Book Review: Bury my Heart at Conference Room B

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The Unbeatable Impact of Truly Committed Managers

Bury My Heart, Book Review

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Author: Stan Slap

This book interested me as a way to explore the passions in great managers and I certainly wasn’t disappointed.  It looks at how managers can truly connect to their jobs, their teams and their emotional commitment for their work to get real meaning from it.  It looks at what makes some of the big difference between an average everyday manager putting in time and a great manager, who emotionally connects with their team and really pushes to maximize their impact with others and the organization.

The subtitle hints at it, that is to have truly committed managers and the author, Slap, puts a whole process around an individual discovering what will truly connect them to be committed and ready for caring, impacting work as a manager.  I like the messages throughout the book and found many times that their were some very wise comments, rants and advice that any manager who gives a darn can get some value from.

A general theme through the book and this process making the title of the book, is to explore, understand and then share the personal values you have as a person in some way to emphasis the company objectives and values as well.  It’t not to align the values directly, or to simply use the companies, its to really understand your own values, why you have them, know when and where they formed and then find a way to hold true to those in your workplace.  Living your values and fitting that in to your workplace is a way to then truly commit to get connected to teams, goals and values of the company as well.  Your values may not match the companies directly, but likely many aspirational aspects of values will align and it will enable you to find a way to make that reality in your daily work.  I held my rating at 4 stars because the thing that is difficult about the book, is to realize some of the outcomes that this book promises I think are very dependent on the company culture, where the response to such a process could be a major roadblock and there is not much help in the book at overcoming the obstacles you’d likely face with that.  I am fortunate to work in a culture that would easily accept this process and concept, however, I know that is not the case in every company and I didn’t find that addressed very well in the book.

This book would be exceptional for any organization leader who has a need or desire to re-engage managers to a higher level of commitment, emotional connection and value driven decisions.  If you want to put some heart into the way you manage or with your team, then I highly recommend this one.

Beating the Learn Curve

Learning 1 Comment »

Often a new challenge to face is a challenge specifically because that skill or activity has a steep learning curve.  This can come about from a new job, hobby, sport or activity and in order to overcome the challenges, you have to first face that learning curve.  LearnThis is all about methods of learning and personal development, which the learning curve is always a big part of.  How do you face a steep learning curve when something new comes your way? Well, I hope this articles can outline some approaches to use and some methods to tackle such a learning curve.learning curve

Know what you Don’t Know

Attitude is one of the main roadblocks when facing a learning curve as there are very different reactions to this problem.  Some people will have a tendency to to stay very open to new things, they will understand that they need or want to learn more and they are open minded and willing to accept that they don’t know how to do it.  Yet.  That is the key, yet.  Other people will actually hide from admitting they don’t know something and they will avoid these areas instead of diving in with interest.  These people tend to come across as egotistical or even arrogant since they are unwilling admit to others, let along themselves what they don’t know. It’s important to be ready and willing to admit what you don’t know so you are mentally prepared to learn new things and to even have a desire to.

As you do learn a subject, the variation in responses can also change dramatically from person to person.  In order to beat the learning curve best, it’s better to assume you are still on the learning curve and to be open to learning more than to get to a point and decide that you know enough.  Once you close off to continual learning, you will typically block yourself from expanding your views and it can be extremely limiting.  Keep the approach to learn more and know there is always going to be a learning curve to advance on, even if you have already  learned the basics or a lot of what you need.

Practice Makes Perfect

Learning without practice really isn’t going to do you much good.  In order to truly remember things and know how to apply them, learning itself simply pools knowledge and its what you do with knowledge that let you make a difference.  I recently wrote another article on Learning Habits and Applying Knowledge which emphasizes the importance of applying what you learn to really master it.  This is done with practice and practice will train you to use your new found knowledge in useful situations.

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes while learning, just do your best to recover from them and not repeat them.  Everyone makes mistakes when learning new things and its one of the fastest ways to improve.  What really matters when you’re learning is how you respond to mistakes and that you continue to learn, despite making them.

Don’t Stop

Lastly, and likely the most important, is to never give up or stop learning.  For a particular subject, this is obviously important and if you want to beat the learning curve, you might find it difficult and very challenging to overcome.  With perseverance, practice and the right approach however, you will eventually overcome that learning curve and get confident and comfortable with the skill or activity you are working to learn.  As you overcome a subject and feel comfortable, there is always more to learn and so while you might not seek out learning that subject more if you don’t feel you need it, you should always be ready and willing to learn more about it should the need or interest come back.  This also applies for related subjects so you can expand what you’ve learned even further.

The whole process of learning and behaviors it takes to beat the learning curve can be used over and over for all kinds of subjects and skills.  Don’t stop with one topic, don’t stop learning once you get the job of interest, or the degree you’ve been working towards.  Keep learning, expand your skills and make learning something that comes naturally and constantly in your life, as you will have many more successes, enjoy a variety of experiences and have a lot more opportunities to develop and find things you are truly passionate about and can enjoy in life.  This is a big reason why I started LearnThis.ca and I know learning and having to beat the learning curve will be something I’ve always facing, as I don’t ever intend to be complacent and stop expanding and learning new things.  I hope you don’t as well!

My Bodyweight Training WebApp Released!

Personal 7 Comments »

Well,  I’ve had a few articles about bodyweight training and I’ve been writing a little less on the blog lately, and working out and writing my training app a whole lot more.  I’ve been doing bodyweight training fairly consistently for the last few years (thanks to Parkour) and so I decided that I wanted an app to help me track progress in workouts and to make the many exercises for bodyweight training available in one convenient app.  Plus all the apps I’ve tried or found are more specific to workout programs or fitness in general, there were none that let me be in total control of what I do in my workout and simply help me track my specific exercises.

One of the reasons I’ve loved bodyweight training so much is that I can do it anytime, anywhere for just a few minutes or a long workout session.  There is little to no equipment needed and I can work out with anyone, since everything has so many progressions in it the movements can always be made easier or more difficult, depending on skill.  Also, the skills themselves and movements themselves in bodyweight training are far more enjoyable than lifting weights or a general fitness program.  Cross fit is another example of this, which is why so many people love it, its fun to move and development skills when training.  These are some of the reasons why I wanted to build an app for bodyweight training (plus I wanted to learn more about these development tools for career reasons).

Bodymaster

So, I’ve called it BodyMaster and it’s a pure webapp so you can use it on your desktop, laptop, tablet or smart phone.  I’ve designed the layout to be responsive for smaller displays and for your desktop and it also works in an offline mode so you don’t even need an internet connection after you’ve downloaded it the first time.

I’ll be cleaning up more workflow items with it and need to do more testing on different devices, as I’ve primarly used the desktop and my Android phone, which it works great on.  There is also a feature to synchronize your data with you email and password so that you can upload your results online and re-sync that to another browser if you want to use it on your phone and then sync that to your desktop for example.  Each browser will have to run the sync to upload results.

Anyway, I hope you can find some time to check it out, add a bookmark to use it online or offline and start learning more of the useful bodyweight training exercises that I’ve got in the app.  There are currently 257 exercises to do and learn from!!!

I’d love to hear what you think of the app and some of the exercise lists and I hope you can find some use for it!

Open the Bodymaster Free Web App here!

Mountain Climbing: A Hobby for Those with an Adventurous Spirit

Life 6 Comments »

A guest post this week on a topic I really ought to write about sometime as well.

Climbing mountains sounds both exhilarating and dangerous, which may deter some but also encourages others. Though not a hobby for the weak of heart, mountain climbing offers benefits beyond the physical, making it an excellent choice for those already inclined to adventure. Climbing uses just about every muscle you can imagine. On top of the physical stamina necessary to sustain you over days-long journeys, you need mental stability and emotional strength to endure rigorous climbs. The following discusses what you need to know to start climbing mountains.

No Pain, No Gain

The old axiom rings truer in this sport than possibly any other. The physical strength necessary to propel you forward includes muscle mass and cardio endurance. In order to get in climb-ready shape, you need to start with your doctor and move on to a trainer. Because mountain climbing is so intensely physical, you will need to sit down with your doctor and make sure you’re good to go. Not everyone has the right genetics to make it happen. Physical limitations can be overcome, but some internal characteristic may rule this hobby out, such as heart conditions and other life-threatening issues. Make sure a health professional gives you a full physical just to be clear on the risks.

Once you’re cleared, hit the gym, the park and anywhere else you can think of to boost your body’s natural physique. Even if you’re totally out of shape, you can prepare to begin mountain climbing by following the same set of guidelines everyone uses: start small and build up. Hiring a trainer may not be necessary, but you should seek advice from friends or relatives who are physically active. Mountain climbing isn’t a solo journey, and your training shouldn’t be, either. Enlist some help and get started. One climber suggests staggering the routine, beginning with a solid base and increasing endurance until you’re ready to train for your specific climb. Another recommends including altitude training, which is a logical step in the progression of mountain climbing. The bottom line is this: you must be in top physical condition in order to climb a mountain. Any other way can lead to serious injuries and death.

Clear Away the Cobwebs

If physical strength forms a basic prerequisite, then mental and emotional fitness form necessary add-ons. As referenced above, climbing mountains is a group activity. This adds a level of safety and accountability. However, you might end up alone on a mountain in case of an emergency, and having the wherewithal to remain calm may keep you alive. For reference, Mt. Everest had a 29% success rate as of 2006, with a fatality rate of 2.05%. In fact, most climbers die on the descent of Mt. Everest. Since most of the climbers were in prime, peak physical condition, this means that being in shape isn’t everything. You need to accept the possibility of disaster and even death. Not everyone is prepared for this, but it’s crucial to undertaking a hobby that requires so much exertion. Emotional strength matters as much as the physical, and mental preparedness is key to survival.

While climbing might be exciting, it’s also very dangerous. Every adventurer needs to follow some rules, and when it comes to mountain climbing, following the right rules could save your life. Preparing for mountain climbing encompasses intense physical training as well as education yourself on crucial survival skills. Mountain climbing can be a fun and social hobby, and the best way to enjoy its benefits is to stay prepared.

Byline

Michael Bentley is a freelance writer based in Portland, Oregon who frequently writes about extreme sports, the drury outdoors, hiking & camping, traveling, adventure-seeking and other related topics.

Book Review: Instant Influence

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How to Get Anyone to Do Anything Fast

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Author: Michael Pantalon

The sub title of this book almost put me off it, but I’m glad it didn’t because it is an excellent and very applicable book.  The premise of influence is often debated and while this book sits in that questionable realm, it offers a perspective of influence that is not typical, and from learning and practicing it now, I agree this is much better approach to influence and useful every day.  The main take is that influence is done most effectively by using questioning and discovery.  I’ve always enjoyed using questions in coaching and finding influence but I’ve learned a lot of that through tough practice, not with a simple guided set of steps and actions, like are available in this book.

So, Pantalon outlines a series of steps in this book to have influence conversations.  An all important element of the process of questioning and discovery is to ensure that autonomy remains with the person being influenced.  That is key through the entire book and influence process.  These steps are:

1. Why would you change something if you were willing to change?

Knowing why someone will do something is critical as it is meant to discover some internal motivator.  Using probing questions here to dig into the real understanding of this one.  A series of why questions can help you get to some meaningful and often emotional reason behind a change.  That is important when influencing someone.

2. Rate your readiness to make that change from 1 to 10.

This helps drive the desire to change and can help to look at another perspective of what they might be scared of or worried about if they don’t change.  It helps to reinforce the why they should change and gives them autonomy in knowing their own reasons and rating for readiness.

3. Ask why they didn’t pick a lower number?

Give back some autonomy, throw them off guard and ask why they wouldn’t use a lower number.  If they are already at the lowest, a 1 out of 10, ask what it would take for it to be a 2?  These questions help to understand the reasoning again and reinforce their own discovery of the reasons for a number or rating.

4. Visualize a positive outcome or benefit from that change if it were to happen

Again, the autonomy is reinforced with the addition of “if” it were to happen so you are strictly talking hypothetical.  This keeps the conversation in a maybe without expectation to continue to discovery of the reasons why.

5. Ask why that outcome is important to them?

Probe a bit deeper to help understand and learn with them why something would matter to them.  Here again, you can ask why several times when need to get to meaningful and personal reasons, instead of superficial ones.

6. Determine a next step, if any leading towards that change.

Here is the clincher and after all this hypothetical discussion, you can test if there is any motivation to change and at least take the first step, however small and if any at all.  It provides that autonomy still yet is a way to make some action possible, even a small action, which is the power behind this process.

In Summary

So overall the book uses this process multiple times with many scenarios, responses, situations and methods you will need in such conversations to stay on track with the process and to use it to its fullest.  The examples are all useful to really learn the process and I think make it quite comfortable to use because of the wide variety of examples.  I was able to use the process and continue to use it in conversations and it didn’t take any extra practice, preparation or concern after learning it from the book.  Its a great teaching tool and if you are interested in influencing others, I highly recommend this book.

Learning Habits and Applying Knowledge

Learning 1 Comment »

I am often asked how I seem to absorb new content so quickly and learn new things?  I’ve thought about this a lot and I have learned a few simple steps that have helped me to learn things quickly.  I hope by outlining what works for me, it will also help you develop similar habits for learning.Applying Knowledge

Learn From Experts

I always want to learn from someone who has already spent many hours of hard work to uncover some of the gotchas and best practices to follow so that it can save me some time making those same mistakes.  I’m sure to make many of my own mistakes, so the more likely I am to skip some of the obvious mistakes, the quicker I can get to making mistakes at higher levels of that skill or task, which is a good thing.  There are tons of ways of doing this and depends highly on what you are learning.  If you read here regularly you know I am an obvious heavy reader so I think books are a great example of learning from an expert.  Essentially any author on a subject is going to have much more experience than you if its a new topic or unfamiliar area you are learning.  I would consider then the author is an expert you can learn from.  For shoring up skills or knowledge from books at more advanced levels, you may have to be much more careful in your book selection to find the best of the best authors on a subject or authors with more years of experience than you that can still provide useful guidance.

In other skills, you might need to find and use a coach as an expert to learn something.  A mentor might be a great way by using their expert wisdom to help you.  You might find that taking a set of classes at trade schools or advancing some sport or hobby you love can easily be done by finding a great teacher or course where there are experts to learn from.  Whatever it is you are learning, finding help from an expert is the first step so you do not have to learn by trial and error making every mistake that others have already made ahead of you.

Apply At Least One Thing

Knowledge can be powerful from learning but it is truly useful when you can apply something from that knowledge.  I’ve made a habit of always looking to apply at least one thing to my work or life when I study something new like a book or article I was eager to learn from.  Skill development for sports or activities I would say I apply a lot more of what I learn.  Knowledge however really sets in as something known well when it is applied.  So when you read a book, or perhaps this article, take one thing from it and really make a conscious effort to apply that repeatedly so you can form a habit of it.  Habits only form when you take action so its the best way to develop that new skill by practice.Learning New Skills

Learn More Advanced Levels

My next habit I’ve formed might not work for everyone, however its part of who I am and I enjoy it.  I always always take on new skills or application of knowledge a couple steps further than most people expect of themselves or that they expect of me in the case of my job.  Anytime I can learn more advanced levels of something I strive for that as I have experience that making something a habit is so much easier when you push yourself beyond the limit of the habit, have the ability to go further than that when needed so the normal level that you can really use frequently then becomes very natural and always easy.  If you highest level of a skill or application of knowledge is at your limit of skill or knowledge, then its always going to seem very difficult to achieve that and maintain the level, often having the risk of falling back out of that habit and being complacent with less.

My methods for this to some people seem a bit obsessive as I devote a large quantity of time to advanced my skills, often above what is expected or perhaps even sensible for what I want to achieve.  The advantage of this however, is that I can then drop back a level or two and still have good habits formed where it is still needed and stretching back beyond that comfort zone is so much easier when you have already done that.

Teach That to Someone Else

Finally, what I consider to be the best way to lock in new learnings and application of knowledge is to teach it to someone else.  Often, this alone forces you to also learn a bit beyond the expected level so you can answer questions, appear as a useful resource to that person and be able to handle what might be a surprise in someone else’s approach.  Teaching someone else will not only give them that new knowledge, but it is a way for you to apply that knowledge yourself and be challenged to understand it from different perspectives.

Copyright © 2017 Mike King