Archive for November, 2010


please stop surprising me with your “disingenuity”

Gen George S. Patton said, “Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.” I adore this quote and Patton is one of my heroes, but was he serious? You mean if I simply tell people something simple like, “create a new rental contract for my signature?”, they will surprise me with their resourcefulness and not sink me with a million follow-on questions such as, “where is the old contract?”, “why was I tasking them?”, “am I sure the old one has expired?”, and “is that part of my job description?”. Sure enough, in the time I spend answering their umpteen questions I could have just as easily done the task myself. But that’s not leading, I’m told, and I dutifully delegate, fighting the urge to pull it out of their hands to complete it myself.

I get it; the type of person who immediately takes the reins on any task, begins researching, problem solving, and just plain moving in a direction with purpose is just one horn shy of a unicorn. If you have one of these in your company, or the blessing of having one as a direct report or in your chain of command: Rejoice!!! You are truly a blessed and fortunate employer/boss.

If you don’t have any of these, may I suggest you let the donkeys out of the stable and find some of these noble steeds to take their places. That is the job of a leader; the constant refining of the herd, swapping out new cards for the best hand, turning up the stove just one more degree to get the business to boil! Do not succumb to The Law of Average whereby you just drift along paycheck by paycheck, sucking your thumb and complaining about how stupid management is all the day long.

The next time you get asked to do something, do it! If you’ve got questions, research them rather than asking your superior to play the Shell Answer Man or Woman. And if you want a tremendous role model to live up to, read A Message to Garcia by Elbert Hubbard. This little classic will tell you everything you need to know about working with people and allow you to see if you have “General” material within you! You don’t have to surprise me with your ingenuity; I’ll take action any day!


a thanksgiving day prayer

My father, Charlie “Tremendous” Jones said this prayer every year at our Thanksgiving Day gathering: “Father, we thank You for our food, but Lord, if we had no food, we would want to thank You just the same. Because we aren’t thankful just for what You give us, we are thankful most of all for the privilege of learning to be thankful.”

It’s easy to love your friends, difficult to love your enemies. It’s easy to be thankful when things are going well, tough to be thankful when things are not. If love is the greatest force in the universe, then I’d have to say thankfulness has to be a very close second. Both of these ideals stand alone, and in their purest unconditional form free from person, possession or circumstance. They just are. Cicero said, “A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all other virtues.”

Gratitude, like failure, is one of the great spices of life, enriching the experience and adding flavor to the daily gruel we are served. The best things in life put you on an infinite loop. The more I give the more I receive. I can reflect love in a limitless capacity by simply giving it. I can create thankfulness just through the simple act of being thankful. So take a break this Thanksgiving Day and repeat the above prayer. Forget listing all the things and people you have in your life and just rejoice in the growing awareness that your heart has the privilege of thankfulness.


Karaoke Leadership

My father, the late Charlie “Tremendous” Jones, loved to sing as much as he loved to speak and write. Growing up in a big family, our summers involved RVs of various shapes and sizes driving books, baggage, and babies to the next speaking engagement. But one thing’s for sure, we were always singing. My father began collecting player pianos and rolls. People would come by the house and we’d end up surrounding the piano singing patriotic or show tunes. He adored “Fiddler on the Roof”, “Dr. Zhivago”, and “The Sound of Music”.

Then came the advent of the karaoke machine and all of its many affordable versions where folks could purchase this wondrous invention and have it in their very own home! Like the player pianos, my father also pursued these with gusto. His favorite of all was a Christmas karaoke machine. In fact, he purchased one for each of his children. He had a Christmas room at his house in central Pennsylvania that he kept decorated with lights, angels, toy trains and the sounds of the Christmas karaoke year round.

Thousands of people visited the Christmas room and each one was “invited” to sing along. Being invited meant that the microphone was thrust in front of you. Voice quality, tone or timbre, meant nothing to my father. It was all about the joy of making everyone feel included. And folks loved it. Even the ones who croaked like frogs and couldn’t carry the proverbial tune in a bucket.

Lately I’ve heard several great speakers tell sales people to shut up and let the customer talk. I’ve even had our campaign committee trainer teach us that we needed to be quiet and let the donor talk. When I graduated from the Air Force Academy, our Air Officer Commander (AOC) gave us each a squadron plaque. Attached to the back of mine was a personal note where my AOC expressed the fact that he wished I would have applied to be our Squadron Commander. I was shocked! I had no idea he thought that I could do the job! Why hadn’t he asked me? Why hadn’t he passed the proverbial microphone?

You control the microphone. Never pass up the opportunity to put it in front of the other person. People love to talk, they love to be heard; they love to be asked their opinion or asked to fulfill a role. Not everyone is a type A extrovert ready and willing to grab the microphone. Many of us are just waiting our turn in line to be asked or given the opportunity to have the loudest voice in the room. Remember to intentionally pass that microphone around, at the meetings, at social gathering, in your home. Ensure everyone has a chance to be the center of it all, even if they haven’t asked to be there.


Can You Ever Really Bury the Hatchet?

After last week’s election results I hear a lot about “burying the hatchet”. In essence, the new strategy is to forget about all that happened in the past and move towards the future without any recollection of what’s previously transpired. While this may be admirable, this is certainly not feasible unless everything in the present situation (who, where, when and what) is completely changed from the past. The only time I have ever heard of such a permanent reversal in events is when people become cleansed by the blood of Christ per the Holy Bible’s plan of salvation.

I remember a time in my career when I was at odds with another commander in our military unit. We had very different priorities and ideas about what constituted safety and compliance. One Christmas, this person said to me that in the spirit of the season, we should bury the hatchet. Problem is, unless something is dramatically altered, there is no chance of this happening.

It’s like the dog that has fleas. I can dip him in a flea bath and get rid of the little buggers, but unless I change his bedding and where he lives and what he rolls around in, he’s going to get fleas again and again. The flea hatchet will rear its ugly head repeatedly unless something is significantly altered. And if the thing that requires significant alteration is held as a non-negotiable by either party, there will be no burying of anything. The only thing that will exist is the reality of what’s about to transpire: the exact same thing as before.

So before you offer an olive branch, wave the white flag, or say the words “bury the hatchet”, make sure that you are ready and willing to completely alter something in yourself or something that significantly impacts you. Otherwise, the only thing you’re going to bury is your own credibility.

Tremendous Tracey

CEO Tremendous Life Books. Book Evangelist

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November 2010

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