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A Tribute to J. Francis Angier on His 90th Birthday

dadOne of my favorite poems was written by Edgar Guest entitled “I’d Rather See a Sermon than Hear One Any Day.”

It relates to much of the ways I see my father.

Like many fathers, Dad gave me a great deal of advice over the years. And like many sons, I rarely listened to it.

But, you see, I did observe my father. I saw what he did, and what he didn’t do.

He never had to tell me about being honest and having integrity, he just lived honestly and with integrity.

He never needed to lecture me about hard work and industry. I saw him work hard every day of his working life.

My father never needed to talk to me about being respectful to women. He just was. In fact, I never heard him denigrate women in any way. And he was always respectful and honoring of my mother.

He didn’t have to preach safety—although he did. He just went out of his way to practice safety in everything we did. It’s likely why most of his crew survived being shot down over Germany in the fall of 1944. And none of my family was ever seriously injured on our farm.

Dad didn’t talk much about humility and generosity. He simply demonstrated it all the time.

He didn’t spend much time explaining the value of good planning. But he planned his work and his business carefully.

He didn’t have to advise me on the value of education. Because he was a lifelong learner. And he read, and still does read, every day.

Dad didn’t tell us to love our country. But we knew he was a patriot and how much his country—and his service to it—meant to him.

So although the advice was there, what mattered most was demonstrating his best at being a good man. And it made all of us boys want to be a good man as well.

He set the standards pretty high. And I know I haven’t lived up to them all the time. Perhaps he didn’t either. But I know he did his best.

His sermon was, and still is, his life. And it mattered.

I’m so proud of you Dad. Happy 90th birthday!

ron-cover-smallNote: His first book, Ready or Not: Into the Wild Blue,
is available on Amazon (print and Kindle version)

Can You Tell a Good Story?

In a recent Achievement Code Training about becoming a clear communicator, I was talking about the effectiveness of telling good stories.

I have a sign in my office that says, “Facts Tell and Stories Sell.” Stories truly are important in building rapport, holding attention and making our points more entertaining and memorable.

During the training, one of our participants asked a good question. He wanted to know how you get good at telling stories. Well, I’m the son of a very good story-teller, and I think I tell a pretty good story myself. But I hadn’t really thought about how one becomes good at this art.

Obviously one gets better with practice. But I think what this person wanted were some concrete methods for improving our ability to spin a tale that teaches.

Toastmasters International is a good place to practice and get feedback on all kinds of presentations. So joining your local Toastmasters could be a good place to start.

Beyond that, I think it’s a matter of analyzing a good story when you hear one. What got your attention? What made it interesting to you? How did you relate to it?

The sweet spot is to tell a story that’s not too long, yet not too abbreviated. And one that’s not so detailed the listener gets lost but not so general that it lacks the richness that paints a picture.

Share the emotions you were feeling. Talk about why you felt a certain way and what memories it brought back.

Taylor Sternberg has a formula he uses to construct an engaging story. He recommends breaking your story into six parts:

1. Who: Start with who is involved. Was it you alone, with another person, or a group of people. How are you related to those people?
2. What: Communicate what the action was, such as being at a party or driving to a friend’s house.
3. Where: Actively describe where you are, using senses. If you’re good at establishing the location, you can get the listener to start re-living the senses with you.
4. Conflict: This is the bulk of the story. What is the importance of this story? What happened, and what action did you take to try to resolve what was happening?
5. Resolution: How were you able to handle the task set up in “conflict”?
6. Tag: This one is a bit tricky. It’s the aftermath of the resolution and usually is a joke or the big finish of the story.

I encourage you to try your hand at becoming great at telling short stories to improve your ability to communicate more effectively.

And don’t say, “To illustrate my point, let me tell you a story.” Just tell the story. And let your story do its work.

I can think of no better investment of your time and effort than the study and practice of becoming a clear and effective communicator.

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New and Different vs. Tried and True

New and DifferentI see many people today looking for the latest, greatest gadget, idea, tool or tactic to achieve the success they want.

Some people feel like they’re missing something. Others want to get the edge on everyone else by having the new-fangled “killer” app or seductive trick.

Still others are bored with the basics—the tried and true principles of success that endure.

Sure, it’s fun to play with new stuff. We see people get new cars, new wardrobes—even new wives and husbands. And for awhile they’re novel, they hold their attention. But eventually everything becomes familiar.

Beware the seduction of new and different when it comes to investing your most valuable assets like time, money and energy. You may find some benefit—for a short while—but my money is on the solid, practical and time-tested principles and strategies for success and happiness.

Can you imagine a professional baseball team only trying new things and not working on the basics? They wouldn’t be winning with any consistency and the other teams would surpass them easily.

And that’s why they focus on the fundamentals like batting, fielding, catching, pitching, etc. It might not be exciting, but it’s how they get better and how they win games.

You see, spectacular accomplishment is always preceded by less than spectacular preparation. The will to win is nowhere near as important as the willingness to PREPARE to win.

And I’m not suggesting that you only prepare. You can’t just study and practice. You have to play the game. But you have to focus on the fundamentals—however unsexy or mundane they may seem.

Once you master the fundamentals, you can try some new things—as long as that’s not the ONLY thing you do.

Our Diamond Club and Inner Circle programs are designed and are effective at grounding members in the fundamentals of clarity, concentration and consistency. Most, if not all success principles, fall into these three areas.

We do try new ideas, tools and resources, but we mostly work on the basics. And it works. It works very, very well.

We encourage you to join one of these programs and see for yourself how much more progress you can make by focusing on the fundamentals and staying consistent with the help of a coach and mastermind team. You’ll also have more fun and not feel so alone in your journey.

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