THE ACHIEVEMENT DIGEST “TAD” Issue No. 69
A Unique Publication for Leaders Gene Griessman, Ph.D. Editor
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QUOTES YOU CAN USE IN PRESENTATIONS, REPORTS, AND CONVERSATION
“I have always thought the actions of men the best interpreters of their thoughts.” –John Locke
“Look here, my friend, you are only making a fool of yourself by exposing yourself to the ridicule which I have thus far succeeded in bringing upon you every time you have interrupted me. You ought to know that men whose business it is to speak in public, make it a part of their business to have something always ready for just such fellows as you are.”
–Abraham Lincoln in response to a persistent heckler during a speech in 1856; italics mine. For a complete description of this event, see Michael Burlingame, ABRAHAM LINCOLN: A LIFE. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008, I, p. 427)
***THE POWER OF INCREMENTALISM
“Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.” –Edmund Burke
“Quite often, as life goes on, when we feel completely secure as we go on our way, we suddenly notice that we are trapped in error, that we have allowed ourselves to be taken in by individuals, by objects, have dremt up an affinity with them which immediately vanishes before our waking eye; and yet we cannot tear ourselves away, held fast by some power that seems incomprehensible to us.” –Goethe
“A fly, Sir, may sting a stately horse and make him wince; but one is but an insect, and the other a horse still.” Samuel Johnson
“A compliment is a gift, not to be thrown away carelessly unless you want to hurt the giver.”—Eleanor Hamilton
“Flattery is all right—if you don’t inhale.” Adlai Stevenson
***DOING THE TRUTH
“There’s something more important than knowing the truth, and that’s knowing what to do with the truth.”
–Gene Griessman, Lincoln Speaks To Leaders
LEADERSHIP: PLAY DEVIL’S ADVOCATE
Over 50 years ago Tom Forkner and Joe Rogers began the Waffle House chain, a fast-food operation that has inspired country songs, comedy routines, and a scene in the movie Tin Cup. Today there are over 1200 Waffle Houses in 20 states. When asked by GO Magazine how the founders made decisions, Forkner said: “When problems would come up, Joe would say, ‘We don’t know the answer to this, so I’m going to take the positive side, you take the negative side, and let’s discuss this.’”
LEADERSHIP: GROW DOWN
Most of us have been told at one time or another “Grow Up!”
My advice is “Grow Down!”
Downward growth is a proven way to succeed at virtually anything. By downward growth, I mean acquiring in-depth knowledge of a particular topic—getting beneath the surface, sinking your roots down deep.
The legendary motivational speaker Earl Nightingale was fond of saying “Spend an extra hour a day on the subject of your choice, and you will become a nationally known expert within five years or less.”
I’ve personally tested that concept several times during my career, most recently immersing myself in information about Abraham Lincoln. The concept has worked well for me; I recommend it to you.
LEADERSHIP: SMALL DETAILS ARE A BIG DEAL
Tony Bennett recently revealed to Vanity Fair that his best friend Frank Sinatra mastered a performance technique that set Sinatra apart from virtually all of his peers. It occurred when Sinatra joined the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra. Here’s Bennett’s description of what happened: “I was amazed at how Fran, from studying how T.D. played, learned to extend his breathing, which gave him better vocal control and the ability to sing two or three sentences before taking another breath. That subtle and elegant nuance kept a listener hanging on every word….”
LEADERSHIP: AVOID REVERSE DELEGATION
Every leader needs to learn how to prevent reverse delegation—that process whereby a task that you delegated to one of your people mysteriously finds its way back on your task list.
The president of a company whom I was coaching told me that he dreaded going to his office. When I asked why, he said: “There usually will be several employees waiting outside my office door wanting to know how I’m doing on projects that I gave them.”
Here’s what I recommended. The next time one of your people says to you, “I’ve hit a snag with that project you gave me,” tell him/her that you want to discuss the problem in depth, and make an appointment to meet. Then say, “Prior to our meeting, here’s what I’d like you to do. Think about the problem you’ve encountered, and come up with two or three possible ways to deal with it—A, B, C…” Write them down. Then write down all the plusses and minuses that are associated with A and B and C. Finally, I’d like you to be prepared to recommend which one of the options you would choose, and why.”
The result? Within days after trying this approach, he reported that a shift of behavior had occurred. He said, “It’s become a pleasure to go to the office now. That simple request changed the way people think around here.”
What seems like a simple request is based on a profound management principle. What this request does is teach your people to think the way you should be thinking about every problem that you encounter—namely, what is the problem, what are the possible ways of addressing it, what are the costs and benefits of each tactic, and finally, weighing the costs and benefits and making a choice about which alternative will give you the outcome that you desire.
Napoleon is said to have used this technique with his generals, and it has sometimes been referred to as the Napoleonic method. Napoleon would ask his generals to come up with more than one alternative for taking an enemy position, and would demand that they tell him the costs and benefits of each tactic, and why they would choose one over the other.
When you use this leadership technique, you will be doing more than delegating. You will be educating your people. You will be helping them become skilful at making good decisions whenever they encounter problems. After all, nothing is more important in good leadership than making good decisions, except perhaps teaching those who follow you how to make good decisions.
The whole purpose of delegating is to avoid doing everything yourself. If, after delegating a task, you end up having to deal with every little difficulty that comes up, what’s the point in delegating? You may as well do it all yourself.
For more on the subject of delegation, see TIME TACTICS OF VERY SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE, pp. 139-143
LINCOLN AND PODIATRIC MEDICINE
Earlier this year I performed “The Wit and Wisdom of Abraham Lincoln” at the annual meeting of the Connecticut Podiatric Medical Association. As a result of doing that program, I discovered that President Lincoln had problems with his feet. In fact, a note written by Lincoln on the subject just fetched $131,450 at auction at the Heritage Auction Gallery. In that September 22, 1862 note, Lincoln wrote that Dr. Isachar Zacharie “has operated on my feet with great success, and considerable addition to my comfort.”
MICHAEL BURLINGAME’S NEW BIOGRAPHY OF LINCOLN
If you are a serious student of Abraham Lincoln, you must obtain this recently published two-volume biography. It is pricey–$120–but the work is stupendous. It is sure to become the definitive Lincoln biography; the one by which all others will be measured. I have known Michael Burlingame for years and was honored when he agreed to vet my book The Words Lincoln Lived By. Few compliments have ever meant more to me than the one
Michael Burlingame wrote after attending a performance of the Lincoln one-man play: “Gene Griessman’s historically accurate, poignant, and entertaining presentation of Lincoln vividly captures the many facets of our greatest, most humorous, and wisest president.”
I have profited immensely from reading his 11 previous books on Lincoln, but this one has outdone all the others. (ABRAHAM LINCOLN: A LIFE. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008)
INVITE LINCOLN TO YOUR NEXT IMPORTANT MEETING. 2009 IS LINCOLN’S 200TH BIRTHDAY YEAR, AND DEMAND IS STRONG. CONTACT US RIGHT AWAY BEFORE THE BEST DATES ARE TAKEN.
“Today I finished listening to “99 Ways To Get More Out Of Your Life” as an audio-file in my car. It was quite amazing and very good information. I’m traveling a lot—about 90,000 km a year—and it’s a good inspiration to listen to practical advice you can transfer to your daily business. I sent this email because you asked me to at the end of the CD.” –Jan Meyer, Refresh Media-Consulting, Calden, Germany
“The stories and the style (“Lincoln Live”) were very well done. Even in a large amphitheater the talk had a very intimate feel. I feel I could have enjoyed this as much over dinner as I did as part of a crowd.” Anonymous comment on feedback form
“The entire presentation was excellent. Dr. Griessman’s portrayal of Lincoln was funny, charming, humbling, insightful, touching, relevant, and powerful. It was especially relevant to our current times.” Richard J. Grayson, DPM, Avon, Connecticut