What is your From – To Story (FTS)?

Goals
Constantly, we are exposed to stories that grab our attention. They are tales of unbelievable struggle, growth and accomplishment. People have overcome tremendous odds the and circumstances to arrive at an unforeseen destination. They may be classified as from rags to riches, from poverty to higher education, from homelessness to home ownership or from working as a janitor to becoming the principal of a school. These stories show the power of the human spirit; the magnificence of vision, goal setting, perseverance, generosity, luck and encouragement.

Our hearts were warmed a few years ago by the story of a Ted Williams, a homeless man who was called the Man With The Golden Voice. He was given a job making commercials and later returned to radio. When you think about your life, you can also create your own personal From – To Story. Look at a point in your life, a different job or think of your current position or objective in life. Where were you? Where are you? Where do you want to go? What do you want to become? What is your purpose, your destiny or your goal?

When I was younger, I would read about individuals who stated that they were the son or daughter of a sharecropper. Their bio would state, from a sharecropper’s son they rose to the position of president of their own company; from a single parent to the position of a medical doctor; from the inner city to a position in higher education. I have known individuals who have gone from an administrative assistant position to a position in sales management. These examples are all around us.

You know who you are and where you’re From, now it’s up to you to establish, what is your destination, or more specifically, what is your To? What is the right To for you? Before you arrive at your ultimate destination, there may be a series of stops along the way, therefore, there may be multiple To’s in your forecast, in your future.

What does your dream scenario look like? What is the tagline that you would want attached to the beginning of any description of your life and accomplishments? Fill in the blanks below to give yourself some practice. Thinking about your responses may fill you with a sense of accomplishment, on how well you’ve done and how far you’ve traveled. It may also show you, how far you must go and serve as a reminder of your purpose, destination and destiny.

From ________ To ___________.

From ________ To ___________.

From ________ To ___________.

From ________ To ___________.

From ________ To ___________.

I wish you success on your journey. I look forward to the day when we can discuss where you are From and your arrival to the To that is right for you. Your, From – To Story (FTS) will be a benefit to you and enrich the lives of others.

Copyright © 2019 Orlando Ceaser

Leadership – Phenomenal in a crisis Leadership Response to 9/11

September 11
I will always reflect on where I was was on September 11, 2001 and the leadership response we experienced in this horrific crisis; one of the finest examples of corporate leadership I could imagine.

The 2001 Respiratory National Sales Meeting had the earmarks of a memorable event. Joe Canning and Betsy McKenzie had pulled out all stops to create an agenda that would educate, motivate and elevate the skills of the entire Respiratory Sales Team.

The Leadership Team which consisted of all of the managers met to receive a final review of the meeting. The individual managers then met with their Districts to review suggested topics. At 5 PM we assembled in the Meyerson Symphony Center which is 3 blocks away from the Adams Mark Hotel in Dallas, Texas, where most of us were staying.

The short program featured a stirring organ performance by a member of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra which was the opening act for the legendary Ray Charles. Ray was in fantastic form as he played through many of his standards. But the highlight was his passionate rendition of “America.” The standing ovation was deafening as the group showed their appreciation. Joe and Betsy knew that they had created a phenomenal week. The 1500 participants dined on hor’d’oevers and finger foods in the atrium of the Meyerson Symphony Center and slowly filtered back to the Adams Mark and Le Meridien, the principal hotels for the meeting.

The second day began with a lot of promise. We heard people talking about how great Ray Charles was the night before. Many stated their disbelief that we would bring Ray Charles to such a meeting. There were numerous conversations inquiring about his age.

The meeting began with an opening by Joe Canning, the National Sales Director for Respiratory Products. He was succeeded by Tony Zook, VP of Sales and Marketing and Michael Hickey, the VP of Sales, along with Rich Fante and Josh Tarnoff, Product Directors. The group was dismissed for a break. The break was also to allow the large group to reassemble in 2 smaller groups representing the East and West Areas of Respiratory. Doug McNamee was to be with his team in the East. I was to be with my team in workshops in the General Session room to receive the product strategy message. It was during the break that the word circulated about the World Trade Center bombings. The news rapidly moved through the crowd, as we began to piece together the entire horrific event.

The decision was made to announce the bombings to the General Session and to dispatch Regional Sales Directors to the different workshops to break the terrible news. Individuals who were directly impacted were asked to contact their families. Joe broke the news to the audience and you can imagine the shock and terror and disbelief. Tears rolled down the cheeks of many as fear took over.

Joe turned the meeting over to me, the stage that is, for a 5 minute introduction into the next phase of the agenda. I had planned several snappy introductory comments, but I had to change the tone. No one including myself was in the mood for motivation. I turned the program over to Demir Bingol, the Product Director for Rhinitis products. Demir was approximately 10 minutes into his presentation when Joe and Tony took the stage and stopped the meeting. Everyone was asked to take the next 3 hours and contact their families to check on their loved ones and reconvene at 1 PM.

The Leadership Team and higher level managers and people from the various support groups were asked to meet in the Executive Boardroom to discuss the plans for the rest of the week.

I spoke to Scott Climes, one of the Respiratory Regional Sales Directors who was dispatched to the workshops to deliver the news about the bombings. This message was to individuals from the Eastern half of the US. Many of them potentially had family or friends that were affected. He said he had never experienced such a reaction in all of his life. The tears; the terror.

People were wandering in the hallways. Many rushed to their rooms to begin the daily ritual of following the news coverage. Who did this and how would we respond? How many were in the two buildings and the pain and the grief that touched their families? Was it Osama Bin Laden? Who were the terrorists?

The Executive Boardroom would be the war room for the next few days. Here the highest ranking officers of the Company would determine how to guide its people through the tragic events of New York, Washington DC and outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Tony Zook, VP of Sales and Marketing took center stage. With marker in hand and flipcharts close by he began with our objectives. No one has ever gone through anything like this. How can we take care of our people? How can we get them home, the ones who need to get home? Should we continue the meeting? What is known? How should we communicate this to our people? When we formulate our recommendations remember cost is not a concern. Our people are our number one priority.

He elicited the key communication points that we needed to flesh out. Some buckets or titles were as follows: Travel, agenda, communication, an update on the situation, accountability. Each point was assigned to a team with a leader to bring up all of the key issues in that area.

We were fortunate enough to have 2 members of our Sales Team who had anti-terrorist experience. Additionally, our Chief of Corporate Security was present at the meeting because of the resources present and number of people. Bud Bender also had contacts within the FBI which would come in handy during the week.

A leader was assigned to each team and other individuals were assigned and asked to align themselves to a team where they could provide input. American Express One was the travel company. Julie Whalen, our meeting planner was asked to head the travel committee.

We were asked to take 45 minutes to discuss all pertinent issues and to reconvene, to make a flip chart presentation to the group. This allowed the group to provide input and fine tune the response. We were under the 1 PM deadline. We needed to complete our assignment early, so that we could present our recommendations to the group. MJM our production company would need time to input the information and create a Power point presentation.

My team headed by Doug McNamee covered accountability. We wanted to make sure that for the next 24 hours we knew the location of each employee at the meeting. We discussed the sales representatives staying in the hotel that evening until we knew more about the extent of the problem. Reps needed to contact their management team twice a day to state their locations and any changes. Managers needed to notify up the chain of command that everyone was present and accounted for. If anyone left the meeting to go home, it should be documented. The buddy system was suggested as a good way to keep track of each other, which was easier said than done.

The dynamic interchange during the presentation facilitated by Tony Zook was a pleasure to behold. Senior Leadership eliciting and contributing comments and suggestions, motivated by how we can help our people was marvelous. We were fortunate to have strategically or luckily assembled the highest ranking officials in our Field Sales force at the same meeting. We also were fortunate to have the talent from the military, security and Travel at the same site. The diversity of talent and experience made it easier to handle our mission. For with over 1500 people at a Sales Meeting, with many of them fairly young, who had not face any national emergencies in their lifetimes, this was a significant challenge for all of us.

One by one the teams presented and the adjustments and suggestions were made to the strategy and the presentation.

We were developing a game plan to keep people comforted and focused for we wanted to show our employees that we valued them. The human side came out repeatedly. There were times we wanted to over protect, but backed down because over protection can heighten fear. We discussed how to care for those directly impacted. We knew that the meeting was secondary to our people, but we also knew the meeting was necessary to keep people focused on something not related to the terror in the land. After all, the meeting was scheduled to last until Friday and this was only Tuesday. It became clear that air travel was not going to be an option for an indeterminate period of time.

The stories began to appear. People worried about their loved ones and tried frantically to locate them. The hotel telephone system was overloaded. Cell phone transmission had difficulty for a while. Some people did not wait for the 1 PM meeting to see what the company proposed to do in this tragedy. Several instances surfaced of people renting cars and driving toward home without letting anyone know they left. One manager rented a van to drive their people back home. Alternate travel plans were cropping up all over the place. Some of this is to be expected when you have sales people who are action oriented.

The meeting reassembled at 1 PM. On the stage were the principal contributors led Tony Zook, Michael Hickey and Joe Canning. What followed was another example of leadership at its finest. The depth and professionalism of the presentation led many to wonder how we could put together such a professional presentation is such a short period of time. Most commented that they worked for a great company. We continued with the meeting for that was the best option to care for our people. There were interfaith religious services arranged by Scott Buchanan and others in attendance.

Arrangements were made to get everyone safely home. The travel team rented 20 luxury travel busses to send to 20 different parts of the country to get our people home. They were richly equipped with food, DVD players, games, blankets and all manner of creature comforts to make the trip comfortable. One bus left with only one person on it for he was the only one going to that region of the country. There was a story of the Company renting two limousines to get one sales rep home in time for the birth of their child. Watching this tragedy unfolds and our reaction to it validate our history of being phenomenal in a crisis. People left saying what a great company we work and what a great country we live in. I appreciated being a part of leadership making a difference in the lives of our people during a very unsettling time in our Nation’s history.

Copyright © 2011 Orlando Ceaser

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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Think About It – Use the Word Drink to Trigger Motivation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright © 2019 Orlando Ceaser

Are You A Tonic Or A Toxin?

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

Tonic

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

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

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

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

Toxin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright © 2019 Orlando Ceaser
Tonicortoxin4thmonk (2)

The 4th Monkey Matters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright © 2019 Orlando Ceaser
Web-sites: orlandoceaser.com
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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).

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

 

 

Ozone Layer Parenting Principles

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

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

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

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

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

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

ozone_layer_landp

The 5 principles of Ozone Layer Parenting are:

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

Directive 

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

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

Protective 

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

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

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

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

Selective

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

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

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

Corrective

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

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

Effective

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

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

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

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

Copyright © 2018 Orlando Ceaser

 

 

 

The Black Panther Strikes

BlackPanter

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

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

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

The Black Panther Strikes

The Black Panther strikes;

The images inspire imagination;

Invite, excite and ignite

The embers of genius

Until we remember with fascination

The universal themes and memes

That elicit dreams of excellence

That stream a new ideology;

That emphasizes and empathizes

To aspire desire,

To fire a higher reach,

Through awe and technology.

 

The Black Panther strikes,

As a cultural phenomenon,

For those among us who’d like an icon;

A super hero with super powers

That look like us with a face like ours;

To build confidence and regal speech,

To show what is possible,

When obstacles are breached;

When an illusion is legal,

But is shifted

And confusion is lifted

And giftedness is the new twist

To enlist us in the new success,

Which is true success.

 

The Black Panther strikes;

To the heart of the marginalized;

The underserved and disenfranchised;

The heirs, apparently in poverty,

Seeking their cultural identity;

Phenomenally packaged in energy.

They speak seeking a symphony,

In harmony and synergy.

 

Empathy and intellect can remove

Barriers, as we get involved

And agree to work to solve

The problems that surround us

And have bound us.

We must lift every man,

Woman and child to a place of forgiveness,

Where we can be reconciled;

To share, prepare and repair;

To lift each other from despair.

 

The Black Panther strikes,

Directly to community;

Inciting citizens in unity;

And stirs the blending of generations

Through tribal traditions

And pageantry.

We show young people

Who they can be

And celebrate their ancestry;

Seeking challenges to prove they’re free.

Science, technology, engineering and math;

Can help us blaze a wider path;

To channel the rage

And engage on a stage

That is larger than we

Intended, but to accept

The mantel and comprehend;

What we should support,

What we should defend.

 

The Black Panther strikes

To protect the family

And project the family,

As the center of cultural identity;

The truth is, we are all related,

Although our lineage is debated.

We have the capacity;

To help others improve their lot.

We can’t afford to hoard

Resources, when we’ve got

The power through distribution,

To offer solutions.

 

The Black Panther strikes

A story to which we can all relate;

To entertain and educate

And inspire action

Through universal mores

Of dignity and deliverance,

Eloquence and excellence;

Leadership and tough decisions;

Technology executed with precision.

Ancestors deserving a connection;

Connective tissue is in each of us

Enabling us to adjust,

So that we love and trust.

 

The Black Panther strikes,

Through imagination and truths,

From elders down through our youth;

For Millennials and women have value,

The men and young boys have talent

And though steeped in the values of tradition,

The motives that drive ambition;

They are inspired through art and technology;

That transcends pathology;

And through mythology

Explore new pathways

Beyond injustice and inequality.

 

The Black Panther strikes,

So close to home.

There are delegations of youth

At the screenings;

Reporters postulating the meaning,

As millions with African descent,

Extoll the messages and what they represent

And seeing it as a rallying cry;

A cry to honor our first investors

To honor our elders and ancestors;

Imploring us not to forget,

Their sacrifices, wisdom and toil,

For roots and foundation

Enrich the soil.

 

Copyright © 2018 Orlando Ceaser