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 – “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

 

 

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

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

Let’s place four elements in this Core of More™. These elements confirm there is more in your core than you can imagine, yet you periodically ignore one or more components. They are Let it glow, Let it grow, Let it flow and Let it go. These ingredients will enable you to gain rather than regress and achieve surplus, that is not necessarily excess.

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Let it Glow

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

Let it Grow

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

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

Let it Flow

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

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

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

Let it Go

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

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

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

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

Copyright © 2018 Orlando Ceaser

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

 

Performance fixing in the workplace – Lost productivity and restricted growth

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Athletes and their sports periodically are plagued by scandal. Athletes may be asked to lose a match, fight, or game by delivering less than their best effort. The tennis world was recently rocked by allegations of match fixing where players allegedly accepted payment for losing or throwing a match. Novak Djokovic, the reigning number one men’s player in the world, said he was offered $200,000 through his previous handlers in 2007 to lose a match.

Boxing has had its share of scandals. Unscrupulous fighters have been known to take a dive, throw a fight or lose a fight on purpose. Controversies have surfaced with football, basketball and baseball.

This tactic of solicitation; altering the outcome of a performance is also prevalent in other aspects of our lives. Performance fixing is not customarily a term used to describe substandard performance at work. We do not accuse employees of collusion, throwing a project or taking a dive regarding their objectives. However, there may be similarities with sports.

Friends or coworkers may ask you to deliberately act in ways that could negatively affect results. They may expect you to limit your participation or productivity, hold back by not delivering your best effort and engage in activities with consequences that will affect your grade, goal achievement, contributions or career.

It is an integrity issues when someone delivers an unearned and unsanctioned discount or illegally influences the score. But failing to bring your best effort is also unfairly influencing results by delivering below expectations.

People may have a variety of reasons for convincing others to take a dive. They may want you to make a supervisor look bad, fail or simply to compromise results for a number of reasons.

As a sales representative my competitors tried to discourage me from working hard and going beyond the call of duty. Ultimately, when I was promoted to management, they told me they thought I was smarter than to take a role in leadership. Their code of ethics was to do just enough to get by, not rock the boat or bring too much attention to the status quo of their comfortable world. They had tried for several years to get me to perform at a level that did not upset their established level of mediocrity. They were in effect asking me to fix the outcome of my selling activities by reducing my effectiveness.

Take a moment to reflect on your life and your performance in school, relationships or in your career. Have there been instances where people have discouraged you from taking a course of action; pursuing an MBA, volunteering for a project, advancing your education or participating in a manner that would improve the outlook for your career? They may not have offered money, but there was an expectation that you would conform to their request and maintain a friendship or relationship. Did they influence you to withhold your best performance or restrict your participation? How did you respond to their subtle influences to maintain the status quo? You probably did not see it as performance fixing.

Can you think of instances where you were reluctant to excel and talked yourself out of delivering your best performance? You may have convinced yourself that inertia, standing still, the status quo was more desirable than going after a promotion or shaming your peers. You may have told yourself the aggravation of more responsibility would be too much work and not worth the small financial payout and alienation from your peers. You may have held back, telling yourself that management would not be receptive to your efforts to improve your opportunities. The result was stabilization and stagnation.  Therefore, you took an internal dive and restricted the release of your talent and failed to maximize on the opportunities available.

Companies have lost productivity and revenue due to people shaving productivity across the organization. Individuals intentionally or unconsciously participated in a conspiracy to hold back on excellence. The payout was not also in money. They may have received resources or items of nominal value. It was for either pleasure or pain.

Pleasure could involve the camaraderie and benefits of connection in a powerful networking relationship. Being affiliated with people who are well known or who praise them makes them feel special. They may want the pleasure of associating with someone they wish to emulate, who makes them feel special.

The compensation could be the avoidance of pain. People are deprived of the discomfort of being shunned by their friends and the humiliation of failing to land a job because they took a risk. If they don’t pursue the job then they don’t have to make mistakes or suffer the failure not reaching it.

Withholding effort and talent is not considered a criminal event. People don’t think of themselves as being complicit in an illegal activity. But, they are assisting other people in activities that hurt themselves, other people or the company. Under the cover of darkness they are essentially breaking into a residence of excellence and stealing from the organization. They are taking a payoff to engage in activities that restrict growth and development.

Professional tennis was struck hard by the accusations of impropriety. The governing bodies of tennis are investigating their handling of this potential blemish on their profession and the parties involved. Other athletic associations, through the years have investigated and disciplined all parties found to be guilty of affecting the integrity of their sport. What must we do to ensure that performance fixing is minimized or eliminated from within our areas of responsibility?

You may consider it unfair to view lack of excellence and substandard engagement, as an integrity issue. But people are hired and expected to bring their best effort to the workplace every day. I had a manager who always asked me,” is this your best thinking?”  We must ensure that we bring our best thinking and best action to the workplace in our interactions with others. The dollar value on waste and on the opportunity costs of lost or poorly implemented ideas.

Copyright © 2016 Orlando Ceaser

5 Self Restraining Tendencies (SRT’s) That Can Hurt You

We are human and therefore, have idiosyncrasies, nuances and eccentricities that come with our personalities. Many of these unique characteristics position us for survival and success. But some of these peculiarities are counterproductive and are detrimental to our growth. I will call them self restraining tendencies or SRT’s. They are not necessarily life-threatening, but they may serve as impediments to development.

SRT’s are indigenous to human beings. They may be formed by life experiences and thoughts and subsequently create insecurities. They may be pseudo-defense mechanisms to allegedly protect us. SRT’s may be categorized as bad habits that may hold us back, restrict growth or work against us. How do we know we have them? Self assessments and times of reflection can increase self awareness and reveal SRT’s, as we examine our lives and impact on others. Additionally, we may receive the gift of honesty from a friend through candid comments. Constant feedback from co-workers, parents and peers can also be useful by adding to our enlightenment. But, we must be objective, receptive and appreciative of their candor.

5 Self Restraining Tendencies (SRT’s)

  1. Procrastination
  2. Poor communication skills
  3. Negativity mindset
  4. Toxic people skills
  5. Lack of Integrity

1. Procrastination

It is interesting to learn that many people are struggling with procrastination. The act of postponing things until later is not intellectually difficult for people to understand. They know that something should be done immediately and to postpone will have consequences. But, nevertheless, they still will delay until later, that which should be done today.

We recognize that we may not feel like doing something right now or we have awarded a greater priority to something else. If we continue to kick the can down the road or delay the inevitable, we will continue to waste time and effort and increase the amount of stress in our lives.

Lisa was interviewing for a job as a pharmaceutical sales representative. She felt very comfortable with the interview. The interviewer asked her about her number one shortcoming. She responded, “I am a procrastinator. I get things done, but sometimes it takes me a while to get started.” Procrastination was her Self Restraining Tendency, but the interview may not be the right place to disclose this particular self restraining tendency.

2.  Poor communication skills

Communicating is something we do every day. It is the currency by which we interact with people in order to state our ideas, convey instructions and build relationships. Those among us, who communicate effectively, actually have an advantage at school, in our careers and in relationships. If we are hampered by poor communication skills, our effectiveness is restricted. This self restraining tendency, like the others featured in this article, must be identified and corrected.

Poor communication skills could be non verbal or verbal to include written, body language and group presentations. Ask yourself, “Am I plagued by poor communication skills? Are there aspects of my communication ability that are hindering my progress?” Conduct a self-assessment. Diagnose your communication ability to see if there is a deficiency. You may seek to solicit feedback from respected sources and trusted friends and colleagues to see if they can identify areas that require improvement. When the SRT is disclosed, a change management process should be initiated. However, rather than go through multiple steps to change we should go directly from denial to acceptance and put a plan in place to correct the SRT.

3. Negativity Mindset

People who have a negativity mindset are not necessarily the individuals who look at the pros and cons of every situation. I am speaking of the people who like to rain on the parade. When the entire group has decided to move in a positive direction, they are the naysayers who constantly focus on what is or could go wrong. They provide excuses rather than explanations. They seldom do anything but complain without the slightest contribution to positive constructive participation to change anything. 

4. Toxic people skills

The toxic people SRT is different from the poor communication skills mentioned earlier. Individuals prone to this tendency will use power to humiliate and intimidate in order to gain the upper hand or to create an environment of fear.

My son worked for an organization where the new boss actually said, “When I walk into a room I want people to fear me.” He wanted people to be intimidated by his presence. This attitude is supported by language and interactions that cause stress, a lack of trust, poor engagement and ultimately subpar performance. Individuals with toxic people skills may speak about people behind their backs, pit coworkers against each other and generate an atmosphere of tension.

People with toxic people skills may be cursed with the propensity to enter every interaction with a transaction mindset. They are constantly thinking what is in it for them, how can they beat the other person by any means necessary and how it can only help them succeed. This is prevalent in relationships where they only socialize or interact with people who can help them advance their position, today. 

5. Lack of Integrity

People with a lack of integrity are flawed in their relational and work performance. They utilize a winning at all cost or any cost approach to work and relationships. People with this tendency view the rules as an inconvenience, something for weak minded people, to be broken and circumvented whenever possible. Breaking rules is seen as a badge of honor, a necessary evil to give themselves the ultimate advantage toward victory.

Invariably, this SRT will cause the downfall of their career and reputation. Oftentimes, the integrity flaw does not manifest itself until well into a person’s career. Please find below a chart illustrating a natural career growth curve and the various points of indiscretion where a lack of integrity can doom a person’s career.

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If a lack of integrity shows itself at the end of someone’s career, a lot of their positive contributions can be discounted and shrouded in suspicion, nullifying their reputation. If a lack of integrity revealed itself early in someone’s career, they may never have the opportunity to make significant positive contributions or to realize the potential present in their talents and abilities.

Ideally, we should establish self restraining orders or SROs for those character traits which are limiting our joy and effectiveness. The five self restraining tendencies listed or others should be addressed if they are a problem for you. They have the capacity to limit your effectiveness and keep you away from realizing your full potential in every segment of your life.

Copyright © 2016 Orlando Ceaser

The Anatomy of Acronyms to Positively Impact Performance

 

MSU_CAcronyms are used extensively by writers, speakers, students and anyone who likes to communicate. Businesses, organizations and institutions use them to assist in the retention of a message, concept or name. They are used along with association, rhyming, and alliteration to help people remember things.

Acronyms have been proven as a simple way to help people recall information by breaking it down into manageable bits of data. An acronym, is defined by Merriam-Webster’s collegiate dictionary as, “a word (such as NATO, radar, or snafu) formed from the initial letter or letters of each of the successive parts or major parts of a compound term.” Some of my favorite acronyms are; Fear is False Evidence Appearing Real, EGO is Edging God Out and when learning musical scales E, G, B, D, and F (Every Good Boy Does Fine).

Acronyms can work to inspire, motivate and improve performance. For example, years ago our sales region wanted to emphasize the value of asking questions. I came up with the acronym ASK, which stood for Acquiring Selling Knowledge. If our reps wanted to be effective they had to gather information by asking probing questions. When you establish the framework you can apply it to various concepts by substituting other words, such as spiritual, significant, etc.

The need and applications for acronyms are all around us. We had a feedback group known as VOICE to give us information on company policies, programs, products and procedures. One day the director of the program was asked if VOICE stood for anything. He replied that it was not an acronym. I walked up to the booth and suggested, Very Often I Change Everything. The director stood there in amazement. He looked back at the word and saw that it worked, for all of the words were there. It captured the purpose of the company changing some of our initiatives based on hearing the voices of our people.

There are organizations that can create acronyms for your organizations. You can search for acronyms at http://www.acronymsearch.com where over 50,000 acronyms are listed and you can even post your company’s acronyms to their database.

Acronyms vary across companies as each organization has their own vocabulary. Therefore, it is important to explain them to ensure you are communicating effectively. I was a part of the pharmaceutical sales organization and STD’s were sexually transmitted diseases. When I spent time in our human resources department, they openly discussed the rise in the number of STD’s which was disconcerting until I realized they were speaking of (short term disabilities).

The secret of a good acronym is to be simple, clear and catchy. In the 1980’s I was training sales reps and noted that several of them were trying to make up information during a sales simulation. I reminded them that their doctors had forgotten more about medicine then they would ever know. I suggested that they could not Make Stuff Up or words to that effect. Years later I found out this concept was the subject of a book of a similar concept.

If the acronym has too many words it may maintain its effectiveness by association rather than attaching each letter with a particular word. For example, the Jupiter trial for a popular cholesterol lowering medicine: Justification for the Use of Statins in Primary Prevention: An Intervention Trial Evaluating Rosuvastin.

When you hear the word you want someone to make a quick association. I speak to organizations about creating a climate where people can safely state what is on their mind. In my book Unlock Your Leadership Greatness; (available at www.OrlandoCeaser.com and http://www.amazon.com) an OASIS is described as, a place where people can be Open And Share Information Safely.

Acronyms are an art. Since I have a knack for acronym development I have been asked on several occasions to help groups in their efforts to create one. I would speak with them and solicit their intent, the word they are trying to develop (if they have one) and the placement of the word in their overall strategy. This information allows me to know what they are trying to achieve and gives me the insight to meet their expectations.

Has Anyone Been Inspired Today is a mantra  for HABIT to remind me to help people through positive and encouraging actions. When an expert in a given area or topic is performing their duties it looks effortless. Aga Karve, my spin instructor is such a person. When she is working on the bike she is smiling while class members are groaning under her strenuous workout. One day it struck me that She Makes it Look Easy, SMILE. So we can say Someone Makes It Look Easy as they are smiling and effortlessly performing their work.

Acronyms can be fun. They can build your vocabulary and creativity. When creating acronyms, please remember the following:

    • Acronyms can be designed as a memory device
    • They are more effective when they are simple, succinct, catchy and linked to the topic in a powerful way

 

  • Be observant and on the lookout for acronyms and do not be surprised when they appear
  • Keep track of acronyms in notebooks and computers

When you allow acronyms to incubate in your mind you can develop fascinating associations between the words and concepts you want to remember creatively and assist you in memorization and performance.

Copyright © 2015 Orlando Ceaser

Motivation from the Heart – Propel Yourself into Action

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We can gain valuable information about motivation by studying the heart and how it functions to keep us alive. During my training as a pharmaceutical sales representative, I received cardiovascular instruction to prepare me to sell a drug for treating heart disease. There were two components of my cardiovascular education I use to this day. They are the characteristics of the heart and the equation for blood pressure. To truly experience motivation from the heart we must demonstrate these qualities.

The heart has 4 main characteristics. They are as follows:

  1. Automatism – the heart can generate its own impulse to initiate the heart beat
  2. Contractility – the heart has the ability to contract, which is to do work
  3. Conductivity – the heart conducts and therefore, sustain electrical impulses
  4. Compensatory mechanism – the heart can create additional arteries to help supply oxygen to areas where existing arteries are blocked

Automatism

Just as the heart has the ability to generate a signal to get started, we should have automatism built into the fabric of our personality and value system. We need to be self starters. Our biological clock must have an alarm to awaken our desire to achieve. Additionally, we should align ourselves with people who also demonstrate this trait.

People with automatism instinctively start, regardless of the changes in their environment. The heart has an SA node, the sino-atrial node which is the network of nerves that are responsible for the impulse that triggers the heart beat. Each person is hotwired with his or her own hot button. What is your SA node? Do you know the triggers, switches and hot button to turn on your ignition to drive toward greatness?

The best workers are those who are doing what they love. They are using their talents and skills in a career or area suited to their interests and passions. Individuals in the right job utilize their values, beliefs and purpose to propel them to higher levels of performance. They have the spark that provides their own ignition.

Contractility

Contractility is the second trait, which is expressed as the ability to do work. The heart when faced with increased demand or workload will beat faster. We must work smarter and harder when the challenges are higher and more difficult. We need to spend the time and effort, exhibit the stamina and energy to reach our potential and expected outcomes. We don’t need people to carry around a motivational defibrillator to frequently jump start our attitude. Some employees are great workers when things are calm, but when the tension rises they fall apart and become less productive. We will not become those individuals, because we have lofty career goals.

Individuals may require help during an intermittent crisis in morale, but the matter should be temporary and should not be needed often. A motivational pacemaker, would be a drain on time and resources.  These pacemakers and defibrillators can become habit forming and lead to entitlement and an always need to be rescued mentality. The resulting motivation is effective only if the stimulant is always present. If the external stimulant is a manager or threat of disciplinary action, the long term motivational impact is doubtful.

Conductivity

Conductivity is the third trait. It is important because we must sustain the desire and commitment needed to do the work. The heart is like a battery. It can distribute power that is stored inside. The drive must be rejuvenated over time with the stamina and repetition to achieve results. The need for continuous external stimulation is not desirable. Conductive people are enthusiastic and easily identified by their ability to transmit this energy and enthusiasm to others.

Conductive workers are usually positive role models. They are the ambassadors of the purpose, mission and goals of the group. They lead by example and can be counted on to support the goals of the organization. We must be people who cause a positive chain reaction and a current of courage and collaboration to achieve results.

Compensatory

The heart’s compensatory ability is the fourth characteristic. It is shown by its ability to create new arteries to go around the blocked areas to deliver oxygen to the region of the heart that is not getting enough blood flow. When motivation is in short supply in the workplace, this compensatory mechanism has protective properties to keep people fired up and dedicated to reach the goal.

We are expected to compensate, adjust and adapt to forces within our environment. When barriers confront us while completing responsibilities, we need to think of creative measures to work around the obstacles. Innovation and flexibility are requirements in these changing times and versatile people with compensatory abilities are in great demand.

Work versus Resistance

The other major component related to the heart is the blood pressure equation. Blood pressure exists in the Circulatory System and serves as another way of illustrating the concept of motivation. Blood pressure in the body can be displayed in a simple equation.

CO (Cardiac Output) X TPR (Total Peripheral Resistance) = Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is a function of cardiac output (CO) and total peripheral resistance (TPR). CO is the work the heart performs, when it beats. The heart works against TPR, resistance in the arteries. If the heart works harder, this will increase blood pressure. If the resistance goes up, there will be an increase in blood pressure. The resistance is like the drag that an airplane experiences in flight. It is like the head wind that causes friction that could slow down the plane.

Work X Resistance =  Success (Quality of life, performance, results, etc.)

The equation can also apply to life. If quality of life or success is the goal of motivation, we can say it is influenced by the amount of work we do in the face of the internal and external resistance in our environment. If we want to improve our quality of life or success, we have to be motivated to do more work or reduce the resistance or competition.

Resistance is an obstacle and can represent people, environment, lack of resources, competition, peers, attitudes and other circumstances. As the resistance increases, we must counteract by working harder and more efficient. If we can reduce the resistance, we minimize the barriers to our quality of life, but we must still do the work.

Leadership should recognize and reward, motivated performance and establish an environment of positivity, optimism and development. Workers must ensure that their communication arteries and career arteries aren’t clogged with bad habits, unhealthy attitudes (entitlement and negativity) and a failure to give their best performance.  We must also encourage each other to greater performance levels of excellence.

When we speak of motivation from the heart, the correlation between how the heart works and what is needed today is very strong. We must be heart smart in developing ourselves and the people around us. We should look to the heart and emulate the qualities of automatism, conductivity, contractility and compensatory mechanisms. We should also remind ourselves of the blood pressure equation and the relationship of work and resistance. We can influence success, quality of life, performance and results by affecting the quality and quantity of work we produce against the various levels of resistance.

Protectionism in a competitive marketplace

Protectionism is designed to discourage others from competing for your talent or resources. Barriers are put in place to keep markets, company, or department restricted from outside forces. People try to artificially maintain or mandate the status quo, because it is a beneficial, but questionable policy.

Insecure organizations who are afraid to lose top talent will institute external mean to keep their people, which may deny their people freedom, benefits and promotional opportunities.

Protectionism is a preemptive strike aimed at discouraging others from hiring or tampering with your personnel. Countries try to control their markets by setting up impediments to prevent others from fairly competing with their industries and companies.

Protectionism is at work inside organizations. A regional manager was constantly near the top of the organization in sales. He experienced very little turnover in his sales organization, through promotions or resignations. Many in the organization were puzzled to learn that stellar results were not accompanied by promotions. Conversations with the regional manager revealed that the top performers, in his estimation, were somehow flawed and not ready to receive more responsibility. This manager’s protectionism policies were personally beneficial, yet detrimental to the career growth of many hard-working employees. He did not want to go through interviewing to replace them and training a new crew. Careers were inhibited because he had labeled them as insufficient to assume greater responsibility.

A successful sales representative accepted a promotion to the human resources department. She wanted to return to the field as a manager. After several years, she had lunch with a sales manager. He lamented the fact that she wanted to stay in HR. She was shocked at his opinion and asked why he felt she did not want to return to the sales force. He said he had been told by an HR director that she was happy with her new career path and it did not want to leave. Needless to say, she was stunned by the misinformation and the inaccurate portrayal of her career objectives. The protectionist policies of her department backfired and she subsequently resumed her sales career.

Protectionism leads to the creation of policies to restrict the penetration of their borders by competing companies. One company raided another company and hired some of their best sales people, when they started a new division. The losing CEO was angry by their practice. He instructed his lawyers to write a letter to the company stating his displeasure and threatened legal action. The response he received was carefully worded. The acquiring CEO defended his hiring practices. He asked the other CEO to see his actions as the risk of doing business. He suggested the people were leaving on their own volition. If the people were happy they would not have been so anxious to leave. Needless to say, the other company continued to hire his representatives, but at a slower pace.

People will gravitate to top talent. In the era of social media, networking events, savvy recruiters and employee referral fees, the best performers will be identified. There is an incentive to keep people happy and there is an incentive to recruit them to other organizations.

The hiring CEO delivered a very powerful message. What can be done to minimize employee’s propensity to jump ship? What can be done to the culture to make them want to stay with your organization longer term?

Organizations can change managerial mindsets to mandate mutual benefits for all parties involved. This philosophical shift is initiated and enforced by senior leadership. Intuitively, it is difficult to pour a lot of effort and time into someone, only to see them walk away to a perceived better opportunity. As stated earlier, there are risks involved in developing people. At some point, you will have more people than you have promotable positions. This may cause some people to be patient and wait for better jobs internally; however others may be impatient and look for greener pastures outside of the organization. You have to chalk this up to the price of doing business and wish them well.

There are tremendous advantages short and long term for a full scale long term development program. This may ultimately lead to future business alliances and collaborations with companies who have hired your people. It may also be a recruiting tool for prospective employees. A reputation for hiring and developing talent can lead to an influx of extraordinarily qualified candidates. Higher employee engagement levels and productivity is currently seen as a positive benefit of a stronger culture.

If you constantly assess and provide opportunities for personal and career growth, you minimize employee flight. Today, Millennials are subject to career impatience, if you do not sufficiently reward and challenge them, your organization will constantly be under pressure due to rapid turnover.

Sensors can be put in place in the form of stronger leaders and mentors to assess and regulate career development. Employees will gain an up-to-date, real world view of their skills and abilities and prospects for career development. Organizations have established career academies, equipped with resources, such as class room work and online training programs to help employees can grow their technical and life skills.

Protectionism in theory is about holding on to your talent against unfair pilferage, but it will work against you in the long run. You must update your training and development practices to create stronger leaders. Additionally, you must:

  • Pay attention to the company culture to treat people with respect and harness their skills and abilities.
  • Provide an honest assessment of performance through clear cut performance objectives and regular evaluations
  • Career discussions should be held to understand and to share employer and employee expectations
  • Develop confidence in your training and development program to rapidly replace people who leave the organization or leave the team
  • Strong managers and leaders are necessary to ward off protectionist tendencies, as they strive to develop the best teams imaginable

Organizations have been known to offer retention bonuses during a time of uncertainty, such as during mergers and acquisition, to keep their top talent. A variation of this practice is to ensure that the best performers receive the best rewards, whether financial, special projects or greater career opportunities.

Protectionism is usually a policy instituted when an organization fails to put a coherent people strategy in place. In their haste to prevent people from leaving, they  blame outside forces for problems in their culture. Protectionism practices that strikeout at the employee or toward outside forces are rarely successful. Organizations should look internally at their leadership practices and career development strategies, to see if they can be more conducive to creating a culture where leaving the organization is to difficult for an employee to imagine or implement.

Copyright © 2014 Orlando Ceaser 

Free e-book, Leadership Greatness through High Performance Poetry at http://www.orlandoceaser.com

Are you Customer Servant or Overhead?

Papadakis Photography
I was talking to my son Brian the other day about the company he works for and the challenges he faces in selling their products. Part of their justification for pricing is linked to their ability to provide customer service. Other companies can offer lower prices, but if something goes wrong or if they have any questions they have a live person to assist you. The competition’s justification for pricing is the fact that they can sell products at a lower price because they don’t have the same overhead costs.

Built into the customer service logic is the belief that people will pay more for a product if the value in the long run makes it worth their while. If it saves time, aggravation, cost down the road and gives them peace of mind, it is a worthwhile investment.

How are you perceived at work? How do you view yourself? How do you rate in the minds of the competition? Are you a customer servant providing value for the job you occupy? Are you just overhead, the interchangeable vulnerable cost of doing business?

If you are a customer servant, people love to have you around. You have done your homework and are prepared to give them valid answers to their questions. You anticipate their needs and lay the foundation for making their job easier. People consult with you often because they know they can count on you, almost as a concierge would make valid recommendations. They know you are there for them and will recommend you and your company, because of how well they were treated. You are a GPS that knows where they are in their thinking and in their business.

If your company, customers or competitors see you as overhead, it is safe to say that your days are numbered. When the company sees you as an added expense, it is only a matter of time, in this cost-cutting era for them to find a way to outsource or eliminate your role.

If your customer sees you as overhead, they will not display the loyalty required for you to sustain profitability. Frequent purchases or repeat is questionable. They will very easily be swayed to another product or service whenever they have a choice. Customers realize that it is a buyer’s market and there are other companies courting them for their business. They do not have to accept shoddy treatment and less than the best behavior from anyone. They want enthusiastic customer servants who are thankful for their business. They want the interaction to be a pleasant experience that satisfies their needs.

Many customers have heard the old adage, “you can tell how a company treats their employees by how their employees treat their customers. If your behavior is not indicative of how your company wants to treat customers, your company can not afford to have you work for them. Your behavior is giving them a bad name. It is about company refutation and image and if you are out of line, you will be left behind.

If your competitors see you as overhead, they will work relentlessly to put you out of business. They will be more confident and aggressive in their interactions with your customers and will capitalize on the customer’s perception of you. They will be as a shark when they see blood in the water. The competition will constantly go for your jugular and exploit the fact that you are not honoring your promises or treating the customer with quality service which includes dignity and respect. The competition is already formidable in many markets. You don’t want to give them an added advantage that is linked to your weakness in being a poor customer servant.

You can look in the mirror and tell if you are a customer servant or overhead by your answers to the following questions.

1. Are customers delighted to hear from you and often go out of their way to contact you? This question speaks to the relationships that you have established with your clients.
2. Do you provide work that can easily be done by someone else or a computer or answering service?
3. Do you have a personality that is warm and connects with people?
4. Are customers dissatisfied with your encounters to the extent they complain to management?
5. Have you gone out of your way to show a client how much you appreciate their business?
6. Are you providing a service that would be difficult to find elsewhere?
7. What makes you so special?
8. Is your level of follow-up a marvel to behold?
9. Do you often anticipate your client’s needs?
10. Do you make it a habit of going above and beyond your client’s expectations?

Overhead has always been considered as part of the cost of doing business. It was a given, an expectation and something that people felt was necessary. This was part of the justification for print and mortar businesses. Companies housed people in buildings to have face-to-face contact with customers. We have seen the reduction in brick and mortar businesses as Internet businesses continue to explode on the scene. However, there seems to be resurgence in companies that have direct contact with the consumer. They feel quality customer servants play a vital role in their marketing plans.

You may speak as a realist and say that in many situations you are both. You are a hybrid person with dual functionality. You are listed on the budget as overhead, but you provide a customer service job. I won’t argue against this claim, but will add that if you are practically listed as overhead, you must not function as overhead nor allow yourself to think of yourself as overhead. Your dominant function should be as a customer servant, admired by your clients and profitable to the organization.

A company you will rarely have a competitive advantage if their people, often their number one expense, are performing as overhead rather than customer servants. Where do you see yourself? Where does your customer see you? Are you performing in such a way that your competitors are inspired to go to work every day? Are they excelling because they know that you are there competition? Where do you stand? Are you a customer servant or overhead?

Copyright © 2013 Orlando Ceaser

Want to save the boss’s job? Perform better

Veterans of watching and playing sports and working in business for a living, remember countless regime changes. The owner or senior leadership brings people into a room or connects with them online to make an announcement. The current boss is being replaced, which could mean, demoted, reassigned or terminated. They inform the workers that it was time for a change. They may deliver platitudes and say such things as, “they were a fine individual and have contributed much to the organization.” This decision may not be linked to performance, but it was time to go in another section. This unleashes quite a buzz within the organization. Both positive and negative comments are made about the person and the decision.

Let’s move our focus immediately from the person making the decision and the person being removed. Let’s focus our attention on the people who work for him or her. On Sports Center and the local news media, one by one former players are interviewed.” “He was an excellent manager, a player’s coach, a person of high intellect and sports acumen. He taught me everything I know. She took a chance on me, when no one else would.” The plaudits and accolades go on and on.

In business and in athletics, there may be factors beyond the coach or the leader, which influence performance. However, one point comes out loudly and clearly, if the person was so great and instrumental in career growth to receive such high praise for their leadership,” why didn’t the people perform better?”

The best way to show a coach or a leader what you think of them is through excellent performance on the field, in the field, on the court, in the office, on the plant floor or in the classroom. Results are the measure of a person’s effectiveness. Is it logical to assume that your performance is an indicator of how you felt about them? If they are not getting the best from you and it is not them, then it must be you.

If you are not delivering up to your capabilities, are you in the wrong job or somehow being hampered by underlying issues. Are you compromising the effectiveness of your team, and placing your job and your manager’s job at risk. Bear in mind, it is the role of the manager to diagnose and treat some of these issues. It is commonly said that somebody has to take the heat and the blame when the team does not perform up to its capability. The leader or coach is usually this individual. Managers cannot fire the whole team or replace every individual over night. Somebody must take the field, sit behind desks or operate the machinery. Often it is believed that firing the manager will jolt the team into an accelerated, escalated level of performance. Sometimes this works, but sometimes it doesn’t.

What can be done?

When you bemoan the fact that, “another one bites the dust or another one got away or another quality coach leaves, think of all of the assistance they gave to you. Remember the instructions and wise counsel. There may have been working above and beyond the call of duty to get you comfortable in your job. Think of their families, as you think of your own. Then I want you to inspire and motivate yourself to give your maximum effort. Energized and engage your team members into working to their highest levels of achievement. You are doing this for yourselves, the organization and the manager you claim to admire and respect.

Performing to your highest level can be very self-serving. It enables you to have a greater role in retaining the best manager for you. If you admire the quality leadership of this individual, make sure that when they leave the organization, is because of some of the reason other than the team not delivering its best. The next person who walks through the door, on to the court or field or into the plant, was selected by you as surely as if you were in the interview making get the job offer. Retaining the manager you want may also keep you from getting the manager from Hell who may be lurking in the shadows waiting the right moment to assume the position you provide for them.

You may know him on both sides of this issue. People have come up to them and stated how unfair it was that they were no longer in the role. They went on to say they will never forget the things they taught them and how it made them a better person or manager. These comments were appreciated and well received. I’m curious; if it meant so much to them, why didn’t it show up in their performance. Why did she choose this year to deliver below prior years? Did they do everything within their power to keep the coach? Are there things that they could’ve done differently that could have led to a different result?

The manager, coach or leader is a part of the team. They set the tone for the velocity of the team and their ability to scale higher mountains of expectations. The team can be compared to a chain and sometimes the manager is the weak link in the chain and should be replaced. Sometimes, there are other individuals on the team that are not living up to their potential and the manager must develop them or remove them from the organization. Failure of the manager to make the tough calls may be an indication that they are not strong enough and should be replaced. In situations where the manager is highly regarded for their character, vision and leadership skills, it is imperative that this bears fruit in the performance of the team.

Post blog assignment

The next time you see a news story, where a person is being removed from a job, you may want to ask yourself a few questions and look for the evidence provided to justify the action.

• What did they do to deserve the termination?
• What information was given to support the action?
• What did the people who worked for them have to say about them?
• Was there evidence of being a good person, but not strong enough to make the tough decisions?
• What information was provided about the performance of the team or the department?
• Did you get a sense that the team was performing below its capabilities?

If you want to keep the manager you have, either as your boss or within the organization, you can contribute to this by performing at the highest level of your capability. This may spare you the inconvenience of complaining about the organization or feeling guilty about your culpability in the demise of your beloved leader, manager or coach.

Copyright © 2013 Orlando Ceaser