MSU (Making Stuff Up) – Credibility and Creativity

MSU C (2)

I began speaking about the concept of MSU in 1986 when training sales representatives as a Regional Operations Manager. A few representatives, when faced with a difficult question, tried to bluff their way through their answers to tough questions. Their responses contained misinformation and outright lies. A few of them demonstrated unbelievable creativity under pressure to make up fantastic stories but distorted the facts. I was rather angry because we took the truth very seriously. We boasted to have one of the best trained sales forces in the industry. You had to achieve 90% to pass our product examinations. We stated the company policy around misinformation. Their credibility and the company’s reputation was on the line, therefore MSU was forbidden. We would not tolerate MSU (Making Shit Up). I apologized for the language, but it was a profoundly serious matter. Additionally, we told them that it made them look stupid because the doctors probably forgot more about medicine then they would ever know.

I must admit that some of the responses were rather creative. We applauded creativity but not in the dissemination of product information and following company policies and procedures.

MSU was such a catchy concept that we included it in our regular training vocabulary. We would openly talk about Making Stuff Up and the dangers of resorting to that practice in answering physician questions. MSU had value as it related to creativity and other areas. When I introduced the concept of MSU I would state that it did not stand just for Michigan State University.

Years later we were training physicians on presentation skills. I decided to drop in on one of the sessions. I noticed that on one slide were the letters MSU. This piqued my curiosity and I sat for the session. The presenter opened the session by saying he wanted to talk to them about MSU and it did not just stand for Michigan State University. It stood for Making Stuff Up. I was impressed but, I sat there speechless. I did not recall reading about MSU before that fateful day in 1986 in our sales training seminar.

15 years later I was in my office as an Area Sales Director. One of our trainers (Field Development Leaders) gave me a book. The book was titled MSU (Making Something Up). And 10 years later in Zambia, South Africa, one of our pastors conducted a workshop on MSU, Making Stuff Up; obviously, it was a well-established concept.

MSU is therefore a viable practice. It is a catalyst for creativity and a warning. We must use it wisely because authenticity and transparency are required to enhance your credibility. As a leader, is important to be aware of MSU and how adopting this mindset can be used to make decisions, answer questions, solve problems and enrich our world through creative thinking and innovation.

Copyright © 2020 Orlando Ceaser

Websites: OrlandoCeaser.com

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Resilience and Another Starfish Story

starfish

Resilience is a way of describing your bounce back ability (BCA). A trait that is wired into our mental framework to give us the tenacity to govern our behavior. It is a portrayal of our stamina and stability and the survival instinct within us. We are formed, fortified and framed with the mindset to resist tough times. We are not saying that we are challenge proof, but challenging resistant, enabling us to bounce in the presence of hard times and hard surfaces.

Let me tell you another Starfish Story. This is different from the traditional starfish story. This story takes place in the ocean. Our hero or heroine is an injured starfish, that is wounded in the ocean. The injury either by accident or sustained damage from the encounter with a predator or a vessel in the water.

During this mishap the starfish was badly damaged and lost one of its points. The starfish has five arms, as we know from the pictures we’ve seen or the animals in an aquarium. However, they may have any number ranging from five arms, to over 50, but I digress. You may have been lucky enough to see these fascinating creatures, sometimes referred to as sea stars, and the they are not really fish.

Our starfish suffers what would be considered a devastating injury to most animals. Imagine this wounded animal moving around in the water eligible to die from the mutilation. However, the starfish has a quality that allows it to rejuvenate or regrow its arms. It is as if the starfish’s body, metabolism or inner programming remembers its original structure and works to replace it. This fascinating attribute allows it to live for 35 years.

Humans do not yet have this ability to physically rejuvenate, however mentally we are resilient. We may face a devastating appointment which takes away our drive and self-esteem. We may make a mistake which appears to be career ending. We may have our reputation tarnished to the extent we feel we may never recover. But like the starfish, we can rejuvenate, regenerate, replenish and reestablish ourselves with proper a mindset.

We can re-institute a positive, reassuring and confident state of mind. When we were infants and toddlers, there were qualities we had, such as curiosity, adventure, stamina, persistence and endurance. We could focus on something with relentless intensity and if we fell trying to get it, we had the resilience, the bounce back ability, after a moment of pouting to get back on our feet and resume our pursuit of the goal.

Later in life, many of us periodically, have these traits badly damaged and removed from our repertoire or body of skills. We may go through life psychologically impaired when we have the inmate ability to do something about it. We need to rejuvenate and regenerate the mental demonstration of renewed strength and resilience.  We need to re-grow these former strengths in order to sustain ourselves and renew our level of effectiveness.

Think back to a time when you were whole and constructed for success and survival. Remember how it felt to be fearless and confident. Remember the other starfish story and recapture what was lost or taken from you, so that you can replenish yourself and be structured to become your best. Remember the words of the philanthropist W. Clement Stone who was the proponent of PMA (positive mental attitude). He said that what the mind could conceive the and believe, it could achieve.

Think of the starfish and reach down within yourself to repair the damage and regain whatever you lost, the world is counting on you and your leadership.

Copyright © 2020 Orlando Ceaser

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Authenticity Messages from The Scrolls of Greatness™

Mothermirrorlion1
There are countless archaeological discoveries that add to our knowledge of earlier civilizations, cultures and beliefs. You heard the stories of individuals stumbling upon a discovery, which greatly increased our knowledge. There may be scrolls of information in the earth that enlighten our paths.

There are scrolls of knowledge within you that validate your greatness. These texts confirm the greatness within you. The question is, how will you search through the caves, caverns and catacombs of memories and earlier instruction, to recover and discover knowledge and wisdom to achieve your grander purpose.

There are messages on authenticity that I gleaned from my excavations. They will ultimately be published in a future work entitled Scrolls of Greatness.

An Authentic Life

“Is your life a quotation or a paraphrase of the life of another or is it the original authentic paragraph God has written for you to include in His magnificent manuscript?”

Authentic Faith

“Most of your knowledge is based on faith. You were exposed to information packaged and provided to you by strangers and people you know. You are placing a lot of faith and trust in the character, motives and authenticity of others, which is the way it should be, because you cannot verify everything.”

Authentic, Non-manipulative Love

People should know that you genuinely love them; authenticity without manipulation. You want them to be happy, expecting nothing in return, no strings attached. I told a group of students that I drove an hour and a half to speak to them and I was not being paid for it. I wanted them to know that there are people who love them and expect nothing in return, but their excellence. We must learn to give back and I was compelled to do this, because it was done for me. “A young man spoke,” I wouldn’t do it, if I was not getting paid for it.” I responded, “If you thought as highly of you, as I think of you, you would do it, because I know you are worth it.”

Forgiveness

“Forgiveness should not dependent on receiving an apology or the knowledge of an impending apology. It may not be automatic. It may be difficult. But it should be authentic when experienced and expressed.”

Observations

“Many times, your words should serve as an observation and not a critique. However, there will be times when the order should be reversed. Authenticity improves the power of your communication.”

Share the Journey

“My message seems more powerful when I profile my pain. When I accept the blame,
I seem human. When I discuss my shame, I am vulnerable and real. People relate and identify with me when they can connect and feel that I am genuine, with good intentions.

Sometimes we do our journey a disservice when people only see the finished product and not the rough parts of our development. A glimpse into the construction, deconstruction, destruction and production processes, will heighten their awareness and appreciation of our struggles and what it takes to be successful. We will connect. The authenticity of raw, without disclaimers, and revealing our flaws, will open people to our stories and increase our chances to inspire growth.

The world wants to know how we made our names, the obstacles faced and how we overcame. Otherwise, people will surmise, we obtained the prize and never made mistakes, always received the breaks, were never afraid, that we possess a passing grade, but it was easy, and we always had it made.”

Copyright © 2019 Orlando Ceaser
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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

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 – “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 Power Of Paying Positive Attention (POPPA)

success

I admire people who have a reputation for making people feel noticed and special. Presidents have been lauded for their ability to remember people’s names and making them feel as if they were the only people in the room (John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton). Others also, they have the keen sense to recognize and comment on any changes in a person’s appearance or behavior. You may be such a person. You have an eye for detail. You know the right questions to ask, and the appropriate comments to make. These individuals have the power of observation and paying positive attention.

Additionally, individuals have a knack for always pointing out when something is wrong. But, we will spend time focusing on the people who have the power of paying positive attention to something that is right. These individuals may have the gift because it comes to them naturally, so they have the knack for it. Or they may have acquired the knowledge of the impact it has on people. They have the knack or the knowledge. Therefore, they have the intuition or received instruction on the value of paying positive attention to others.

We could describe this skill with an acronym (Power Of Paying Positive Attention). It can have a profound effect on productivity, performance, productivity and relationships.

When you watch something carefully, continuously over time, you formulate a mental baseline of how things are. This is cemented in your memory. If something changes, alarm bells signal a deviation from the norm. You may not know what changed immediately, but you are aware that something is different. Observation and perception notify the brain.

POPPA is a great skill to demonstrate in the workplace, home and school. It helps to establish and strengthen relationships. The power of paying positive attention causes you to focus on people and every aspect of their beings. You look them in the eyes. You notice them and ask questions about the quality of their work. You remember their names. You ask questions about the pictures in their workspace and other symbols in which they have pride. You may comment on their backgrounds, families, education and interest as appropriate. They feel important. You value their contributions at work and are authentically concerned about them as individuals with families and a life outside of work. You see the employee, peer or classmate as a total person with long term professional and personal interests.

If you treat people as if they matter, they may ultimately live up to your projections and live up to and exceed your expectations. If you treat people as if they exist and make them feel important, and did not invisible, you will ultimately reap the benefits of an engaged and inspired person.

We are equipped with our 5 senses, highlighted by the senses of sight and hearing to enhance our powers of observation. It does not cost us anything, but a small investment of time to notice someone. If the average human being could walk around with a fictitious cartoon bubble over their head, it would say, “Notice me” or “Please see me.” They want to feel significant, special, substantial, loved and connected.

While observing a sales representative making a presentation a manager noticed that he was obviously preoccupied. There were points in the call when additional information was needed and he was usually very adept at picking up signals and following through with the right questions. After the presentation, rather than point out the obvious oversights, he asked if everything was alright. He discovered that he had personal matters that compromised his thinking and performance. The manager adjusted his coaching accordingly.

A District Sales Manager working with a star performer was confronted with the following situation. During one of her presentations, there was tension in the air on. The sales representative was noticeably reluctant as she was visibly holding back when a strong challenge was required. The company’s reputation was being assaulted and her usually strong personality folded in the moment. The manager asked, “What would you have done if I was not present with you today?” She outlined her strategy and why she did not pursue a more aggressive stance. She told him what she would have said ordinarily if he wasn’t there. She did not want to challenge the doctor in the presence of sales management, so she was reserved.

The manager gave her the following advice. “When I work with you I want to see reality. If I coach behavior that is not your usual behavior I leave feeling that I had a productive day. But my comments would have been a waste of time. You would leave feeling that the words were meaningless because they did not apply to you. If you don’t want me to waste my time, show me what is real and trust the process that I will handle each moment as a teaching and growth opportunity.” The power of paying positive attention allowed him to recognize a change in behavior and to coach to improve performance.

Lastly, there are times in our lives where we give routine responses. We are simply going through the motions in our very busy days. We feature the same words, whether it is in a greeting or part of the key messages delivered in a conversation or presentation. It is important to get these words right, but do not become bored or distracted with repetition. This may cause you to lose focus and fail to pay attention. You may miss an opportunity to connect with someone on a different level and strengthen a relationship. Watch the person’s face and body language to detect the messages they are sending to denote interest or a reaction to your words.

Our interactions in the workplace, at home and in school are environments where we should engage with other people by showing them that they matter. As a species, we want to be recognized and respected, belong and accepted. If we positively and authentically comment on their appearance, behavior, and performance, the compliment will inspire them to work harder to become more competent, which will have a profound impact on their confidence and they will complement your work culture, family, team, and organization.

Copyright © 2017 Orlando Ceaser

Managing your personal power supply

The Spin class was about to begin. Gayle, the instructor, stated, “I lost power yesterday.” She said she was in her home when suddenly, a loud noise was heard and her electricity went off. We stretched, continued a light conversation and launched into a rigorous routine. I wondered during the class, “How many times, as individuals, have we lost power in our lives? Did we give it away or was it taken from us? Are there certain situations or individuals who cause us to lose power? Who are they and why does this happen? What are the early warning signs before there is a loss of power?

The loss of power is readily detectable. You have that feeling of loss of confidence, which is demonstrated by your body language, vocabulary and actions. Many times the loss of power at home or at work may come as a surprise. However, just as in nature there is a flash of lightning or thunderclaps before a storm, you can rely on certain indicators as precursors to a storm. You can anticipate someone’s presence, behaviors, as a good sign that a storm and potential power loss is on the way.

We should be aware of the signs of losing power and fortify your defenses. This will require us to increase our competence, confidence and network of individuals who will cooperate with us in our efforts to enhance our power position. There are times when we lose power and look around us and everyone seems to have theirs. What can we do to maintain or regain our power during a power outage? Power outages may be due to:

  1. Burnout
  2. Lack of confidence
  3. Power drainers
  4. Power mongers

Burnout

We can lose power by expending too much energy. We may fail to prioritize and try to do too many things at once. Processing too many projects at one time will lead to an increase in stress. Lack of sleep and irritability may negatively affect your disposition. You may become moody and easy to anger. Our lives are running at many revolutions per minute (rpm’s). We create to do lists (TDL’s) to keep track of our obligations. To do lists are getting longer and serve as a repository of unlimited tasks of varying priorities. We may fail to rank the items or every item seems to be important, which will lead to none of them being important. If we don’t put a filter on the funnel, we will be overwhelmed. This state of overload will lead to burnout, a breakdown and a loss of power. You must realize that some items on your list may not be covered or should be delegated or deleted.

Lack of confidence

Sometimes lack of confidence can lead to a loss of power. You may be faced with the possibility that you are not as good as you think you are and are afraid that others will discover your shortcomings. A way to address this fear is to conduct a self assessment of your skills and abilities. Be honest with yourself. You should relentlessly study your craft until we are an expert in your field. This may require study and validation which will give you the necessary credentials to ward off any challenges. If you lack confidence or courage you may doubt your abilities and lose the power of conviction needed to be successful.

Power drainers

Some people exist as leaches in the workplace, at home and wherever you engage in relationships. They will drain your power through constant complaining. Negative thoughts and the complaints will drain your energy supply. Their negative disposition and complaint oriented disposition puts everyone in a bad mood. They are not satisfied with anything and they never bring a solution to the myriad of problems they detect. When they enter the room, you can feel the life being sucked out of the place. Engagement levels seem to go down and the level of interaction and cooperation is reduced. The focus is on the speed of ending the meeting and getting back to work away from this malcontent.

The power drainers are time wasters. They do not respect time. They will barge into your office or workspace and tell you the latest gossip and shortcomings of the organization. Many power drainers have a running conflict with their peers and want you to come in as a peacemaker, which is time consuming and emotionally exhausting.

Power mongers

Power mongers are perpetrators who like to hoard power and use it over people based on their level of influence or authority. They will take the power away from you in a meeting. If you have the floor in a meeting they will ask the questions to shift the emphasis to them. I attended a meeting where one participant had more handouts on my subject than I did and spent the meeting time explaining their handouts which took away my power and control of the meeting. The better preparation and communication skills may address some of the issues of the power mongers.

The manager who asks you to do something because they said it does everything to shut down questions from the meeting attendees. Power mongers also work by using intimidation to get results. They will level threats at people who do not complete assignment correctly. A power monger will embarrass people in front of their peers. They may do this deliberately to show who’s the boss? A new manager at a paper recycling plant announced to his employees that he wanted them to fear him. He went on to exercise this management style as an egocentric power monger.

A power monger believes that information is power and takes this concept to the extreme. They delegate information sparingly. A manager had access to updates from the home office that would have been useful to one of his subordinates making a presentation. Rather than call him off to the side before the meeting and provide the updates, he strategically interrupted during the meeting with the latest news from headquarters. You may need help in dealing with a power monger, who negatively uses power. This can be done by working with mentors, advocates and power brokers. These individuals have the wisdom, insight and influence to assist you in relating to the power mongers.

Power brokers

Powerbrokers are individuals who use power effectively to get results. These individuals should be utilized and studied in order to gain their assistance. You want to use their techniques to minimize personal power outages. These individuals can be identified and cultivated at work, networking groups, referrals from their contacts and through personal introductions.

Work with powerbrokers to increase your confidence; improve your influence skills and knowledge of your area of interest and expertise. Conduct a personal assessment; improve your communication skills and your knowledge of your subject. Your objective is to isolate the individuals and circumstances that drain your power and counteract their affect on you. This will enable you to be stronger and effective in harnessing your power supply and minimizing instances where you lose power.

Copyright © 2016 Orlando Ceaser

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer – Lessons in Handling Differences

Reindeer

We are often started with the commercialization of Christmas. We are reminded to not lose sight of the reason for the season. This is valuable advice for Christians and others during this reverent time of year.

We grew up with Gene Autry Christmas classic of Rudolph the red nosed reindeer. It is a delightful song, but also delivers a powerful message about encountering and handling differences. This song could start meaningful conversations about accepting others.

The song begins with a reference to the reindeer popularized in Clement Clarke Moore’s, “The night before Christmas”, also known as “A visit from St. Nicholas.” It begins with a roll call of Santa Claus’ reindeer that of course omits the name of Rudolph. As you recall, Rudolph was different from the other reindeer because of the luminescent quality of his nose. His nose was so shiny that it had either reflective qualities or it glowed like a light. This was enough to make him the object of ridicule and ultimately ostracism by the other reindeer.

This lack of acceptance is seen when children and adults are confronted with someone who is different from them. Our initial response is to make fun of the person and then to isolate them because of their characteristics, traits, heredity or idiosyncrasies. Many of us recall when we were young and begged for approval. Even to this day, there is something about us that makes us stand out from the crowd and the crowd lets us know it.

At work or is school, simply being the new person, the new kid on the block, the person who is an unknown, becomes a source for teasing or isolation. We often wondered,” if they would only get to know me, they would see that I’m just like them. “Rudolph was a reindeer, so he surely had a similar appearance, except for his nasal peculiarity. But suppose he was of a different color, from a different region of the country or had a different ability.  He would have manifested a difference that would have caused him difficulty until he was accepted. We usually ask the different party to fit in, when the real focus should be on them being accepted by the group.

Bullying is also a response shown toward those who are different. The song the does not indicate that Rudolph was bullied, but we can only assume that preventing him from “playing in any reindeer games” was not always accomplished in the most delicate manner.

The song does not tell us what Santa Claus was doing during the hazing or if he even knew about it. But, as a good leader, he engineered a very strategic response. He knew the talent and value of all of his reindeer. He evaluated the weather system for his next journey and realized he was going to encounter numerous blizzards. He knew that the solution to his problem existed among the ranks of his reindeer. He knew he had one reindeer that could help navigate the wintry delivery of toys to boys and girls around the world. This opportunity would be well received it if every reindeer benefited from his gift.

We can give Santa credit for waiting for the appropriate time to unveil strategy. He could have given the reindeer the opportunity to work it out amongst themselves, as so many people do in similar situations. They say such things as,” kids are just being kids, learning to navigate difficult situations will only make the recipient stronger and teach them valuable life skills and that which does not kill them will make them stronger, to paraphrase Friedrich Nietzsche the philosopher. Maybe the reindeer performed similar initiation rites to others in the group that had other distinctions from their peers. Maybe they solve their treatment of Rudolph as being harmless and natural.

The defining moment came,” one foggy Christmas Eve, Santa came to say: Rudolph with your nose so bright, won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?” Many managers, leaders and parents look for the opportune moment to use the skills of their people. The right moment to show the world and the individual, that they recognize their true value and wish to share this value with every member on the team. We can only assume that in the fictitious conversation, Santa’s encouraged Rudolph and told him about the value of his difference. He made him feel that he was something special and should never feel that he was not important and did not have a place. I’m sure he made him feel like an important member of the team. He validated his value by asking him to lead the team by moving up to the front of the line.

You remember the happy ending to the song. “Then all the reindeer loved him, as they shouted out with glee, Rudolph the red nosed reindeer, you’ll go down in history! We know that in real life, responses to differences may not always lead to a happy ending. Sometimes the individuals have lingering insecurity, damage to their self-esteem and underlying resentment from the initial exclusion. But, so often when the difference that is ridiculed or denied is used for the benefit of the group, the organization, institution, group or community becomes stronger. The people learn a valuable lesson about inclusion. We are hopeful that when the person is accepted they don’t become complicit and act in the same manner when they encounter other people who are different.

If we remember the Rudolph days of our lives and commit ourselves to prevent them from happening to others, we will maximize their future contributions to our teams, families, organizations and communities. We will perform a noble act when leading by example with the lessons learned from Rudolph the red-nose reindeer.

Please look forward to reading more about differences in my new book due by June 2016, Unlock Your Diversity Greatness. It is based on the premise that your uniqueness is not a weakness and contains strategies to utilize your talents, skills and abilities. More books in the Unlock Your Leadership Greatness series can be found at www.OrlandoCeaser.com or www.amazon.com.

Copyright © 2013 Orlando Ceaser