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Random Acts of Kindness
Lines and Ropes
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Tweets For You
I send 15-20 tweets a week with links to useful articles and research; here are a few of my latest, including links:

"To achieve something new you have to be stubborn & focused, to the point that others might find unreasonable." (Jeff Bezos)

These square with my experience: 5 ways to keep your top talent from walking out the door

Agree; see my comment suggesting how educational institutions can grow leaders skilled at civil discourse.

"To cultivate kindness is a valuable part of the business of life." (Samuel Johnson) See "Random Acts of Kindness" at

@New Yorker: "Apple products typically have a feeling of integrity in the original sense - whole, rather than a collection of parts."

Some ideas for your next movie night - from WSJ - Hollywood's Favorite Villain: Business

Interesting research on how to strengthen truth-telling cultures: Why employees lie (and how to get them to stop) -

How do you persuade?

Helpful strategy advice from @Strategy and Business: 10 Clues to Opportunity

On the dangers of "pseudo voice." See "Authenticity" chapter in

Confirmation that when leaders use input (less likely for powerful people) decisions improve - @Strategy and Business

Will this make it any less of a "dismal science?" Economists Pen an Ethics Code via @WSJ

A clear strategy and truth-telling culture = money in the bank. More on how at

Banking Chiefs Must Come Clean on Risks @WSJ True: "The trust train left the station in 2008 and isn't returning soon."

Of course - "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me!" - More on why lack of transparency is costly.

Is your ego in the way of your success? (Your people might think so) -  - A strong case for the power of truth-telling.

Turbulent Times, Steady Success
via @WSJ - a reason why "Discipline" is one of "3Cs & 3Ds" in

"We can live 40 days w/out food, 4 days w/out water, 4 mins. without air. But we cannot live 4 secs. w/out hope."

Best Jobs eulogy: The Secular Prophet via @WSJ "Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life."

"Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water or do you want a chance to change the world?" (Steve Jobs) RIP Mr.

A step in the right direction: Investors call for mandatory integrated reporting to include sustainability

Nobel prize awarded for discovering a "dark energy blowing the universe apart" - maybe a lack of civility? -

This appears to be an excellent effort to improve accountability and link measures that matter with a university's purpose

Sound advice here on communicating strategy and engaging people around its execution.

What are we doing to foster "The New Integrity"? The Old Integrity via @huffingtonpost

What does integrity have to do with leadership excellence? Download Al's Sep Leadership Excellence Magazine article at

If you missed it, below is a copy of my latest blog, Random Acts of Kindness. Since some may not have seen September's article, the introduction of Lines and Ropes is reproduced here; you can read the entire article by clicking the link at the end. Be sure to enter the Who Said This?" contest at the end here to win an autographed copy of Navigating Integrity - Transforming Business As Usual Into Business At Its Best.
Random Acts of Kindness
Can you remember the last time you were the beneficiary of a "random act of kindness" - an unsolicited, totally unexpected kind act from a stranger?  How did you feel, and how did that affect the course of your day?  Can you remember a time when someone else benefited from your random act of kindness?


I've been collecting them for a few months now; the last one was in a giant French metro station when my wife's ticket didn't work and she was stuck behind heavy metal bars with her luggage.  A woman behind her used her pass to unlock the gate and motioned her through.  I Giftdidn't have time before one long trip to mow our lawn; imagine the pleasant surprise when I returned to discover that our neighbor mowed it for us! Earlier this year, as my wife exited our car on a busy street she dropped a book; an Excel Energy truck driver noticed that her arms were full, got out of his truck, picked up the book and returned it to her. The random act that got me thinking about this was when a woman in front of me at Starbucks offered to buy my coffee.  I thanked her and declined the offer, but she insisted, saying: "I'm just having a good day and wanted to buy someone a cup of coffee!"  There were more, and they were all "game changers" of sorts; in each case I immediately felt positive about the initiator (and in the truck driver's case, Excel,) it brightened up my day and caused me to "pay it forward" with others.

What difference has it made for you when you were the recipient of a random act of kindness?  How about when you were the initiator?  These are challenging times, with many of us preoccupied about our own sets of concerns and agendas; the environment seems a little unfriendly, or indifferent at best.  I wonder what the impact would be if each of us made a commitment to initiate a random act of kindness daily, or a few per week.  In most cases that should be pretty easy; Opening doorthere are adequate opportunities if we're paying attention.  Opportunities could be as simple as opening a door for someone (a lost practice!) or picking up dropped change (and returning it of course!)  At work we could help someone with a workload to help her leave earlier, treat someone to a cup of coffee or favorite snack, ease a new employee's transition or take the time helping someone reload a complicated printer.  It's amazing what just an unexpected smile can do to brighten things up.  (If we're ever at a loss for ideas, of course one can find multiple resources on the web merely by searching "random acts of kindness.")

Many businesses already give via community or charity efforts, and in most cases those are planned, budgeted and promoted programs.  I'm intrigued with the prospect of a business or institution incorporating random acts of kindness in its business model or culture; if any of you are aware of that, please share it.


Big random acts of kindness can make a big impact, including help with rent, repairing a vehicle or taking care of someone's yard.  The impact is magnified when help isn't requested and there is no sense of obligation; the "surprise" factor can totally redirect a relationship, course of events or outcomes.  We all have opportunities to be change agents, and some of the changes can be transformational, by initiating random acts of kindness.  May you be the beneficiary or initiator of one or two soon!



"To cultivate kindness is a valuable part of the business of life."
Samuel Johnson, English poet, writer

"No kind action ever stops with itself. One kind action leads to another. Good example is followed. A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees. The greatest work that kindness does to others is that it makes them kind themselves." 

Amelia Earhart; Aviation pioneer, author  



Lines and Ropes
September 13 blog

Rope 1 jpgthe difference between a line and a rope?"  That is one of my favorite questions to ask new LOON crew members.  The answer is that a rope just sits there, with no purpose or use yet, like a pile of rope on the dock or extra rope in your locker.  A line is rope with a purpose that's put to use, like a dock line or halyard for raising sails.  

On a re
cent sail we got to talking about how there are "lines" and "ropes" in organizations, too.  You know them; the lines are usually engaged in some constructive pursuit, and the ropes seem to just sit there with little meaningful purpose or activity.  On some teams, linesLines 1 jpg sometimes take most of the strain, including work that some of the ropes should be doing.
It's not always a rope's fault that it lacks purpose or isn't engaged.  I think it was in Robert Mager's book Analyzing Performance Problems (with the catchy sub-title "You Really Oughta' Wanna") that I first heard there are four main reasons some people (lines) don't do what we'd like:
  • They don't know what.  For lack of familiarity with a task or setting, they may simply not know what needs doing.  They need an explanation and clear expectations.
  • They don't know how.  This is an educational or training opportunity.  Inexperienced crew members likely know that good knots are important, but no matter how many times they are asked to tie a bowline or clove hitch, if they aren't shown how it won't happen.  

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All the best,

Al Watts
inTEgro, Inc.
ph: (612) 827-2363