Are You A Tonic Or A Toxin?

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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
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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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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

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).

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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

 

 

Ozone Layer Parenting Principles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The 5 principles of Ozone Layer Parenting are:

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

Directive 

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

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

Protective 

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

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

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

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

Selective

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

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

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

Corrective

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

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

Effective

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

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

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

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

Copyright © 2018 Orlando Ceaser

 

 

 

The Black Panther Strikes

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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 Hindre™ – A Secret Force of Exclusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

Exclusion at Work

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What can you do?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright © 2009 Orlando Ceaser

 

 

A Tale of Leadership Perspectives – Lessons from Head Quarters

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

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

Scenario Number One

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

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

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

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

I learned several vital lessons.

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

Scenario Number Two

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

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

Scenario Number Three

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

When I look back on these situations I learned;

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

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

Copyright © 2017 Orlando Ceaser

 

 

The Power Of Paying Positive Attention (POPPA)

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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

Eight ways to alienate and frustrate your people

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Inclusion is a key desire of all members of the human race, even in the workplace. We want to be included and welcomed into the inner circle, where we can enjoy all of the rights and privileges. Acceptance is another objective of the human heart, closely linked to inclusion. We have a desire to draw into the in crowd, where we are told that we belong. We want to be accepted and inclusion becomes the vehicle that can enable us to achieve a state of connectedness that makes everything worthwhile.

It is generally more productive to discuss how to become a better leader rather than focusing on the negative aspects of leadership. People want to know what they need to do, instead of what they need to stop doing. However, I would like to deviate from this pattern and construct a composite of everyone’s leadership nightmare. I wish to discuss the leadership attributes that cause followers to lose sleep at night, walk around in uncertainty during the day and distress about their future.

I began by exploring common pet peeves and comments made by people during my coaching sessions. It is not unusual for me to walk up on people who are complaining about leadership or lack of leadership within their organizations. These are the topics discussed at the water cooler, provided it is located in a safe location. The same conversations can be heard at the health club and where ever people congregate.

These are perilous times as evidenced by a comment from one of my neighbors. She said she would stare into her husband’s eyes when he arrived home each night to determine if this was the day he would lose his job. During his work day I’m sure he was dealing with some of the eight ways outlined below that leaders use to alienate and frustrate their employees.

My premise revolves around eight ways that a leader can really get under your skin, on your last nerve and drive you out of your mind. The curious thing is these attributes may not always present with the leader. Given the day-to-day stress and pressure of the job many leaders have transformed into the person they never thought they would become. If you were to ask them to list eight things that they could do to alienate and frustrate employees they would probably list some of the items presented.

Ineffective leaders display two or more of the eight qualities. They are so caught up in survival mode that they may not care that they are alienating and frustrating members of your team. The team members are the very ones they need to have fully engaged to accomplish their objectives.

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These eight ways are extracted from my book Unlock the Secrets of Ozone Leadership. The main character is about to experience a mutiny because his people have had enough of his fatalistic leadership style. This style had been very helpful in moving him up the corporate ladder, but at the same time leaving alienated and frustrated bodies in its wake. Finally, he has poisoned the atmosphere so badly it is about to be his downfall.

When the heat is intense, leadership must become as the ozone layer for its people. It must filter the non-essential and non-productive heat, so that the necessary warmth and energy is generated to achieve success. I used to say that I am an environmentalist, not that I wanted to save the spotted owl, but I wanted to create the climate where maximum productivity and people development occurs. The eight ways to alienate and frustrate your people are listed below. Please identify the ones in your current leadership team and decide which of these attributes apply to you. If they apply, you must immediately begin a course of minimization and elimination.

8 Ways to Alienate and Frustrate Your People*

  • You are unapproachable and unavailable, when they have a problem
  • You are intimidating and use threatening language and they are in constant fear of losing their jobs
  • You play favorites and have certain employees who receive preferential treatment, which includes special attention, assignments and favors
  • You do not offer career advice, unlike other managers who groom their employees for promotions
  • You are selfish and take credit for their ideas and successes
  • You seem more concerned about your career than theirs
  • You tell them what to do rather than teach them what to do
  •  You micromanage and are never satisfied with their performance and always find a way to say something negative
  • *Excerpt from the book, Unlock the Secrets of Ozone Leadership by Orlando Ceaser

These are at least eight surefire ways to cause people to be disengaged and paranoid in the workplace. If you want to ensure that the workers you hired or inherited are pushed to the edge, include as many of these dysfunctional practices, as you feel is humanly possible into your workplace.

Employees understand that corporations are in difficult circumstances. They want to play a role. They want to be an integral component in the partnership that enables an organization to lift itself from the quagmire of extinction. Companies are fighting for survival. Companies are competing to service their customers and to meet the needs of their clientele better than the competition. Allow employees to help the organization succeed.

Dedicated individuals are committed to help you achieve your objectives. They deserve the opportunity to contribute at the highest level. They deserve the best leadership has to offer. When they are inspired through effective leadership; when Ozone Leadership is put into action, they will have the necessary direction and energy that will allows them to do their best work. Success becomes an inevitable result of strong leadership at the right time with the right people.

Copyright © 2015 Orlando Ceaser