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Positive Talk

By Bill Hodges
Aug 2, 2007, 08:32

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©2007 Hodges Seminars International
 Raising morale in an organization from the bottom is almost impossible. The amount of pressure required is extreme. The responsibility for creating a climate for good morale within an organization lies firmly and clearly with management. Employees will follow their lead. Here are some ideas that managers and supervisors can use to create an atmosphere of high morale.
1. Recognize even the smallest achievement of your work force. Recognition is one of the greatest tools for building morale, especially when it is timely.
2. Ensure that employees know exactly what you want. If, in fact, they are doing something that you would rather they not do, spend little time on what they did wrong. Opt to spend the majority of your time pointing out how you want it done.
3. Keep your promises. Promise only what you can produce and then produce what you promised. At Hodges Seminars International, we have built customer satisfaction by adhering to an even more stringent standard. That standard is under promise and over produce. I believe this is a good rule for supervisors and managers to follow.
4. Practice consistency in your dealings and be even-handed. Employees can adjust to almost anything, as long as they feel the organization is consistent in the way policies are administered. Inconsistency causes employees to feel unsure and uncomfortable.
5. If you are wrong, admit it. Nothing is harder to defend than an action you no longer believe to be right. There is no shame in admitting that you made a mistake. A friend of mine used to say, “A mistake is only proof that someone tried to do something.” When you are wrong, face up to it. Thank the person who helped you find the error and get on with the job. This will do two things. It will show that you are a big enough person to admit an error, and it will make those around you unafraid to help you find an error.
6. .Keep your mind open to new ideas. The song “Traditions” from Fiddler on the Roof makes a simple point when it says, “All of our traditions were new once.” This new, strange or different idea which runs contrary to your current traditions could be the start of an even more profitable tradition. In any case, if people know you have an open mind, they will bring ideas to you. You will at least have the opportunity to decide whether they are good ideas or not.
7. Above all else, be honest with your people. Participants in our seminars consistently rank honesty as the number one attribute of a good supervisor.
In The Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare wrote, “The quality of mercy is not strained, it droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath: it is twice blessed; it blesseth him that gives and him that takes...” The same can be said about morale—it blesses both the person who sets up the conditions for high morale, and those who are affected by the enhanced working and living environment. Whether you are the manager of a multi million dollar business or you have responsibility for managing a home, creating a high level of morale is your number one job. If you do that properly, your other jobs will be much easier.
Bill  Hodges is a nationally recognized speaker, trainer, and syndicated columnist. Hodges may be reached at Hodges Seminars International, P.O. Box 89033, Tampa, FL 33689-0400. Phone 813/641-0816.
Web site:

©2007 Hodges Seminars International
In a recent conversation I was discussing the power of attitude with my friend, professional speaker, Gary Mull. We both pretty much agreed that it was not so much what happened to us that counted as what we did about what happened to us.
Gary told me the following story of two men in his U.S. Air Force squadron. It seemed they all graduated from basic at about the same time and were shipped to the Philippines where they were given different jobs. Due to the needs of the service, one of the men, even though he was trained as a clerk, was temporarily detailed to a communications construction group and the other man got the office job he had expected. One night at the enlisted club, the one detailed to digging holes and laying cable complained bitterly about his assignment while the other young man gloated at his good luck to be assigned inside. Gary suggested to both of them that they should make the best of what they had been given.
Now let’s fast forward six months—same enlisted club, same three airmen. But there was a difference. Gary said the cable layer had taken his advice and made the best of his assignment by using the time to become physically fit. The six months of hard labor and oppressive heat had hardened and tanned his body to the point that none of the ladies in the club could take their eyes off him. The other who was given what at first appeared to be a great assignment had put on a number of pounds from too many coffee breaks and the ready supply of snacks in the vending area. Since he saw little sun, his face was pale and the lack of exercise had not been kind to the way his body looked.
Two men and two opportunities. One made good use of his time to prosper and the other fell back. It was all a matter of attitude. Author Charles Swindoll said, “What challenges are you looking at today that with a change in attitude could become opportunities? The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. It is more important than the past, education, money, circumstances, failure, success, or what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company, a church, or a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we embrace for that day. We cannot change our past. We cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it. And as it is with you. We are in charge of our attitude and it’s not really much different than what one airman said to another, is it?
Look around you and observe the people who are prospering. What type of attitude do they have? Are they defeated before they start, or are they people who see the opportunities that often come disguised as problems? One man is given a chance to dig ditches and prospers, and one is given a great assignment and falls back. Each took what was given them and applied their own attitude to it.
Look at your life and see how you are applying your attitude to what is happening to you. The answer will have much to do with your success or failure to achieve your dreams.
Bill  Hodges is a nationally recognized speaker, trainer, and syndicated columnist. Hodges may be reached at Hodges Seminars International, P.O. Box 89033, Tampa, FL 33689-0400. Phone 813/641-0816.
Web site:
©2007 Hodges Seminars International
In life we all face difficult situations every day. But have you noticed that some people seem to get through those situations with minimum effort and little damage. I believe those people have learned that when faced with a problem, they must look at alternative ways to handle it rather than always falling back on one or two options.
It has been said that when the only tool you have is a hammer, then everything you see begins to look like a nail. So it is with our problem-solving skills. If the only coping tool I think I have is to fight, then every time I am faced with a crisis I will fight. But fighting every time can be exhausting and counterproductive. We must cope to survive, and survival is our first and most basic of needs. It is the one around which most of the others will revolve. Only in situations where we put the lives of others ahead of our own will survival not be our primary instinct. So here are some other methods for meeting the challenges of the day and help you survive.
• Combine Efforts: By yourself you may not have the power to make something happen, but in combination with others, you may find the additional support you need to give you an edge. Look at what labor unions have been able to accomplish. A single worker has a very small voice but the AFL-CIO has a mighty roar. You may find you are not in a position to cope with the situation because you do not have enough control or authority to make decisions. Work toward expanding your area of authority and take control whenever you can.
• Fight: Fighting is always an option and one that must be exercised with prudence. Once you have selected the fight option, you must be willing to get hurt. As a young man, I learned that lesson on the streets of Detroit. I noticed that the people who got hurt the most often were the ones who were tentative in their actions. The winners not only used sufficient force to win but rather to annihilate their opponent. Fight only as a last resort but then fight to win.
• Revenge: This is a poor motivator to action and it is rarely if ever a positive solution. Someone once said, “Don’t get mad, get even.” In my Tip Toe Thru The Alligators seminar, I ask people the question. “Have you ever gotten even with somebody?” Several hands always are raised and to those people I just reply, “It ain’t over.” Revenge is a poor reason to take any action as it will generally just bring a response in kind. With that said, it is important that someone is punished for transgressions or they will continue to act in a negative manner.
• Retreat: There are times when retreat is the best option. If you do not feel you can cope with the situation now and that there might be a better time to accept the challenge, then step back. Most effective battle commanders have always known that strategic retreat is a very viable tactic on the way to victory. Whenever possible, fight the battle on your own terms, at your own time, and at a place of your choosing.
• Surrender: To quit and take your licks can be a very good option and a way to minimize your damages. If you are going to lose and you are not going to make any points by fighting, quit as soon as you can.
The next time you are faced with a problem situation, be sure to look for your options.
Bill  Hodges is a nationally recognized speaker, trainer, and syndicated columnist. Hodges may be reached at Hodges Seminars International, P.O. Box 89033, Tampa, FL 33689-0400. Phone 813/641-0816.
Web site:

2007 Hodges Seminars International
The art of leadership is not easily defined because it is not one, but rather a series of attributes. To define it, we must look at human attributes which, when put together, make up that quality we call leadership. Further, it is important to look at what leadership is; and, to get a complete picture, it is equally important to look at what it is not. Because the traits that combine to make a leader are numerous, it is not possible to cover all of them in this space. However, I will share some thoughts as to what makes some people leaders.
Vision is a primary leadership attribute. Mathew 15:14 says, “They be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.” It’s not enough just to see what is—one must be able to see what might be possible. Followers can rarely see past right now and are more often than not blind to possibilities.
Personal improvement is a hallmark of a leader. Leaders rarely compare themselves to others, but rather set their own standards for achievement. In their minds, they think, “I’m good, but not as good as I CAN be.” On the other hand, followers let others set their standards. They compare themselves to those around them, and as a result they either become vain or disheartened. In their minds, they think, “I’m as good as most, and not as bad as some.” To them, this is a high enough standard. As a result of the way they think, leaders challenge themselves to grow; followers wallow in mediocrity.
One of my favorite writers, Miguel de Cervantes, in his book, Don Quixote, made the statement, “An honest man’s word is as good as his bond.” So, too, is the word of a leader; a leader’s word is his bond. Once you have a leader’s word, you have total commitment. They treasure their word above almost all else. They realize that when all is said and done, the only thing a person has of lasting value in this world is the trust placed in him by his fellowman. Followers, on the other hand, are quick to make promises and slow to keep them. Many times they really intend to keep these promises, but, for some reason, they can always justify a change of heart. A leader accepts failure as a price to be paid for ultimate success.  A leader takes responsibility for that which goes wrong and is unafraid to say, “It was my fault.” Harry Truman, who, in my opinion, had many qualities of leadership, exhibited this ability to take responsibility by having on his desk a sign that said: The buck stops here. With followers, the buck never seems to stop. They just know that whatever went wrong wasn’t their fault, and they spend much of their energy trying to find someone else to blame.
Finally, British author George Rowel said, “The high sentiments always win in the end; the leaders who offer blood, toil, tears and sweat always get more out of their followers than those who offer safety and a good time. When it comes to the pinch, human beings are heroic.” Leaders ask for much and get it. Followers ask for little and get it.
To the extent that you are able to, have a sense of future. Set standards for yourself rather than live by comparisons to others. Honor your word even to the point of personal pain or loss. Treat failure as a natural consequence of trying, and trust people to rise to greatness. To what extent will you achieve that elusive quality we call leadership?
Bill  Hodges is a nationally recognized speaker, trainer, and syndicated columnist. Hodges may be reached at Hodges Seminars International, P.O. Box 89033, Tampa, FL 33689-0400. Phone 813/641-0816.
Web site:
©2007 Hodges Seminars International
More years ago than I care to admit, when I was going through basic military training, we were required to make a forced march with a 40-pound pack on our backs. The 40 pounds were made up of two 20-pound sacks of sand. It seemed to us at the time to be a pretty useless exercise since almost all of us were going into technical or desk jobs. I even went so far as to ask the drill sergeant why we were doing something so stupid. Not a good thing to do. As anyone who has been through basic training knows, one does not question the drill sergeant. One just does what he is told. My reward for my “stupid question,” as he put it, was to get another 20-pound bag of sand put in my pack.
My stupidity caused me to carry that weight for only one forced march, but I hesitate to say how much weight I have carried over the years because I didn’t know enough to lay it down. I am not speaking of the kind of weight you can see or feel, like the sand. I knew that 60 pounds of sand was there from the minute I picked up my pack. What I am referring to are the needless pounds of worry that most of us carry around. A friend told me the following story that I believe carries a very important lesson for all of us.
Tom, a handyman hired to help restore an old farmhouse, had just finished a rough first day on the job. His truck had broken down on the way to the site and he had lost an hour of work. The materials he had ordered for the job had been mixed with another job and the supplier still had not made it right. Now, as it was time to leave, Tom’s beat-up pickup truck refused to start. Jim, the owner of the property, offered to drive him home and, as he did, Tom said very little. Once at Tom’s home, he invited his benefactor in to meet his family. As they walked toward the front door, Tom paused briefly at a small tree, touching the tips of the branches with both hands. As he opened the door, Tom changed drastically. With his former worried face now lit up with a smile, he hugged his two small children and gave his wife a kiss. Afterward, Tom walked Jim to his car. As they passed the tree, Jim’s curiosity got the better of him, and he asked Tom about what he had done earlier with the tree.
Tom replied, “Oh, that’s my worry tree. I can’t stop having worries at work; but one thing for sure, work worries don’t belong in the house with my wife and the children. So as I come home each night, I just hang them up on the tree before I come through the door. As I leave in the morning, I pick up what’s left of them.” “What’s left of them?” Jim inquired. “Yes,” said Tom. “Strange thing is, when I come out in the morning to pick up the worries, there doesn’t seem to be as many as I remember putting on the tree when I came in the night before.”
Tom has the right idea. Don’t carry your troubles like a field pack, 24 hours a day. It is important that we lay them down. A day of worry is more exhausting than a week of work. Wouldn’t it be nice if we all had a worry tree on which we could hang the burdens caused by daily worries?
We can, if we will remember these simple pieces of advice. Things always get better or worse, so we’re either worrying for nothing or worrying too soon. Stop worrying and either forget the problem or take action. A minute of action is better than an hour of worry. If you can’t take action, then find a worry tree.
Bill  Hodges is a nationally recognized speaker, trainer, and syndicated columnist. Hodges may be reached at Hodges Seminars International, P.O. Box 89033, Tampa, FL 33689-0400. Phone 813/641-0816.
Web site:

Hodges Hosts Television Program
Bill Hodges also hosts an interview-format television program, East Shore Today, which airs Mondays at 8 p.m., Bright House cable channel 20 and Verizon cable channel 30. His guest for August 6, 20 and September 3 is Major John Marsicano, the new Hillsborough Sheriff’s District IV Commander. Major Marsicano has deep roots in our south shore community and will explain his thoughts on how to continue the great tradition of service that has been the hallmark of District IV. Appearing on August 13 and 27 will be BOCC member Mark Sharpe. Commissioner Sharpe will discuss a variety of county issues.

Bill Hodges is a nationally recognized speaker, trainer, and syndicated columnist. Hodges may be reached at Hodges Seminars International, P.O. Box 89033, Tampa, FL 33689-0400. Phone 813/641-0816.

Web site:


©2007 Hodges Seminars International

© Copyright 2007 by The Observer News Publications and M&M Printing Company, Inc.

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