Why ideas fail or succeed? Listen to story by Malcolm Gladwell : The Big Man Can’t Shoot.

Don’t miss this good weekend reading. Hear the story of the greatest foul shooter in basketball Rick Berry. Then listen to the story of the basketball legend Wilt Chamberlain who had only one flaw: He couldn’t shoot free throws. In 1962, Chamberlain switched to making his foul shots underhanded—and fixed his only weakness. Then because he didn’t want to be seen as a “granny” or “sissy” he switch back. 

Gladwell address the idea in this pod cast about The Big Man Can’t Shoot” Wilt Chamberlain . “The story is  a meditation on the puzzle of why smart people do dumb things—why excellence is such a difficult and elusive goal, even for the best-intentioned.”

Malcom Gladwell in his new Revisionist History podcast uses these basketball greats to help you understand why good ideas like the underhanded foul shot never catch on or take such an effort for people to try it or adopt it as the standard practice for foul shooting. Gladwell’s podcast is entitled The Big Man Can’t Shoot.  The key is not in changing beliefs but in understanding the social psychological theory of Threshold of Collective Behavior developed by Mark Granovetter, Ph.D.

Secret to Personal Change–Art of Intentional Living or Sleep Walking through Life

Daily Quote: As Notre Dame football coach Ara Parseghian said, “A good coach will make a player see what he can be rather than what he is.”

Reflection: To create a strong and clear purpose in life means doing things purposefully or intentionally and not just letting things happen.  It means doing what you want to do. Learning to say “no” to things that do not fit your values or goals. To me experimenting with a new strategy or activity means actively pursuing something of interest to see if you enjoy them and are good at doing them. It means that you must stop sleep walking through life, so that you can create a life of purpose and fulfillment. Stop wondering what you have done with your life and start creating it with intention and purpose.

I say this because many people I coach lack the understanding and motivation to make personal changes and commitment to change things that are not working for them. Many people settle just for things in life because they mistakenly believe that successful people are either lucky or “have” an inborn sense of greatness or “god” given talent. It is my believe that our mindset and lack of a strong belief in self (self-efficacy) are the critical factors that many of us overlook when it comes to changing our life circumstances.

More often than not, a change of mindset from fixed to growth needs to take place in order to create new habits and behaviors that support your goals for change. In order to make personal changes that “stick” you need to LEARN and GROW in a number of ways to support yourself both mentally and emotionally to take on personal challenges and self-directed change plans.

What does research tell us?  We need to coach ourselves so as to create strong self-efficacy (belief) and a Growth Mindset to get what we want in life. A strong belief in self is not sometime you have or don’t have (fixed mindset)  it real is something you create through effort, failure, feedback and deliberative practice.

Self-Coaching Challenge: This weekend or next week identify a personal habit or activity you want to change in order to create a better quality of life. Use the Smart Step and Plus One techniques to accomplish your goal. 

Daily Quote and Self-Reflection: Embracing Change and Openness

Daily Quote: “Things do not Change: We change.”  Henry Thoreau

Self Reflection: When “IT” comes to change and upsetting the “status quo” I am a searcher. Searchers look for problems that can become opportunities. They are open-minded about how to solve problems and do not think they have all the answers. The main tools searchers use are a “growth mindset” seeing problems as challenges, experimentation and piloting potential solutions.  Their change mantra is:: “Whoever Tries The Most Stuff Wins.” Always be open to try new ways to find the right answers. I believe one must never lose time in vainly regretting failures nor in complaining about the changes which cause us discomfort, or making excuses because the essence of change is shaking things-up.

Self-Coaching: What are you facing in your daily life that needs changing and you have been procrastinating from doing it. Listen to Graham Hill, feature speaker at TED, talk about how to create more happiness in your life. Then reflect on the TED talk and pick one thing in your daily life that will make your happiness soar. Good Luck and have fun.

Daily Quote and Reflection: Asking Questions and Living with Uncertainty

Want to  Be Open and updated on Reality—Try asking questions

Daily Quote: ” Our view of reality is like a map with which to negotiate the terrain of life. If the map is true and accurate, we will generally know where we are, and if we have decided where we want to go, we will generally know how to get there. If the map is false and inaccurate, we generally will be lost.” -M Scott Peck.

Reflection: If it is obvious that asking questions is such a powerful way for learning. So why do we stop asking questions and give more advice or try sell our arguments at any cost. Self-protection? Fear of cognitive dissonance? Or are we just lazy learners? Most people in order to create a comfort zone and reduce unknowns in life assume they know all the main things they need to know on a subject and then go through life looking for examples and evidence to reinforce our own beliefs and view of the world. They don’t bother to ask questions because they do not want to upset their views and beliefs about life.  So they don’t ask questions because would require change and pain for them. They cling to outdated beliefs and remain certain in their assumptions – yet they often end up being viewed as inflexible, dogmatic and rigid–  saying stupid things like the world is flat or all those “people” who are on  food stamps are lazy or do such and such. This inability to be open-minded and flexible leads to absolute thinking and limits our ability to deal with the uncertainty and inevitable changes in life.

Other people are afraid that by asking questions they will look weak, ignorant or unsure. They like to give the impression that they are decisive and in command of the relevant issues. They fear that asking questions might introduce uncertainty or show them in a poor light. In fact asking questions is a sign of strength and intelligence – not a sign of weakness or uncertainty. Great leaders constantly ask questions and are well aware that they do not have all the answers.

Finally some people are in such a hurry to get with things that they do not stop to ask questions because it might slow them down. They risk rushing headlong off the cliff.

In many situations,  checking-in by asking questions and challenging our  assumptions provides us with more information and leads us to gain a better appreciation of the issues.

Action Challenge:

So how do we improve our skills and ability to ask better questions? Start with very basic, broad questions then move to more specific areas to clarify your understanding. Open questions are excellent – they give the other person or people chance to give broad answers and they open up matters. Examples of open questions are:

  • What business are we really in, what is our added value?
  • Why do you think this has happened?
  • What are all the things that might have caused this problem?
  • How can we reduce customer complaints?
  • Why do you think he feels that way?
  • What other possibilities should we consider?

Over the next week try out your skill in asking questions and then see if this doesn’t improve your ability to see people and situations with a more open-mind. Keep us informed of your progress and we can start a dialogue for all of us to feel more comfortable in living with uncertainty and change.  

Daily quote and reflection: Power of Self-Efficacy and Suspension of Disbelief


Daily Quote: “It is very important to understand that change is not the triumph of heart over head — it is the unique intersection of both.”  David Caruso

Reflection: One constant in life is change. How we learn to live with change depends on our experience and mental-set. An unpleasant or painful experience may program your mental-set  to either avoid or see new experiences as an opportunity and a challenge. It all depends on how we perceive the original event and process it into our long-term memory. Some of my clients are bored or “stuck” in their marriage or career, or their lives in general. By remaining in their habits and status quo ways, they are denying themselves opportunities to see the possibilities in their life and fall short of their full potential. Self-mastery is knowing when to learn new skills or take on new responsibilities, when to hold on to beliefs that serve you, and when to let go of beliefs, thinking and behaviors that do not fulfill your potential and serve you.

Self-efficacy is the context-specific assessment of belief in our personal capabilities to organize and execute what is required so as to achieve the intended goal. It is concerned not with the skills we have, but rather with our control over our own level of functioning. People with high self-efficacy choose more demanding tasks. They set higher goals, put in more effort, and persist longer than those who are low in self-efficacy.

Self-efficacy grows through personal and vicarious experience, discipline, and valid feedback. Although usually considered in a single context, there may also be a generalized effect reflecting a person’s abilities across a broad array of difficult or novel situations. For instance, if someone is loved by a supportive family on the home front, then that person will display a greater confidence on the job. This will be reflected by peer and management feedback, which will, in turn, show up on the home front, perpetuating the cycle.

How can you better address change in your life? Here are some tips:

  • Envision. Look at the big picture—what the end result will be. That way you won’t become so overwhelmed with the small details.
  • See change as an opportunity to try something new or to do things in a different way.
  • Do your homework. Find out all you can about what is changing so that it will make you feel more confident as it happens.
  • Believe that no matter what happens, you can deal with it, and that in some way you will learn from it.

What are you turning away from personally or professionally that needs to be addressed? In the end, if you don’t make the changes in your life, life will make them for you.

Daily quote and Reflection: Communication Our Greatest Achievement or Our biggest Deficit ?

Daily Quote and Reflection: Man’s supreme achievement in the world is communication from personality to personality” Karl Jasper

Reflection: I do agree that communication is man’s greatest achievement but the problem is that most of us are not very good at it. Our technical advances in communication have been far and wide, and people still struggle with the most important form of communication–face to face conversations. Many find it difficult to do in their places of work and others find it most difficult to accomplish with those we love and live with. Maybe this situation has been with us forever but I have been increasing worried and aware of the ineffectiveness of most of our interpersonal communication. It is rare to find a friend or group of colleagues who opening and sincerely share what really matters. My belief is that this situation has evolved  because of the hectic pace we are now living, or because we are just unwilling to share our feelings or truly listen and understand others and possibly it is because we have never learned how to effectively communicate. I have never seen a class on listening and communication in our public schools but a lot of emphasis on reading, math and science.  Yet communication has been seen as one of the biggest problems for failure in marriages and the workplace.  This interpersonal communication deficit in modern times affects the all the major institutions of our life from politicians to constituents, unions to management, doctors and patients and most of all parents to children. Communication is the lifeblood of every relationship.

Action Activity: In the next 24 hours pick a communication skill like listening and reflecting feelings with someone who generally you ignore or tune out. Capture your observations and learning.  Remember the Rule of Change says” Things do not remain the same. If they don’t get better, they get worse.”  Good Luck 

Daily Quote and Reflections: Thoreau’s take on problem solving and “root” change

Daily quote and Reflection: 

“There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.” –Walden 

Reflection: Thoreau was certainly a man who march to his own drummer. Cities and towns and urban life did not inspire or ignite his curiosity and creativity. It was nature and all its beauty and wonderment that trigger his perspective on life. I wonder if most appreciate nature so as to change our perspective of what is important in life? Maybe taking 10 minuets a day with nature would slow us down and provide space for renewal and soulful serenity. His ability to observe and become aware that most of our problem solving was superficial ( a thousand hacking at the branches) vs. real critical and deep thinking (striking at the root) provides a vision and a road map for us to stop and look at real causes to climate change, health care issues and equality which are tearing at the fabric of our Democracy

Action Challenge–Are you a root cause problem solver or  a superficial traveler in life?  What ways can you influence more profound change to save our freedoms and gian more personal grounding of what is important in living a Meaningful and Constructive Life?