A Cancer Diagnosis Will Make You Sit Up and Take Notice


“It doesn’t look good man” was his answer. I had just asked the surgeon for a prognosis.

He referred me to an Oncologist. After seeing her, she said to me, “You probably have a year, maybe 18 months. It’s hard to say definitively. If you would like, I can sign the paperwork for you to start Social Security Disability benefits”.

What?

My world had just started to crumble around me. Time stood still.

What do I do now?

What’s the use of going on?

What have I done with my life?

These are just a few of the questions that ran through my mind. A whole set of other crazy bizarre thoughts did as well. Some too crazy to state here.

But some major themes stood out. Some best forgotten, some a “must deal with”. Such as:

  • Denial
  • Beating This
  • My Family
  • Magic Cure
  • Unsolicited Advice
  • Time

I’ll share my thoughts on Denial today, the rest in future installments of this story.

DENIAL

Perhaps some people who are diagnosed with cancer don’t ever slip into denial. Maybe some do for just a fleeting instant, and then get their heads back on straight. Others, never seem to emerge from the deep dark cave that is denial. Me, I retreated into that cave for a not so pleasant period of time. Even now, almost three years later, I shudder to think of it.

Back then, at first, I curled up into a ball, and screamed silently for the world to go away. Plain old paralyzing fear, self pity, this can’t be happening to me kind of stuff. You name it. I felt it. Deny, deny, deny.

Denial seems to be the psyche’s natural multi purpose coping mechanism. It’s not logical. Far from practical. Totally irrational. But, it is real. Oh so real. There’s no denying denial…

Facing and conquering the state of denial is the absolute and most necessary first step in dealing with the big C. Denial never got me anywhere, anytime for anything. And as my rational mind began to wrap this head around that, I began to slowly crawl out, then stand up and walk, then finally run out of that cave, never to return.

If you find yourself in denial after a cancer diagnosis, not able to move, looking around, in that cave, not able to muster the strength and wherewithal to beat back your psyche, get help. Or call or write to me. I’ll help you. Do it. You can’t afford any of your precious time in that deep dark cave.

To be continued…

You can read my blog HERE, connect on Twitter HERE, LinkedIn HERE and Facebook HERE. You can send me an email HERE.

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These Ideas Will Make You Wiser


I’m not a genius. I don’t have all the answers. I make mistakes. I often get it wrong. But some people, are getting it right. They have something valuable to say, or they are being successful at whatever they have chosen to do. And they can be a source for a significant amount of priceless inspiration and ideas.

So I’ve learned to be observant. To listen. To be inquisitive. And I find wisdom everywhere. I mean EVERYWHERE.

How do I do this? It’s really quite simple. Watch. Listen. Observe. Dig. Research. Look up. Google. Ask.

Don’t let the world just slip by. Listen to conversations. Watch and read TV, Social Media, Information Sources and Feeds, and look for the golden nuggets. They are there.

Here are two good examples.

Recently, I was watching one of my favorite programs, National Geographic’s Life Below Zero. The real life characters have a lot of valuable things to say. Here is a nugget I harvested from listening to Chip Hailstone: You will find success where opportunity meets experience. Now he didn’t say it exactly like that, but that’s what he meant. All I had to do was listen. That nugget was there for the harvesting.

Here is another gem I was able to pluck from reading some of my favorite social media sources: Don’t look for a guarantee, look for an opportunity. Take it and do your best.

Wisdom. All around you. There for the harvesting. Who knows? Eventually, some of that great stuff might just start rubbing off…

You can read my blog HERE, connect on Twitter HERE, LinkedIn HERE and Facebook HERE

Posted in Change, Effectiveness, Empowerment, Inspiration, Personal Development, wisdom | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

This Is Why You Need To Care


Pour your mind, your heart, your soul, every fiber of your being into a post, and no one reads it. No one even looks at it. No one cares. What do you do?

Give up. Stop writing. Who cares?

YOU DO! Keep at it. Hone your craft. Polish your work. Give it your all. No one has to care.

Because YOU do. That’s enough for now. It’s their loss. Someday they will realize it. Then, they will come…

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This Concept Will Make You Think Twice About Your Current Approach to Blogging


I think I got it. I finally understand what’s been holding me back.

I make everything way too complex. That’s my Aha.

Like my blogging, for example. I set a goal to blog at least once a week, and then to gradually build it up to 3 times a week. I have failed. Miserably. Which in turn, has made ME miserable.

This is not the only area of my life where this issue of complexity has caused me to fail or to deliver less than satisfactory results (according to MY standards, not anyone else’s). But, blogging is the only area I am going to address here (in the spirit of keeping it simple!).

I submit to you my “Ahas”. The Epiphany that just washed over me about Complexity:

  1. It is at the root of keeping people away from reading what I write. Who the heck wants to read an 800 word blog post?
  2. It puts an extraordinary amount of pressure on me, preventing me from meeting the goals I have set, and disabling my creativity.
  3. Most times, it does not lead to elegance. Instead, it produces convolution, ugliness, and a labyrinth of ideas and concepts that are difficult for my audience to wrap their heads around.
  4. It makes it difficult to keep focus on the important areas of my life (after all, isn’t that what focus is all about?). Keeping things simple allows for better all around focus.
  5. It is hidden and interwoven in the verbal and written tsunami of advice that washes over me every day, making it difficult to separate the practical and applicable stuff from the useless, theoretical and unfeasible stuff I read and hear.

Solution? As Seth Godin would say: SIMPLIFY. “Simpler removes the unnecessary and creates a better outcome as a result”. Make simple, but not dumber, as “dumber does little but create noise” which is actually more complex!

And it brings freedom from the shackles that have inhibited me greatly over the last several years since I have been blogging.

Thanks Seth. You will never know what you did for me, since I doubt my blog will reach your eyes and ears.

Maybe someday. If I continue to keep it simple…

You can read my blog via my web site, www.fiallo.com HERE, connect with me on Twitter HERE, on LinkedIn HERE and on Facebook HERE.

Posted in Aha, Change, Commitments, Effectiveness, Inspiration, Personal Development, Simplicity | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Case for Less Passion – 5 Reasons


passionless

OK, I am prepared for the onslaught of readers disagreeing with my premise. Not really! Hardly anyone reads my blog, so, you few, loyal, and truly treasured supporters are left with the burden of pointing out my (in your eyes) obvious failings on this topic. But I wanted to explain what I mean by having less passion.

First, I should state for the record, for those that may not know me well, that I am by nature, a very passionate person. I care. I can’t just turn that off. Probably you are too. You have causes, concerns, issues, topics, human beings, that you care deeply about and for. I get that. It’s a good thing. Heck, it’s a GREAT thing. We need more people like you in this world. We need people that care deeply about other people, and about injustices, and things that we all just FEEL are not right. But, at times (many times), our passion gets in the way of us being effective in righting the wrongs, and in being able to help people. This is the point of my premise, so let’s explore what I mean. Here are 5 reasons to hold back on your passion.

  1. Extreme Passion drowns out the basic message

    Don’t let your passionate plea turn people off to the point that your great message or cause is lost. Get the message delivered, let the cause be heard.

  2. Fervid Passion overwhelms the person you are trying to help

    I believe that deep down, we all welcome a little help. Many of us need a lot of help, and it is good to have people around that are there to support and help us get through the rough spots in life. However, a passionate plea may totally overwhelm the person needing the help, and they might push you away as a result. Not many people enjoy being preached or lectured to. Don’t allow your passion to become a scolding.

  3. Passion can create a blind spot

    A Scotoma is a partial loss of vision or a blind spot in an otherwise normal visual field. Feeling so passionate about an issue, person, cause, or social injustice can create a blind spot, to the point that we no longer think, see it or act objectively about it. My grandmother had a favorite Cuban saying, “Le ciega la pasión”, meaning, their passion blinds them. Be passionate, but be objective and make sure you see the many sides of complex people and issues.

  4. Other People’s Passions

    You have passion. Other people have passion. What about their passions? Be aware. The thing you are MOST passionate about, may not even make their top 10. That’s OK. Their’s may not make yours either. But be aware, and be respectful. Just because you feel strongly about the plight of Baby Seals (I do too!), doesn’t mean everyone else will see it as THE most burning issue to be most passionate about. I buy Girl Scout cookies, but not everyone does.

  5. Passion can create misalignment or lost support

    Causes require alignment to address them. People in need require resources to assist them. Issues require thoughtful and deliberate discussion and debate to explore and resolve them. Don’t fall into the trap during a discussion of losing someone’s support and alignment by continuing to escalate your passionate plea to the point where what was once a healthy discussion, debate and willingness to listen and help, is now a diametrically opposite way of thinking. Someone who was aligned and ready to help, is all of a sudden misaligned and actually even working against you. Throttle your passion, and bring people along with you slowly, respectfully, kindly, thoughtfully.

Every day, more and more, I see passionate people engaging in these damaging Passion behaviors, and falling into these Passion traps. We are living in politically and socially charged and potentially explosive times. There are many people, issues, events, and causes that are creating unhealthy debates, arguments, and at times, downright unacceptable behavior and actions. Good people against good people, and some not so good people too, so passionate about their viewpoint, it colors their thinking, dialogue, speech, conversation, and most importantly, their actions. Dial the passion back a bit. You can still feel and be passionate, without creating the negatively charged and explosive atmosphere that pushes people away, and causes the exact opposite effect that you had hoped to have by being passionate in the first place.

I hope this was a helpful and respectful (while remaining passionate!) viewpoint. It would be terrific to hear what you have to say! Let me know. And if you would be so kind, consider liking and signing up for my blog please! Thanks so much!

You can read my blog via my web site, www.fiallo.com HERE, connect with me on Twitter HERE, on LinkedIn HERE and on Facebook HERE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Half Dozen Bruising Lessons – Let Me Save You the Pain


wakeupcallPlease keep reading. Don’t get turned off by what you are about to read. Hear me out. Give me a chance. I think it will be worth your while.

I consider myself to be a good leader. Considerate, thoughtful, strategic, helpful, a good mentor, coach, attentive listener, and, a fairly nice guy. I also consider myself to be the kind of person that gets things done. Effective, efficient, proficient, strategic, great at my craft, with finely honed skills, vast experience, and above all, accountable to myself and others. Many people may take exception with much of this, but please bear with me. There is a method to this madness.

Look, let’s get one thing straight, I am not bragging, and don’t have such a lofty opinion of myself that I can’t be objective. I do recognize and acknowledge my weaknesses and shortcomings. I have a lot of them! I have spent a life time examining myself, being introspective, and working on my issues, problems, blind spots, weaknesses and the areas of my life where I am deficient.

I have been through 360 Reviews, Steven Covey 7 Habits,  5 Dysfunctions of a Team, Simon Sinek’s Leaders Eat Last and Start With Why, Excellent Cultures training and MOLOs (More of Less of) and other seminars, webinars, and various and sundry other training sessions, not to mention dozens and dozens of self help and personal development courses and books. 

I take personal development and continuous improvement seriously. And although there certainly is plenty of room in my personal development plan for more improvement, I believe that I have made significant strides in many areas. But… as I found out…and as you will come to know if you read on, as a leader, what YOU believe, is not nearly as important as what others perceive and believe. 

You see, I recently had an experience that brought things to a head for me. This experience caused me to rethink my entire approach to how I saw myself working with and treating people, how I went about working on the self improvement things I had decided were important to focus on, and how I actually carried out my day to day activities. 

The experience itself is not that important to describe, but I should tell you a bit about it so that you can appreciate the rest of what I am about to share. Suffice to say that members of my team became concerned with the way I was interacting with them, how I had conducted myself in meetings and sessions where we were working on solutions to issues and project related work, and disgusted (yes, disgusted) with my dialog and treatment of them. The bottom line is that they came forward to my superiors to voice their concerns. If I can paraphrase, the consensus was, “We never know which Henry is going to show up,  the good Henry, or the bad Henry.” The bright side is that at least there was a Good Henry! 

Wake up call! Clang Clang Clang!

So let’s cut to the chase. Here are the 6 Leadership Lessons I took away from the entirety of the circumstances surrounding these sets of events.

  • Your perception, is not as important as what others perceive

Unless you are destined to be a jerk, or a hermit, or are going to star in the remake of Castaway, and especially if you want to be a truly effective leader, how others perceive you is important. I just don’t know any other way to state this, and how important it is. You MUST know how others perceive you and it MUST be important to you. It MUST drive how you interact, behave, and deal with others. 

  • Perception is reality to most people

Most times there is a gap, big or small, between perception and reality. No matter. You MUST be aware of it, you MUST figure it out, and you MUST  close the gap. The closer the reality is to the perception of who you are, the more effective a leader you will be. 

  • Other’s realities are the realities you ought to be concerned with 

Its more important to be concerned with other people’s reality than yours. See your reality as subservient of their reality. Be a Servant Leader. And if the issue is that you find someone has a mistaken sense of reality, and you are sure, because other people see things as you see things, and they don’t agree with the others whose realities are different than yours, then help them to work towards the collectively help reality. That was a bit of a logic pretzel, but hopefully, I was able to make myself clear.

  • You MUST be on guard all the time

As a leader, you are on stage all the time. You are observed all the time, you are listened to all the time. What you say, how you say it, how you behave, the talk AND the walk, are observed, and judged all the time. Leaders are held to a higher standard. Unfair you say? Face it, deal with it. If you don’t like it, perhaps leadership is not for you. Now, everyone has a bad day here and there, but you should be aware of who showed up for work today as much as you possibly can, and if you don’t feel up to your usual self now and again, considering calling in sick (smile). Or be on double guard, and if you catch yourself in a behavior or saying something that you realize is not consistent with who you want and/or need to be, correct it on the spot, or as soon as possible thereafter.

  • Feelings are part of the equation

People are not project resources, not the means to get sh*t done. They are PEOPLE. They have feelings, dreams, wants, needs, fears, aspirations. They are frail, as strong as they might appear from time to time. Never forget this. Treat people as the human beings they are, and with the care and compassion and patience they deserve.

  • Stand Up Comedy is only appropriate at Open Mike Night at The Improv

You can be witty, you can use humor, but you cannot be witty or humorous or sarcastic at the expense of others. Err on the side of caution. One person’s humor is another’s insult or offense. Watch what you say, and how you say it. If you have a doubt about something, don’t say it. What Jimmy Kimmel or Fallon or Conan said last night, is only appropriate in that context, not in your context as a leader. Also, as a reminder to myself, more than anything,  people have given names, and self-accepted nicknames. These are the only ones that are appropriate to use. 

There they are. A half dozen bruising lessons for me. Hopefully helpful for you as well. 

You might be asking, “so where’s the How To here, Hank?”. It’s OK to call me Hank. Hardly anyone does, except for a VERY few close friends. Consider me a close friend! Well, I am not going to get into a detailed “How To” here. That’s better left for another post. But I will share a few bullet points, without much elaboration.

1 – Find a mentor to help you (I’m available! smiley )

2 – Find people who will give you honest feedback about you and how you walk and talk

3 – Get a 360 done or a MOLO (write to me  or sign up on my blog and I will tell you how)

4 – Spend time every day, at the end of the day being introspective and taking inventory on what and how you did – BTW, Alcoholics Anonymous, AA, has an EXCELLENT Self Inventory HERE  which is part of Step 10.

5 – Buy a few good books and read them. Write to me, and I’ll share a list with you.

Even self improvement and personal development is a means to an end. The end is not just about a better you. It’s about a better you in how you lead, work and collaborate with, and interact with people. Your people. All people.

This  was a tough one to write.

Let me know what you think. I am listening. Honestly.

You can read my blog via my web site, www.fiallo.com HERE, connect with me on Twitter HERE, on LinkedIn HERE and on Facebook HERE.

Posted in Accountability, Change, Effectiveness, Integrity, Leadership, Personal Development, Responsiveness | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“It Fell Through the Cracks” – and Other Lame Excuses – 5 Ways to Close Those Cracks


falling-through-the-cracks_1454461“I’m sorry I didn’t respond to your request. It seems to have fallen through the cracks”.

How many times have you heard, or uttered or written those oft-abused famous words?

Look, most of us mean well, and want to be thorough and responsive. But we end up succumbing to the onslaught of email, text messages, phone calls, voice mails, blog and web site comments, forum messages, and various and sundry other communications launched our way. It is almost impossible to keep up, and to be responsive, no matter how hard we try. Often times, the harder we try, the more behind we fall, until, that notorious crack in the earth opens up, and something we needed to do, some very critical deliverable or commitment, some absolutely critical milestone or element with a mission essential deadline, falls right through that fissure.

So, what to do? How do we prevent these cracks from springing up like a mad crocodile, swallowing up items on your to do list? Well, if anyone tells you that they have a silver bullet that will prevent anything you are responsible for from ever falling through the cracks again, run, don’t walk away from them. Because that is never going to happen. But read on, because, while we can’t be perfect, and can’t commit to being completely responsive all the time, and can’t guarantee that nothing will EVER fall through the cracks again, there are some things I can share with you that will help. In fact, there are FIVE tactics we can employ to fight the fissure monster and prevent him from swallowing your credibility and reputation. I have used these tactics successfully over a 40 year career, spanning multiple industries, cultures, and geographies. Here they are:

  1. Develop a System for Dealing with Received Requests, Emails, etc.
    I’m not going to solve ALL of your REQUEST and COMMITMENT problems today (After all, I have to leave SOME things for future blog posts, you know?). Requests do come at us from many sources, such as Support Forums, FAQ sites, phone calls, formal escalation and request systems and applications, in person, and even snail mail. But for me, the vast majority of requests and potential for things dropping through the cracks, come to my email inbox. So, that’s what I’m going to concentrate on here.The system I use to manage the onslaught of emails is called Inbox Zero, and I have to admit, I am a confirmed zealot. I learned it from watching and reading Merlin Mann’s videos and material, including the stuff at 43 Folders. In fact, I so much believe in this philosophy, that I developed a course on it, teach it on line, and have even delivered it to my entire staff. I’m about to deliver this material at a Lunch and Learn for our entire department soon. Check Inbox Zero out via the links above. Though the principles behind Inbox Zero are way too much detail to get into here, the point is, you need a system so that your inbox doesn’t overflow to the point where cracks consume the things you need to do.
  2. Put in Place a Simple Follow Up System – Track Yourself and Others
    Well, this is what it is all about isn’t it? Following Up and Following Through. I advocate strongly the use of simple systems for everything. It may seem obvious, but, I think it’s worth restating. If something isn’t simple, and if you can’t make it part of your everyday life, you won’t use it. And if you won’t use it, it won’t work. So a simple system to follow up on things you need to do, so they won’t fall through the cracks, is essential. I create an email folder that I just happen to call “Waiting For”, then create a simple rule (it’s an Outlook Rule since my primary email system is Outlook). The rule allows me to add my email address in the BCC: line for any email I either originate, or reply to, and when I press SEND, a copy of the email gets deposited in that “Waiting For” folder. Daily, sometimes several times per day, I will scan that folder looking for things that need to be followed up on. Sometimes, the “Waiting For” action is complete when someone sends me a response or handles a task I may have delegated to them. Sometimes, I have competed the task myself. Either way, once the work I was “Waiting For” is complete, and the original commitment I made is fulfilled, I delete the email in that “Waiting For” folder, and I am done. Simple as that. You can get more elaborate if you wish, but, remember, my rule is, the simpler the better. As long as that folder does not get too big, and I am disciplined enough to scan it at least once a day for the status of things I am “Waiting For”, life is good.
  3. Create and Utilize “Templates” for Standard Responses
    This one is rather straightforward. There are things you do in the course of fulfilling requests, answering questions, and meeting people’s expectations that are repetitive in nature. For these, I use a standard template; a word document, spreadsheet, email, etc., and I pull that out of my file folder, and use it to respond to an email, or a request, simply by filling out the template that already has a lot of standard repetitive information on it, and I’m good to go. Why re-invent the wheel, right?
  4. Institutionalize Use of Methodical Calendar Planning for Work to be Done
    Calendars are not just for meetings. The real beauty of a calendar, is that you can, and should, use it to reserve blocks of time for work. Real work (so meetings are not real work huh? Heh heh…). Some requests and commitments will require a certain amount of my attention and time to complete. So, these merit an estimate, and a calendar entry. Once I estimate it, and find a spot for that amount of time to get it done, on my calendar, I can then commit to the person who made the request, reasonably assured that I can deliver what was asked for and when it is required.
  5. When It Has to be NO, Say NO to Requests as Quickly as You Can
    I don’t like to say NO. I prefer to negotiate WHEN instead. However, I believe that it is preferable to say no, when it is a foregone conclusion that the request cannot be fulfilled, than to create an expectation that will not be met. So, it makes sense to review and categorize ahead of time, if possible, those kinds of questions, and requests that are against policy, or that can never be honored. Getting those off the table as quickly as possible, clears the decks of clutter that could potentially impede progress and steal resource and time for real issues that can be addressed.

That’s my list of 5 fairly straightforward tactics. I don’t believe it takes sophisticated Time Management courses, or Techniques, or even special tools or applications to, if not win this war outright, at least make a major dent in the face of things that are contributing to missed commitments and expectations.  I believe that if you implement these tactics, they can help to avoid you having to utter those totally embarrassing words, “sorry, your request fell through the cracks”.

I’d be interested in hearing what you have to say about all of this. Leave your comments below. And if you wish to get a PDF of my E-Mail management training, go to my web site, sign up for the newsletter, and indicate in the comment field that you want a free copy of the Better E-Mailing Practices PDF. I’d be most happy to send it along!

You can read my blog via my web site, www.fiallo.com HERE, connect with me on Twitter HERE, on LinkedIn HERE and on Facebook HERE.

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