Saturday, August 30, 2008

I've Moved The BookShare to

I've moved The BookShare to  An Open Mic session at Blogging Without a Blog, convinced me.  Worst case scenario, I'll move it back.  Best case scenario, I'm on a better path.   I'm sure I've made a bunch of mistakes so far, but I figure it's a great experiment and I'll learn a lot.

Sources of Insight
I've named the blog Sources of Insight for two reasons:

  • Too many folks told me that The BookShare is a lame name.
  • I want to expand the scope from just books to more sources of insight(mentors, heroes, role models, quotes, ... etc.)

You can expect that Sources of Insight will be a browsable collection of nuggets:

  • A reference library of insight and wisdom from key books along with how I've applied it.
  • A reference library of heroes, role models and mentors.
  • A reference library of insightful, inspirational, and practical quotes.
  • A reference library of lessons learned.

The Mission
The mission stays the same.  I'll continue to share nuggets of insight and action for work and life.  I'll continue to draw from the best sources I can find.  Real results for real people. 

The Vision
The world's best collection of insight for work and life.

The Approach
Basically, I model the best.  I ask the most successful people I know, what books, people or lessons changed their lives.  I test the knowledge against real-world scenarios.  I share the lessons with my mentees.  It's a continuous process of improvement.  I stand on the shoulders of giants and I draw from the wisdom of the ages.

Measures of Success
My measures of success at this point is pretty simple:

  • Users who need the blog, can find the blog.
  • Users can easily find relevant posts that help them.
  • Users can easily consume the posts.

What's Going Well
So far, users have said:

  • The name is more exciting.
  • The idea of the blog is compelling.
  • The look and feel of the theme is an improvement.
  • Posts are more readable and consumable in the new theme.
  • The pictures help.

What's Not Going Well
Here's what's not going so well:

  • The blog has no page rank.
  • The pages aren't indexed by Google.
  • I have a long process of fixing my links between posts.
  • I have lots of posts to add pictures too.
  • I don't know the template very well and I'm not familiar with all the Wordpess widgets and features.

I figure I have more blog time ahead of me than behind me, so I'm gradually fixing the issues.

See you at Sources of Insight.  Wish me luck!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

10 Years Younger

I'm a fan of periodic experiments for finding new ways to improve your mind and body.  My latest experiment is shedding ten years of age-related damage in ten weeks based on the book, Shed 10 Years in 10 Weeks, by Dr. Julian Whitaker and Carol Colman.  Given how much heart disease, cancer, ... etc there is in today's world, it won't hurt me to put more techniques under my belt.  I told some friends and colleagues about my experiment and they wanted me to share my notes, so here it goes ...

Benefits of the Age-Loss Program
The book outlines the following potential benefits:

  • Lose a decade's worth of fat and regain ten year's worth of muscle.
  • Erase fine lines, diminish wrinkles, and restore youthful glow.
  • Boost your brain power and sharpen your memory.
  • Revitalize and enjoy your sex life.
  • Strengthen your immune system and prevent disease.
  • Recharge your spirit and regain your energy of yesteryear.

The Key to the Age-Loss Program
What I like about the book is that it's not magic.  It's based on results from research and experience with more than 15,000 patients.  It boils down to the following formula -- eat the right foods, take the right supplements, exercise regularly, and control the negative impact of stress in your life.  Dr. Whitaker does mention that the combination of supplements is especially important.

Wellness and Reversing Diseases
I really like the fact that Dr. Whitaker is focused on wellness over illness.  He specializes in modeling from the best and sharing what works.  I also like the fact that he focuses on "reversing" issues.  For example, he has books on reversing diabetes, reversing heart disease, and reversing health risks.

10 Steps of the Age-Loss Program
Here's a summary of the objectives of the ten steps, according to Dr. Whitaker and Colman.

Step Objectives
Step 1: All Systems Go
  • Jump-start the rejuvenation process
  • Recharge your batteries
  • Regain a decade’s worth of energy and endurance
Step 2: Lose a Decade Worth of Fat
  • Restore your youthful metabolism
  • Shed those extra pounds and extra years
  • Lose up to ten pounds of fat
Step3: Renew Tired, Worn-Out Skin
  • Restore youthful radiance and glow
  • Slow down and reverse aging
  • Protect against sun damage
Step 4. Regain Ten Years of Muscle
  • Develop a youthful, sleeker body
  • Restore lean body mass
  • Become stronger, slimmer, and sexier
Step 5: Boost Your Brain Power
  • Sharpen your thinking
  • Improve your powers of concentration
  • Regain your mental edge
Step 6. Revitalize Your Sex Life
  • Restore your sexual vitality
  • Enhance your sexual function and performance
  • Extend your sex life into your 60s, 70s, 80s, and beyond
Step 7: Rejuvenate While You Sleep
  • Restore youthful sleep patterns
  • Wake up feeling refreshed and renewed
  • Enjoy the extraordinary benefits of a good night’s sleep
Step 8: Recharge the Spirit
  • Enhance your feelings of joy and well-being
  • Shed the stress to shed the years
  • Awaken your senses and relax your body and mind
Step 9: Reinvigorate Your Immune System
  • Reinvigorate your immune system.
  • Build up your resistance to infection
  • Bounce back faster from colds, flu, and other common ailments
Step 10: Regain a Decade's Worth of Health By Correcting the Glitches
  • Arthritis
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • Gastrointestinal Disorders
  • Heart Disease
  • Osteoporosis
  • Vision Problems

Supplement Routine
Here's an example of the supplement routine, based on Dr. Whitaker's and Colman:

When Actions
  • Multi-vitamin
  • Vitamin C (500 MG)
  • Magnesium and Potassium Asporatates
  • Ginko Biloba (60 MG)
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids
  • Alpha Lipoic Acid (250 MG)
  • BioCoQ-10 (60 MG)
  • Chromium Picolinate (200 Micrograms)
  • Multi-vitamin
  • Vitamin C (500 MG)
  • Multi-vitamin
  • Vitamin C (500 MG)
  • Magnesium and Potassium Asporatates
  • Ginko Biloba (60 MG)
  • Green drink
  • Odorless Garlic
  • Olive and Oregano Oil

Skin Routine
Here's an example of the skin routine, based on Dr. Whitaker and Colman:

When Actions
  • Clean your face and neck.
  • Apply vitamin C serum or cream.
  • Apply moisturizer.
  • Apply your sun protection.
  • Reapply your sun protection.
  • Reapply your moisturizer.
  • Sprits your face with water.
  • Always start out with a clean face and neck.
  • Apply alpha hydroxyl acid (AHA) cream or lotion (1/2 hr before applying retinol).
  • Apply your retinol cream.
  • Reapply your moisturizer.

Workout Routine
Here's an example of the workout routine based on Dr. Whitaker and Colman:

When Actions
Week 1 and 2
  • (20 minutes) Walk at a pace of 3 mph.
Week 3 and 4
  • (3 minutes) Walk at an easy pace
  • (8 minutes) Walk at a pace of 3.5 mph
  • (3 minutes) Walk at an easy pace
  • (8 minutes) Walk at a pace of 3.5 mph
  • (3 minutes) Walk at an easy pace
Week 5 and 6
  • (3 minutes) Walk at an easy pace
  • (10 minutes) Walk at a pace of 4 mph
  • (3 minutes) Walk at an easy pace
  • (10 minutes) Walk at a pace of 4 mph
  • (3 minutes) Walk at an easy pace
Week 7 and 8
  • (2 minutes) Walk at an easy pace
  • (12 minutes) Walk at a pace of 4.5 mph
  • (2 minutes) Walk at an easy pace
  • (12 minutes) Walk at a pace of 4.5 mph
  • (2 minutes) Walk at an easy pace
Week 9 and 10
  • (2 minutes) Walk at an easy pace
  • (15 minutes) Walk at a pace of 5 mph
  • (2 minutes) Walk at an easy pace
  • (15 minutes) Walk at an easy pace

Dr. Julian Whitaker's Supplement Recommendations
Here's an example of the key supplements Dr. Whitaker recommends:

  • Beta-Carotene (15,000 total)
  • Chromium Picolinate (200 Micrograms total) (2 x 100 micrograms)
  • Co-Q10 (60 MG total) (2 x 30 MG)
  • Ginkgo Biloba (120 MG total) (2 x 60 MG)
  • Lipoic Acid (50 MG total) (2 x 25 MG)
  • Omega-3 (1000 MG total) (360 MG EPA, 240 MG DHA)
  • Potassium - Magnesium apartate (1000 MG total) (2 x 500 MG)
  • Selenium (200 Micgrograms total)
  • Vitamin A (5000 IU total)
  • Vitamin C (2500 MG total) (Multi-vitamin = 1200 MG,
  • supplement = 1300 MG)
  • Vitamin E (800 MG total)

Shopping List Example
Here's an example of how the supplements mapped to products I could actually get:

  • Alpha Lipoic Acid (Solar Ray Alpha Lipoic Acid, 250 MG, 60 capsules)
  • Bio CoQ-10 (Solar Ray Bio CoQ-10, 60 MG, 60 capsules)
  • Chromium Picolinate (Trader Darwin's Chromium Picolinate -
  • 200 Micrograms, 100 tablets)
  • Ginkgo Biloba (Solar Ray, Ginkgo Biloba, 60 MG)
  • Magnesium and Potassium Asporatates (Solar Ray Magnesium and Potassium Asporatates)
  • Multi-vitamin (Super Nutrition - Iron Free, Easy Swallow Opti-Pack)
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids (Trader Darwin's Omega-3 Fatty Acids, 1200 MG, 90 softgels)
  • Vitamin C (Solar Ray Bio-Plex, Buffered Vitamin C, 500 MG, 250 capsules)
  • Green drink (Greens to Go)
  • Odorless Garlic (Trader Darwin's Odorless Garlic)
  • Olive and Oregano Oil (Trader Darwin's Olive and Oregano Oil

Results So far
I'm only three weeks in so I don't expect miracles.  So far though I've dropped more than 10 pounds and I'm closer to my "fighting weight."  I have a lot more power hours throughout the day.  I have a spring in my step and I feel a lot more powerful.  I would expect that from any combination of the right foods, the right workout, and the right sleep.  I guess the part that's different is how quickly my nails and hair are growing and how fresh my skin is.  I think that's where the supplements are showing.

Lessons Learned
I've learned a few lessons so far that really help me:

  • Reduce friction.  Rather than depend on sheer will power, I find ways to make it easier to fall into success.  trade complexity for simplicity.  Anything I can do to simplify or reduce friction, I do.  For example, rather than run outdoors, I got a NordicTrack Elliptical so that rainy days didn't get in the way.
  • Find the fun.  I think anything long-term has to be fun.  In general, we move towards pleasure and away from pain.  For example, I originally was going to get a treadmill, but realized that I liked the idea of bounding on an Elliptical better.  I also found that I need to play my favorite songs to associate fun to the pain of the workout.
  • Take weekends off.  I doubt Dr. Whitaker would agree, but for me, it's easier for me to push during the week, if the weekend is playtime.
  •  Make it a routine.  I found that I really have to make it a routine so the less I have to think about it, the easier it is to just do it.  For example, even just scheduling time for the workout was important.  I tested in the morning and tested at night, and while the morning is easier to make a routine, I find I like it more at night.
  • Find your personal success patterns.  I experimented with a few different sleep patterns and found that if I wake up too early, I'm just no my most for the day.  I really do measure my day in power hours.  What good is having more time if you can't use it?  I finally realized that just by flipping through my past experiences, I could find success patterns that worked to draw from.
  • Turn your routines into checklists.  I find that having a simple, scannable checklists go a long way (for example, the supplement routine, skin routine, and workout routine above helped me quickly visualize what I need to do.)
  • Find what works for you.  I found the diet part of the routine a little tough to follow.  I think the principles were sound, but it's easier for me to just follow The Zone.  (see A Zone Primer.)

Additional Resources

My Related Posts

Exercising Your Body Makes You Smarter

Do you feel smarter after you workout?  It's because you have more oxygen available to your brain.  Working out also increases your sense of well-being.  In Shed 10 Years in 10 Weeks, Dr. Julian Whitaker and Colman write about how exercising makes you smarter and feel better.

Think Better and Feel Better 
Dr. Whitaker and Colman write the following:

Did you ever wonder why you feel so recharged after a good workout?  Nowhere is the body mind connection more apparent than when it comes to the effect of exercise on the brain.  Exercise increases the amount of oxygen available to the brain by making the heart stronger and able to pump more oxygenated blood.  In addition to increasing oxygen stores, exercise creates a natural high.  It stimulates the release of endorphins, neurochemicals that actually have an opiatelike effect on the brain.  People who exercise think more clearly, feel more alert and energetic, and have a markedly increased sense of well-being.

Key Take Aways
Here's my key take aways:

  • Exercising makes you think and feel better and act better.
  • You feel smarter after you workout because you have more oxygen available to your brain.
  • Endorphins released during exercise make you feel better.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Start with Your Audience’s Mood

Have you ever not been in the mood for somebody's sunshiny ways?   Their lack of sympathy pushes you away.  Instead, they should match your mood, at least at first.  A little sympathy can go a long way.  In Thank You for Arguing: What Aristotle, Lincoln, and Homer Simpson Can Teach Us About the Art of Persuasion, Jay Heinrichs writes about using sympathy to build rapport.

Share Your Listener’s Mood
Start with your audience's mood.  Use rhetorical sympathy to show concern.  Heinrichs writes:

Sympathize – align yourself with your listener’s pathos.  You don’t have to share the mood; when you face an angry man, it doesn’t help to mirror that anger.  Instead, rhetorical sympathy shows its concern, proving, as George H. W. Bush put it, “I care.”  So when you face that angry man, look stern and concerned; do not shout, “Whoa, decaf!” When a little girl looks sad, sympathy means looking sad, too; it does not mean chirping, “Cheer up!”

Change Your Emotions as You Make Your Point
After you start with your audience's mood, you can lead them to a new emotion.  Heinrichs writes:

This reaction to the audience’s feeling can serve as a baseline, letting them see your own emotions change as you make your point.  Cicero hinted that the great orator transforms himself into an emotional role model, showing the audience how it should feel.

Key Take Aways
Here's my key take aways:

  • Start with your audience's mood.
  • Sympathy can help build rapport.
  • Use rhetorical sympathy to show concern.
  • You can lead your audience to a new emotion, if you first start with their mood.

My Related Posts

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Know Thy Time

What are the keys to effective time management?  How do successful people manage their time?  They log and analyze their time.  They use deadlines.  They know that time is the scarcest resource.  They master their own time management to improve their contribution and effectiveness.  In The Essential Drucker: The Best of Sixty Years of Peter Drucker's Essential Writings on Management (Collins Business Essentials), Peter F. Drucker writes that you should "know thy time."

Log and Analyze Your Time
Drucker writes that effective people perpetually work on their time management:

And all effective people work on their time management perpetually.  They not only keep a continuing log and analyze it periodically; they set themselves deadlines for the important activities, based on their judgment of their discretionary time. 

Urgent and Unpleasant Lists
Drucker shares an example about using lists with deadlines for urgent and unpleasant tasks:

One highly effective man I know keeps two such lists – one of the urgent and one of the unpleasant things that have to be done – each with a deadline.  When he finds his deadlines slipping, he knows his time is again getting away from him.

Time is the Scarcest Resource
Drucker writes that time is the scarcest resource, but it's also easy to analyze and improve:

Time is the scarcest resource, and unless it is managed, nothing else can be managed.  The analysis of one’s time, moreover, is the one easily accessible and yet systematic way to analyze one’s work and to think through what really matters in it.

Everyone Can Follow “Know Thy Time”
Drucker writes that the path to contribution and effectiveness is knowing how you spend your time:

“Know thyself,” the old prescription for wisdom, is almost impossibly difficult for mortal men.  But everyone can follow the injunction “Know thy time” if he or she wants to, and be well on the road toward contribution and effectiveness.

Key Take Aways
Here's my key take aways:

  • Time is the scarcest resource.  You can't make more time.  You have what you got.   Make the most of it.
  • Log and analyze your time.  A key to managing your time effectively is knowing where it goes.
  • Consider keeping lists of deadlines for urgent and unpleasant tasks.  If you find your deadlines keep slipping, then you need to improve how you're managing time.
  • Effective people perpetually work on their time management.  Effective people make it a habit to work at improving their time management.

My Related Posts

Know Where Your Time Goes

To effectively manage your time, you first need to know where it goes.  Don't rely on your memory.  The problem is you'll think you spend time where you should spend your time.  Your memory will fool you.  In The Essential Drucker: The Best of Sixty Years of Peter Drucker's Essential Writings on Management (Collins Business Essentials), Peter F. Drucker writes about logging your time rather than relying on memory.

Don’t Rely on Your Memory to Know How Much Time You Spend
Drucker writes don't rely on your memory to know where your time goes:

Man is ill-equipped to manage his time.  Even in total darkness, most people retain their sense of space.  But even with the lights on, a few hours in a sealed room render most people incapable of estimating how much time has elapsed.  They are as likely to underrate grossly the time spent in the room as to overrate it grossly.  If we rely on our memory, therefore, we do not know how much time has been spent.

Record Your Time and Test Your Memory
Drucker suggests logging your time and testing your memory:

I sometimes ask executives who pride themselves on their memory to put down their guesses as to how they spend their own time.  Then I lock these guesses away for a few weeks or months.  In the meantime, the executives run an actual time record on themselves.  There is never much resemblance between the way these people thought they used their time and their actual records.

You Think You Spend Time Where You Should Spend Your Time
According to Drucker, we fool ourselves on where we actually spend our time:

One company chairman was absolutely certain that he divided his time roughly into three parts.  One third he thought he was spending with his senior men.  One-third he thought he spent with his important customers.  And one-third he thought was devoted to community activities.  The actual record of his activities over six weeks brought out clearly that he spent almost no time in any of these areas.  There were the tasks on which he knew he should spend time – and therefore memory, obligingly as usual, told him that they were the tasks on which he actually spent most of his hours as a kind of dispatcher, keeping track of orders from customers he personally knew, and bothering the plant with telephone calls about them.  Most of those orders were going through all right anyhow and his intervention could only delay them.  But when his secretary first came in with the time record, he did not believe her.  It took two or three more time logs to convince him that the record, rather than his memory, had to be trusted when it came to the use of time.

Key Take Aways
Here's my key take aways:

  • To manage your time, you need to know where it goes.  In order to manage your time effectively, you first need to know where your time actually goes.
  • Keep a time record.  The only way to know where you spend your time is to log it.
  • Your memory is wrong.  Your memory tells you you spend your time where you think you should spend your time. 

My Related Posts

Consolidate Your Discretionary Time

What are best practices for time management?  How do effective people manage their time?  How do effective people manage to consistently get the most important things done each week?  They consolidate their discretionary time.  One approach is to work from home one day a week.  Another approach is to push your administrative work to Mondays and Fridays, and then use Tuesdays, Wednesday's, and Thursdays to focus on your high priority work.  In The Essential Drucker: The Best of Sixty Years of Peter Drucker's Essential Writings on Management (Collins Business Essentials), Peter F. Drucker writes about how effective people consolidate their discretionary time to get things done.

How Much Time is Available for Your Contributions?
Drucker writes that effective people figure out how much discretionary time they have:

The executive who records and analyzes his time and then attempts to manage it can determine how much he has for his important tasks.  How much time is there that is “discretionary,” that is, available for the big tasks that will really make a contribution?  It is not going to be a great deal, no matter how ruthlessly the knowledge worker prunes time-wasters. 

The Higher Up You Go, the Less Time Spent on Contribution
According to Drucker, the higher up you go, the less time you spend on contribution:

The higher up a knowledge worker, the larger will be the proportion of time that is not under his control and yet not spent on contribution.  The larger the organization, the more time will be needed just to keep the organization together and running, rather than to make it function and produce.

Consolidate Your Discretionary Time
According to Drucker, effective people consolidate their discretionary time:

The effective people therefore knows that he has to consolidate his discretionary time.  He knows that he needs large chunks of time and that small driblets are not time at all.  Even one-quarter of the working day, if consolidated in large time units, is usually enough to get the important things done.  But even three-quarters of the working day are useless if it is only available as fifteen minutes or half an hour there.  The final step in time management is therefore to consolidate the time that record and analysis show as normally available and under the executive’s control. 

Work at Home One Day a Week
Drucker writes that one approach to consolidate time is to work at home one day a week:

There are a good many ways of doing this.  Some people, usually senior managers, work at home one day a week; this is a particularly common method of time consolidation for editors or research scientists.

Schedule All the Operating Work for Monday and Friday
Drucker writes that another approach is to batch your operating work for Mondays and Fridays:

Others schedule all the operating work – the meetings, reviews, problem sessions, and so on – for two days a week, for example, Monday and Friday, and set aside the mornings of the remaining days for consistent, continuing work on major issues.

How Not To Consolidate Discretionary Time
Don't let your little rocks get in the way of the big rocks.  Drucker writes:

But the method by which one consolidates one’s discretionary time is far less important than the approach.  Most people tackle the job by trying to push the secondary, the less productive matters together, thus clearing, so to speak, a free space between them.  This does not lead very far, however.  One still gives priority in one’s mind and in one’s schedule to the less important things, the things that have to be done even though they contribute little.  As a result, any new time pressure is likely to be satisfied at the expense of the discretionary time and of the work that should be done in it.  Within a few days or weeks, the entire discretionary time will then be gone again, nibbled away by new crisis, new immediate, new trivia.

Key Take Aways
Here's my key take aways:

  • Figure out how much discretionary time you have.   Baseline your schedule to figure out what time is available that you can move around.  The goal is to batch your discretionary time together so that you have bigger blocks of consecutive work time.
  • Consolidate your operating work for Mondays and Fridays.  Batch your meetings, reviews, and administrative tasks to Monday and Friday mornings.
  • Use your power hours on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays for your high priority work.  Focus on moving your big rocks on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.
  • Work from home one day a week.  Consider working at home to consolidate your discretionary time.

I've analyzed and tested lots of time management approaches, but this I really like Drucker's prescriptive guidance.  I like the idea of batching administrative work to Mondays and Fridays, and consolidating your discretionary time. 

My Related Posts

Friday, August 8, 2008

How To Improve Your Crucial Conversations

How do you improve your crucial conversations?   A crucial conversation is any conversation where the stakes are high, emotions run strong and opinions vary.  If you can master crucial conversations, rather than fear your tough conversations, you’ll kick-start your career, strengthen your relationships, and improve your health.  In Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High, Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan and Al Switzler show you specific principles and skills to master your crucial conversations.

7 Steps for Mastering Your Crucial Conversations
Patterson, Grenny, McMillan and Switzler, identify 7 principles for mastering your crucial conversations:

  • Step 1. Start with Heart.   (1) Focus on what you want (2) Refuse the sucker’s choice.
  • Step 2. Learn to Look.  (1) Look for when the conversation becomes crucial (2) Look for safety problems (3) Look for your own style under stress.
  • Step 3. Make it Safe.   (1) Apologize when appropriate (2) Contrast to fix misunderstanding (3) CRIB to get to Mutual Purpose.
  • Step 4. Master My Stories.  (1) Retrace my Path to Action (2) Separate fact from story (3) Watch for Three Clever Stories (4) Tell the rest of the story.
  • Step 5. STATE My Path.  (1) Share your facts (2) Tell your story (3) Ask for other’s paths (4) Talk tentatively (5) Encourage testing.
  • Step 6. Explore Other’s Paths. (1) Ask (2) Mirror (3) Paraphrase (4) Prime (5) Agree (6) Build (7) Compare
  • Step 7. Move to Action. (1) Decide how you’ll decide (2) Document decisions and follow up.

Step 1. Start with Heart
How do you stay focused on what you really want?  Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, and Switzler suggest asking yourself:

  • What do I really want for myself?
  • What do I really want for others?
  • What do I really want for the relationship?

See Start with Heart.

Step 2. Learn to Look
How do you know when safety is at risk?  Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, and Switzler suggest the following:

  • Learn to look at content and conditions.
  • Look for when things become crucial.
  • Learn to watch for safety problems.
  • Look to see if others are moving toward silence or violence.
  • Look for outbreaks of your Style Under Stress.

See Learn to Look and Six Styles Under Stress.

Step 3. Make It Safe
How do you make it safe to talk about almost anything?  Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, and Switzler suggest the following:

  • Decide which condition of safety is at risk.  Is mutual purpose at risk?  Is mutual respect at risk?
  • Apologize when appropriate.
  • Contrast to fix misunderstanding.
  • CRIB to get to Mutual Purpose (Commit to seek Mutual Purpose, Recognize the purpose behind the strategy, Invent a Mutual Purpose, Brainstorm new strategies.)

See Make It Safe.

Step 4. Master My Stories
How to stay in dialogue when you’re angry, scared or hurt?  Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, and Switzler suggest the following:

Retrace your path by asking the following questions:

  • Am I in some form of silence or violence
  • What emotions are encouraging you to ask this way?
  • What story is creating these emotions?
  • What evidence do you have to support this story?
  • Watch for clever stories.

Tell the Rest of the Story

  • Are you pretending not to notice your role in the problem?
  • Why would a reasonable, rational, and decent person do this?
  • What do you really want?
  • What would you do right now if you really wanted these results?

See Master My Stories.

Step 5. STATE My Path
How do you speak persuasively, not abrasively?  Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, and Switzler suggest the following:

  • Share your facts.  Start with the least controversial, most persuasive elements from your Path to Action.
  • Tell your story.  Explain what you’re beginning to conclude.
  • Ask for other’s paths.  Encourage others to share both their facts and their stories.
  • Talk tentatively.  State your story as a story – don’t disguise it as a fact.
  • Encourage testing.  Make it safe for others to express differing or eve opposing views.

Step 6. Explore Others’ Paths
How can you listen when others blow up or clam up?  Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, and Switzler, suggest the following:

  • Ask.  Start by simply expressing interest in the other person’s views.
  • Mirror.  Increase safety by respectfully acknowledging the emotions people appear to be feeling.
  • Paraphrase.  As others begin to share part of their story, restate what you’ve heard.
  • Prime.  If others continue to hold back, take your best guess as what they may be thinking and feeling.
  • Agree.  Agree when you do.
  • Build.  If others leave something out, agree where you do, then build.
  • Compare.  When you do differ significantly, don’t suggest others are wrong.  Compare your views.

See Ask, Mirror, Paraphrase, and Prime and Agree, Build, and Compare.

Step 7. Move to Action
How can you turn crucial conversations into action and results?   Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, and Switzler write:

Determine who does what by when.  Make the deliverables crystal clear.  Set a follow-up time.  Record the commitments and then follow up.  Finally, hold people accountable to their promises.

See 4 Decision Making Methods.

Key Take Aways
I've used these techniques on the job and I've found them to be some of the most effective techniques for keeping your brain engaged during high-stakes conversations.  Here's my key take aways:

  • Start with Heart. Focus on what you want.
  • Learn to Look.  Look for safety problems and look for your own style under stress.
  • Make it Safe.   Apologize when appropriate, contrast to fix misunderstanding, and find Mutual Purpose.
  • Master My Stories.  Separate fact from story.
  • STATE My Path.  Tell your story, ask for other’s paths and encourage testing.
  • Explore Other’s Paths. Ask, Mirror, Paraphrase, Prime ... Agree, Build, and Compare.
  • Move to Action. Decide how you’ll decide.

My Related Posts

Thursday, August 7, 2008

4 Decision Making Methods

What are four common ways of making decisions?  How do you choose the most effective decision making approach?  In Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High, Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler write about the four most common decision making methods and how to choose the most effective approach.

4 Methods of Decision Making
According to Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, and Switzler, there’s four common ways of making decisions:

  • Command - decisions are made with no involvement.
  • Consult - invite input from others.
  • Vote - discuss options and then call for a vote.
  • Consensus - talk until everyone agrees to one decision.

According to Patterson, Grenny, McMillan and Switzler, command is when there's no involvement:

Let’s start with decisions that are made with no involvement whatsoever.  This happens in one of two ways.  Either outside forces place demands on us (demands that leave us no wiggle room), or we turn decisions over to others and then follow their lead.  We don’t care enough to be involved – let someone else do the work.

According to Patterson, Grenny, McMillan and Switzler, consult is when you ask for input:

Consulting is a process whereby decision makers invite others to influence them before they make their choice.  You can consult with experts, a representative population, or even everyone who wants to offer an opinion.  Consulting can be an efficient way of gaining ideas and support without bogging down the decision making process.  At least not too much.  Wise leaders, parents, and even couples frequently make decisions in this way.  They gather ideas, evaluate options, make a choice, and then inform the broader population.

Patterson, Grenny, McMillan and Switzler, suggest only using a vote when team members agree to support whatever decision is made:

Voting is best suited to situations where efficiency is the highest value – and you’re selecting from a number of good options.  Members of the team realize they may not get their first choice, but frankly they don’t want to waste time talking the issue to death.  They may discuss options for a while and then call for a vote.  When facing several decent options, voting is a great time saver but should never be used when team members don’t agree to support whatever decision is made.  In these cases, consensus is required.

Patterson, Grenny, McMillan and Switzler, suggest using consensus when there's high stakes or you need everyone to fully support the final decision:

This method can be both a great blessing and a frustrating curse.  Consensus means that you talk until everyone honestly agrees to one decision.  This method can produce tremendous unity and high-quality decisions.  If misapplied, it can also be a horrible waste of time.  It should only be used with (1) high-stakes and complex issues or (2) issues where everyone absolutely must support the final choice.

How To Choose Which Decision Method to Use
Patterson, Grenny, McMillan and Switzler, outline how to choose which decision making method to use:

  1. Who cares?  Determine who genuinely wants to be involved in the decision along with those who will be affected.  These are your candidates for involvement.  Don’t involve people who don’t care.
  2. Who knows?  Identify who has the expertise you need to make the best decision.  Encourage these people to take part.  Try not to involve people who contribute to new information.
  3. Who must agree?  Think of those whose cooperation you might need in the form of authority of influence in any decisions you might make.  It’s better to involve these people than to surprise them and then suffer their open resistance.
  4. How many people is it worth involving?  Your goal should be to involve the fewest number of people while still considering the quality of the decision along with the support that people will give it.  Ask: “Do we have enough people to make a good choice?  Will others have to be involved to gain their commitment?”

Key Take Aways
Here's my key take aways:

  • Don't use command when you need consensus.  Don't use command for important decisions that need buy in.  Consensus would be more appropriate.
  • Use consult to make efficient, informed decisions.  Use consult to gain ideas and support without bogging down decision making.
  • Use vote if efficiency is the most important factor.  Use vote for efficiency and when everyone agrees to support the outcome of the vote.
  • Use consensus when you need everybody's buy in.  Use consensus when you need everybody to support an important decision.

My Related Posts

Ask, Mirror, Paraphrase and Prime

Ask, mirror, paraphrase and prime are four power listening skills.  In Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High, Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler write about asking, mirroring, paraphrasing and priming to build rapport, stay connected, and listen more effectively.

4 Power Listening Tools (AMPP)
AMPP stands for:

  • Ask.  Ask the other person what’s really going on.
  • Mirror.  Mirror means describe how the other person looks or acts (e.g. you seem upset, you seem angry at me). 
  • Paraphrase.  Paraphrase what you’ve heard using your own words.
  • Prime. Prime means take your best guess at what the other person might be thinking.

Ask to Get Things Rolling
To break a downward spiral, Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, and Switzler suggest invite the other person to talk about what’s really going on:

The easiest and most straightforward way to encourage others to share their Path to Action is simply to invite them to express themselves.  For example, often all it takes to break an impasse is to seek to understand other’s views.  When we show genuine interest, people feel less compelled to use silence or violence.

Mirror to Confirm Feelings
When another person’s tone of voice or gestures are inconsistent with their words, Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, and Switzler suggest “mirroring”:

When we mirror, as the name suggests, we hold a mirror up to the other person – describing how they look or act.  Although we may not understand other’s stories or facts, we can see their actions and get clues about their feelings.

Paraphrase to Acknowledge the Story
To build additional safety in the conversation, Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, and Switzler suggest paraphrasing what you’ve heard:

Asking and mirroring may help you get part of the other person’s story out into the open.  When you get a clue about why the person is feeling as he or she does, you can build additional safety by paraphrasing what you’ve heard.  Be careful not to simply parrot back what was said.  Instead, put the message in your own words – usually in an abbreviated form.

Prime When You’re Getting Nowhere
According to Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, and Switzler, consider priming when you think the other person still has something to share and they might do so with a little more effort on your part:

The power-listening term priming comes from the expression “priming the pump.”  If you’ve ever worked an old-fashioned hand pump, you understand the metaphor.  With a pump, you often have to pour some water into it to get it running.  Then it works just fine.  When it comes to power listening, sometimes you have to offer your best guess at what the other person is thinking or feeling.  You have to pour some meaning into the pool before the other person will do the same.

Key Take Aways
Here's my key take aways:

  • Ask the other person what's really going on.  Direct and effective.
  • Mirror back to the person what you see.   Reflect back what you see.
  • Paraphrase back in your own words.  Don't parrot back.  Use your own words to check what you've heard.
  • Prime the pump to get the dialogue flowing.  Share your best guess for what's going on to encourage the other person to open up.

My Related Posts

Agree, Build and Compare

What do you do when you disagree with another person’s stories or facts?    In Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High, Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler write about using your ABCs to agree, build and compare your views when you disagree with the other peron's facts or stories.

Remember Your ABCs 
Remember you’re ABCs:

  • Agree – agree when you agree.
  • Build – build when others leave out key pieces.
  • Compare – compare when you differ.

While you need to work through disagreements, start with an area of agreement.  Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, and Switzler  write:

So here’s the take-away.  If you completely agree with the other person’s path, say so and move on.  Agree when you agree.  Don’t turn an agreement into an argument.

If you agree with what’s been said but the information is incomplete, Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, and Switzler suggest building:

On the other hand, when you watch people who are skilled in dialogue, it becomes clear that they’re not playing this everyday game of Trivial Pursuit – looking for trivial differences and then proclaiming them aloud.  In fact, they’re looking for points of agreement.  As a result, they’ll often start with the words “I agree.”  Then they talk about the part they agree with.  At least, that’s where they start.

When you differ significantly, don’t suggest others are wrong.  Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, and Switzler suggest comparing your two views:

Finally, if you do disagree, compare your path with the other person’s.  That is, rather than suggesting that he or she is wrong, suggest that you differ.  He or she may, in fact, be wrong, but you don’t know for sure until you hear both sides of the story.  For now, you just know that the two of you differ.  So instead of pronouncing “Wrong!” start with a tentative but candid opening such as “I think I see things differently.  Let me describe how.”

Key Take Aways
Here’s my key take aways:

  • Agree when you agree.  State what you agree with.  This helps build rapport.
  • Build on what you agree with.   Start with what you agree with to build momentum.  Don’t focus on trivial flaws and blow them out of proportion.
  • Compare your views rather than state others are wrong.  To stay connected, get curious on how you see things differently.

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Sunday, August 3, 2008

Can Effectiveness Be Learned?

Can you learn to be effective?  In The Essential Drucker: The Best of Sixty Years of Peter Drucker's Essential Writings on Management, Peter F. Drucker writes that effectiveness is a habit and that you can improve through practice and examples.

If Effectiveness Were a Gift ...
Drucker writes that if effectiveness were a gift, our civilization would be highly vulnerable:

If effectiveness were a gift people were born with, the way they are born with a gift for music or an eye for painting, we would be in bad shape.  For we know that only a small minority is born with great gifts in any one of these areas.  We would therefore be reduced to trying to spot people with high potential for effectiveness early and to train them as best we know to develop their talent.  But we could hardly hope to find enough people for the executive tasks of modern society this way.  Indeed, if effectiveness were a gift, our present civilization would be highly vulnerable, if not untenable.  As a civilization  of large organizations it is dependent on a large supply of people capable of being executives with modicum of effectiveness.

How Do You Learn Effectiveness?
Drucker raises questions about learning effectiveness:

If effectiveness can be learned, however, the question arises:  What does it consist in?  What does one have to learn?  Of what kind is the learning?  Is it a knowledge -- and knowledge one learns in systematic form and through concepts?  Is it a skill that one learns as an apprentice?  Or is it a practice that one learns through doing the same elementary things over and over again?

Consulting and Effectiveness
According to Drucker, consultants are only effective consultants achieve results:

As a consultant, I work with executives in many organizations.  Effectiveness is crucial to me in two ways.  First, a consultant who by definition has no authority other than that of knowledge must himself be effective -- or else he is nothing.  Second, the most effective consultant depends on people within the client organization to get anything done.  Their effectiveness therefore determines in the last analysis whether a consultant contributes and achieves results, or whether he is pure "cost center" or at best a court jester.

There is No "Effective Personality"
According to Drucker, there is no "effective personality":

I soon learned there is no "effective personality."  The effective people I have seen differ widely in their temperaments and their abilities, in what they do and how they do it, in their personalities, their knowledge, their interests -- in fact, in almost everything that distinguishes human beings.  All they have in common is the ability to get the right things done.

Effectiveness is a Habit
According to Drucker, effectiveness is a habit:

Effectiveness, in other words, is a habit; that is, a complex of practices.  And practices can always be learned.  Practices are simple, deceptively so; even a seven-year-old has no difficulty in understanding a practice.  But practices are always exceedingly hard to do well.  They have to be acquired, as we all learn the multiplication table; that is, repeated ad nauseam until "x x 6 = 36" has become unthinking, conditiioned reflect, and firmly ingrained habit.  Practices on learns by practicing and practicing and practicing again.

Practice Your "Scales"
According to Drucker, you improve effectiveness through practice:

To every practice applies what my old piano teacher said to me in exasperation when I was a small boy.  "You will never play Mozart the way Arthur Schnabel does, but there is no reason in the world why you should not play your scales the way he does."  What the piano teacher forgot to add -- probably because it was so obvious to her -- is that even the great pianists could not play Mozart as they do unless they practices their scales, and kept on practicing them.

Practice Builds Competence, but Talent Builds Mastery
According to Drucker, practice will lead to competence, but won't necessarily lead to mastery:

There is, in other words, no reason why anyone with normal endowment should not acquire competence in any practice.  Mastery might well elude him; for that one might need special talents.  But what in effectiveness is competence.  what is needed are "the scales."

Key Take Aways
Here's my key take aways:

  • Effectiveness is the ability to get the right things done.
  • Effectiveness can be learned.
  • There is no "effective personality."
  • You improve your effectiveness through practice.
  • Make effectiveness a habit.
  • Practice will lead to competence, but not necessarily mastery.

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3 Answers for the Second Half of Life

How do you prepare for the second half of your life?  In The Essential Drucker: The Best of Sixty Years of Peter Drucker's Essential Writings on Management, Peter F. Drucker writes about 3 potential paths for the second half of your life.

3 Answers for the Second Half of Your Life
Drucker provides 3 answers for the second half of your life:

1.    Start a Second Career
2.    Develop a Parallel Career
3.    Become a “social entrepreneur”

Start a Second Career
According to Drucker, one path is to start a different career:

The first is actually to start  a second and different career.  Often this means only moving from one kind of organization to another.  Typical are the middle-level American business executives who in substantial numbers move to a hospital or university, or some other nonprofit organization, around age forty-five or forty-eight, when the children are grown and the retirement pension is vested.  In many cases they stay in the same kind of work.  The divisional controller in the big corporation becomes, for instance, controller in a medium-sized hospital.  But there are also a growing number of people who actually move into a different line of work.

Develop a Parallel Career
Drucker writes that another path is a parallel career:

A large and growing number of people – especially people who are very successful in their first careers – stay in the work they have been doing for twenty or twenty-five years.  Many keep on working forty or fifty hours a week in their main and paid job.  Some move from being busy full-time to being part-time employees or become consultants.  But then they create for themselves a parallel job – usually in a non-profit organization – and one that often takes another ten hours of work a week.

Become a “Social Entrepreneur”
Drucker writes another option is to start a non-profit activity:

And then, finally – the third answer – there are the “social entrepreneurs.”  These are usually people who have been very successful in their first profession, as businesspeople, as physicians, as consultants, as university professors.  They love their work, but it no longer challenges them.  In many cases they keep on doing what they have been doing all along, though they spend less and less of their time on it.  But they start another, and usually a nonprofit, activity.

People Who Manage the “Second Half” Will Be the Success Stories
Drucker suggests you can turn the long working-life expectancy into an opportunity for yourself and society:

People who manage the “second half” may always be a minority.  The majority may keep doing what they are doing now, that is, retire on the job, continue being bored, keeping on with their routine, and counting the years until retirement.  But it is this minority, the people who see the long working-life expectancy as an opportunity for themselves and for society, who will increasingly become the leaders and the models.  They, increasingly, will be the “success stories.”

Key Take Aways
Here's my key take aways:

  • Consider whether you'll want to start a second career, a parallel career, or become a "social entrepreneur."
  • Turn the second half of your life into an opportunity.
  • Test the paths you think you'll pick.