The news of the day just doesn’t seem to be getting much better. While I don’t intend to dwell on the negative, maybe we all just need a little “help” to do the right thing and keep a positive outlook. As managers and business owners, some of us take on a lot of stress about our business and the future of our companies. For those of us working for the business owner, we can be stressed about our future and providing for our families.    

I thought I’d take this column to offer some wisdom from a sage instead of passing along many of my thoughts. How do we get through this current time of economic challenges? What do our people need from us in these challenging times?    

Many years ago when I was working as a quality manager and corporate engineer, journals such as Industrial Heating were an important resource for me. I utilized magazines, books and conferences to provide ideas for how to become a better quality manager. One such resource was The One Minute Manager and virtually anything written by Ken Blanchard and other quality gurus. At that time, Blanchard also wrote a regular column in an industry journal. One of his columns from 1995 was entitled “The Spiritual Workplace.” It made an impact on me, and I shared it with my colleagues at that time. I think it’s worthy of reflection today as uncertainty continues to swirl around us regarding the state of the economy.    
Blanchard indicated that he began teaching the importance of self-esteem in his leadership and management seminars because he realized that managers could not properly coach their teams if they didn’t feel good about themselves. He said, “After all, only people who genuinely like themselves can build the self-esteem of others without feeling that it takes something away from themselves. As I have said many times, I think the most widespread addiction in the world is the human ego. Ego stands for ‘Edging God Out.’”    

In his book, We are the Beloved, Blanchard offered some suggestions about how people can “get out of their own way” using the HELP model. The “H” in HELP stands for humility. In a book written by Blanchard and Norman Vincent Peale, they said, “People with humility don’t think less of themselves, they just think of themselves less.” He then went on to say, “Humility helps you remember that there is someone more powerful, more loving and more caring than you.” In any time of uncertainty, it’s not a bad thing to remember that there’s someone more powerful than you (and that’s not the current resident of the White House).    

The “E” in HELP stands for excellence. Blanchard discusses the different definitions of this word, but says, “The kind of excellence that helps keep you on course is available to everyone. It’s the process of rising up and becoming the very best you can be. This means balancing between achieving (accomplishing results) and connecting (maintaining important relationships).”    

The “L” stands for listening. He used an analogy of ships listening for the fog horn when fog settles in over the seaport so that they know where the dangers are. “Charging hard through life leaves little time for listening to that voice that calls us to a more excellent way of living.”    

And finally, the “P” stands for praising. In The One Minute Manager, Blanchard emphasizes that the key to developing people is to catch them doing something right so that you can recognize their performance. He says, “If you are to stay on course in your walk through life, you need to begin to catch yourself doing things right as well.”    

Hopefully, this look back in time to the advice of a well-respected guru has been helpful in some way as you continue to press on with work and life challenges. While these thoughts are not overtly metallurgical, they do have much to say about life and what we and those around us might need as we walk through the challenges of this life together. IH