommon. The fact of the case is that it’s business as usual for far too many folks. They probably don’t think what they start will be finished by chance and fortune; but they do figure that they won’t be the ones who have to complete it. It’s likely justifiable to conclude that they see this as good fortune, whether anyone else does or not.

Why do people do this? Why do they stop before the job is done? The famous Anon. has been sitting on the answer, “The road to success is dotted with many tempting parking places.” That’s it. They start with the best of intentions but soon discover that intentions are to accomplishments as a hardy appetite is to breakfast. However you like your omelet, someone still has to crack the eggs and grease the skillet.

Newt Gingrich figured out the “why” of it. He said, “Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did.” On the road to success, people get as far as “Perseverance” and then pull over and park. Perhaps they are too tired to continue, too bored to stay focused, or maybe just too trifling to take their responsibilities seriously. Whatever their excuse, they obdurately resist any suggestion that they should buckle down and take care of business. As Henry Ward Beecher expressed the principle, “The difference between perseverance and obstinacy is that one comes from a strong will, and the other from a strong won’t;” and some people just won’t.

Sure, sometimes you come up against can’t and won’t and can’t wins. You don’t have the knowledge, skills, or resources it takes to do what you want to do. At other times, though, won’t is clearly in the driver’s seat. When you reach that fork in the road, Josh Billings has a little advice for you, “Consider the postage stamp: its usefulness consists in the ability to stick to one thing till it gets there.”

It’s a postage stamp moment. When it’s time to do it, don’t hesitate getting around to it. Remember that you are up to it, so get down to it, and jump into it; and if you think others are blocking your way, Gen. Joseph (Vinegar Joe) Stilwell’s motto is worth adopting as your own. “Illegitimis non carborundum.” (Don’t let the bastards grind you down.)

Now you know so there you go.

Applying to be a Writer

I notice that your publication is called Writing Guru. That’s why I’m contacting you to apply to be a writer. I’m sure you get a lot of applications from wannabe writers and I may fit into that well-populated category. To show you why you should consider me over those other wannabes, below please find the key reasons why I’m your best choice.

Writers don’t say things that I’ve never thought or said; they just say it better than I do. That’s why I’m only a wannabe, but not for long. I’m confident that spending time around other writers at Writing Guru will rub off.

I admit that the difference between me telling a story and writers telling the same story is that writers skip the boring parts and cut to the Chace, going straight to the interesting parts. I’m thinking that once I’m on board, other writers can point out the uninteresting parts of what I write, thus only the interesting parts will remain. …

If you want to apply to be a writer, listening to the full application is instructive. Just press play and take notes.

Secrets Of Proactive Leadership

Secrets Of Proactive Leadership

1. Proactive leaders are cautious without becoming paralyzed by the potential downside of action. They pursue their goals continuously but incrementally, testing/evaluating progress toward the goal. This approach assures movement toward the goal without exposing the organization to unnecessary and avoidable jeopardy. They don’t play it safe but do play it cautiously.

2. Proactive leaders focus most of their time and energy on organizational stability and goal attainment. They minimize time and energy absorbed by worrying about unlikely contingencies and maintaining the status quo.

3. Proactive leaders make decisions and take action thoughtfully but quickly. They don’t delay or postpone decisions or actions, try to avoid or defer doing what needs done, and they don’t hesitate or proceed reluctantly. Their actions and reactions aren’t impulsive or ill considered. They are, instead, decisive and timely.

4. Proactive leaders don’t shirk or avoid responsibility and have little tolerance for people who do. They are committed to the welfare of the organization and to its mission. From the perspective of personal responsibility, they do everything they have agreed to do to the best of their ability and accept additional responsibility to the extent necessary to assure the organization’s success.

They may decide that they are unwilling or unable to continue accepting the responsibilities they have agreed to accept. In that event, they will be up–front about their decision and in the meantime, they will do what they have agreed to do at the highest level of which they are capable. The organization always gets their best effort.

5. Proactive leaders take calculated risks and carefully considered chances with hard resources such as capital and soft resources such as political support. Before taking such risks, they first determine the cost to the organization of paying the hard or soft resource bill if their action is unsuccessful. Next, they determine the extent of total organizational resource reduction that could result from having to pay that bill. How much worse off would the organization be if the bill is paid? That is “X” or the downside cost of action. “Y” or the upside benefit of action is similarly calculated in terms of the level of increase in total hard and soft resources if the action is successful. Action then gambles “X” against the possibility of “Y.”

Two additional factors are then considered: the likelihood of getting “y,” and how much the value of “Y” exceeds the value of “X.” They don’t gamble a lot to only gain a little.

For the proactive leader, then, taking calculated risks with organizational resources means that the potential value of attaining “Y” justifies the risk of having to pay the downside bill (X). In either event, contingency plans are in place to manage the outcome.

6. Proactive leaders have a high tolerance for and acceptance of differing personalities, traits and characteristics, personal styles, individual values and beliefs, and for the idiosyncrasies of people. Similarly, they easily manage fluctuations in people’s moods, points of view, and interests. Alternatively, they have little tolerance for sub–standard work, less than complete attention to the task at hand, or lackluster performance. They always give their best effort and expect others to do the same. 7. Proactive leaders expect others to do things correctly, to give everything they do their best effort, to succeed. They are surprised when people make mistakes, give things less than their best effort, don’t succeed. Since they expect success, they assume personal responsibility for mistakes of others, lackluster effort, non–success. Their first take on the situation is that they haven’t been smart enough or skilled enough to effectuate the right outcome. They then work with the person to identify the deficiencies, to modify their (the proactive leader’s) performance so that they better facilitate the person’s success.

Of course, the Proactive leader occasionally determines that a specific person either can’t or won’t perform as expected no matter what is done but typically, the proactive leader assumes shared responsibility for assuring the success of others.

8. Proactive leaders accept people as is. Their goal isn’t to change anyone. Rather, they focus on encouraging and facilitating in ways that enable each person to achieve optimal performance within the context of their skills, abilities, and interests. Concurrently, they expect people to expand and improve their capacities and are ready to help with that process however they can, within the resources and constraints of the organization. People aren’t expected to change but are expected to grow and develop as organizational participants. 9. Proactive leaders aren’t stingy with praise nor are they lavish with it. They are quick to recognize and acknowledge the successes and accomplishments of others but don’t confuse praise with simple good manners. Please and thank you and noting that someone did a good job or was helpful are not examples of praise. They are, rather, merely examples of good manners and are integral to the proactive leader’s habitual deportment. Alternatively, praise is an intentional and thoughtful action which privately or publicly acknowledges and commends excellence. Proactive leaders reserve praise for exceptional or extraordinary performance, never missing an opportunity to praise when individual or group performance meets that standard.

10. Proactive leaders understand that holding people responsible and accountable on the one hand and blaming and accusing them on the other are not the same. Holding someone responsible is a performance standard. Holding them accountable is a performance expectation. Alternatively, blaming and accusing imply negative opinions and perceptions of the individual. To blame someone or accuse them represents a pejorative assessment of them. Blaming and accusing are always subjective and personal while responsibility and accountability are performance elements that can be objectively evaluated and, if necessary, adjusted. Since the individual or group are accountable for their performance, the level of responsibility extended to them may be increased or decreased, depending on their performance.

To blame or accuse are counterproductive and incompatible with proactive leadership. Holding people responsible and accountable are key elements in the proactive leader’s approach with people. It starts with holding himself (or herself) responsible and accountable and then simply extending the principle to everyone else in the organization.

11. Proactive leaders resist the temptation to either focus on what is not going well or on what is. It may be a function of human nature to attend mostly to the negative or to the positive, depending on ones personality. Proactive leaders understand that this is not a simple matter of choice or personal preference. The key to success is seeing that neither focusing on the positive nor on the negative is advisable. At a more fundamental level, the reality is that the organization is continuously transitioning from a past state to a future state. The primary responsibility of the proactive leader is to affect the transition so as to actualize the desired future state. To do this, the task is to reduce and eliminate the disparity between the present and future states, without redefining or compromising the future state. Focus then needs to be collectively on the cluster of elements that affect the future state either as contributors or as Detractors, understanding that neither is more or less important than the other. Focus must be on the gestalt.

12. Proactive leaders demonstrate their respect for and are pleased by the successes and accomplishments of others. The key here is twofold. They both respect the achievements of others and actively demonstrate that respect and the pleasure they experience when others do well. Respect in this context includes holding the person and the action or accomplishment in high esteem, feeling delighted, and actively expressing approval.

. . . . .

Proactive leaders are cautious without becoming paralyzed by the potential downside of action. They pursue their goals continuously but incrementally, testing/evaluating progress toward the goal. This truth introduces the twelve secrets of Proactive Leadership. This article reveals these secrets and shows you how to incorporate them into your leadership practice.

Why Pay Attention to Me?

Why should your children pay attention to anything you say or tell them?

Stop a second to think about what your first reaction was to the question. For most people, “Because I am the parent” or “Because I am the adult” or some variation on the theme comes to mind.

Both of these answers are reasonable and appropriate. What I want to point out here is that there are several reasons why your children should listen to what you say. It will be helpful for you to think about and understand which reason is operating when you want your children to listen, to pay attention, to accept what you are saying to them or telling them.

Your being clear about why they should pay attention will help them be clear about why they should pay attention this time. There is an additional payoff for you. When you are at work or in other situations where you want people to pay attention to you, being clear in your own mind about why they should pay attention will make it more likely that they will accept you and what you are saying.

Until you get comfortable knowing why you think your child or anyone else should listen to what you say, it will help to stop a second to be clear with your self before saying anything where you expect some action or response from the other person. Give it a try. You may be surprised to see how much difference it makes.

Okay, here we go.
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