The Art of Observation

If you want your team to observe with more consistency, reliability, and precision, then you must spend more time practicing the art of observation.

At a seminar of forty people in Göttingen, Germany, individuals gathered in a large auditorium to hear a lecture on the powers of distinctive observation. As soon as the meeting began, two men ran into the room, one chasing the other with a gun. Initially, everyone was startled, grasping their faces, not knowing what to do. Immediately after a brawl between the two men occurred, then a gunshot was fired before both men escaped from the approaching police. Once the men left the auditorium, the police told everyone to sit back down and write down everything they just observed in the last few minutes. No one knew this was a staged fight and occurrence. No one knew this was a scientific study on the art of observation. When the papers were collected, the results were staggering. Only one person had less than 20% errors of the principal facts in their report. Fourteen had 20% to 40% mistakes. Twenty-five had over 40% mistakes, and the most remarkable results were over half of the stories written had 10% of details that were pure fiction. Events that never occurred, yet people included them in their observations.

How could people be so wrong about something they had witnessed, and the entire process took less than five minutes to occur? How could more than half of the people in the auditorium fabricate events? False observations may occur from illusions in someone’s mind then translate into harden truths when repeated continuously. The belief that a lie becomes truthful the more often you tell the same one tends to become a reality. The critical point to understand about this experiment is that not everyone is a keen observer or can see the obvious. There is an old belief that applies, “We are prone to see what lies behind our eyes, rather than what lies before them.” As leaders, coaches, and educators, we rely on other observations, never doubting the validity of those reports.

If people in a controlled setting can make blatant mistakes with fabrication, how can we guard against this happening in our organization?

  1. Recognize there will be mistakes in all reports from observation. Attempt to train people to observe. Give seminars on the art of observation.

  2. When hearing the story, write down every detail and ask for the person to include their notes. Determine how much of the story comes from memory and how much comes from actually written observations. We are all better when we take notes.

  3. Ask the same question three different ways, listening for any variables in the original observation. Why do detectives make suspects repeat their story? They want to test the memory as well as the specific details. We need to do the same.

If you want your team to observe with more consistency, reliability, and precision, then you must spend more time practicing the art of observation. As baseball great Yogi Berra once said, “You can observe a lot by just watching.” But we can learn more when we train our senses to become distinctive in our observations.


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Sunday Thinking

Every person you meet is an opportunity to practice kindness.

Note: You are receiving this email because you subscribe to The Daily Coach

The weekly Sunday Thinking newsletter is quick-hit content that aims to provide a booster shot to your thought process as you end and start your week.


“Greet every morning with open arms and say thanks every night with a full heart. Each day is a precious gift to be savored and used, not left unopened and hoarded for a future that may never come.” — Regina Brett


I. Managing Conflict

Conflict is at the heart of uncertainty. As a leader, coach, educator, and positive difference-maker, you must gracefully and authentically manage:

  • Fear

  • Fights

  • Feelings

  • Failure

  • Flow

  • Forgiveness


II. Living In Truth

We live our truth when we honestly and transparently express:

  1. Who we are.

  2. How we feel.

  3. What we desire.

  4. What we dream.


III. Championship DNA

Everybody says they want to be GREAT. Still, few are willing to invest the time, energy, patience, and sweat equity to earn and sustain GREATNESS.

Championship cultures are:

  • Original & Curious

  • Trend Setters & Role Models

  • Strategic & Passionate

  • Discipline & Risk Takers


IV. Question

What were your biggest wins over the last week, and how can you build on your momentum?


The Last Words…

“Never forget that you are one of a kind. Never forget that if there weren't any need for you in all your uniqueness to be on this earth, you wouldn't be here in the first place. And never forget, no matter how overwhelming life's challenges and problems seem to be, that one person can make a difference in the world. In fact, it is always because of one person that all the changes that matter in the world come about. So be that one person.” — R. Buckminster Fuller


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Life Design: Are You Living Or Existing?

If you could live your life again, what would you do differently?

“The day you die you will still have 30 or 40 e-mails in your inbox that will not be answered. You’ll never get it all done so you might as well relax, take a deep breath, and enjoy the ride.” — Jon Gordon

If we are not mindful of new creative ways to experience life, it is easy to become fixated on our daily habits and journey on autopilot. In this state of unconsciousness, we can forget to relax, breathe, and appreciate the beauty of opportunities that are available to us with every passing moment.

Jon Gordon, an international bestselling author, and keynote speaker discusses a research study performed on a group of ninety-five and older individuals in his classic book The Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive Energy.

This research on longevity and regret asked these participants one profound question:

If you could live your life again, what would you do differently?

The three recurring themes that were expressed by these modern elders were reflecting more, risking more, and leaving a legacy. Think about that for a second. Each day if we reflected more. Did one thing that was outside of our comfort zone ― while working towards having a positive difference in one life, with time, our personal growth, and civic impact would multiply, leading to many more rewarding and reinvigorating days.

Reflect More

Are your thoughts stemming from a place of love and abundance or lack and fear?

Each day we have a chance to grow, learn, and prosper. To challenge our assumptions and to explore the extraordinary depths of who we are. The power of our thoughts has a transformative effect on who we become, and the aspirations we manifest into our living. It is when we break free from boundaries imposed on the mind, that we cultivate deeper mental space to activate becoming the best and most authentic version of ourselves.

Risk More

If the notion of failure was not an option, what would you pursue?

Life is too short, not to go for it. The only thing that will ever be guaranteed is this present moment. Let go of the past. Surrender to what is while intently focusing on what is in your control with precision, tenacity, and consistency. Each of us must start with the resources we have, the lessons we have acquired, and overcome the power of postponement by unleashing our talents and sharing our unique story.

Leave a Legacy

How do we want to be remembered?

Every day presents a precious gift to unlock our greatest potential and calling while being a positive difference-maker in the life of another person. Envision a world where we all practiced the Golden Rule of treating others the way we wanted to be treated. Understand you do not need to create the next Apple, Disney, Instagram, Nike, Google, or Amazon to leave a meaningful legacy. Legacy is about your daily living and how people feel after leaving your presence. In our quietest moments, we all want to be accepted, appreciated, valued, seen, loved, and heard.

As 2019 comes to a close and we welcome in 2020 let’s make peace with what is, let go of what is not — forgiving ourselves and others to design holistic space, to reflect more, risk more and to work towards leaving a legacy that carves names on hearts, not tombstones.


P.S. If you are in search of a book recommendation, our team at The Daily Coach highly recommends Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time by Keith Ferrazzi. This book lays out the specific steps—and inner mindset of human connection to reveal what distinguishes highly successful people from everyone else brilliantly is the way they use the power of relationships—so that everyone wins. 


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Look Back, Not Forward to Understand How to Proceed

When in doubt, humble yourself and don’t initially look forward, always look back.

“Whenever you are about to find fault with someone, ask yourself the following question: What fault of mine most nearly resembles the one I am about to criticize?” ― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Winter becomes the season of opportunity. We see this every four years when a new President of the United States enters the office, after being sworn in, and immediately begin their 100-day plan. Most Presidents have been campaigning on issues they feel strongly about; therefore, as soon as the transfer of power is complete, they want to spring into action. The media continually monitors what part of the 100-day plan becomes enacted. Many in business, coaching, and educating borrow the same concept of having a 100-day plan whenever the opportunity arises.

A new opportunity means change is in the air. Some changes might affect us negatively, while others might offer us our “once in a lifetime” moment. When that “once in a lifetime” moment arrives, we tend to have a plan in our minds on how we see ourselves contributing to the organization. We seek to provide a new vision, a fresh perspective, a new direction, and, most of all, a new culture, which is essentially our 100-day plan.

Yet in reality, we have this all wrong. How can we create a 100-day plan without understanding the truth? The truth about why the individual we are succeeding failed? Many times we allow our egos to believe we are far better than the person we replaced. We believe taking over, establishing our new plan, the “once in a lifetime” moment, will become a dream come true. Wrong. How do we know what to do if we don’t understand the reasons we received our moment. Yes, talent allows us to extend our reach, but without a complete understanding of the dangers in the jungle, we will fall short and be underprepared. Remember the famous quote, the forest is never dangerous, if you know the trails. Instead of a 100-day plan moving forward, cultivate a two-week plan, and look back.

  • Show empathy. Respect and appreciate the person who came before you. Renowned poet Dr. Maya Angelou once said, “I think we all have empathy. We may not have enough courage to display it.” Dr. Angelou reminds us that empathy is not some intangible characteristic that some are born with, and others are not. We all have the power to truly feel another person’s struggles if we only take the time and thought to do so.

  • Make each team member write a detailed report in their opinion of why the company has not succeeded in its fullest potential. This is a no-fault document. Along with expressing the faults, the member must offer their solutions. Every report will remain confidential.

  • Make no decisions until all the research is complete. Offer anyone the opportunity to leave on their own free will. Inform everyone until the thorough examination is over to continue to work to the best of their ability.

  • Meet everyone in the organization face to face, including the ancillary staff. Ask direct questions of their jobs, take notes in front of them, make them feel their words are important and matter.

  • Change the work ethic through your work hours. Show up early and stay late. Strive to be productive, not busy. Don’t judge anyone, but observe. Write down your thoughts each day.

Once equipped with these insights, then spring into action. Your original course of action could have been correct, but now supported with this new information, you can proceed with a brighter and more concise plan. When in doubt, humble yourself and don’t initially look forward, always look back.


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Re-Energizing Your Spirit After Being Fired

A minor setback is always preparing us for a major comeback.

“I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.” — Steve Jobs

We are entering a time of the year in sports, and perhaps business when the scoreboard and bottom-line results force change. We hear the dreaded words, “You’re Fired.” No matter the situation or reasons, there is nothing we can do to alter the decision. Yes, our comfortable world has come crashing down. Yes, this is not the ideal plan, and yes, we don’t always deserve the outcome. But complaining, making excuses, blaming others, and feeling unsupported as well as uninspired might all be authentic reasons to stay stuck and give in, except they are meaningless. No one cares. Life keeps moving on. 

On the day you hear those dreaded two words, you will receive numerous texts or phone calls. You will have people curious from all over reaching out and checking in on your situation and well being. The next week, you might receive more of the same. The third and fourth weeks are the most revealing. Those individuals that stay in touch with you from week three and on are your real friends, allies, and purest relationships. When you lose something so dear, only those who know the pain does not subside are friends worth keeping. 

The fired club has many distinguished members. If Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, Walt Disney, J.K. RowlingBill Belichick, Sallie Krawcheck, and many others have heard those words, you are not alone. You will be back in time, but sorrow, resentment, anger, or complaining is not the best long term path to choose.

The first actions you must take after cleaning out your workspace and allowing initial emotions to subside is:

  1. Send thank-you notes to everyone in the building. Handwritten letters to show your appreciation of their services. A note to all, even those that you feel might have helped facilitate your departure.  

  2. Be honest with your self-evaluation of the job you performed. A self-evaluation requires honesty, not blame. It requires owning your mistakes. How are you going to improve if you don’t understand why you fell short. 

  3. Make a list of all the things you believe you did well in your job and detail the reasons why.

  4. Make a list of all the things you did poorly—and find ways to improve. Read or attend seminars to help yourself grow. Do not blame anyone other than yourself for not being successful in these areas. Take accountability and keep evolving.

  5. Challenge your mind daily. Learn something new each day. Study someone who failed and how they recovered. 

  6. Break up with your phone. Enjoy freedom. Cultivate your personal freedom. 

  7. Exercise without distractions. Let your mind and body connect. You will come up with great new ideas.

  8. Spend time learning from someone outside your industry. If you coach a specific sport, find a sport or industry outside your comfort zone. Learn new ways to teach, lead, and inspire. 

  9. Remain positive. Don’t allow bitterness to rule the day and your life. How you strengthen and develop yourself today will impact tomorrow. 

  10. Don’t say no to possibilities. Don’t limit yourself or place restrictions on your next opportunity. Remember, jobs can become what we make of them. 

Albert Einstein once said, “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” Realize there come times in life where adversity and obstacles confront us. These moments become unique opportunities to reassess our lives and priorities while taking a holistic time out. A minor setback is always preparing us for a major comeback.


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