Spinning the Positive

Every coin has a flipside. Every inside has an outside. Every “No” response has a “Yes” alternative.

At the Disney University, I’ve heard that one of the class assignments is to go out into the theme park and find a few Disney “cast members” and ask a question for which the reasonable answer would be “No” … and listen to the well-trained responses. What Disney knows is what all great communicators, sales professionals, leaders, and customer service representatives know… When faced with a request you cannot grant or to which you cannot agree, a response filled with sincere empathy and a focus on what is possible will always be the better answer and often save the client, sale, online review, and future relationship.

“Can I march in the parade next to Cinderella?” “Oh, how I would love to say yes to that! You’d make a perfect prince charming. What I can do is recommend the best place to sit and watch the parade so you’ll feel like you’re practically in it!”

“I forgot my wallet. Can I take my hamburger and come back in a minute and pay you for it?” “Gosh, don’t you hate it when that happens? So frustrating to wait in line and then realize you can’t pay. Here’s what I’ll do… I’ll put your meal right here where it will stay perfectly warm and when you find your wallet, just come right up to the front of the line and I’ll ring you right up.”

Here’s a real experience that happened to me. Last year, while attending the Speaking Consulting Network annual conference in Anaheim, I enjoyed a truly amazing farm-to-fork meal at a restaurant called The Ranch with three of my favorite colleagues. The service was impeccable, the atmosphere charming, and the healthy, delicious food was perfectly prepared. Throw in rich, meaningful, and funny conversation with good friends and it was a truly lovely evening. Only one problem. In my haste to leave, I left my credit card and receipt and didn’t realize it until I was home a few days later.

I called The Ranch and asked if they had found it. The none-too-friendly gal that answered confirmed that, “Yes, we do have a credit card in your name locked away in our secure vault.” Great news! May I give you my address so you can send it to me? “No, we cannot mail credit cards to people who leave them.” Okay. I don’t live nearby. How about I ask a local friend to stop by and pick it up for me? “No, we can only give the card to the owner with a matching ID.” Hmmmm. Okay. Help me out here. This is a corporate credit card with all kinds of bill payments, subscriptions, and for God sakes, my one-click Amazon account tied to it. (I’m starting to get pretty riled up now!) Not only don’t I live nearby but we are leaving the next day for several weeks of travel. Can you just hold on to it for a month or so until I return and spend the 4 – 5 hours round trip it will take to retrieve it? “No, we destroy the cards after 2 weeks.” Is there a manager I speak with? “No, he won’t be in until after 3 today. I can ask him to call you but I don’t think he’ll be able to do anything. These are our policies.”

No empathy. No solutions. No Bueno.

If I were a communications coach for The Ranch, a business who clearly cares about their patron’s experience, here’s what I would advise as a better trained response:

“Great news, Mrs. Belt, we do have your credit card and we’ve kept it secure in our vault hoping you would call. How can I help reunite you with it? Do you live nearby where you can come in to claim it?” No, I don’t. “I’m so very sorry for the hassle of all this for you. We typically can’t mail it or give it to anyone other than the cardholder but if you’d like, I will speak to my manager to see if there is any other arrangement we can make for you. Worst case, we’ll put a note on your card that you’ll be picking up sometime over the next few months. If you forget, we can certainly give you a courtesy call before we actually destroy it. How would that work, Mrs. Belt?”

You can’t always change your policies. Sometimes, the rules are the rules because, well, attorney’s advice and all. But there are very few events where we cannot focus on what is possible, what we can do, and what will work. And there is never a time when true empathy doesn’t soften the hardest news.

This week reinforce with your team how to meet clients with a positive, can-do, empathic attitude and response. The Golden Rule is a good one. Treat folks the same way you’d like to be treated and give them a reason to stick with you even if the answer is actually, “No.”

* * * * * * * * * *

This week we are recycling a favorite MMS. Our new subscribers will enjoy
Katherine’s story and the lessons she took from the experience. And to all of our
MMS readers who have been loyal subscribers from the beginning… you’ll remember
why we love seeing the world of business and life through the eyes of The Lioness.

* * * * * * * * * *


“Don’t dwell on what went wrong. Instead, focus on what to do next.
Spend your energies on moving forward toward finding the answer.”
~Denis Waitley, Author and Motivational Speaker


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Rules Without Relationship = Rebellion

She’s late. Again. It’s only 5 minutes but it’s the principle of the thing. She knows the rules. It’s noticed by everyone on your team and how you handle it will send a leadership message to them all.

Any moment you attempt to influence, teach, calm, inspire, or motivate someone or negotiate, mediate, clarify, or reason with anyone… you are in a leadership position. Every action we take and every time we open our mouths (or choose not to), we have the opportunity to demonstrate effective leadership.

Effective leaders communicate with two objectives: clarity and inspiration. The title quote (from Andy Stanley) is a version of those two things: Rules (Clarity) and Relationship (Inspiration). Without both, leaders come off as either dictatorial and uncaring or passive and wishy-washy.

We live in a rule-based society. Speed limits, fishing licenses, chewing with your mouth closed. Rules of conduct govern our lives and, for the most part, maintain order and keep chaos at bay. Rules are the buoys we bump into as we mature and navigate down the water way of life which form our behavior and expectations. When you own, manage, or belong to a business, family, or organization, the rules of that organization create a culture, hopefully one of which you enjoy being a member. We often choose businesses to work for or organizations to join based on how we feel about their “rules” and culture: I work 40 hours a week… you pay me our agreed-upon wage; You abide by the rules of our employee manual (dress code, work ethic, job description)… I continue to employ you; You take out the trash and walk the dog every day… I pay your weekly allowance.

But whether we become loyal to that group, fight to remain a member, and champion them privately in our hearts and publicly out in the world, is another story. That is where “relationship” (inspiration) comes in.

We want to live and work with people who, for the most part, choose to be there because the culture and the relationships nurture and feed us and make our lives better. As a leader, you must be clear about your expectations and standards. This is your responsibility and your prerogative. I believe there is much to be gained if you can divorce your emotions from the communication of your “rules.” Be brief, be clear, and be neutral. Unapologetic is different than threatening or angry. Sincerity and caring is different than passiveness.

Great leaders also have a natural confidence that things will work out, either way. Most often they take the position that both can be right (no judgment), but it might not be a good fit culturally at this time. They don’t “hope” to sever the relationship but they don’t fear it either. Or at least they are confident they will survive and that confidence comes through in their communications.

Rules and Clarity: “If you choose to work with this team, the expectation is you will be here, in this room, with schedules and pre-checked charts, dressed for clinical operations at 7:45 a.m. every morning.”

Relationship and Inspiration: “Sara, the rules in our (my) practice are to be here, in this room, with schedules and pre-checked charts, dressed for clinical operations at 7:45 a.m. every morning… no exceptions. You were late again this morning and to continue to work with us you will need to be here ready to go at 7:45. I understand you have childcare issues and I’ll understand if this is not a good fit for your life currently and your other responsibilities which are understandably important to you. I want you to work here and I respect your commitment to your family. I’m hoping you can find a way to work this out. Please let me know if I can help you in any way to find resources or solutions. I’m very sincere in that offer and I know you’ll make the decision which is right for your life. Are there questions I can answer for you about this?”

This “relationship” part of the equation works best… well, when there actually is a relationship. If you really do care about understanding someone’s perspective and life goals, you’ve asked about it and listened to them. If you really do honor someone’s role outside your office, as a parent for example, then you’ve asked about their children and spouse, you know their names and are genuinely interested in them as a whole person. This is the piece that causes people to genuinely want to abide by the rules instead of having to abide by the rules.

Rules – Relationship = Rebellion

Rules + Relationship = Respect

* * * * * * * * * *
This week we are recycling a favorite MMS.  Our new subscribers will enjoy 
Katherine’s story and the lessons she took  from the experience.  And to all of our 
MMS readers who have been loyal subscribers from the beginning… you’ll remember 
why we love seeing the world of business and life through the eyes of The Lioness.
* * * * * * * * * *

“You do not lead by hitting people over the head. That’s assault, not leadership.”
~Dwight D. Eisenhower

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Becoming Family

As my eyes scan down the outbound flights looking for my gate on the airport monitor, the word “delayed” sticks out like a flashing red light amongst all the other flights which say “on time.” My flight from San Diego to Seattle is delayed two hours. Oh well… This is how I keep my gold card status at Starbucks.

Returning to the gate 90 minutes later to check on the progress, I can sense the frustration from the crowd and correctly assume more delays may be in my immediate future. I innocently ask a man leaning on his roller bag, “What’s the latest word?”

“Well, they said one more hour but I’ve been hearing that for the last 24 hours since yesterday in Cancun. Next time, I’ll fly anyone other than Alaska Airlines.”

Turns out the plane has had a defogger issue which has delayed about 70 passengers trying to get home from Mexico since yesterday. The broken part has now been replaced and is “drying” and we are awaiting clearance to fly. The delayed passengers are tired, frustrated, and cranky. The counter agent is not helping matters with her exasperated “Don’t blame me… I didn’t cause this mess… What do you want me to do about it?” attitude.

Eventually, we do get clearance and, as luck would have it, I’m seated right next to the same man I spoke with earlier and his wife. Also on the plane are about 40 young servicemen destined for an advanced training assignment in Washington.

When we’re finally on the plane, it now becomes the daunting task of the flight attendants and pilots to manage and appease this group of disgruntled passengers and boisterous servicemen. As the man beside me grumbles loudly, making sarcastic remarks to his wife, I thought to myself, “Good luck.”

However, what I witnessed next was nothing short of a customer service miracle… a true study in positive client relations.

The pilot quickly spoke to us, apologizing, thanking us for our amazing patience, and assuring us he would do everything in his power to make up as much time on our return flight as possible. He also acknowledged the contribution of the servicemen on board which got everyone clapping… and slightly distracted. After takeoff, the flight attendants were generous and hyper-attentive, handing out blankets, pillows, headphones, and free drinks and snacks, chatting conversationally, patting shoulders, smiling, soothing. As the three-hour flight unfolded and the pilot announced he had, in fact, made up some time, the mood began to lighten and the flight team began to cautiously use some humor. As we got ready to descend for our landing, the pilot said, “Folks, here are the 7 words you’ve been waiting soooo long to hear: Flight attendants, prepare the cabin for landing!” A loud cheer erupted! Once again he honored the patience of the delayed passengers as well as the sacrifice of the men in uniform and wished them wisdom, safety, and a speedy return to their loved ones.

The flight attendants, as they walked down the aisle checking for seat belts and tray tables, looked each person squarely in the eye, personally apologizing and sincerely thanking them. They had given enough free drinks and TLC to the grumpy man beside me to completely win him over. By the time we landed, he was laughing and joking with one of the flight attendants who I think had made him her very own pet project.

As we finally touched down and began to taxi to our gate, we heard the flight attendant’s voice over the loudspeaker, “Well folks, we’ve been on a long, long, long journey together and we want you to know that in spite of some negative circumstances, we really, truly (and I mean this sincerely) had a great time today connecting and serving all of you. We all pulled together, became a family of sorts, and we hope, as in all good families, you’ll be willing to forgive our shortcomings and give us another chance in the future to show you just how much we really do care about you and your business.”

To this, there were loud cheers and a rousing round of applause… even from my tipsy seatmate.

This team of committed professionals had transformed this tough crowd and taken the fire right out of the dragon’s mouth. They were transparent, sincere, generous, connected, and intentional. It was amazing to watch.

Remember, in any business, mistakes happen. You won’t get it right all the time but if you can keep your cool, remain humble and patient and, most of all, intentional in your objective to serve… you can transform even the gruffest client or the toughest crowd.

And free drinks and snacks never hurt.

********************

This week we are recycling a favorite MMS.  Our new subscribers will enjoy
Katherine’s story and the lessons she took  from the experience.  And to all of our
MMS readers who have been loyal subscribers from the beginning… you’ll remember
why we love seeing the world of business and life through the eyes of The Lioness.

********************

“Customers don’t expect you to be perfect.
They do expect you to fix things when they go wrong.”

~ Donald Porter, VP British Airways

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Start Small. . .But Start!

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

How do you build a cathedral? You place the first cornerstone.

How do you start a thousand-mile journey? With a single step.

How do you grow a majestic oak tree? By planting one small seed.

Whether it’s building a new website, writing a book, remodeling your office, mastering a new skill, or losing weight… big projects or goals can feel overwhelming. And most of us tend to procrastinate the overwhelming efforts in our life.

Today, you could identify two example websites to show to a web designer. This week, you could get the book outlined. This month, you could schedule one hour to work with your team and review the protocols for handling your most challenging telephone calls. This weekend, you could drink more water and eat two pieces of fruit as a snack.

Next week, you can add one more step. Go easy. Enjoy the process. Be kind to yourself. Win the short game over and over, and you ultimately win long one.

Little steps. Small commitments. One move in the direction of your goals and dreams. No more procrastination on those things you really want. This week start small but start.


“Be not afraid of growing slowly. Be afraid only of standing still. “
Chinese Proverb

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Still Cookin’

It may go down as my all-time favorite childhood memory: The smell of my grandmother’s homemade pecan and raisin cinnamon rolls baking in the oven – “love in a pan” – made especially for me because she knew they were my favorite. Several times during what seemed to me as an everlasting, agonizing, eternal baking process, she would say, in a not-so-subtle, louder than normal voice, “Let’s just see how these little guys are doing in here…” She would carefully crack open the oven door which would release yet another intensifying wave of mouthwatering aromas: spicy cinnamon, softening raisins, melting butter, rising yeast, and caramelizing brown sugar. Of course, as if on command and pulled by the magnetic force of that smell, I came running to watch as the small, white balls of dough began to transform into swollen, golden brown bits of heaven dripping with all kinds of gooey goodness.

“Ummm… Not quite done yet… Almost, though.” She’d say with a smile, as she closed the oven door again and, with a wink, gently dabbed the drool from my chin and sent me back out to play.

Here’s what she didn’t say as she looked at her rolls halfway through the baking process: “Oh, my goodness! These are all wrong!” or “This recipe must be bad!” or “I knew this wouldn’t be worth all the trouble!” Of course, like us, she knew they just weren’t done yet. They didn’t look right because they were still in the process. There was nothing wrong with the recipe because, well, I’m not exactly sure she actually used one. Every time they turned out a little different and always, ultimately perfect. Even if she wasn’t totally satisfied, she’d say, “I’ll just put in a little more sugar next time.” It was an organic, intuitive way of developing and creating and refining.

I’m sure when she died, though I didn’t ask her, she would have said her cinnamon roll recipe was still not quite “done” yet and was still evolving.

In our lives, we look at all sorts of things, people, and circumstances and say, or at least think to ourselves, “This is wrong. This is bad. This shouldn’t be this way.” How different would it be if we changed our internal dialogue from “That’s wrong” to “It’s just not quite done yet”?

There are bad things happening in the world around us. We see pictures of men doing things that make us cringe. Powerful people acting inappropriately. Government departments wasting our hard-earned money. Crimes against humanity in places halfway around the globe. They all seem wrong to me and likely to you, too. But, I believe these things change things. Eventually, they evolve into something different, often something better, occasionally something perfect which could not have been without it looking so wrong to us halfway through the process… causing us to strongly prefer something different than this, to take action about it, or to be patient enough to let the natural consequences teach those who need to learn the lesson take its course.

Even on a smaller scale, closer to home, we frown upon the decisions our boss makes, we dislike a co-worker for the way they act, we go to sleep wondering if we’ve given birth to the next ax-murderer because of the way our child behaved in pre-school today. What if we could frame these feelings of wrong, bad, or mistaken as people or circumstances just halfway through the baking process of what they will ultimately become, what they will ultimately learn, and how they will ultimately evolve. They’re just not quite done yet… and neither are we.

Here’s the best news: It’s never done. And we can’t get it wrong because it’s never done. Our lives, their lives, the world at large is forever evolving, constantly learning, eternally developing into a gorgeous, ultimately perfect pan of warm, gooey cinnamon rolls.

So relax when you open the oven door and see all those weird, wrong-looking little balls in your life. Be patient, remember they’re still cookin’… and wait for it. It will be worth it and you’ll feel a whole lot better while you’re waiting.

This week we are recycling a favorite MMS. Our new subscribers will enjoy
Katherine’s story and the lessons she took from the experience. And to all of our
MMS readers who have been loyal subscribers from the beginning… you’ll remember
why we love seeing the world of business and life through the eyes of The Lioness.


“I think that my job is to observe people and the world, and not to judge them. I always hope to position myself away from so-called conclusions. I would like to leave everything wide open to all the possibilities in the world.”
~ Haruki Murakami

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Bad Landings

Will Rogers once said, “People who fly into a rage always have a bad landing.”

Even though I am a student and a teacher of Courageous Conversations, leadership communications, and the emotional intelligence necessary for success in those areas… I lost my temper recently with someone I care about very much. And, it was ugly. A bad landing for sure.

Anger, frustration, exasperation can sneak up on us without warning. Most of us have some automatic triggers for our anger as well as some predictable components that can create a perfect storm of mega proportions.

I was tired, overwhelmed with work, and hadn’t left my desk all day for any kind of balance which might be found in a walk, workout, or meditation. I had eaten but I’d also had a couple glasses of wine. In addition, I had been procrastinating about a discussion concerning things that were on my mind and heart and they had built up over time.

At just this right (or wrong) moment, my companion said one simple sentence to me that was the equivalent of throwing gasoline on a fire… and my anger and pent up frustrations erupted with a vengeance.

I’m not pretty in any way, physically, emotionally, or verbally when I lose my temper. As good as it may feel in the moment, it never feels good in the aftermath. I always say things I don’t really mean or demand things I don’t actually want to happen. I threaten things on which I know I won’t follow through. I use language that sometimes leaves me feeling ashamed. I cringe at the image and statements that I can never erase in the memory of my companion… no matter how many times I apologize.

I want to be clear. I’m not at all sorry for the core message of my explosion. It was actually very accurate for me. What I am sorry for is the vehicle with which I delivered it. I’ve given a lot of thought to what I can learn from it in order to grow into the person I aspire to be in my life and relationships. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

  1. Get quiet regularly. Whether it’s true meditation, prayer, or just walking quietly in the mornings, a little time to be quiet and introspective on a regular basis is the only way to be continuously mindful of what you are currently experiencing and feeling, and what needs to be handled. Awareness that we have something that needs attention and exploration is the first step in managing our emotions responsibly.
  2. Set your intentions. You have to want to do things better; to be a better, more gifted communicator; and to handle your emotions responsibly and maturely. Decide in your quiet, calm moments who you want to be in this world and the example you want to set for others.
  3. Practice A.R.C.H. This system I created here at LionSpeak is the best framework I’ve seen for helping to guide the Courageous Conversations that we all need to have with those with whom we work, live, and enjoy life so that things don’t build up within us over time. You can learn more about the A.R.C.H. framework here.
  4. Count to 10. We’ve heard it before and its true. Being disciplined enough to take a deep breath, recognize components that could contribute to an explosion (alcohol, exhaustion, hunger, burn out, stress, hurt, embarrassment, etc.) and counting to whatever number you need to count to in order to catch and calm your emotions enough to get in control. When you have control, you can pick the right time, circumstances, and environment in which to have the conversation you want to have as well as the outcome you want for both you and the other person.

The emotions that we feel are true for us and not always under our control. We feel how we feel. But what we do with those emotions and how we react to them, is within our control.

“Bad landings” and explosions can be devastating and sometimes cause irreparable damage to our careers, relationships, and communities. It’s worth every effort to elevate our emotional intelligence, learn the necessary skills, set a strong intention, and master our emotions so we can allow feelings of anger or even rage to flow through us to fuel a constructive conversation instead of an explosion that leaves a wake of unintended destruction in its path.

We can do better. Here’s to a week, and a life, full of smoother landings!

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Courageous Conversations Support Sheet

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April Fools

Your shoes are untied… made you look!

I mean seriously, how can we resist when we have to write a Monday Morning Stretch for April Fool’s Day! But, where did all this foolishness about April 1st come from? We did a little research and here’s what we found:

Historians speculate that April Fools’ Day dates back to 1582, when France switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar. People who were slow to get the news or failed to recognize that the start of the new year had moved to January 1 and continued to celebrate it during the last week of March through April 1 became the butt of jokes and hoaxes. These pranks included having paper fish placed on their backs and being referred to as poisson d’avril (April fish), said to symbolize a young, “easily hooked” fish and a gullible person.

April Fools’ Day spread throughout Britain during the 18th century. In Scotland, the tradition became a two-day event, starting with “hunting the gowk,” in which people were sent on phony errands (gowk is a word for cuckoo bird, a symbol for fool) and followed by Tailie Day, which involved pranks played on people’s derrieres, such as pinning fake tails or “kick me” signs on them.

In 1985, Sports Illustrated tricked many of its readers when it ran a made-up article about a rookie pitcher named Sidd Finch who could throw a fastball over 168 miles per hour.

In 1996, Taco Bell, the fast-food restaurant chain, duped people when it announced it had agreed to purchase Philadelphia’s Liberty Bell and intended to rename it the Taco Liberty Bell. In 1998, after Burger King advertised a “Left-Handed Whopper,” scores of clueless customers requested the fake sandwich.

Funny stuff. Here’s our list for things we think are just plain foolish on any day of the year:

  • Worrying
  • Comparisons
  • Jealousy
  • Regrets
  • Hatred
  • Resentment
  • Rigidity
  • Judgements
  • Scarcity mentality
  • Not booking your seat at one of our upcoming workshops (details below)
    • Inspirational Speaker’s Workshop
    • Transformational Trainer’s Workshop
    • Leaders of the Pride Workshop

Here’s a list of what we feel entirely justified feeling a bit foolish about anytime, anywhere:

  • Love
  • Fun
  • Generosity
  • Acceptance
  • Living in the present moment
  • Faith
  • Flexibility
  • Gratitude
  • Babies (of any kind!)
  • A sense of humor
  • Kindness
  • Always having something REALLY fun to look forward to on our calendars!
  • Snakes (okay… April Fools!)

Today, have some fun but always be kind in your distribution of April Fool’s Day pranks. And, we hope your first week of April is full of all kinds of fun things to feel foolish about!

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A Jar Full of Love

Pet peeves. We’ve all got ’em. I hate it when guys leave the toilet seat up and I fall right into it in the middle of the night. I hate it when someone takes the last of anything and doesn’t restock it or add it to the grocery list. I hate it when the express checkout lane of 15 items or less is full of carts overflowing with groceries.

In everyday life, it’s easy to slip into a negative state of mind without even knowing it. If like me, you really want to live a life that contributes positively to the people around you and the world at large, then all you need are couple of tools that will help you to do what we call The Flip.

If I hate it when guys leave the toilet seat up, then the reverse is that I love it when they don’t. If I hate it when someone doesn’t restock after taking the last of something, then the reverse is also true… I love it when they do. The Flip is simply reversing the negative to a positive. Super simple to do, slightly harder when it comes to breaking our habits of complaining, whining, and blaming.

Last week, at our Leaders of the Pride Workshop, one of the attendees shared an idea she had implemented in her practice called the “Love Jar.” For one week, she asked everyone on the team to notice their pet peeves. She asked them to write The Flip of those on a post-it note and place in the jar she had labeled the “Love Jar.”

Starting the following week, they pulled one or two notes from the Love Jar to read at their morning meeting.

  • I love it when I walk in the kitchen and people have washed and put away their own dishes.
  • I love it when someone is nice enough to do their dishes as well as all the others that were left in a rush in the sink.
  • I love it when my team mates have a few extra minutes and ask what they can do to help me.
  • I love it when an administrator asks the clinical team for our advice about where and when to put an emergency patient.

If you want to reduce negative behaviors, then encourage the good ones. We always find what we’re looking for, so this week… look harder for what you love than what you hate. I promise you’ll find it.


“It takes but one positive thought when given a chance to survive
and thrive to overpower an entire army of negative thoughts.”
~~Robert H. Schuller

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Faults and Forgiveness

Last week, I received a blog from my colleague, Joan Garbo, and was blown away by the beautiful way in which she expresses the idea of “work-ability” and the value of treating others as you’d want to be treated… especially when it comes to forgiveness and seeking the best in our teammates. This is a strong tenant of LionSpeak leadership and something we teach at our Leaders of the Pride Workshop.

If you’d like to transform your team into competent leaders and mature communicators or learn how to coach others to their full potential, please consider joining us near Cincinnati, Ohio on May 9-10 or in San Diego, CA on November 12-13. If you already teach leadership or any other set of skills and would like to learn how to help your attendees or coachees attain more mastery, consider attending our Transformational Trainer’s Workshop in Costa Mesa, CA on April 10-11 at the CareCredit Headquarters.

With Joan’s permission, I’m sharing her wisdom and beautiful post with all of our loyal LionSpeak subscribers this week. Thank you, Joan, for reminding us all of how to look through fresh eyes, remain humble, and to BE the change we wish to see.

“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” is an old adage that has application broader than as a guide to yard sale shopping. In fact, it’s in the labeling of ‘trash’ or ‘treasure’ that determines the value of something, rather than the thing itself. In other words, ‘beauty lives in the eye of the beholder,’ another wise adage which points to the power that the speaker has, whether the speaker realizes it or not.

And therein lies the rub. While you may think someone is an idiot, someone else thinks s/he is brilliant. You think someone is unattractive while someone else finds him/her beautiful. While you can’t stand to be around him/her, someone else yearns to be with him/her 24-7.

In these cases (and more!) no one is right and no one is wrong! You are not hired to like everyone; you were hired to collaborate, cooperate and get along as a team to produce the best result in the most efficient way possible. In the same way, you also don’t get to choose which patients/customers you like or don’t like and then treat them according to your tastes. The boss/doctor/owner chooses with whom s/he will do business and your job is to provide service at the level promised.

With that being said, I don’t mean to imply that you should accept, tolerate or endorse anyone being disrespectful, unappreciative, domineering or other negative or abusive behavior from others. People who operate that one-sidedly actually comprise less than 10% of all the people with whom you come in contact. (A subject for another time.) What I do mean is that when you have ‘personality clashes,’ especially those with whom you work or need to get along, remember those people have as much difficulty getting along with you as you have with them. They see your faults easier than they see your gifts; they get as annoyed with you as you do with them. It’s like looking in a weird mirror that reflects your feelings rather than your image.

I can count on the fact that you want to be seen in your best light and to have your faults and shortcomings overlooked or forgiven. And so do they. Now, you can wait for the other person to step up and forgive first, but I believe that the world needs fewer spectators and more heroes who are willing to take the risk and ‘save the day.’ What’s actually at risk is ego; what’s at stake is peace, harmony and at the very least work-ability. As Dr. Phil (McGraw) often says, “You can be right or you can be happy!”

The first step in creating more work-ability is to forgive as you want to be forgiven, and to view the other person through the eyes of that person’s loved ones rather than your own. The second step is to have a facilitated communication meeting in which both of you make respectful requests of each other. For instance, “I request that when you want me to do something that takes me away from what I am working on, you first ask me if I have the time to talk, and then make a request rather than give me an order.”

No one is perfect. We all have assets and faults. Look for and speak to the highest in each other and forgive the rest!   ~Joan Garbo, March 11, 2019


“The first to apologize is the bravest. The first to forgive is the strongest.
And the first to forget is the happiest.”
~Lea Griffith

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Dog Training for Humans

This week, we are picking a subscriber favorite from our archives as
our lead Lioness  
heads to New York City as part of the Dental Business
Institute teaching faculty.  
We know she’ll do a fabulous job with her
students who are enrolled to learn ways to  
scale their
businesses because she is a skilled trainer and master of adult learning.
This recycled Monday Morning Stretch from May 2016 will show you why…

Last week, we graduated another class of amazing Transformational Trainers into the world. Not only am I honored and excited to launch these instructors into their respective arenas of teaching but this workshop also re-grounds the adult learning techniques and benefits within me. It’s important because the opportunities to help people gain mastery with the skills they need to be successful are everywhere and available to all of us. Today was a great example.

As I write this, Tom and I took a nice drive to a beautiful campground in the mountains where our new dog trainer, Jay, was camping and fishing with his family. Jay suggested this as a perfect location for our second lesson in a six-week intensive training course for our new puppy, Shiloh, with the ultimate goal of complete, off-leash obedience under any distraction. Lord knows I LOVE an outdoor classroom with hiking trails and mountain views!

Two weeks ago, our first lesson had focused on establishing our leadership with an “off” command. This morning, the goal was to learn to recall Shiloh to us immediately with a “come” command. For Jay, who trained under Cesar Milan, the training techniques are deeply ingrained, seemingly effortless, and almost immediately effective with Shiloh. For Tom and me, not so much.

The first thing he did was to break the skill down into four distinct steps. He began with me because long before he would ever involve Shiloh, he would attempt to adequately train the human animal prior to the canine one. Turns out she gets the training a whole lot quicker than we do anyway. Acting like the dog and the trainer, Jay demonstrated how I should call Shiloh’s name (only once) to get her attention and then simultaneously tug the leash (immediately releasing the tension), say the “come” command and vibrate (or “nick”) the training collar she wears.

Sounds pretty simple, right? Name, tug, release, come, nick. Yeah? Well. You try it!

And that’s just the first part. The second part was continuing to employ the “tug, come, nick” technique every time she did anything other than walking straight to me. The third part was to praise her only when she was walking straight toward me and toward a spot where I did not have to reach out very far to pet her. The fourth and final stage was for me to physically back up while praising her so that her animal instincts would kick in and encourage her to come trotting towards me. Yikes! As I tried to make one hand control the leash and the other control the handset, my feet back up, my mouth utter the verbal commands in order and at a constant volume and my mind remember it all in order… I felt like I had some kind of learning disability as I stumbled and fumbled and bumbled my way through my first few attempts.

We practiced each step until I could do it and then layered on the next. We practiced and practiced and practiced. And then…. we got the dog. After 30 more minutes of trading off, practicing, and being coached by Jay… the dog, Tom and I all looked like we needed some really big treats and a nice long nap.

Jay walked us back to the campsite reminding us that we were all doing great. He told us we were right on track and that Shiloh was a wonderfully smart and sweet dog and we were terrific owners. He reassured us that this would get easier with practice and with patience. And, with a slight smile, he said he’d look forward to seeing our progress next weekend and giving us yet again a slightly more challenging command to work on. Oh, goodie.

But Jay did it right. He broke the task down to its smallest parts. He demonstrated what both sides of the interaction looked like. He practiced each part independently with us before we even engaged the dog and then layered each subsequent piece on as we gained some confidence with the last one. It wasn’t until we had some fluidity that he began to add on “real life” like taking Shiloh on the trail and having us recall her to us with other dogs walking up to her. And lastly, he was patient with us, and with the countless times we failed, and encouraged us when we become frustrated with our own lack of progress. He left us with praise, humor, and reassurance.

So this week when you are teaching a workshop, training a new employee, incorporating a new verbal skill or piece of technology, or even helping your 8th grader study for a final exam… remember what Jay and all great teachers and trainers know: Break it down, demonstrate success, layer on complexity and real life when they have mastered the skill under easier conditions… and most importantly, teach with patience and leave them with praise, humor, and encouragement.

They should be off-the-leash and off-and-running in no time!


“If you can’t explain simply, you don’t know it well enough.”
~~Albert Einstein

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