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If your car ever got stuck in snow or mud, you know the frustration of trying to make it out of the mess. At a time like that, taking the "I will increase effort until I get out" approach will actually make it even LESS likely that we will make it out. The more we press on the gas pedal, the faster and more impressively the wheels spin - and the deeper we sink!

If someone is taking this approach with a car, they tend to realize the futility of the effort relatively soon and get out of the car to look for some other way to get out of the mess. If they keep pressing the gas pedal regardless, they would be laughed at. Yet, we tend to take the same approach in many business and life situations. In our society, working hard is praised. Working smart is often spoken about, but unfortunately it can be frowned upon when someone works smart but doesn't put it the noble long hours and weekends.

Good work can be accomplished in a short period of time, if we know how to focus our energy well. We can step aside to reassess what will do the best job, such as some dry material is better than mud under the spinning car wheels. We can group similar tasks together. We can be fully rested to ensure high creativity. No need for extra, futile effort!


When we are about to buy a product or a service, it is only natural to question the price of what we are buying. We may decide solely on the basis of price alone whether we will make the purchase or not. I believe, though, there is a more important question to ask: "Which of these two categories would the purchase be? A cost or an investment?"

A cost is something that costs more than it brings back. An investment is something that costs less than what it brings back. On the basis of price alone, a $5 gadget may seem like a better deal than a $100 gadget. However, the $5 gadget is a bad deal if it lasts only a day. The $100 gadget is a great deal if it brings $200 back. A common example is a shared business telephone and fax line. $30 per month may be saved - and far more than that lost in business when frustrated customers cannot fax orders. Before you make your next buying decision, consider the VALUE, not just the price!


One of the most important things in life, in my opinion, is the concept of what I call "2 a.m. Friendships".

Anyone who has ever faced a tough decision, lost a loved one through death or divorce, or lost an important career opportunity will likely remember times of confusion and uncertainty. Anyone who has received great news knows how great it feels to share those great news. During similar times, one of the greatest gifts in life is the ability to pick up the phone at any time of day or night (even at 2 a.m.) to call a friend. This is a kind of friend who, even at such an insane time, is willing to say "I love you, I care about you, I am proud of who you are". This kind of friend is there to listen during tough times and ready to celebrate even the smallest sign of all our successes in life.

Each of us deserves at least a couple of these "2 a.m." friends, the kind that get more real as we grow together over time. Like seeds, they don't grow overnight - but nourish us as we nourish them!


What if... everything that anyone ever said was treated as if it were true?

How often are we about to share an idea and get interrupted by "Yes, I hear you BUT it won't work?" The "but" just kills what we said. How conditioned have we become to such responses so that we even stop ourselves from sharing an idea because we learn to expect someone to pooh-pooh on what we say?

The "yes-and" concept is one of the most useful and transferrable tools from improv comedy to real life and business. I have used it in organizational workshops and it is neat to watch the reactions. At first, the participants have that "oh no, please don't pick me, I am uncreative!" look on their faces. That look slowly changes over time, and in a little while people get incredibly creative and open up to flow. The exercises encourage teamwork, creativity, communication skills, and trust.

In improv, stories are created "on the spot" by the use of simple and structured exercises. Even people who describe themselves as completely uncreative get into the flow of amazing creativity. One of the most crucial principles is the "yes-and" concept which states that everything said by an improv partner is treated as the truth. If one partner says "dried camel eggs have been found to reduce wrinkles", the other partner is not to say "wait a minute, that can't be!" - that person is to nod their head and say what comes to them. "Yes, and... In fact, this works even better with added parsley." It may sound like a very silly exercise but this kind of permission to accept everything at face value does an incredible job for the willingness of people to share great ideas and to co-operate.

Also, whenever I have seen people in conflict, the "yes-but" principle is always present. As soon as people start listening and accepting the truth as the other sees it, conflicts often magically disappear. "Yes-but" creates distance, "yes-and" connects!


It is always fascinating to me to observe how little real communication seems to go on between customers and the business that serves those customers. It seems reasonable to assume that if we market and customers show up at our door, we must be doing something right. If we weren't, they wouldn't be coming. The fact that they come tells us that they love our products and services just as they come. Is that really so?

The most poignant example of customer feedback was shared in a seminar I attended a while back. Apparently, a cat litter company had asked its customers what they liked and didn't like. One of the answers was "frankly, we think the litter smells horrible". The company added some scent to the litter and their sales increased 400% in the next year. Not a bad return on a few simple questions!

There are many examples like that and they all result from the simple willingness of companies and entrepreneurs to get on the same wavelength as their customers. Sometimes, the company's assumptions based on market data are accurate. Sometimes, they are not. The difference lies in the fact that much market research is impersonal and generalized. In the end, the human beings make emotional buying choices based on individual self-interest. Ask - and be amazed!


Complex problems deserve easy solutions.

Sometimes, the harder we force something to happen, the more it eludes us. As soon as we let go, it shows up at our door, wondering what took us so long to allow it to happen.

Straight A's may look good but they mean very little in real life. Straight A's in life are not given for intelligence but for persistence, leadership and willingness to serve.

Cycles are a part of life. Sun rises as often as it sets. So it is in a rich life which is full of both sad and happy moments.


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"Straight A's may look good but they mean very little in real life. Straight A's in life are not given for intelligence but for persistence, leadership and willingness to serve."

Pavla Michaela Polcarova, Power Thoughts Journal






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© 2002 Pavla Michaela Polcarova, CPR Coaching Services, Vancouver, BC, Canada