Archive for 2012

Book Review: Awakened Leadership

December 31st 2012

Beyond Self-Mastery

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Author: Alan E. Shelton

Shelton makes this book on leadership a whole new experience; as he puts such an emphasis on experiencing leadership at the forefront of his book as well.  It is not your usual leadership book with traits, how to’s and the usual learning to be a leader stuff you will find in so many other leadership titles.  He writes the book with a series of stories, mostly being an auto-biography, as he discovered what leadership truly meant to him in his life and many experiences.  His stories are very inviting, intriguing and keep you drawn in to understand more of where the author is coming from in his discovery of leadership and then to see the application side that the book also includes once the concepts are shown from the story perspective.

There are some deep questions and exploration of one ‘self’ in this book to see where leadership is sourced from.  Ourselves.  Shelton shows many insights on that topic and he delivers some powerful stories and conclusions from his experiencing these.  He covers a lot of topics that you’ll find in other books, but I personally found a lot of his language to be overwhelming and completely unconvincing.  He references the ego countless times, and for my liking anyway, overuses words like manifest, essence, construct, enlightenment which completely distract me from his point, really not following what he seems to be trying so hard to share.  He leaves a lot of inconclusive points about his own understanding of things saying how its experiential and cannot be explained, yet this only created a lot more doubt in my mind as to what I could really take away from his book.

So, it a great storybook and Shelton definitely has some great leadership insights. The whole aspect of knowing yourself and being authentic, becoming more by accepting things as they occur and not being limited by what you think you need to still develop and to control the ego so that you can simply be, make sense to me already, but I’ve discovered them and learned them from other material and experiences without this book helping that much.  I certainly can’t say that will be true for you, as Shelton puts it himself very clearly, each person will have their own leadership discovery and journey so this book might be a great way for you to find some of that out yourself and Shelton’s unique style and stories will certainly leave you thinking.  As much as they did leave me thinking, I can’t say I learned much more about leadership or myself from readying this book.

To get a better sense of Shelton’s writing, please have a look at his previous guest post here, Learning, Humility and Leadership.

Posted by Mike King under Book Reviews | 1 Comment »

December 2012: Resources

December 30th 2012

Great Blog Resources

Resource Links image Lightning Photos I’ve taken in the last few storms of the fall season (Fork Lightning & Sheet Lightning) 100 Ways to Be a Better Father – A spawn from a cycle of other 100 lists, and a good list it is! 17 Unspoken Rules of LinkedIn Etiquette Top 50 Leaders in Leadership – I was fortunate to be pointed out by Steve McMillan that I am on this leadership list.  There are so many other great leadership sites / blogs on this list, I just had to share it! 8 Timeless Tips to Achieve Excellence in Life 2012′s Top Ten Insights on Leadership, Innovation, and Strategy – This is a great list of links to some fantastic articles and resources on strategy, leadership and innovation from this past year. Isn’t Life Beautiful at the Bridgemaker blog. Everyone Wants Better. No One Wants Change


Athletes are everywhere, doing what they love Speaking of Athletes.  Here is an awesome video of mountain unicycling. People are Amazing 2012

Posted by Mike King under Life | 4 Comments »

Book Review: Managing Right, the First Time

December 28th 2012

A Field Guide For Doing It Well

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Author: David C. Baker

New managers are often in a position not because they are ready, training and experience for it, but because they were performing well in a technical role before that.  This often leads companies to promote such people to a manager role where it is simply assumed they will know how to manage well also.  This is simply untrue and often the reason why so many people think that management or managers specifically do not know what they are doing.  I think it is crucial that new positions such as management should be trained for and you should learn from experts BEFORE jumping in and doing everything by trial and error at other people’s expense.  Of course there is always room to learn by making mistakes and there will be no shortage of those in a new management position but all the help you can get is important for starting out right and learning to do things well from the beginning.

This book is an excellent practical guide to help a new manager do exactly that, start out well by avoiding many common and painful mistakes.  The book is well written, and incredibly practical, covering every subject with quick advice and goo recommendations based on the years of experience of the author, David Baker.  Baker makes things very real by his honest assessment of what is normal in management, comments about many of the organizational struggles and what challenges you will face as a new manager.  I can say I’ve experienced all of these as well and Baker gives quality advice to help avoid them, smooth such problems out fast and manage them well.  His direct style of writing makes everything very easy to understand, leaving no room for misinterpretation and he includes plenty of wit and comments about the often laughable situations that need to be managed, that without this guide book, would be much more difficult to handle the first time they are encountered.

The book is broken into well organized sections covering everything from how you landed a management position all the way to being a change agent as a manager in your company.  Everything is covered in reasonable sections that often happen chronologically, starting with how to start as a new manager or managing for the first time, through more complex aspects that definitely don’t occur the first few months managing, but perhaps even years later, still important for the manager role however.

Everything in this book is quite practical and Baker writes it in a easy to apply style that makes things reasonable and understandable.  It’s book I will recommend to any new supervisors and managers in my work areas and one I can recommend anyone with aspiring management skills or who needs it for their existing role.  It will help you, no matter what your experience level, however, most valuable to new managers.  Its a great practical guide and easy to use for whatever topic is thrown your way as a manager.  I have read a lot of books on this subject and this one seems to cover the most areas with the best practical ways to apply the skills that many authors cover more in theory, and not in practice.  I hope you enjoy it as I did and will make the most of it for your management position.

Posted by Mike King under Business | 3 Comments »

Do You Graciously Receive?

November 20th 2012

I often get feedback about my lists like 100 ways to serve others, and just recently Kate commented that someone had a sharp response to her wanting to buy their coffee being next in line at a coffee shop.  This might be a classic example of what you wouldn’t normally expect someone to respond like to an act of kindness but it seems that in reality, things are much more difficult to graciously receive than one might think.

Many times I think that serving others is actually easier than receiving from others.  Perhaps you’ve hear about someone getting mad over paying for their coffee and think you would never do this yourself.  You would likely want to simply thank the person and move on, but I doubt you would find it that easy.  Here are some other ways that receiving graciously can be very hard and I challenge you to consider each of these in how you might respond.  Do you graciously receive each of these in your life?


Compliments are great to hear and can spark a lot of good feelings about one self, one’s decisions or whatever else the compliment might be about.  A problem many have is that they often don’t simply thank the person for the compliment and believe it, instead they down play it as if it isn’t that important to hear (even though it is).  This can be done by someone dismissing it, where they might say something like, “No, this old thing, its not that nice.”  Other people have a habit of excusing a compliment and simply saying no, or passing on the credit to someone or something else.  This is actually a strong message back telling the person is wrong to give the compliment (even if that is not intended) as you deflect what they have to say that is nice.  Another bad habit is people who minimize a compliment to something meaningless or less important.  Simply saying, well it was no big deal might seem harmless, but it still dismisses and minimizes the compliment itself. Often when someone says it is no big deal, really was a big deal and that person had to sacrifice something as a result.  It’s much better when you receive a compliment to simply accept it as it, say thank you and graciously receive it.  The person is doing something nice and going out of their way to tell it to you, the least you can do is simply accept it and thank them.

Offer to Help

Another area many people have a hard time graciously receiving is in an offer to help someone.  Many people give the impression that help is a sign of weakness so they refuse any offer of help and indicate that they can easily do it on there own, or want to, when in reality this is rarely true and help is almost always better to have than not.  There are many tactics here that I’ve heard from time and time (and unfortunately said myself many times) such as down playing the need, responding that it won’t be hard or that I can easily do it on my own so won’t need the help.  It’s not a weakness to accept help, and typically its a way to strengthen a relationship and spend some added time with someone if you are able to do something together.  Where do you stand when offered help and do you graciously receive it or make excuses and reasons why you don’t need it?

Friendly Purchases

Receiving is often toughest between friends and many friends secretly keep track of favors, purchases or costs accumulated in a friendship.  This is dangerous grounds, a recipe for disappointment and often leading to hurt feelings and arguments. A classic example here is when friends go out for lunch and one person pays for the other’s lunch. This often leaves the friend who’s lunch was paid for to feel obligated to pay next time, or to return the favor in some way.  I’ve seen friends literally fighting to pay at a restaurant or at their table over who and how they are going to pay. Maybe you’ve been at one of those tables, as I suspect many have. This expectation on oneself that the favor or lunch needs to be returned really should not be that critical in a friendship and its much better to avoid the argument or obligation and simply accept the kind gesture and thank them for picking up the tab.  If you get the chance next time, go ahead and return the favor, but don’t take notice or score of who pays what when, simply accept the kindness, be kind in return when you can and look at this as an area you can more graciously receive.

Gift Giving

Can you think of someone’s birthday, an anniversary, a thank you gift or some other special event you want to give a gift for?  Does it cause you a little tension or stress?  How about if you receive a great gift from someone but it is not a special occasion, they simply did it because they were thinking of you?  Does this cause any kind of stress in how you respond?  Many people make comments about gifts like you shouldn’t have, or I didn’t get you anything, which stems from a feeling of obligation to return a gift.  Gifts are supposed to be that exactly; a gift, but unfortunately, we often associate many other expectations with a gift.

Definition of a Gift: something given voluntarily without payment in return, as to show favor toward someone, honor an occasion, or make a gesture of assistance; present.

This definitely shows that it is something without payment in return, also meaning without expectation of anything being returned. The best way to receive a gift is to do so graciously, with joy and appreciation, not attaching anything else to it like an obligation, returned favor or similar gift.  Many people feel that a gift’s value is representing something deeper in a relationship as well so want to match the value of a gift.  This is not graciously receiving either and is difficult to eliminate and simply receive with joy and appreciation, nothing more.

This Holiday Season

So, the holiday season is fast approaching, which is often a time for gifts and other offerings. I hope this article gives you something to think about and to look for ways you can more graciously receive when the time comes and to let things be as intended, received with appreciation and to do everyone who is kind to you a favor by not complicating things, not over analyzing and not attaching obligations to what you should be able to gracious receive.

Posted by Mike King under Relationships | 8 Comments »

Book Review: Change Anything

October 28th 2012

The New Science of Personal Success

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Author: Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler

This is a superb book and while it makes high claims to be able to change your life which are hard to believe, it does provide some excellent guidance and methods if practiced consistently, I believe are foundation principles to change your life.  The book has 3 main parts:

  1. The science of personal success
  2. The six sources of influence
  3. How to change anything

The concepts in these sections all examine personal success and how influence on oneself is what feeds change.  Part 1 covers in great detail a section on willpower and the willpower trap.  This trap is often thought to be why people can’t change and unfortunately, most people accept this too suddenly and think they know the issue, when in reality, they are blind to the other factors that lock them in to believing the willpower is the limiting factor, leaving themselves in an impossible to break cycle.

Change from these traps requires a specific approach for each specific problem and the usual ‘blamed’ willpower must be learned to not be the real cause of these limiting beliefs.  To discover these, you must understand the next section of the book, which is all about the sources of influence.  Its these areas that really reveal the brilliance of this book as it forces you to not only look at what you are likely used to doing unconsciously, but also to tackle things from new perspectives, despite your old habits or how ingrained they might be in your character.  These six sources may seem too simple or even counter-intuitive, which is why this book is so valuable, because as titles they are not that useful.  However, they are:

  1. Love what you hate
  2. Do what you can’t
  3. Turn accomplices into friends
  4. Turn accomplices into friends
  5. Invert the economy
  6. Control your space

That’s not a typo, there are two sections dedicated to turning accomplices into friends.  Influences are covered from the 3 different sources, personal, social and structural.  All of these are explored and the authors present tools to use each influence for good and for the change you want.  This guidance itself is worth reading the book for, and it ties in to the whole purpose of the book, to change yourself first and get influence under control so you can change anything.  If you are interested in this level of influence, you can read their earlier book as well, called Influence, which I reviewed here.

So, overall I definitely recommend this book to any of my readers and anyone interested in personal development, in changing or improving some of their habits and if you are wanting to influence others for good as a result of your own personal development. There is a lot to take in from these authors and a lot of great techniques and guidance to absorb and apply for change.  I’m sure you will enjoy it like I have!

Posted by Mike King under Book Reviews | 6 Comments »

Book Review: The Progress Principle

September 17th 2012

Using small wins to ignite joy, engagement and creativity at work.

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Author: Teresa Amabile and Stephen Kramer

The Progress Principle Principle is explained in this book with thorough research and great examples as forward momentum in the workplace by everyday events that make employee’s inner work lives better.  The book looks at helping people finding more joy in their work, break away from obstacles to progress and to instill catalysts for creativity and progress.  I personally didn’t find a lot of new inspiring content in this book, but it does cover its subjects well and provide a convincing set of actions anyone could use.  I just found that I’ve read so much of this in other books, there were not many new ideas to work from.

The authors focus on 3 main components of inner work life and dedicate a major chapter each:

  1. Progress Principle: The power of meaningful accomplishment
  2. The Catalyst Factor: The power of project support
  3. The Nourishment Factor: The Power of Interpersonal Support
There are some excellent points in this book about recognizing and making progress, using and bringing leadership to encourage it, finding things that ignite your own work happiness and of course then using other factors to encourage progress.  The two big ones of catalysts and nourishment I really liked and are often missing in people’s work lives or workplaces even when there is great accomplishments besides them.  Without them however, there is often little or no joy in the work and any progress fades quickly from keeping the workplace a thriving place of enjoyment.
I definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in seeking their own progress in their career and especially to anyone who has made good progress, but does not seem to have the joy they want in their workplace.  This book will help you recognize what might be missing and to show you ways to bring that into your own work life or workplace.  It is probably more suitable to new supervisors or managers but can obviously be useful to any position since leadership can happen at any level, and influence in a leadership position will help you made a bigger impact with these tools from the book.

Posted by Mike King under Book Reviews | 8 Comments »

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