Artificial Experience (AE) and Performance Enhancement

William James change your life
Early in my sales career, I came upon a quote attributed to William James, the Father of American Psychology. The message was profound. “The mind cannot tell the difference between something that is real and something that is vividly imagined.” These words were mind blowing and changed my life. They were simple, crystal clear and sensible. I instantly recalled a dream that I had in childhood. I dreamed that I came upon a large mound of coins. I took a handful of coins and clinched them tightly in my hand. I wanted this to be true. I awakened with my fist clenched, my heart pounding and filled with anticipation. However, as I slowly opened my fingers, the disappointment was obvious. It was only a dream. A very vivid dream, but still a dream.

I became so fond of this technique, which was all around me, but I never noticed. It seemed sophisticated and more structured then daydreaming. Additionally, it was consistent with visualization and mental rehearsal. These were techniques used by athletes and performers to prepare themselves for competitions, performances, presentations and other events.

My usage initially was preparing for sales calls. This was very evident in my initial sales training in pharmaceutical sales. The six new sales representatives were preparing for videotaped presentations with our sales trainers. The tension level was very high in the room, as five employees were rushing to make practice presentations before presenting to the trainers. I was in the hallway visualizing my upcoming scenarios and preparing my responses. I realized that I could mentally role play more presentations than I could physically demonstrate, therefore I was structuring my thinking. This would allow me to create artificial experience and have déjà vu moments within each sales presentation. My confidence was elevated, and I performed better than I would have otherwise. I was not as nervous as my peers and felt more comfortable through my means of gathering artificial experience. I explained my method to my peers, and everyone implemented this technique, which I feel was helpful in completing our sales training, especially the videotape portions.

The practice of cultivating artificial experience allows us to simulate many situations and improve our performance in our current reality. We also can accelerate the pace of learning through many scenarios to increase our ability to think on our feet.

Airline pilots go to through many hours of flight simulation training to expose them to a variety of scenarios which may occur in flight. The objective is to create the type of muscle memory or response memory, so that when they are in actual situations, they can draw on this artificial experience to perform effectively.

Many people new to their assignments feel apprehensive because they do not have the same level experience as their peers. New managers may be in situations where they are managing teams where individuals have been with the company longer. Millennials may be managing baby boomers. Managers may be managing a very diverse team. It is a reality that artificial experience, along with coaching, mentoring and researching the past can contribute to elevating competence and confidence.

Artificial experience along with other leadership techniques, such as emotional and cultural intelligence can assist in individual and team performance and personal development.

Copyright © 2019 Orlando Ceaser

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Think About It – Use the Word Drink to Trigger Motivation

Think in moderation (2)
I was driving home from work and drinking commercials began to flood my mind. I did not question their arrival, because that is one-way creativity works for me, through random associations. However, it was rather curious, since I don’t drink alcoholic beverages. The power of their advertising messages interrupted and hijacked my thoughts. Advertisers will go through tremendous lengths to convince consumers to buy their beverage when they are thirsty. They are powerful enough to make you thirsty. Their messages were very pervasive and persuasive.

Advertisers study us to see what makes us tick, our needs and then they portray their product as the solution. Advertising has a powerful influence over our thoughts and actions. This influential medium, through the power of suggestion, sells billions of dollars’ worth of beverages of all kinds. They exploit our need to be sociable, free, important, accepted and included. They even have adorable consequences that we don’t think about. One day while driving with my three-year daughter, I was drinking an orange beverage, when she responded, “Daddy, you don’t suppose to drink and drive.”

I was preparing for a presentation and therefore, doing a lot of thinking about thinking. The notion of thinking about drinking was fascinating. I wondered if I could substitute the words think and thinking in place of drink and drinking in many of the ads. I engaged in a mental exercise to insert the word think or thinking into the language of commercials or sayings about drinking. The results were interesting. One classic tagline in drinking commercials advises people to drink responsibly. I converted that phrase to say we should think responsibly. It worked. The phrase eat, drink and be merry, became eat, think and be merry. This could show the impact that thinking has on happiness.

If we could successfully make the mental conversion from drink to think, every time we heard a commercial, that would be a powerful trigger. We could use it to reinforce thoughts and behaviors, whatever the beverage being emphasized. This could, therefore, be a bonus for many of us.

As I stated earlier, association is an important creativity exercise. In association, you identify, link or relate something to another object. This causes you to not think of one without thinking of the other. We could conduct this practice in many other situations. Additionally, association is an effective memory device.

Here are seven key phrases that we should look for in commercials about drinking and other drink related conversations. The original phrases will serve as a trigger, a subconscious response to the need to reference thoughts and ultimately behaviors to enhance our thinking. We can look forward to the instructive nature of this exercise and its ability to elevate the art of thinking in our everyday lives.

Think About It (3)
It is important to open to the creative process and through association, we may come up innovative ways to address and tackle important issues. But we must be able to consistently, think about it.

Copyright © 2019 Orlando Ceaser

Are You A Tonic Or A Toxin?

Tonicortoxin4thmonk (2)
Are you a tonic or a toxin? The 4th Monkey advises you to do no evil. Is your presence positive, beneficial, and invigorating or are you negative, detrimental and draining? The answers to this question will suggest whether you are a positive or negative influence on the lives of others.

Tonic

Do people walk away from you feeling, as if their spirits have been uplifted and inspired to have a great day? Are you epinephrine or adrenaline to someone needing a boost in their mood and enthusiasm? Are you an encouragement, a refreshment, a positive dose of energy? Are you the personification of Red Bull, 5-hour Energy or any other vitamin drink you can fathom?

My father loved Western TV shows. Invariably, there was an episode with a traveling medicine man. This salesperson would have an elixir which he swore would cure everything. This amazing tonic was exactly what the people needed to feel better, instantly. The medicine man was usually a Charlatan and the elixir / tonic was usually 80% alcohol. Nonetheless, the tonic was viewed as a positive concoction.

If you are a tonic, people walk away from you feeling stronger, more positive and capable of success. Your actions are viewed favorably. When you are a tonic some of the following attributes are noticed.

• You are often invited to meetings and social functions
• People enjoy your presence and positive / constructive contributions
• People want to be around you
• People want you on their team, department or organization
• People learn from you and feel their careers are being enhanced
• People go out of their way to say nice things to you and about you
• You are sought after for advice, coaching and mentoring opportunities
• You are inclusive and ensuring that others are involved
• People recommend you and your services
• People do not hesitate to be your cheerleaders
• People want to work hard for you and do their best work

Toxin

Are you a toxin? Are you a slowly debilitating individual that sucks the life out of people and drains the energy in the room? Do people walk away from you feeling tired, irritated, weak in their demeanor and worst for having interacted with you? Are you the killjoy, the party pooper, the person elected most likely to impede? Do people change their direction to avoid you and to go out of their way not to invite you to their gatherings? If you answered yes to any of these questions you are a certifiable toxin.

The toxin is a poison. When they are added to a team, organization or social group; joy, productivity and progress are diminished. The toxin may include the following signs:

• Negative attitude and negative input to conversations
• Always have a negative, opposing view
• Will always suggest why things will not work
• The official carriers of gossip and negative news and expectations
• Politically dangerous due to the number of enemies they make
• Do not know when to be quiet
• Possess poor emotional intelligence skills (EQ)
• Believe they have all the right answers; condescending and arrogant
• Chronically disengaged and encourage others to follow their negative example
• Work to undermine programs, progress and performance
• Chronic complainers without solutions
• When people walk away, they feel listless, tired and mentally and physically fatigued
• Dissatisfied with work, constantly looking for a new job, but they never leave

Toxins are to be purged from the body and cleared by the organism / organization. This cleansing will improve health and enhance longevity. The word toxin immediately recalls images of pollutants that are hazardous to our bodies, health and well-being. Both words, tonic and toxin are applicable to our daily lives, which includes our interactions with people and our environment.

Being a tonic or a toxin can also apply to the workplace. Is the workplace a tonic, which enhances your spirits and personal growth or a toxin that intoxicates, paralyzes and brings you down?

Whether work is a tonic or a toxin can have a profound effect on your mood and development. They can influence whether you look forward to going to work every day or dread this daily ritual. A tonic can have a positive effect on your health and your interactions. However, a toxin can affect your attendance and be harmful to you and everyone who encounters you.

A toxic work environment can damage employees and make them irritated, frustrated, frightened and nervous. A tonic personality can be influenced by toxic character traits; breaking down their positive job outlook and their outlook on life. A change in leadership, location and environment may be the necessary therapy in extreme cases of toxicity. Conversely, inserting a dose of positive tonic is like delivering a breath of fresh air into a toxic workplace.

The question of the day, the question for reflection is, “Are you a tonic or a toxin?” When you determine the answer to this question. You must take the necessary steps to enhance or correct your status.

Copyright © 2019 Orlando Ceaser
Tonicortoxin4thmonk (2)

The 4th Monkey Matters

4th Monkey
Leadership is consistently emphasized as a valuable set of skills for individuals charged with managing a business, performing in athletics and other interactions and endeavors involving people. There are numerous theories, books and training programs about leadership and the necessary characteristics and attributes of a strong leader. Integrity in business is one of the key leadership traits, often cited as critical when dealings and interacting with others.

Leadership is a discipline that is highly regarded in the annals of personal and organizational development. Effective use of this skill contributes to the successful implementation and execution of strategies that enable people to achieve expectations. Studies have indicated that diverse teams with strong leadership perform better. Strong leadership allows individuals to handle the disruption and challenges they may encounter while managing and working in a diverse environment, where differences of opinions, styles and approaches, among team members is prevalent.

The 4th Monkey is known as Shizaru in Japan. He receives very little attention, since most are familiar with his counterparts; see no evil (Mizaru), hear no evil (Kikazura), and speak no evil (Iwazura). His function is to do no evil, which you could argue is the most important monkey. The 4th Monkey’s emphasis is on right practices and behaviors. The proper way to meet people and treat people are just a few of the important actions. Being trustworthy and ethical are also essential elements.

The age-old saga of the monkeys places the emphasis on lack of involvement. If you do not see, hear or speak evil, you will minimize conflict. However, the 4th Monkey matters and transcends complacency and instructs the leader to exert their character and insert their presence into situations, to lead people to a mutually beneficial decisions and destinations.

The 4th Monkey matters. Do no evil is critical in leadership, as we lead in all areas of our lives. The 4th Monkey should be a mascot for a leadership team to validate the importance of ethics and right behavior. Let us focus on the workplace. In the business setting what are some of the wrong (evil) characteristics we can highlight?

Here is a top 10 list of principles that illustrate some examples of do no evil. This is by no means, a comprehensive or exhaustive list. Also, the list may be challenged and amended, for you may have other principles which are equally or more appropriate to your business and experience. Nevertheless we are in agreement that the 4th Monkey matters in the workplace.

Please review this list for it shows the interaction and compatibility between the 4th Monkey and your ability to lead. These principles will illustrate the importance of integrity by internalizing these 10 proposed principles from the 4th Monkey. Implementing these practices can highlight and contribute significantly to your results.

Notice below and, in your discussions, that there are evils / crimes of commission and omission. Failure to do the right thing, in the right situation, can be construed as a malicious act of omission.

1. Do not demonstrate poor character and lack of integrity
2. Do not lie (knowingly give false or misleading information)
3. Do not bully or intimidate others
4. Do not harm people’s dignity and self-respect
5. Do not misrepresent data (to deceive or protect)
6. Do not violate people’s rights or property
7. Do not discriminate (no favoritism and nepotism)
8. Do not steal (ideas or intellectual property)
9. Do not gossip, demean and discredit a reputation
10. Do not fail to give direction and authentic feedback

During my anthropology class in the first year of college, I was introduced to two attributes particular to certain monkeys. The first concept was brachiating, which meant the hand over hand movement of monkeys, as they travel from branch to branch (children perform this activity on the monkey bar). This reminds me of a leader who not only takes the high road, but is performing at a high level, to very high standards. This visible performance is noticed by others, especially those who are on the ground, and those traveling with them.

The second attribute was that many monkeys had a prehensile tail. This tail enabled the monkey to achieve additional agility and movement because of its ability to grab on to objects, which gave them greater flexibility and agility. Effective leaders must grab onto knowledge, information and concepts better than their peers. I propose that the 4th Monkey provides a metaphor of leadership dexterity to those individuals who are truly practitioners of effective leadership.

The 4th Monkey matters and enables us to lead and form natural alliances with our constituents, followers and others as we demonstrate and develop leaders, in order to transform their operations into successful, individual honoring enterprises.

Copyright © 2019 Orlando Ceaser
Web-sites: orlandoceaser.com
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The All – American You

All-American status is conferred upon athletes who have distinguished themselves among their peers. They are the top performers in the minds of designated observers, i.e. coaches and sports writers. Most athletes covet this recognition, but most do not receive the award. There is All-American potential in each of us, as we pursue our potential and the greatness in the workplace.

The All-American You would be your best self. Analyze your skills honestly and acknowledge, there is a discrepancy between your output and your opportunity; your strengths have not reached their full capacity.

The All-American You is the persona that qualifies you for the highest level of distinction. It is a personal reflection of exemplary performance, for sacrifice above and beyond the call of duty or expectations. How should you set up a program of ignition and recognition to achieve All-American status?

You may begin with the following:

1. Determine and examine what is important to your organization.
2. Compete with other employees against criteria you establish and the what
is important to the organization. (Our similarities bring us together,
but our differences and distinctions set us apart and magnify our
competitiveness.)
3. Personalize the program – sit down and write what you want to
accomplish.
4. You must ask; What level do I aspire to achieve?
5. What are my goals, aspirations, dreams and objectives?
6. What recognition have I achieved that could elevate me to a higher
level?
7. What do I have do to be the best in my chosen profession?

Brian was an All-American defensive end at Western Illinois University. Recently he received a letter requesting him to visit Western to see his name on the All-American wall. He took advantage of invitation from his alma mater. The wall is visible to everyone who visits that wall, which further endeared him to institution. You may wish to create a wall for personal encouragement. A vision board shows what he would like to achieve, while an All-American board this your achievements.
BCFootballWestern


All American status is personal recognition and acknowledgment for expressing the greatness within you. It doesn’t matter if you consider yourself All-Company, All-Region, All-Nation, All-Region or All-Department, but you must humbly confess the value of your contributions. Since we are in a global society you may want to visualize yourself as All-Global or All-International.

An All-American designation could place an athletic flare to your self-talk and competition in the workplace and market place. This could breathe excitement into how you approach work and increase your level of engagement.

The All-American You is ready to be exposed to the world. Your peak level of performance should be released, must be released for you to achieve your best result. This will garner you the recognition, reputation and credentials you deserve.

Here are a few additional questions you may consider on your quest to finding and releasing the All-American You.

1. What statistics will you track? You need a means of gauging and
measuring your performance against a goal.
2. What press / notification will you receive? Recognition will be given to
you or should be discussed with your boss when you surpass certain
milestones
3. Who is cheering for you during the competition? You need individuals who
will be your advocates and cheerleaders to encourage, motivate and
propel you along your journey.
4. Are you aware of the competition developing strategies to nullify your
effectiveness? People will develop strategies to curtail your success,
what will you do to combat their actions? What are the counter
strategies and tactics you will execute?

My book Unlock Your Leadership Greatness, explores 10 principles to help you become an impact player, which could qualify you to be an All-American in your field.

All-Americans must commit to continuous growth through better conditioning, refining skills to achieve superstar status. You will consistently bring the All-American You to work. Eventually, your name will be posted on the wall, for excellence in your field. You can achieve the greatness in you by becoming the All American You.

Copyright © 2019 Orlando Ceaser

A Mutiny Through Lack of Engagement – A Silent Rebellion

JC-Penny
A mutiny occurs every day in organizations all over the world. They don’t usually make headlines or the business sections of publications. They may not display visible signs of hostility. They may not involve physically taking over a facility and relieving leadership of its command. The approach is subtler but devastating.

A mutiny is defined as forcible or passive resistance to lawful authority (Merriam – Webster’s dictionary). The word and concept, I observed recently while watching Marlon Brando and Trevor Howard in the 1962 movie classic, Mutiny on the Bounty.

The mutiny, in our context, is a revolution where people withhold potential and productivity. They will not give 100%. People who hold back on their best effort or potential. The revolt is on the inside. For example, they may not be totally engaged at work. They may give a quality performance, but not the virtuoso performance of their best effort. Some employees will adopt an “Over My Dead Body” mindset (OMDB), which means they theoretically would rather die than give their total cooperation to an organization or manager that does not respect or trust them. Workers may decide that the company does not deserve their best, therefore their masterpiece ideas, solutions and discretionary effort will be withheld; an insidious mutiny against unsuspecting leadership.

Mutiny on the Bounty is a story based on an actual event. The HMS Mutiny Bounty sailed in 1787, under the leadership of Captain, William Bligh. He was a difficult leader, whose ruthless leadership style focused only on the mission and not his men. One of his famous lines from the 1962 movie was, “Cruelty with a purpose is not cruelty, it is efficiency.” Captain Bligh was overthrown by members of his crew, led by Fletcher Christian (played by Marlon Brando) after demonstrating heartless behavior which led to the death of several of his men.

How do you stop a mutiny?

How do you stop a mutiny before it happens? Selecting a leader with the right skills, reputation and temperament is a good start. Open lines of communication and an atmosphere of trust through transparency and fair play creates a climate of accountability. In the movie, the sailors did not have their captain’s superior or someone in the function of Human Resources to hear their grievances. An effective human resources department provides an avenue for people to express their problems with leadership. Many times, such a person or department is not on-site. However, the organization may have an HR department or someone in that function to contact.

The beauty of our current leadership/managerial landscape is that many organizations have ascribed to the notion of a healthy work environment. There are employee surveys, satisfaction surveys, and engagement surveys to take the temperature or climate of the company. These surveys can uncover problems and managers can be presented with data and held accountable for changing their environment. These surveys are strengthened with direct contact with management and human resources to ensure the environment is conducive for maximum productivity.

It is imperative as a leader to gauge how your people are responding to your direction and the culture in your environment. A worst-case scenario may develop where people mentally abandon the company, but stay on the job, because you failed to address a toxic culture.

Managers can evaluate their culture through The Know System™ which could provide a simplified look at their environment. The Know System™ featured in the book The Isle of Knowledge is a fable about making better decisions. The story helps the reader to find the problems, solve problems and make better decisions.

The Know System™ is easy to use and helps the participants gather information to enhance the quality of their decisions and discussions. Let’s begin with 6 words from the word Know and a few related questions that relate to company culture.

1. Won – What would a winning culture look like to you? What type of atmosphere, level of engagement and customer satisfaction scores would represent success to you?
2. Know – What do you know and need to know about your culture and the people in your organization? (This can be enhanced with the words who, what, where, when, how and why, if appropriate)
3. Now – What are you doing now to ensure a healthy habitat? Are you placing priority on the proper indicators?
4. No – What are you doing that you need to stop doing? What goes against your culture and stated values that you need to say no to? What do your people want you to eliminate or stop doing?
5. On – You must always be vigilant to monitor culture and maintain a proper cultural air quality. What are you doing to track leading indicators of a great culture? How are you measuring your work environment? Some companies use a stop, start and to stay approach. What should they stop doing (say no to), start doing and continue doing regarding their culture? This could involve training, new goals and diversity and inclusion strategies.
6. Own – Do you own the culture as evidenced by leadership behavior? How are you holding yourself and others accountable? How are you reporting your performance and interest in a strong culture to your people?

When the organization does not feel like a respectful place, people feel that the company let them down and cannot be trusted. Mutiny or thoughts of mutiny are indicators the culture has failed or is failing many of its workers. They may resort to subversive action and taking matters into their own hands.

In the closing scene of Mutiny on the Bounty, Captain Bligh, who was overthrown and placed in a lifeboat with a few men and rations, finally arrived in England. He was not blamed for the mutiny; but it was “noted that officers of stainless record and seamen decided to revolt against him” and a mistake was made putting him in charge of the ship.

A mutiny may be disguised by a series of resignations and requests for transfers. Your top performers or the most influential members on your team may leave, causing a chain reaction of departures. Management must be perceptive, accessible and periodically check the culture pulse of the organization. People must believe that leadership is authentic, transparent and sincere and practices their core values. Trust will be enhanced when people really believe that they are the number one resource in the organization. Otherwise, silent mutinies will go unchecked, unnoticed, and people will be unfulfilled, and the cost to business, substantial.

Copyright © 2016 Orlando Ceaser

Work: A Love/Hate Relationship

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We have a curious relationship with work. We jokingly refer to it as something we just love to hate. We tend to gripe about work in our conversations which are often grounded in negativity. We often view work as a necessary evil, the daily grind or just a job and something to pay the bills. It is to be tolerated until we can do something about it or find something better. We view work with a captive mentality. It is something that we do against our will, as if someone’s forcing us to do it. We complain about work when we are hired, fired, quit or retire.

There are statistics and anecdotal comments that reflect our ambivalence toward work.  70 to 80% of people dread going to work every day. According to the Gallup Corporation, only 18% are fully engaged in the workplace. Conversely, if we find the job we love, we are told that we won’t work a day in our lives.

The Hate Relationship

When we speak of the things we hate about our job, it is generally focused on the manager or the fact that we are underutilized or in the wrong job. Leadership is responsible for the culture, with assistance from our co-workers. We may not think we are able to positively impact environment, unless we are a manager. Therefore, we may elect to put our head down, shut our mouths and do our job. These are survival and coping techniques we use when we cannot leave the job and must stay on board for the sake of our family and future.

The Love Relationship

There may be a love side to work that is often not discussed. Rarely do we hear people say, “I love going to work, it is so fulfilling, encouraging and allows me to grow my skills to achieve my dreams. I love my job because it completes me; I cannot think of any place I’d rather be than at work.” We believe that the right job with the right manager and the right company, that fulfills our purpose, is out there, but we haven’t found it yet.

We should focus our attention to the overlooked facts that point to an affection some of us have for our jobs. There may be positive attributes that are lost in the stress and struggles from working in a toxic environment. If we look beyond the haze, we may see that work can amaze and provide us the opportunity to focus on personal dreams and enable us to acquire marketable and transferable skills. The workplace provides the option to network and meet people who will help us in our career development. Our socialization may be comprised of people we see at work.

Gratitude

It would be helpful to make a list of the things we love and the things we hate about your work. Find a quiet place and create a chart on a piece of paper or on your computer or tablet. Be very truthful and objective, as you complete these two columns. The nature of the job may fit into your strengths and your passions. For example, you may enjoy your manager and co-workers

After you have completed this assignment, study the items you have listed. Ask yourself the following questions;

  • How is this item contributing to my feeling about work?
  • How important is this item in my overall perception of my job satisfaction or dissatisfaction?
  • What can I do to increase or eliminate this as a concern?
  • Who should I talk to and explain my position?
  • How can I make the most of this concern to improve the overall development of my skill sets and career?
  • Am I honest about my assessment of these love-hate attributes?
  • How can I ensure that my response is benefiting the organization and putting myself in position to achieve my goals and dreams?

Where is the Love?

Gallup’s research also notes that people who are engaged at work usually have a best friend work. Early in my managerial career I noticed that certain managers surrounded themselves with people with whom they had a history. These individuals moved together from job to job and invariably brought these talented people with them. Apparently, they had cultivated a bond with these coworkers because of their talent and trustworthiness. There is a lesson we can learn from these relationships. They were an asset to each other as they climbed the company ladder. Therefore, work developed friendships and strategic relationships can benefit our careers. These individuals become investments and when they change companies, they can pave the way for us to join another organization.

My wife commented on how the corporate training programs enhanced my development. She knew me before I started working for the company. She saw me before the experiences and training programs and witnessed firsthand, my personal growth, development and transformation. When discussing difficulties at work, she would remind me to be grateful and express gratitude for the blessings I received.

Many companies have a list of direct and indirect benefits that they provide for employees. These benefits may increase the likelihood that people will love their jobs. Additionally, successful companies try to match people with the jobs consistent with their skill or potential. The direct benefits are pay for education through tuition reimbursement programs. There are vacation days, paid leaves of absence, company matching as a part of their 401(k) benefits. We may argue that companies must offer these benefits to be competitive in today’s marketplace. Yet, there are positive programs that we can use to benefit ourselves and family. Taking advantage of these programs could increase our positive perception of the company. We have a greater chance of loving work when we take advantage of these benefits. If we play our cards right, we can use the organization to develop the necessary skills to achieve our life’s purpose.

However, benefits alone should not anchor us to an organization that is tearing us down and burning us out. I spoke to a vice president recently who stated that she stayed with a previous employer because of their benefits, when there were no personal growth and career development opportunities. She indicated that she probably stayed there four years too long, when she could have grown and been better off in another environment, enhancing her career.

We have a love/hate relationship work, but we should mine for the valuable opportunities, benefits and resources we need to grow our portfolio, relationships and life experiences. When we step back and are strategic and objective, we observe and anticipate chances for skill development and financial security. We can accurately project the company’s potential value to us. And when this happens our love for work may increase, along with our level of gratitude.

Copyright © 2018 Orlando Ceaser

 

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

 

 

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

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™. These elements confirm there is more in your core than you can imagine, yet you periodically ignore one or more components. 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, a luminescence that grabs people attention, pinpoints your location and potentially influences your 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 an acronym SMILE (So 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 must 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..