Welcome to a special edition of Leadership Lessons - straight from the desk of Santa Claus.

Dear Santa:
What can I do to break down the “us vs. them” barriers that so often exist between people – especially between employees and leaders?
“Looking for Clues” in Laughlin

Dear “Looking for Clues”:
“Us vs. them” thinking and behaviors unfortunately are facts of life. To minimize them, both sides must be willing to make changes and meet in the middle. But as the leader, you must take the lead. Here are some things you should do and remember. They’re from one of my most favorite books, Walk Awhile In My Shoes, and they’re the words of an employee ... your employee:
“Appreciate the fact that my work is no easier than yours. I’ve got a tough job, too.     Tasks often look easier than they are ... especially when somebody else has to do them.

Don’t assume the worst of me. You don’t wake up in the morning asking, “How can I make life miserable for someone today?” Well, neither do I. Give me the benefit of the doubt and I will reciprocate.

Adopt the mindset that to be successful at work, you need me as much as I need you.

Assume half the responsibility for our working relationship. If we work well together,     take half the credit. If we don’t, assume half the responsibility for making it better.     Even though you’re the boss, our relationship is a two-way street.

Remember that I’m human. Before you judge me or decide how you’ll deal with me,     walk awhile in my shoes.”
While these pleas came from an “employee,” they just as easily could have come from a colleague, a friend, a family member, from me … or from YOU, yourself. They are, after all, universal needs that leaders at all levels – and all situations – need to remember and address.

 Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must first be overcome.-- Samuel Johnson 
Dear Larry,Reminding us that we can appreciate “right now,” no matter what else is going on in our lives, Giving Thanks is the perfect book for this Thanksgiving Season. With inspiring quotes and beautiful pictures this book is a breath of fresh air. Whatever is going on in your life or in the world, there is always time to give thanks.

Please pass this along to family, friends and coworkers. 


Learn more...
Giving Thanks: The Gifts of Gratitude

By  MJ Ryan
Gratitude connects us to others and feeling gratitude allows us to be our best selves--in good times and in hard times. When we are truly grateful, we can count on living the life we want.

Excerpted from Giving Thanks

Do you know that happiness, the sheer joy in being alive, is within your reach? All you need is an attitude of gratitude. Gratitude creates happiness because it makes us feel full, complete; it’s the recognition that we have all we need, at least in this moment.

Recent scientific research has begun to indicate that positive emotions, such as gratitude and love, strengthen and enhance the immune system, enabling the body to resist disease and recover more quickly from illness, through the release of endorphins into the bloodstream. Endorphins are the body’s natural painkillers. Among other effects, they stimulate dilation of the blood vessels, which leads to a relaxed heart.

That this means is that the more we experience a sense of gratitude, we literally bathe ourselves in good hormones and feel happier and more content with our lives. Like most great spiritual truths, gratitude is stunningly simple. This is not to say it’s necessarily easy to practice. All kinds of distractions, obfuscation, and negative attitudes from our upbringings may get in the way. But all you really have to do to receive gratitude’s gifts is make a commitment to be thankful on a daily basis, and the world will be suddenly transformed into a beautiful wonderland in which you are invited to play.

If you look to others for fulfillment, you will never truly be fulfilled.
If your happiness depends on money, you will never be happy with yourself.
Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are.
When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.
~ Lao Tzu

Mr. Scorpio says productivity is up 2%, and it's all because of my motivational techniques, like donuts – and the possibility of more donuts to come!-- Homer Simpson The way we choose to respond when others make mistakes can cause them to feel ashamed or can allow them to remember our kindness and share our stories with future generations. -- Michelle Sedas Just play! Have fun. Enjoy the game! -- Michael Jordan People need me…they depend on me. We're doing something important here. And knowing that gives me the energy to carry the sack, lead the pack, and keep coming back.-- Santa Claus Whether you realize it or not, you have the power to be successful by helping others succeed.-- David Cottrell  Welcome to a special edition of Leadership Lessons - straight from the desk of Santa Claus.

Dear Santa:
I haven’t been a leader all that long, so obviously I have a lot to learn. What can you tell me ... where should I look for guidance ... what do I need to remember as I lead my team?  
A Newbie in Newark

Dear Newbie:
Over the years I’ve learned a simple truth: If you need guidance on being a better leader, go to the people you’re leading. That’s why one of the most valuable resources I have is a powerful handbook entitled Listen Up, Leader! Here’s a passage – one of many important messages from team members that all leaders need to consider:

“We are watching everything you do. Even when you think we’re not paying attention, we are. There is never a time when you’re not in your leadership role. You may think that when you choose to ignore an issue, you are not leading. You’re wrong! If you show up late for a meeting, you lead us to believe that our time isn’t valuable. If you lose your cool and over-react to small issues, we wonder how you will react when something big comes along. It’s a fact: You are always leading. You can never NOT lead! Everything you do counts!

Believe it or not, we DO understand that leadership isn’t easy. As we watch you each day, we see the incredible responsibilities you’re charged with. You’re accountable for your actions and for our actions – plus all the fiscal requirements, employee problems, feedback, training, technology changes, hiring, de-hiring, communicating, staff development, prioritizing, eliminating unnecessary bureaucracy, and much more. Your job is tough. But it is the job you chose. What we ask of you is to accept responsibility for being the very best at your job so we can be the best at our jobs.”

Whether you’re a leader at work, at home, in your community, or even at the North Pole, never forget the four most important words from the passage above:
Everything you do counts! With more understanding, we can meet in the middle and walk the rest of the way together.-- Eric Harvey  The final forming of a person's character lies in their own hands.-- Anne Frank We may affirm absolutely that nothing great in the world has ever been accomplished without passion.-- Georg Hegel The shoe that fits one person pinches another; there is no recipe for living that suits all cases. -- Carl Jung Dear Larry,

Believe you me, having to smile and be jolly every day when you’re wearing the same thick, hot, red-wool suit (that itches like crazy) is no picnic. This is a job that will definitely strain your sanity and drain your ego if you let it. Seems like everyone wants a piece of me. Yet many of the people I serve question my existence…or just plain don’t believe in me at all. And those who do believe often expect me to do the impossible – rarely caring about what I have to do, or go through (including chimneys), to meet their expectations. And they ALL have expectations.

There’s no doubt that my biggest challenges come from two roles that people rarely associate with this red-cheeked, bag-carrying sleigh driver: Santa the MANAGER and Santa the LEADER. I am, after all, running a business here. I’m a boss. I’ve got responsibilities – both to the gift-getters and the gift-makers. There are workers to lead, letters to read, orders to fill, processes to manage, stuff to buy, stuff to make, standards to maintain, new technologies to adopt, skills to develop, elf problems to solve, and reindeer droppings to scoop (although I delegate that one.) Trust me, I’ve got some big and not-always-easy-fitting boots to fill.

Like most managers, I have to deal with marketplace fluctuations (“Dear Santa, I thought I wanted that, but now I want this.”). And I’ve seen more than my share of budget cuts, staff reductions, employees who are either unwilling or unable to adjust to change, technology advancements, increasing demands for higher quality and better service, fluctuations in the economy, competing priorities, ever-growing performance expectations (for all of us), and a whole lot more. Whew!

No, it’s not easy being Santa Claus. But in spite of that, I love what I do. People need me…they depend on me. We’re doing something important here. And knowing that gives me the energy to carry the sack, lead the pack, and keep coming back. By now, you may be wondering how I meet all of these many challenges and responsibilities…how I manage to bring everyone and everything together to complete our mission. Some people think I use magic. But really, there’s no magic about it.

So, if it’s not magic, what is my secret? Actually there are eight of them!  And you can find all eight practical strategies for leading others and getting big things done all year long in my book called The Leadership Secrets of Santa Claus. A few of my elves helped me put together this book and I guarantee that if you read it and apply these “secrets,” you’ll find them more valuable than anything you might have written on your holiday wish list.

 Step out of your comfort zone once more each week and create over 50 additional opportunities for excitement, challenge and possibility each year. This is what life's about. -- Sam Parker Welcome to a special edition of Leadership Lessons - straight from the desk of Santa Claus.

Dear Santa:
Awhile back, I heard a colleague say, “The quality of a workplace is directly related to the quality of its leadership.” That blinding flash of the obvious had a real impact on me. To help build a positive work environment, I need to be the best leader I can be. What can I do to make that happen?
Wondering in Wisconsin

Dear Wondering:
Well done … you’ve broken the code! While all team members must help build great workplaces, leaders certainly are the primary architects. To be the best “architect” you can be, you need to Enter the Learning Zone. That’s a concept I learned from Monday Morning Leadership – one of the most powerful books in my personal library. Here are a few short passages that should help:

“For you to be the very best, you cannot allow yourself to become complacent in your comfort zone. You need to be reaching for improvement. To fulfill your potential, you need to move out of your comfort zone and into ‘the learning zone’ …”

“There are three rooms in the learning zone. The first room is the reading room. Look around this library – there are more than a thousand books in here. More than half of those books are about management and leadership … Suppose you decided to read one book a month on management or leadership. During the next year, you’d have read 12 books. Do you think you’d know more about management and leadership if you read that many books a year? …”

“The second room in the learning zone is the listening room. Did you know that the principal reasons executives fail are arrogance, out-of-control egos, and insensitivity? They forget to take the time to listen to their people. Soon they become insensitive to the needs and desires of the individuals on the team. Don’t allow     yourself to fall into that trap – listen to your people! …”

“The third room in the learning zone is the giving room. You cannot succeed without giving back. Your legacy will be what you give [and teach] to others.”

Modify the above strategies a little, and you’ll have some great guidelines for being a more effective leader in your personal life as well.
 How far you go in your life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these.-- George Washington Carver The great man is he who does not lose his child's heart.
-- Mencius  "To coach" comes from the root meaning "to bring a person from where they are to where they want to be."
-- David Cottrell 
WALK THE TALK #3We must be the change we want to see in the world.-- Mahatma GandhiToday's Topic: Recognizing Stereotypes for More Effective Communication

In our society stereotyping is prevalent. The key is this – become cognizant of stereotypes when they occur so that you can make conscious choices about how to address them. Some stereotypes are blatant, such as “They all look the same.” Most stereotypes surface in more subtle ways. Regardless of the packaging, stereotypes are all based on the same thought process that clumps individuals together as members of a group, with no acknowledgement of individual differences. Following is a tool that makes recognizing the subtle and not-so-subtle stereotypes easier. Eight Common Ways Stereotypes Surface and Are Perpetuated
  1. Jokes
    “Do you know what happens when you get three ____ together?"
  2. Name-Calling/Labels
    “Computer Geek”     “Trailer Trash”
  3. Oversimplified Statements Applied to ALL People in a Group
    “Young workers today _____.”  “Latinos are ____.” “You know how Southerners are.”
  4. Stereotypical Descriptors
    “Crotchety old man.”  “Women are very emotional.” “Typical white male.”
  5. Personal Assumptions About Individuals (based on stereotypes held about a group the individual is a member of)  
    Assuming a woman’s career is secondary to family. Therefore, not offering a career opportunity to a woman that would require her to relocate her family.
  6. Spokesperson Syndrome
    Viewing one individual as the spokesperson for an entire group. “Marta, what is the best way to deal with the Hispanic market?” “Glenn, what do black people think about this?”
  7. Descriptors That Evoke Stereotypes Because They Are the Opposite or a Contradiction to an Existing Stereotype  
    “We’re looking for qualified minority candidates.” “A sensitive man.” “You’re not like the others…You work harder.”
  8. “Statistical” Stereotyping
    “Statistics show that most criminals are _____.”  Then treating an individual based on the “statistic.” Note:  The statistic could be real or perceived.
 The true meaning of life is to plant trees under whose shade you do not expect to sit.-- Nelson Henderson

Learn more...
The Dash: Making a Difference with Your Lifeby Linda Ellis and Mac Anderson
 From the Chapter titled: Feelings

I had just experienced a pleasant flight from New York back to Chicago on United Airlines. It was one of those days where almost everything had gone right. That’s until I exited the tram to the airport’s economy parking lot and realized that I had lost my wallet on my homeward journey.

Throughout the drive home I mentally started retracing my steps. Once home, I placed calls to the “lost-and-found” at O’Hare, United, NY-LaGuardia and the TSA security in New York. At that late night hour I got recordings, so I left each a detailed message. I then retired to bed knowing I had done all I could do. I fell asleep thinking of the hassle of replacing everything in the wallet.

The next morning, I had been up for less than an hour when a man called. Bob identified himself with United Airlines, and his question was music to my ears – “Mr. Blumberg, are you missing a wallet?” Relieved and grateful, I responded, YES! I thanked him for returning my call to United’s lost-and-found. But he didn’t know about that call. He wasn’t with the lost-and-found – nor was it his job to personally follow-up with passengers leaving their stuff on the airplane. He was the night mechanic who had simply found the wallet on my assigned seat. Realizing my phone number was not anywhere in my wallet, I immediately appreciated his extra effort of tracking down my home phone number. But that effort was only the beginning of what I was about to experience.

Bob had waited the night to call, assuming I would be sleeping. He told me that he was leaving work at 7:00 a.m. He wanted to know if I would be home so he could deliver my wallet to my house on his way home. After talking logistics for a minute, I realized that he was going over an hour out of his way. But he insisted. I finally got him to agree that I would immediately leave and meet him in a direction near his home. For the next 45 minutes, we both drove towards a common meeting place.

We finally met in the parking lot of a commercial building. As I got out of my car to meet this stranger-turned-hero, I introduced myself to Bob. He sported his heavy United Airlines uniform coat made necessary by the cold December morning. He greeted me with a big smile and handed me my wallet. I pulled some cash from my pocket to give him a sizable tip for all his efforts. As I reached to hand him the cash, he didn’t miss a beat. He simply responded, “Absolutely not!”

Bob continued, “I have lost my wallet before and I know it is a hassle. I am just glad that I could get it back to you. Feeling the need to somehow respond to his kindness, I offered the tip a couple more times. But he was not budging. Realizing the tip minimized his graciousness, I just smiled and said, “I guess I will just have to pay-it-forward to someone else.” He smiled, “That would be great.” You see, Bob went the extra mile…and then some. He didn’t do it for gain; he did it simply because it’s who he is.
The true meaning of life is to plant trees under
whose shade you do not expect to sit. ~ Nelson Henderson Find what makes your heart sing and create your own music.-- Mac Anderson The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.-- John Powell To open your heart means risking it all – to experience great joy and profound sorrow.-- Tom Mathews You get the best efforts from others not by lighting a fire beneath them, but by building a fire within.-- Bob Nelson Today's Topic: Make Sure They Have the “Tools” They Need

Imagine this scenario: We’re out in the middle of a field. I’m the supervisor and I give you an assignment to dig a trench. After explaining why the trench is necessary, I give you the go-ahead to start digging. You inquire, “Where’s the back hoe?” I respond, “It’s in the shop.” You then ask, “So how am I supposed to dig this trench?” I hand you a shovel, and then I leave. I return two hours later and find that you haven’t made much progress. You’re tired and frustrated…and I’m ticked off.

A far-fetched story? Maybe so. But it does make a simple and important point: it’s tough for people to do a good job – to do their best work – when they don’t have the “tools” (resources) they need. That’s something your team members may be facing more often than you think. And as a leader, you need to do your best to do something about it.

Ask yourself, What do my people need in order to meet or exceed my expectations? Better yet, ASK THEM! Maybe it’s a new piece of equipment – or the fixing or updating of an existing one. Perhaps it’s a new software program, additional training, or an expanded supplies inventory. Or it could be that what they really need is more time, more help, or more information. Whatever your team needs, get it for them. And if you can’t, tell them why, look for other ways to support their efforts, and appreciate the fact that many of their achievements are happening in spite of how they are equipped, rather than because of it.
 People seldom improve when they have no other model but themselves to copy after. -- Oliver Goldsmith Knowledge is the only instrument of production
that is not subject to diminishing returns.
-- J.M. Clark Living according to our "guiding principles" –and those of the organizations for which we work –takes conscious effort, persistence, some courage, a good-size helping of commitment, and a ton of self-discipline.-- Eric Harvey and Steve Ventura Excerpted from WALK the TALK gift book: Turning Beliefs into Behaviors

Everyone wants it, everyone needs it. It’s a critical building block of good character…and it’s something that most of us could stand to ratchet up a little.


As we see it, there are two types of respect. First is basic human respect – the kind you’re entitled to merely by being born. Everyone deserves it equally because through birth, everyone is equal – we’re all living, breathing human beings. The first type of respect is based on the fact that other people’s needs, hopes, rights, dreams, ideas, and inherent worth are just as important and valuable as our own. And it’s demonstrated by treating others with dignity and courtesy.

The second type of respect is one that we EARN by our actions. This is different from the first type because it’s based on who we are (the quality of our characters) rather than what we are (human beings); it comes from behavior rather than mere birth. Accordingly, if we want our judgment, opinions, and skills respected, we have to earn that by demonstrating judgment, opinions, and skills that are respectable. If we want to be respected for dependability, we must earn that respect by consistently BEING dependable. And, if we wish to be respected as values-driven people, we must earn that respect as well – by continually “walking our talk.”
 Start each new day with a commitment to do what's right – regardless of what may come your way.-- Eric Harvey and Steve Ventura Today's Topic: The Power of Coaching

Becoming an outstanding coach requires that you help each individual on your team - yes, even the people who are tough to like - become successful.  Whether you realize it or not, you have the power to be successful by helping others succeed. 

Some managers think that coaching is solely about addressing negative performance. And, to be sure, that is an important part. But the process of coaching involves more than that. It includes staying in touch with everyone on your team - even your best performers - and providing them with the information they need to be even more successful. You see, every interaction with team members is a coaching occasion - an opportunity to create a positive, winning climate by clarifying goals, prioritizing tasks, listening to their ideas, and providing recognition.

You want an idea of your team's current climate? Look around. Are people smiling? Do they look you in the eyes? Is there evidence of any recent success - banners, trophies, new record postings? How about the workspace? Are people proud to keep it clean, or is "stuff" lying all over the place?

One of the keys to creating a winning, positive climate is to spend time with your team. Start your day by roaming the halls, asking questions, and visiting with team members. It's a good habit - and a great investment of your time and energy.

Coaching begins with creating an environment where people want to be part of a winning team. You have the power to make that happen!
 You cannot push anyone up a ladder unless he is willing to climb it himself.-- Andrew Carnegie Coaching isn't an addition to a leader's job, it's an integral part of it.-- George S. Odiorne Excerpted from You Can’t Send a Duck to Eagle School… And Other Simple Truths of Leadership

Companies Don’t Succeed…People Do.

To build a “customer first” culture, you must put them second. Your employees must come first, because there is a rule of thumb in business that says, “Your people will only treat your customers as well as they are being treated; thus to have satisfied customers, they must be served by passionate people.”

Howard Schultz, the founder of Starbucks, is one of my favorite leaders. His book, Pour Your Heart Into It, is excellent. In it he offers in great detail all of the obstacles he overcame in turning his vision into reality.

Early on, Schultz realized that the key to his success was to recruit well-educated people who were eager to communicate his passion for coffee. This, he felt, would be his competitive advantage in an industry where turnover was 300 percent a year. To hire the best people, he also knew he must be willing to pay them more than the going wage and offer health benefits that weren’t available elsewhere. He saw that part-time people made up two-thirds of his employee base, and no one in the restaurant industry offered benefits to part-timers.

Schultz went to work in an effort to sell his board of directors on increasing expenses while most restaurant executives in the 1980’s were looking for ways to cut costs. Initially, Schultz’s pleas to investors and the board fell on deaf ears because Starbucks was still losing money. But Schultz was persistent. He was looking long term and was committed to growing the business with passionate people. He won, and said many times afterward that this decision was one of the most important decisions, if not the most important, that he made at Starbucks. His employee retention rate was about five times the industry average, but more importantly, he attracted people with great attitudes who made their customers feel welcome and at home.

A common quote of the Starbucks team tells it all: “We aren’t in the coffee business serving people. We’re in the people business serving coffee.”
 I can't imagine a person becoming a success who doesn't give this game of life everything he's got. -- Walter Cronkite Success doesn't come to you – you go to it.
-- Marva Collins If we’re really serious about walking the talk all
the time, we have to focus on the small stuff.
-- Eric Harvey and Al Lucia Today's Topic:  Focus on Continuous Improvement

Walking the talk – acting in accord with our beliefs and values – is a journey, not a destination. The fact that you never fully arrive is not important. What’s important is for you to continue moving in the right direction: ·         Adopt the 10 % Rule – set a personal goal to improve everything you’re involved in by merely ten percent. Small improvements add up quickly.·         Focus on people as well as processes. Keep in mind that quality is ultimately a matter of individual performance. It happens one day at a time, one person at a time.·         Recognize and reward those who make improvements to products, processes, and services. What gets celebrated gets repeated.
Remember, we can’t do really big things every day. If we’re really serious about walking the talk all the time, we have to focus on the small stuff. Let the journey begin!
 People hear what we say but they see what we do. And seeing is believing.
-- Eric Harvey and Al Lucia St. Patrick's Day is an enchanted time – a day to begin transforming winter's dreams into summer's magic.-- Adrienne Cook The hallmark of a well-managed organization is
not the absence of problems, but whether or not problems are effectively resolved.
-- Steve Ventura Excerpted from The Power of Attitude:A Native American boy was talking with his grandfather.

“What do you think about the world situation?” he asked.

The grandfather replied, “I feel like wolves are fighting in my heart.
One is full of anger and hatred; the other is full of love, forgiveness, and peace.”
“Which one will win?” asked the boy.

To which the grandfather replied, “The one I feed.”
(Origin Unknown)
This simple story provides the essence of a life-changing law of the universe…
You become what you think about. The words are almost too simple to “feel important.” However, if you “get it,” if you truly understand their meaning, you can forever harness the power of a positive attitude.
Simply stated…if we choose to think positive thoughts, we’ll get positive results; if we think negative thoughts, we’ll get negative results. Pretend for a moment that every thought is a seed you sow in your fertile mind. Therefore, as I once heard someone say, “If you plant crabapples, don’t expect to harvest Golden Delicious.” You will reap the fruit of the thoughts you sow.
 Little value comes out of the belief that people will respond progressively better by treating them progressively worse.-- Eric Harvey Look for every opportunity to go the extra mile.
That's how you become extra special…and extra successful.
-- Steve Ventura Today's Topic: Get Results Or Maintain Relationships. Can You Achieve Both?

When facing employee performance problems, leaders often feel caught in “either/or” situations – having to choose between two equally important end states:Get Results or Maintain Relationships.
But you don’t have to sacrifice one for the other. Performance results and positive relationships are not mutually exclusive … you can achieve both! How? By conducting effective problem-solving discussions with employees – conversations that not only engage people in meeting their job responsibilities, but also pass the test of fair and consistent treatment.

Here’s one you can take to the bank:  While punishment should be avoided, discipline doesn’t need to be! Discipline should be about helping employees understand what’s expected of them … about solving problems, achieving desired levels of performance, and getting results.

You see, discipline isn’t an action that you – the person with authority – must take against employees for misbehavior. Instead, it’s a process to help people make good choices about working together safely, ethically, and productively. By focusing on problem solving and treating employees as “adults,” you can avoid much of the pain and negativity that typically exists. It’s a better and less stressful approach – for your employees and for YOU!
Most of the successful people I've known are the ones who do more listening than talking.
-- Bernard M. Baruch Sometimes I feel like I'm standing at the
corner of WALK and DON'T WALK!
—Unknown Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it's amazing what they can accomplish.-- Sam Walton Rank does not confer privilege or give power.
It imposes responsibility.
-- Peter Drucker Leadership is practiced not so much in words
as in attitude…and in actions.
-- Harold S. Geneen You may not always be able to turn up the heat
and hit the boiling point, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't make the attempt.
-- Sam Parker & Mac AndersonToday's Topic: Accepting Your “Mutual Rightness”

As humans, our values and perspectives are shaped by the myriad of people, experiences, environments, and events we encounter during our formative years (our youth). We’re all natural “products of our times.” And as such, with very few exceptions, each of us is normal … each of us is RIGHT—regardless of how we may vary from others.

Certainly, there are times when differing viewpoints are unacceptable. Take, for example, the small handful of people who believe it’s perfectly okay to lie, cheat, steal, and disrespect their way to success. No matter how you cut it, those folks are just plain wrong and should not be tolerated, much less condoned. But, we all know that they are the extreme exception rather than the general rule. For the most part, being “different” does not make you wrong—it just makes you different. And that’s something all of us need to come to grips with and accept.

Just as your beliefs are appropriate and correct
for you, coworkers who don’t share your views have beliefs, mindsets, and attitudes that are equally appropriate and correct … for them. Ignore this fact—label them WRONG—and you’ll self-righteously presume that they need to change (and stubbornly wait for them to do it). But acknowledge and accept that they are as right as you are, and you’re more likely to pursue more respectful and collaborative ways of working together through which everyone wins. “No two people are exactly the same. So, if being different was to equal being wrong,
EVERYONE would be wrong—including YOU!”—Steve Ventura The best mind-altering drug is truth.-- Lily Tomlin Knowledge is the best eraser in the world for disharmony, distrust, despair, and the endless deficiencies of man. -- Orlando Battista  Today's Topic: Pause and ReflectYou skim the material.

“Great stuff.”
“Really makes sense.”
“I like that a lot.”

You move on.
212° approach:
You read the material. You pause. You reflect. You give it thought. Deeper thought. You embrace it or toss it aside but you do so after pausing – after reflecting on it for more than an inattentive moment. Thought is more important because it is thought that generally precedes action.

Pausing and reflecting – investing thought beyond an instant twice more each week on a particular topic creates more than 100 additional possibilities of action and/or improvement each year.

212° commitment:
Pause and reflect – deeper – twice weekly.
 It's the final steps of a journey that create an arrival.-- Sam Parker Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you'll never cease to grow.-- Anthony J. D'Angelo There's always room for improvement – it's the biggest room in the house. -- Louise Heath Leber It's your life. You are responsible for your results. It's time to turn up the heat. -- Sam Parker Those who are lifting the world upward and onward are those who encourage more than criticize. -- Elizabeth Harrison Today's Topic: Performance Evaluations

On Evaluating Employee Performance
(From a Manager to an Employee)
I admit it. I have a love/hate attitude about performance evaluations. I love it when you do great work and I get to tell you, and perhaps reward you for your contributions. On the other hand, I hate it when you don’t do great work, and I not only have to tell you, but also deal with your objections, disappointment, and even hostility.

Doing performance evaluations is a basic responsibility of management. It’s necessary to ensure we all get the feedback we need to keep our performance on track. But it’s a part of the job I’m not always comfortable with. Think it’s easy to play judge and jury over someone else’s work? Trust me, it isn’t – especially if my assessment affects your salary…and your future. And the more people I have to appraise, the tougher it gets.

Most people think they do great work. Many of them are right…but not all of them. In the end, I must call it like I see it. That’s all I can do. That’s all you could do if you walked awhile in my shoes.
On Performance Evaluations (From an Employee to a Manager)
From my perspective, both the best and the worst thing about performance evaluations is that they usually only happen once a year. Why best? Because they tend to be tedious and sometimes painful processes – similar to annual trips to the dentist. Why worst? Because all too often, they’re the only time I get any detailed feedback on how well I am (or am not) doing. And sometimes even that doesn’t happen “constructively.”

Evaluations represent “scaryland” for me because they are subjective in nature. Your opinion is going to affect my future. And there are no guarantees that one evaluator (and most of the time it is just one evaluator) really knows my job and how well I do it. So sometimes I can’t help but worry that my rating will be based solely on how well you like me. I worry you’ll forget the good and remember only the bad. And I worry that my input won’t be considered in the process.

I understand that performance evaluations probably aren’t the most favorite part of your job. But they are important to me…I’ve got a lot riding on them. Maybe you could consider periodically giving me a little more informal feedback – the kind where there’s not so much on the line. Have strong feelings about performance evaluations? Walk awhile in my shoes!
 Today I am going to give you two examinations, one in trigonometry and one in honesty. I hope you will pass them both, but if you must fail one, let it be trigonometry.-- Madison Sarratt Perseverance is not a long race: it is many short races, one after another. -- Walter Elliot  To say "well done" to any bit of good work is to take hold of the powers which have made the effort and strengthen them beyond our knowledge.-- Phillip Brooks Like you, I am a human being filled with joys, fears, frustrations, and hopes. And, like you, I want to be understood, accepted, and appreciated.-- Eric Harvey and Steve Ventura Just one person taking action can
inspire others to do the same.
-- Leslie C. Aguilar The only place you will find success before work is in the dictionary.-- May V. Smith Today's Topic: Courage

Question: What does "courage" have to do with being a person of good character. with someone who stays true to honorable principles and noble values?

You see, being values-driven means two things:
  1. Doing what's right - following our conscience; refusing to compromise ourselves, or our principles, despite pressures and temptations to the contrary, and
  2. Taking a stand against what's wrong - speaking out, and acting out, whenever we see others do things that are incorrect or inappropriate.
Unquestionably, both of those require guts, nerve, and fortitude. They require courage. And individuals who do them consistently are truly courageous people. With that as a given, each of us needs to think about, and answer for ourselves, one simple question:
How courageous am I?

Courage is.·         Following your conscience instead of "following the crowd." ·         Refusing to take part in hurtful or disrespectful behaviors. ·         Sacrificing personal gain for the benefit of others. ·         Speaking your mind even though others don't agree. ·         Taking complete responsibility for your actions. and your mistakes. ·         Following the rules - and insisting that others do the same. ·         Challenging the status quo in search of better ways. ·         Doing what you know is right - regardless of the risks and potential consequences.   Who among us can't improve a little (or a lot) as a parent, spouse, friend, partner, citizen, employee, or leader?-- Eric Harvey and Steve Ventura Have the courage to seek the truth.-- David Cottrell Dear Larry,You're teaching a lesson each day that you live;
Your actions are blazing a trail
That children will follow for good or for ill;
You can help them or cause them to fail. —Bosch
Do you ever think about the little things you do each day? That frustrated gesture you made, aimed at the other driver on the road. The sarcastic (but witty) zinger you told, directed at the clerk that took too long to make your change. The time you called in “sick” to work, only to spend time on personal projects. Do you ever think about the impact of those little things?

In the
Because Our Children Are Watching movie, you’ll find compelling scenes depicting the innocence of children, the influence of adults, and the dynamic relationship between the two. With statements such as: be involved, be sincere, and be responsible, you’ll be reminded to do what’s right…because our children are watching.

Remind others of the importance of the little things by sending them this movie!
Click to watch the movie. 
 When it comes to bringing values to life –  to doing the good, right, and appropriate thing…we're always working at it, we're never totally there, and the challenge starts all over again with each new tomorrow.--  Eric Harvey and Steve Ventura Dear Larry,Integrity is not a ninety percent thing…not a ninety-five percent thing. Either you have it, or you don’t.
~Peter Scotese~
Ethics and integrity are at the center of our company, where we’ve made it our mission to
help individuals and organizations achieve success through values-based practices. Earlier this year, in celebration of our company’s 30th anniversary, we released WALK the TALK. With its clear and compelling message, this book reminds us that everything we do counts! View the movie that has been inspiring others to walk their talk.

 The price of greatness is responsibility.
-- Winston Churchill Be nice to people on your way up.
You might need them on the way down.
-- Jimmy Durante Today's Topic: The Avoidance Trap

Few leaders wake up thinking, “Oh good, I get to go in and chew somebody out today!” How about you?

When you face the prospect of confronting someone about a performance problem, do you dread it…worry about it…get stressed-out? If your answer is yes, you’re not alone! Most managers agree that “taking disciplinary action” is the absolute worst part of their jobs. Many hate it so much that they look for every excuse to avoid it altogether. And they justify their inaction with all-too-common rationalizations like…

The employee’s performance really isn’t THAT bad.
WRONG! If it’s negatively affecting people or results (which it probably is) – if it’s bothering you and causing you some level of discomfort (which it obviously is) – then it’s “bad” enough to require corrective action.

Eventually, the problem will go away on its own.
WRONG! If the problem isn’t addressed and corrected, chances are greater that it will continue…or get even worse.

I’m too busy. I don’t have time to deal with it.
WRONG! Even if you’re busy (as most leaders are), you have to make the time. Like the old saying goes: You can pay now, or you can pay later…with interest!

It’s not MY problem. My boss, HR, or someone else should handle it.
WRONG! That’s looking for a scapegoat and shirking leadership responsibility. Addressing performance problems of the people you lead is a critical part of your job.

I’m not sure what to do…I don’t know how.

Only one of these rationalizations (excuses) has real validity: I don’t know how. A leader’s lack of problem-solving skills and techniques can cause discomfort, diminish confidence, and ultimately lead to poor results. It’s just plain hard to do a good job when you don’t have the right “tools.” Fact is, far too many leaders are ill prepared to effectively address employee performance problems…and it shows. It takes its toll – on their organizations and the leaders themselves. But it doesn’t have to be that way!
 Criticize the act, not the person.--  Mary Kay Ash Success is more attitude than aptitude.--  Unknown Inches make the champion.--  Vince Lombardi Dear Larry,Welcome The Rain is a reminder to me, and a gift to us all, that we’ve been given the opportunity to choose our attitudes. This certainly doesn’t mean any of us will avoid the trials and tribulations of life, but it does mean that every one of us can decide whether they become debilitating or developmental... Welcome The Rain is one of the top ten most powerful books I’ve ever read.

I had the pleasure of writing those words in the foreword to our newest book, Welcome The Rain. Today, we’re releasing an inspirational movie based on the book. It is my hope that this movie will uplift you and inspire you to choose to see beyond life’s storms.

Chaos is a friend of mine.--  Bob Dylan Remember that who you're being is just as important as what you're doing. Focus on the attitude behind your behavior. --  Barbara "BJ" Hateley Today's Topic: How Successful Am I? A Self-Assessment

Read each statement below. Think about it, and then respond as honestly as possible.
  1. I consistently work the hours I’m paid for and avoid using sick leave unless I’m really sick.
  2. I take full responsibility for my actions, behaviors, and attitudes. I avoid “passing the buck” or blaming others for my problems and mistakes.
  3. I know and follow ALL of the rules established by my organization.
  4. When given a task or assignment, I regularly try to do MORE than is expected of me.
  5. I make a habit of volunteering for work. When I see things that need to be done, I do them without waiting for others to take the lead.
  6. I’m a considerate coworker. I regularly clean up after myself and avoid behaviors that may disturb others or cause them additional work.
  7. I make a special effort to cooperate with the other members of my team and make sure that I consistently carry my share of the load.
  8. I am committed to providing the best customer service possible. I continually place customer needs before my own.
  9. I remember my promises and commitments, and I KEEP them.
  10. I make a special effort to accept and support change rather than resist it. You can count on me to willingly try new things.
  11. When I’m down, I avoid whining, complaining, or otherwise spreading negative feelings to my coworkers.
  12. I look for (and seize) opportunities to help my coworkers be successful rather than just “being in it for myself.”
  13. I treat everyone with the same level of dignity and respect that I want for myself and the people I care about.
  14. I value and appreciate people with ideas, backgrounds, and demographic characteristics that are different from mine.
  15. I continually look for (and create) opportunities to learn new things, and I avoid “I know all I need to know” thinking.
  16. I make a habit of asking others (my boss, coworkers, and customers) for feedback on how I’m doing…and I ACT on that feedback.
  17. I make an effort to be patient with everyone I work with (and for) – cutting them the same “slack” that I wish for in return.
  18. I truly appreciate the opportunities I receive, the people I work with, the customers I serve, and the fact that I have a job to be successful at.
  19. Safety and health standards are critically important to me. I follow ALL of the guidelines and procedures existing to ensure a safe workplace.
  20. I engage in specific behaviors (rest, exercise, diet) to keep myself in good physical health.
  21. I maintain a neat, clean, and appropriate appearance at work.
  22. I keep my boss informed of things I’ve done, what I’m working on, and any problems I’m experiencing that negatively impact my work.
  23. I respect and protect my organization’s equipment, resources, and facilities – just as if I owned the business and had my personal finances at stake.
  24. I continually look for (and seize) opportunities to reduce costs and increase revenues (if appropriate) for my organization.
  25. It’s critically important for me to always perform with ethics and integrity… and I do it.

Go back and highlight each of the statements for which you checked the NO box.  These are areas you should work on in order to increase your overall job success.  Develop informal action plans, make a personal commitment to see them through, and get started.  And for all those that you checked YES:  Congratulations…and keep doing what you’re doing.
 It takes all sorts to make a world.--  English Proverb Golden Rule principles are just as necessary for operating a business profitably as are trucks, typewriters, or twine.--  James Cash (J.C.) Penney The most important part of defining (and understanding) a performance problem is separating the facts from your judgments and opinions.--  Eric Harvey and Paul Sims Scenario: Speaking up

I was at a party, relaxed, enjoying myself when the joke telling began: “There were three ______ who went to the …” The joke progressed. It was clearly demeaning to a group of people.

The face of my close friend and colleague popped into my mind – he is a member of the group being debased. Two different voices – the proverbial angel and devil on my shoulder – filled my head.

“Leslie, say something! You know you don’t support this!”

“Relax it’s a party! Have fun…lighten up. People won’t like you if you can’t take a joke.”

“Speak up, you coward! You can’t talk about valuing diversity all day at work and then stereotype people for entertainment at night. Be true to yourself.”

In those long seconds while I twitched and struggled with what to do, the disk jockey, who was sitting with us on a break, simply said, “Whoa! I’m not going there. I think I'd rather get something to drink.” He got up and walked across the room. I hopped up and followed him: “Great idea.”

I’ll never forget what happened next. Others in the group joined us at the bar, leaving only two people to hear the joke’s punch line. I was amazed. Few of us wanted to hear the joke, but we went along anyway. It took just one voice – one person casually speaking up against disrespect – to shift the entire conversation.
 It’s not about what happens. It’s about perspective. I may not be able to change what takes place, but I can always choose to change my thinking.--  Michelle SedasAppreciative words are the most powerful
force for good on earth.
--  George W. Crane Today's Topic: Welcome Stress!

Your heart begins to race; you can feel the rush of adrenaline. As your palms perspire and your mouth goes dry, you feel the butterflies in your stomach. You are keenly aware that this is the moment you have prepared for. You gaze upon the crowd and see that all eyes are watching you with anticipation. After a deep inhale and a slow exhale you begin…

The executive who is sharp, mentally focused, and able to deliver a killer presentation and the athlete who performs better in competition than in practice can tell you that stress can be used to one’s advantage. On the field or in the boardroom, stress can become our ally. Moderate levels of stress help us get out of bed in the morning, give us motivation, and supply us with the drive to complete a difficult task. Stress can provide us with inspiration for performing our jobs well. In fact, a lack or inadequate amount of stress can cause a person to feel depressed.

Cavemen depended upon these physical reactions to stress in order to survive. When confronted with anything that posed a threat, the body’s reaction to stress allowed the cavemen to be more alert, focused, and ready to fight or flee. It is this survival response that we still feel today when faced with stressful situations. Stress can be useful in numerous ways. Engineers test a material’s strength by applying stress. During testing, the engineer is able to find the material’s weak spots. These weak spots can then be reinforced to make the material stronger. Similarly, cardiac stress tests measure the heart’s blood flow during exercise (stress) as opposed to during periods of rest. Doctors are able to detect some types of heart disease—weak spots in the heart muscle—after a patient undergoes stress testing. In nature, continual wind on a tree can cause it to become very strong. This ever-present stress forces the tree to stay grounded, dig deep, and remain firmly planted in the ground.

Whether it is just enough to keep us motivated, or strong enough to expose our weak spots, stress can give us opportunities to improve ourselves.
 We will forget and forgive any judgment error that you make, but integrity mistakes are forever.--  David Cottrell We are not put on this earth for ourselves, but are placed here for each other. If you are always there for others, then in time of need, someone will be there for you.--  Jeff Warner It’s not the way the wind blows,
it’s how you set your sails.
--  Unknown Dear Larry,Is there a secret to success and failure? In his 1957 classic The Strangest Secret, Earl Nightingale, the “dean of personal development,” explores this topic. Today, we have the privilege of sharing these profound words with you. Watch this movie and learn The Strangest Secret!    Differing views, opinions, and beliefs add texture and color to the world's tapestry….Controversial times, while difficult to weather, can change the world.--  Michelle Sedas If you don't have the facts, get them…before you talk!--  Eric Harvey and Paul Sims If you want to get out of the pit, stop digging.
--  Ernesto Santos-DeJesus Be it furniture, clothes, healthcare…industries today are marketing nothing more than commodities – no more, no less. What will make the difference in the long run is the care and feeding of customers. --  Michael Mescon Language has power. Based on the way you choose to name and describe people, you send different messages.--  Leslie C. Aguilar Today's Topic: Communication Recovery – Six Step Model

Have you ever said something unintentionally offensive and wished you could take it back? If so, you know how awkward it feels when communication goes awry. And it does from time to time. Even with the best of intent to be inclusive, you might say something biased, stereotypical, or exclusionary. You can choose to ignore it and hope no one notices. (Guess what – it was noticed!) Or, you can employ a strategy for recovery.

“Communication Recovery” involves acknowledging your mistake, sincerely apologizing, and then moving on in a more inclusive way. Communication Recovery is an underutilized skill. When things go wrong in communication, many people shy away from trying to recover. They are afraid of making things worse. They don’t know what to do. The good news is Communication Recovery is possible, it’s not that difficult to do, and it has a big payoff.

Communication Recovery allows you to acknowledge your mistake when things go wrong – when you have unintentionally demeaned, discounted, or excluded others. This gives you the chance to rebuild communication with your listener(s) and enhance your own credibility. Communication Recovery includes six quick steps and takes thirty seconds or less. It’s relatively painless.
  1. Accept the Feedback – Give some sign that you are open to the input, such as listening to and thanking the gift giver.
  2. Acknowledge Intent and Impact – The most important thing here is to recognize the negative impact of your statement or behavior on the listener, regardless of your good intent.
  3. Apologize – Say “I’m sorry” or “I apologize,” and do so sincerely.
  4. Ask Questions for Clarification – If you don’t understand the feedback you’ve been given, ask questions for greater clarity.
  5. Adjust / Change – State or demonstrate what you will do differently. A clear sign that you’ve accepted the feedback is to not repeat the offense.
  6. Move Forward – Recovery is a quick process. You don’t need to linger. Move on once the listener is ready.
Of all of these, Accept the Feedback and Apologize may be the most powerful. In its simplest form, recovery sounds like this:“Thanks for telling me. I’m sorry.” The only thing necessary for the triumph of
evil is for good men to do nothing.
--  Edmund Burke The greatest part of our happiness depends
on our dispositions, not our circumstances.
--  Martha Washington In life, change is inevitable. In business, change is vital.--  Warren G. Bennis A good leader takes a little more than his share of the blame, a little less than his share of the credit. --  Arnold H. Glasgow I don't care to be involved in the crash landing
unless I can be in on the takeoff.
--  Harold Stassen

The following items have come to me over the years I have umpired.  They are not in any logical order but just thoughts that I have formulated over the past 53 years as an umpire, player, coach, manager and person involved in athletics.


1.        It’s what you learn after you know everything that counts – Harry S. Truman

2.       Philosophy – Remember to develop good and solid mechanics with a personal touch or flair.

3.       Make sure a 90-year old person in the grandstand will understand your call.

4.       Never leave the inside of the diamond when umpiring in the 2-umpire system as the base umpire.

5.       Always call a strike at the beginning of the game as soon as you can.

6.       If the ball beats the runner and the tag attempt beats the runner, the runner is out.

7.       If the tag is above the knee and the runner is sliding near the bag, the runner is safe.

8.       Always watch the glove on the tag attempt because the ball and the runner are moving faster than the glove and it is easier to see on close plays.

9.       On a trap in the outfield or infield it is better to watch the glove to tell if it is a catch or a trap because the ball is moving faster than the eyes are able to track it.

10.    When deciding to go out on a fly ball or come in and pivot, seldom watch the ball.  Watch the fielders instead because they will tell you if it is “trouble” ball or just routine.

11.    Infield fly rule criteria:

        a.       Age of the players.

        b.       Skill level of the players.

        c.        Wind and sun.

        d.       Height of the ball.

        e.        Is there a possibility of getting a cheap double play.

        f.         Protect the offense with your call.

        g.        Remember, invoking the infield fly rule, eliminates all force plays because the batter is out.

        h.       The runners must be tagged while off their base for an out to occur on them.

        i.         The runners do not have to advance.

12.     Avoiding the catcher on a pop up (fair or foul) or on a wild pitch or passed ball too:

       a.       Watch the catcher’s shoulders.

       b.       Take a drop step (Open up the gate).

       c.        Balls to the inside of the plate usually go in that direction and those to the outside of the plate usually go in that direction.

       d.       Help your catcher understand that principle too so it makes it easier for you to avoid him.  Remember, it is the natural thing to do for him 


        e.        Do not look up to find the ball.  Let him take you to it. 

        f.         If it is near the stands, try to get between the fielder and the stands so you can avoid being straight-lined and also view any on-deck hitter’s movements or equipment that is out of the dugout.

        g.        Watch out for the catcher’s mask in case he tosses it away and toward you.

        h.       When there is a possible play at the plate after the wild pitch or passed ball, make sure you get a wide angle for the play at the plate and watch the release of the catcher’s throw and let his throw take you back to your play at the plate.

13.    Plays at the plate – the ball is coming from the field of play and not from behind the plate.

         a.       Starting point can either be on the point of the plate and make adjustments from there or stand facing the ball and the direction it will be coming from.  You are trying to get an angle that will allow you to see between the fielder’s tag attempt and the runner.  You do not want to get the runner between you and the tag.  You also do not want to get the fielder between you and the tag.

         b.       Basic rule of thumb is to move in the opposite direction of the throw.  For instance, if the throw pulls the catcher to his left, you should move to your right and vice-versa.  This handles about 90% of plays but there are still about 10% of the plays that you will have to adjust based on the play itself and this may go against the rule of thumb.

14.    If the batter drops his bat and leaves it near the plate.  What do you call if the throw to the plate hits the bat?  Nothing because it was not an intentional act to interfere.  If you follow the NAP Theory of bat removal that Jim Evans teaches in his professional school of umpiring, you will attempt to remove it from the plate area if it is NECESSARY, AVAILABLE AND POSSIBLE.  If any of these three are not involved in the play, do not try to remove it.  Also, you must remove it safely.  Never kick it away, you could put it into a worse spot that way, do not toss it away because you may toss it away and have it hit an on-deck hitter or the bat person.  The correct technique is to bend low at the knees and take one end of the bat and slide it directly behind you and the plate 15-20 feet.  This is the safe way to do it.  However, only do it if it is necessary, available and possible.  You might also tell the catcher it is his to get rid of too.  Don’t forget you also may have the responsibility to watch a runner touching 3rd base just prior to the bat removal.

15.    Any runner that is caught in a rundown is not required to evaporate just because he was tagged out.  They can continue to attempt to advance and be played upon if they are not sure of their status.

16.    Ties go to the runner – NOT.  Most of us believe there cannot be a tie.  To be safe, a runner or a batter must beat the ball to the base or the tag.  If they don’t, they are out.  Therefore, any ties actually go to the fielder since the runner did not beat the play.

17.    A pitch bounces and hits the batter.  Does the batter get first base?  Is the ball dead or not?  Whose fault is it the batter was hit?  Is it the pitcher or the batter?  If it is the pitcher, the batter is awarded first base?  If it is the batter, then keep him there and add a ball or a strike to his count as the case might be.  The answer to the questions above are almost always YES!!!!!!!  The only time the batter doesn’t get 1st base is when he attempts to get hit by the pitch.  A bouncing pitch is very difficult to avoid and therefore, if not sure it is the pitcher’s fault and the batter is awarded 1st base.

18.    If you see a balk, of course call it.  However, remember that it is only necessary to enforce the balk rule when the offense is truly put at a disadvantage.  There are several balks that are very technical and really would spoil the game if they were called every time they occurred.  Not only know the rule but know the intent of the rules when they need to be enforced.

19.    Check out the weaknesses in your personality and try to eliminate those traits that would antagonize others.  Remember also, that when you hear complaints they are not personally intending to attack you.  They are just disagreeing with your judgment.  Never get personal with the coaches, players or managers.  Also, do not let them get personal with you. 
They cannot call you names or anything that is personal.  Seldom go to a coach that is coming to you.  If they are charging you, put up a hand (stop sign).  Do not let them charge you.  Also, if the coach is walking away from you it is best not to follow him so you can hear something you don’t want to hear.

20.    Many times a coach or manager is not very rational in what they are saying.  Don’t try to say anything until they calm down and stop talking.  While this is going on, you need to begin to analyze what he is saying and more importantly, your response to what he is saying.  Once he has run out of steam, you might ask him if they are done and want to listen to your explanation.  If they say no, let them continue for a moment or two and then try again.  Do not let them repeat themselves.  After giving your explanation to their response.  Let them know you are going to continue the game.  If they continue for too long and won’t leave, you may have to eject them. 

21.    If they manager or coach is out visiting a pitcher after they think you have just missed a pitch and they want to give you a piece of their mind when you come out to get the game going again, you must go out there.  If they begin to speak about the pitch, remind them that they are not going to be arguing balls and strikes.  If you can put up a hand when you tell them you are here to find out what they are going to do as far as making a change of pitchers or not and not to discuss balls and strikes.  YOU MUST GO OUT THERE!!!!  You should never just wait for them to leave.  This is unprofessional and in my opinion is being a CHICKEN by not facing the problem.  If you can get out of this without an ejection great but once you have given the warning and they want to continue, you have no alternative but to eject at least the manager or coach.  You might have to get the pitcher or catcher too.  But never just wait until they go to the dugout.  Give them a little more time to decide what they are going to do and then go face the music.

22.    Players don’t belong in arguments.  Get the coach out and get the player to leave. 

23.    Do not let any physical contact to occur.  This is considered an automatic ejection.  Make sure you are not the one that caused the physical contact.

24.    Spitting on, dirt kicking, equipment thrown are automatic ejections.

25.    Cuss words directed at you or others is an automatic ejection.

26.    Rotating baseballs – Never give the pitcher the same ball.  Try to end the game with all the balls approximately equally used.  Remember that the pitcher can request a different ball.  You don’t have to give him the exact one he likes the best.  If he carries his request to an extreme, it is a good idea to toss that ball out of the game.  Especially if his team is the one that supplies the balls.  I always toss the pitcher the ball in the front of the ball bag.  I always place any returned ball to the back of the ball bag.  This way I always use the balls in the same order throughout the game.

27.    Returning Balls to You and to the Pitcher – Have a plan that you like to have balls come back to you after foul balls.  For example, I tell the coaches and ball boys that I like to get a ball returned in between batters and not destroy the continuity of the game if at all possible.  I also instruct them to run the ball to me rather than throw me the ball.  I may be the best umpire catching a ball, but I always look foolish when I miss one.  Try to conduct your job professionally.  Missing an occasional ball does not look very professional.  If a ball goes back to the backstop and it is dead, I try to give a new ball to the pitcher or catcher right away.  This keeps the game flowing.  If you let the catcher chase them you usually slow the game down.  Never return the ball to a pitcher unless you get their attention.  It makes you look bad if you throw a bad one or hit him with the ball.  Maybe a lawsuit!  If you can’t throw like an athlete, I recommend you give the ball to the catcher.  In other words, if they think you can’t throw, you lose credibility immediately.  It is best to give it to the catcher then.       

28.    This probably belongs in my Pet Peeves #2 but I am placing it here.  I feel that when an umpire cleans the plate he must always do it with his brush facing the stands and with his back to the pitcher and squared up to the plate.  The plate should be cleaned only with the plate brush and not with the foot.  There is one time you may use your foot or plate shoe to clean the plate and that is when the dirt around the plate is dry and the plate itself is wet and muddy.  You sometimes can dry the plate off by using your foot to put dry dirt on it and allow it to dry some and then using your shoe to push or pull the dry dirt, the mud or the wetness off the plate.  You can also ask the home team grounds crew for a wet or dry towel to help clean the plate when it is dirty or muddy.  In my opinion, it shows disrespect to the game and is unprofessional not to follow the tradition of cleaning the plate properly.  I also believe it looks like you are too LAZY to bend over and do it properly.                                                         



Discussion Questions

 1.   What is the proper starting position for the BU with no one on base?  Position A, HOKS, square to the plate in foul territory.  The right foot is next to and parallel with the foul line but not touching the line.  He is 10-   12 feet behind the 1st baseman.  If the first baseman is playing deep, he might only be 6-10 feet behind him. If he is playing near 1st base, the BU should never get closer than 10-15 feet from the base. 


2.      Name 3 times the base umpire can help the plate umpire with decisions involving the batter or batter-runner.  1) Check-swing, 2) A batted ball hitting the batter, 3) Catch/no catch on strike 3. 


3.      Describe the proper mechanics, signals and communication between the PU and the BU when the PU requests help on a half-swing.   After a request by the catcher or manager or on his own, the PU will signal and say, “Ed, did he go?”  The base umpire (Ed in this case) will respond with a signal and voice, “Yes, he went!” or “No, he didn’t go!”  Ed will include a visual mechanic of a strike if he went and a safe mechanic if he didn’t go.  In NCAA any player may request it, not just the catcher.  In Federation, the umpire does not have to honor the request of the catcher or the coach.  However, there is no good reason that you should not honor the request of the coach or catcher.  If you don’t, you are opening up a “can of worms” that you don’t want to eat. 


4.   Explain how the PU and the BU divide responsibilities for making fair/foul decisions when there are no runners on base.       The PU has fair/foul decisions on the 3rd base foul line all the way to the fence and beyond.  The PU has up the 1st base bag on the 1st base foul line and a slow roller that goes over and beyond the base.  The BU has fair/foul decisions from 1st base and beyond except on a slow roller.  Also, if the BU makes a mistake and comes in to pivot on a ball near the 1st base foul line anywhere, the PU now becomes responsible for the fair/foul decision.   


5.      Explain each umpire’s responsibilities when an attempted tag is made on the BR before he reaches 1st base.  PU has the tag play up to the 45’ line unless he is screened.  The BU has the tag attempt beyond the 45’ line unless he is screened. 


6.      What is meant by Pause, Read & React?   PU & BU don’t just start running somewhere when the ball is hit.  Umpiring smart is Pause – Stop and begin to look at cues; Read – decide where to go; React – going where you have decided you need to go, i.e., the BU goes out because it is a trouble ball or comes in and pivots because it is a routine fly ball or an obvious base hit.  PU is reading the ball, fielders and his partner.   This is the area that most of the NW umpires that have never learned to read a trouble ball make the most mistakes.  A lot of our umpires don’t read anything, they just go on every fly ball that is hit to the outfield in their area of responsibility.  They think that it looks good to everyone else if you go.  They think what does it hurt?  It is better to go out than come in and pivot because at least it shows you are hustling.  However, there is umpiring smart and there is umpiring not so smart.  Going out on every fly ball is not umpiring smart.  Learn to Pause, Read and React. 


7.      With no one on base, when should the BU go out on batted balls into the outfield?  Give examples.   Trouble balls.  Any fly ball that takes the right fielder toward the foul line; 2 or more converging fielders; Right fielder or Center fielder go back hard on batted balls; Any ball that may or may not be caught near the warning track; Fielder running hard in to catch below the waist; Any home run to the BU area of responsibility. 


8.      If the BU goes out on a trouble ball, when does he return to the infield?   When the fielder releases a throw to the infield. 

a.       The batter hits a fair line drive down the right field line.  The BU goes out.  The right fielder fields the ball and throws to second but the sliding runner is safe on a close play.  Explain what the BU should do.  Watch the catch/no catch, signal if there is any doubt that it is a catch or not.  When the fielder releases his throw toward the infield, the BU should run in foul territory toward home plate.  Also, the BU should be watching the ball and glancing at the runner as he is running toward the plate. 

b.      On a trouble ball that hits the bottom of the fence in right center, the BR heads for third base.  Describe the base umpire’s actions and communication.   The base umpire should have gone out on this trouble ball.  When it hits the bottom of the fence, he should signal nothing and wait until the ball is picked up and thrown to the infield.  Once it is thrown to the infield, the base umpire should head back toward the plate by going toward the 1st baseline and returning toward home in foul territory.  If he arrives in time for any play at the plate, he should communicate to his partner, “I’ve got the plate or I’m home!”  At the end of the play, one of the umpires should check the ball for any damage that may have come from the ball hitting the fence. 


9.      On throws to first base from anywhere on the field, who is responsible for overthrows into dead ball territory?  The Plate Umpire. 


10.  Describe the responsibilities of the BU on an obvious base hit into right field when: 

a.       The BR rounds the base and then draws a throw from the right fielder back into first.   As you pause, read and react, you decide that you need to pivot.  As you enter the diamond, you will check over your right shoulder two or three times, as you are moving toward the cutout.  You should enter the diamond about 1 or 2 steps outside the cutout.  As you get on the infield grass, you will begin to make about a 270-degree (pivot) turn that will take you toward 2nd base and parallel with the baseline.  You should watch the batter-runner touch or miss 1st base.  You should now pick up the right fielder and watch his throw.  Since it is back toward 1st base, you will stop and take a drop step toward the 45-line of the 1st baseline and come to a hands-on-knees set for the play back at first base on the batter-runner. 

b.      The BR runs all the way to second and is safe on a close play.   As you pause, read and react, you decide that you need to pivot.  As you enter the diamond, you will check over your right shoulder for the ball, two or three times, as you are moving toward the cutout.  You should enter the diamond about 1 or 2 steps outside the cutout.  As you get on the infield grass, you will begin to make a 270-degree turn that will take you toward 2nd base and parallel with the baseline.  You will watch the BR touch or miss 1st base and continue to stay ahead of him and come to a standing set near the cutout at 2nd base for the play there.  You are also watching for any obstruction on the BR by the pitcher or 1st baseman.  You need to get to the 2nd base cutout prior to the BR’s slide and be in a hands-on-knees set (HOKS) for the play at 2nd base.   

c.       The BR slides safely into third.   Same as above but when you read that there will only be a play at 3rd base, you will anticipate this and therefore, you will not continue to 2nd base but will sharpen your turn and stay ahead of the BR as you come to a hands-on-knees set near the 3rd base cutout.  Remember to watch the release of the throw so you do not get in the way of the throw. 

11.  Describe the base umpire’s starting position with no one on base?         The base umpire positions himself about 10-12 feet behind the 1st baseman with both feet in foul territory.  His right foot should be just off the foul line, and his body should be square to the plate.  His

legs should be spread apart more than shoulder width.  He should be in a “ready” position in a hands-on-knees set (HOKS) as the pitcher is preparing to deliver the ball to the batter (see Section 10.2 on page 81 in the red manual).       If the 1st baseman positions himself

deeper than normal, the base umpire will back up onto the outfield grass a bit, although the 10-12 foot distance will be cut back somewhat so that a proper pivot is still possible on a base hit.  Also, if the 1st baseman is playing in (shallow), he will move up with the 1st baseman,

never coming closer than 10-15 feet from the base.  The reason why the base umpire positions himself in any of the above positions is to

have him in good position for catch/no catch and fair/foul decisions involving the 1st baseman, while at the same time allowing the fielder

adequate room should he dive for a ball in the direction of the umpire.  This position also gives the base umpire room to “recover” and get into position for a play at 1st base should the 1st baseman dive towards the umpire while fielding the ball with a play then following at 1st

base.  The base umpire needs to be conscious of these positions so he is never too close nor too far back from the 1st baseman when no

 one is on base.      When the pitcher is in possession of the ball, the base umpire must keep his eyes on the pitcher.  Then, when the pitcher

 is into his windup and is ready to deliver the ball, the umpire’s head should turn towards the plate, and he should then focus on the plate

area, being ready for any check swing possibilities. 


12.  Describe how the umpire should be using his eyes when he is in his set position.  When the pitcher is in possession of the ball, the base umpire must keep his eyes on the pitcher.  Then, when the pitcher is into his windup and is ready to deliver the ball, the umpire’s head should turn towards the plate, and he should then focus on the plate area, being ready for any check swing possibilities. 


13.  What is a cue?   A cue is an action that a fielder takes to make a play.  A well-trained umpire will use cues to determine his movements to the best position possible for that play.  Examples of cues are 1) the direction the ball is hit; 2) the direction the fielder is moving to field the ball; 3) the release of the throw (reading a true throw); the 1st baseman’s method of covering 1st base; etc. 


14.  Explain the 90-degree theory.   On any ground ball to the left side of the diamond and to the pitcher on the mound, the base umpire should strive to get a 90-degree angle from the origin of the throw when he is in the A position.  On balls to the right side or the imaginary box, the base umpire will strive to get the best angle possible and remain in fair territory if at all possible.  The only time he should not do this is if he reads pressure by the 2nd baseman.  He then would take that play in foul territory. 


16.  What is the umpire’s first reaction on ground balls to the left side of the infield?     Bust to your angle and distance. 


17.  What is the umpire’s first reaction on balls hit to the second baseman or right side of the diamond?   Take the “read step” with the left foot to face the ball and then determine if you go fair or foul. 


18.  Describe the imaginary box.   The imaginary box is that area in fair territory near home plate, which is created by “imagining” a 22 ½’  square whose one corner is the point of home plate.  Tips from Jim Evans on positioning on these plays.  1) Extra hustle is required since the BU must travel a greater distance than when the throw is originating from other spots on the infield.  2) It is better to stop short of a 90-degree angle than to overrun your angle since many 1st basemen take this throw from the infield facet of the base rather than the home plate facet.  3) If you notice that the 1st baseman is not taking these throws with his foot on the front of the base, make an adjustment to the side of the base he is using.  4) The BU may find it necessary to be in a direct line between 1st and 2nd. 


19.  What is the worst possible position for the BU when calling force plays at first base?   In foul territory, near the coaches box. 


20.  On throws coming from the left side of the infield, the BU must head into fair territory and read two things.  What are they?   1)      The origin of the throw and 2) if it is a true throw or not. 


21. What two choices does the BU have to get good position for plays at first when the throw is originating        from the right side?            If he should take the play from fair or foul territory. 


22.  When should the BU go into foul territory for force plays at first base?   When he reads pressure. 


23. List three examples of pressure.         1) The second baseman moving to his left, 2) the 1st baseman moving to his left and 3) sometimes when the pitcher tries to cover 1st base. 


24.  Describe the proper footwork and action for the BU when a throw is originating from the shortstop playing in a normal position.   Step up, turn and face the ball.  Bust to your angle and distance.  As the fielder fields the ball come to a standing set, square your feet to the base while still facing the fielder.  If he makes the throw, watch his release and read if it is “true” or not.  If it is “true”, turn your upper body and square it with 1st base too.  Go into a hands-on-knees set (HOKS).  Now focus on the 1st baseman’s foot, base and the BR’s foot as you listen for the sound of the ball striking the leather of the mitt.  If the ball beat the runner, you have one piece of vital information but you now must use your eyes properly by shifting them to the mitt and observe if the fielder has firm and secure possession and that he is about to voluntarily release the ball.  When all that is in place, you now may signal the results of the play, which is an out in this instance.  If the runner beat the ball, you would have already signaled “Safe!” because there is no need to check on a dropped throw because he was safe without it.     

25.  Which foot should you always start with when the ball is hit into the infield?   Your left foot. 


26.  Illustrate the diagonal of first base and state when it will help you establish the proper position for force plays at first.       Looking at the square base below, the umpire will move to a position so he is straddling the diagonal line from the top left to the bottom right at about 15-18 feet from the base.  He should square his feet to the base while still facing the 3rd baseman and/or the pitcher who has fielded the ball on the dirt of the mound.  This is called the built in angle for force plays at first base.  The base umpire should also come to a hands on knees set when he reads a true throw from the pitcher or 3rd baseman.  I am trying to show this in my drawing below but I can’t square the base umpire to the play.     


                                            BU – I don’t draw very well but the BU shoulders should turn and square up with the base at 1st.      BU 


27.  Name the two set positions for plays on the bases and give examples of each.  Standing Set and Hands-On-Knees Set (HOKS).

       The standing set is used for fair/foul, catch/no catch, plays at the plate, interference, obstruction,       overthrows, tags between bases, and any other play in which a follow-up play is likely (e.g., front end of a           double play).  The HOKS is used for all routine force plays at first, most tag plays on the bases, all pick-       offs, and all steals. 


28.  When should the BU go into a hands-on-knees set position for a force play at first base?   After the release of the throw by the infielder and the umpire reads a “true” throw. 


29. Describe the umpire’s eye movement on a ground ball to the shortstop who makes a good throw to the first       baseman when:

a.       the throw beats the batter-runner.   The base umpire will move his eyes from the base and now focus on the fielder’s mitt or glove to see if there is firm and secure possession.  If there is, the umpire will now signal the out.  If there is not, the umpire will signal the safe.

b.      The batter-runner beats the throw.   Since the runner beat the throw, there is no need to know if there is firm and secure possession because the runner is already safe.  He will still be safe if the ball is juggled or dropped. 


30.  What is the closest an umpire should be from the first base bag with no one on base?         10-15 feet. 


31.  When will and umpire’s timing be quicker:  When the BR is safe or when the BR is out?   The umpire’s timing will be quicker when the BR is safe because there is no need to observe if there is firm and secure possession. 


32.  What is the umpire looking for when his eyes are focused on the base?   The base umpire is looking to see if the 1st baseman has contact with the base and if the runner touches the base.  


33.  Describe four type plays that can develop when the pitcher is covering first base.   A tag play, an obstruction, interference and a force play. 


34.  What should the BU do when the throw gets by the first baseman?   He should try to get inside the cutout as on a pivot and be ready to take the BR to 2nd base and/or back to 1st base. 


35. What is the proper adjustment when a throw from the left side of the infield pulls the first baseman off the     base toward home?             The base umpire will take a step, look and a lean toward the 1st base foul line. 


36.  What is the proper adjustment when an infielder’s throw pulls the first baseman off the base toward right field?   The base umpire will take a step, look and a lean toward the infield grass or toward the mound. 


37.  Why do throws in the dirt create problems for the umpire?   Because they look like they might be a “true” throw and also, as you listen for the ball to enter the mitt or glove, you will maybe hear three sounds.  The ball hitting the dirt, the ball hitting the glove or mitt and the BR’s foot hitting the base.  This can confuse the best of umpires.  Also, there is the possibility of a pulled foot. 


38.  Why do short throws to first base create problems for the umpire?   There is less time to move your head to focus on the play.        There is a greater chance of juggling the ball on short throws.        You have less time to make your decision. 


39.  What is the ideal distance for a force play at first base?   The manual reads 15-20 feet but the accepted distance and what is in the Federation and taught at the professional umpire schools is 15-18 feet.  The NCAA does not specify any distance but they do say the most advantageous position possible. 


40.  Should the umpire regulate his movement into position on how hard the ball is hit?  Why?   No, because all umpires should be trained to bust into their angle and distance.  If you can get to your angle quickly, you will have more time to read a “true” throw or a poor throw.  This will give you a better chance of getting your call correctly.  If it is a poor throw, you will have more time to make an adjustment. 


41.  Describe the BU’s action when a ball is hit slowly up the first base line that will require a fair or foul decision.   There are two ways to do this but Jim Evans manual has the plate umpire make the fair/foul decision and the BU just busts to his angle.  On a hard hit ball and other schools of thought are to have the base umpire get the fair/foul from the base and beyond no matter what the situation is. 


42.  What defines position?   I am not sure what this question is asking. 


43.  Which is more important:  Proper angle or proper distance?   Proper angle 


44.  What creates proper timing?   The proper use of your eyes. 


45.  Which is more important:  Proper timing or proper position?   I don’t have any substantive reason for my answer but I believe proper timing is more important.  Why, because I see a lot of umpire’s in lousy positions still get the call correct because they have good timing.  In fact, many of the major league guys do not take the correct position on many plays and still get them correct.   


46.  With no one on base, when should the BU hustle into the infield and stay ahead of the BR?   On any base hit, any fly ball that he does not go out on and on any ball that gets past the infielder by an error. 


47.  On throws to first, will the BU ever be positioned directly in the baseline between first and second?  Explain.   Yes, on some throws that originate from the “imaginary box.”  The box that was described earlier in this Q & A.  Basically most balls that the throw originates from the home plate area is when the BU should strive to take the throw in the 1st to 2nd baseline.  However, if the 1st baseman or 2nd baseman is taking the throw with their left foot to the inside of the base; the BU will be straight lined.  If they are taking it off the front corner, then this is a good position. 


48. Name four disadvantages for going into foul territory for force plays at first base.         1) The base will sometimes block your vision if the pitcher touches or does not touch the inside edge of the base.        2) The ability to get back ahead of the BR if there is an overthrow.  I can’t think of any others at this time. 


49.  How high is the first base bag?   3-5 inches. 


50.  Explain the difference in making a legal tag of a base and a legal tag of a runner.   A legal tag of the base may be done with any part of the body as long as the fielder has possession of the ball.  A legal tag of the runner must be done with the ball in the bare hand, the glove only or the ball in the glove-hand combination. 


51.  Which umpire has initial responsibility for calling a runner’s lane violation?  Why?   The home plate umpire.  Because he does not have to focus on the safe or out at first base as much as the BU.  If he is doing his job properly, he is following the BR up the 1st baseline, straddling the line.  He should watch the release of the throw and then watch the BR’s position in relationship to the 45’ line, observe the play at 1st and help his partner if there is a swipe tag or pulled foot and also is responsible for overthrows into dead ball territory. 


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