“Why you should really take a nap this afternoon . . . ” via The Week

Napping CowboyI always thought taking a nap was a luxury for the self-employed and the kiss of death for those who work for others … unless you are a quality assurance technician in a mattress factory, as the joke goes.

Apparently the joke is on me, because taking naps has definite and positive health and mortality effects.  The evidence continues to mount that we have been caught asleep at the wheel about sleeping.  

Review the article with related links below to learn more:  

Why you should really take a nap this afternoon, according to science – The Week.

Now the real questions of the day:

When will corporate America finally admit that sleeping on the job may not be all that bad an idea?

When will companies allow and eventually insist on naps to improve employee health and productivity?

Getting comfortable and lying down for a little snooze in the Heartland ….



Particularly Appropriate Today …


World Trade Center“We’ve got to live, no matter how many skies have fallen.”

D.H. Lawrence

(via Goodreads Quote of The Day)

I did not plan on posting anything about 9/11 today, since I knew that many other more articulate voices would be speaking about how the last 13 years have changed us.   Then I found this quote and it just hit a reality for most of us.  

Life goes on … not the same, but still  being lived out, whatever that means for each of us.  

So I will take a few minutes to remember and reflect …

Much posting today around the significance which this date holds.  I ignore the chauvinistic or hostile sentiments, but welcome reflection on what this type of on-going change means for each of us.  We need to pause and think about how the events then and since have affected us.

If you have some time and the heart, here’s a very thoughtful reflection on what this day means.  It leaves the flag-waving to others, but reminds us of how this day made our world a different place.

Remembering in the Heartland ….


Three “REAL” Values in “Overcoming Fake Talk” …

promo_02Overcoming Fake Talk by John R. Stoker is NOT

A sweeping new vision of business strategy.

An intricately designed model of human behavior.

A stirring account of leadership and creation of empire.

We already have books about fierce, crucial, difficult, and so on.  We know that conversations are art more than science and that they are important in our lives.  As I glance over the many titles of books from counseling, adult learning, leadership, human performance, training, and critical thinking (to say nothing of my extensive “Doonesbury” collection), I repeatedly and consistently see communication and all its parts reinforced as essential.

So why another book on communication?  

Maybe because we still do not practice what has been preached at us.  Maybe because we need reinforcement that communication is about more than just telling others what you want them to do.  Maybe because we need regular reminders of what we should already know.   Maybe because hearing something in a new and engaging way makes it stick.

John R. Stoker has the background, experience, and knowledge to be a very credible source of our continuing leadership education.

Stoker talks about an Interaction Style Model:  eight principles that neatly sum up the core components of talking (and listening) to others in a positive and collaborative fashion to create results.   His model stands above others with which I am familiar, because it is very well thought out, comprehensive, and presented clearly for maximum understanding. 

I am still absorbing this fascinating and enjoyable book, but here are three things I am already finding of value:


Stoker is visual and provides us with clear graphics to support his ideas.  Two related examples of his ability to create visual communication are on pages 59 and 79.  

Using our well-known 2×2 grid, Stoker shows us the relationships and continuum’s about people and task orientations, aggressive and passive behavior, and four primary types that flow out of this:  Builders, Initiators, Discoverers, and Connectors. 

Those who are familiar with the DiSC model will feel right at home, but Stoker adds richness and his own stamp to what in other hands might be stale material to these two graphs, which show the same basic information, but with nice variation.


Stoker has an ear for dialogue and the book is full of actual, quoted words and conversations to illustrate the points being made.  

This is no dry textbook or extended analytical article, but an engaging and useful series of vignettes where we actually see and hear (at least in our heads, unless we read aloud) real conversations. 

Stoker uses the acronym REAL in his book, and these conversations show this nicely:  authentic people speaking in authentic language.


Stoker is up-to-date and incorporates current thinking about neuroscience to explain how our brains work during discussions, why this is important, and how this knowledge informs our transformation into leaders who can create and engage in “real” conversations. 

In earlier times, we had inklings about what was effective, but did not always know how to explain why communication worked better in some ways than others. 

Now we can support effective practices more clearly and Stoker does so nicely, without overwhelming those of us who are less “technically” oriented.

I keep using the term “real”, but this book is about more than just the opposite of “fake” … REAL” conversation in Stoker’s world “is the process of creating dialogue” and includes the following:

1) Recognizing and Suspending to Uncover

2) Expressing Your Intention

3) Asking to Reveal

4  Listening and Attending to Connect 

(Stoker, 2014, p. 57)

Through the course of the book, Stoker explains each part in great and engaging detail.   Overcoming Fake Talk is just a very well-written and thorough book about making our conversations “REAL”

Actually, if you read and think about the practices outlined in this book, then put what you learned into action, you may actually find yourself creating sweeping business strategy, changing your view of human behavior, or finding your own voice for leadership and creation … or you may just find working with others to carry out your mutual goals a lot easier and more rewarding than you imagined.

I could tell you more about this exciting new addition to my library, but you need to discover the value in Overcoming Fake Talk yourself.   Let me just end by saying that this “fake” book is the real deal.

Having a blast reading and relaxing as summer ends slowly in the Heartland ….





promo_01For over 20 years, John R. Stoker has been facilitating and speaking to audiences, helping them to improve their thinking and communicating skills. He is an expert in communications who believes the human capacity to achieve astonishing results depends on the individual’s ability to interact with others.

John holds a Master’s Degree in Organizational Behavior as well as a J.D. Degree. His landmark book, Overcoming Fake Talk, is both entertaining and engaging, and it presents skills that help readers talk about what matters most.

In the past, John worked as a practicing criminal defense attorney, spent summers as a Grand Canyon white-water guide, and taught on the university level for 13 years. John has been happily married since 1994 and he and his wife Stephanie are the proud parents of five children.


Disclaimer:  I received a copy of this book for review before it was available for sale.  If you think a free book is enough to sway my professional considerations, I have a very large image problem with which I need to deal.

Four Thoughts on a Green and Wet Day …

Green and Wet Day

Carl Jung recently challenged me, as he so often does … “What did you do as a child that made the hours pass like minutes?”             

He adds “Therein lies the key to your earthly pursuits.”

My initial reaction to the second line was “Yeah, right …” (intoned with a light veneer of grown-up sarcasm.  After all, most of the specific things I do now were not in existence when I was a child.  No Internet, no video games, darned little real variety on television, and not much to do on a small farm in Northeast Missouri.

Yes, sometimes I give in to nostalgia and wish I were back on the farm, where life was relatively simple and predictable, if also containing a fair amount of hard work in sometimes very uncomfortable environments (think heat, cold, wind, rain, and lack of sleep).  The adult me understands that we truly cannot go home again, that was then and this is now, and all the other trite but accurate things we say about things nostalgic.

So what’s left?  The stuff that transcends popular culture, the environment of the minute, and technology …

 After a little more thinking, here’s what I remember from then that still moves me now …

1)  I DREAM …

My favorite childhood memory:  Lying on the un-mown lawn of my grandmother’s house, just down the road, on a warm and breezy summer day, gazing up at the clouds, the birds, the treetops, and the occasional plane.  Sometimes thinking about the shapes or the sensations, but sometimes just letting my thoughts go wherever they would go.

I have not laid on that hallowed ground for many years, but I still like to stretch out, breath deep, and look up …

2) I LEARN …

I loved school as a young boy.  This may come as a shock to some of my teachers and to all the principals who knew me, but I still enjoy the thrill of learning a new thing.  Most of my adult life has been spent either as a student or a teacher/facilitator/coach, so learning environments are comfortable ground for me.

Curiosity is possibly the most valuable asset I possess …

3) I READ …

My earliest adult “friends” were the librarians in our small town.  They knew me well, guided me with a loving hand, and allowed me to experience the treasures of reading at levels beyond my chronological and psychological age.  I was exposed to that much richer world at an early age and have never stopped absorbing the written word.  

When I walk into a book store or a library, I am in Heaven …

4) I WRITE …

This one surprised me, because I tend to focus on my role as a consumer of written things, not as a creator.  However, the evidence is clear that through the years, I have found much pleasure in writing, whether the purpose has been to instruct, inform, entertain, or simply for my own enjoyment.

Whether I write for accuracy, entertainment, or engagement, I am happiest when my fingers are moving on the keyboard …

Well, that’s my best shot at how to respond to the challenge of Jung’s words. 




Remembering past hot and sunny summer days on this wet and rainy day in the Heartland ….


Guest Post: “Must Wins” by Mark Miller

promo_04Today’s guest post is from Mark Miller, co-author of “The Secret:  What Great Leaders Know and Do”.  This post was originally published on Monday, June 9, 2014 at www.greatleadersserve.org

I’ll have more to say myself about this great anniversary edition, but for now, here’s Mark with some solid leadership thinking …



Have you started working on your 2015 plans for your organization? If not, it’s probably time. Where should you begin? One approach is to determine what’s most critical for your organization to accomplish in the coming years.

I attended a meeting recently in which someone shared the “Must Wins” for their department. After listening for a few minutes, I realized, he was describing what I’ve historically called organizational priorities. His language is far better than mine. To describe something as a “Must Win” gives it importance and urgency.

Here’s a working definition of a “Must Win…”

A statement of strategic intent critical to the health and future success of your organization; substantive enough to require 12 – 60 months of focused attention and deserving of disproportionate time, energy and financial support.

A “Must Win” is not a tactic or a program, nor is it a goal – although there should be metrics established to monitor your progress. It is about closing gaps or seizing opportunities to fundamentally strengthen your organization.

Here are some examples:

1. We must improve our retention among hourly team members.

2. We must meet our quality requirements more consistently.

3. We must establish a successful west coast presence.

4. We must create products and services to reach new customers.

5. We must find new ways to reduce costs across all divisions.

6. We must increase repeat business from our existing customer base.

7. We must develop the business acumen of our people.

8. We must create a leadership culture.

How do you determine what your “Must Wins” should be? That will require a blend of research, hard work, heated debates and a good measure of leadership intuition.

Here are a few questions that may help…

· If a new leadership team took over our organization today, what are the first three things they would do?

· If this new leadership team were creating their 3-year plan, what would they deem most critical?

· If you could eliminate one competitive threat over the next 36 months, what would we choose?

· What could you do to create significant competitive advantage?

· Where are we falling behind our competitors?

· If you were not worried about the difficulty involved, what is the one strategic priority you would certainly embrace?

· What is the most significant gap you need to address over the next 36 months in your organization?

· What should you do if we want to fundamentally strengthen your organization for the next decade?

· If you could only have one strategic initiative for the next 5 years, what would you choose? (You’re certainly not limited to one, but the thought you might be, should force some thoughtful conversations.)

These, and other questions like them, should always be on our mind. Not only are leaders the architects of the future, we set the strategic direction for our organizations. A successful organization cannot do everything – “Must Wins” help us know what we must do.

The future begins today!

clip_image002Mark Miller, Vice President of Organizational Effectiveness for Chick-fil-A, believes that leadership is not something that’s exclusive; within the grasp of an elite few, but beyond the reach of everyone else.  In the tenth anniversary edition of The Secret, Miller reminds readers of a seemingly contradictory concept: to lead is to serve. With more than 600,000 books in print, Mark has been surprised by the response and delighted to serve leaders through his writing.

The 10th anniversary edition of The Secret will be released September 2, 2014.