If you ask people to make a list of the words they like to hear the most, and if they are honest, at the top of the list will be their name. People love to hear their name.

Around 10 years ago, I read an article about a very successful cross country coach. When asked the secrets to his success, he mentioned a few different things but one of the big things he mentioned was how he made sure to call every person on his team by their name each day in training. When I read that I thought “that isn’t a big deal, I’m sure I do that when I’m coaching soccer”. Then I started to pay attention and noticed that I was using the star players names every day. I was also calling the “trouble makers” by their name every day. However, I wasn’t calling the rest of the players by their names.

It’s so easy to take people for granted and just assume they are going to continue to do their job each day and not give them the recognition they need and deserve. When I realized I wasn’t giving proper recognition to all of the players on the teams I was coaching, I started to make a conscious effort to call each player by their name each day and also to make some form of personal contact. It could be by providing a coaching tip or simply saying hello and asking them how they were doing.

How many opportunities do you have to call someone by their name and choose not to? It can be something as simple as instead of saying “hello how are you doing?” saying “hello Chris, how are you doing?”

A good example of this being done well would be a hotel I stayed at a year ago. I took a cab to the hotel and there was a security gate at the front. They asked my name and I told them my name and that I was checking in to the hotel. When the cab pulled up to the front door, the doorman said “hello Mr,. Fine, how are you today?”. When I went to the front desk, before I could say anything, the lady said “hello Mr, Fine I hope your trip here was a good one…” I was well aware that the only reason they knew my name was because they were called by the security guard but it made a huge impression on me.

How many opportunities have you lost because you didn’t bother to call someone by their name? How many future opportunities will you lose?

Remember, people love to hear their name. Give them what they want (especially since it doesn’t cost you anything) and see how much more you can get back.

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Parkinson’s Law

Parkinson’s Law says work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. This means if you have 8 hours to write a report, the report will take you 8 hours. If you have 16 hours for the same report, you will use all 16 hours. It’s not a case of the 16 hour report being higher quality or better longer but rather, people take as much time as they are given to accomplish a task.

This is a valuable concept to keep in mind when doing goal setting because it usually means you can get more done in the same period of time if you push yourself in your time allotments. Rather than giving yourself a lot of time to get something done, now that you have a better understanding of Parkinson’s Law, you will realize you can frequently get the same amount done in a shorter period of time.

It’s important to understand there is a limit to how tightly you can schedule things. If you schedule too little time for a project, the quality will suffer. If you schedule too much time, Parkinson’s Law will result in waste of time.

Scheduling requires a great deal of testing to do it well but please realize, those who are good at it (usually the result of a lot of testing and practice) can get a great deal more accomplished than can others.

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Be understanding to your enemies.
Be loyal to your friends
Be strong enough to know you cannot do everything alone
Be generous to those who need your help
Be frugal with what you need yourself
Be wise enough to know that you do not know everything
Be foolish enough to believe in miracles
Be willing to share your joys
Be willing to share the sorrows of others
Be a leader when you see a path others have missed
Be a follower when you are shrouded by the mists of uncertainty
Be the first to congratulate an opponent who succeeds.
Be the last to criticize a colleague who fails
Be sure where you your next step will fall, so that you will not tumble
Be loving to those who love you
Be loving to those who do not love you, and they may change
Above all, be yourself
(Author Unknown)

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Small Town vs Big City

A question I get asked frequently when people hear I live in Charleston West Virginia is “why do you live there?”. The reason this gets asked so much is I have lived most of my life in big cities so now living in a small town (and while people here in Charleston might argue that as the capitol of the state we are more than a small town, in relative terms, I would disagree) must be difficult. Their logic is there are so many more things to do in cities such as Washington DC and Atlanta GA than in a place such as Charleston WV.

While it’s true there are more opportunities in a large city, the reality is there are plenty of things to do wherever you might be located. Whether there is one concert you might be interested in attending or ten concerts in an area, you most likely would only attend one so it doesn’t matter. A person could complain about there not being much to do or they can go out and experience the many things they can do (see for more on controlling the controllable)

Personally, I have found that I do many more things downtown here in Charleston than I did in any of the big cities I lived in. It’s not that there are more things to do here but rather, it’s easier to find them, they are more inviting and more enjoyable.

The purpose of this post isn’t to sell people on Charleston WV (although I truly am a big fan and if you want to see some reasons why, check out the various links at but rather to show there are many things to do regardless of where you are located. It’s so easy to find fault with where you are located but there are true treasures to be found (whether historically, culturally or otherwise) anywhere you might be located.

Live in a big city, live in a small town, live somewhere in between but wherever you live, experience everything it has to offer.

The alternative is to complain about where you are, wish you were somewhere else and be unhappy

You choose!

Have a great day


Control the Controllable

Too often, people worry about things outside their control and ignore the things within their control. The more logical thing to do is worry about (and address) the issues you can control and realize things outside of your control shouldn’t occupy as much of your thoughts or time.

An example would be the person who is constantly complaining because other people are getting raises or promotions. Rather than worrying (and complaining) about other people progressing, this person should concentrate on what they need to do to get a raise or promotion. Instead of thinking “that person isn’t so special” the thought should be “what should I do to to make myself more special?” You can’t control how someone else works, you can’t control how they are perceived by superiors but you can control your performance which would effect the way others perceive you.

While it’s important to understand what others are doing in order to learn from their experiences, learn from what others do then concentrate on your own actions.

A social worker might get frustrated dealing with the same type of problems each day but they would need to realize while they can’t always influence the big picture (meaning if they help one person, there are thousands more where they came from), their actions can have a profound effect on individuals. If they worry about the big picture, which they can’t control, they will get frustrated, but if they concentrate on each individual they can influence, they can make a big difference.

If it’s raining outside, we can’t change that and complaining about it wont do anyone any good. The thing people can change is what they wear, where they go etc

Concentrate on controlling the things you are capable of controlling and let the other things go and you will be much more successful and happier

Have a great day!



All organizations have procedures and it’s important to understand there are reasons for the procedures (if there aren’t reasons, then the procedures should be changed or removed).

Since you know there are procedures, and there are reasons for the procedures, it’s important to follow these procedures. This might seem like a logical thing but the reality is, people deviate from procedures more than they should.

What is the problem with doing it a different way? Once you have done it a different way, you have created a precedent that will allow it to be done this way again and again.

Why is this such a big deal? Imagine you have an employee who asks for an advance on their salary. If your policy is that you don’t give advances on salaries, that is an easy way to simply say no. However, if you have given an advance on a salary in the past, it’s much more difficult to say no when the reality is, you have done so in the past and can do so in the future.

Another example would be with a child. If their bed time is 9 PM and one evening you let them stay up till 10 PM, it’s much more difficult to tell them they can’t do that again. While it’s nice to be flexible, it’s important for this flexibility to be built into the procedures. The way to build this into the procedures is to have a 9 PM bedtime on school nights and 10 PM when there is no school the next day. This allows for more flexibility while staying within the rules.

The other problem with procedures is they get created or changed for too many situations. Using soccer as an example, I know of many coaches who have a no practice/no play policy. This simply means if the player misses the team practice, the player can’t play in the next game. While some would say this is a fair rule, it’s important to think of the possible reasons for missing practice. Should a player who misses practice due to a death in the family be treated the same as the player who missed practice due to their decision to go to a movie? At least in my mind, the answer is no. I coached a team where the parents wanted a no practice/no play policy. We would have run into a problem because one of the players ended up missing some practices because he was picked to play on the US national team shortly before we were playing in the US national championships. Should he have been “punished” for not practicing with his club team while he was playing for the national team? To me, that was a simple answer of no. However, if we had the rule of no practice/no play, we would have had a problem.

It’s best to develop the procedures in a way that is strictly structured yet still flexible when needed. To use the salary advance as an example, the policy might be there are no advances allowed without approval from the board of directors. By writing the policy this way, it let’s the employees know advances are not going to be given unless there is an extenuating circumstance that would be important enough to present to the board of directors. Since most people would not be willing to take it to that level, it makes it very easy for the HR people to say no. If there is a true emergency, they could present it to the board to make a final decision.

Make sure your organization has procedures, there is a reason for them and they are followed. Too many organizations have policies and procedures “somewhere” but tend to “play it by ear” as opposed to following them. Inevitably, this ends up causing problems in the long run.

Have a great day!