Ken Blanchard a man with wisdom

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Ken Blanchard a man with wisdom

For Labor Day Weekend I spent time with my wife's godfather, Ken Blanchard, on one of the Finger Lakes in Skaneateles, New York. Many people know Ken Blanchard as the NY Times best-selling author/co-author of The One Minute Manager, The Leadership Pill, Whale Done, Lead Like Jesus and many other best-selling books. I know Ken as a great source of inspirational wisdom. Ken Blanchard always has great 'nuggets' of information. He is adept at taking very complex issues and using very simple metaphors to educate or train people. It's why his One Minute Manager was so successful. But in addition to Ken Blanchard's use of metaphors for training in the business world, Ken has become adept at simply analyzing the various trials & tribulations in life and using metaphors to put them in perspective.

One of my favorite Ken "words of wisdom" is when he told me about "passing the ball in conversations". Essentially what this means is when someone is telling you a story don't "steal the ball" by changing the topic ever so slightly by relating it to a story in your life.

Here's an example:

John: I was at a Yankees game yesterday and there was this really drunk 300lb Red Sox fan that started punching a guy and his wife. I stepped in to try and break it up and the guy hit me in the head. <pauses for Sue to reply>

Sue: <steals the ball> Yeah I don't like Yankee Stadium. It's way too rowdy for me. I was there last year and I had a beer fall on my head. It's also a pain in the butt to get out of there. It took me forever to get home. I do like the hot dogs at the Stadium though. Do you know what brand they are?

Instead of Sue asking John if he was OK or what happened next in the story, did the police arrest the guy etc., she instead tried to relate one of her life experiences. She stole the ball. Now don't get me wrong, relating your own similar life experience is perfectly fine, but only after the person telling the story "passes the ball" to you. You can tell when someone passes the ball when there is a moment of silence on the conversation or if in this example John asked her a question such as "So can you believe what happened to me?" Then the ball has been passed.

It's actually a form of selfishness when you steal the ball to apply your own "spin" without first exhausting the person's story. For what ever reason people in some cultures seem to do better at passing the pass rather than stealing it. I leave it to you to ponder which cultures are more adept at passing the ball.

I know a few people in my personal life that are notorious ball stealers. You know who you are and I know you are reading this! ;) If people spent more time listening and asking questions of the other person this world would be a lot friendlier.

Thanks Ken for the insights and I look forward to more nuggets of wisdom next year!

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