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Name of author Rick Baker, P.Eng.

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On goals 'greater than ourselves'

by Rick Baker
On Jul 4, 2016

"Our goals should serve as markers, measurements of the progress we make in pursuit of something greater than ourselves."

Simon Sinek, inspirational post - June 13th, 2016


This goal advice scratched at me. [Perhaps, I was itchy before it arrived?]

While it carries an admirable-altruistic message at its surface, I'm not sure this advice fits the majority of people. Warm & friendly - perhaps. Appropriate & helpful - likely not. 

For me, 'greater than ourselves' rings of fundamentalist thinking. I can imagine Nietzsche fuming at the thought. I can imagine a pained expression on Emerson's kind face. I can imagine fundamentalists rubbing their hands. 

The message scratched at me for two quite different reasons, which I will approach as follows:

First, as a general rule - life is an ongoing learning experience. Certainly, this applies to people who possess normal intelligence and at least a little curiosity. For those who also possess a realistic perspective and at least a little humility, much of the lifelong learning is about self. Each person is a complex piece of art, worthy of relentless study. With the self being a lifelong work-in-process, doesn't it make sense to set goals for greater selves rather than goals for greater than selves? For those who argue they have completed their self-development and are as great as they can be...well Nietzsche would argue these elite few would be stepping backwards to find purposes beyond their own.

Second, isn't 'greater then ourselves' a strange phrase? I mean, really, what does it mean? Is it intended to imply there are goals/interests that are greater in value than our own goals? If so, are these great goals/interests distinct from our own goals/interests? Is it even possible to pursue any goal/interest without serving self-interest at some level? Can we pay forward without receiving some level of gratification/personal compensation? Now, I am thinking of the great Emerson and his discourse on Compensation. Won't we have to set the wisdom of Emerson aside if we wish to have goals 'greater than ourselves'?

Do you choose Action over Strategy?

by Rick Baker
On Jun 28, 2016

In recent conversations, it became clear to me that many people believe other people favour taking action over thinking about strategy. This viewpoint has been expressed as a criticism: the underlying argument being - people should spend more time thinking about strategy. 


Here’s one reason: People who strategize tend to take decisive and that ‘forethought’ combination promotes accurately-aimed action. So, strategy is the seedbed where both effectiveness and efficiency have the opportunity to grow.

Abe Lincoln knew this. He said, "Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe."

Regardless of the merits of strategic thinking, many people choose to take action over thinking about strategy. 


Before getting into the possibilities, “Why” is important because - if progressive changes are to be made, leaders must understand the ‘motivations’ behind people’s behavior. 

Obstinate-to-change behaviour is rooted in emotions. 

In the business environment, often, obstinate-to-change behaviour is rooted in negative emotions…fear-based emotions.

So, to understand what needs to be done to change behaviour it is essential to understand the underlying fears. 

I have found Napoleon Hill’s summary of fears to be the most helpful starting point for understanding fears. In his classic ‘Think and Grow Rich’ (first published in 1937), Hill defined the following 6 basic fears:

  1. Fear of Poverty
  2. Fear of Criticism
  3. Fear of Ill Health
  4. Fear of Loss of Love
  5. Fear of Old Age
  6. Fear of Death

What do you think? 

In business, which of these fears would cause a person to resist strategic thinking?

Strikes me that the first two – Fear of Poverty and Fear of Criticism – are the likely root causes. Both these fears are most-common: that’s why they are at the top of Hill’s list. Obviously, it will take some forethought and sensitivity in order to explore these limiting-fears. The effort will be well rewarded.

On Accurate Thinking - Part 1

by Rick Baker
On Jun 23, 2016

Some people believe I get too bogged down or is it tied up in words. Writing too much. Going into too much detail. Being too nitpicky about definitions.

No, probably that's not right. I probably should have said, most people think I get too bogged down/tied up in words.

I agree. What a shortcoming. I mean - considering my goal is to help people obtain their business goals, it would be tremendous if most people were saying, Wow - this fellow sure packages his messages well! 



Delivering accurate, quick & easy wisdom.


So - I've set a new challenge: I must learn to package my messages in ways that appeal to folks who want quick-reading/easy-reading and of course valuable messages. As I write this, I'm thinking fondly about Plucky & Pithy...a post from 2010 and Plucky & Pithy #2 a post from 2012.


People are adapting their reading: to address that, I should boil everyting down to bullet points, 3 at most:

  • I get it. Just deliver a stitch in quick time, don't deliver nine.
  • I get it. Too much cooking spoils the broth.
  • I get it. This also applies to bakers: too much baking spoils the cake.


But, what about the common practice of setting company values, barely defining them, and missing the fact personal values are intimately linked with personal rules:

  • How do I ignore that?
  • How do I ease off on defining values?
  • How do I ease off on explaining the power of deep-set rules reflecting deep-set personal values?

(Changing current habits is going to take some work and some time.)


As I work at Plucky & Pithy

Perhaps, the people who cannot live with details can offer helpful advice...

(And I'm OK if their advice is detailed.)

‘being perfect by the end’ versus ‘doing better today’

by Rick Baker
On May 4, 2016

Simon Sinek wrote, “The goal is not to be perfect by the end. The goal is to be better today.” 

I wonder – What do people think and feel when they read ‘inspirational tidbits’ like this? 

Do they think – “That’s so wise. Aiming for perfection is a recipe for disaster. Doing a bit better today is an admirable way to spend the day.

Do they feel – “Wow. What a relief, no more worries about perfection or big hairy audacious goals. Now, I am comfortable facing today.


On the ‘pro’ side of thinking…

Small goals are the right way to pave the road to ultimate success. Big hairy audacious goals worked for Jim Collins, however, BHAGs do not work for most people and - as Fannie Mae illustrated - they can be more about hogwash than hedgehogs

On the ‘con’ side of thinking…

Why not aim to be perfect in the end? Full mastery of the things you view to be meaningful and lie within your control…isn’t that an admirable life goal? And, isn’t achievement of an admirable life-goal a worthy way to invest your energy and spend your time? That said, most people are very comfortable – at least, they appear to be very comfortable – living lives that fall far short of ‘perfect in the end’. 

Questions & food for thought,,,

  • When you stop to think about it, does it matter how other people live their lives? 
  • Do you care if a person aims to be perfect in the end? 
  • Would you be inspired to know a person is aiming to be perfect in the end? 
  • Would you be put off to know a person is aiming to be perfect in the end? 

You can make positive use of Stress Energy

by Rick Baker
On Apr 18, 2016

We all experience Stress.

Most of us view Stress as a necessary evil, a part of the human condition...a thing that damages all who experience it.

Few of us view Stress as a phenomenon which we can use as a tool...to help us achieve our goals...to help us achieve meaningful things.


Perhaps, you see Stress as a damaging, necessary evil. 

If you buy into 4 premises, you can change all that.


Stress is damaging and unhealthy except when you choose to use its energy to achieve success in your work and your life.

Anxiety often becomes the Arch-Enemy of Success

by Rick Baker
On Jan 13, 2016

Anxiety is a natural state of mind...a most-powerful state of mind....perhaps, the most-powerful state of mind.

Anxiety is a natural gift, protecting us from danger because it makes us attentive to real dangers.

If uncontrolled, it can become a major problem. Anxiety has the power to remove our ability to succeed because it makes us fear imaginary dangers.

Anxiety is a sharp double-edged sword, capable of cutting our performance in many ways.

To succeed - to achieve our goals - we must work at controlling our sword-gift, Anxiety.


About choosing to develop Self-Control- a Thought Post from May 4, 2015

How often do you think about your Intelligence & your Self-Control?

Every human being possesses the seeds of intelligence and self-control at birth. To a certain degree, and the degree varies from person to person, we develop these two abilities over time. The amount of intelligence and self-control we develop determines the extent we are able to express our strengths

It takes drive to develop your Intelligence.

It takes drive to develop your Self-Control.

It takes even more drive to develop both Intelligence & Self-Control.

And, drive consumes energy. Drive consumes energy as it formulates thoughts in your brain. Drive consumes more energy as it converts those thoughts into action.

And, in many situations, drive consumes large amounts of energy when it converts thoughts into the non-action required when your willpower is called upon to limit behavior to satisfy your Self-Control goal.

What is your Self-Control goal?

Oh, you’ve not set a Self-Control goal.

That’s not a surprise.

Most people do not view Self-Control as a ‘general’ stand-alone trait/ability. Most people only consider Self-Control as it can be applied in ‘specific’ situations. Most people do not cross-pollinate their specific and relatively small Self-Control wins.

Most people do not set the Self-Control bar high enough.

You do not have to be like most people.

It is a matter of choice.

Self-Control, one of our greatest gifts, is a matter of choice.

What Self-Control do you choose?


Emotions & Feelings @ Work | Goals - SMARTACRE Goals | Thinking as in Think and Grow Rich

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