johnleskodotbiz

There are 3 types of people in this world.

In Communication, Epiphanies, Hero, leadership, Leave Your Comfort Zone on January 20, 2015 at 7:38 pm
Statue of Chris Kyle, American hero and author of American Sniper

Statue of Chris Kyle, American hero and author of American Sniper

Just yesterday, on the MLK Jr.-federal holiday, my wife and I went to see the movie, American Sniper. This movie is not for the faint of heart. But I encourage you to see it. Witness for yourself the story of a true American hero, Chris Kyle. Form your own opinions and, please, share these with your family and friends.

For me, the most telling aspects of this film are the following lessons:

a) Early in the movie we overhear a father teaching his children by way of a parable:

“There are three types of people in this world: sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs … Now, some people prefer to believe that evil doesn’t exist in the world — those are the sheep. And then you got predators who use violence to prey on the weak. They’re the wolves. And then there are those who have been blessed with the gift of aggression, and the overpowering need to protect the flock. These men are the rare breed that live to confront the wolf. They are the sheepdog.”

Chris Kyle was a sheepdog. And I’m betting that he’s still on watch as a member of St. Micheal‘s legion of angels ready to do battle against evil if called on again.

b) At the theater where I saw this movie, you could have heard a pin drop as the final credits of American Sniper rolled on screen. This AMC movie house was sold out and unlike when I’ve watched other war movies or action flicks at this same theater, no one let out an inappropriate hoop, holler, or even muttered one sarcastic word. Which leads me to my final point.

c) Now as for the comments by comedians Bill Maher and Seth Rogen or the acclaimed film-maker Michael Moore … Well, I don’t think that they are evil wolves. Rather, they are sheep. They live in and profit from a relatively safe environment made possible by men and women like Chris Kyle. And to put a finer point on this stick … It’s my opinion after watching the news and reading a few so-called news stories trending today, there’s not a ram in the bunch.

So the next time you run into a veteran. Do more than just thank him or her for their service. Smile. Shake their hand. And if you are in a hiring position — for this is Linked In, the social media network aimed at business — grant them an interview and give our veterans a little credit for standing up, stepping forward, and filling the role of sheepdog.

RESOLVE

In Alignment, Coaching, Conflict Resolution, How To, Leave Your Comfort Zone, time management, Toastmasters on December 30, 2014 at 6:37 pm
"You may be whatever you resolve to be." -- Thomas Jonathan Jackson

“You may be whatever you resolve to be.” — Thomas Jonathan Jackson

This is the time of year when many folks are on vacation or they check into work only to realize that their colleagues are still on vacation. So what does one do when the real work, the  collaborative team work cannot be done?

Well, you may decide to dive into that project that only you can do when you’re not interrupted by others. Or, you might pull out a clean sheet of paper and create a list under a title or scribble called:
New Years Resolutions,
Resolve in 2015,
Goals for the New Year, or (simply)
TO DO.

Those who go about making up their minds in a well-researched and organized way, one might GOOGLE the terms: resolutions or goal-setting just to see what’s trending. Nearly every news agency or media house has a feature story entitled “the top ten ____ for 2015” or (if they have one-half the space) “five secrets to success in the new year.”

The persistent folks among us might pull out their list from last year, assuming that they’ve kept these lists and haven’t yet crossed off all that was imagined last winter. 2015 will become an extension of 2014. Alternatively, that which didn’t get done last year may never get done and new obsessions will likely replace old fixations on how to perfect ourselves via healthier choices, stronger relationships, or an uncluttered house.

Regardless the category of people you best relate to, do yourself a favor and try to keep your list short and sweet. You are more likely to accomplish your goals if they are few in number and you can focus your attention and energy on completing one, two, or no more than three goals.

Success in the new year may be based on early victories and creating good habits. And who says that we have to start our year with such lists? Why not pause every couple of months to check on our progress, re-evaluate the costs/benefits of accomplishing these projects, and perhaps start anew.

Resolutions are like plans. It is not the resolution or the plan that’s important but the resolve you bring to your daily planning that ultimately pays off.

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Additional helpful / interesting websites:

http://www.usa.gov/Citizen/Topics/New-Years-Resolutions.shtml … for those looking to the US government for advice on making their resolutions

http://pittsburgh.about.com/od/holidays/tp/resolutions.htm … for my fellow Pittsburgh Steelers fans looking for guidance on what to do between playoff games

https://mediacenter.toastmasters.org/2014-12-10-Toastmasters-International-Lists-7-Most-Buzzworthy-Speeches-of-2014 … for my Toastmaster friends and those who enjoy reviewing lists of accomplishments from the past year

Will I be the HERO or the GOAT ?

In Active Learning, Active Listening, Cartooning, Coaching, Communication, leadership, Leave Your Comfort Zone, Toastmasters on November 17, 2014 at 6:58 pm

A few days ago I had the pleasure to present an educational workshop to members of Toastmasters International, District 36. This was a milestone event for me in my personal and professional development as a Toastmaster. You see, up until now I had presented material which for the most part had come from the curriculum developers who work at the California headquarters (a.k.a., “TI WHQ” or Toastmasters International World Headquarters).

With this event I had submitted several proposals to the fall conference program committee. (Three proposals if the whole story be told.) The conference committee in District 36 then selected the topic which best fit into their program. (And the proposal they selected — “Good grief!” — was the one I thought needed the most time for  preparation and research.) Now I was on the hook. Would I be the hero or the goat?

The title of the workshop was KNOW THYSELF. Yes, this title isn’t very original nor very creative. And I compounded this “error” with a long subtitle: Three Simple Exercises You Can Do When It’s Time to Reflect on Your Personal Effectiveness. Additionally for this workshop I provided a Know Thyself – Handout for the attendees on which they could jot a note or doodle.

I also created and displayed a graphic agenda based on the comic strip characters from the Peanuts gang. During my talk I acknowledged the genius of Charles Schulz as well as reminded the audience of how this session fit the fair use clause of U.S. copyright law.

This graphic agenda helped keep the audience on track as each cartoon represented a story and each line between the cartoons marked where we did an exercise.

This graphic agenda helped keep the audience on track as each cartoon represented a story and each line between the cartoons marked where we did an exercise.

Without repeating here the WHATs and the HOW TOs of the entire workshop, my intention and plans were to simply lead the audience through three interactive exercises. And as each of these exercises evolved, I’d coach the audience along a path that suggested that we can learn from the interactions between ourselves and others much as Charlie Brown learns of himself and of how his behavior affects the other characters in the Peanuts gang.

Themes for this 75-minute workshop included: envisioning success, defining ME-thinking and WE-thinking, thinking like a champion, and the importance of hiring or becoming a coach.

So how did this educational session go? And what did I learn from working with this audience? Yes, I’m going to have to work on creating more impelling titles and shorter sub-titles. Yes, I ran the risk of losing the attention of a few in the audience who don’t read the Sunday Comics. Yes, I probably tried to pack too much information into the time available.

That said, the results of the post-session evaluations suggest that I did well enough to use this material again. The vast majority of the feedback stated I did “Very Good” to “Excellent.” And there were a number of participants who came up to me afterwards to ask a question or share a personal thank you.

As a speaker, it is the people who come up to talk to you afterwards that I most remember. Some asked for me to explain a point in greater detail. A few asked me if I would share the complete citations from the books I held up during my talk. And several folks asked me if they might explore the option of working with me in the future. (Yay, team!)

So in the spirit of sharing my “cheat sheet,” here’s a link to my one-page “SpeakersNotes” that lists the main talking points. And here too (below the bibliography) are a few photos taken to capture the moment and/or illustrate these key talking points. And as for the four individuals who suggested on their evaluation sheets that I next time provide a bibliography with the one-page handout … Well, I hope you visit this blog.

Brene Brown. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. Gotham Books (Penguin Books), New York, New York, 2012

Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard. Management of Organizational Behavior: Utilizing Human Resources (4th Edition). Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1982.

George Leonary. Mastery: The Keys to Success and Long-Term Fulfillment. Dutton (Penguin Books), New York, New York, 1991.

Ralph C. Smedley. Personally Speaking. Toastmasters International, Santa Ana, California, 1966.

The D36 Fall Conference was held on Nov. 14-15, 2014 in Silver Spring, MD. Here is a photo of the Table Topic contestants. This contest was held immediately after the educational sessions. Which, by the way, is a very good reason to end on time so as not to upset the contest master.

The D36 Fall Conference was held on Nov. 14-15, 2014 in Silver Spring, MD. Here is a photo of the Table Topic contestants. This contest was held immediately after the educational sessions. Which, by the way, is a very good reason to end on time so as not to upset the contest master.

Props ... check. Microphone working ... Check (but didn't need it) ... Coach's hat and whistle if the crowd gets out of hand ... check (also not needed).

Props … check. Microphone working … Check (but didn’t need it) … Coach’s hat and whistle if the crowd gets out of hand … check (also not needed).

When a leader pauses to reflect on their behavior ("Me-thinking") and begins to consider others, that's when "WE-thinking" will emerge.

When a leader pauses to reflect on their behavior (“Me-thinking”) and begins to consider others, that’s when “WE-thinking” will emerge.

Here's a small advertisement or invitation for those who'd like to speak more about hiring or becoming a coach. Yes, if upon reading this blog you too would like to learn more. Drop me a line.

Here’s a small advertisement or invitation for those who’d like to speak more about hiring or becoming a coach. Yes, if upon reading this blog you too would like to learn more. Drop me a line.

Here's both the graphic agenda and a few annotations that served as notes from the session.

Here’s both the graphic agenda and a few annotations that served as notes from the session.

In today's day and age of taking "selfies," there's always someone who'll step up and strike a pose with you if you've got your smart phone ready.

In today’s day and age of taking “selfies,” there’s always someone who’ll step up and strike a pose with you if you’ve got your smart phone ready.

And at the end of the session there was a certificate of appreciation signed by the district governor, lieutenant governor education and training, conference chair, and education program chair. Wow! A special thank you to Yining Xie, John Kingsman, Fritzie Leroy, and Pamela Copeland (respectively).

And at the end of the session there was a certificate of appreciation signed by the district governor, lieutenant governor education and training, conference chair, and education program chair. Wow! A special thank you to Yining Xie, John Kingsman, Fritzie Leroy, and Pamela Copeland (respectively).

 

 

 

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