Archive for the 'developing others' Category


Enraptured or Enraptored?

dinospeakerHave you ever been listening to someone and wondered, “Who’s this bird and why, exactly, am I listening to him?” Truth be told, this thought constantly reverberates through my brain. And unfortunately, in today’s world of infinite inputs, there’s so much jibber-jabber taking place I actually have to make an effort to keep this question a part of my inner dialogue instead of blurting it right out in the open.

But there’s a reason for this. It’s not that I’m judgmental or elitist; it’s that I’m so experiential and pragmatic that I refuse to go on words alone. The old trust-but-verify is tattooed on my brain. In fact, whenever someone talks theory or hypotheticals with me, it does not compute. So in today’s world where we can’t swing a cat without hitting a consultant, speaker, trainer, leader, manager, entrepreneur, healer, dealer, free-wheeler, expert, or  some other self-proclaimed wizard, it pays to pay attention. No one can lead you further than they themselves have gone so it is absolutely critical, if you want to grow, that you follow the trail and guidance of a Sherpa who’s actually made it to the summit.

Back in the 90s there was a great book called Dinosaur Brains: Dealing with All THOSE Impossible People at Work that was all about the Jurassic Jerks that many of us have to cope with every day. So how can you tell if a person is premier or primeval and whether you should stick around to hear what they have to say? Let’s take a trip back in time and retrace the evolution of some modern-day birds of prey to learn if they want to help you take flight or make you crash and burn.

Velociraptor: The name means “swift seizer” and this is the predatory predecessor to the vulture. Quick to take the words right out of your mouth, and the dollars out of your pocket, this one has made it to the top by using others. You are nothing but a means to an end. Relentless and unscrupulous, they draw you into their lush nest proclaiming that this too can all be yours, if you just become one of them. The problem with these birds is that they have to accumulate ever more naïve fledglings in order to fluff their own domain. Their power derives not from what they’ve accomplished but from how many people are beneath them supporting their roost.

Velocicraptor:  This bird is the predecessor of the seagull. It typically enters the arena touted as an outside expert sent into the bowels of your organization to fix whatever the managers inside could not take care of. Not to be confused with outside input, which can allow you to see things previously hidden to you, this bird comes in, makes a bunch of noise, craps all over everyone, and then leaves with a big fat check clutched firmly in its talons. If you take input from someone who’s changed jobs/industries/partners/spouses, etc. in a repetitive or abrupt fashion, be forewarned. Their flight path is most likely marked by a path of poop and destruction. If someone seems too good to be true, they are. So don’t buy it.

Velociyaktor: If you find yourself in the presence of someone who won’t stop mimicking the actions, words, or thoughts of others, you have just encountered the original myna bird. They recite whatever junk du jour they can find because they have nothing in their own repertoire to sing. Just like all great actors, they create a scene on life’s stage so real you’d swear it was actually happening. But life isn’t a play, it’s reality, so don’t take council from a parrot-like, pull-string puppet. Living vicariously through others only counts in science fiction.

So you’re probably thinking, “Why so snarky, Tracey? Everybody’s got to make a buck, right? And if a person is too stupid to spot a phony, it’s on them!” Wrong. Representing yourself as possessing wisdom worth sharing with others is an incredibly serious thing. And you MUST be on the up and up about who you are and just why you are qualified to speak on any topic and what action you are requesting others to take.  Otherwise you are a huckster, a fraud, or my all-time favorite old-timey word, a charlatan. Being disingenuous is not just about lying and letting the buyer beware. It’s about the less evolved getting caught up in a quagmire of ego and deceit. So don’t listen to these primordial birds; after all, they’re headed for extinction just like their famous ancestors.


Do Unto Somebody What Somebody Did For You

mentoringToday is Thank Your Mentor Day! Without mentors, this world would have ceased to exist a long time ago. Indeed, mentoring gives you the chance to live your life over and over again, well into eternity.  And to honor those who shaped my world in ways I never could have done alone, I salute you and share three ways you can pay it forward so someone else can have a tremendous life!

Feel My Pain: Life is too short to make every mistake there is to make. This is where a mentor can save you years of anguish and unspeakable pain. We like to think that to be a mentor we have to constantly be dispensing all kinds of crazy wisdom and dazzling brilliance. But did you know that one of the best ways you can mentor others is by sharing your mistakes? There is something inherently redemptive about bearing witness to your own pain in an effort to lessen the pain of others. Thank you Cumberland Valley School District for showing me numerous classroom films that vividly displayed the effects of drinking and driving, chewing my food too quickly, contracting STDs and other horrors of becoming sexually active,  and frying your brain on drugs. You saved me from some of life’s biggest mistakes!

The Door of Opportunity: Many of us feel that mentors are supposed to be these unbelievably well-connected individuals who, with one call or nod of the head, can make the impossible happen.  While it’s really great if you have such a person among your contacts, being a mentor is as simple as providing developmental opportunities for your mentee and taking an interest in developing them. In other words, by making a simple recommendation or submitting someone for an award, you create a favorable circumstance for them. Case in point: in 1984 I was a cadet at New Mexico Military Institute preparing to graduate. I was uncertain what I should do next academically when my Air Liaison Officer, Major John Schaeffer, nominated me for admission to the US Air Force Academy. I didn’t realize this was going on behind the scenes until he handed me my acceptance letter. The fact that he took the time and effort to put my name in the hat for such an incredible opportunity is still one of the most defining moments of my life.

A Few Good Words: All great mentors are able to get right to the point with the fewest of words. Too often we erroneously assume that we have to invest years and countless interactions before we can make a difference in someone’s life. This is just not true. A few words said at just the right time may be all someone needs to launch them into orbit. When my father was on his last breath, he squeezed my hand and told me he knew I would take his business to levels he never could. That was the sum total of our succession planning and the only thing I needed to propel me forward. Even years later, I still feel the squeeze of his hand and the whisper of his voice as I put my nose to the grindstone and go about the challenges of running a business.

So go out there and do for others what somebody did for you! Share some insights, submit an award, make a phone call, or utter a word of encouragement. You never know what these small, yet incredibly impactful, events might make on someone’s life. I know what a difference it made in mine, and I will continue to live the Golden Rule of Mentoring until my last breath and then spend an eternity watching the legacy unfold.

Tremendous Tracey

CEO Tremendous Life Books. Book Evangelist

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March 2020

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