Do the Right Thing

In a previous blog I talked about having 20/20 vision, the ability to see the world through someone else’s glasses. It is a powerful tool to build relationships, both personal and business. However, having 20/20 vision isn’t very effective without the right actions. If you want good results then you have to do the right things.

Here are 8 right actions to guide you on the journey to success.

Make no excuses. We must take responsibility for our own life, its successes and its failures. Part of growing up and becoming a real adult is being responsible. It’s not your parents’ fault, it’s not the government’s fault and it’s not society’s fault. It’s your life, your fault and your job to make it better. Step up.

Become wise. Knowledge + Experience = Wisdom. Study hard. Learn in school. Learn from others. Sharpen your knowledge into wisdom by your actions. Get involved. Get experience. See what’s really happening. Don’t skip the details. The devil is in the details. It’s the pebble in the shoe that stops the climber, not the boulders ahead.

Make good decisions. If you want things to get better you must make better decisions. Are your decisions aligned with your beliefs?

Commit to a goal. Plan to achieve something. Set your sights on a target. Don’t give yourself an easy way out. Have lofty objectives.

It’s better to go hunting for tigers and find a rabbit, than to go hunting for rabbits and find a tiger.

Never give up. If you don’t give up you can’t fail. Persistence may be the single most important quality of achievement .

Have faith, not fear. Don’t be afraid to fail and don’t be afraid to succeed. You must believe to achieve.

Enjoy the trip. Don’t take life too seriously, it’s a short ride.

Steve Haberly

Courage in the Face of Covid

After watching Disney‘s Alice in Wonderland, I learned a new word to describe an old concept, muchness. The Mad Hatter said to Alice, “You’re not the same. When you were here before you were muchier, but it seems you’ve lost your muchness.” 

What an interesting thought, losing your muchness. What is muchness anyway? If you go back to the movie you will see what Alice had lost was her courage. Her courage to slay the dragon. 

In today’s environment, muchness might be the ability to achieve your most desired goals no matter what the odds of failure. But what about the dragon? There are no dragons today, right? Wrong.

When you’ve lost your job because of Covid, who do you think is at the other end of the phone line demanding you pay an overdue bill? The dragon. If you listen carefully you can hear the scales rattle as he leans forward in his chair to tell you they’re turning off your electricity.

If you’re a student doing school virtually, you know the dragon. When the lesson doesn’t make sense, but the class moves on anyway, you may think you’re all alone. You are not. The hot breath on the back of your neck is the dragon.

The dragon and I have dueled many times over the years, and I know the one thing that can stand up to the dragon’s flame is courage. Muchness. So the question we must answer is, how did we lose our muchness and how can we get it back?

Losing our courage can begin with destructive thinking. Destructive thinkers believe all problems are huge and probably permanent. The more they focus on the size of the dragon, the bigger the dragon becomes until their mortal size pales in comparison. We can easily be devoured by our own destructive thinking. 

A courage destroyer that goes hand in hand with destructive thinking is having the wrong mindset. Mindset can be divided into two categories: fixed and growth. People with a fixed mindset don’t try hard enough and therefore they give up too soon. This kind of dragon slayer retreats to what he believes is a safe place and then is devoured by the dragon. Someone with a growth mindset never gives up.  They think of the possibilities and then focus on a solution that will extinguish the dragon’s flame. I want tp be a dragon slayer, don’t you?
So how do we find our muchness? Alice gives us a hint when she says:

In my next blog I’ll talk about each of the things we can do to regain our muchness.  As you may have guessed, the sixth impossible thing Alice believes is that she can slay the dragon.

Steve Haberly

The Lady or the Tiger

The Lady or the Tiger

In my last blog we see a man running. A closer look shows he is chasing a beautiful woman. Zoom in and we realize that the man is being chased by a tiger.

What are we really seeing? Is the man running from the tiger or is he chasing the lady? Is there a difference?Running is running, you must admit. So, is running to catch something better than running away from another thing? It might be even worse.

I read an article by Leonard Kim in which he says, “When you decide to chase something, what you decide to chase starts to run away.” So with that in mind, can the man ever catch the lady? And, if the man does catch the lady, will he be happy? 

What if it’s the chase that brings the rush and not the conquest? What if the conquest usually ends in disappointment? One of life’s rules is this: the fantasy of the conquest is almost always better than the conquest itself. Do we run because we believe we can, or run because we believe we must?

Let’s suppose that the man catches the lady and they stop to enjoy the bliss of the moment. As she falls in his arms, her kiss is everything he hoped it would be.

As they enjoy the fantasy fulfilled, they are eaten by the tiger.

The tiger did not stop to rest. The tiger that chases us never rests. Was catching the lady worth being devoured by the tiger? Most would say no. With that in mind, it would seem that we should face the tiger before we ever chase and catch the lady.

I’ve been lucky to achieve most of my life goals. I’ve been this way for as long as I can remember. I have a wonderful marriage, three talented and loving children and a great job. I work for a company that puts people ahead of profit. Within this corporation I’ve been able to build a company that has grown from $5 million in sales to nearly $300 million.

I’m not boasting, well maybe just a little, but I’ve been able to grab almost every brass ring as the carousel of life went around.

What’s your tiger? Maybe it will help you identify yours if I tell you mine. I am one of those individuals that never stops running. I really don’t know how to rest and relax. In many ways it is my strength but someday it will probably be my undoing.

We will talk about both the hows and the whys, but for now, let’s discuss the whys. Let me start out by telling you, in my case, the why was the tiger. My motivation to succeed was my fear of the pain that comes with failure. To be first, for fear of being last, and at times in my life, to be first, for fear of being second.

My personal life is not much different. Every day I feel I must accomplish something because I do not want the pain of accomplishing nothing. So I run. Not literally, but figuratively. I get up early every day and I look for projects. I need something to do and something to accomplish. If I do nothing, it makes me an easy target for the tiger, and the tiger never rests. Neither do I.

There are three ways to live in the jungle. The most common situation is we forever run from the tiger. Second, we can turn and fight the tiger, but the injuries we would suffer could be terrible or even fatal.

But there is a third option. We can turn and embrace the tiger.

We can discover what chases us and instead of fighting it or running from it, we can use it to our advantage. If we no longer fear the tiger, and use the tiger’s pace to quicken our own, we might indeed catch the lady.

So what’s the moral of the story? Only by facing our tiger, and using that fear to our advantage, will we ever be able to catch the lady.

Steve Haberly

Don’t miss my next blog, Catching the Lady

The man, the lady, and the tiger

Imagine you find yourself in the forest; deep, dark, and dense. You look and listen for things familiar.  There is a faint sound in the trees.  You sit quietly but you see nothing. All of a sudden, you see the source of the sound. A man is running and running fast. You wonder why.A closer look reveals a possible reason. Running in front of the man is a beautiful lady, long hair falling across her bare shoulders and down to her waist. She glances back, smiles at the man and picks up her pace even more.

 Her allusiveness has made him out of breath and needing a rest, but the lady never stops, so the man presses on. The quest to catch the lady has consumed most of his life, but somehow he believes the prize is worth the sacrifice.

But another glance shows the shadow of a third figure. This darkness runs as fast as the man and matches his every step. A little light falls on the shadow and now we know the third figure in the race is a tiger.

His eyes are fixed on the man and his claws dig deep into the Earth as he runs. Never looking left or right, he has but one prey in sight. So what will be the outcome? If the man runs faster, he may catch the lady, but then what? He’s not sure, but he runs all the same. If he slows down he knows he will definitely be caught by the tiger.

So here is the question: Why does the man run? Why do we all run? Are we running from or running to? Is it the prize we seek that makes us run, or the fear of getting overtaken? Most would say the prize, but I disagree. I believe for many, it is the hot breath of the tiger that quickens their pace.

We all recognize the lady. She’s the ribbon for winning the race or the good grade on a test at school. Later, she’s the promotion at work or the bonus for achieving a goal. We know the lady very well, but what about the tiger. Most of the time we’re not sure what the tiger looks like. We would rather not imagine the sharpness of his teeth, but still, we shudder at the thought.

Do we run the race to get the trophy or not to be overtaken by the runners behind us? Do we make good grades in school for our own achievement or to avoid our parents’ disappointment? Do we study hard for the college chemistry to pass or not to fail? Do we marry to be happy or not to be lonely?

I’ve had the good fortune to manage a very large sales force and have always considered myself a leader that motivated others to achieve by painting the dream for them. I was in a meeting with an attorney I admire and trust. He asked, “Do you know why people perform so well in your company? It may be different than you think. They perform because they don’t want to disappoint you.”

I must admit, I was taken aback. But when I think about the man, the lady and the tiger, it makes sense. I have come to believe that most decisions in our personal and business lives are made from fear of loss rather than pursuit of gain. We are running from something rather than running to something.

But is that so bad? Maybe not. Thinking of the tiger’s teeth creates the urgency that may be much greater than the pleasure of the lady’s kiss. Isn’t it results that we desire? Just a thought.

Now you can resume running.

Steve Haberly

Elevator Wisdom

Life’s like an elevator.  Sometimes you go up; sometimes you go down; sometimes you get stuck between floors. Wisdom can be found in many places. I learned many things in school, but now I have a new seat of learning.  The elevator.

I tried this opportunity for learning a few years ago and have continued it to this day. When I get in an elevator and there is only one other person on board, I say this: “May I ask you a question?” They almost always say yes or even certainly. So I ask, “What’s the most important thing you have to do today?” At first, they seem a little surprised that a perfect stranger is talking to them and maybe even startled that this stranger would ask such a question. But they always answer and the answers often will surprise you. Let me share a few of these responses.

I was in an elevator in Sydney, Australia and a young man stepped in. He was dressed in a blue suit with a red tie. He was nice looking and well groomed.  I asked him the question and he responded, “I have a job interview in an hour and I’m going for a walk to prepare my responses to their most likely questions.” I asked, “Are you ready?” “Yes,” he said. “I’ve really been preparing for this job interview. When I’m prepared, I am confident.”

What did I learn? Confidence comes with preparation

A few days later at an office building in Sydney a young lady stepped into the elevator. I was with a fellow manager at my company and he knew what I was about to ask. I must admit he looked a little embarrassed, but I asked the question anyway,”What’s the most important thing you have to do today?” She looked at me and said, “My job.”  But then she thought for a second or two and said, “Love my job.”  That comment was so powerful that I think of it almost every day.

What did I learn? Love your job. To be happy in your job you must find a way to love what you do.

I love what Kahlil Gibran said “If you cannot work with joy in your heart, sit at the gates of the temple and take alms from those that can.”  Love your job.

I was in a city back in the U.S. and found myself alone in an elevator with a very pretty woman about 30.  She was dressed in very smart and fashionable attire. She glared at the elevator doors as they closed.

I hesitated to ask my question, but just couldn’t stop myself. “What’s the most important thing you have to do today?” She looked straight at me and said, “Attend my divorce hearing.” “Sorry.” I said. “Thank you,” she said “but it’s time to move on. Some things end and others begin.”

What did I learn? Life is full of endings but also full of beginnings. It’s the natural cycle of life.  For every ending there’s a beginning, and hope springs eternal.

Many things in life come in threes and so I will share a third one with you. I stepped into the elevator dressed in my blue jeans and a sweatshirt, looking a little unkempt. The doors opened on the 10th floor and a woman stepped inside. Her hair was a little out of place and her face a little red. But I asked my question anyway. “What’s the most important thing you have to do today?” She looked at me, surprised by my question but answered anyway. “My husband and I just had a disagreement and I need to cool down and think before I say something I’ll regret.” “I hope you and your husband can work this out.”  “We will,” she said. “I just need to put my emotions aside and try to see the problem through his eyes. He says I can be stubborn. He’s probably right.”

What did I learn? Think before you speak. Take a time out if necessary. Try to see the problem through other eyes.

Now, I won’t tell you that every response I received was a jewel of wisdom. Some were just pebbles. Some people didn’t answer at all and some pretended not to hear the question.  But most answered with honesty and openness.

Elevator Wisdom is like life. Whether you’re going up or down, you’re always going somewhere and learning something new. Enjoy the ride.

Steve Haberly

Just a little more Love and Passion


How can I hope to explain, in only a few words, what might be the most powerful force in world? It’s a huge topic. In many ways you might say it’s the Holy Grail of subjects. It’s what we all search for, love and passion. But maybe the real issue isn’t love but passion. Are they the same? I don’t think so. Love seems selfless and has a giving nature while passion is often selfish and all about taking. But without passion is real love even possible? Maybe not. But let’s deal with these one at a time.


Psychology Today talks about the different types of love. The first is Eros or passionate love. You can also think of this as romantic love. It’s a madness that comes over us and carries us away, but can also cause need and dependency.

IMG_0646 The second is Philia, commonly called brotherly love;  a relationship based on trust, dependability, and friendship. Psychology Today mentions that Philia, born from Eros, in turn feeds back to Eros, strengthening each. Friends are able to live fuller lives by teaching and supporting each other.

It’s been proven that most relationships start with physical attraction.


First, a glance, then some words and next a touch. But we often mistake this Eros love for the kind that lasts. I believe without Philia love, Eros will fade and might not come back. So we chase it from partner to partner.


We light the fire, it warms that part inside that yearns for someone to fill our emptiness. The flames are so bright that we’re sure it’s eternal, but alas, it’s not. Is it our fault or maybe our partner’s fault? We’re not sure who’s to blame, but we know it’s gone. Physical love is only temporary, but maybe it can be made permanent if you understand the secret. If I tell you the secret, it won’t be a secret, now will it? But I guess it could be our secret. So if you promise not to tell, I’ll share it with just you.


Erotic or physical love burns so hot that no fuel can keep it burning at such intensity. It bursts into flame, has its moment and then dies back to embers. In fact, if that intensity continued we would all be devoured by the fire, left as ash to be swept away by time. So how can this magic, that is so temporary, be rekindled? Although the flame may die down but the glow from the embers can last forever, if fanned from time to time. To have the opportunity to rekindle the flame, love based on friendship must reside.

Let’s talk about friendship and why it’s the glue that holds the relationship together and allows the fire to burn again. Friendship is all about trust. Trust creates the foundation from which embers can again become an inferno.


If friendship requires trust, then building and maintaining trust is necessary for passion to return. Trust is built as promises are made and kept, not just big promises but ALL promises. Each promise made, and kept, goes in the trust bank account and as the bank account builds, trust deepens and the friendship is built. But remember, trust is not given, it’s earned. Something that is given can come quickly, but that which is earned is built over time.

A relationship built slowly one brick at a time, one promise at a time, can withstand the storms that will surely come. A relationship built too quickly may not weather even the first winds that life can deliver. A relationship built on trust and fashioned over time into a solid foundation becomes the platform on which to build a lifetime of passion.


Passionate love is like walking on the high wire; exhilarating but frightening at the same time. There is danger but there’s also an amazing rush; a pounding of your heart and a quickening of your breathing but don’t fear, your friendship is your safety net.

Lovers that aren’t friends are like leafs on a tree. For most trees, they’re only temporary. They look beautiful but when the season is done, they are gone.

Think of it this way. The flames burn bright but die to a glowing ember. Trust allows you to protect the ember and gives you the foundation to fan the flame again. In great relationships this happens again and again and again. Passionate love is temporary but returns again as trust is rewarded with passion. A lasting relationship needs to be built on a foundation of trust and friendship.

Lovers are usually focused on their own satisfaction but the explosion that comes with passionate love is something we all want and desire. On the other hand, true friends are focused on the needs and wants of their friend. It would seem to be a perfect combination. A loving couple who can combine the fire that comes from passion with the caring, giving nature of their friendship has the magic.  They provide a safe place from which to experience passionate love. A place where each person is focused on the pleasure of the other. A tight wire with a safety net.

That’s why I am absolutely convinced that lovers who have and keep the magic also have a strong friendship as their foundation.

Steve Haberly


Small Business Connection  Part 2

In our communities, it’s the small businesses that embody the principles we hold dear: honesty, integrity, fair pricing and a commitment to excellence. Small businesses that operate by these principles have earned our respect and they need our loyalty. BUY SMALL.

IMG_0316Let me give you an example of such a business. My wife drives an old red truck. Even though the odometer says 250,000 miles the truck still runs pretty good. It has big wide tires and is jacked up 4 inches so everyone can see her driving down the street. A pretty lady in a big red truck is not a bad way to be recognized.

We put about $500 a year in truck maintenance to keep it on the road, but that’s cheap when you compare it to a new truck payment. When we look at the truck, we think it still looks good except for one thing: the front bumper. It’s tilted down and looks like we had an accident and never repaired it. We kept saying we should get it fixed, but just hadn’t done it. We finally decided it was time and took Big Red to a local small business called Hollywood Finishes in Keller,Texas. I’d used them before to repair my daughter’s Jeep. The owner had suggested a repair that looked good and also saved us a lot of money. That was especially good since the problem wasn’t covered under our insurance. Hollywood Finishes had already shown that they were focused on making the repair fit my needs and my pocketbook.

Back to the red truck. The owner took a look at the bumper and said, “We can straighten it by adjusting the supports.” I asked “How much?” He said “Not too much, $85.” Sounded great to me. After a few days, I went to pick up Big Red and was ready to pay the $85.  That’s when the owner said the price had changed. I winced. Then he said, “The total is $70.” I said, “That’s not enough. You told me $85.” He smiled and said, “That’s right, but it was easier than I thought.” I was amazed. He did a great job, at a lower price than I was quoted and lower than I was prepared to pay. He could have charged me the $85 and I would have still been happy, but he didn’t. He put his honor above profit and honesty above gain.


When I talked to him about it he said, “It’s just business, the old school way.” I just can’t get that comment out of my head. Business the old school way. If the old school way is good quality work at a reasonable price then what’s the new way? My fear is that the new way may be poor quality at an inflated price. I don’t believe that as businesses grow they need to leave their morals and ethics behind. Please don’t misunderstand, there are many large businesses that have stayed true to what they believe. They are great examples of truth and honor in business. I am just suggesting that we should all seek out those companies, whether small or large. We should spend our money where we believe in the ethics of a company. Our purchases are our votes. Vote your morals and ethics with your purchasing power.


So how did Hollywood Finishes score?

Honesty A+
Integrity A+
Quality A+
Fair Pricing A++

Since small businesses are the most sensitive to toxic practices in the marketplace they require our close attention and feeding. They live and die by reputation and word of mouth. If you agree that our dollars are our votes of confidence, then you probably would also agree with my rule.


Seek out the small local companies in your area and use their products and services. Find the local restaurants and sample the local dishes prepared by local hands. Frequent them regularly and be sure to compliment them when the food and service excel. But there is another way to help these establishments, tell them when there are ways they can improve. Helping them to continuously improve is good for them and great for the neighborhood. If they fail,  you will have an empty store front and another dead canary.IMG_0324Another example.  In the back of my property there is a small creek. Near the creek we built a treehouse. Now don’t jump to conclusions, this is just a few boards and a wooden ladder, but my grandsons love it. The grass and weeds can grow up pretty high back there so it needs to be mowed from time to time.

IMG_0319I have an old riding mower that has definitely seen better days. One day it just stopped working. It  wouldn’t start, wouldn’t even make a starting sound. Advantage went to the grass and  weeds for the time being.


In my neighborhood, there’s a small repair shop, Gary’s Small Engine Repair in Keller,Texas. It is a family run business, with the wife in the front dealing with customers and the husband in the back, repairing everything from chain saws, to leaf blowers, to mowers. I dropped in to see what they thought. The wife said the waiting list to work on riding mowers was about 3 weeks long.  She could have said “Put your name on the list and we’ll call when you can bring it in.” But that’s not what she said. “Tell me what it’s doing and maybe you can repair it yourself.” Was I dreaming? Instead of focusing on the profit they could make from repairing my mower, she was helping me diagnose the problem and suggested I fix it myself.

I kept thinking about what my other small business said, “Doing business the old school way. Maybe I’ve discovered something. The old way must mean putting the customer first. She laid out some things, step by step, that I could go back and try. But there was another thing she did that surprised me. She said, “After you try that, come back and tell me what you found and then we can look at the next step.”

Expert advice with no talk about money, is this the old school way? I followed her steps and eliminated the possible problem areas one by one. I decided it must be the starter, so I removed it from the mower and went back to see my new friend. As I was standing there talking to her, the husband came up from the back. He asked me to hand him the starter and follow him around to his shop. There, he tested the starter and said, “Nope, starter’s just fine.”

He could have handed it back to me and gone back to his work, but he didn’t. He said, “Follow the starter backwards and check each component until you finally check the switch itself. Don’t forget the safety switches. One under the seat and another under the lever that activates the blade. If those aren’t working the mower is locked out.” Again, customer first. I did what he suggested and sure enough the safety switch under the lever was out of alignment. I moved it so that the lever and switch touched each other, held my breath, and turned the key. The mower started and I felt great. I did it. Well, we did it. What did this small business get for their unselfish advice to me? I’ll tell you what they got. My loyalty and whole hearted endorsement to all my friends and neighbors.

How did Gary’s Small Engine Repair score?

Honesty A+
Integrity A+
Quality A+
Fair Pricing A++

Many years ago when I first started working in Water Treatment, I spoke to an esteemed colleague and asked him his secret to success.  He thought for several minutes and relied, “Put the customer first, the rest will take care of its self.”

Putting the customer first might be old school to some, but there are businesses that follow this principle. Small businesses can be a great example of meeting the needs of the customer with honesty, integrity, quality, fair pricing, and follow up.
Spend your money in your neighborhood. Seek out and support those small businesses that do business the old way, the right way. Do your part. Save the canaries.


Steve Haberly

The Electronic Disconnect

IMG_0266About 10 years ago, I got a device that has changed my business and personal life, and not necessarily for the best. It was a BlackBerry cell phone.  As I carried it in a holster that clipped over my belt, I suddenly felt armed and dangerous. I was connected 24/7 and somehow thought this would make me more productive. And maybe it did, in some ways.

I remember one evening when the impact of my new device showed its ugly head. I was at dinner with my wife. It wasn’t a special occasion, but as I’ve told her many times, any evening with her is special. We sat outside, under a clear Texas sky at a local restaurant, and as our drinks arrived she asked, “Would you like to be alone with your BlackBerry?” I was stunned realizing I had been so busy responding to emails that I hadn’t really noticed her, or the new dress she wore just for tonight. I turned off the phone and gave it her to put in her purse. I told her I was surprised, but also embarrassed to find myself so distracted in that way.  I’d like to tell you that I learned my lesson and this never happened again, but bad behavior has a way of resurfacing.

Let me circle back to my first sentence, “It changed my business.” Before smart phones, the business worked like this: a customer or employee would call and if they couldn’t reach me they could call the office and leave a message for me to return their call. 95% of the messages were not an emergency and asked that I call back at my earliest convenience. I would look at the international origin of the call and plan my return call accordingly.  If it was an emergency, I would return the call immediately no matter what the time difference.


Those days are gone. Since my business is global, I get emails, texts and messages 24 hours a day and often the expected response time is NOW. However, the business itself hasn’t changed that much. 95% of the problems are still not urgent and could easily be handled the next day. The business may not have changed but the expectations of the customers and employees has changed significantly. The expected return response from me is immediate. Casual has been raised to important and important to urgent. What was excellent response time is now expected. So, is my job more productive? I’m really not convinced it is. Am I working harder than before? Absolutely. Harder, but not better. Not a very good trade.

We visited the island of Koh Somui after a business trip to Bangkok. It is off the eastern coast of Thailand and has beautiful beaches and wonderful people.  After dinner, Debby and I walked down the beach to a club where people sit on big pillows on the sand and enjoy island drinks.  Listening to the waves and the music under a starry sky was truly romantic. This is what we saw.

But not everyone enjoyed the romantic ambiance as we did.  A young couple sat on the pillows just in front of us and never looked at the waves, the moon, or the stars.  I’m not sure they ever looked at each other. Both were on their smart phones the whole time texting or tweeting or something. This is what they saw.


What happened to soft words of love spoken at just the right moment?

At dinner, just a few nights ago, I watched a couple seated at the table across from us. She was trying to parent their unhappy 6 year old while the dad never looked up from his phone. Present but absent. Any guesses whether that couple was connected or not? She was struggling with her job as a parent while he had electronically taken himself away from that responsibility. What message did that send?  To his son it said, “I am not interested in your problems or needs. I have more important things to attend to.” Then, to his wife or partner, “This is your job to parent him and it’s probably your fault he’s misbehaving. If you were a better mother this wouldn’t happen.” What is she thinking, “My parents never approved of you before we got married. They said you wouldn’t be a good father, and maybe they were right. I deserve better.” I wanted to go over, take his phone away and ask him to be a parent. Of course I didn’t. It’s not my monkey. If this problem isn’t my monkey, how come I feel it biting and scratching me?

Any time I see people trade their humaness for electronicness, I feel the uncomfortable sensation of loss. Loss of what you may ask? Loss of the connection that comes with eye contact, speech inflection and body language. Without those things, aren’t we becoming less human? I believe we are. As we lose the nuances of human communication we lose the ability to completely express emotions: love, anger, empathy, concern, desire, joy, etc.  When you can’t see my face or hear my words, my intentions can be easily misunderstand.

Steve Bartlett, CEO of Social Chain, is an award winning entrepreneur and speaker. He takes things a step further, believing social media may be making us sick.  Take a look.


The passion of the another moment was destroyed by the electronic vehicle I used and its lack of humanness.  Debby and I had a very wonderful dinner and evening together. The next day I wanted to tell her how beautiful she looked that night. This is what I intended to text, “Last night you looked so beautiful, you were absolutely delicious.” I misspelled delicious, so the spell check changed the word and the text said this, “Last night you looked so beautiful, you were absolutely deciduous.” Now, those of you that know your tree terminology know that deciduous is a term used for trees that lose their leaves in the winter. Her text back to me said: “I was WHAT?” Love’s moment lost.

I heard a very interesting discussion about Millennials on NPR the other day. There were many parts to the topic, but there was one I found especially interesting. A Fortune 500 company manager was discussing hiring new employees. He made a comment that concerns me, “Millennials just don’t interview well.” I wondered if they were lacking in verbal skills because of social media. Was it possible that their non-verbal skills, like body language, just haven’t developed? Or maybe they can’t express themselves in more than 140 characters followed by an emoji.

Just the other day, a friend was talking about the disconnect he was having with his girlfriend, “She just doesn’t give good text.” Is that what the love connection has come down to, giving good text? I hope not.

Even worse, what about passive-aggressive texts?  Take a look at Jimmy Kimmel’s explanation.

Many young people think that electronic connection makes us more connected. I must take exception. In many ways we may be moving toward disconnection or at least a false connection. I have seen people say things to each other while texting that they would never say in person. Does the texting generation, share intimate details on text that they would never say In person? Are they more comfortable texting than talking face to face? Without voice inflection and body language, misunderstanding is common place. We may paint a picture with our words that is totally foreign from who we really are. So what happens when we finally meet this texting partner? It is often disappointment and unmet expectations. If you want to know if your partner is sincere, watch their eyes. The eyes are windows to the soul. Words in a text are not.

I hate to predict the future, but I will just this once. If we continue to hide behind our social media mania and lose our gift of face to face communication, we risk losing any hope of meaningful connection.  If you are a baby boomer you probably agree with me. If you are a Millenial and disagree, I challenge you to try this.  Turn off your phone, sit down with a friend and have a meaningful face to face conversation.  Then, savor the experience of connection.

Steve Haberly

Next week, find out why small businesses are the Canary in the Coal Mine.

The Red Card Disconnect

IMG_0241I discovered something years ago as I swam the shark infested waters of my relationship with my sister. I’d like to share this observation with you in hopes you too, can avoid getting eaten. Before I explain what I discovered, I should give you a little information about the relationship my sister and I developed over the years. First, I must tell you she passed away this last year and it was a sad day, indeed. No matter how controversial our relationship was at times, I loved her dearly. In fact, I called her every morning before I drove to work and most everyday as I drove home.

My sister and I were very different in many ways, but the same in others. She was a liberal socialist that believed all the money should be divided evenly between everybody no matter what job you had or how hard you worked. Well, that wasn’t exactly her stance, but it’s in the ball park. On the other hand, I am a conservative capitalist that believes it is our responsibility to help those less fortunate but compensation should match effort and impact of the work done.

We also found ourselves at odds on many other things. She was adamant about women’s rights, while I liked to focus on the rights of all people: men, women, children, the elderly and the unborn. I think it goes like this: Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Don’t they call it the Bill of Rights? We also disagreed on religion and government.

So what did we have in common? It’s simple. We loved each other. So since we had so much territory for disagreement, how did we talk so often with only minor problems? That’s a great question so let me explain.

You would think that we must have limited the areas that could be considered open for discussion. You would be wrong. All topics were fair game, but there were rules of engagement. First, every call started with topics that were not controversial and allowed us to warm up before we opened up. Our favorite topic was the weather. “It’s hot here today in Texas,” I would say. “Hot here in Oklahoma as well,” she would respond. You can’t get in trouble starting with the weather. We can’t control it but we can sure complain about it.

Next, she would ask about my family after which I would ask about hers. It let me practice my active listening skills. Just about now things would always turn a little more serious. So what would that be? Politics! I won’t tell you which side I would take,  but you can probably guess. She saw the world in a completely different way than did I. She owned her own business in crime prevention and later was a counselor at a prison pre-release center. She was a first responder for rape victims in her town and held group sessions for pre-release inmates.

If God keeps track of the good you do, he had to get extra paper for my sister’s unselfish acts. I on the other hand, am a singer/song writer/dreamer turned businessman by necessity. A successful businessman by the way, so my view of the elephant was completely different than hers. So, to have successful discussions about anything other than the weather, we had to establish rules.


First Rule: either party had the right to call time out.  It had to be accepted by the other partner, no matter what. This usually occurred when the conversation became just too emotional and crossed over the line from helpful to hurtful.

Second Rule: the person calling time out should pick a future time to continue the conversation and that was what usually happened. However, sometimes the topic was too much for us to handle in a gentle manner and was postponed indefinitely. This happened rarely, but it did happen. Abortion was one of those topics. It was just too emotional for us to speak about without damaging our relationship.


Third Rule: when she told me about a problem she was having, I often offered advice. This almost always ended the meaningful part of the conversation. One day my wife gave me the book, Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus. I wish I had read this 20 years sooner. But it wasn’t too late for me to change. So I did. When my sister would tell me about a problem she was having, I followed these rules and it worked.

⚪  Listen

⚪ Support her feeling of frustration

⚪ Assure her that she would come up with the correct answer, as she had many times before when faced with tough decisions

⚪ Only offer advice when specifically asked for advice

IMG_0243Fourth Rule: the red card disconnect. Here’s how it works. I want you to think of a soccer player (European football). The player is in the middle of the field surrounded by a few other players, but mostly open spaces. The game is being played fairly with no obvious fouls and you are only thinking about playing A game. Then it happens, you turn to tackle the ball away from a competitor and trip him instead. The referee is sure you did it on purpose and up comes the yellow card. You put your face in both hands, and raise them to the sky, proclaiming your innocence, but to no avail. You’re marked as an offender. You’re now being watched and many believe getting the red card is just a matter of time. Every mistake you make is magnified, with no tolerance or understanding that you’re only human.

At every turn the red card is just one misstep away. Why are they looking at you so differently than before? Because your offense has disconnected you from the mainstream.  Just make the slightest mistake and you’ll be dismissed from the field of play. As an offender, you never gets the benefit of the doubt.

Now think about a relationship. When you are connected you can make a few minor missteps, but because of your connection, all is forgiven. Your words aren’t misinterpreted and you’re given the benefit of the doubt. You are, by the way, human and humans are not infallible. There is no ill intent driving the behavior and therefore no future bad behavior should be expected. But what if you already had a yellow card? What if the connection was already in jeopardy? If you and your partner or even you and your customer aren’t close, every word is suspect.


When you are disconnected, every mistake is magnified. Here’s what happens. The slightest misstep, the most innocent comment, a glance away or a shrug of the shoulders and you guessed it, the red card. You’re dismissed from the field. I know relationships that are played like this and I bet you do, too.  These relationships are almost broken and just one foul away from the red card. Don’t let this happen to you.

Most Important Rule: don’t let the disconnect linger or minor offenses will be perceived as flagrant fouls and the red card isn’t far behind. Fix that small disconnect now.

Steve Haberly

Next week find out how to use the dying art of the handwritten word to stay connected or reconnect.

Connect and Collect

IMG_0214Connect and collect. What I’m about to tell you might just make you rich or even save your life. But first, you must open your mind and believe that anything is possible. Remember, the foundation of all my blogs is pretty simple.  Over the years I have experienced and learned many things and through all my experiences there has been a common thread. No matter how far I strayed from this universal truth I always came back. So what is that thread? Everything of any value depends on CONNECTION. That’s it. Pure and simple.

IMG_0008Let me give you some examples. Scientists believe that the connection at birth between a baby and a mother figure has a huge influence on the ultimate mental wellbeing of the child as it grows into adolescence and adulthood. A connection allows the baby to discover that she is secure, but independent from mom. Those really are her hands and feet and she can move them anytime she wants.

Your connection with school friends makes your feel like part of something. Your connection with a partner can bring you happiness. A connection with your faith can bring you peace.

What about other impacts from connection. If everything depends on connection (and without this connection failure is a sure thing) then we might say interdependency could also be the outcome of connection. Two things that are connected, depend on each other. Let’s take this one step further.

The philosophy of connection  would tell us that the relationship between the two connected variables may evolve to a higher level where one variable can change the other. If you will buy into this concept, then let me suggest to you that one variable may even control the other. A higher evolution of connection. So you really think I’m crazy now. Or maybe sitting on a stool in some dark corner reflecting on the impact of sunspots on ground squirrels mating cycles. But I’m not.


W all agree that the brain is an amazing organ. We understand so little about the brain that we must admit we don’t know exactly how it works. But what we do know is this, computers still can’t do what the human brain does every day, the decisions it makes,  The paths it navigates through life, etc.  So what if we were able to utilize the total power of our brain, could we influence the things inside us? Of course. Our thoughts can speed up or slow down our heart rate. Our thoughts of passion can make our face blush. If we think about our bad knee long enough the knee begins to hurt. Our brain is connected to our knee and influences our evaluation of its condition. But what about outside of our bodies? Could our brain control or at least influence things outside our bodies? Is the brain that strong? I believe the answer is yes and I hope to prove it to you.


I played some sort of sport most of my life. For me as a child it was baseball. I was the average player, not a star, but at least a contributor. But as an average player I never got nominated to the All Star Team until one fate filled year .When I was about 10 years old I somehow got the nod. Amazing. My father didn’t go to the game that day but we can talk about that another time when Alcoholism is my topic. A neighbor took me to the game. Nice guy, maybe 18 years old at best. It was a really hot summer day in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Hot and dusty. The plains of America are like that. You could get your uniform dirty even if you never got off the bench.

As I walked behind the backstop I saw something shining  in the Oklahoma dirt. I bent over and picked up a shiny Mercury dime. Wow. This is my lucky day, I thought to myself. I sat on the bench the first few innings and then the coach put me in right field. That made little sense to me since I was a catcher and didn’t have any experience in outfield. But I went out there anyway and that inning I got exactly ZERO balls hit my way. But I did get a chance to see a grasshopper eat a blade of grass until it was gone and so was the inning.

We were behind by 3 runs when it was my turn at bat. I picked up a bat that looked good to me and then stopped. I reached in my pocket and found that Mercury dime. My lucky day, I thought. This is my lucky day. When I stepped to the plate, the bases were loaded. The first pitch was low and outside. I couldn’t have hit it if I wanted to. The next pitch was right down the middle. I was too slow. “Strike one,” the umpire said.

The next pitch came so close to my ear that my hat fell off. Some kids laughed but most were just dirty, hot and tired and wondering if this was really America’s game. I just kept thinking that this is my lucky day. I found that dime, didn’t I? The next pitch was somewhere around the plate. I’m really not sure where, but all I remember to this day was the sound of wood on rawhide. The ball exploded into the outfield and past the center fielder and clear to the fence. Maybe he was looking at a grasshopper of his own, but it doesn’t matter. It was a grand slam home run. We won the game by one run in the last inning with my hit. It was my lucky day!


Was it my talent that connected with that ball and won the game that day or was it something else? Was it my fate? No, I believe my fate was to ride the bench and finish by striking out and leaving the runners stranded on base. But not this day. Not my lucky day! Even now,  I believe it was something else. I changed what the fates had planned for me. That dime made me believe. It made me believe in myself. My lucky day. The power of my mind over the things around me. All I had to do was believe. That day has had a huge impact on my life and I think about it every day.

So roll the film forward a bit. For most of my life if I found a dime on the ground I would put it in my pocket and say “This is My Lucky Day” Then one day a few years ago I thought: “Why do I wait for luck to find me. Why don’t I find luck?” Now after I get dressed I walk by my dresser and reach for the shiny coin I placed there the night before and say “This is My Lucky Day”. If I forget, there is also a dime lying on my desk at work, plus dimes in the drink cups in my truck. It was an amazing moment when I realized that my mind is so powerful it could change my destiny. I MAKE MY OWN LUCK.

So what does this have to do with getting rich? I’m glad you asked. I was recently on a flight to Las Vegas with my wife and daughter for a short getaway. The flight was full and loading passengers was really slow, so I had a chance to look a faces. I would estimate that 50% of the people I saw were here to enjoy this amazing place and part of their fun might be a little gambling. But there were those few faces that had a certain look. They seemed to look past the present and into the future, a future that only they could see. Were they the ones? The ones that had the dime in their pocket. I wish I knew.  I wish I could have followed their weekend to see the outcome, but I can’t help believing they walked away with their share of the winnings. If believing you could win can influence the fates and your ability to win, than they had the connection. A connection with luck.


A connection with luck, just like I had felt so many years ago. This is their lucky day.


I played two sessions per day and with four sessions behind me I was up maybe $100. I know that doesn’t sound like much, but I only gamble $100 per session. If I lose that, the session is over. I do adhere to a simple rule: never count on a losing streak to end and never walk away from a winning streak. It had been an okay few days of gambling, not impressive, but I was holding my own, until it happened.


The next day was a disaster. Both sessions were losers and quick losers. I barely got to sit down before I was standing and walking away. Ouch! When we got back to the room, I changed my jeans and made a discovery. There was no dime in my pocket. Not even one. I had left the dime in my other pants. Was that why I lost? Who knows? But I won’t make that mistake again. Tomorrow will be my lucky day.


Make your own luck.  Connect and collect.

Steve Haberly

Next week:  In the game of life you realize you have lost your connection.  You’ve been given the proverbial red card. What do you do now?