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Archive for March, 2014

HABITS

Posted by Tim Bryce on March 7, 2014

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– Positive or negative, we should be sensitive to excessive repetition.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

I’ve been a baseball fan since I was a little kid. I followed the Yankees of the early 1960’s, The Big Red Machine of the 1970’s, and now the Tampa Bay Rays. The habits of the players have always fascinated me. For example, the players for the Boston Red Sox all seem to have some sort of ritual they perform just before they get in the batter’s box. David Ortiz (“Big Papi”) spits into his batting gloves and claps his hands before grabbing the bat, and Dustin Pedroia clears his sinuses and carefully examines his bat. The Sox are not alone in this regard; you can find a variety of strange habits in a ballpark, all the way from the Majors to Little League. A lot revolves around spitting, grabbing the crotch, and language. Wade Boggs was notorious for his pre-game rituals and how he steadfastly resisted any attempt to alter his regiment.

You have to wonder why habits play such a substantial role in the life of a ball player, and I think it says a lot about humans as creatures of habit. Some players say they do it as a form or discipline in order to get them in the right rhythm of the game, but most tend to be superstitious in nature; after all, what worked in one game, should hopefully work in another. Once a habit is formed, players tend to be afraid to change it. It thereby becomes the coach’s job to look for superstitious habits in their players and change them if they become counterproductive.

Baseball fans also tend to pick up a variety of strange habits, such as wearing a favorite hat or shirt, drinking a certain beer, or offering some bizarre prayer or chant to solicit favoritism from the mythical baseball gods. They adamantly cling to these habits as a sign of good luck for their team, regardless of where they are, whether at the ballpark or in front of a television set. I came to the conclusion a long time ago that such rituals by the fans are sheer nonsense as it is up to the players on the field to win the game and not the histrionics of their fans, but if it adds to the baseball experience of the fans on the sidelines, why not?

As we all know, baseball doesn’t have a monopoly on habits. We find them in every sport, in every country. In fact, we find them in both our personal and professional lives. If you were to look around your office you could probably enumerate a substantial list of strange idiosyncrasies of your coworkers in no time at all.

In the workplace, it is the manager’s duty to observe worker habits and make necessary corrections just as a baseball coach would. Whether you are in the ballpark or in the workplace, breaking a habit can be a lot harder than people think. Simple reasoning corrects most habits, but when a habit becomes physical, it becomes a lot harder and more painful to correct. In fact, changing habits can be downright difficult particularly for those people who operate in an autopilot mode through life. As a result, managers try threats, ridicule, shame, penalties, even hypnosis to enact change (I kind of like the cattle prod approach myself).

Some people are strong enough to correct a habit themselves if it is brought to their attention, but others will need help along the way which is where the manager comes in. When studying worker habits though, the first question should be, does it have an adverse affect on business? If it doesn’t, you might just want to leave it alone. After all, I don’t think anyone in Boston wants to change David Ortiz’ habit of spitting and clapping his hands. Some habits you just might want to emulate.

Originally published: 11/10/2008

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  ITALIAN RED SAUCE – IT’S PASSIONATE – Want to start an argument between two or more Italians? Ask them who makes the best red sauce.

LAST TIME:  LET’S SIT DOWN AND TALK  – The need for some simple, candid discourse.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific), and KGAB-AM (650) of Cheyenne, Wyoming. Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Management | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

LET’S SIT DOWN AND TALK

Posted by Tim Bryce on March 5, 2014

BRYCE ON SOCIETY

– The need for some simple, candid discourse.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

Once a week, I sit down with a group of friends after work for a little get-together. The purpose is simple, to just talk. Eight people regularly attend, but there are a few others who drop by from time to time to listen in and add their two cents. We’ve been doing this for about five years now and find it more rewarding than any other meeting we attend. Actually, it’s quite therapeutic and something I highly recommend.

It all started accidentally. As the secretary of a nonprofit organization, I periodically visit the office after work to check the mail and process paperwork. Following this, I would make it a point to visit with the former secretary, who was my mentor, at his home nearby. At first, we would simply talk about what was going on in our nonprofit, and the events of the day. After awhile, I invited one of the other officers to accompany me to the secretary’s house. Then another, and another, until we had eight people. Let me be clear, this is no “club,” as much as it is a simple get-together of men with common interests.

Over time our discussions grew to cover a wide range of subjects: politics, religion, love, friendship, death, sports, humor, youth, aging, aches and pains, history, military experiences, morality, dining, just about anything was up for grabs. Often I would review an article I was working on and ask for their feedback which would lead to some lively discussion. Personally, I find such discourse invigorating. Someone may also review a news item, read a story, a book or poem, or possibly something from the Internet. Our discussions are always civil and from the heart. Do we agree on everything? Hardly, particularly politics and religion, but this is what makes the group lively and interesting. Afterwards, we always shake hands in friendship.

I think I can safely say, on behalf of all members of the group, these weekly get-togethers are more meaningful than the meetings at our nonprofit. We can argue, laugh, but more importantly try to understand the other person’s point of view and what is important to each of us. We’re not so much concerned with developing a camaraderie, as much as to apply mental gymnastics and enjoy each other’s company. If it was a matter of choosing between this meeting and our nonprofit, the nonprofit would undoubtedly lose.

I have mentioned this forum to other people who expressed admiration, even envy. Some women friends in particular find it interesting when I describe it. They may have several girlfriends, but they never speak with such intimacy as our group does. This is a shame as I believe we all need an outlet to express our views. Certainly we will discuss such things with our spouse, but to be among people of common interest where you can open the kimono, reveal a part of your soul, and know that your privacy will be maintained, can be very rewarding. I believe it to be analogous to an AA meeting without the addiction. There is something about the banter, discovering the commonality of experiences, and the different perspectives that makes this meaningful. This is certainly not the place to reveal your deepest and darkest secrets, which may embarrass yourself as well as others, but to simply talk about anything openly and candidly.

If I had to give some advice as to how to start such a group, there are three things to consider: inviting the right people, selecting the venue, and appointing a moderator.

Inviting the right people is very important and I suggest discretion, particularly in the early stages until the group is functioning smoothly. You do not want to invite just anyone, you want to select people with a common focus; people you trust, respect, enjoy their company, and will contribute to the group. You certainly do not want a clown who will distract it. I suggest you develop a core group first and invite others after the implied rules have been established. Such rules should not be written as too much formality will defeat the purpose of the meeting, which is to simply meet upon the level. So, start small and add members like a snowball until you reach a manageable number. The most people we’ve ever had at our get-togethers is ten, but that is rare.

Consideration should be given to selecting people based on gender. I have learned over the years, there are things men will only tell other men, and I suspect the same is true between women. This may not be a hard and fast rule, but you should give it some serious consideration.

Next, selecting a suitable venue is important. Since we reside in Florida, most of our get-togethers are spent on a screened lanai. We come inside only when it is too cold or rainy, but that is rare. We might also enjoy some libations and perhaps a good cigar, but I realize not everyone would enjoy such pleasures. Instead, invent your own but do not make it too lavish. Keep it simple so that it doesn’t become an annoying burden. Remember, your primary reason for attending is to talk, not snack. Pick a time and date that is convenient for everyone. In our case, it is usually after dinner in the middle of the week.

The last element is selecting a moderator, not someone who will govern with an iron fist, but rather someone who will help lead the conversation. In most cases, the conversation will control itself. Some gentle moderation though can be useful to regulate the conversation and provide everyone a chance to speak. In all of our discussions I cannot think of an instance where someone slandered another person’s opinion. We might not agree with a given point, and argue accordingly, but we certainly respect the individual’s opinion. I heartily encourage the use of a written paper, particularly a composition by someone in the group, be it an article, a letter to the editor, humor, something of historical significance, a book or poem, or whatever. By presenting such a paper, you are establishing a position and encouraging others to refute it. When you present such a paper, be prepared to accept criticism and learn from it.

About a year ago, one of our members brought his son to our group. He was on leave from the Air Force. We made him feel welcome and he sat with us as we discussed a wide variety of subjects. Throughout the discourse he remained silent, just observing the give and take. At the end, I asked him what he thought of our get-together. He said he was impressed by the number of things we discussed, our remarkable frankness, and that it was an excellent forum for a person to state his opinion without fear of retribution. He had never been involved in such candid conversations before and found it most stimulating.

Years ago, such discourse was valued in our society. People would discuss the events of the day on a soap box, in taverns, over a card game, or just between friends. Now, in this age of political correctness, such openness is discouraged and there are few chances for frank discussions. Most people today rely on the talking heads on television to form their opinions. As for my group, we would rather begin the dialog by simply asking, “What do you think?”

If you need help establishing such a group, please let me know.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  HABITS – Positive or negative, we should be sensitive to excessive repetition.

LAST TIME:  YOUTH WILL HAVE ITS DAY  – Some disturbing social trends I have trouble understanding.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific), and KGAB-AM (650) of Cheyenne, Wyoming. Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Social Issues | Tagged: , , , , | 13 Comments »

YOUTH WILL HAVE ITS DAY

Posted by Tim Bryce on March 3, 2014

BRYCE ON CULTURAL CHANGES

– Some disturbing social trends I have trouble understanding.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

I have been monitoring social trends emerging among young people. I am not here to harangue about them as much as to try to understand why they occur. Fashions such as clothes, music, and dining are one thing, but some of these other trends speak volumes about our culture today.

It should come as no surprise our young people are a generation of extreme game players. Games like pinball, air hockey, and foosball are relatively lame as compared to today’s lifelike computer games to commit grand larceny, engage in war, and conquer the cosmos. Such games are so addictive, it tends to change their social behavior. For example, young women today have trouble relating to young men who are imbued with this technology. As the ladies explain it, it is retarding the maturation process of young men. Instead of seeking romance and responsibility, they would rather be playing their PS2 or Nintendo.

The game players are also looking for instant gratification and seek out extreme sports to give them the same rush as their computer games. Instead of parachuting, they have kicked it up a notch to “Base Jumping” from fixed positions, or “Wingsuit” flying. Then there is “free diving” where a skin diver holds his breath for an incredible length of time at dangerous depths. Skateboarding and skiing have merged into “Snowboarding,” and “Mountain Biking” and “Free Climbing” rock walls now offer the rush young people are looking for, often with some rather dangerous consequences to match.

We also hear stories of “Knockout,” an insane game where a young person randomly selects a victim, and tries to deck him/her with a single punch. This is simply perverted and I do not understand how this game can be considered fun. If this is somehow construed as a measure of a person’s machismo, then we could easily interpret this as another disturbing sign of impeded maturation. The idea of inflicting bodily harm for nothing more than pleasure is sadistic at the very least.

I recently read of another disturbing trend, which I hope is short lived, namely “free-bleeding,” whereby young women refuse to use feminine hygiene products when they are menstruating. Such devices are somehow viewed as a means for men to control women. Instead, they would rather bleed down their leg as a protest to the indignities caused by men, whatever that might be. If this fad continues, I can safely assume urinating in one’s pants would also be considered acceptable behavior, particularly if we no longer have to impress the ladies.

Somewhat related to this is the fad of cooking and eating a placenta, which has gained popularity over the last five years. This seems rather cannibalistic to me. I think it’s safe to say that Julia Child had nothing to do with this one. At first I thought this was a joke, but some young people, the last vestiges of the Hippies I suspect, are taking to this idea with gusto. Bon Appétit? No thanks, I’ll settle for a Spam sandwich.

“Wildings” seem to be still in vogue. This is where groups of youths cause mayhem in public settings, all in the name of fun. Recently, hundreds of high school students descended on the Florida State Fair and ran amok, stealing, destroying property, and jeopardizing the safety of other people. I tend to think of a “wilding” as a “flash mob” gone wrong. Both are well orchestrated and make use of social media to communicate. It’s this technology edge which separates wildings from the riots of the 1960’s.

We are also witnessing the rise of marijuana, both for medicinal and recreational purposes. In Vancouver, they now have vending machines dispensing crack pipes. I find it rather amusing that those who want us to stop smoking tobacco are the same ones who want to legalize illicit drugs.

Let me see if I can summarize the mindset here: Young people are looking for instant gratification, seeking a rush regardless of the physical risk involved, and are easily influenced by technology. It appears the more extreme the idea, the quicker it is embraced. It also indicates the frenetic pace our youth have assumed.

The real test comes when they become parents and have to deal with these same sort of extreme trends themselves. I wonder how they will advise or admonish their youth.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  LET’S SIT DOWN AND TALK – The need for some simple, candid discourse.

LAST TIME:  MATRIMONIAL TERRITORIALISM  – Knowing one’s boundaries is always a smart move.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific), and KGAB-AM (650) of Cheyenne, Wyoming. Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Social Issues | Tagged: , , , , | 7 Comments »

 
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