The danger of one good idea

The danger of one good idea

Can you imagine a stew with only potatoes in the broth? Or only peas? And no other seasoning.
Yuck! Borrrrrrinnng.

Diversity, Ideas
How many shoppers go to the produce market and buy only one vegetable to make a stew? Instead, they select a variety that they can blend and season to make a savory meal.

Bland. That’s the word we use to describe something that lacks savor. It’s dull, lifeless, insipid.

That’s my assessment of most political debate today: arguing over which is better–potatoes or peas.

I say, “let’s spice it up.”

I like the stewpot of ideas–a cauldron of possibilities. When flavors mingle and marinade, the meal gets interesting and worth savoring.

When ideas mingle and marinade, imaginations engage, possibilities emerge, movements take shape, creative energy takes over, and the world gets better.

Change and diversity are life-giving processes. It’s the unusual, unexpected, and odd that surprise us, thrill us, and renew us. Welcome it, and be stimulated by it.
6th Tenet of the INPowered2 LEAD philosophy.

So, the potato heads can debate the pea crowd over which is the better veggie. The onion, carrot, and zucchini factions might join the debate, each lauding the rightness of their particular variety.

Emile Cartier said, “”Nothing is more dangerous than an idea when it is the only one you have.”

Albert Einstein, a man who had a lot of ideas in his lifetime said, “If at first, the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it.”

So, I’m lining up for stew . . . with a dash of absurdity.

I think that’s a recipe for being
Leadership training, leadership development, Garland McWatters

018: Donna Miller-How business thinks about leadership development [Podcast]

executive coaching, leadership, INPowered to Lead, leadership development

Donna Miller
Executive Resource Center

The way that larger organizations take a strategic approach to developing new talent also gives individuals who aspire to leadership a model for their own professional development.

In this episode of The Spirit of Leading, I ask Donna Miller, an executive coach, to share her experience and insights into executive development.

Donna discusses succession planning, her own approach to working individually with emerging executive talent, and the issue of business ethics.

More about Donna’s background and practice, the Executive Resource Center. Click here

Here are some of the development tips Donna suggests:

  • Focus primarily on developing your natural abilities and strengths.
  • Leaders must take a larger view of their involvement in the organization by making a shift from their personal value added to how they can help others develop their own talent.
  • Learn how the organization functions as a whole and not just their own department or functional division.
  • Focus primarily on the value delivered to the customer.
  • Relentlessly build your people skills.


SOL PODCST ART.ispx 300Other links

Donna Miller, Executive Resource Center

Oklahoma Business Ethics Consortium

The Birkman Method Assessment

Additional information about the JoHari Window

The hard work of making things look easy

The hard work of making things look easy

I’m an avid football fan. HDTV and large-as-life images give us an up close and personal view of the players and the game.

Football crowd

What’s deceiving, however, is the elevated level of talent these amazing athletes possess. Only when superior athletes play against lesser talented competition is the level of the talent more obvious.

The very best of the best get to compete on the NFL gridiron where they command our attention and admiration. And we will pay top dollar to watch them play. In exchange, we expect them to give us 110 percent on every play.

These amazing athletes make what they do look easy. Yet, we know it is anything but easy. When we get a behind the scenes look at what they went through to be so successful, we see hour upon grueling hour of practice and study they endured to raise their performance to their personal best.

This is true for anyone who performs his or her skills at a high level of proficiency. They make it look easy. Athletes, musicians, actors, performers, authors, doctors, and other professionals and craftsmen and women go through the same routine of practice, study, and experience to reach their peak performance.

How the pros do it

Here’s the pro’s formula: prepare, practice, perform, evaluate, repeat–relentlessly.

  • Prepare: Learn the game. Learn the fundamentals. Expand and build the skills you need. Get and stay physically and mentally fit.
  • Practice: Focus on the specialized skills and strategies needed for the immediate situation. Build on your strengths. Improve your weaknesses. Get good coaching.
  • Perform: Execute your game plan. Focus on the immediate mission. Avoid distractions–keep your head in the game. Hold nothing back.
  • Evaluate: Be coachable. Get feedback on your results and performance. Accept responsibility for your effort. Enjoy the recognition of excellence. Look for every possible way you can raise the level of your game.

Repeat the process. Be relentless. Pros pursue excellence. Amateurs are satisfied with good enough.

I think one of the greatest compliments I can receive when others attend one of my workshops is, “Wow, you make it look easy.”

That’s when I feel like a pro.
That’s when I feel
Leadership training, leadership development, Garland McWatters

017: When no one is listening [Podcast]


debate, arguing, listeningCommunication skills continually rank at the top of leadership competencies. When they are absent, it can be a glaring omission.

I recently experienced such a situation in which a person in authority demonstrated a total lack of listening skill, and that resulted in my feeling dismissed, angry, frustrated, and vindictive.

I tell that story in this episode of The Spirit of Leading.

You might say that I ran into a brick wall. Everything I said was blocked and just ricocheted back to me.

But I picked up some valuable lessons and insights about what it feels like to not be heard. Among them is, “A closed mind opens the door to anger and resentment.”

Alan Alda, listening, changeI also offer three takeaways every leader can use to improve her or his connections and relationships through more effective listening.

In a moment of reflection, I even offer a suggestion of how I could have approached the situation differently and, perhaps, I would have had a better chance of getting my own message across.

Along the way I discovered this interesting information about body language and listening. Check it out here.


Leadership, podcast, Garland McWatters, leadership development



The mischievous twinkle in the mind’s eye

The mischievous twinkle in the mind’s eye

Our mind plays tricks on us, and our eyes and ears are unwitting co-conspirators. They continually get us in trouble. It’s a WYSINWII kind of thing (What You See Is Not What It Is).

Man in thought 900

Remember Benjamin Franklin’s advice, “Believe none of what you hear, and only half of what you see.”

Perception is the process of interpreting sensory stimuli. So, in a literal sense, touch, taste, and smell get in on the game, too. Our sensory organs take in information from our surroundings and feed it into the brain where it is interpreted into our reality. IIWISII (It Is What I Say It Is)–EOD (End Of Discussion).

Every one of us has experienced a situation in which we were absolutely certain we had our objective facts correct, only to find out that we had been fooled again. Drats.

Misperception is the root of all kinds of unintended conflicts.

And here’s the danger zone: our misperceptions–misinterpretation–becomes our reality, and we act on it. Then, someone perceives our intentions and reacts to our actions. Then, we react to the reaction, and the vicious cycle takes on a life of its own.

What we have here is a failure to communicate: the other person obviously doesn’t understand. After all, how could I possibly be wrong about what I saw with my own eyes and heard with my own ears?

Been there? Done that? I have.

How, then, can we avoid getting fooled?

I have not found a failsafe workaround. But I have been able to come up with a few rules of thumb that help keep me balanced. Maybe they will work for you, too.

  1. Everyone is always right in their own mind, at any point in time. Think about it. Why would anyone intentionally be wrong? I Accept that everyone has his or her understanding of events, and they are as legitimate to them as mine are to me.
  2. Never tell anyone they are wrong. Allow their perceptions. Seek to understand the underlying information and how they worked through it to arrive at their understanding. Have a conversation, not an argument.
  3. I like myself more when I admit that I could be wrong about something without damaging my self-esteem. Always having to be right is too big a burden to bear. Being wrong does not mean I’m incompetent or inadequate–just human.
  4. Do a double-take. Most things are not quite as they initially seemed. After my initial knee-jerk reaction, which I cannot prevent because the fight or flight system hijacks me, I stop and reflect on what is happening. Reserve judgment about right-wrong, good-bad, and take another look at the situation. Focusing on different aspects of the information might result in a different interpretation of it.
  5. Change perspective. I shift my point of view to that of the others involved. I try to envision how I would see the situation through their eyes and experience. This also helps me to be more empathetic, and even compassionate; thus, potentially altering my response.

I have never been more embarrassed than
when I was so certain of my opinion

and told everyone so.

Your ability to more accurately perceive the reality you create
will help you to be more
Leadership training, leadership development, Garland McWattersAnd others will perceive that, too.