The Peace & Power of a Positive Perspective


Archive for March, 2018

The boss…

I have written about bosses and their/our quirks periodically.  Today, I often run into people who say their career aspiration is to, “move into management.”  My response?   “Be careful what you ask for!”

Recently I listened to radio commercials sponsored by the Denver Women’s Chamber of Commerce celebrating the “25 Most Powerful Women in Denver” (see ).  Is that what being the boss is all about; power?

When I perused their list I saw big companies, big titles, and statements about overcoming big, bad, male-dominance.  Is that what being the boss is all about?

When I interact with “the boss”, that’s not what I’m usually thinking about.  However, truth be told I may have had those traits back in the day when I was the boss.  Only my direct reports would know.  (Maybe they’ll share their opinion?)

Permit me to share a few excerpts from my list on the topic of “being the boss”.

First, am I grounded?  Do I emulate Gandhi; or Attila the Hun?  I mean, if the boss is a whacko, how effective can he or she be managing/leading people?

There is both peace and power in knowing and understanding who you are, where you’re from and where you’re going. 

Doug Burgum

Second on my list:  How fun as the boss am I to work for?  Many people have jobs today with a degree of tedium.  Many people struggle getting everything done that every day demands both personally and professionally.  If we cringe when caller ID shows it’s the boss, how likely are we truly doing our best and contributing at our highest level?

Hey boss, how about this one:  Describe how you empower your people…  Do you readily and continuously share information with your team?  Or do you believe information is power, and withhold all/many/some of the key details?  Getting the job done through your people is your responsibility, isn’t it?  Here’s what Peter F. Drucker said:

Finally – and perhaps the most important lesson – the professional manager is a servant.  Rank does not confer privilege.  It does not give power.  It imposes responsibility.

Next up – as the boss, how well do you adapt to your people?  Or, are you of the mindset that your people must adapt to you?  Which approach do your people think works the best?  I learned this management principle the hard way.

The first day of my first time being “the boss”, was the beginning of our fiscal year.  Our annual ritual was to inform each sales rep of their new quota (which was higher); their new territory (which was smaller); and their new compensation plan (take a guess).

My team was comprised of three women; and one man.  The man complained; the women cried!  I wasn’t prepared for the latter – I hadn’t yet learned that as the boss.  My people helped me adapt – if I was going to be their boss, I better have a box of tissue in my office LoL!  And believe me, this event wasn’t about male-dominance; it was about behavior.  My job was to adapt my behavior to that of my people if I expected them to excel vs. exit.

So I repeat; if you’re committed to becoming “the boss”, beware!

Listening is the most potent talent of a leader, especially to what may be unsaid. 

Cal Turner, Jr.

Did I already list listening as a key attribute on my list?  Go ahead; double check; you probably weren’t listening.  No worries – I’m not the boss.


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Day by day…

If I do the math 45 years is the equivalent of 16,425 days.  This coming Monday marks 45 years; 16,425 days.  A significant amount of time to be with one’s significant other, true?

In reality it’s been significantly more than 16,425 days when I think about our engagement, plus the many days we dated in high school. And every day for over 16,425 days – more than 45 years – I have enjoyed being married to my high school sweetheart.  Happy Anniversary Debbie!

Many of you are in a long-lasting relationship; many have been married longer than we.  A Mile High Salute!  Maybe my relationship thrived because I was a “road warrior” for several years?  As one of my colleagues once said:

The secret to a long marriage is a husband that travels. 

Lisa Kwiecien

As you know, I write about my wife frequently; not necessarily daily; but frequently.  Like any couple, we have our good days and our not-so-good days.  Like many couples, we’ve also had some of those relationship-testing; foundation-rattling; we’re-not-going-to-make-it; kind of days.   When those days have occurred we followed James P. Owen’s advice:

When you’re riding through hell… keep riding.

Any meaningful journey is like that, don’t you think?  Even one of America’s most famous sweethearts offered all of us her guidance on life’s journey:

Pain nourishes courage.  You can’t be brave if you’ve only had wonderful things happen to you. 

Mary Tyler Moore

Over our 16,000+ days, we have had more than our share of wonderful things happen; all driven by love.  In fact, 45 years ago this month the #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 was “Love Train” by the O’Jays.  According to Wikipedia:

The word ‘train’ comes from the Old French trahiner, from the Latin trahere meaning pull, or draw.

I have been a passenger on that love train as my wife has pulled us along for 45 years!  Of course, I’ve tried to pay attention to the little things that make a difference day by day; lighten her load a bit; smooth the tracks.  Rob Gilbert made a list:

How to have a Winning Day:

You have to listen more than you talk…

You have to smile more than you frown…

You have to be fascinated more than you’re frustrated…

You have to believe in yourself more than you doubt yourself.

You have to work more than you whine.

You have to do more than you don’t.

I have also paid attention to my role, responsibilities and boundaries:

Men ordering custom colors must first bring in a note from their wife.  

Guiry Paint Store

It’s OK; she writes the notes; I run the errands; we make a great team.  And on those occasional occasions where disagreement looms, we heed Harlan Miller’s advice:

Often the difference between a successful marriage and a mediocre one consists of leaving three or four things a day unsaid.

16,425 days and our love train is still rolling strong.  No matter our future course; no matter the challenges we will face; the trials that will test us; not even the weather we may encounter; our love train will continue – pulled along by my significant other – regardless of whether the wind is boosting us from behind our back or resisting us as it blows hard in our face.  Etheridge Knight’s words will continue to guide us:

Love is a rock against the wind.

Happy 45th Anniversary Dear!  You’re my rock and I love you.


Did you like this little ditty?  You might enjoy my past posts too:

Strategic direction…

Last year, my company made a strategic change to our go-to-market approach and corresponding sales, implementation and support processes.  We made significant changes to almost all of our software programs too.

This is not a foreign phenomenon – companies implement strategic directional changes all the time, true?  And you know it’s strategic when they create a logo, a slogan, and have T-shirts made up.

As with any “strategic direction” there was a corresponding amount of “push-back” from the field.  This is also not a foreign phenomenon – pushback from the field is always a normal reaction to changes in strategic direction, especially from sales people – true again?

It always amazes me how change-adverse sales people are even though our profession is all about selling change.  But I digress.

I was one of the messengers tasked with going out to face sales teams and sell the advantages of said strategic direction.  Carrying the message from leadership to the field – fun!  I was not a member of the Corporate Staff, thankfully.  Just someone on one of the internal teams assigned to this project:

Corporate Staff:

Known in some quarters as Sea Gulls for reasons relating to their propensity to fly round the country leaving their mark wherever they have alighted. 

Norman R. Augustine

As I mentioned, there has been a degree of pushback from our constituents.  Pushback often gravitates towards the shadows of strategic initiatives; the areas not fully baked; vague issues yet to be worked out.  And vagueness in the technology field presents problems:

Golub’s Laws of Computerdom

Fuzzy project objectives are used to avoid the embarrassment of estimating the corresponding costs.

A carelessly planned project takes three times longer to complete than expected; if carefully planned, it will take only twice as long.

Project teams detest weekly progress reporting because it so vividly manifests their lack of progress.

We’ve all been there – leadership decides on a strategic direction and a project team is assembled to covey the tactical meaning and daily impacts to the field.  In 2017, I was one of those project team someones.  Hooray!

In 2018 we are continuing our strategic direction.  Our team has done a pretty good job with pretty good support in the deployment of these strategic changes.  But it seems that in every meeting, someone from the field stumps us with a question about the process and the changes that puts in that uncomfortable, “I have no clue what they were thinking” position.

When we are put on the defensive we can’t always defend or even explain our Corporate Staff beyond Woltman’s view:

Woltman’s Law

Never program and drink beer at the same time.

I think it will be OK though.  Strategic changes are often complicated; take a while to work out the vagaries; hard to convince everyone.  And given the complexity of this roll-out I feel we have faced the field as well as possible.

That is until we’re facing said field and someone raises an issue we weren’t prepared for.  Then, if we’re not careful; even with our pretty good efforts; we run the risk of making things worse:

Anderson’s Law

Any system or problem, however complicated, if looked at in exactly the right way, will become even more complicated.

So, if your company is making a substantial change and you’re involved with articulating the message behind the new, strategic direction to the field, don’t panic.  Just hide the keg in the programming department and plan your travel so you don’t follow behind the Corporate Staff.


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Good fortune…

Posted Mar 1 2018 by in True North with 0 Comments

February is my birth month. That means I will pause for a moment and reflect on the past twelve months. I will speculate on what the next twelve will bring, to be sure. But I need to do more than mere speculating. I must set a course for success. Good fortune does not appear by happenstance, true?

So far, I have finished my Annual Achievement Plan – yea! I have also submitted our documentation to the CPA who will finalize our income tax returns – yuck! I suppose if our financial situation is involved enough to merit a CPA’s expertise, that’s a good thing. Until I receive his invoice that is.

Speaking of good fortune… I’m looking forward to the upcoming year. It’s another year offering me the opportunity to get better. Lord knows I certainly have plenty to get better on. This year’s birthday can be the juncture between backwards and forwards:

Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.

Soren Kierkegaard

Looking backwards it is important to recognize my failures; understand what went wrong. On the other hand, I want to celebrate my accomplishments too. Like many people, regretfully I still gravitate to focusing more on my shortcomings than my successes. Gurus would say, “Live life with no regrets” – but I think that only works for gurus.

So if part of life’s fulfillment is facing and recovering from failures, then I am leading a very fulfilling life indeed LoL! Today, as I seek to understand my past year in preparing for this next year, I’ll try to heed John Charles Salak:

Failures are divided into two classes – those who thought and never did, and those who did and ever thought.

What do you think? Which class of failure is worse? I’m guilty of both. But that’s OK; this next year affords me the opportunity to learn from the past; to improve; to be better; to accomplish more; and hopefully, to fail less. How about you?

When we pause to think about it, one of the keys to good fortune has to do with our daily routine. A “big splash” or two might occur during the year. But for most of us it’s all of those little things; all of the details; all that we do (or choose not to do) day in and day out; that builds towards our annual outcome:

Some wins and some losses are big and unavoidable, but most of life is won or lost at the margin.

Harry S. Campbell

Setting up my daily routine to win “in the margins”, that’s an important lesson to apply to my upcoming year. And if God blesses me with peace of mind and a few “big wins”, I will be grateful. But I’m not counting on Divine Intervention to make my way. As has been said, we will reap what we sow. While remembering past failures, I am sowing this year’s successes.

Thankfully, I’m still ready, able, and willing to work for my harvest:

Luck is not chance, it’s toil. Fortune’s expensive smile is earned.

Emily Dickinson

So here’s to good fortune this next year on earth – for you; for me; for our families; and our friends. And as we stumble into failures seen and unseen, let those not deter us from fulfilling our full potential.

Then come the following year, we can repeat the process; building a lifetime worthy of remembering – of celebrating – of having won in the margins.

Good fortune everyone – let’s go to work!


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