Friday, November 29, 2013

Q = Quality

(Our premise is this:  If plan A fails you still have twenty-five other options.)

When we come to the “Q” word, the one that stands out most is the word “QUALITY”.  We always want to know about the quality of our work.  We are talking about our value and our worth. 

Quality control is one principle that every enterprise must focus on.  We plan, we create and we promote that our products or services will deliver to a certain level, and our quality control department is the one that assures we meet those standards.  How many restaurants have you seen fall by the wayside because of a change in recipes or cutting corners to save costs and it ends up affecting the quality of their food?

How many companies have lost market share in an attempt to add to their bottom line by sacrificing quality somewhere along the production line? 

Quality is either present or it’s not. 

When we talk about “quality of a person” we are talking about the essentials like integrity, reliability, essence of goodness.

How is your quality rating?  This one takes some focus and attention.

A series of questions begin to surface when we consider this element called “quality”.

What is our standard?
What ingredients are required?
If we change out parts or ingredients, is it as strong, stronger, or weaker?
Do customers appreciate our standards of quality?
Why or why not?
Are there a few ways we can tweak our quality to improve our serve?

It is amazing to me how some companies are able to produce the same flavors to their food whether I’m in Miami or Memphis.  They have unlocked the concept of quality and consistency. 

Ah, perhaps we’ve unlocked the cousin to quality – consistency.  That speaks loudly of integrity, steadfastness, and stability.

And all of that adds up to “quality”.

Henry Ford once said
“Quality means doing it right when no one is looking.”

Two others:

“Quality begins on the inside and then works its way to the outside”.
~Bob Moawad

“People forget how fast you did a job - they remember how well you did it.”
~Howard Newton

The word is “QUALITY”!

P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time

Monday, November 18, 2013

P = Persist

(I'm on vacation and a book signing tour in TN and will resume with the next post on the Friday after Thanksgiving.  The letter "Q" is next and its a good one.  Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.)

In Og Mandino’s classic best seller The Greatest Salesman in the World, the third scroll is titled I Will Persist until I Succeed. 

The art of persistence is one of the most critical traits one must master.  Persistence literally makes or breaks us.  It is the determining factor when pursuing any worthwhile goal and dream.

I have used the following two paragraphs often and they are worthy of being repeated here.

One of my favorite books is The Winds of War by Herman Wouk.  In this book, Mr. Wouk recounts a scene in which General E. J. Tillet, military author and one of the Commanding Generals for England during WWII, is speaking to the main character named Pug Henry.  Tillet is making an observation about Hermann Goering.

He said this.  “He’s wasted a whole bloody month bombing harbors and pottering about after convoys.  He’s only got till September the fifteenth.  His mission is mastery of the air, not blockade.  Define your mission!  Define your mission and stick to it!” 

The art of "defining" and "sticking to it" is all about focus.  Giving definition to a goal simply brings your objective into better view.  Once we know what it is we are aiming for, the more likely we are to hit the target.

A personal story:  The red-letter day in my life was the day when I identified my mission statement – Offering hope, encouragement and inspiration one word at a time.  

Those ten words have reformed everything I do as a writer and a speaker.  They give definition, purpose, aim and meaning to my life.

The same will be for you.  Know what you want – purpose.
Determine how you will get there – plan.
Do the hard work, cross the bridges, work your plan until you see success lurking around the corner - persistence.

Perhaps we need a few inspiring 
words as we wrap this up.

“We are made to persist.  That’s how we find out who we are.”
~Tobias Wolff

“The key of persistence opens all doors closed by resistance.”
~John Di Lemme

“Do it badly;
do it slowly;
do it fearfully;
do it any way you have to,
but do it.”
~Steve Chandler

“Thankfully, persistence is a great substitute for talent.”

~Steve Martin, Comedian

And now we return to Og Mandino’s words from The Scroll Marked III.

“The prizes of life are at the end of each journey, not near the beginning; and it is not given to me to know how many steps are necessary in order to reach my goal.  Failure I may still encounter at the thousandth step, yet success hides behind the next bend in the road.  Never will I know how close it lies unless I turn the corner.”
~Og Mandino


P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time

Friday, November 15, 2013

O = Optimism & Optimize

Our premise for this series is this:  If plan A fails we still have twenty-five other options.

For our “O” word we need to consider two words …
“Optimism” and “Optimize”.

The first word is an attitude word.  It is a forward-looking word.  The popular synonyms are …


In our premise of having failed at something, the first and most important thought to hold onto is one of optimism.  We have to pull ourselves up by the bootstraps and see over the failure to a more optimistic future. 

As we evaluate our losses, what do we see?
As we think about our future do we see a bright promise or dismal defeat?

You can readily see the importance of holding onto an optimistic outlook when your situation looks dismal.  If we are of the positive mindset, we immediately begin to see how we might do things a bit differently the next time around.

We see other solutions to dilemmas we faced in the middle of our failure.
We look for answers in the ashes and rubble of our ruin and rebuild with those scraps of what is left of our dream.

An optimistic person is a hope-filled person who sees starting all over again as a bright promise to do better and make better.  Often there arises inside of us a confidence that lets us know we still have what it takes to overcome the immediate obstacles and see with clarity a brighter tomorrow.

Optimism is another way of saying “I will try again tomorrow.”

Our next word is “Optimize”.  A great working definition is “to make something function at its best or most effective, or use something to its best advantage.”

We already have some tools that have been placed in our hands with the failure of our goals and dreams. 

What have they taught us? 
Where did we go wrong?
Did we have the right people on board?
Did we manage our human resources well?
Did we manage our financial resources to best effect?
What knowledge did we lack and where do we find that knowledge today?

We optimize the answers to our failures so that we can rise up from the ashes of defeat and build something greater, more solid and more successful.

If a boss, manager or leader is weak in his/her abilities to optimize, maybe it is time to consider a consultant, an expert in the very area of your weakness.  If we can’t see the problems of our past, then allow fresh eyes to see them for us and help build a bridge over what went wrong. 

Optimizing at its core is making use of the good and the bad of a situation and creating something better. 

We use defeat to its best advantage to avoid defeat in the future.  And that is not just a play on words. 

I am often reminded of the Apollo 13 mission and their attempt to land on the moon.  Soon after they heard the loud bag and assessed the situation, they began asking questions.  These three took prominence.

“Where could the problem be?”  (Problem solving question)
“How could it be?”  (Philosophical/operational question)
“What can we do?”  (Attitude question)

With these three questions at the top of their list, the astronauts and ground crew immediately set about finding answers and resolving dilemmas. 

Thankfully they were able to bring Jim Lovell, Fred Haise and Jack Swigert home safely by optimizing everything possible both on board the spacecraft and every fact inside the head of every engineer and ground crew member.  

NASA called Apollo 13 a successful failure, and it stands today as a phenomenal example of contained optimism and optimizing every available bit of information they could gather.

A final word:

Gene Kranz, lead flight director for Apollo 13, used this phrase.

That is optimism. 

Optimism is optimized by focusing on solutions.  Solutions come from believing you can solve the disappointing issues at hand.

P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time

Monday, November 11, 2013

N = Notice

Our premise for this series is this:  If plan A fails we still have twenty-five other options.

The ability to notice in every area of life is a critical skill.  It is at play in our personal world and in our business/income world.  We either notice or we often fail. 

This ability to notice is a learned skill.  It is partly an analytical skill and an observation skill.  We become spotters. 

If we fail to be a good noticer, the world could collapse around us while we fiddle away on our little pet projects. 

I want to approach this article on two fronts – the personal level and the business level.

Personal level:
In our relationship we want our spouse to tune into our spoken and unspoken needs and wants. 
~What are you noticing about your wife/husband?
~When is she/he extremely happy?
~What is she/he sad?
~When does she/he want to be left alone?

Your ability to notice can make a huge difference in your relationship and happiness.

My wife had to have a couple of MRI scans recently for a deteriorated disc and torn tissue problem.  We want her medical team to notice every nuance on those scans so that we can get Carolyn’s pain resolved and her health restored.

Just last evening I came home to an amazing spaghetti dinner complete with homemade sauce, fresh salad, and hot garlic bread and ice tea.  My wife put in a lot of extra work and I took notice of her work. 

In every area of life, we maneuver through every experience by noticing what is going on around us. 

Business level:

With our premise of “if plan A fails we still have twenty-five other options” some questions come to mind to help sharpen our focus and answer the “why we failed” question.

The questions are …
~Where is your focus?
~What are the trends you currently see?
~Who appears to be the front runner in your field of expertise?

~What are they doing well that you could incorporate?
~Where is the future of your industry headed?
~What is new that I should be pursuing?
~What is last year’s news and should be set aside?

The bottom line is this … we pay attention to the details. 

The successful salesperson notices body stance, eye contact, the actual words used and they measure the amount of stress heard in a customer’s voice.  They are attempting to tune into the exact state in which their customer is and find a remedy for their problem.

The fashion industry thrives on the idea of being ‘trend setters’.  Last year’s ideas don’t work.  We need the new, the fresh and the never-before seen look.

When Proctor and Gamble was looking for a way to improve mop sales they studied hundreds of hours of women mopping floors.  Finally one astute observer began focusing on the wringing out of the dirty mop and noticed that the user was continually using a now dirty mop-head to clean their floors.  This led to the invention of the Swifter, a revolutionary approach to cleaning floors.

It always comes back down to having a good eye and seeing what has never been seen before. 
P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time

Friday, November 8, 2013

M = Mindful Mindset Mentor

Our premise for this series is this:  If plan A fails we still have twenty-five other options.

And that brings us to our “M” words.  Three words come to mind for our focus today.

A good working definition of this word is “conscious or aware of something”.

If, as in our premise, you are facing a failure, there is a great chance that after we get over the shock of our loss, we begin the process of becoming mindful of some of the obstacles in our way and some of the pitfalls we should have avoided.

Without “mindfulness”, we would be prone to stumble back into the same holes we just emerged from.  

Mindful is a good thing.  It requires one to ask the hard questions and come to grips with the answers and solutions discovered.

Ask questions such as:
  How did this happen?
  When did I start down this track?
  What should I have done differently?
  What am I going to do differently in the future?

All of these are great top-of-mind questions and they cannot be handled lightly if we truly want to avoid pitfalls the next time around.

Mindset becomes the next natural step after our mindful experience.  These synonyms jump out at us when we consider “Mindset”.

  State of mind
    Frame of mind
          Way of thinking

After a failure, we have to re-frame ourselves and our dream.  This takes an attitude adjustment, thinking differently, and approaching the project from a completely fresh direction.

We can easily fall in love with an idea, yet, when that idea fails us, changing our minds can be a daunting task.  And we must make the change. 

We must change our mindset.  As we've noted above, this requires a series of tough questions and spending time with those questions.

Sometimes that time is spent in group-think sessions, and, for the responsible parties, it requires some alone time and alone time has a companion – gut wrenching honesty.  No matter how much we love a particular idea, we often have to lay it aside or put it on the chopping block and see what happens.

Once we reach that point, we can perhaps experience a paradigm shift.  I found this useful concept when looking up this word. 

“Maybe if you got out of the paradigm you’re stuck in you’d see things for how they really are.”  (From Define Paradigm at

This is precisely the mindset of which we speak in this blog. 

Our last “M” word is mentor.  A mentor can be a useful guide to us in our search for success and happiness.  Never before in American culture have we seen such an emphasis on mentor-ship in all of its forms.

We have personal coaches by the dozens.  In reading Harvey MacKay’s blogs, he once said he had over twenty “coaches” (mentors), including a ping pong coach. 

The beautiful part of having a mentor is this; they can look at us in ways that are impossible for us to see ourselves.  And if they are skilled in their field, their expertise helps us find, correct and avoid the pitfalls we need to overcome to move to the next rung on the ladder of success. 

Having the guts to place ourselves into the hands of a mentor can be daunting.  It requires giving up old thoughts, old habits and old mindsets in exchange for a new and improved outlook, attitude and mindset.

Mentors open up to us a whole new vista for our dreams. 

Use them wisely.
P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time

Monday, November 4, 2013

L = List

In our premise of “if Plan A fails you still have twenty-five other options”, we come to the letter “L”.  This was a challenging one so instead of choosing one word, we will focus on a string of “L” words.

The first and obvious word is ‘love’.  Where are we if we don’t love our pursuits?  We are bored.  We are often only minimally engaged in the pursuit and we more often than not lack passion.  Love is the ingredient that drives us when all else is crashing around us. 

Got love?  It adds to the brew of ideas, blood, sweat and tears.

Sometimes we have to take a great leap of faith in order to get our enterprise off the ground.  Leaping is the greatest act of faith one can have.  We leap and often do not know, or see, or understand where we will land, if we will land safely, and in what condition we will land. 

And we take the leap anyway.

It is exhilarating, and often, a good leap has landed some individuals in awesome situations. 

Bill Gates and Paul Allen in founding Microsoft
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak in starting Apple Computers

Letting Go
Ouch.  We had to come to this one.  This is a tough one for some entrepreneurs.  We become so attached to our creation and so protective that it is difficult to allow others to tinker with our baby.  We can develop tunnel vision, however, unless we allow others a peek inside to the inner workings of our creation. 

Sooner or later, we get around to adopting Michael Gerber’s concept of “working on the business as opposed to working in the business” to become the norm.  (Michael Gerber wrote The E-Myth Revisited.)

Can you do this?  Can you allow others to tweak, twist, redesign, remake, repaint, and re-market your baby?  Of course you lay out guiding principles, formats, outlines, blueprints – just find the guts to allow for improvement.

You ask “What if they fail?”
They ask “What if we succeed?”

It is a gamble either way, and sooner or later, original creators of successful entities find a way of letting go for the greater good of the project, product or process.

Our final “L” word is “Laugh”. 

When things go right, we laugh all the way to the bank, as the saying goes.

When things go wrong, and we gain a bit of perspective on what has gone wrong, it is often a good thing if we can find some humor in our mistakes.  Yes, I am promoting some good laughter.

Just look at some of the benefits of laughter. 
  Boosts immunity
  Decreases pain
  Eases anxiety and fear

  Enhances resilience
  Enhances teamwork
  Helps defuse conflict

  Improves mood
  Lowers stress hormones
  Prevents heart disease

  Promotes group bonding
  Relaxes your muscles
  Strengthens relationships

Research for the Laughter section came from this web site if you want to read more.  (Click HERE to read Laughter Is the Best Medicine)

And there you have it.  “L” is a good start to a whole string of words after all.
P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time

Friday, November 1, 2013

K = Knowledge

In our search for twenty-five other options when plan A fails, we come to “Knowledge”.

On the surface this seems to be an intuitive next step in this series.  And so it is. 

If we have failed, what extra knowledge can we gather? 

Books abound in libraries and bookstores.
The internet is a virtual university of information.
Experts abound in every nearby city.

The lack of knowledge is not the problem.  The “will” to seek out that knowledge is the ingredient we need.

Are we willing to subject ourselves to others?  There is an act of humbling oneself in this that is difficult for some to do.  Yet it is the act of humbling that can bring the rewards and results we seek in the face of failure.

When I fail at something, after getting over the disappointment of the moment, I enter into self-examination of the causes of the failure.  The questions run something like this. 

What did I miss?
Who can be my best resource now?
What other skills might I acquire?

Do I need a partner?
What kind of partner should I seek?
Did I have enough capital?

How much capital will I need now?
To whom can I turn for this capital?
Is this idea still a worthy one to pursue?

Does it need minor overhaul or major overhaul?
Is the timing right for this particular slant on this idea?
Who is doing this better than I?

Can I join them?
Can they join me?
Who else should join us?

By now, we have a good grasp of the next steps to take in revamping our dream.  It is only knowledge, and knowledge is tremendous power when properly focused. 

“Knowledge is power, and power is the key to changing things.”
~Jill Nelson

“To be conscious that you are ignorant of the facts is a great step in knowledge.”
~Benjamin Disraeli

“Be curious always, for knowledge will not acquire you, you must acquire it.”
~Sudie Back

“When you know better, you do better.”
~Maya Angelou

And a final thought.  This one may seem at first to contradict all of the other thoughts on knowledge, but think about it.

“You can’t know, you can only believe – or not.”
~C.S. Lewis

Ah, belief.  We come back to that old chestnut. 
We believe in our dreams, therefore, we go out and seek the knowledge to make them better, more durable, more sale-able  and more worthy of success.

We gain knowledge - therefore we gain belief in our dreams. 

P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time