Hear no evil, See no evil, Speak no evil

We have all seen pictures and statuettes of the three monkeys that symbolize the above phase, and we have probably heard that phrase hundreds of times.  Parts of the phrase seem to take on a life of their own.  How many of you have said, "My mom told me if I can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all”?  The speak no evil part just seems so logical and understandable.  Words are powerful, but they can also be hurtful.  So, what about the Hear and See no evil?  I think those are just as important.  They mean to not let evil influence your life.  Don't watch evil on TV.  Don't listen to evil music.  Don't hang out with evil people.  Don't go into business with evil partners.  Don't put yourselves in situations where evil is prevalent.  Humans tend to take on the characteristics of the environment in which they live.  As such we should stay away from evil environments.

Hear no evil, See no evil, Speak no evil.  Be all three monkeys at one time!


You don’t have to always be right!

It’s okay to be wrong, everyone is, and it is important to admit it when we are.  More important is the need for leaders to allow those who work for them to admit their mistakes.  Good leaders give people permission to be wrong.  Most people don't admit their mistakes because of fear. They're afraid they won't be forgiven1.  Good leaders let their followers know that it's okay.  Great leaders even share their own stories of failure.  It shows that they care and allows them to be human.  This permission to be wrong leads to stronger relationships between leaders and followers.  It leads to humility and transparency. 

There are few guarantees in life, making mistakes is one of them.  Allow yourself to be wrong and admit it.  More importantly, allow those around you to be wrong and admit it.

1 Parsley, Brian, Admit You’re Wrong (brianparsley.com)


Leadership is Balance

The challenge of being a leader is walking a fine line that requires incredible balance and sensitivity.  Great leadership qualities can’t be taken to extremes, they have to be balanced.  The challenge is to be…
·         strong, but not rude
·         kind, but not weak
·         bold, but not overbearing
·         humble, but not timid
·         proud , but not arrogant

Successful leaders are good at balancing these qualities.  How about you?


There is no key to happiness, but the door is always open…

We live in a fast paced world, especially in this country.  To go along with that pace we tend to be a bit impatient.  We expect quick service, easy answers, and immediate solutions.  We believe, happiness should be constant and easy.  We look for a pill or a doctor to fix our woes.  We seek diets or lifestyles that will improve our health and state of mind.  We grab onto fads and trends to make us feel good about ourselves.   It seems to be all about finding the easy answer, the key to happiness.

There is no “key” to happiness.  There is no one thing that will make you happy and keep you happy.  Life is comprised of challenges and struggles.  I do not believe that we were meant to be happy all the time, but we can be happier by choice.  We can be more positive by choice.  We can live a better life by choice.  It takes a little determination and hard work.  It is not a quick fix.  There are certain things that can help us be happy in life; faith, family and health. However, each of those have challenges as well.  Happiness is a process, a door to walk thru again and again every day. Happiness is a choice to make.

Stop looking for a key to happiness and walk thru the door, by choice, each and every day! 



Problems, we all have them.  Anyone who tells you they have no problems is lying.  How we deal with our problems is the challenge.  It is often a natural reaction to want to avoid and ignore the obstacles in our lives.  Unfortunately, most of them don’t simply disappear when ignored.  That would be nice right?  So we have to face our challenges.  We must tackle our challenges.  We need to overcome our obstacles.  Understandably, it is easier said than done, but there is no benefit to avoiding them!  Consider this quote…

Avoid problems, and you'll never be the one who overcame them.
-       Richard Bach

Man up!  Go tackle a problem…



Listening is a favorite topic of the MMM.  People can listen at a rate of 600 words per minute, but they can only talk only at 100 to 150 words per minute.  As a result listeners are easily distracted, they can process more information than a person speaking to them can deliver.  The challenge is to use the extra time, the extra processing capacity, to listen more productively.  Unfortunately, most people start planning what they are going to say next instead of listening to the speaker’s concluding words.  Ironically, the last sentence, which usually contains the meat or most important point, is totally missed by most listeners.  Think about it, how often are you planning a response and not listening to someone speaking to you?

Slow down and listen...



What does it mean to have integrity?  How would you describe people that you believe have integrity?  The first thought that comes to my mind about integrity is...  Do the right thing even when nobody is looking.  Integrity is not about doing the right thing for someone else.  It is about doing the right thing because it is the right thing to do! 

What is the right thing?  Two things to consider when making decision about the right thing to do...

- What would your mother think if you told her your decision?
- Make your decision as if it will be on the front page tomorrow.

Keep those thoughts in mind and you will know the right thing to do.  Strive to do the right thing all the time, especially when nobody is looking.


Leadership - Foresight

Several years ago my wife, Fran, and I spent the 4th of July in the birthplace of this great country.  We were in Philadelphia and toured Independence Hall and visited the Liberty Bell.  It was really special to actually be there on the 4th!  It is hard to fathom that we were in the same building where our founding fathers literally crafted our independence over 200 years ago. 

Their story is one of incredible courage and unbelievable foresight.  At the time no country in the world was ruled “by the people” the way they conceived this country to be.  They had to be courageous to stand up against the British.  They had to have foresight to see the great potential of a free country ruled by its’ people.  They also had to have an understanding of the potential impact of what they were doing. 

Leaders who do not see their potential impact may actually miss leadership opportunities altogether.  I am thankful for, and actually in awe of, how our forefathers made thoughtful, courageous and impactful decisions.  Those decisions have served this country well over the years.  While our own individual impact may not be quite so far reaching (although you never know) we certainly can impact the world around us.  To do so we have to be courageous.  We must think and act with foresight.  Most of all, we need to grasp the potential impact of our leadership decisions. 

Our founding fathers took decisive action in the face of a leadership opportunity over 200 years ago.  Today we live in the greatest country in the world as a result of their actions. 

Happy Birthday USA!  Have a great 4th of July holiday and may God bless America!


Who am I?

I lost my dad way too early,
Who am I to doubt it was part of God’s plan?

His mother lived to age 98, why couldn’t he?
Who am I to question God’s timing?

He loved my mom and all of us so dearly,
Who am I to ask God why we don’t have him anymore?

He was married for 50 years, had nine grandchildren and a great grandchild,
Who am I to not thank God for the time we did have?

He had wood to carve, golf to play and trips to take,
Who am I to ask God why not?

He was kind, loved and respected,
Who am I to ask God why him?

For his disease there were no more options,
Who am I to ask God why no cure?

There were things I had not done or said,
Who am I to ask God for more time with him?

I never heard a bad word spoken towards him,
Who am I to ask God why not someone else?

He deserved so much more,
Who am I to question that God knows what he truly deserved?

I lost my dad far too soon,
Who am I to question God’s plan?

Barry D. Blanton
In loving memory of Don Blanton
January 6, 1935 – June 23, 2007



Set clear goals and standards for each person.
What gets measured gets done.
--Brian Tracy

Great leadership tip!  The establishment of clear goals is so important.  They should be specific, time bound and measurable.  However, the real key is actually doing the follow up and measuring the results.  Human nature is an interesting thing.  People behave differently when they know that their actions will be monitored and measured.  For some it is a motivator, for others maybe just an obligation.  Whatever the case, what gets measured gets done.  It is just a matter of human nature.  Goals must be set, clearly communicated and then measured.



I would not describe myself as a wild eyed optimist.  Some might think of me as more of as a bit of a pessimist.  At least that is what my kids and some of my more entrepreneurial employers have told me.  I like to consider myself more of a realist.  I like to know all the possible outcomes and understand all of my options.  I like to have backup plans in place.  I like to understand the downside risk in situations.  Maybe those things do make me pessimistic, I don’t know.  I do know that the ability to see opportunities in the face of challenges is a virtue.  In times like these it is a virtue we should all strive to possess.  While realism is a good thing in troubling times, it takes optimism and hope to get through such times.  There are opportunities out there, even in these difficult times!  

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity;
an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty
--Sir Winston Churchill


Work like you are going on vacation tomorrow…

Do you know what I mean?  Seriously, don’t you feel like you get really productive before you leave for vacation?  I try to keep my desk at the office pretty neat, but it is never as neat and clean as it is before I leave town.  Somehow before leaving town I always find a way to get a lot of work done; I become more productive.  Some people that work for me might tell you that I just delegate better before I leave town, maybe so but… 

I really do tend to get more focused and accomplish more right before I know I am going to be away.  Why can’t we work like that all the time?  Why can’t we always run our lives the way we do the week before we leave the office, making decisions, cleaning off the desk, returning calls, getting stuff done? 

By the way, I am currently on vacation.  Yes, I got a lot done before I left town!


Memorial Day

Yes it is about the start of the summer, with beer, BBQ and upcoming coming trips to the beach.  There is baseball, watermelon and the kids being out of school, but don’t forget the true meaning of the holiday.  People have died serving our country and defending the freedoms we enjoy and this day is set aside to remember and honor those sacrifices.  Take a minute to think about that.  Make sure your children or grandchildren understand the price of freedom and the reason for the holiday.

Have a blessed and happy Memorial Day!


We are all Leaders…

We are all leaders.  We lead by our actions and reactions.  We lead with the tone of our voice and our level of caring.  We lead by our attitude, our patience and our listening skills.  Don’t think you are not a leader.  No title is required to lead.  You lead at home, in your neighborhood, in the PTO and at the youth sports fields.  The questions is... Is your leadership intentional, positive, encouraging and challenging?

Do you embrace your leadership role?  Are you intentional in how you lead?  Do you recognize your ability to influence others, both positively and negatively?  Are you growing as a leader?

The fact that we are all leaders is a given, we have the ability to influence others.  What you do with that influence is what defines you as a leader…


The Spoken Word…

The spoken word is more powerful than we know.  Words can both hurt and heal.  They can destroy, but also build up.  What we simply verbalize can educate or berate.  Words can sting, but they also have the power to soothe.  We can use our words to encourage or to deflate.  Our words can make someone’s day or…

The problem is that we are often too quick to spout something off without thinking of its impact.  As the saying goes we speak before we think.  This often results in our words coming out on the negative side of all of the above options.  That means we leave a trail of anger, disappointment, and hurt feelings around us. 

Consider the power of your words.  Choose them carefully.  More to the point, today consciously choose to be positive with what you say.  

Have a blessed week…



Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.         ~ Gen. George S. Patton

I did not know that Patton said this, but it is a favorite concept of mine.  I have always enjoyed finding new, improved and more efficient ways to get things done.  I especially don’t like being confined by how things have been done in the past.  This quote especially on point for me.  It is how I have preferred to be managed over the years and it is how I like to lead people as well.  People need to understand why they are being asked to do something.  As leaders, we should provide them the desired result upfront and let them determine the best way to get there.  If they do not get there at all, then you have another leadership opportunity.  Often they may find ways to get there that you have not considered.  They may actually give you more than you asked for.  Not only will you get a better and possibly more creative solution, you will have empowered your followers who will appreciate the confidence you have placed in them.  Everyone enjoys a good challenge; give them one instead of dictating their methods.



Ironman Texas was this past weekend in The Woodlands.  It is one of my favorite weekends of the year!  There are so many moving and powerful aspects to the weekend that I always come away motivated and fulfilled.  My two takeaways from this weekend are…

Inspirational - What these athletes accomplish in an Ironman is a special feat unto itself.  Many of them have special circumstances, unique stories and difficult places from which they have come.  In every single case, it is absolutely inspirational.  Seeing what people overcame, endure and push themselves to accomplish was amazing!  I knew a few first timers and several returning athletes this year.  Each had their own story and reason for this pursuit.  They have now accomplished something few others ever will.  I am just proud to know them and be inspired by them.

Volunteerism – Each year we are in charge of an aid station on the run.  It takes 120+ people and over 15 hours of hard work to put on what we like to think of as an event for the athletes.  We do it for them and we do it for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.  It is so fulfilling!  The athletes are so appreciative.  We know that what we do for them can make the difference in when, and maybe if, they finished.  But what they did for us was just as important!

We were blessed to be part of such an incredible event and to support such impressive athletes!



Once there was an Army sergeant and a private who were doing survival training in the Rocky Mountains.  As they made their way through the woods, suddenly they encountered a really big, really angry, grizzly bear.  The bear was focused on attacking them!  Quickly the sergeant sat down, ripped off his heavy hiking boots, removed some running shoes from his backpack and put them on, as he was hurriedly lacing them up, the private stood there watching.  "Excuse me, sir," he said.  "Do you really think you're going to be able to out run that bear?"  "Well, private, I don't have to out run the bear," replied the sergeant."  "I only have to out run you."

If there had ever been any trust in that relationship it was gone in an instant!  Trust is critical in relationships.  Employee and employer relationships require it.  Husband and wife relationships are built on it.  Parent and child relationships strive for it.  Trust is a foundational element of successful relationships.

Trust is earned through patient investment and long association in a relationship. However, it can be destroyed in an instant.  We destroy trust in all sorts of ways...

·         By not doing what we said we would do
·         By not saying what's really on our minds
·         By asking for input when it's obvious we've already made up our minds
·         By making up an answer rather than admitting that we don't know
·         By allowing our actions to be inconsistent with our words

Don’t destroy the trust you have established, it is difficult to re-build; strive to develop trust that you may not have yet attained, it is key in relationships.  Trust is what other people invest in you, based on your integrity.  Trust is their absolute confidence that you are truthful and reliable. 



Never underestimate the power of praise.  I have wrote before about making sure that praise is given in public.  More importantly, make sure that praise is given period.  It is a huge motivator for people.  For many it can be more powerful than money or advancement.  There is just something warm and positive about being recognized for a job well done.  For managers it may even make sense to combine both praise and constructive feedback in the same conversation.  It can lessen the impact of the negative and help provide motivation for improvement.  This is not just about your role at work.  It applies to home life and as well as any volunteers roles you may have.  You do not want to be known only as a negative critic.  The bottom line is that praise should be a daily part of a good leader’s routine.  Consider this quote…

“I have yet to find the man, however exalted his station, who did not do better work and put forth greater effort, under a spirit of approval than a spirit of criticism.”
-       Charles Schwab


Leadership is a Process

The leader has to be practical and a realist, yet must talk 
the language of the visionary and the idealist.
--Eric Hoffer        

I do not know Eric Hoffer, but in this quote he has nailed one of the key challenges of leadership.  Good leaders must be able to relate to all types of people and personalities.  Good leaders are capable of thinking and communicating in styles other than their natural personalities.  I consider myself a very practical and pragmatic leader.  That makes it my challenge to relate to visionaries and non-detail people.  In order to be a good leader I must be able to understand people who think and see the world differently than I do.  Great leaders adapt their style.  Static leaders become non-leaders.  What are you doing to adjust your leadership style to situations and personalities?


Don’t Let The Old Man In!

Toby Keith tells a story about a playing golf with Clint Eastwood and their conversation that led to Keith penning the lyrics for a song entitled, “Don’t Let The Old Man In”.  As the story goes, Eastwood mentioned to Keith that he would be turning 88 in a few days.  Keith asked him what he was going to do for his birthday and Eastwood replied that he was starting to film a new movie.  When asked how he keeps up his energy level Eastwood replied “I get up every morning and just keep going, and I don’t let the old man in.”  That phrase moved Keith so much that he became obsessed with writing the song.  The movie is “The Mule” and it features the song by Keith that was inspired by that conversation on the golf course.

I recently celebrated a milestone birthday, no I am not 88, and I found the song to be quite meaningful.  There are lines about loving your wife, staying close to your friends, and toasting the sundown with wine, all things I try to do.  But the most striking lyrics are…

“Ask yourself how old you'd be
If you didn't know the day you were born”

What a fascinating thought.  What if you did not know how old you really are?  How would you act?  How would you feel?  We are too focused on the numbers associated with age, especially the ones with a “0”.  Maybe we just need to wake up each day, ignore the number, keep going and don’t let the old man in.  I plan to try…

(Credit my friend, and local running legend, Jim Braden for sharing the song with me.)


Emphasizing the Negative?

As a society it seems like we tend to focus on the negative and not the positive.  We seek and point out flaws and failures way more actively than we do accomplishments and successes.  I know that I am guilty of this.  It is something that I have recently made a decision to try and change.  A conscious effort is required to be positive and look for the good things in life all the time.  Some people are better at it than others.  But for some reason the world around us seems to make it harder.  The media is certainly no help.  So much of the news is driven by negativity, failure, fraud and corruption.  Even the weatherman is working against us.  Why is it that a 70% chance of sunshine is communicated as a 30% chance of rain?  We might find ourselves a little more pleasant to be around if we sought out the positive more often than the negative.   

Be positive.  Be blessed…


Fight fire with fire?

There is an old saying that states "You have to fight fire with fire".  I am not sure that is always true, nor wise, when the fire is an argument or disagreement.  If you take the analogy literally it would seem that you should fight fire with water, after all that is what puts out fire.  Fighting fire with fire escalates arguments and wastes energy.  It can make existing problems larger, hotter more volatile.  The use of calming water can make them smaller, cooler more manageable.  It may even put the fire out entirely. 

Be calm when dealing with a difficult situation, don't spread the fire.  Consider using a dose of cool, calming water the next time you have a fire to fight.



We are all broken.  Don’t believe those who want you to think that they are perfect; no one is. We are all human…we have sins, shames, regrets and dark sides. However, we do not have to act like we are broken. Don’t let the baggage of your past weigh down your journey to future.  We just need to be aware of it, own it, and move on.  You are the only one who knows your baggage and can control how you react to it. Life is all about how we learn, grow and move forward.  Don’t let others control how you see yourself.  We are each uniquely made in God’s eyes.  Each of us has strengths, talents, beauty and personalities that overcome the brokenness.  Be broken, just know it and deal with it.  More importantly, draw your strength from your unique gifts, the strength to overcome the brokenness. 

You are broken, but truly UNIQUE AND SPECIAL!


Power of the Mind

The power of the human mind is incredible.  It is truly amazing what we can accomplish with brain power.  Too many times however, it works against us.  We let our minds create the narrative.  We listen to the stories created by our own thoughts.  We can actually fabricate stories that become reality.  Even worse, we allow self-doubt and negative thoughts to creep in and occupy too much real estate in our heads. 

Our challenge is to use the power of our thoughts for good.  The phrase “Mind over matter”, was created for a reason, just ask any endurance athlete.  Wise is the man who channels his thinking for good.  Strong is the person who creates positive self-images in their mind.  Successful is the individual who harnesses brain power to overcome obstacles.  God granted us a very powerful tool.  We just have to have to learn how to use it in a positive way.



Guilt, don’t let it destroy you. Here is another tidbit from the Tyler Perry book “Higher Is Waiting”.

Guilt can destroy us.  We all make mistakes.  We’ve all fallen short.  At some point, we’ve all disappointed someone, especially ourselves.  Unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do about it.  These events have already happened: they’re in the past.  Instead of facing backward, beating yourself up, how are you putting your energy into making sure it doesn’t happen again?  How about facing forward?  And while you’re at it, how about helping to heal anyone you may have hurt while you were turned in the wrong direction?

If you allow guilt to consume you, it will win.  You can’t let guilt take over your thoughts.  If you do, you’ll enter into a downward spiral that will keep you looking in the wrong direction.


Use Your Gifts

Recently I enjoyed a book by Tyler Perry entitled “Higher Is Waiting”.  It is an entertaining and challenging read about his faith journey and always striving to go higher.  The fact that we are all gifted in some way should not be new to any of us, but the fact that our gifts often remain hidden or unused is a great reminder.  Search out your God given talents and use them!  Consider this excerpt from the book…

I realized that we all have gifts within, but they’re too often hidden. We have gifts we have never used, even though they are within reach.  If we only knew where to look, we would find them.  These gifts are special.  They might even change our lives and help make the world a better place.

We all have gifts given to us by God. Look for yours.
– “Higher Is Waiting” by Tyler Perry



It is difficult for a person to claim that they have wisdom.  Being wise, or having wisdom, is a trait recognized by others.  Wisdom is hard to find but you know it when you see it.  I have written in the MMM before about the elusiveness of wisdom.  We search constantly for it, and while we may feel wise at times there are others where we are totally lost.  But there are places to start and steps to take towards wisdom.  Consider this…

“Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.”
- Thomas Jefferson

Start your book of wisdom by being honest this week! 


The Charles Schulz Philosophy

A Quiz…
1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world.
2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.
3. Name the last five winners of the Miss America pageant.
4. Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize.
5. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winners for best actor and actress.
6. Name the last decade's worth of World Series winners.
How did you do?  The point is that none of us remember the headliners of yesterday.
They are/were the best in their fields. But the applause dies, their place in the world changes.  Awards tarnish, achievements are forgotten, accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.

Here's another quiz. See how you do on this one…
1. List a few teachers who aided your journey through school.
2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.
3. Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.
4. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special!!
5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.
This one was much easier, right?  The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, the most accomplishments or awards.  They simply are the ones who care the most.  Surely your life has been touched by such caring people.  Be sure to touch the lives of others in the same way yourself.

A great life reminder from the creator of Peanuts!



To blame or not to blame?  There are appropriate times to seek and place blame, like when lives have been lost or when property has been damaged. Often, in matters of less importance we try too hard to blame others.  Admirable is the notion of taking responsibility for ones’ action.  It is too easy to place blame, point a finger, or deny responsibility.  We all do it to some degree, but in highly visibly situations, on important issues, and in teaching moments, great leaders pass on blaming others (even if somewhat justified).  The high road is one taken without blaming others and a wise choice to make.  Think about that at home in the example we set for our kids.  Unfortunately, our younger generation seems extremely quick to lay blame.  Take responsibility for whom and what you are.  Pass up the finger pointing opportunity and lead by example.  Consider this quote…

“The search for someone to blame is always successful.”
- Robert Half


Love & Forgiveness

As we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day today, give some thought to Dr. King’s quote:

“We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.

Consider the relationship between love and forgiveness. 



We are all leaders.  Some are formal leaders with titles, others informal leaders with influence.  We lead at home, church, in our community and at work.  We lead our children, our peers and our employees.  If you do not consider yourself a leader you are ignoring an opportunity to influence those around you.  Below are some keys of quality leadership.  Embrace these and be a great leader! 

  • Hope - Great leaders give people hope for a better tomorrow.
  • Consistency - When followers never know what to expect from a leader they will stop expecting anything.
  • Influence - People do not respond well when pushed, forced or directed. They respond best when influenced by leaders they respect. 
  • Honesty & Trust - Trust and honesty are established when words and actions match up.
  • Accountability - Leaders understand that followers need to see leaders who are willing to be accountable. 
  • Humility - As leaders we should be concerned with what is rightnot if we are right. 
  • Respect & Caring - People do not care what you know until they know that you care.  


Why do we care?

Why do we care so much about what other people think?  Too often we let that thought drive our decisions and actions.  I know I do; I care.  I want people to like me, or at least think positively about me.  We should not let that motivation change who we are, or what we believe.  We should never be too absorbed by what others think.  Taken one step farther, we need to be realistic about our ability to influence.  While I am a strong proponent of leadership through influence, we do not control others’ thoughts and actions.  We can model leadership behaviors.  How people chose to act in their own lives is not dependent upon our behavior.  As humans we are independent thinkers and make our own decisions, it is a power God has granted us.  As such we have influence but not control over those we love and lead. 

Just be careful about taking yourself too seriously.  It can be dangerous…

Don't take anything personally. Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering.
- Miguel Angel Ruiz