Boston, Resilience and the Paradoxical Commandments

Yesterday a colleague asked, “Did you hear about the bombings in Boston?”  I had not.  I don’t watch the news very often.  I have renamed the news “The Bad News” because 90% of the news talks about 1% of the good and 99% of bad things that happen in the world.  I was afraid it was skewing my view of the world to be exposed to so much bad news.

Some people might interpret it as a lack of empathy. Unfortunately, it is just the opposite.  It is so painful for me to see this stuff, that as an act of self-care to protect myself, I purposefully limit my viewing.

I choose not to watch the news arbitrarily.  I prefer to filter and select what I ingest with my eyes and ears.  Just like you feel better when you ingest fresh foods, you also feel better when you ingest good news with your eyes and ears.

One of my frameworks is what you focus on grows.  Instead of focusing on what I don’twant, I try to focus on what I DO want.  I want to focus on being a force for good in the world.  I want the world to be a great and inspiring place.  So, while my heart goes out to the people of Boston, I will not focus on what happened.  I will focus on what is possible. I will focus on their resilience.

When horrible things happen, to lift myself out of the fear and the grief, I like to read The Paradoxical Commandments written by Kent M. Keith.  It inspires me each time I read it.  These ten principles were first written by Kent Keith as a student at Harvard in the 1960s.  I have seen them mis-attributed to other people (even Mother Theresa),  although I am sure she was inspired by them!

The Paradoxical Commandments
From the book Anyway – The Paradoxical Commandments: Finding Personal Meaning in a Crazy World by Kent M. Keith

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

These principles alone are inspiring, and his book goes into them in more depth.  For me, they describe ways in which people who demonstrate resilience think. states that resilience is:

1. the power or ability to return to the original form, position, etc., after being bent, compressed, or stretched; elasticity.

2. ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like; buoyancy.

Boston, my heart goes out to you.  I know you are resilient.  You hold a great event that inspires thousands of people to want to be a part of it. Yes, a horrible thing happened, and it is possible that it could happen again.  But I know it won’t stop you from continuing to  hold the great Boston Marathon again anyway. What’s possible now is to show the world your

and your community.

Our hearts are with you.


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When You Say You Need Training, You Really Mean Performance

When You Say You Need Training, You Really Mean Performance

I used to think that when managers asked me to design a training program, they wanted a good training program.  Based on my experience, what managers are REALLY asking for isperformance.  Since there are so many more pieces to performance than just training, I have to be very clear with them on the limited scope of training, and educate them on what all has to be considered for performance.   That is a MUCH bigger scope.  And, dear manager, you also have some responsibility in improving performance.

Training is generally needed when something is new, or when there is a gap in knowledge or skill.  I can design an awesome training program based on measurable performance objectives, and ensure that in class I can see the attendees performing the skills listed in the objectives.  I can give them job aids to help them repeat it back at their desks (or wherever they need to perform the skill).  If I have observed them performing the skill, but, they don’t perform the skill at their desk, is this a training problem?  No, it is not.  More training won’t solve the performance problem.

Performance Support Partners - need right tools

Performance is more than training.   It is dependent on many things beyond knowledge and skill.  For example, in the book Analyzing Performance Problems by Robert F. Mager and Peter Pipe several pieces to the performance pie beyond training are:

  • Measurement:  How do you know the staff member is performing the task correctly? How is performance being measured?
  • Feedback: Are staff members getting feedback on what they are doing well and what needs done to accomplish the desired result?
  • Conditions: Do they have the tools, resources, time, and authority to do their job?  If they don’t have the right tools, it is like peeling an apple with a fork.  Yes, you can do it, but it is frustrating and inefficient.   Do they need expert resources that aren’t available?  Do they have the time available?
  • Incentive/motivation: Are we rewarding the correct behavior?  Is the reward for good work more work (incorrect reward)?
  • Capacity: Do they have the latent ability, strength or talent?   Do they have the right mix of strengths to be successful in the job?
  • Standards: What does required performance look like?  Are expectations clear?

Now, there is more I would add to this list.  But, the point here is that training is a solution to a performance problem only when there is a gap in knowledge or skill.  The litmus test to find out if it is a training issue or whether it is another issue like motivation, ask this question:

If their life depended on it, could they do it?   If the answer is yes, then it might be amotivation problem, or another piece of the performance pie, but it isn’t a training problem.

How can you tell what kind of problem it is?  An excellent tool to help you is theperformance analysis flowchart by Robert Mager that I have used for years.  You can find more tools at Robert Mager’s organization, The Center for Effective Performance‘s web site.

For example, I was hired to design and deliver training in how to use a new software system to support a business process.  In class the attendees practiced and were observed completing the performance objectives agreed upon prior to class with my client successfully.  They were provided a job aid to help them through the steps and procedures back at their desk.  I considered the training successful.

Performance Support Partners - Software TrainingThe only problem was they weren’t even logging in to the software back at their desks.  My client felt the training was not successful.  Jumping to that conclusion is my personal pet peeve.  They knew what to do, they just weren’t doing it.

My observations were that expectationsweren’t clear.

  • Prior to training, managers should inform staff why they are to attend the training andwhat’s in it for them. In this case, it did not occur.
  • Managers should set clear expectations as to what the staff members should do immediately after the training.  In this case, employees were still waiting to be told when it was okay to begin.

If you think your staff isn’t performing well, don’t just conclude that “they need more training.”  Take a look at the big picture of what performance encompasses.  Training is only a small part.  In future articles, I will also talk about coaching,  implementation and how they affect performance.


Want to go from stressed out to streamlined?  Wishing you could spend more time actually doing the work you love?  Mia Turpel’s know-how as a business and career coach, speaker, project manager and trainer will help you do just that.  Discover how to find Your Best Work in the Your Best Work, Find It, Love it, Live It telecourse.  Want to know more about performance analysis and improving performance? Need coaching training? Contact Coach Mia.