Shut the #%$^ Up and Listen!

Growth mindset Respect


The children’s book “Go the F**k to Sleep” has gone viral. So I thought I’d piggy back on the title to see if I might get your attention. Receiving versus transmitting is so important. However we are often so driven to communicate our view, we can get lost talking instead of listening. The following is a replay of a Huffington Post blog by Marty Zwilling with practical wisdom:

“Check to see if you are practicing the key disciplines of listening, as outlined by Brian Tracy in No Excuses: the Power of Self-Discipline:

  • Listen attentively. Listen as though the other person is about to reveal a great secret or the winning lottery number and you will hear it only once. Since you always pay attention to what you most value, when you pay close attention to another person, you tell that person that they are of great value to you. You will be remembered.
  • Pause before replying. When you pause, you avoid the risk of interrupting the other person if they are reformulating their thoughts. It also enables you to hear not only what was said, but what was not said. Then you can respond with greater awareness and sensitivity.
  • Ask for clarification. Never assume that you automatically know what the other person is thinking or feeling. It is when you ask questions and seek clarity that you demonstrate that you really care about what he or she is saying, and that you are genuinely interested in understanding how he or she thinks and feels.
  • Feed it back. The acid test of listening is to see if you can paraphrase what you heard in your own words. It is only when you can repeat back what the other person has just said, in your own words, that you prove you are really listening, and understood the message. For all feedback, be sure to mirror the other person’s pace and communication style.

Even good communicators average only about half their time listening. Yet experts assert that most people listen with only about 25 percent of their attention, hear about 25 percent of what is said, and after two months, remember only half of that. That’s not effective communication.

There are also things you can do to encourage others to listen to you, when you do speak, to improve the overall communication:

  • Lower voice, no emotion. This causes the other party to listen more carefully, and facilitates a more pleasant and more effective conversation.
  • Adapt to listener interests. Use analogies and terminology that are easy for the other person to relate to, and they will respond with attention and higher comprehension.
  • Choose the right environment. Wait for the right opportunity, when you can be easily heard and understood, and the listener is in the right mood.
  • Address people by name. This gets their attention and focus. Sometimes it helps to bring others into the conversation to support your input.”

This information is likely not news to you but it may be a good reminder. Here is what might help turning better listening into a habit. If you could work on just two things of the above, try doing the following:

Character Move :

  1. Before you comment with your view, make it a habit to ask a genuine clarification question or paraphrase your understanding. You will become a master communicator if you make this a sincere part of your dialogue.
  2. Be present. Let the person(s) know that you are there to listen and understand. Do not wander off or let your electronic gadgets distract you. People will respect that you have given yourself to them. This is important whether you are talking to people above or below you in rank.

Listen in the Triangle,


To-Go Thinkers versus To-Date Thinkers, Which Are You?

Accountability Productivity


The Japanese have a great tradition when goal setting. They paint one eye of a Daruma doll black upon setting a goal, the “start,” and then paint in the other eye when the goal is attained, “the finish.” When people work with you, do they believe that you will get done what you started? In other words are you more a finisher or a starter? A recent Harvard Business Review blog by Heidi Grant Halverson got me reflecting on this.

Halverson refers to recent research by University of Chicago psychologists Minjung Koo and Ayelet Fishbach who examined how people pursuing goals were affected by focusing on either how far they had already come (to-date thinking) or what was left to be accomplished (to-go thinking).

The following is her summary: “People routinely use both kinds of thinking to motivate themselves. A marathon runner may choose to think about the miles already traveled or the ones that lie ahead. A dieter who wants to lose 30 pounds may try to fight temptation by reminding themselves of the 20 pounds already lost, or the 10 left to go.

Intuitively, both approaches have their appeal. But too much to-date thinking, focusing on what you’ve accomplished so far, will actually undermine your motivation to finish rather than sustain it.

Koo and Fishbach’s studies consistently show that when we are pursuing a goal and consider how far we’ve already come, we feel a premature sense of accomplishment and begin to slack off. For instance, in one study, college students studying for an exam in an important course were significantly more motivated to study after being told that they had 52% of the material left to cover compared to being told that they had already completed 48%.

When we focus on progress made, we’re also more likely to try to achieve a sense of balance by making progress on other important goals. This is classic good starter behavior — lots of pots on the stove, but nothing is ever ready to eat.

If, instead, we focus on how far we have left to go (to-go thinking), motivation is not only sustained, and it’s heightened. Fundamentally, this has to do with the way our brains are wired. To-go thinking helps us tune in to the presence of a discrepancy between where we are now and where we want to be. When the human brain detects a discrepancy, it reacts by throwing resources at it: attention, effort, deeper processing of information, and willpower.”

Character Move:

  1. Stay focused on the end goal; consciously become more of a “to-go thinker.”
  2. Get motivated by the highlighting discrepancy to the end state.
  3. Do not accept progress as a victory by itself.
  4. Celebrate when the finish happens.
  5. Paint that second eye of your Daruma black and become known as a finisher.

“To-go thinking” in the Triangle,


Feed Your Mind Good Stuff

Abundance Books Personal leadership


Tim Sanders is the New York Times bestselling author whose latest book is entitled Today We are Rich: Harnessing the Power of Total Confidence. In this superb book Sanders emphasizes several key principles that he believes will enrich and transform people’s lives. The first, foundation principle is “feed your mind the good stuff.” The essence of this principle is that we need to feed our mind like we feed our body and that the quality of our thinking stems from the mental nutritional value of what we put into it. What is the good stuff?

Because we are currently in an internet content blizzard, I am attracted to trusted aggregators like G5 Leadership Training, an on-line purveyor of leading authors, leaders, academics. They bring the world’s best thinkers to our business and personal computers in the most efficient and powerful way. I want everyone I know to have access to these superb training and development modules. They are great examples of the “good stuff.” As an example, Tim Sanders and his key messages from Today We are Rich is one of the workshops available to you through G5 Leadership Training. Even better, for you THE GOOD STUFF IS FREE!! Here’s how to get access to content of the highest nutritional value for our minds.

Character Move SPECIAL OFFER: Feed your mind the good stuff. Invest in yourself! Just click here to sign up for unlimited access to G5 Leadership Training live, online workshops. Enter promo code “g5lornerubis”. Leadership Training will waive the annual membership fee (normally $129) for one year. Sign up and participate – you will feel like you are at the world’s best personal development courses without leaving your laptop or tablet.

The membership expires June of 2012, so you need to sign-up by the first week of July. The sooner you sign up for membership the sooner you can take advantage of G5 events.

The Good Stuff in the Triangle,


Do You Want a FREE Ticket to Ride?

Abundance Personal leadership


I’m a Beatles fan and love the song Ticket to Ride. It prompted my thinking about the ticket we need to successfully ride the employment express. As a CEO with more than 40 years in the work force, I believe that now more than ever the “ticket to ride” is continuous personal development. We have to sharpen our saw every day. The best equity we can build is in our own skill base. Our resume needs to be better today than yesterday and we can benefit from more knowledge, and help from the world’s thought leaders. In this time-crushed world, how do we do this efficiently and effectively? Determining the best course of action can become daunting. There is an overwhelming explosion of content and choice. We are standing at the door of the world’s biggest supermarket of information, the Internet.

To help me sort through the content clutter, I have chosen a trusted aggregator of the world’s best training and development leaders, authors, and gurus. G5 Leadership Training is one of the premier live web training companies in the world. They bring us New York Times bestselling authors like Stanford Professor Bob Sutton, Fast Company founder Bill Taylor, Marshall Goldsmith, David Allen, and Tim Sanders to name a few. Every year they add new, insightful, thought leaders on the most important topics in business.

Character Move SPECIAL OFFER: Take that ticket to ride. Invest in yourself! Just click here to sign up for unlimited access to G5 Leadership Training live, online workshops. Enter promo code “g5lornerubis”. Leadership Training will waive the annual membership fee (normally $129) for one year. Sign up and participate – you will feel like you are at the world’s best personal development courses without leaving your laptop or tablet.

The membership expires June of 2012, so you need to sign-up by the first week of July. The sooner you sign up for membership the sooner you can take advantage of G5 events.

Invest in yourself (for free) in the Triangle,


Drowning at Your Post

Accountability Organizational leadership Teamwork


“One of the most heroic examples of community spirit was 24-year-old Miki Endo, who used the loudspeaker system in Minamisanriku, [Japan] a fishing port close to the focus of the 9.0 earthquake, to urge residents to do what they could to escape the incoming tsunami. She drowned at her post. Television footage shows the rising sea approaching, with her haunting voice echoing over the waves. More than 1,000 of the town’s 18,000 residents died.”

This is a quote from a recent article in the Economist about leadership and response during and after the horrendous earthquake and Tsunami in Japan.

Thankfully, daily work life for most of us has little to do with putting our lives at risk. Hopefully none of us will be called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice and demonstrate the incredible heroism of Miki Endo. However, I sometimes feel that people in companies are standing at their posts with loud speakers and warning of impending dangers. They call out repeatedly. Are we listening? How do they feel when we don’t? What are the consequences?

I recently observed this “drowning at your post” syndrome in a customer service situation. Customers were calling in and well-intended caring people at the front desk were doing everything to be helpful. But, the customer response system was broken and the plea for help from the first responders went nowhere. Customers felt abandoned and so did the people on the front lines. I believe if you “put your antenna up” and really listen, there is likely someone with a loudspeaker asking for help or announcing a coming storm around you at work right now. What are they saying? Do they feel that anybody is listening? Do they metaphorically feel like they’re drowning at their posts?

Character Move:

  1. Really listen and ask yourself, “Who around me (maybe it’s me) is sending out warning signals or calls for help? What are they really saying?”
  2. Ask yourself what you can do to help. Do not avoid it and assume it’s just someone “crying wolf” or say it’s “not my job” to respond.
  3. Do not let people “drown at their posts.” Often just acknowledging that you are listening, and starting a conversation, is enough to get the action wheels rolling.
  4. Remember that to keep the early warning system working well, we need to be responsive to each other at work. It is our workplace. It is our village.
  5. Do not wait for people at the top to get it and respond. They’re often too late, slow, or deaf.

Listening at you Post in the Triangle,


Getting in the Zone at Work

Abundance Growth mindset Purpose


Picture this… I’m fortunate enough to be sitting in the Assembly Room Theatre in the lovely city of Bath, England. I’m there to listen to a stunning, rising star Russian violinist, Alina Ibragimova, play J. S. Bach’s beautiful sonatas. I do not know much about classical music, but I know when I see an artist in the ZONE. As she took the stage you could literally see her center her core, look up the ceiling as if to summon the angels, and launch into the performance. Her work hypnotized and captured an audience who applauded and stamped their feet as her bow ceremoniously left the violin for the last time. All of us, from novice to maestro, knew we had participated in a magical moment.

Most of us do not get to a literal “center stage.” But there is value in thinking about our work as successful artists and athletes do. You may think it overly zealous or even naïve to think this way. But what is the alternative, to go through the motions and just do a mediocre job? Or, to be the very best at whatever you do and find that allusive ZONE, where you know you’re in the groove?

Character Move:

  1. Give serious thought to what you want to be known for in your work.
  2. Practice, practice, practice.
  3. Think of the next person or process who is impacted by you work, as your “audience.”
  4. Recognize when you are in the ZONE. What did you do to make it so?
  5. Never stop learning, practicing and getting better.
  6. Take a bow and accept the applause every once in a while.

In the Triangle… in the Zone,