EVERY Small Thing Matters!

I frequently talk about the small things that transform lives. I usually do so from a positive perspective. For example, a smile or a compliment can brighten someone’s day. Let’s turn it around and see if the principle also works in a negative manner. We’ll explore it with the following questions.

  • How many times does an adult have to use profane or vulgar language before a child mimics the words?
  • How many times must a person drink and drive before they cause a fatal accident?
  • How many acts does it take to start a bad habit?
  • How much LSD is too much?
  • How long does one second feel when you’ve already held your breath for 60 seconds?
  • How many times must we neglect or offend someone before they are hurt emotionally?
  • How long will “a donut a day” be a harmless habit?
  • Can you get a $4.00 car wash if you’re one coin short?
  • From Chris DiMarco’s perspective, how important was a centimeter when Tiger Woods ball sat still on the edge of hole #16 at the 2005 Masters’ Tournament before it eventually trickled in?
  • From silver medalist Milorad Cavic’s perspective how important was 1/100 of a second when Michael Phelps won the 100 meter butterfly event in the 2008 Olympics at Beijing?
  • How important is 1/10th of a grade point in a race to be Valedictorian.
  • How important could one more SAT point be on an application to Harvard University?
  • How important is one punctuation mark?
    • I’m sorry I love you.
    • I’m sorry; I love you.

Is there an element of luck, good or bad, in the outcomes of these small matters? Perhaps sometimes, but I believe our chosen actions, at the very least, play with probability even when they don’t directly determine results. Instead of assuming we’re merely on the receiving side of luck, we should ask, “What did I do to shift the odds in my favor?  What will I do differently the next time to assure a more positive outcome?”

Zig Ziglar said, “Every choice you make has an end result.” Our beliefs, attitudes and actions are choices that influence outcomes.  He also said, “The choice to have a great attitude is something that nobody or no circumstance can take from you.” These choices, whether one-and-done or habitual, are real regardless of whether the matter at hand is small or large; positive or negative; important or irrelevant.

What choices will you make today with greater care than yesterday?  Visit www.CrossAbilities.com to see available choices waiting for you to decide.

10 Incontestable Truths of Training and Development

“When you invest a dollar in a person, you get $10 back.
When you invest a dollar in a machine, you get $2 back.”

– Clay Mathile (Source: http://www.flyernews.com)

1.  People ARE your most valuable asset.  This is reality, not an empty cliché.  It’s time for more organizations to walk their talk.

“Let us cultivate our garden.” ― Voltaire

2.  People need maintenance and upgrades even more than machines do.  Retraining is maintenance.  Training is an upgrade.  Development is the next generation model.

“If you bought a million dollar machine,
would you use it continuously without inspections,
maintenance and upgrades?  Of course no
Do you care as much about the upkeep of your people?”

3.  Training is NOT for everyone.  Only invest in the employees you intend to keep.  By the way, what about yourself!

“Floss only the teeth you want to keep.” ― Zig Ziglar

“A staff can be no better than the man it serves.” ―David Halberstam

4.  Development is NOT an event.  It’s a continuous, lifelong process, necessary for the health of both the organization and individual.

“No matter how good you get you can always get better,
and that’s the exciting part.”
― Tiger Woods

5.  The outcome of development is change.  Define your change objectives and inspect the results.

“When you reread a classic, you do not see more in the book than you did before;
you see more in you than there w
as before.” ― Cliff Fadiman

6.  Development is an investment, NOT an expense. Paying expenses keeps the doors open.  Investing opens new doors. Investments are for organizations that expect to be around for the long haul. In fact, investments make the long haul feasible.

“If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.” ― Derek Bok

7.  Training is a risk/reward proposition.  Like financial investments, the greater the risks, the higher the potential return.  Choosing the right training programs, the right participants and the right service provider reduces the risks AND increases the dividends.

“Necessity is the mother of ‘taking chances’” ― Mark Twain

8.  Development, like all planned change, is strategic.  Strategic thinkers do not put the training budget in the discretionary spending column. When organizational strategy is being discussed, smart thinkers give the training director a seat at the table.

“Change before you have to.” ― Jack Welch

“If you do not change, you can become extinct!” ―Spencer Johnson

9.  Training builds morale.  Investing in people demonstrates they have a future with the organization. To build a team of loyal, fully engaged, high achievers, hire the right people then invest in their development regularly.

“The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.” ― Plutarch

10. The organization must lead if relevant development is to occur.  Use your influence to leverage the change your organization needs.

“Which came first: the change-ready company
or the change-ready employee?”
― Lorii Myers



Too Busy for Opportunity

It may be true or just perception, but the 21st century seems to find people busier than ever.  Human civilization has never known so many choices for passing the time.  Naturally we’ve responded by cramming an extraordinary amount of stuff onto our calendar, which some find pleasing and others find disturbing.

“If you observe a really happy man, you will find… that he is happy in the course of living life twenty-four crowded hours each day.” — W. Beran Wolfe

“Time is that quality of nature which keeps events from happening all at once. Lately it doesn’t seem to be working.” — Anonymous

One of the consequences of our bounty is that we have become experts at using our hectic lives as a shield against change.   “This week is bad for me.”  “I’m swamped.”  “We’re having a minor crisis at work.”

“There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full.” — Henry Kissinger (1923- )

“A schedule defends from chaos and whim.” — Annie Dillard

Ah yes, little white lies!  That’s what the “lack of time excuse” is.  The truth is, people can always find time to do what matters most. (Remember the parable of the mayonnaise jar.)  So it’s hard to understand why anyone would use this type of worn out excuse, especially in response to an opportunity.  For example, I imagine being offered the chance to play golf with Tiger Woods at Augusta National.  Do I jump at it?  On the surface there would appear to be plenty of reasons not to.   “The timing is bad.”  “I can’t possibly get away from work.”  One thing I do know, if I ever passed up an opportunity this big because of a phony issue with my calendar, my golf buddies would smack me silly.

“Calendars are for careful people, not passionate ones.” — Chuck Sigars, The World According to Chuck weblog, September 8, 2003

The idea of bad timing is totally misunderstood.  People tend to think timing is all about their own situation, when it’s really about the timing of the opportunity.  To capitalize on opportunities, we must understand that we all have some measure of control over our own schedules.  If something is important enough, it is almost always possible to rearrange the calendar for an opportunity.  On the other hand, we have much less control over opportunities, which come and go with or without our prior permission.  Instead of taking bold action, people rationalize that the opportunity requires an empty calendar.  Think of any missed opportunity and see if you can find yourself anywhere in the following depiction:

September:  “I have so much on my plate right now.  The kids just started school and it’s soccer season.  Let’s wait until things settle down.”

October:  “I think Junior’s team is going to make the play-offs.  Can we please wait until those are over in November?”

November:  “I wrecked my car.  As soon as I get that taken care of we’ll talk.”

Two weeks later:  “I’m almost ready.  How about right after Thanksgiving?”

December:  “I forgot about how busy the holidays are.  For sure, first of the year.”

January:  “Lot’s of flu going around.  Call me back when we’re all healthy.”

Three weeks later:  “Can you believe all the snow we’ve had?  I really hate driving in bad weather.  I need to wait until it warms up.”

March:  “You know, Spring Break is almost here and we are taking the family to DisneyWorld. Call me when I return.”

April:  “Sorry, its tax time and I’m swamped at work.  Hopefully next month will be better.”

May:  “Just too many irons in the fire right now.  I’m coordinating the family reunion for Memorial Day weekend.  June for sure, I promise.”

June:  “Well, I know it’s time to get going, but there are a bunch of weddings and graduations on the calendar.  Please be patient just a little bit longer.”

Two weeks later:  “You can’t expect me to start with July the 4th right around the corner.  The rest of July looks wide open.”

July 5th:  “Did I really say that?  I guess I forgot about my two-week vacation and there’s so much to get done before then.”

August: “I’ve absolutely got to get caught up on the yard work and house repairs.  I couldn’t possibly take on something new right now.  Let’s wait until those chores are out of the way.”

September (again):  “I have so much on my plate right now.  The kids just started school and it’s soccer season.  Let’s wait until things settle down later this fall.”

If you always wait for every traffic light to turn green before starting something, you will NEVER start anything.  Go out on a limb – that’s where the fruit is!

God bless,

— CC