The 4th Monkey – “Do No Evil”

I am reissuing, with a few modifications, my most popular blog post, for your consideration. The universal application of these age-old concepts is a tremendous value that should guide our behavior and interactions with each other.

We grew up with the story of the three monkeys. I imagine that many of us have the same interpretation of what they represent. We were exposed to pictures or statues. One monkey had his hands over his eyes, the second monkey with hands over his ears and the third monkey’s hands were over his mouth. They were see no evil (Mizaru), hear no evil (Kikazura) and speak no evil (Iwazura). There were actions and behaviors demanded of us based on the three monkeys, but nothing was said about the fourth monkey. The fourth monkey was do no evil (Shizaru).

four-wise-monkeys

The stories of the four monkeys were popular in Japan in the 17th century. Their origin is between 2 and 4 BC in China. The Storyologer web-site (www.storyologer.com) has this account of Mahatma Gandhi who carried around a small statue of the three monkeys.  “Gandhi had a statue of three monkeys in three different postures. One was shutting his mouth with his hands, the other was shutting his ears similarly and the third one had put hands on his eyes. A visitor to his house became curious and questioned Gandhi about the various postures of the monkeys. Gandhi politely replied, “The one shutting his mouth tells us that we should not speak ill of anybody. The one shutting his ears tells us that we should not hear the ill of anybody. And the one shutting his eyes tells us that we should not see the ills of anybody. If we do so, we will have all goodness and nothing but goodness.”

Travelers will often find local markets with carved depictions or artwork featuring the three monkeys. My wife was able to purchase an angelic model of the same concept. There are three angels; one was covering her eyes, one was covering her ears and the other was covering her mouth. However, the fourth monkey was not shown. The 4th monkey, when pictured, is usually shown folding his arms (the body language of being closed) or covering his crotch to signify inactivity.

The different interpretations of the four monkeys is fascinating. In Buddhist tradition it meant don’t spend your time preoccupied with evil thoughts. In the West it relates to not facing up to our moral responsibility, for example turning a blind eye. But in my household, the monkeys were presented to us as a model of proper behavior. Our parents wanted us to identify with the images, to supplement our moral code.

See no evil (Mizaru)

We were told to pay attention to people and location(s). The idea was that if we were in the right location, we would minimize seeing trouble develop before our eyes. This was applicable in school and at work. We were instructed against being at the wrong place at the wrong time or the wrong place right. We were also told not to look for bad things in people or in certain situations. There are people who see bad things when they don’t exist, which could explain the manifestations of bias, stereotypes and profiling. We were not taught to be naïve, but to be careful and respectful.

Hear no evil (Kikazaru)

We were told to shield ourselves from bad language and bad intentions. We should stay away from people who spoke ill of others and gossiped. If we were not in the wrong place we could minimize hearing things that we should not hear. We were also instructed not to listen to foul or vulgar language. If we heard people language, especially regarding someone’s evil intentions, we could use the evil information to do good or to help others, that would be permissible.

Speak no evil (Iwazura)

Speak no evil was used to discourage gossiping or speaking ill will about someone. We were told to watch our language and to speak kind words. “If you can’t say anything good about someone, don’t say anything” was a part of this same philosophy. Adults told us that spreading bad news or malicious information could come back to haunt us. We should also, apply this same advice to the workplace.

There is a misconception around the concept about someone. This misconception has led people to adopt a code of silence in the workplace when a person is not pulling their own weight. We would rather silently complain or resign, before talking about an employee who was not working. We would not want to be labeled a snitch or a stool pigeon. In the streets people would say, “snitches get stitches”. To speak evil of someone means telling a lie, varying false witness or defaming their reputation. However, it is our responsibility to find a way to report injustice, illegal behavior and practices that undermine people and the organization. Our intention should be to speak the truth in love without malice or premeditated negative objectives.

One way to break the code of silence is by offering incentives to whistleblowers. These individuals are people who step forward and report unlawful activities in an organization. They are generally paid a 10% bounty if the measure goes to court and fines are levied against the lawbreakers. In neighborhoods where people know the perpetrators of violence, but fail to come forward, there are no such incentives. Residents may be afraid of retribution, as the rationale for their silence. We must also realize that justice requires telling the truth and this should not be regarded as speaking evil of someone.

Do no evil (Shizaru)

The fourth monkey’s actions are truly related to the others. The workplace is a common place for the four monkeys to be used as an operating system. Employee bullying and intimidation, sexual-harassment claims, the presence of racial discrimination, unconscious bias and sexually charged language and actions exists in many organizations. Where improprieties and liberties are taken with people’s rights in the form of disrespectful words and actions, there are laws in place to prevent and punish these actions. Employees, who adopt a see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil mindset are not helping to develop a positive company culture or a respectful workplace

Do no evil is a perfect monkey to enforce the values of character and integrity. He reminds us of proper behavior and etiquette. Our choices have consequences and the more we can emphasize a positive corporate culture and a respectful workplace the more effective our organizations will be become. There is conduct and behavior norms which must be identified, emphasized and enforced vigorously. Character will minimize stress in the workplace and reduce the number of lawsuits and discipline related to improper behavior.

The do no evil mindset would influence our participation in the political process. Our dialogue in conversations around those who are different from us or have different opinions would be positively affected. If we operated each day thinking in terms of do no evil, we would be more empathetic in understanding of each other. We would put ourselves in the shoes of our neighbors and seek to understand their point of, listen to their words and lay the foundation for greater chemistry instead of conflict.

How can we create an environment in our workplaces, families and communities, where people are held accountable for their own unlawful actions and the private citizens who come forward can feel safe and protected? If the fourth monkey was modeled, we would have less of a cause to talk about Mizaru (see no evil) and Kikazuru (hear no evil).

Do no evil and speak no evil should be magnified and connected to many of our guiding principles of behavior.  The Golden Rule and its equivalent in many cultures advise us to treat people the way we want to be treated. The Platinum Rule which asks us to treat people the way they want to be treated. The 10 Commandments implores us not to do a series of acts which could be seen as evil, such as murder, stealing, etc. you are instructed to love your neighbor as yourself. If we began from a position of love it is easier to think in terms of speak and do no evil.

We must clearly outline expectations of behavior and the judgment related to them to improve the climate in our organizations, homes and places where people meet. Correct action is essential to achieving healthy results in our relationships.

The imagery and practices espoused by the 4th monkey holds the key to making this possible. I am hopeful that by emphasizing the fourth monkey, we can improve our behaviors, connections, interactions and relationships with everyone.

 

Copyright © 2016 Orlando Ceaser

 

 

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Mothers and Leadership

Mothermirrorlion1

My Mother saw the lion in me. This is not because my astrological sign is Leo, which is represented by a lion. She taught me to take charge and showed me how to step up and take responsibility for my actions to benefit others.

We usually think of leadership as a masculine trait, but the seeds of leadership development have maternal roots which blossom under the tutelage of others. Mothers initiated our leadership education. She was the driving force behind our early physical, mental, educational and spiritual development. Mother planted the seeds of leadership by modeling behavior, holding us accountable, introducing us to new experiences, coaching and encouraging us, cultivating gifts and pushing us out of the nest to participate and get involved in our surroundings.

Mother allowed us to explore different activities to find our talents. We were creative around her and she celebrated our ingenuity. Many of us have memories of our Mom taking us to the park, shopping and various school and church programs. She was eager to compliment us when we did something well and quick to discipline us when we were out of line. She was so proud of us. By supporting our interests she identified our gifts and bolstered our confidence.

We were her team. The climate in her leadership environment allowed us to blossom as we outwardly and subliminally listened to the valuable messages. We were constantly infiltrated by leadership qualities that emerged as she navigated the parenting process.

  • Setting the vision for a possible future
  • Establishing values and beliefs
  • Providing direction, opportunities and resources
  • Encouragement and reinforcement
  • Discipline, feedback and developing healthy habits

Setting the vision for the future

We were told we could be anything we wanted to be. We were challenged to be and do our best. If we were going to be a janitor, we were told to be the best janitor. Education was strongly touted as the key to our future, as something no one could take from us. When I finished 8th grade, Mother asked, “What is next?” High school was the correct response. After high school, she asked, “What is next? I responded college, as we had discussed so many times since 8th grade. It was drilled into me at an early age that I was someone special and she saw me reaching my God given potential.

Establishing values and beliefs

The rules and regulations of life, the values and beliefs to guide our behavior and understanding of the world, were initially from our Mother. The stories she read, the lessons we learned in her presence and the experiences we received during playtime. She was the moral and religious center of the home. She showed what was important by how she spent her time and through the chores she distributed and the discipline she delivered. She practiced what she preached and walked the talk. My Mother was a continuous learner and went back to school and became a Registered Nurse. Additionally she gained a BS degree after all of the children finished school. She was always active in community, school and church affairs.

 Providing direction, opportunities and resources

We were instructed in the ways of approved and acceptable behavior. We were warned about actions that would not be tolerated. We were not going to embarrass and shame her or the family. My Mother was a stickler on manners and polite behavior. We had standards of good conduct which was anchored in the Golden Rule.

Mother gave us opportunities to express our opinions and grow our talents. I had a number of jobs through the years. I worked as a shoe shine boy, a paper boy, shoe salesman and shoveled snow to make extra money. I learned the value of hard work and how to handle money. I also benefitted from collecting money from her Avon customers. I could always count on her doing anything to see that I had what I needed. She paid for my art supplies, new clothes to march in a parade and prepared me for many other school projects.

Encouragement and reinforcement

When we fell she picked us up and made us feel better. She always knew what to say when we were hurting. She was our biggest fan. She had confidence in us. My Mother had many children and she treated us all differently and there were no favorites among the children. If she was leaning toward one of the others, she was open to talk about it. My Mother told me I was the Chosen One. My response was chosen by whom to do what? It was her way of letting me know there was a purpose for my life and I had to find out what it was. When others seemed to abandon us, Mother was always in our corner offering words of support, guidance and forgiveness.

Discipline, feedback and developing healthy habits

Mother was known for providing simulations to prepare us for life in the real world, although we did not call them simulations.  She gave us positive and reasonably realistic feedback when we did well. She checked our homework to make sure it was done and done correctly. She did not let us off the hook. She held us accountable for our actions and helped lay down the law and maintain the order.

When we broke the rules, the punishment usually fit the offense. She wanted us to get in the habit of doing our best and acting properly. There was a saying and a television program that said, “Father knows best.” If that was true Mother knew that and all the rest.

My Mother challenged me to learn and present a very long drama poem when I was ten years old. The Creation by James Weldon Johnson was in her English literature text book when she was in night school. She worked with me and checked with me until I mastered the piece. I began performing it in church services all over the city for many years. She brought out my gift of public speaking and made me comfortable in front of crowds.

I realize that some may have a different opinion of their Mother’s role in sowing and demonstrating leadership principles into their lives. Some may have received examples of how a leader should not perform. Nevertheless, we know the value of strong leadership in altering the course of lives and organizations.

When we search our memories and review the books, theories, seminars and the performance of actual leaders, let us not forget where many were first exposed to lessons on leadership. We should recognize and celebrate the awesome contributions of Mothers. They should be honored for the role they play in developing leaders of today and leaders of tomorrow. During the time we spent on our Mother’s knee, in her lap or at her feet, we were overtly or covertly immersed in the relationship between Motherhood and leadership.

Copyright © 2010 Orlando Ceaser

OrlandoCeaser.com

 

7 Steps to “Suck-Less 4 Success™”

suck_less4success

In today’s vernacular if something doesn’t go well, does not meet expectations or seems unfair, we say it sucks. When the employee says, “This sucks” referring to performance, company, manager, team or their job, it is synonymous with dissatisfaction with effort, treatment or results and must be addressed.

The word “sucks” is part of our vocabulary and describes our displeasure with the current situation, especially when it falls short of the results we want. We can use the word suck in a manner that can be delivered with humor to take the sting out of our disappointment. Or we can speak it to show serious anger and dissatisfaction with performance or circumstances.

Expressing displeasure in such a casual or colloquial language calls us to task and demands us to work harder to improve. It acknowledges our transparency in recognizing that change is required. There is also the possibility that many things may be wrong, and some elements may suck more than others. We may suck on many different levels and we must get to the root cause of missing our objectives.

There is a quality component to our work. Growth in our performance is often a function of reducing the number of errors. If we can cut down the number of mistakes, we will not suck as badly. Therefore, we will be in a better position to succeed.

7 Steps to Suck-less

There are 7 Suck less Factors (SLF’s) we should consider to improve performance. This is not a comprehensive list but should contain practical tactics and strategies. They will serve as step down therapy, so we suck less and less until we achieve the desired success we need. These 7 Suck-less Factors are;

  1. Be the CEO of the Ego
  2. Adopt a Decision-making System
  3. Avoid Repeatable Offenses
  4. Be Open to the Truth.
  5. Suppress Unproductive Thoughts and Actions
  6. Minimize Mingling with Morons
  7. Consult an Oracle

Be the CEO of the Ego

We should be Command and Control of our thoughts and actions. Manage our ego and keep it in check, aligned with our purpose. Ego is accountable for the pride we have in our performance. Use it to ensure that we complete all the relevant actions with the quality necessary to achieve excellence. The ego is driven to compete. While working to correct deficiencies, we must make sure emotional intelligence is used or we may leave people strewn along the landscape which is not good for morale or engagement. It is critical to monitor how we meet people and how we treat people.

As the CEO of the ego we must minimize deficiencies and effectively manage time and other resources. Lead and manage by focusing on our Vision, Mission and Goals (VMG’s).

Adopt a Decision-making System

A decision making, and problem-solving methodology could work in our favor, to add structure to our thinking. I am an advocate of The Know System™ featured in my book The Isle of Knowledge.

The Know System™ is a simple and intuitive decision making and problem-solving model based on the word know. On a sheet of paper, flip chart or computer screen we can write the word Know at the top. We should list the two, three and four-letter words found in the word Know (Won, Know, Now, No, On, Own, Ow, Ok, Wok). We can use the words to address the problem or decision we want to address. For example:

Won:   What does success / winning look like? (Vision)

Know: What do you Know or need to Know?

Now:   What are you doing Now? Is it the right priority?

No:      Who or what do you have to say No to?

Wok:   Are you stirring things up, disrupting and changing?

OK:      Are you good enough? Only works on checklist

On:      Are you turned On, passionate, focused and excited?

Ow:     What are the pain points and pain threshold?

Own:   Are you committed, responsible and accountable?

Avoid Repeatable Offenses

We must learn from our mistakes and recognize that they are mistakes. This heightened self-awareness will be good for us. Smaller doses of stupidity are necessary. It is viewed as stupidity only when demonstrating the definition of insanity by performing the same actions and expecting different results.

Be Open to the Truth

We should be open to information that is given in a manner to help our development. We also tend to look disparagingly on those who try to tell us what to do. We should remove barriers that impede acquiring the information we need to succeed. Don’t weed whack feedback. Feedback is essential to gain an accurate perspective of our current reality. Feedback is also needed to assess progress and increase self-awareness, for it is an important aspect of emotional intelligence.

Additionally, we may have a blind-spot, a bias in a certain area that we cannot see. Someone may have a vantage point, which is to our advantage. They could point us in the right direction, enabling us to see more clearly. We need to adopt a mindset around a suck-less state of being.

Suppress Unproductive Thoughts and Actions

We need to ween ourselves from unproductive thoughts and actions. They are like speed bumps on a highway of achievement. They will curtail our ability to reach posted speed limits for success. We should curb our cravings for negativity, unproductive thoughts and actions which are the empty calories of performance. Ensure that we concentrate on those activities that support our priorities (VMG’s – Vision, Mission, Goals).

Minimize Mingling with Morons

The people we associate with are key. Those who add value and optimism over negativity are helpful. We should inoculate and isolate from ignorance, by limiting our exposure to the misfortune tellers, who always predict a negative result.

StupidFriends

Consult an Oracle

We should surround ourselves with people who can fearlessly review our performance and offer advice. They can challenge us with scenarios and potential situations that will help us anticipate the future of present and proposed responses to our actions. They will ensure that we are not satisfied with a level of performance that sucks. They will encourage us to do better and to believe that we can do better.

We must look in the mirror and confront performance that is not up to par, standard or acceptability. Be painfully objective and truthful as an important step for growth. The goal on our way to success is to suck less in our everyday job execution and minimize or eliminate the frequency of events that are unacceptable.

If we can incrementally or drastically reduce the number of times we fall short of expectations, we will suck less in the long run. These seven steps are steps in the right direction to help us suck less on the road to success.

Copyright © 2018 Orlando Ceaser

 

 

 

Ozone Layer Parenting Principles

The ozone layer is a natural phenomenon; like gravity. It surrounds the Earth and prevents us from being destroyed by the harmful rays of the sun. It serves as a force field, a buffer and a filter to ensure that ultra-violet light is converted to a form that is useful for creating a pleasant habitat for inhabitants of this planet.

The Ozone layer can serve as a metaphor to help explain and remember systems that affect our daily lives. For example, we can emulate its attributes to enable us to develop a means to creatively raise our young.

Living in the 21st Century, confronts us with challenges that affect our quality of life. We need to be actively engaged in our environment to train and develop those who are under our care.

The Ozone Layer Training and Development Program draws from the atmosphere. It contains a model that seeks to inspire us to naturally cultivate our instincts to parent to impact the world through creating stronger families and well-adjusted children. The model was introduced in the book, Unlock the Secrets of Ozone Leadership; OrlandoCeaser.com and amazon.com,

The Ozone Layer Parenting Principles emulates characteristics of the ozone layer and applies them to raising children. These principles have been around for thousands of years but may not have been categorized this way. For example, my parents used these principles in raising eleven children and my wife and I used them to raise our son and daughter. We did not refer to them as Ozone Layer Parenting Principles, but the concepts were embedded in our philosophies and actions.

Ozone Layer Parenting has 5 guiding principles. You will recognize them and identify with their purpose. I am hopeful, they can help you structure your actions. The Ozone Layer Parenting Principles can stimulate individual and group decisions to customize and individualize instinctive means to parent more effectively.

ozone_layer_landp

The 5 principles of Ozone Layer Parenting are:

  1. Directive
  2. Protective
  3. Selective
  4. Corrective
  5. Effective

Directive 

Directive is a quality assigned to leadership, parenting, training and coaching. This attribute confirms there is a vision, a mission, strategy, values and a belief system to reach goals. You will apply the directive principle to your family. You are the person or persons accountable for bringing the children into the world and steering them along the right path. You have rules and regulations to implement and enforce in your home. Also, you will ensure that everyone is educated about the rules and consequences of disobedience.

People may draw upon the way they were raised to decide what to do and what not to do in raising their children. Many families may have different laws, but in their home, they will decide on the operating laws and principles.

Protective 

When I looked into my newborn daughter’s eyes, this bundle of joy, initiated feelings of love and protection. I promised to do everything in my power to ensure that she was happy and safe. This pledge magnified as she grew older through the various stages of her life. My son generated the same emotions at his birth.

A parent’s desire, the instinct to give life and protect life is like a lion and lioness, as they approach their cubs. The lion family unit is called a pride, which seems aptly named to signify their attachment to their group. I remember the many ways we child proofed our homes, told our children to beware of strangers and searched for safe neighborhoods when we chose to relocate for my job.

Our hearts are broken when we hear about school shootings and the demand for gun control and measures to help parents ensure they can exercise their protective mandate in the development of their children. Many schools have safe passage zones which are protected routes where children can walk back and forth from school to home.

The abuse of prescription and recreational drugs traumatize our minds and sense of security. You add to this the increase in crime and reduction in morality and you see why the protective principle is so important.

Selective

The Ozone Layer will filter ultra-violet light to prevent dangerous light from entering our atmosphere. As parents, we must make sure that everything that looks enticing is not consumed by our families. We limit the exposure to certain stimuli, whether it is cell-phones, television, people and questionable activities. We establish boundaries, restrictions, and acceptable practices through rules and regulations.

We know the importance of diet and exercise, whether we stick to them or not. We read about proper quantities of the correct nutrients for good health.

Initially, we are very involved in their friendships. We constantly speak on the value of running with the right crowd and to stay away from unsavory people. The selective principle can cause friction as children enter the teenage years and want more independence.

Corrective

The Ozone Layer will correct itself. A hole in the natural ozone layer was noted many years ago. This opening is becoming smaller because we put practices in place to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. When we change our behavior, we can change our results and rectify bad decisions. Parents provide feedback and encouragement to children about their performance and possibilities. We have an obligation to institute disciple and enforcement when behavior is sub-par, and rules are broken.

It is also a sound practice to apologize, and show we are human and make mistakes. This teaches a very valuable lesson when we are wrong and must correct our actions. Course corrections are necessary when actions, programs and behavior have deviated from your desired path and you are not achieving the desirable result.

Effective

Parenting is one of those professions where you are always learning on the job. Many of us did not receive training and an instructional manual or app when we became parents. There does not seem to be any guarantees, however when we show children the right path, although they may occasionally stray from it, they will return, because they have seen the path.

We can increase our effectiveness as we connect and coordinate with individuals charged with training and developing our offspring. Parents involved in raising their children in partnership with other members of the child care and development team will ensure there are coordinated strategies to enrich and enlighten us to encourage students and enforce the 5 principles.

It is important to incorporate the 5 principles into your parenting strategy. These principles advise us about the value of celebrating success, building self esteem through words of encouragement, giving them chores to help build responsibilities, follow through on discipline and should lead to well-adjusted children.

We are surrounded by natural systems and models which could give us helpful metaphors. These metaphors could be a road map to lead us to information that can help us devise innovative strategies to direct, protect, select, and correct our children and increase our child rearing effectiveness.

Copyright © 2018 Orlando Ceaser

 

 

 

The Black Panther Strikes

BlackPanter

The Black Panther movie strikes a chord with movie goers around the world. It is shattering box office records. It is catalytic in its messaging, story-line and visual excitement. People are using it to express profound pride, as it delivers lessons on universal themes, humanity, equality, diversity and inclusion, as well as the pursuit of excellence.

I have seen the movie 3 times, including 3-D and IMAX. Each time I walked away with greater insight. I read the comic book as a youth, so this is nostalgic and a long time coming.

Poetry and the arts allow us the opportunity to express ideas which are magnified with individual interpretation. When translated, transferred and transformed through the prism of our experiences, the results can be nothing short of amazing. Here is my poetic take on the Black Panther experience.

The Black Panther Strikes

The Black Panther strikes;

The images inspire imagination;

Invite, excite and ignite

The embers of genius

Until we remember with fascination

The universal themes and memes

That elicit dreams of excellence

That stream a new ideology;

That emphasizes and empathizes

To aspire desire,

To fire a higher reach,

Through awe and technology.

 

The Black Panther strikes,

As a cultural phenomenon,

For those among us who’d like an icon;

A super hero with super powers

That look like us with a face like ours;

To build confidence and regal speech,

To show what is possible,

When obstacles are breached;

When an illusion is legal,

But is shifted

And confusion is lifted

And giftedness is the new twist

To enlist us in the new success,

Which is true success.

 

The Black Panther strikes;

To the heart of the marginalized;

The underserved and disenfranchised;

The heirs, apparently in poverty,

Seeking their cultural identity;

Phenomenally packaged in energy.

They speak seeking a symphony,

In harmony and synergy.

 

Empathy and intellect can remove

Barriers, as we get involved

And agree to work to solve

The problems that surround us

And have bound us.

We must lift every man,

Woman and child to a place of forgiveness,

Where we can be reconciled;

To share, prepare and repair;

To lift each other from despair.

 

The Black Panther strikes,

Directly to community;

Inciting citizens in unity;

And stirs the blending of generations

Through tribal traditions

And pageantry.

We show young people

Who they can be

And celebrate their ancestry;

Seeking challenges to prove they’re free.

Science, technology, engineering and math;

Can help us blaze a wider path;

To channel the rage

And engage on a stage

That is larger than we

Intended, but to accept

The mantel and comprehend;

What we should support,

What we should defend.

 

The Black Panther strikes

To protect the family

And project the family,

As the center of cultural identity;

The truth is, we are all related,

Although our lineage is debated.

We have the capacity;

To help others improve their lot.

We can’t afford to hoard

Resources, when we’ve got

The power through distribution,

To offer solutions.

 

The Black Panther strikes

A story to which we can all relate;

To entertain and educate

And inspire action

Through universal mores

Of dignity and deliverance,

Eloquence and excellence;

Leadership and tough decisions;

Technology executed with precision.

Ancestors deserving a connection;

Connective tissue is in each of us

Enabling us to adjust,

So that we love and trust.

 

The Black Panther strikes,

Through imagination and truths,

From elders down through our youth;

For Millennials and women have value,

The men and young boys have talent

And though steeped in the values of tradition,

The motives that drive ambition;

They are inspired through art and technology;

That transcends pathology;

And through mythology

Explore new pathways

Beyond injustice and inequality.

 

The Black Panther strikes,

So close to home.

There are delegations of youth

At the screenings;

Reporters postulating the meaning,

As millions with African descent,

Extoll the messages and what they represent

And seeing it as a rallying cry;

A cry to honor our first investors

To honor our elders and ancestors;

Imploring us not to forget,

Their sacrifices, wisdom and toil,

For roots and foundation

Enrich the soil.

 

Copyright © 2018 Orlando Ceaser

Conversations with Your Super Hero

BPanter

I enjoyed reading for recreation as a young person. There were sophisticated fables and fairy-tales that transported me to distant lands and cultures. I also, enjoyed reading comic books with super heroes who had super powers from birth, mutations or another planet. These books expanded my creativity, vocabulary and imagination. Being different on several levels, I could identify with some of the emotional issues they experienced. There were recurring themes of identity struggles, lacking confidence and feeling like an outsider, a freak, as if they did not belong.

The super heroes realized they were different from their peers and they also wanted very badly to be accepted and to fit in. There were times, I felt isolated and different from my peers. In these moments of exercising my imagination, I felt connected to the characters in the stories; therefore, I felt important.

I noticed an interesting development in the back story of some of the super heroes. There were conversations with a parent, guardian, confidante or mentor. Sometimes the super hero was involved in self-talk and personal reflections. They needed someone to talk to and make them feel accepted and important. They needed assurance and encouragement.

The script of a conversation usually went something like this. “Special One, you are not like other children. You have gifts that are more developed than normal humans or mortals. You are different and unique. You are stronger, faster, smarter or a combination of several attributes, that exceed the performance of others. They don’t understand you. They may not appreciate you, but there is nothing wrong with you. They may tease you, but you must forgive them, for one day it will be your calling to serve them.”

The conversation would continue. “Your super powers enable you to do wonderful things. Your gifts may at times seem like a burden or a curse, but they are a blessing. You must shoulder the responsibility. Knowledge of your powers may cause complications for your family, so you must be secretive about your full range of powers. They may not be able to handle the information. Therefore, you must be careful and not let them see you expressing your total powers.”

And lastly, “Special One, you have been chosen to receive these gifts and you must use them wisely, not for your own benefits, but to help others and make this world a better place. I am proud of you and how you will use your difference to make a difference.”

This conversation is like the talks given by parents, to many children around the world. It is therapy and necessary when children feel different from the rest of a group.  The same talk is given to children who relocate and are the new kids on the block. Their distinction and newness are unknown to others, but can be considered as possessing super powers. Children must discover their natural gifts, interests, talents, abilities, proclivity or skills developed from hours of practice. The parents will generally say, “You are different and unique. But you are just as strong, fast, beautiful, smart and talented as other children.”

The fervor and enthusiasm around the monumental success of the Black Panther and Wonder Woman movies, shows the power of story and the arts. There are many articles, commentaries and conversations about the value of the movie in the context of diversity, inclusion and racial and gender pride through displaying positive imagery and story lines. There are the uplifting accounts of pride, promise and great expectations as self-confidence rises. I hope the overwhelming positive imagery will energize a generation to exercise the super heroes within each of us. Wherever these are differences, there is power. There will be a need to conduct conversations and self-talk to build up the human spirit to build confidence in our capacity for connection and greatness.

Whatever differences we possess can be viewed in the same context as a super power. However, just as the super heroes privately worked on improving their abilities, they must also strive for excellence and understanding themselves and others. They must work within their talent, hone their skills, to take it to a higher level. The opportunities will present themselves, when they may be pressed into action to save the day.

When children are wrestling with the distinction they have from others, parents will usually paint it in a positive light, so it can be used as a source of strength. Their difference should be identified as a source of power and pride, even when it seems like a curse.

When youth and adults decide to express their artistic, athletic, intellectual or leadership skills they may encounter negative reactions and reservations. When they stand out from and step up to a challenge, they may face opposition. Why are they upsetting the apple cart? Why do they bother? Why don’t they leave well enough alone? Who do they think they are? Do they think they are special and better than everyone?

Conversation with your Super Hero are important for their growth and development and well-being. When we view movies like The Black Panther and Wonder Woman look for language and imagery to go beyond entertainment, to mine educational opportunities and the inspiration that is there to generate positive action to change the world. We are the parents, guardians, confidantes and mentors required to encourage and comfort the next generation. We must help them identify who they are and who they are expected to become, to reach their destiny and fulfill their promise.

Copyright © 2018 Orlando Ceaser

 

 

The Core of More™ – Be Awesome from the Inside Out

There are crucial components to your development that must be examined to accelerate your progress. There is a core set of skills, values or principles which can be debated, but factually, these key ingredients build on your present state.

Let’s place four elements in this Core of More™. They are Let it glow, Let it grow, Let it flow and Let it go. These ingredients will enable you to gain rather than regress and achieve surplus, that is not necessarily excess.

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Let it Glow

Your light, however you define it, must be allowed to shine. Your talent, skills, abilities, capacity and resources must be a beacon of hope, a living positive example. Your light must be an indicator of your presence, purpose and performance. As we sang in Sunday School, “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine. Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.” When it shines, it has a glow, an luminescence that grabs people attention, pinpoints your location and potentially influences their behavior.

Let it Grow

Skill level and impact will expand and enlarge your contributions. Influence grows as your abilities are refined and increased. You will devote the time, effort, energy and insight received from teachers, mentors and coaches to improve knowledge and the quality of your work.

You will become a continuous learner and communicator, passionate about getting better in the priority areas of your life. Your light will get larger and brighter and more will take notice of you and more will be expected of you, as more are influenced by your presence. Your abundance will become a windfall to others, as you realize you are slated to get better, so others can benefit from your brilliance.

Let it Flow

As it glows and grows, it will flow in the execution of your skill set and in helping other people. Work will become easier and more natural. Executing your tasks will appear effortless, mainly because you are in your sweet spot and you are letting it flow. It is captured in my acronym SMILE (Some Make It Look Easy). An athlete will comment that they let the game come to them or the game slows down for them as they improve their craft.

When you let it flow, you remove the barriers to your performance. Your actions are as a well-trained athlete, gliding through the race; a musician who makes playing the instrument look easy; a world class professional speaker in their comfort zone, delivering a powerful message. You are caught up in the flow.

Professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi , has a concept of flow which is defined as follows, “In positive psychology, as the zone, is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity”1. It is a state where skills are consistent with the challenges presented to you. In the state of flow, you lose track of time and you are consumed in passion”2. Simon Sinek says, “Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress; working hard for something we love is called passion.”3 When you Let it flow, your passion shows, as you let it flow.

Let it Go

Along your journey, there are nouns you have to displace. There are people, places or things that are excessive weight that must be discarded. As a hot air balloonist will tell you, if they want to increase their altitude, sand bags must be cast over board or they will hamper your ascension.

There are personal situations that try to hold you back and hold you down. In earlier articles I refer to them as the Hindre™ a person or spirit of negativity that attempts to hinder or restrict your progress. They must be released if you are to soar to the rightful heights of your achievement. You may know these impediments, or you must be open to people giving you a second opinion on people who are plotting against you.

You must let go of destructive habits, attitudes, the wrong crowd, the wrong mindset or other roadblocks that are impeding your progress.

Let it glow, Let it grow, Let it flow and Let it go, are part of the Core of More™. Apply these principles to help you achieve success in the professional and personal realms of your life.

Copyright © 2018 Orlando Ceaser

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flow_(psychology)
  2. Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly (1998). Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement With Everyday Life
  3. wordpress.com/2014/08/24/working..

 

The Hindre™ – A Secret Force of Exclusion

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The Hindre™ is a person whose purpose is to keep you down, drain your confidence, stunt your growth, hold you back, and prevent you from moving forward. They will hinder you from realizing your potential and living up to your expectations. They are stationed in households and organizations to thwart progress and stymie success by discouraging siblings and offspring from achieving their dreams. The Hindre™ will disillusion people who have the ability and talent to make a positive difference. (The illustration of the Hindre™ is provided by United Press syndicated cartoonist Charles Boyce, creator of “Compu-toon”).

We encounter this nemesis of negativity at various stages of our lives. This individual is responsible for creating a hostile environment of exclusion that says we are not invited, we are not good enough and we are not wanted. The Hindre™ are in businesses and other organizations prepared to sabotage individuals viewed as a threat. They are active when difference enters an organization, so that the status quo is maintained. They are people who place fear in your heart by making you believe you are inadequate and do not have the skills to succeed, unless given special accommodations.

A first encounter with the Hindre™ is during your youth. Exposure is at school or in the home. They may lash out against you in the form of a bully, to hurt your feelings. The experience may have left you angry, embarrassed or ashamed. As you grow in age and maturity they show up in school, relationships, family, and activities and on the job. They are sometimes subtle or bold, undercover or out in the open, covert or overt in their actions. However, they may seem to support you, while discouraging you from taking a risk and disparaging you behind your back to diminish what others think of you.

The Hindre™ show up when people and ideas are the weakest and most vulnerable. In school when you are forming your dreams and goals for the future, they bring their brand of sarcasm, laughter, cynicism and ridicule to shake your confidence, break your spirit and damage self-esteem.

At work they appear in many forms. They may seem harmless, objective and well meaning. But they use their credibility to tear down your ideas and cast suspicion and doubt on your performance. If you are highly regarded, they may use language behind your back such as, “you would think with their education and experience they would know better or perform at a higher rate.” These secret attacks are pervasive, persuasive and slowly reduce your standings in the eyes of peers and supervisors.

Talent will bring the Hindre™ to the surface. Talent activates their discouragement mechanism to hinder high performance. If you are silent and under performing they are dormant and content. But when you flex your creative muscles and express your skills, abilities and talent, they are pressed into action.

Exclusion at Work

In business the Hindre™ lurks in the hallways, meeting rooms and work stations. They are dormant until someone threatens the status quo with new ideas, especially if these new ideas come from the wrong people. The Hindre™ always looks for reasons why ideas will not work and how the ideas of others may work better. They allegedly have the interests of business at heart, when they shift focus and direct their critique to the flaws in your perspectives.

The Hindre™ is sometimes driven by unconscious and conscious biases and prejudices. They restrict access to employment opportunities, neighborhoods, certain groups, membership to exclusive clubs for women and resources to complete a project or proposal.

The work of the Hindre™ has cost companies and countries billions of dollars annually in lost engagement and productivity, revenue and innovation. New ideas are suppressed. People are not fulfilled. Opportunities are passed or missed as the company is deprived of the full richness of its talent pool. On a larger scale entire neighborhoods and countries are deprived of entrepreneurs, leaders and positive role models. The Hindre™ is the ultimate Devil’s Advocate, running unrestrained throughout our lives.

In meetings they shadow your comments. They come to life when their target begins to speak. When others speak they are relatively quiet, but when you talk, they are on the edge of their seats, ready to launch a counter offensive to pounce on your ideas. Many times, they will submarine your ideas as irrelevant and inappropriate, only to repackage as their own at a later date.  Therefore, you should keep track of your ideas, so that when they resurface you can claim credit for them.

When you are aware of the existence of the Hindre™, they are very predictable. Your mindset will to prepare excessively to ensure that your comments are well thought out, yet open for constructive challenge. You can use the presence of the Hindre™ to make you stronger.

The Hindre™ is known for discrediting groups of people and diminishing their accomplishments by saying that they are in over their head, they only got here through a special program and alluding that they may not be qualified.

In Talent Management and succession planning meetings the Hindre™ is present. They shoot down candidates with little objective information, but with a plethora of subjective innuendos. They have done their homework and will twist the facts or limit the admission of positive information that could benefit talent to the organization. The Hindre™ want to restrict your movement and limit and deny access to people, assignments and information that will make you successful.

What can you do?

We must develop the vision to spot them in a crowd and to know that they exist even though we are not sure of their location. Being hidden may give them power if they can catch you by surprise. Sometimes exposure and the knowledge that you know who they are can rob them of their strength. You can develop techniques to question their comments or answer them in a thoughtful intelligent manner. When you are skilled you can cast doubt on their motives, which can be risky, without the audience support. If rendered ineffective, they may go away, go underground and try to discourage others or think of an alternative way to stunt your development.

You must build confidence and surround yourself with people who are supportive, mentors, coaches, true friends and trusted allies. If you do not place this fundamental fortress of protection in place, they will cause you to doubt yourself, especially if no one is coming to your assistance. You must develop effective allies who have your back and will alert you to attacks from unsuspected Hindre™. Occasionally, someone may ask two questions which you should take seriously.

  1. How well do you know a particular person?
  2. What does this person have against you?

This may be a warning advising you to be careful around a particular person. Listen carefully to these comments as they are trying to tell you something significant about the Hindre™ in your midst.

Not every critical person or critique is from a Hindre™. You must subject the comments to a qualifying test. If they are instructive and productive, you would accept them. If their comments mean well and will make you better, you should welcome them. Try to determine the intent and motives of the person, the value and benefits of the comments and the potential consequences of action and inaction.

The Hindre™ may be powerful. We need to resist, but we may not be strong enough individually to withstand their fury. We need advocates and allies to jump to our defense. We need to cultivate teams of believers who will stand next to us when we are challenged inappropriately.

The Hindre™ is active, damaging dreams, poisoning relationships, restricting productivity and stifling the growth of communities, countries and continents. The Hindre™ undermine the joy we could experience without the persistent nay saying, negative nemesis that seeks to deprive us of our greatness. We must be aware of their existence, their presence in our environment and their mission to undermine our effectiveness. They are among the secret forces of inclusion in our environment. Therefore, we must develop tools to nullify their impact and cultivate allies to support us and fortify our positions.

Copyright © 2009 Orlando Ceaser

 

 

A Tale of Leadership Perspectives – Lessons from Head Quarters

Head Quarters is an excellent environment to observe leadership in action. Newly promoted individuals should take advantage of opportunities  to develop and add to their personal management system (Strengthen Your Skills To Effectively Manage).

My HQ experience gave me opportunities to learn from different leaders. The tutorial was an amazing experience and exposure to leadership and mentoring. This exposure was instrumental in the formation of my personal leadership philosophy and personality. I would like to highlight a few scenarios featuring various leadership styles and the lessons associated with them.

Scenario Number One

One of my duties was to evaluate sales representative performances in a retail sales contest. The objective was to see who was most effective in acquiring sales orders, as well as the highest dollar sales average. Each of the sales representative totals were divided by the regional and national averages, respectively. I would select the district, regional and national standings of each representative and determine the overall winners.

After the preliminary calculations I realized that two of the calculations were unnecessary. If you divided each person’s number by the national and regional averages, you were dividing by a constant. You may as well be dividing everybody’s number by one. These two calculations did not change anyone’s rankings. Imagine my delight when I realized this discovery could reduce my workload. This was before computer programs, so the calculations were made by hand, my hand, on a calculator.

I told my boss who agreed with me. He asked me to present this information to one of the sales leaders. In my enthusiasm, I presented my discovery to the sales leader, indicating that to the calculations were not necessary. He took one look at my calculations and slid the paper back to me. He looked straight ahead not establishing eye contact and simply said, “The calculations are necessary.” I thought maybe I had done something wrong and he misunderstood my presentation. But I could judge by his demeanor that he did not want to discuss the matter further.

After the meeting I discussed my experience with my boss. He left my office, presumably to talk to his boss. He returned and simply said, “The two calculations are necessary.” Judging from his demeanor, I knew the topic was no longer open for discussion. I went back to my office and wondered what I had done wrong. I doubted myself for a moment and then I realized what happened. The sales contest rules and regulations were written by that very same sales leader. He was not going to admit to me that I discovered a flaw in his program.

I learned several vital lessons.

  1. Be very careful in criticizing the architect of a program, to dial down my enthusiasm and not to expect praise at the expense of someone else.
  2. Do my homework
  3. I did not have enough seniority or credibility to question the program written by someone in senior leadership
  4. Sometimes I should not be the messenger to suggest change
  5. It takes a strong leader to realize that someone has improved upon their performance
  6. Be open to accepting suggestions or changes from someone at a lower level in the organization

Scenario Number Two

I was the ghost writer for five letters sent to the winners of this same sales contest. These letters were sent out under the signature of the National Sales Manager. First, I took the letters into my manager’s office. He took out a red pen in front of me and began striking out words with bold red strokes. I asked what was wrong. He did not look at me as his red pen continued to violently edit the pages. He said, “People will not understand these memos.” I suggested we had hired college graduates and words like kudos and accolades were in the vernacular of sales people. He continued, “The National Sales Manager does not talk like this.” I left his office feeling I had done something wrong, because there was no praise or instruction, just condemnation and emotionless critique.

I learned to behave differently when I became a leader. Additionally, I learned that eye contact and praise should accompany praise and that feedback should be given before it was solicited.

Scenario Number Three

I carried the finished letters into the National Sales Manager’s office. He slowly read through the letters and made one change. He looked up at me and said there was nothing wrong with the letters I presented to him. Actually, they were well written. But what he said next stuck with me. “Because of the nature of my position, when you put something in front of me, I feel obligated to make a change.” I thought of the many times this happened to me over my career. Others may have been motivated to do the same thing, but no one ever told me why. This seminal bit of wisdom encouraged me to perform higher and taught me how to use my leadership and the power of feedback to help others. People need to know why we do the things we do. The more we can tell them the more supportive and understanding they will be. They will feel like a part of the team. This will improve their decision making and demonstrated that we valued their opinions and contributions .

When I look back on these situations I learned;

  1. Do not take things personally
  2. If someone comes up with a good idea tell them, they need to hear it
  3. Explain when something needs to be improved and not in a condescending manner
  4. Look at your people when you give feedback
  5. Encourage, praise and challenge when you give feedback
  6. Insert the why behind your actions

Those who work for us and those in our line of sight will learn how to lead more effectively if we provide interpretation to accompany our actions.

Copyright © 2017 Orlando Ceaser

 

 

Inclusion: Maximize the POP in Your Culture

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The large corporation recognizes the power of inclusion. They realize the enormous reservoir of residual potential within their employees. Similar companies are establishing practices to capitalize on the diversity within their ranks. Inherent in their approaches is the desire to create an OASIS1 where people can be Open And Share Information Safely; where people can fully express their minds in a culture of trust, where their talents will be developed and appreciated. Where inclusion is successful, there is an increase in energy and engagement.

POP (Potential – Opportunity – Problems)

When companies maximize the POP in their culture, they focus on potential, opportunity and problems. Potential represents the reservoir of thoughts, ideas, resourcefulness and resilience which could fuel innovation and productivity. There is untapped energy that can be used to benefit all constituents. Potential is the pipeline for new ideas and solutions for today and tomorrow.

First, we acknowledge potential as the latent ability to accomplish excellence. It is the sum total of talent, capacity, skills and ability. Potential speaks to the unlimited capacity within us. They are not sure how much power is stored in each individual, but they need to provide the environment to explore their content. The uniqueness and diversity of each individual may be linked to the variety of experiences, exposure and expertise they own.

Secondly, opportunity is defined by Merriam Webster’s dictionary as, “a favorable or promising combination of circumstances or a chance for advancement or improvement. There are synergies when engagement and diversity are maximized. Additional value can be gained by minimizing the detrimental effects of unconscious bias and negative micro inequities.

Opportunity is a chance to capitalize on a situation or moments that could lead to new discoveries, customer benefits and hopefully, a competitive advantage. Taking advantage of opportunities requires flexibility that is focused and spontaneous. Agility with the ability for greatness to maneuver the white waters of change is important to leverage opportunity. Responsiveness will allow organizations to master changes in direction by preparation and timing.

Thirdly, problems do and will exist. They may be due to the negative ways people are treated. This could lead to a suboptimal release of talent, skills and abilities. Ultimately, engagement, innovation, employee satisfaction and results are impaired. The problem could represent unproductive conflict or the uncontested unconscious bias and micro-inequities within the culture. Problems may be barriers, a discrepancy between results and expectations, as well as the delta between where they are and where they want to go. The problems may also denote the business challenges encountered which require the entire capacity of their teams to concentrate on the problem for maximum effectiveness.

Many times the problem could be a lack of developmental information. It would be ideal if people are vulnerable and share the areas where they need to improve. Too many times performance management becomes a game of Hide and Seek or Keep away. Individuals are aware of their developmental areas, but are reluctant to be vulnerable and share because of the negative consequences of evaluation and ratings. It could cost them money. Where there is trust people feel comfortable about being authentic and transparent as they dedicate themselves to the individual and group getting better.

SPOT (Strengths – Potential – Opportunity – Threats)

 

Let’s turn our attention to applying energy and resources to the right area, the main thing, as it is often called. Inclusion gives us a strategy to maximize the POP in our culture by encouraging us to set our sights on excellence. When we identify our focus, we may say that X marks the spot. By using another acronym, the SPOT stands for Strengths, Potential, Opportunity and Threats.

The spot allows us to expand self awareness and become inwardly centered on individual skills and abilities. We were hired and promoted mainly for our strengths. These strengths should be harnessed to benefit us and the company. Marcus Buckingham touts the value of increased engagement2, if people feel that every day they can use their strengths at work. The environment for increased engagement stated in the Gallup- Q-12, Marcus was a part of the research, highlighted 12 factors that are favorably addressed in high engagement cultures. The idea is to give strengths the priority while managing and minimizing areas needing further development (weaknesses). The leader must understand these principles and determine how they apply personally.

Potential and opportunity are the same as stated earlier. The leader must also benefit, along with the other members of the team and organization. Opportunities may spring up as trends and openings that can be beneficial, if responded to decisively with excellence. A leader must model the acuity and ingenuity to solve problems and the use results orientation to reach their goals.

Threats are usually evaluated from an external vantage point. We want to answer the question, what are the negative things outside of the organization that can externally impact individuals and the company. Whereas, this is very crucial, there are also internal threats that we must be aware of, so that they do not derail achieving our goals or career objectives. These threats could be systemic, such as the prevalence of unconscious bias and micro inequities in suppressing growth and development.

We must create a culture that minimizes the impact of unconscious bias and micro-inequities.

  • They are structurally held in check by programs
  • Data is accumulated to detect and rectify their presence
  • Individual participants are identified and held accountable for their actions
  • It is safe for people to speak up where the OASIS exists (Open And Share Information Safely)

The threat could also be individuals who may not have our best interests at heart. The threats could be personality issues that need to be corrected, such as difficulties with emotional intelligence which compromises leader effectiveness. These barriers, harmful trends, negative circumstances or individuals could disrupt our path to career excellence.Inclusion will enable organizations to adopt a leadership style that begins with personal self-awareness, self-management and moving onward to others, as we increase social awareness and relationship management.

Inclusion will enable us to maximize the POP in our culture (Potential – Opportunities – Problems). The leader must be an example for direct reports and those who look up to us for guidance and inspiration. We must focus on the organization but personally demonstrate how excellence marks the SPOT; focusing on our particular Strengths, Potential, Opportunities and Threats. Copyright © 2017 Orlando Ceaser

References

  1. Orlando Ceaser, Unlock Your Leadership Greatness (Chicago IL: Watchwell Communications Inc., 2014)
  2. Marcus Buckingham, Standout 2.0 (Boston Mass: Harvard Press, 2015)