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Terry's Original Quote Keepers

A minute of silence can be more productive than an hour of debate.
~Terry Braverman

Arrest yourself when under the influence of a negative thought.
~Terry Braverman

Give me levity, or give me death!
~Terry Braverman

An intimate relationship is the ultimate training.
~Terry Braverman

Clarity of purpose is the ultimate decongestant.
~Terry Braverman

Faith keeps the voice of fear out of your ear.
~Terry Braverman

Peace begins between your ears.
~Terry Braverman

Peace begins between your ears.
~Terry Braverman

Be patient, before you become a patient.
~Terry Braverman

Over-analysis causes paralysis.
~Terry Braverman

May the 'farce' be with you.
~Terry Braverman

Plan some time to be spontaneous.
~Terry Braverman

Laugh at yourself, and you will always be amused.
~Terry Braverman

Imagination sharpens the dull blade of routine.
~Terry Braverman

Inquisitiveness cures boredom; nothing cures inquisitiveness.
~Terry Braverman

Feed your soul, starve your worries.
~Terry Braverman

Avoid time in the Tower of Babble.
~Terry Braverman

Release any false sense of insecurity.
~Terry Braverman

Life is a fantasy, made real by our thoughts.
~Terry Braverman

Countering the Control Freak Manager

 

Over the course of most professional careers, one is bound to encounter an arrogant, overbearing, intrusive, abusive, difficult and/or know-it-all manager. There are bosses who have an agenda to micro-manage their subordinates over exemplifying inspirational, productive team leaders. Some crave power and dominion over others’ lives. The reasons vary, from their own psychological weaknesses to more extreme personality disorders, to act out as dictators, persecutors or nannies.

 

Some managers lack fundamental training in managing people. And, even more importantly, managers lack the values, awareness and sensitivity needed to relate effectively on a daily basis with people. Skills and techniques are easier to teach, but values, beliefs, and attitudes can be much harder to modify - and tougher for managers to learn. Yet, these are the underlying issues that will most make managers successful, or not.

 

When the control freak manager is impairing your ability to focus and do the job, it is always best to arrange a meeting with the manager and address the matter upfront. There is a humble, tactful kind of courage required to intervene effectively. You need to deal with this situation very patiently, politely, yet strategically and firmly. Do not engage this person when emotionally upset. You can be direct and ask questions about why they are (being sarcastic, harshly critical, probing about your personal life…). Ask if there are concerns with your work performance. Get specifics and take notes. Document! If it becomes clear that the manager is abusing their authority because it is their modus operandi, ask, “Are we not all here to (improve productivity, increase sales in the next quarter…)?” Let him/her know their behavior is counterproductive to workplace objectives and further discussions with higher ups may be necessary. When consequences are stated or even implied, this will often correct the negative behavior.

 

Document all such instances of continued abuse so that if it still gets out of hand, to the extent that it hampers work, you must present your case to the appropriate stakeholders at a company forum that addresses such issues. When managers start getting too control-obsessive, there may be something else going on -- probably pressure from above. So politely explain about boundaries, libel, slander, adverse impact and such issues as needed, and suggest the behavior be adjusted.

 

All of us deserve a workplace environment that is pleasant and conducive to productive professional relationships, so address the perpetrator immediately. If the abuse continues, there is always a remedy, e.g., call for disciplinary hearing on grounds of harassment, violation of private life, just name it specifically... but make the list as long as needed to cover all areas of transgression. Keeping quiet and tolerating his/her behavior is not an option.

 

 

 

 

Managing Depression: A Personal Perspective

I wanted to avoid the temptation of writing about this topic, given the voluminous media commentary in the aftermath of the Robin Williams tragedy. But the story I have to share is both personal and burning to get on the page. Please forgive me if I’m a little off point, but no doubt that we all know someone, whether family members, friends, or co-workers who are wrestling with depression or some form of mental illness.

 

The last few days has seen much written, discussed, and debated about the nature and effects of depression. My only brother (and sibling) suffers from paranoid schizophrenia, an illness that began to rear itself in his teen years and exacerbated during his terrible time in the military. While able to function on a day to day survival level, he is still incapable of holding a job due to the relentless distraction of the voices he hears between his ears.  For all of his adult life, he has taken numerous medications to quell the torturous chatter induced by his disease. Such is the distraction for him that I am called upon to help him read and understand documents of many kinds, since his concentration is impaired. And, occasionally act as a surrogate attorney at hearings for ongoing efforts to secure just compensation from the Veteran’s Administration. I also counsel him on various matters such as healthy diet and exercise (he has lost 50 lbs. over a years’ time) and encourage him to explore more of life, finding the joy in living as much as he can.

 

I used to believe that his condition could be transformed by realizing “it’s all a fantasy in your mind that can be changed with taking responsibility and mental discipline” until I read books, articles, and research pointing to a fundamental chemical imbalance. Clearly, a distinction has to be made between a person who is mentally ill or clinically depressed, and someone who is “feeling depressed”. 

       

A young teen who I knew well was feeling extremely depressed after a double dose of tragedy. This 13 year-old youth witnessed a murder at a synagogue Bar Mitzvah service, of all places, when the Rabbi was gunned down on the pulpit by a young man who proceeded to shoot himself. The assailant happened to be suffering from mental illness. Just four months later, the father of this young teen died after a lengthy nine year bout with cancer that included six major operations. Shortly after that, his mother moved the family from their moderate size city to the Big Apple, where some relatives lived but new friends had to be made in a new school, in a grittier neighborhood.

 

Adjusting to a strange, intense environment after two fatal calamities was much to cope with for this painfully shy kid, and he plunged into deep despair. When taken to a family wedding, he sat alone in a dark, vacant corner of the hall, contemplating suicide.

 

His Uncle Moe came over and asked him, “What’s the matter? You look like you want to die.”

 

“I do want to die. It’s just too much to deal with, my life. I want to walk out of here and kill myself.”

 

Uncle Moe pulled up a chair, sat closely next to him, and said, “I wouldn’t walk out just yet. I can get you tickets to see Jimi Hendrix in concert next week.”

 

Uncle Moe’s nephew was stupefied, his mind now contorted by this topical U-turn: “Huh…what…who? Jimi Hendrix?” (His favorite guitar player)

 

His Uncle nodded, “I can get two tickets.”

 

The kid’s eyes lit up: “Can you get four?”

 

Uncle Moe said, “OK, four it is. But promise me one thing. No matter how difficult life gets, you will never forget this moment.”     

 

I never did forget that moment. 

              

ADVICE ON KEEPING EVERYTHING SIMPLE

Here is a quantitative framework with peripheral qualitative apportionments to formalize the procedure for further processing, filtering and implementing your objectives:

 

In promulgating your percolating cogitations, or enunciating amorphous aspirations, beware of ponderous platitudes. Leverage your conversational communications with clarified conciseness, compact comprehensibility, coalescent consistency, and concatenated cogency. Keep it simple.

 

 

 

 

 

Hoops Management Lessons

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Basketball is an action sport, and most people involved in it are high-energy individuals who love to do something — anything — to solve problems.” - Phil Jackson

 

HOOPS MANAGEMENT LESSONS

  

The business of coaching requires a fine sense of balance, between allowing full input and actions from all parties involved, while maintaining authority. Over a stretch of 25 years I have served as a professional speaker, trainer, and consultant to offer objective, if unconventional, ways to resolve thorny issues in the workplace. The potential problem with companies resorting to the option of outside consultants is becoming too dependent on them for solutions, which does not empower staff in the long run, or assigning blame to the consultant if follow-through falters. This is not to discount the value of intervention from a professional who can keenly see from a broader purview over the abyss of a problem-plagued workplace.

 

The objective of any consultant, IMHO, is to provide insights, skills, and a framework to staff so they can discover and resolve issues on their own accord, and then help staff refine the approach with periodic coaching.

  

Eleven time champion/basketball coach Phil Jackson often let his teams work out dysfunctional play on the court during a game, foregoing time outs to enhance confidence in problem-solving on the fly. This may have lost a few games for the team in the regular season, but the learning, growing, and faith that came from working it out themselves served the team well in the long haul leading to crucial playoff situations.

 

The “Zen Master,” as he was famously known, gave players the latitude to express themselves, but when deemed necessary “to wake players up and raise their level of consciousness,” he employed “tricks” designed to teach his players how to react to unplanned and uncontrollable events: “Once I had the team practice in silence; on another occasion I made them scrimmage with the lights out. I like to shake things up and keep the players guessing. Not because I want to make their lives miserable, but because I want to prepare them for the inevitable chaos that occurs the minute they step onto a basketball court.”

 

“Some coaches insist on having the last word, but I always tried to foster an environment in which everyone played a leadership role — from the most unschooled rookie to the veteran superstar. If your primary objective is to bring the team into a state of harmony and oneness, it doesn’t make sense for you to rigidly impose your authority.” Jackson says he came to this conclusion after trial-and-error with imposing his will. He realized he needed “to dial back my ego and distribute power as widely as possible without surrendering final authority.”

 

As a coach, he also discovered that “when I had the players sit in silence, breathing together in sync, it helped align them on a nonverbal level far more effectively than words. One breath equals one mind.” Through rituals and techniques, he created mindfulness for his teams so they could better connect with one another, preparing them for the teamwork needed on the court.

 

“When you lead from the outside-in,” Jackson says, “you may have short-term success, but it can’t last. No one wants to be repeatedly ‘brow-beaten’… as time went by, I discovered that the more I spoke from the heart, the more players could hear me and benefit from what I gleaned.”

 

Jackson was not beyond yelling at players when they lost focus on the court, nor the occasional sarcasm for motivational prodding. But commentary was well-measured and tailored to the thickness of the player’s skin. Taking someone aside for words of encouragement was usually the therapy of choice. He said, “Compassion is not a word often bandied about in locker rooms. But I’ve found that a few kind, thoughtful words can have a strong transformative effect on relationships, even with the toughest men in the room.”

 

BEST EXCUSES FOR SLEEPING AT YOUR DESK

This is the 15 minute power nap they raved about in the last time-management course you sent me to.

 

I was meditating on the mission statement and envisioning a new paradigm.

 

I wasn't sleeping. I was trying to pick up a contact lens without my hands.

 

They told me at the blood bank that this might happen.

 

Someone put decaf in the wrong pot.

 

I left the top off of the Liquid Paper.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flying in the Face of Reality

Quote of the Week: “You know they invented wheelbarrows to teach FAA inspectors to walk on their hind legs.” — Marty Caidin

The Global Business Travel Association just concluded their annual convention in L.A. Two topics were high on the agenda: the surge in international business travel and the complex safety and security issues that have arisen as companies dispatch more employees to various locations around the globe.

 

This year’s GBTA convention, which drew over 6,700 travel managers, suppliers and others in the industry, followed a rocky series of events for travel. The trade group said that spending on business travel would rise about 7 percent this year, to roughly $1.18 trillion — $292.3 billion of that in the United States, up 3 percent. But as industry professionals energized themselves for five days of meetings, exhibitions and after-hours parties, there was a much sober discussion about travel safety and risk management.

 

GBTA Executive Director and COO Michael W. McCormick issued the following statement about the threat of terrorism in the skies: “The recent attack of the Malaysian airline exposed a significant safety concern on how information regarding potentially dangerous routes is applied. Corporations send business travelers to every part of the world. Duty of care and risk management is a vital component of today’s business travel. Companies and individual travelers have assumed airlines fly in safe skies, but now must start evaluating flight-path risk as part of their own duty of care responsibilities. Industry leaders need to step forward and work closely with government intelligence organizations in this dynamically changing environment. Traditional approaches to risk mitigation must be re-evaluated.”

 

It is obvious that flying over war zones should be avoided, whatever the cost in time and money may be. And why not incentivize peace by banning flights from landing in places where armed conflict is raging?   

 

“I’ve been at this 28 years — military, U.S. government, different response companies — and this is the greatest concentration of threat that I’ve ever seen, because of the frequency and severity of these incidents, but also because companies and institutions are global now,” said John M. Rose, chief operating officer of iJet, a travel risk management company.

 

Of course, one would expect such melodramatics from a travel risk management executive. Clearly, the last two weeks have been glum for the airline industry and the flying public in particular, with the shooting down of a Malaysia Airlines flight followed by separate crashes in Taiwan and Mali. But this short term succession of calamities contradicts the broader reality that each decade of air travel has become safer than the previous one. As tragic as the recent crashes are, they represent barely a fraction of the 93,500 daily airline flights worldwide.

 

"Aviation safety is continuing to get better. A sudden spate of accidents doesn't mean that the industry has suddenly become less safe," says Paul Hayes, director of air safety for Ascend, a travel management software company.

 

Each day, 8.3 million people around the globe — the approximate population of New York City — board a flight. Virtually everyone lands safely. Last year, there were 3.1 billion flyers, twice the total in 1999. Yet, the chances of dying in a plane crash were considerably less. Since 2000, there were fewer than three fatalities per 10 million passengers, according to an Associated Press analysis of crash data provided by aviation consultancy Ascend. In the 1990s, there were nearly eight; during the 1980s there were 11; and the 1970s had 26 deaths per 10 million passengers.

 

Lee Moak, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, the largest U.S. pilots' union, adds that strong oversight by governments and trade groups is needed to ensure proper training across the board. "If you don't have a safe operation, then you're not going to have customers," Moak says. “Countries must also invest in the right infrastructure. There needs to be proper radar coverage, runway landing lights and beacons and skilled airport fire and rescue teams,” asserts Todd Curtis, director of the Airsafe.com Foundation.

 

Technological improvements are also helping to lower the accident rate. Cockpits now come with systems that automatically warn if a jet is too low, about to hit a mountain or collide with another plane. Others detect sudden wind gusts that could make a landing unsafe.

 

The next generation of technology promises to help prevent even more accidents. Honeywell Aerospace launched a new system 18 months ago that gives pilots better awareness about severe turbulence, hail and lightning. The company is also developing a system to improve pilots' vision in stormy weather: an infrared camera will let them see runways through thick clouds earlier than the naked eye would.

 

Worldwide travel is projected to double within the next 15 years, and new challenges will emerge. Sky traffic congestion will rise; the demand for skilled air traffic controllers, pilots and technicians will reach all-time highs. Boeing forecasts the need for another 500,000 pilots and 550,000 maintenance personnel by the year 2035. Still, we have seen with every spike in growth over five decades an overall improvement in safety.

 

The industry deserves kudos for their safety diligence. But new technology is expensive and in order to apply it they may determine to cut costs before the new tech is proven to provide an enhanced safety margin. Safety could be replaced by a need for cost efficiency. Some claim that safety margins in the past have been set too high and we can make do with lower standards as long as it saves money. And new tech may be doing exactly that. Will the temptation to cut costs compromise future safety precautions?

 

 

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