Why Ask “Why”? …


Why is a dangerous question

Well, the first response to the title might be “Why Not?”, but we need to go deeper.  I think many of us are searching these days, although not for the same reasons or with the same goals …

We are not at the beginning of our careers, relationships, or life, but somewhere in the middle of all this.  We have accomplished things, experienced life, created memories, and learned a bit about ourselves and how we are. 

Now we wonder, for a variety of reasons and with consideration of our individual backgrounds, history, experiences, attitudes, beliefs, and so on … 

WHAT’S NEXT …?

Continue reading

Some “Thinking” About “Ing” …


Christopher Morley - PD - 12 31 1931 Library of Congress“There are three ingredients in the good life:  Learning, earning, and yearning.”

Christopher Morley

Morley also spent a fair amount of time during his life doing one other very good thing:  “Thinking”.

As leaders, we often spend a significant amount of time doing things.  Our “ …ings” can drive our behavior, our attitudes, and our relationships, while eating up the largest part of our energy and ability.  

We owe it to ourselves and those we lead to spend some time contemplating what we are “doing”. Continue reading

“Fill ‘Er Up” …


Service Station“A motorist saw a sign “Bob’s Service Station –  Last Chance for Seventy-Cent Gas –  State Line One Mile Ahead”.

He stopped and had his tank fillled, then asked “How much is gas across the state line?”.

Answered the attendant “Sixty-five cents”

Source:  Anonymous and from memory

Okay, this probably apocryphal story is obviously set in a time long ago, which remains now only in some of our memories. 

Gas prices under a dollar a gallon?

… had his tank filled …” as in not self-service?

The trip was not planned using MapQuest, Google, and all the other fascinating apps we have now to help us do just about everything?

Sigh …Grandpa, tell me again about the olden days …

While we may not be rooked into paying more for gas now, we still tend to make the larger thinking errors indicated by this quaint and slightly dated story.  

I am going to make three useful observations about this little story that still help us in today’s much more expensive , volatile, and highly political world.  Whether you are entering the work force, in the middle of your career, contemplating the new “retirement”, or just trying to get along every day, remember these things to engage your critical thinking skills:

1)  Be careful about what you read and react to … sometimes it’s not what is said, but what is not said.

Notice that the sign contained NO misleading or incorrect information.  The thinking errors occured in the driver’s mind, not in the communication they received.

We judge others based on superficial aspects, such as appearance, voice, culture, and setting, and not do the hard work of getting to know the person.  This results in massive misuse or simple non-use of potential in our teams, organizations, and society.

2)  Do not assume, which we have all heard before and yet still fall into doing on a regular basis. 

Making assumptions is hard to avoid in this world, especially given the sophistication of technologically-driven mass communication, the dizzying speed of social and organizational change, and just the sheer volume of information with which we are “pelted” every single day.

Our bias for action encourages us to make assumptions, fed by well-meaning folks who forget Cheryl Bachelder’s caution to us that “Action does NOT equal results” in every case.  We do not always insist on having the time to not rely on assumptions.

3)  Whether considering where to  stop for gas or what career move to make, you always need to ask questions.

Questions, well-phrased and intentional, are golden arrows which fly to the heart of our goals and objectives.

When you ask the right question to the right person at the right time … well, things just seem to go more smoothly then, don’t they:).

Think about all this next time you fill up the old Hupmobile or family truckster.

Meanwhile, I am giving thanks that I have a car for which I pay outrageous gas prices to keep it filled in the Heartland ….

John

 

Image:  Wikipedia page on “service stations”

World Philosophy Day 2014 – UNESCO


 PhilosophyToday is World Philosophy Day … a day devoted to thinking about thinking …

Philosophy is one of those much-maligned notions … we often misunderstand or simply do not recognize the centrality of our philosophies to how we live.  Too often, we run screaming from anything that smacks of a philosophical nature, a looking at a thing or a concept from a meta-view.  Sometimes being philosophical equates to being hard to understand, even when the best philosophy is as clear as clean water.

I have a new philosophy. I’m only going to dread one day at a time.

Charles M. Schulz

For some, philosophy equates to religion or spirituality, although it is not just that.  Our religious beliefs will reflect our philosophies around ourself and others, but philosophy also addresses non-religious issues.

For others, philosophy represents a wasting of time pondering “mushy” things, and not getting on with the business of living.  I blame philosophers for this one, since sometimes the philosophic among us take guilty pleasure in being mysterious through unclear or mystic thoughts, apparent only to them. 

Philosophy is common sense with big words.

James Madison

For too many, philosophy is idle consideration of minutiae and trivialities.  Philosophy can be sidetracked by interesting, but not universal questions and we sometimes just plain take refuge in considering the philosophy of a thing, rather than living that thing.

Philosophy often seems inaccessible or confusing, or at least it did when I studied it in formal education.  However, I have found that the consideration and creation of a personal philosophy, combined with the evaluation of jointly held philosophies to be the most important elements of my life.  

Insert your own closely held belief about life here:)

Our philosophy determines our lives.  

For much more about this day, click HERE.

Feeling rather thoughtful in the Heartland ….

John 

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:

1)  AN EYE FOR LEARNING . .. 

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.

2)  AN EAR FOR LEARNING . . .

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.

3)  A BRAIN FOR LEARNING . . .

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 ….

John

 

 

ABOUT JOHN STOKER:

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.