Raising Your Line – Success is About a Higher Line Mentality by Robert Stevenson

Book Review by Daniel R. Murphy

Title and Author:   Raising Your Line – Success is About a Higher Line Mentality by Robert Stevenson

Synopsis of Content:  

Raising Your Line is about making improvements in yourself and in your organization. The author is fascinated by words and how they convey ideas. This book focuses on the many ways that the word “Line” expresses aspects of achievement and success.

The fundamental ideas in the book are not new. They are all very conventional and well established principles about personal development, mindset, success, leadership and organizational improvement.

The book is divided into sections on the Right Mindset for success, improving your ability as a leader, improving your company, and improving yourself. Each of these is expressed as raising a line or level of achievement.

Throughout the book at the end of each chapter the author provides what he calls a “Line Raiser” – a summing up of the lesson that the chapter illustrates. Some examples of those line raisers:

“To survive in this ever changing marketplace, to deal successfully with whatever life or business throws at you, I suggest you become a … Realistic Optimist.”

“Ask your customers this question: In a perfect world, if we could provide you with perfect service… where do you feel we are falling short?”

“Always remember, success is Never final.”

“It takes years to build a great reputation and only moments to destroy it. Always base your decisions on maintaining the highest level of integrity.”

“At the end of the day, our happiness and the happiness of our family is all that matters. Everything else is commentary.”

What I found useful about this book:

This book is about potential and how to reach it. It is about improving oneself and through that improving your organization. This is one of the best books on personal development I’ve read in a long time. The author cites many good sources and quotations.

Readability/Writing Quality:  

The book is well written and clear. It is well organized. There are many stories in the book that make it especially readable.

Notes on Author:  

Robert Stevenson is a best selling author, public speaker, and trainer. He has owned 5 companies. One way to describe Stevenson is dynamic. As a speaker and a writer he is dynamic. His writing punches through ideas and lays them out concisely.

Other Books by This Author:

How to Soar Like and Eagle

Related Website:   

http://www.robertstevenson.org/

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:  

  1. Success is never final. Two hundred and thirty of the Fortune 500 companies that existed in 1980 are gone. Both individuals and organizations must continually learn and adapt to survive.
  2. To get ahead you must do more than average. You must astonish your peers, your boss and your customers.
  3. The single most important things for success are discipline and integrity. Without discipline you cannot excel. Without integrity you cannot last and you cannot influence others.

Publication Information:  

Title and Author: Raising Your Line – Success is About a Higher Line Mentality by Robert Stevenson
Copyright holder: ©2015 by Robert Stevenson
Publisher: Seeking Excellence Publishing, Clearwater, Florida

Book of the Month for May 2016

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.
www.danielrmurphy.com

The 4 Disciplines of Execution by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey and Jim Huling

A book review by Daniel R. Murphy

Title and Author:   The 4 Disciplines of Execution by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey and Jim Huling

Synopsis of Content: 

The 4 Disciplines of Execution is a blueprint for how to effectively improve something through the establishment of a key goal, develop a system for measuring performance of the goal, and then following through with its execution. The authors advise focus on no more than three goals and if possible only one. They argue that too many goals dilute effort too much resulting in too little being achieved toward any one goal. To really effectively achieve a significant goal requires a high level of focus and that happens best with three or fewer such goals.

The approach is to develop a big goal, something vitally important. They call this a WIG which stands for “wildly important goal”. Once the goal is identified it is necessary to develop certain measurements to determine if the goal is being achieved.

The first measurement is the “lag measures”. This measurement tells you if you are achieving the actual goal. For example if the goal is lose 25 pounds then the lag measurement is losing 25 pounds. This is the ultimate measurement of achievement.

Next you must identify those actions that will most likely enable you to lose 25 pounds. As an example those actions may include restricting daily calorie intake to 1800 calories and increasing exercise to 5 miles of walking or running each day. These are called the “lead measures”. For this goal then the lead measures are calories consumed per day and miles walked or run per day.

The next step is to measure performance on the lead measures every day and track both the lead measures and the lag measure to determine performance and achievement of the goal. It is important to post these measurements on some form of graph or table where everyone involved in the goal can see how they are doing. Participants are held accountable for their contribution to the lead measures at a weekly WIG meeting where the posted data is reviewed and each participant’s contribution is reviewed.

This system was developed primarily for organizations and teams within organizations. However at the end of the book the authors discuss case studies to show how the same system can be used for personal goals.

Throughout the book case studies are presented showing how this method helped various companies and organizations to improve their performance, often in substantial ways. It builds cohesion and accountability in the team, or if done by an individual for that individual.

What I found useful about this book:

The focus on finding ways to measure the actual actions needed to achieve a goal is very helpful whether you are working with an individual goal or a team goal. The way the system fits together and accurately measures performance as well as accountability is an elegant and powerful concept. The real life examples show that it can really work in the real world.

Readability/Writing Quality: 

The book is well organized and well written. It provides all the information needed to understand the method and what makes it work.

Notes on Author:  

Chris McChesney works at FranklinCovey as a Global Practice Leader for design and development of the 4 Disciplines method.

Sean Covey is Executive Vice President at FranklinCovey and directs its international operations in 141 countries. He was involved in the original creation of the 4 Disciplines methodology.

Jim Huling is a consultant with FranklinCovey working with the 4 Disciplines. He has worked in corporate leadership in Fortune 500 companies and privately held companies.

Related Website: 

http://the4disciplinesofexecution.com/

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:  

  1. Identify the most important improvement you can make or the biggest problem you need to solve in your organization or your personal life. Create a Wildly Important Goal to address that improvement or problem and then use lead and lag measurements to track progress and motivate follow through.
  2. All organizations can measure the performance of their employees and their teams on a bell curve with high performers on the right side, poor performers on the left side, and the average performers in the middle. Use the 4 Disciplines to move that bell curve to the right – to make everyone more effective performers.
  3. Measurement of the attainment of the goal and the actions needed to get there are key to motivating people and achieving an important goal.

Publication Information:  

Title and Author: The 4 Disciplines of Execution by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey and Jim Huling

Copyright holder: © 2012 by FranklinCovey Co.

Publisher: Free Press, A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Books2Wealth Book of the Month: December 2015

You can buy the book here.

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.
www.danielrmurphy.com

The Leadership Handbook – 26 Critical Lessons Every Leader Needs by John C. Maxwell

A book review by Daniel R. Murphy

Title and Author:   The Leadership Handbook – 26 Critical Lessons Every Leader Needs by John C. Maxwell

Synopsis of Content: 

Based largely on his own experiences as a leader in both nonprofit and for profit enterprises Maxwell sets out 26 “lessons” on how to be a better leader. He suggests that being an effective leader requires one to improve oneself and to lead oneself first. He provides anecdotes from his own experiences and quotations from other notable leaders to frame each lesson.

Some of these lessons are about how to be successful in one’s work. He counsels you to find your passion – an area of work you love to do – and then to pursue it with full commitment. He offers particular skills a good leader must develop including being a good listener, the need to “define reality” and steer others in accordance with that reality and to keep your focus on your primary goals.

There are chapters on time management, which he calls life management; how to develop others and how not to; how to learn from mistakes; the importance of continuous learning; how to distinguish oneself as an effective leader in tough times; how best to run a meeting; and many other such lessons.

Maxwell’s original profession was as a pastor and there is a preachiness to his writing. If you can get past that there is much of value in what he teaches.

What I found useful about this book:

The book goes deeply into the various aspects of leadership. It teaches what not to do as much as what to do. He uses real world examples to illustrate the principles he teaches. Being an effective leader is much about being an effective person. It is about improving one’s skills and understanding of others as well as understand oneself. He does a good job of balancing these things.

Readability/Writing Quality: 

The book is well written and edited. It is easy to read and is well organized.

Notes on Author:  

Maxwell is a pastor, speaker, coach and author. He was declared by Inc. magazine to be the most popular leadership expert in the world in 2014. He leads several organizations that teach leadership around the world.

Other Books by This Author:

Maxwell is a prolific writer. He has written over 40 books.

Related Website:   

http://www.johnmaxwell.com/

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:  

  1. Your ability to become a better leader is based on how you respond to others and to circumstances.
  2. The first person we must examine is ourselves. If you do not look at yourself realistically you will never understand where your personal difficulties lie.
  3. Listen carefully to those you lead. Listen to the whispers and you won’t have to hear the screams.

Publication Information:  

Title and Author: The Leadership Handbook – 26 Critical Lessons Every Leader Needs by John C. Maxwell
Copyright holder: ©2008 John C. Maxwell
Publisher: Nelson Books

Book of the Month: August 2015

Buy the book here–

 

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.
www.danielrmurphy.com

Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill was one of the giants of the 20th century. His eloquence, courage and tenacity are lessons for us all.

Learn about this remarkable man who achieved so much and to whom we owe so much.

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.
www.danielrmurphy.com

The 5 Choices by Kory Kogon, Adam Merrill and Leena Rinne

A book review by Daniel R. Murphy

Title and Author:  The 5 Choices by Kory Kogon, Adam Merrill and Leena Rinne – Subtitle: The Path to Extraordinary Productivity

Synopsis of Content:

In 1989 Stephen R. Covey published his now famous book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. In 2015 three influential executives at Franklin Covey, published this book, The 5 Choices, to take up where Covey left off over 25 years ago.

The 5 Choices focuses on the management of Decision Making, Attention Management and Energy Management on a personal level. Just as Covey sought to provide solutions for business people who were becoming overwhelmed with the demands of work and other life obligations these authors have sought to bring those ideas into the 21st Century. They begin with the assumption that today’s world is more complex, busier, more demanding and more distracting than the world of the 1980s. Among the causes of this greater complexity and distraction are all the digital intrusions and tools that exist today. This book seeks to help us manage those digital intrusions and tools so we can achieve more and be less harried and chaotic in the process.

The book is divided into four main sections: Decision Management, Attention Management, Energy Management and finally Being a Q2 Leader. Each of the three first sections contains subsections which constitute the 5 Choices as follows:

Decision Management:

  1. Act on the Important; Don’t React to the Urgent
  2. Go for Extraordinary, Don’t Settle for Ordinary

Attention Management:

  1. Schedule the Big Rocks, Don’t Schedule the Gravel
  2. Rule Technology, Don’t Let it Rule You

Energy Management:

  1. Fuel Your Fire, Don’t Burn Out

Choices 1, 3 and 5 are straight out of Covey’s play book. However they are not simply a repeat of the 1989 book. They develop the concepts to a higher level than Covey’s book did and they have updated them to be more relevant to the current world and especially to today’s technology. Choices 2 and 4 are completely new ideas though they too have their roots in Covey’s work. It includes useful ideas on how to manage social media and email and how to avoid those technologies from burying us.

The entire book is built around the Time Matrix that Covey taught about. This concept was not actually invented by Covey, it was invented by Dwight D. Eisenhower and before Covey’s book was called the Eisenhower Box.

The Time Matrix is a tool used to divide all our tasks and activities into four quadrants: Q1 – Urgent and Important; Q2 – Not Urgent and Important; Q3 – Urgent and Not Important; and Q4 – Neither Urgent or Important. The goal is to focus as much time and energy on Q2 activities so as to minimize Q1 and Q3 activities and to get rid of Q4 activity altogether.

What I found useful about this book:

This book takes a fresh look at much of what Covey wrote about and makes it more relevant to the 21st century. The ideas surrounding Q2 activity especially are more helpful and more well developed than anything I’ve seen in this area since 1989.

Equally useful and insightful are the parts that address how to manage technology and make it serve us rather than allow us to serve it. I highly recommend this book.

Readability/Writing Quality:  

The book is very well written and well organized. It is easy to read. The authors build upon more basic concepts and develop them more intensely.

Notes on Author:

Kory Kogon is an executive at Franklin Covey with a lot of experience in management, productivity, and communications.

Adam Merrill is vice president for Innovations at Franklin Covey and has worked in the time management and productivity fields for 25 years.

Leena Rinne is a senior consultant with Franklin Covey with 15 years’ experience in international business. She specializes in client relationship management.

Related Website:

http://www.franklincovey.com/tc/

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

  1. Time and Energy devoted to Q2 activities makes us more productive, focused and capable. It allows us to direct our lives and prevents external forces from controlling us.
  1. The more we can avoid the urgency addiction and focus on what is important the less harried we will be and the more effective we can be.
  1. It is essential to get control over technology and limit its tendency to dominate our time and attention while using its tools to make us more effective. This requires an on-going effort and focus but pays off greatly and gives us more time for important work.

Publication Information:  

Title and Author: The 5 Choices by Kory Kogon, Adam Merrill and Leena Rinne

Copyright holder: 2015 by FranklinCovey Co.

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

A Books2Wealth Book of the Month: February 2015 

Buy the book here:

 

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.
www.danielrmurphy.com

How to Lead Through Better Communication

http://effectivecommunicationadvice.com/keys-for-effective-communication

Could you be more effective working with others if you could communicate more effectively?

OK, that was a rhetorical question if there ever was one. But it is an important one. In my 40+ years working with others in various organizations and situations it I’ve found that effective communication is the most vital skill we need. For various reasons we fail at communicating effectively and the results range from irritation to failure. It seems we never truly master this art and we all need to work on it constantly.

Success.com posted an article on May 1, 2017 listing six communication skills that will make you a better leader. They also make you a better team player whether you lead or not. Here are the six skills in brief:

  1. Know yourself: be self-aware and be clear about what you wish to achieve in your communication.
  2. Know your audience: you need to understand the feelings, beliefs and needs of those you communicate with to do so effectively.
  3. Be direct, specific and clear: this may be the most important skill; too often we obfuscate and confuse because we lack clarity.
  4. Pay attention to non-verbal communication: non-verbal communication often tells us more about what others are thinking and feeling than what people say.
  5. Listen before you speak: this conveys respect for others and makes others more receptive to your message.
  6. Be positive and respectful: this is a key skill to be effective and to gain the attention and engagement of others.

Of course, listing these skills and being aware of them is easy. Putting them into consistent practice is challenging for all of us. They require some hard work on our part to hone these skills and to intentionally apply them. It is very easy to overlook these skills in a busy day with multiple pressures and distractions and too little time to accomplish what we want to and what we need to.

However the pay-off is big if we can make it a habit to do these things consistently.

What do you think? What has been your frustrations with communication?

Read the Success article here.

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.
www.danielrmurphy.com

The 5 Essential People Skills – Dale Carnegie Training

A book review by Daniel R. Murphy

Title and Author:  The 5 Essential People Skills – Dale Carnegie Training

Synopsis of Content:

This book got is start as training material for a Dale Carnegie course and has since been made available to all of us. The book focuses on basic interpersonal skills needed in all areas of life and especially to be successful in business. The five essential skills covered include rapport building, curiosity, communication, ambition, and conflict resolution.

These fundamental skills are discussed in terms of assertiveness, rapport building, curiosity and understanding in business, persuading others, asking questions skillfully, assertive skills for listening, and speaking and ambition. All of the skills mentioned are framed within the context of the proper level of assertiveness needed to be effective. There is also an excellent chapter on business etiquette.

The book addresses many aspects of how each specific skill should be used. It focuses on Carnegie’s teaching that we can be most effective by being indirect and helpful rather than insulting others.

This book is dense. It contains a mountain of information that a casual read-through may not catch. It is a book that should be studied, not just read.

What I found useful about this book:

The book is easy to follow and full of detail about all aspects of each skill discussed. Real life applications and examples are provided.

What I did not like about this book:

I do not have much to criticize here. The book is instructional in nature so can be a bit dry at times.

Readability/Writing Quality:  

The book reads rather like an instructive textbook but is well written, clear and well organized. Skill development is broken down into steps for the reader to follow whether one is in need of the most basic development or more advanced skill building.

Notes on Author:

Much but not all of the content was written by Dale Carnegie. Some portions refer to Carnegie and quote him thus written by someone else. The book was used as an instructional text by Dale Carnegie and Associates, Inc. and adapted for publication to the general public.

Dale Carnegie was a giant in the self-improvement industry during the 20thcentury. He became a household name with the publication of his best known work, How to Win Friends and Influence People published in 1936. He launched  career as a writer and trainer and in the 1950s his Dale Carnegie Training programs spread throughout the nation. Though Carnegie died in 1955 his programs have continued and grown significantly to the present time.

Related Website:

www.dalecarnegie.com

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

  1. Influencing others is accomplished through building rapport with them.
  1. Assertive curiosity is crucial to finding opportunities and being creative.
  1. Using proper business etiquette helps you be more effective with other people promotes a cooperative and friendly work environment.

Publication Information:  

Title and Author: The 5 Essential People Skills – Dale Carnegie Training

Copyright holder: Original Edition ©2004 by Nightingale-Conant. Text edition ©2009 by Dale Carnegie & Associates, Inc.

Publisher: Simon and Schuster (Fireside)

Get the Book:

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.
www.danielrmurphy.com

Humility is a Choice

“HUMILITY IS A CHOICE. When you meet a humble person you know you will be accepted, respected and listened to. They won’t try to manipulate you, control you, criticize you or try to impress you. They are safe.

“When we haven’t conquered our pride putting on false humility might seem like the shortcut to the benefits of being a truly humble person. We’ve all met these kinds of people. False humility is nothing but arrogance.” (Leading Blog, April 28, 2017)

Genuine humility is important as a leadership attribute. Nothing alienates others more quickly than arrogance. But false humility is also alienating and can be viewed as a form or arrogance. Pat Williams, author and senior VP of the NBA’s Orlando Magic writes about false humility and genuine humility in his book, Humility: The Secret Ingredient of Success. He identifies four ways to avoid false humility:

  1. Reflect on the kind of person you are and be the person you want to be.
  2. Ask a few trusted friends to be brutally honest with you.
  3. Immediately and humbly admit your faults and failures.
  4. Be honestly humble and humbly honest.

We all have egos and it can be difficult at times to tame those egos and be genuinely humble. Yet it is a powerful quality that we can all benefit from cultivating.

Read the entire blog post here.

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.
www.danielrmurphy.com

Compelling People – The Hidden Qualities That Make Us Influential by John Neffinger and Matthew Kohut

A book review by Daniel R. Murphy

Title and Author:  Compelling People – The Hidden Qualities That Make Us Influential by John Neffinger and Matthew Kohut

Originally published: Book of the Month: #18 August 2014.

Synopsis of Content:

This book is a study of how we influence others and how effective we can be in doing so. The authors cite large numbers of psychological studies to support their conclusions and add in their own experiences with people they’ve worked with.

The authors divide all of our abilities to influence others into two categories: strength and warmth. Ideally we should balance both and use both in generous amounts.

They discuss the “hand we are dealt” – the actual attributes we have in warmth and strength as well as general perceptions about those qualities in people with our given traits: gender, ethnicity, age, etc.

Despite the hand we have been dealt the authors make the case for our ability to change what we know and do and to enhance our ability to influence others by strengthening our warmth and our strength and by maintaining an ideal balance.

They then apply these concepts to specific areas of human conduct: leadership, public speaking, politics, and more.

What I found useful about this book:

While this is not a scientific book there is a significant reliance on social science to bolster the authors’ conclusions. There is no discussion of the validity of the studies they cite but they are not making this stuff up as they go. The social science provides a depth of insight and some credibility.

The book is full of insights, some expected and some surprising. Anyone who wants to have any influence over others (and all but a hermit likely fall in that category) can learn a lot about what enhances influence and what does not.

Readability/Writing Quality:  

While not a scientific tract this is an academic work and can be a bit plodding. It is well written however and is an enjoyable read over all.

Notes on Authors:

John Neffinger graduated from Harvard and Columbia law school and practiced law. He served as Director of Communications for the Harvard Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. As a consultant he has advised politicians and business leaders around the world.

Matthew Kohut is managing partner at KNP Communications. He has a Masters in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He advises and coaches leaders in business and government. He has been a speech writer.

Both Neffinger and Kohut write for the Huffington Post.

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

  1. Both strength and warmth as perceived by an audience govern how influential a person will be. Both qualities are essential to gain a listener’s confidence and trust. Confidence and trust are essential to influence.
  1. Ideally one must master a balance with a high level of both warmth and strength to be the most influential. The most influential people have learned to blend these traits.
  1. Both warmth and strength must be genuine. People generally have a strong sense to detect phoniness and will not connect with a person or be influenced unless those qualities are perceived as genuine.

Publication Information:  

Title and Author: Compelling People – The Hidden Qualities That Make Us Influential by John Neffinger and Matthew Kohut

Copyright holder: John Neffinger and Matthew Kohut 2013

Publisher: Hudson Street Press, Penguin Group, New York

Buy the book here:

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.
www.danielrmurphy.com

Compassionate Accountability

In April the Leadership Now blog posted an article on a book by Nate Regier called Conflict Without Casualties. Regier believes that conflict consumes far too much of our time, energy and money and needs to be managed more effectively. His focus is on conflict throughout the world. He offers some intriguing ideas.

Regier’s argument is that we should practice what he calls “compassionate accountability” to resolve conflict in ways that cause the least damage at the least cost. This approach resists the “I gotta win” drama that characterizes most conflict. This drama focuses our energy on self-justification which is contrary to resolving conflict.

“To be compassionate is to struggle alongside with others; to struggle with instead of against. “Compassion is the result of people taking ownership of their feelings, thoughts and behaviors, and choosing to spend the energy of conflict pursuing effective solutions that preserve the dignity of all involved. Compassion is more than care and concern for others. It’s about the willingness to get in the trenches and struggle together as an equal with others.””

Regier says that his approach to conflict depends on three skills: Openness, Resourcefulness and Persistence. He then outlines how to use these skills to promote a compassionate and constructive resolution of conflict. He argues that a failure to use these skills sets up a self-defeating cycle that Steven Karpman has identified as the “drama triangle”.

“Regier writes: “Drama inevitably pushes us into corners, where we cling to distorted worldviews that compel us to do the same thing over and over, expecting different results. Compassion, on the other hand, keeps us moving, searching, nimble, effective, and capable of adapting to change.” It also keep us from being mired inside our own head and thus limiting our responses and our ability to reframe the conflict. We get stuck.”

What is missing from this discussion is the role that emotion plays in this cycle. If people could remain objective and act outside of their emotional limitations use of these skills would be easier. People in conflict are typically emotionally involved. Emotions including fear, jealousy, and anger among others interfere with our ability to be objective and to use the skills Regier suggests.

Emotion does not necessarily mean that we cannot benefit from using the skills that Regier teaches. If we can get beyond our emotional responses and use these skills we could be much more effective at resolving conflict. This does require a level of maturity and self-confidence that many people do not have however and conflict often is a result of that very problem.

Learning and applying these skills to positively resolve conflict can be very useful if we can get beyond the limitations that emotions and immaturity often impose on our responses. This is an intriguing idea and one we would all benefit from developing. People do not behave mechanically though and the emotional responses that affect our behavior in conflict remain an obstacle, especially in very high conflict situations.

Read the entire blog post from Leading Blog here.

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.
www.danielrmurphy.com