Monthly Archives: February 2010

HALT! Don’t Make that Bad Decision

This past summer I was conducting a leadership retreat in North Georgia when one of the participants shared a principle that I found both very insightful, and personally, very applicable.

She said that there are times in everyone’s life when we are much more susceptible to making poor choices.  If, however, we learn to recognize the warning signs, we can avoid following through on a bad decision.

The key, she said, is to remember the acronym HALT.  If you are experiencing one of the four symptoms represented by the word HALT, then you need to do exactly what the acronym suggests…STOP! Don’t make a decision until you have dealt with the symptom.

The four “red flags” that are major contributors to bad decisions are when we’re feeling:

  • Hungry
  • Angry
  • Lonely
  • Tired

When one or more of these conditions exist, you are more likely to make a decision that you will later regret.

The 3 Keys to Effectiveness

Years ago I learned a very simple formula for helping me stay focused on what I truly needed to be working on. I wish I could remember where I learned this 3-step process, as I would certainly give that person a shout out right now. Anyway, suffice it to say, this is not my idea at all, but one that bears repeating.

The three keys to effectiveness are:

  1. Determine the most important task for now.
  2. Concentrate on it.
  3. Forget the rest.

That’s it.  Sounds easy enough doesn’t it? So why do so many people struggle doing it?

It really boils down to three separate issues: setting priorities, reducing distractions, and possessing a self-management and personal organization process that ensures nothing will fall through the cracks.

These are the very skills that we teach in two of our hottest programs entitled:

“I’m Spread So Thin You Can See Through Me”


“My Inbox is Full and I Can’t Get Out”

Check out some of our Training Programs!

The 4 Filters

You can find great truth in the old saying, “There are two things that can never be taken back, the sped arrow and the spoken word.” Boy, is that true.

Have you ever found yourself trying to get those “just spoken” words back into your mouth? I know I have. It is as futile as trying to get the toothpaste back in the tube…once it’s out, it’s out.

I don’t know why we have a propensity to do this—maybe in the fast pace of this world in which we live, we find our words flying out of our mouths before being deflected by thought.

Years ago I heard a speaker (I think it was Chuck Swindoll) share what has become, for me, a tried and true skill for helping me in this area.  He said (and I will paraphrase) “Before allowing any words to come out of your mouth, make sure you run them through the four filters:

1. Is it true?

  • Did you hear it first hand or did your colleague say she heard it from this guy in the North Region who overheard his boss on the phone…you get the picture. If you can’t verify it, don’t repeat it.  And another thing, just because it is the truth does not mean it needs to be repeated. People don’t have a right to know everything (more on this later).

2. Is it confidential?

  • If someone told you something in confidence, bury it. Lock it up and throw away the key.  Here is a good test: If you find yourself saying, “You know I probably shouldn’t tell you this…”  THEN STOP! You’re right! You probably shouldn’t be saying it…even if it’s true

3. Is it kind?

  • This one is so simple. Is what you’re about to say going to build up or affirm someone or is it going to tear them down or embarrass them? If it is not kind, zip it…even if it’s true.

4. Is it necessary?

  • Is what you are about to say really necessary to the conversation or do we just want to use some words?  Be honest aren’t there times we want to be perceived as the person with some insider information? There are also times when we just want to hear ourselves talk. Fight the urge. Let the moment pass.

I have found that allowing my words to pass through these four filters causes me to say a whole lot less that I want to take back.

That’s What I Have Been Looking For

Thanks to my good friend, Glenn Sessoms, (recently retired Chief Diversity Officer for FedEx who now has the time to help his still “too busy to see what is in front of them” friends like me). Glenn sent me an email last month reminding me not to overlook the blessings in my life and get caught up in trying to find joy, peace, and happiness in other places.

In his book, Money: A User’s Manual, Bob Russell describes a farmer who once grew discontent with his farm. He griped about the lake on his property always needing to be stocked and managed. He complained about all those stupid cows wandering around his land. He lamented about all the fencing, and feeding and upkeep, and maintenance – the list went on and on…what a headache!

So, he called a Realtor and made plans to list the farm. A few days later the agent phoned, wanting approval for the advertisement she intended to place in the local paper. She read the ad to the farmer. It described a lovely farm in an ideal location – quiet and peaceful, contoured with rolling hills, carpeted with soft meadows, nourished by a fresh lake, and blessed with well-bred livestock. The farmer said, “Read that ad to me again.”

After hearing it a second time, he decided, “I’ve changed my mind. I’m not going to sell.  I’ve been looking for a place like that all my life.”

Aren’t we like that farmer? I know I am. Sometimes I get so busy working on “all my stuff” that I forget I have it pretty good.  I think  I just forget to be thankful.

Pause today and take a moment to inventory all the things you are thankful for.


Remember those from your childhood? Boy, I do. I loved do-overs. Whenever I messed up something (which as I recall was quite often), I’d just yell out, “Do over!” and I got to try again.

I wish we didn’t outgrow do-overs. I sure would have like to have called some recently.

Like when I snapped at my bride, when I was really upset with something that had happened at work. I knew I had hurt her feelings and when she walked off to the back of the house, I thought, “Way to go Dave…you insensitive meathead!”

I would have liked a do-over just last month when I hit “Reply All” instead of “Reply”… awkward.

How about the time I belched out loud in front of about 500 people in the middle of a presentation I was making (there is just something so special about an electronically enhanced burp).

A do-over would have been just the ticket for all those days I wasted worrying about issues that never materialized, or being angry at people when I didn’t have all the facts, or playing the “what if” game on decisions I had made.

I think we need to bring the do-over back. I know I could sure use some. And hey, while I’m thinking about it, we probably ought to learn to give others do-overs too.

I am certainly not perfect. I am going to mess up. You’re not perfect either. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to yell out “Do-over” and everyone was cool with it?

I am glad God still gives them.