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How to be Unremarkably Average

From The Art of Non-Conformity:

How to be unremarkably average:

  1. Accept what others tell you at face value.
  2. Don’t question authority.
  3. Go to college because you’re supposed to, not because you want to learn something.
  4. Never attempt to learn another language.
  5. Think about starting a business but never do it.
  6. Think about writing a book, but never do it.
  7. Get the largest mortgage you qualify for and spend 30 years paying for it.
  8. Sit at a desk 40 hours a week for an average of 10 hours of productive work.
  9. Never stand out from the crowd and never draw attention to yourself.
  10. Willingly check off boxes and jump through hoops.

 

The Parable of Dysfunction

Please refer to Figure 1 for the following parable:

There once was a man named Jacob who worked for a man named Andrew.

One day Andrew’s peer, Ben, asked Jacob to create a new report for him.

Jacob sent a draft to Ben asking for feedback.

Three days later, Jacob received an email from Alex, who works for Cullen who works for Ben asking him questions about the report. The email thread started with Ben asking Cullen to deal with Jacob’s email. That email was fowarded to Alex from Cullen with no further instructions.

Figure 1 – Organization Chart

If this sounds like your organization, please consider how your communication style impacts the efficiency of your operation and consider how frustrating it is for your employees to do their job effectively.

God Wink

I recently read Squire Rushnell’s When God Winks at You. Within days of finishing the book, a friend (let’s call him Paul)  shared a story with me that made me exclaim, “You know what that was? That was a God wink!”

Paul comes from a very close-knit family. His 42-year old uncle is dying of cancer. He was admitted to a cancer center in another state several weeks ago. Paul has been given a great deal of responsibility including the medical power of attorney for his uncle. In addition, he is helping to support his cousins financially as well as serving as the emotional bedrock that the entire family seems to lean on.

The last few months have been emotionally draining as his uncle’s body refused to respond to all traditional treatments. The doctors recently attempted an experimental treatment that, essentially will either heal him or kill him.

A couple weeks ago, Paul made the 10-hour drive to the cancer center to visit his uncle. The day that Paul arrived, his grandfather (the sick uncle’s older brother and Paul’s father-figure) was celebrating his birthday. No one expected the uncle to live past that day.

Paul admitted that he was mad at God. He scolded God thinking, “how can you take my uncle on grand dad’s birthday?” “How can you put my aunt and uncle through this? They have served you loyally for decades and this is the thanks they get!”

Then a strange thing happened. One of the first people Paul met at the center was the mother of his uncle’s next door neighbor. She was there comforting her daughter who was dying as well. When the woman met Paul, she shook his hand and said, “I have been praying for you, your family and your uncle for weeks”. In that moment, Paul’s heart sank as he realized how angry he was.

I believe God winked at Paul at that moment through that woman.

His uncle is still struggling for his life and, most likely, will lose his fight in the coming days but I hope Paul will carry the memory of that wink with him in his pocket and pull it out in times of tumoil.

www.Clarity-Coaching.biz |  www.TheTermiteEffect.com

Seven Characteristics of a Successful Personality

I just finished reading the classic self-help book Psycho-Cybernetics by Dr. Maxwell Maltz. He outlines the following seven characteristics of a successful personality:

#1 – Sense of direction – Be goal-driven, always looking forward, always striving for something.

#2 – Understanding – Focus on your communication skills. Realize that people react to things based on their understanding of a situation. Walk in others’ shoes.

#3 – Courage – Take calculated risks. Standing still is the enemy. Risk failure. Risk being humiliated.

#4 – Charity – Have an interest in and regard for other people. Everyone deserves respect. Think of other’s needs and desires.

#5 – Self-Esteem – A low opinion of yourself is not a virtue, it is a vice. The people who become offended the easiest, have the lowest self-esteem. Low self-esteem breeds jealousy of others. Recognize when you doubt your own worth. Appreciate yourself for who you are. You are unique.

#6 – Confidence – Success breeds success. Remember past successes and forget failures. Learn from failures and move forward.

#7 – Self-Acceptance – Come to terms with who you are. Don’t identify yourself with your mistakes? Tolerate imperfections in yourself but don’t dwell on them. Dr. Maltz explains, we may not be perfect but repeat to yourself,  “I am something and I will make the most of that something”.

www.Clarity-Coaching.biz |  www.TheTermiteEffect.com

Shawn Brodof
President and Head Coach of Clarity Coaching

The One Minute Manager

I recently re-read The One Minute Manager (Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson, M.D.). This classic first published in 1982, should be required reading for all leaders including those in the marketplace, parents and those in ministry.

Below is a synopsis of the lessons taught in the book:

  • Set one minute goals
  • Give one minute praises
  • Give one minute reprimands
  • Ask brief, pointed questions
  • Speak the simple truth
  • Laugh, work and enjoy
  • Encourage those whom you work with to do the same

www.Clarity-Coaching.biz |  www.TheTermiteEffect.com

Shawn Brodof
President and Head Coach of Clarity Coaching

Do You Carry Donkeys?

Do you spend time concerned with what other people think about you? I recently came across an expression and a story both of which display the futility of doing such:

At 20 years old you wonder what other people think about you.

At 40 you don’t care what they think.

At 60 you realize that no one was thinking about you all along.

———————————-

A grandfather and his grandson are going into town.  The grandson is riding the donkey and the grandfather is walking.  They passed two people walking in the other direction. As they passed, they heard them say, “look at that inconsiderate young man riding the donkey while his grandfather walks”.  So they switched places.

Someone else passed them and said, “look at that mean old man, making the little kid walk while he rides”.

Then they both got on the donkey and the next person said, “look at those two inconsiderate people weighing down that donkey”.

So they entered town carrying the donkey.

How many donkeys have you carried recently?

www.Clarity-Coaching.biz |  www.TheTermiteEffect.com

Shawn Brodof
President and Head Coach of Clarity Coaching

Should I Start My Own Business

In challenging economic times such as the ones we are living through today with high unemployment and stagnant growth, many people are contemplating starting their own business.

A friend of mine, who has spent much of his career in Corporate America, recently asked me if I thought he should start his own business rather than try and get back into the corporate game. Below is the Cliff Notes version of that conversation:

Owning your own business is GREAT! It provides you with an outlet for creativity unlike anything you will find in the corporate arena where you most often find bureaucratic, turf-driven, hierarchical environments unresponsive and unimpressed with anything that resides outside-the-box.

You must understand your strengths and weaknesses before making such an important decision. While the corporate world serves a great purpose for millions of employees and millions of consumers of their products and services, everyone is NOT made for it.  Some people are just wired differently and need to be out on their own. I gave my friend a copy of Michael Gerber’s small business classic book, The E-Myth Revisited, and walked him through the three personalities: The Entrepreneur, The Manager and The Technician. I explained that, according to Gerber, the average person is 10% Entrepreneur, 20% Manager and 70% Technician. If your personality weighs heavily toward The Entrepreneur side of the scale, you can rest assured that you are not wired for the corporate world. The Manager and Technician can survive that environment as long as they keep their Entrepreneur in check.

I also pointed my friend to another fantastic barometer of your entrepreneurial aptitude, the Kolbe A™ Index/Instinct Test, which articulates four styles – Quick-Start, Fact-Finder, Follow-Through and Implementer.  Those people who find themselves on the high end of either the Quick-Start or Implementer scale are probably not well suited for a life of nine-hour workdays in a cubicle. The other two styles can survive and even thrive in that environment.

I made sure he had no illusions about starting his own business explaining that it is NOT easy. On the contrary, it is EXTREMELY DIFFICULT with astronomically high failure rates.  I counseled him to contemplate the decision carefully and advised him to choose a business that he is truly passionate about as that passion will keep him going during the tough times.

I recommended that he have two years worth of living expenses saved up before taking the plunge and, finally, I told him he MUST be willing and prepared to work harder than he ever has before.

www.Clarity-Coaching.bizwww.TheTermiteEffect.com

Shawn Brodof
President and Head Coach of Clarity Coaching

Half Empty or Half Full?

There once was a woman who woke up one morning, looked in the mirror, and noticed she had only three hairs on her head. “Well,” she said, “I think I’ll braid my hair today.” So she did and she had a wonderful day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and saw that she had only two hairs on her head. “Hmmm..,” she said, “I think I’ll part my hair down the middle today.” So she did and she had a grand day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and noticed that she had only one hair on her head. “Well,” she said, “Today I’m going to wear my hair in a pony tail.” So she did, and she had a fun, fun day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and noticed that there wasn’t a single hair on her head. “YAY!” she exclaimed. “I don’t have to fix my hair today!”

Is your glass half empty or half full?

www.Clarity-Coaching.biz | www.TheTermiteEffect.com

Shawn Brodof
President and Head Coach of Clarity Coaching

Idea Journal

Over the years, I noticed that many of the people I respect most maintain the habit of journaling. Some of them capture their thoughts in prayer journals while others use it as a diary of sorts. Personally, I started journaling about five years ago. I fill mine mostly with observations about life, work and politics along with a healthy dose of my favorite quotes.

Last year, I gave my oldest child a blank notebook. On the outside cover I wrote, “Idea Journal”. I wanted her to have a place to capture her creative ideas which, at that point, ranged from a new tee-shirt design for her school, an advertising idea for a local soccer club and a drink cart at the beach. My assumption is that, if she continues to journal for a period of years, at some point, one of her ideas will pay for my nursing home bill.

On a serious note, I believe all of us are gifted with some level of creativity, however, I also believe that the majority of people squander this gift. The simple habit of jotting down your thoughts and ideas over time can end up being a treasure-trove of future wisdom. If it never serves you, perhaps the next generation will be the beneficiary.

Regardless of your station in life: student, employee, entrepreneur, stay-at-home-parent, dreamer, I encourage you to develop the habit of capturing your observations and ideas in a journal of some sort (regardless how insignificant they seem to be). Commit to reviewing your writings periodically as that process will encourage your mind to build on your old ideas and help you identify new opportunities in the marketplace.

www.Clarity-Coaching.biz |  www.TheTermiteEffect.com

Shawn Brodof
President and Head Coach of Clarity Coaching

Winnie the Pooh School of Personalities

In a recent devotional, Kay Warren author of Choose Joy: Because Happiness Isn’t Enough, shared an interesting personality test that I would like to share with you. She calls it the Winnie the Pooh School of Personalities.

Which one sounds like you?

Tiggers:

Tiggers are bouncy, flouncy, trouncy, pouncy, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun! They bounce through life with a spring in their step. They laugh loudly at parties (I’ve decided they do everything loudly), they tell jokes, and they think everyone is their best friend. Even if they can’t remember your name, you’re their best friend. Of course, joy comes easily to them — right?

Winnie the Poohs:

These gentle folks never get too excited about anything, but they usually have a pleasant look on their faces. They tend to have a hard time making up their minds about anything. They are usually happy to let someone else make the decisions. You ask them about going to lunch, and they respond with, “Oh, you decide.”

Rabbits:

Rabbits are the task-masters of this world. Get it done, get it done right, and get it done now! Rabbits have a to-do list the size of Montana, and they don’t let much get in their way. They’re usually not the people you want to talk to if you’re having a rough day. They’re likely to tell you to “just deal with it.” Not so sure that rabbits experience much joy. If they do, it’s usually related to the completion of a task!

Eeyores:

This is my favorite personality type. Eeyores are intense, serious people. They have their own personal, little rain cloud over their heads all the time. They feel things deeply and express things deeply. They get quite annoyed at all those stupid Tiggers who won’t stop smiling! Joy seems pretty elusive for the Eeyores of this world.

www.TheTermiteEffect.com |  www.Clarity-Coaching.biz

Shawn Brodof
President and Head Coach of Clarity Coaching