“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 ….


Rolling Over the Bumps . . .

Road with pebbles

A person without a sense of humor is like a wagon without springs.  It’s jolted by every pebble on the road.”

Henry Ward Beecher

Not sure I can add much to this thought …

Everyone has pebbles in the road.

If you have ever stepped barefoot on a sharp pebble, you know that the effect is all out of proportion to the size of that little stone. 

People who can laugh at their failures, mistakes, and the assorted “bumps’ of life seem to be healthier mentally and more resilient than those who fall into disbelief and doubt.

Sometimes crying or laughing are the only options left, and laughing feels better right now.”
Veronica Roth, Divergent

This shows up in leadership situations when a leader does not have the ability to laugh at themselves.   Not laugh at others or at a situation, but at themselves. 

We are rather foolish creatures, pretending to ourselves that what we do at work is the ultimate achievement of our lives.   Now work is important and can be the source of pride, energy, and self-worth.   A good day’s work is nothing to smirk at and a life of service to others is a noble thing.

However, even those of us who approach sainthood need to maintain a whimsical perspective.  Those who we serve depend on us to provide stability and relief in the midst of sometimes very difficult situations.

If we take ourselves too seriously, we are so busy trying to be stalwart that we forget to laugh it off a bit, even when we know this helps …

“The human race has only one really effective weapon and that is laughter.”
Mark Twain

Note:  This is not to dismiss or diminish the impact of real life issues to us.  When we suffer the loss of a family member or friend, have significant health issues, or

are buffeted by the economic, psychological, or emotional storms of life, we have real stress which which we must deal.

The question remains:  How will we deal with that stress?

If we couldn’t laugh we would all go insane.”
Robert Frost

Me Acting The FoolLetting a small smile brighten my visage as I choose 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 ….