Category: Positive Psychology

Perseverance: Overcoming Challenges…One Step at a Time

On May 21st, I’ll be one of the guest speakers at the Toastmasters International (Aloha District 49) 2011 Spring Conference. While I’m not a member of Toastmasters International, it is widely known that it’s THE club to join if you want to develop your presentation, speaking and leadership skills. When I was first approached by a client of mine (for whom we did staff training) to speak at this conference, I felt honored, but a little apprehensive at the same time. For me, speaking in front of a group composed of ambitious people who are there because they are actually interested in becoming better speakers was a bit intimidating.  Nevertheless, I’m excited and looking forward to it as a “shared” experience–I’m going to share my “school of hard knocks” perspective on perseverance and learn from them, as well as their other slated speakers. In fact, Toastmasters has already taught me a few things. In perusing their website, I found their “10 Tips for Public Speaking”. Here’s what tips nine and ten have to say: “…concentrate on your message and your audience”, and “…your speech should represent you — as an authority and as a person.” Just the appropriate advice I needed…

Transform Your Life: Be a Little Kinder

In my very last article, I shared a little bit about our most recent training/consulting project, in which we worked with a great bunch of analytical-minded engineers and architects. What surprised me greatly was their repeated response to, “What characteristics of a team contribute to quality service in an organization?” Interestingly enough, more than one participant cited the importance of “kindness” in providing top-tier service to their internal/external customers. We did not expect this from such a stereotypically “un-touchy-feely” group. But research indicates that they were right on track.

The significance of kindness transcends the workplace. In her book, A Standard of Kindness: Producing Goodness”, Dr. Linda Andrade Wheeler points out:

“The kind of person you are, and how you behave and treat others will determine what kind of world we will live in. We have seen the destructive outcomes when people have forgotten what it means to be kind to others. Your kindness toward others can be the starting point in bringing about goodness and peace wherever you may be–at home at school, at work, or in your community. You are a unique person, with special gifts. You have much to give others.”

This little book can keep this message alive for the rest of your life. It also makes a wonderful gift for any occasion. One of my early business mentors, Mac Anderson, (founder of Successories) stated it well:

“This is the paradox of the power of kindness. It doesn’t feel powerful at all. In fact, it almost feels too simple to be important. Kindness, more than anything, is an attitude that brings us back to the simplicity of being. It is also the one way you can be assured of making a difference with your life.”

Consider the following story that Mac shared with me, which exemplifies the power of kindness. He wrote:

The year was 1863, on a spring day in Northern Pennsylvania. A poor boy was selling goods door to door to pay his way through school. He realized he had only a dime left, and that he was hungry. So he decided he would ask for a meal at the next house. However, he lost his nerve when a lovely young woman opened the door.Instead of a meal, he asked for a drink of water. She thought he looked hungry and so she brought him a large glass of milk. He drank it slowly, and then asked, “How much do I owe you?”

“You don’t owe me anything,” she replied. “Mother has taught us never to accept pay for a kindness.” He said, “Then I thank you from my heart.” As Howard Kelly left that house, he not only felt stronger physically, but his faith in God and man was strengthened also. He had been ready to give up and quit.

Years later, that young woman became critically ill. The local doctors were baffled. They finally sent her to the big city, where they called in specialists to study her rare disease.

Dr. Howard Kelly was called in for the consultation. When he heard the name of the town she came from, he went down the hall of the hospital to her room. Dressed in his doctor’s gown, he went in to see her. He recognized her at once. He went back to the consultation room determined to do his best to save her life. From that day, he gave special attention to the case.

After a long struggle, the battle was won. Dr. Kelly requested from the business office to pass the final billing to him for approval. He looked at it, then wrote something on the edge, and the bill was sent to her room. She feared to open it, for she was sure it would take the rest of her life to pay for it all. Finally, she looked, and something caught her attention on the side of the bill. She read these words:

“PAID IN FULL WITH ONE GLASS OF MILK…”

(Signed)
Dr. Howard Kelly*

*Dr. Howard Kelly was a distinguished physician who, in 1895, founded the Johns Hopkins Division of Gynecologic Oncology at Johns Hopkins University. According to Dr. Kelly’s biographer, Audrey Davis, the doctor was on a walking trip through Northern Pennsylvania one spring day when he stopped by a farm house for a drink of water.

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”

Leo Buscaglia

Finally, I leave you with a thought from the great English writer, Aldous Huxley. Best known for his novels including Brave New World, Mr. Huxley was also a pioneer in the study of techniques to develop human potential.

In a lecture toward the end of his life, he said this: “People often ask me…what is the most effective technique for transforming their lives?” He then said, “It’s a little embarrassing that after years and years of research, my best answer is – just be a little kinder.

No Goose Left Behind…

The following post comes from an ongoing training/consulting project we have with a large client organization here in Hawaii. We are in the midst of developing the custom-designed training curriculum, which began with a strategic planning and leadership training session. The Story of The Geese is a part of our “teamwork” module. It provides a perfect example of the importance of teamwork and how it can have such a profound effect on a team.

The Story of The Geese

This fall when you see geese heading south for the winter flying along in the “V” formation, you might consider what science has discovered as to why they fly that way.

Fact

As each bird flaps its wings, it creates an “uplift” for the bird immediately following it. By flying in a “V” formation, the whole flock adds at least 71 % greater flying range than if each bird flew on its own.

Fact

Whenever a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to go through it alone. It quickly gets back into the formation to take advantage of the “lifting” power of the bird in front of it.

Lesson

If we have as much common sense as a goose, we will stay in formation and share information with those who are headed the way we want to go. We should be willing to accept their help and give our help to others. It is harder to do something alone than together!

Fact

When the lead goose gets tired, it rotates back into the formation. Another goose takes over and flies to the point position.

Lesson

It is sensible to take turns to do the hard and demanding tasks. It pays to share leadership. As with geese, people are interdependent on each other’s skills, capabilities, and unique arrangements of gifts, talents, or resources.

Fact

The geese flying in formation honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.

Lesson

People who are part of a team and share a common direction as well as a sense of community can get where they are going more quickly and easily because they are traveling on the thrust of one another and lift each other up along the way.

The Importance of Encouragement

We need to make sure our honking is encouraging – Words of support and inspiration help energize those on the front line, helping them to keep pace in spite of the day-to-day pressures and fatigue. In groups and teams where there is encouragement, production is much greater. ‘Individual empowerment results from quality honking’.

Fact

When a goose gets sick, wounded, or shot down, two other geese will drop out of formation with that goose and follow it down to lend help and protection. They stay with the fallen goose until it dies or is able to fly again. Then, they launch out on their own, or with another formation to catch up with their flock.

The Importance of Empathy and Understanding

Albert Schweitzer tells the story of a flock of wild geese that had settled to rest on a pond. One of the flock had been captured by a gardener, who had clipped its wings before releasing it. When the geese started to resume their flight, this one tried frantically, but vainly, to lift itself into the air. The others, observing his struggles, flew about in obvious efforts to encourage him; but it was no use.

Thereupon, the entire flock settled back on the pond and waited, even though the urge to go on was strong within them. For several days they waited until the damaged feathers had grown sufficiently to permit the goose to fly. Meanwhile, the unethical gardener, having been converted by the ethical geese, gladly watched them as they finally rose together and all resumed their long flight. For this reason, I aptly named this article: “No Goose Left Behind”.

Finally, if we have the sense of a goose, we will stand by our team members in the good, as well as, the challenging times. So, the next time you see a formation of geese, remember…it is a REWARD, a CHALLENGE and a PRIVILEGE to be a CONTRIBUTING MEMBER of a TEAM.

A Really Simple, Guaranteed Formula for Success

Quality guru and bestselling management author (“In Search of Excellence”), Tom Peters, recounts the story of a man who approached robber baron and American financer  J. P. Morgan with an envelope, and said:

“Sir, in my hand I hold a guaranteed formula for success, which I will gladly sell you for $25,000.”

“Sir,” J. Pierrepont replied, “I do not know what is in the envelope. However, if you show me, and I like it, I give you my word as a gentleman that I will pay you what you ask.” The man agreed to the terms, and handed over the envelope. Morgan opened it, and pulled out a single sheet of paper. He gave it one look – a mere glance – then handed it back to the gentleman. And then he paid him the agreed-upon amount of $25,000! On that sheet of paper, were two things:

1. Every morning, write down a list of the things that need to be done that day.
2. Do them.

Clearly J.P. Morgan benefited handsomely from this advice. The point of this anecdote is that you can too. Oftentimes, we ourselves know what we must do. Yet, just simply knowing what needs to get done is the easy part. If you’re like me, you have your list of things to do. It represents our action items, plans and declarations. But taking action is the tough stuff. When you think about it, that’s the trademark of every successful person.

“If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it.”

-Lucille Ball

We all know that it’s easier said than done. Ultimately, we have to just do it and taking baby steps daily is a great start.

The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack in will.
Vince Lombardi

In his book, “The Common Denominator of Success”, Albert Gray says, “The common denominator of success–the secret of success of every man who has ever been successful–lies in the fact that he formed the habit of doing things that failures don’t like to do.”

As the $25,000 solution illustrates, one needs to keep it simple, but taking action and “doing things that failures don’t like to do” is the trait successful people share.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
Lao-tzu, The Way of Lao-tzu
Chinese philosopher (604 BC – 531 BC)

Life Lessons from the “Wizard of Westwood”

“Success is a peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.” –Coach John Wooden

I vividly recall my mom, Dr. Linda Andrade Wheeler, preparing for one of the many corporate training seminars she did when we partnered in business together at The Human Connection, Inc. It was in the early 90’s and one of the handouts to be shared with seminar participants was legendary Coach John Wooden’s, “Pyramid of Success” motivational program (a faded copy still remains in my research file, but here’s a new, printable PDF). Wooden tied success not to achievement, wealth or fame, but to how close a person came to their potential.

In essence, the Pyramid of Success consists of philosophical building blocks for winning at basketball and at life. According to John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success, there are 12 lessons in leadership. At the summit of the pyramid is “success”. Each of the blocks represents a trait that a person must possess in order to become successful in life just like in playing a basketball game. At the time, as a recent Bruin graduate (1989), I was both intrigued and proud to be remotely associated–however indirectly–with such a legendary motivator and strong Christian. During his long tenure with the Bruins, Coach Wooden became affectionately known as the “Wizard of Westwood. Continue reading

The Five “Wheeler Points”…by Elmer Wheeler

Click Here to view a short video by Elmer Wheeler. The YouTube video of Elmer Wheeler is of him presenting his 5 'Wheeler' points on how to increase your sales and profits. What an era this was and a classic it produced...to your success!

First of all, in the spirit of disclosure and to be clear, Elmer Wheeler and I are unrelated, irrespective of our last names. Nevertheless, his ideas are as applicable today as when he wrote them more than 70 years ago.

“Sell the Steak, not the Sizzle!”

You won’t find this long-lost marketing classic at your neighborhood bookstore, they’re out of print and rare to find–anywhere! But you certainly CAN find it here! See below for a sneak peek at the first chapter of this book. Order by clicking here: “Tested Sentences that Sell”

In his book, “Tested Sentences that Sell”, Wheeler summarizes the findings from his “Wheeler Word Laboratory”–measuring the effectiveness of certain words and using them strategically to boost sales results. Among the most notable is Wheelerpoint#1, “Sell the Steak, not the Sizzle!”–the biggest selling point in your entire sales proposition.

In the video below, Wheeler summarizes his 5 Wheeler Points.

Also, after checking out this old training video, click ElmerWheeler.Book and attached you will find a snippet of Tested Sentences that Sell–the first chapter from his book for your review in pdf format. If you feel like I did, that this book should be a part of your library, then click here to get it now! “Tested Sentences that Sell”

Here’s to your success!

M. Garrett Wheeler

Resiliency and Getting Things Done®

In a recent seminar based on her book, The Power of Resiliency®, Dr. Linda Andrade Wheeler shared with her audience that, “it seems to me that in this age of instability, people are searching for something that is unshakable.  They are drowning in information, but starving for knowledge and meaning.  People want some foundation on which they can build a brighter future–a more predictable and dependable existence. I believe that foundation is their personal power — their attitudes, knowledge, and skills in controlling their lives in positive ways.  When people feel in control of their lives they tend to feel better about themselves and others.”

RESILIENCY.BK

Hearing Dr. Wheeler’s statement made me recall back to when we first began Successories of Hawaii in 1994. At the time, there was an explosion of methods for “time management”, “task management”, or “personal productivity enhancement” that were designed to teach knowledge workers efficient routines for dealing with this overload of ever-changing demands (e.g. Covey, etc). Most of the recommendations concerned concrete tools and techniques, such as using personal organizers, sharing calendars, etc. But it seems that people were seeking more than just physical tools and priority setting. Continue reading

How Positive Psychology Can Boost Your Business

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When I came across the following article in the February 13th, 2009, edition of BusinessWeek, I was compelled and intrigued. As a businessowner, the succinct title definitely captured my attention, especially given these challenging economic times in which we find ourselves looking for ways to thrive, and not merely survive. And since it directly relates to one aspect of the consulting services SuccessHawaii provides organizations, I was duty-bound to learn more and read onward.

In essence, it’s about understanding how positive psychology–the so-called science of happiness–is actually being used by entrepreneurs and businesspeople.

According to the article, consultants who specialize in positive psychology are selling a twofold promise:

“One is that optimism and cheerfulness have a measurable effect on the bottom line. The other is that happiness is a muscle you can strengthen.”

In this piece, the author, Jill Hamburg Coplan, cites thirty years worth of surveys at Gallup which, “have found that the most successful companies are ones whose employees believe they get to do what they do best every day. (Only one-third of working people do.)”

After nearly 20 years in the personnel training and HR development business with The Human Connection, Successories and now, SuccessHawaii, tracking results empirically has always remained a challenge for us. We know it works and makes an impact on the bottomline because we utilize tools to measure the results. But the best indicator is the fact that clients tell us of the organizational improvements, and most telling, they ask us to return.

In the BusinessWeek article, Coplan said, “If all this sounds too fuzzy for you, well, just speak with Juan Humberto Young, the founder of seven-person consulting firm Positive Decision Analysis, in Zürich. A positive psychology consultant…Young hears one criticism most: Positive psychology is too soft for numbers-obsessed business owners.”

But it’s not just empirical-minded business owners that this business is a little too soft for. I still remember a Hawaii state government contract that The Human Connection had back in 1993. It required more documentation (“red tape”) and post-analysis than the actual time spent interacting and training personnel. Although it was more “numbers crunching” than I ever experienced in the private sector; it was a state contract that required the ultimate “justification” at our expense.

To read more, check out Coplan’s well-written article for yourself: “How Positive Psychology Can Boost Your Business…In tough times, entrepreneurs try the so-called science of happiness to build thriving companies”

And to learn more about our training and consulting services at SuccessHawaii, visit our website today.