Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Sometimes it's good to take a break

I have been ‘addicted’ to Tom Peters Blog for almost two years. I have probably made as many comments on that Blog as anyone.

I believe Tom is the greatest Management Guru and h
is work has influenced me for over 23 years since I read his first book In Search of Excellence He will continue to inspire me I am sure.

Recently however I feel I have become a bit ‘stale’ and 'dull' with my comments on Tom Peters Blog and I have therefore decided to take an extended break from it. It simply doesn't inspire me as much as it did!
I suspect this is just a temporary thing that will pass.

What works best for me is positive feedback and I know I am too sensitive about that. This has been a trait of my personality I have learned to live with for as long as I can remember.

In life it seems to me (generally) that everyone gives more than they take and it is important in my opinion to have positive feedback and encouragment. The absence of positive feedback is a critical part of understanding how people are motivated or not.

I would be really interested to hear your views about how to motivate people.


Mike Gardner said...

Trevor you can not motivate anyone so don't try. The best you (or any leader) can do is to create an environment that allows the other person to become self-motivated. This is one of the most important lessons my mentor taught me, and it is one of the hardest to remember. We can inspire and lead, but we can never motivate another person to do anything.

As for Tom Peters, while I understand your enthusiasm for his work, I think it is good for you to take a break. I don't think you give YOURSELF enough credit, Trevor, and you give Tom too much. Tom Peters is a good thinker, but he is a self-admitted gadfly and provacateur first and foremost. I share your enthusiasm for Tom's work, but at the same time I am infuriated by the short-sightedness of many of his ideas and the lack of a cohesive framework. With Tom Peters, every bright and shiny new idea becomes THE answer--for about a week and then he is on to something else. My opinion--you (and I, and many others) know just as much or perhaps more about leadership and reinventing the workplace than Tom. He does good work, but then so do you and I. I'm taking a break from Tom for a while, too.

Take care and keep busy.

David Wike said...

Interesting topic you’ve started here Trevor. I guess too much of anything, however good, leads to staleness, boredom or whatever. I do think that Mike is probably right. Perhaps we all take too much notice of ‘experts’. In my corporate life I often felt inferior to those who knew ‘management speak’. Inevitably this type of person rises through the ranks, presumably because others are also impressed with ‘the talk’. I am sure that consultants are no different. In fact it is probably imperative that they talk well to ensure their success. But there is a danger that the rest of us are too impressed with them and don’t recognise our own capabilities and those of others within our organisation. (remember Simplicity Tip Number 1).

Mike, I understand what you are saying about motivation and I wouldn’t disagree. However, I would challenge you to spend an hour in the company of Kriss Akabusi and not feel fired up. I felt ‘high’ for several days after my encounter. (If you want an account of it, go to, Random Ramblings for 7th June 2006.

And finally, on the subject of constructive criticism, my quote for the week last week was from Marshall Field, founder of the US department store group:

Those who enter to buy, support me. Those who come to flatter, please me. Those who complain, teach me how I may please others so that more will come. Only those hurt me who are displeased but do not complain. They refuse me permission to correct my errors.

Hsien Lei said...

I'm sure your comments aren't quite as bad as the truly stale and dull ones like "Great post!" ;)

As for motivating people, I find setting a good example and being enthusiastic goes a long way. Without either of these two qualities, nobody would care a whit for what someone might say.

PS Wanadoo/Orange still hasn't reimbursed me for my time without broadband. Glad we're both on BT now.

Trevor Gay said...

Thanks all for some great comments – forgive long response but you all deserve feedback :-)

Mike - I agree with you about motivation – the job of the manager is to provide the right environment allowing people freedom to express themselves. In England we say ‘you can only take the horse to the water – you can’t make it drink.’ Interesting comments about Tom Peters. I agree I do give him credit but that is because I find myself in agreement with most of what Tom says. Annie always tells me I am not good at promoting my own views well enough and I quote others too easily without ‘blowing my own trumpet.’ Two years ago I was worse!! I am getting more pro-active at putting forward my own personal views – this is about confidence. After 35 years practical management experience I do feel – like you - more qualified to talk about real management than management consultants who have never actually managed in the real world where the ‘muck and bullets’ fly!!

David – excellent comment about use of language. As you know one of my chapters in the book was 'Professional Speak – Guaranteed Protection’ where I argue that managers invent a language they feel comfortable with to protect them and appear aloof and special in some way. In reality they are playing games and often have no depth once you crack open the shell of the egg – you find there is very little inside. Management consultants are not special people either - far from it in fact. They have often never ‘managed’ anything. Give me someone who has hands on experience every time. I would like to hear Kriss Akabussi – I have heard from others that he is good value. And I love the quote from Marshall Field.

Hsien Le – My comments on TP Blog were generally provocative and I always tried to put them over with some personality shining through so others will probably have not seen them as dull. But to me I felt they were not as enthusiastic as before so then it is time to take the break methinks. Being a good role model and being enthusiastic are indeed wonderful qualities and they are possessed in abundance my greatest Guru – Professor George Giarchi 76 years old going on 18. I have written a Blog posting about George earlier. Good to hear you are with BT – we are very happy with the service and yes I did get compensation from Wanadoo which just about covered my costs but they lost a lot more than money – I have told many people of our experience.

Dmitry Linkov said...

You know, the same thing happened to me after reading too much the blog of Guy Kawasaki. Maybe it was just overloaded with very good information - I don't know.

I'm sure you will get back to it, and a break - it's a very good decision.

What about motivation - positive feedback is surely good. But I think the feedback has to be different, because for me - when everyone say that "this is good", it seems like it is not true. When some of the people agree and some disagree - this is the best feedback you can get.

Felix Gerena said...

Trevor, you are probably the most involved blogger at the Tom Peters Blog. I have also become a bit bored or disappointed, and if I visited the site many times everyday in the past, since a couple of months ago I just visit it one or two times a week.

I agree with you that positive feedback is the source of trust and friendship. In the last months I have met quite a lot of interesting people through the net but with a different attitude. This is positive too.

Trevor Gay said...

Thanks Dmitry and Felix.

I agree with both of you that ‘different’ feedback is as useful as constant positive feedback. For instance I had some critical feedback about a year ago from someone I did not know but he has become a good friend. I also know people who have different views to me and I tend to seek out their views. I find this is healthy and it keeps my ‘feet on the ground.’ Let’s be honest, life is more interesting through ‘difference’ than 'sameness.'

I am a great believer in positive feedback and encouraging people with ‘carrots’ rather than ‘sticks.’ Of course if we only ever offer positive feedback that too can be counter productive. I try always to be positive with my feedback and, where I think it is appropriate, I try to offer constructive comments based on my experience that are intended to be helpful.

Felix - Regarding TP Website - it is interesting you feel the same as me about the content. I am sure we are not alone in that. It feels good to have a break from it. This enables me to pursue my interest in the work of other authors. At the moment I am interested in Bill Hybels. He has a book called ‘Courageous Leadership’ that is written from a Christian perspective.

I think we can become too biased in direction of one author and we must keep our minds open to alternative views.

Thanks again Amigos!!!

/pd said...

Trevor /Felix

"It simply doesn't inspire me as much as it did!"

" I have also become a bit bored or disappointed"

Ask yourself the question, did you set your expectations too high with the TP site ? Do you always think that only TP would blog ?

FWIW, I don't interact as often as I would like to , but I do read every entry there. I was one of the first 10-15 people who subscribed to tom peters RSS feed. I dont ever think that I will unscribe !! That being said, that is the worth of the individual-TP.

"inspiration" comes from within - TP is just a catalyst. "disappointed" stems from "expectations" that are not being met. Please be fair to Tom, he is not there blogging for you. He is there blogging for himself. Likewise are the other team members.

Taking a break is because you have immersed yourself heavily in TP and have had your fill. Its not about the content or about 'dull' comments , its about a thirst which you have quenched. TP's blog was like a watering hole, where you have had your fill and now its time to move on. As you move along, the waterhole will remain, feeding and quenching the thirst of many to come. Remember that !!

Trevor Gay said...

Thanks for those two good questions Peter

No - I don’t think I set my expectations too high for TP site. I think it is the best site that I visit by a mile. It’s just that my motivation has changed and I do not feel as motivated to engage at present.

No – I didn’t always think that only TP would Blog. I think some of the other members of TP team offer interesting posts.

I have never been anything other than ‘fair to Tom’ – I have supported Tom and praised him for 23 years to anyone and everyone who knows me and I will continue to do so. I do realise he is there Blogging for himself and not for me. That is how all Blogs work.

I too still look in most days to watch the discussion and will continue to do that – TP Blog is still a good ‘learning place’ for me and many others.

You are right about immersing myself in TP Blog – I would love to see a list of the most frequent contributors – I suspect my name would be near the top. For me it’s probably just too much of a good thing maybe?

Marilyn said...

I, too, believe you cannot motivate anyone, it has to come from within the person, him or herself.
This does not mean you can't inspire them. There are two elements I believe that have inspired me.
One, if a person is a superb listener. Having been a manager myself and now a consultant/trainer/speaker I have learned first hand the importance of truly paying attention to another person. Not just for their work skills, but for them as a person, both on and off the job.We have a manager at the office where I consult who I think is unknowingly a master at this. Each day he spends time away from his desk walking around the office and checking in with our dozens of employees. To the outside observer this may seem frivolous, but in my mind it is time well spent. We are people first, not just employees.

Second, giving people the chance to sharpen their saw, as Stephen Covey says.If you are sharpening yours continually, your enthusiasm will be apparent to anyone around you. Every human needs time to renew, how they do this is as individual as each person. This helps to create the environment from which self motivation springs.

My thoughts from across the pond, Vermont, USA.Glad your holidays were festive.

Trevor Gay said...

Thank you Marilyn.

I met some really good managers in my healthcare management career who are exceptional listeners. If they are interested in me I am likely to be more satisfied at work. Simple really – so how come there are other managers who just don’t seem able to listen at all? I believe listening is probably the most important part of effective communication.

I like the ‘sharpening your saw’ idea. Another way of putting it is that to inspire confidence in people around us we need to illustrate we are still learning and still keen to learn. Personal and professional development is so important both for the person and for those working for them and with them. There is nothing worse than working for someone who has metaphorically ‘died’ at work believing they cannot develop anymore. So sad.

Our holiday was wonderful and it seems a long time ago now! Am I right in thinking Tom Peters also lives in Vermont?

Marilyn said...

Yes, Trevor, he does still have a home here in Vermont. He writes about it in the blog sometimes.

Tom Peters is also one of my muses(source of inspiration). He is one of the few who gets it as far as women in business and the world is concerned.

He also has it right about the role of failure in life. I did a whole speech about the importance of failing, and failing often, if you want to get anywhere. I won several contests with that speech.
Through his web site I found your blog :)

Fall is already starting here. From my window I can see the Green Mountains and a lake. If your holidays ever take you this way you will have a great time!

Trevor Gay said...

Thanks again Marilyn -sounds like a great place to live and obviously your are among the wealthy like Tom Peters!! We will hopefully visit one day!

Tom has been my inspiration for over 20 years; I have read all his books and watched his career grow to world Icon status. I had the great pleasure of meeting him in May when he came to London and he seems a really nice and humble man despite the fame. I am taking a break from commenting on TP site at present although I look in and read the discussions.

Congratulations on winning the awards for your talks on failure. I have only really learned by mistakes and like all of us I have made many. The key is to learn from them I guess. My late beloved Dad always said the person who never made mistakes never made anything.