Archive for March, 2011


straight from the horse’s mouth

Want to find out which horse will win the race? Get it straight from the horse’s mouth. It’s one step closer to the truth than from the jockey. I recently listened to a news channel ask a Catholic priest whether the civil unrest and rise in natural disasters was signaling the end-times referred to in the Holy Bible. Rather than reference the scriptures, he gave his opinion.

Now whether you believe the Bible is the inerrant word of God or not, there is no doubt that this gentleman missed a perfect opportunity to look to the text. For those of you not familiar with the book of Revelation, the last canonical book of the New Testament, there is quite a bit of information regarding prophetic end-times. Too bad the priest couldn’t have cited a verse directly from there.

Biographies offer the same type of “straight from the horse’s mouth” information, especially autobiographies. Who better to know what Lincoln or Patton suffered than Lincoln or Patton? So next time someone asks your opinion, skip the opining and get to the facts, i.e., the direct message of the other person. In order to accomplish this you will have to be well-read, open-minded, and of small ego.

In the grand scheme of things, opinions are vastly different from truths. Wendell Phillips said, “Truth is one forever absolute, but opinion is truth filtered through the moods, the blood, the disposition of the spectator.” One way to keep your search for truth on the proverbial high road is to go directly to the source. We should be thankful so many wise greats before us have taken the time to record their words for our edification.


what’s on your shelf?

Books were a constant presence in my house for as long as I can remember. I was started on the habit of reading at a very young age; so young, in fact, I think I read How to Win Friends and Influence People and The Power of Positive Thinking before I cracked open The Pokey Little Puppy and Green Eggs and Ham.

But in all seriousness, I clearly understood the criticality of reading personal development material at a very early age. After earning my degree and beginning my professional years, however, I found myself reading only things that taught me the “know how”. I read regulations when I was in the Air Force. I read technical manuals and procedures when I was in the semiconductor industry. I read contracts and policies when I was in the defense contracting world. I knew every single rule, regulation, and clause interpretation in the books.

But for all the brain smarts I packed into my head, I was not growing in wisdom; knowledge, perhaps, but not wisdom.

Just as there are people we meet who have varying degrees of impact upon us, the same is true of books. We need to read material that doesn’t just stimulate our thinking on the left or right sides of your brains; we need to read material that will stimulate our hearts. Material that will show us not only the “know-how” but the “know-why”!

So take a look at what’s on your bookshelf. Is it solely comprised of technical manuals, contractual documents, or corporate policies and handbooks? Or are there books sprinkled in between that will develop you as a leader? You can’t have one without the other to truly be effective. So make sure you are getting a balanced reading diet to ensure you’re operating at peak efficiency!


talk may be cheap, but the written word is priceless

As a leader, everything is a reflection of who you are, even the pictures on your desk and the books on your shelf. Keep yours stocked with tremendous reading material and let your team know they are free to take them, read them, and share them.

Haines and Yaggy said, “You may judge a man more truly by the books and papers which he reads than by the company which he keeps.”

Books on the shelf give a sense of humility about the leader. They let the employee know that the boss is humble enough to read what others have to say about leadership so that they can be better themselves.

When people came to my father, Charlie “Tremendous” Jones, for answers, he’d pull a chosen book of the shelf and have the individual read a passage to him. He knew that allowing them to discover the answer themselves was far more powerful than spoon feeding the information.

As Brian Tracy said, “Difficulties are not to obstruct, but to instruct.” Be sensitive about getting in the way of the person’s learning journey. Simply open a book and let the words speak to each individual’s ears and hearts. They’ll find exactly what they need to know.

It’s tough to keep your mouth shut when people come to you with problems. It’s in our nature to want to help solve everyone’s issues with our own clever solutions. But if we deny someone the struggle of finding their own true answer, we deny them their victory. The path we forged may not be the best one for them.


the enemy of my enemy may still be my enemy

“Associate with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company.” George Washington

Former President George W. Bush recently declined to be on the same stage as WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at a leadership conference in Denver, Colorado. Whichever side you are on in this debate, I respect someone who stands on their morals and says, “I’m not going to associate with a reputation that is so at odds with my own.”

There’s an Arab proverb which states “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” There’s also the popular starlet slang term, “Frenemy”, which is an enemy disguised as a friend. In contemporary society, it is acceptable to be mixed into one big crowd. If you’re not comfortable with this, you’re labeled intolerant or unable to hold your own in a debate.

The professional reality is, however, that whom you choose to be seen with, associate with, and even share the stage with is critical. And who you can publically discredit or personally disrespect should have nothing to do with it. It has to do with your integrity and your loyalty.

We’re all big kids; I get that. Everyone has a choice to interact or to be associated with whomever they want. But it’s impossible for me to be affiliated with someone who I know has been disrespectful, vengeful, or criminal to someone or something I hold in high esteem.

Don’t just stand up for yourself; stand up for the people and values you hold nearest and dearest to your heart. They are an integral part of your character. And remember, if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.

Tremendous Tracey

CEO Tremendous Life Books. Book Evangelist

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March 2011

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