Every Once in a While I Wish…

None of these wishes have ever reached the level of a blowing-out-the-candle wish, and certainly none would be in my wishing-on-a-star category. I’m just saying, every once in a while it would be nice if….

Every once in a while I wish I had a magic pin to pop peoples’ pomposity

Every once in a while I wish I had a more ladylike sneeze

Every once in a while I wish I were a great rapper

Every once in a while I wish I could have interviewed Peter Mark Roget (If I thought it would work, I would use up a few candle wishes for this one)

Every once in a while I wish I could remember the names of everyone who ever taught me

Every once in a while I wish I would forget I forgot

Every once in a while I wish I had kept the ashtray I made for my Dad — out of fudge

Every once in a while I wish I would stop interrupting myself

Every once in a while I wish I could secretly paint over public statues in vivid colors

Every once in a while I wish I ran an orphanage

Every once in a while I wish I were in the US Senate (but just for a couple of weeks)

Every once in a while I wish I could scientifically prove I’m more accurate when I multitask

Every once in a while I wish I had been born with bright red hair

Every once in a while I wish I could draw a picture of Nothing

Every once in a while I wish I were an NBA coach

Every once in a while I wish I hadn’t said what I really thought.
(Actually, I’ll take that back.)


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It Pays to Know Others’ M.O.s

It’s just not worth it to ask people to do things if the way they do them doesn’t work for you.

Don’t ask initiating
     Fact Finders for an answer – if you aren’t prepared to provide lots and lots of background information.
     Follow Thrus for help – unless you’ve cleaned up pretty well ahead of time.
     Quick Starts for ideas – if you aren’t willing to take at least some of the recommended risks.
     Implementors to fix something – unless you have plenty of time to wait for it to be done really, really well.

When you know another’s M.O. you can predict what they’ll do based on non-prejudicial information, not on myths regarding gender, age, and race. You won’t make the mistake of making false assumptions that can hurt feelings and ruin relationships.

Don’t assume you can change people or that they will “wise up” and stop being whatever part of them may annoy you.

You might even see the humor in
     a perfectly healthy, resistant Fact Finder forgetting important details.
     a seemingly sensible initiating Follow Thru rejecting time-saving shortcuts.
     an introverted initiating Quick Start surprising others with sudden decisions to do the unexpected.
     a resistant Implementor pushing the wrong buttons and messing up technology.

If you know those things will happen, you have a better chance of stopping them from causing problems.

When resistant Implementors grab one of three remotes and operates it by instinct, they often mess it up.
(I just gave my resistant Implementor husband the latest, greatest universal remote. I’ll let you know if it helps.)

Leaders – and bossy spouses – have told me that knowing a person’s M.O. wouldn’t help. They would just demand that people do what they were told to do.

How has that worked for them?

When they have demanded
     Fact Finders cut to the bottom line – they got errors.
     Follow Thrus use short cuts – they got sloppy work.
     Quick Starts stick to the script – they got turnover.
     Implementors sit still and listen– they got disputes and disobedience.


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Microsoft: Ignorant or Arrogant?


You have set yourself up as a language expert.
You mercilessly correct our spelling errors all day every day.
You posture as an all-knowing judge and jury of right and wrong in use of language.

You ignore Peter Mark Roget, the true expert in the English language.
You ignore Plato and Aristotle and thousands of other thought leaders.
You ignore modern research and well-documented studies of the differences in the three parts of the human mind/brain.

…do you continue to spell-check the word for one of the three faculties of the brain, and simply replace it with the word for an altogether different mental faculty?
…do you ignore calls to correct your error?
…do you think we should trust you when you confuse the source of human actions with the source of passive thoughts?

…are you going to Get Conative?
…are you going to recognize the existence of your resistant Fact Finder M.O.?
…or am I confusing your conative behaviors with affective Arrogance?

MS Blog Pic2


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Don’t Mess with Truths of Conation

Unfortunately, some think that it would be a good idea to try and figure out how to make the brain conform to a job or educational system. For example, some say that it would be wise to find a way to get students to conform to regulations and do their work all in the same way. They don’t see the harm to the individual in doing this because it will “help” them do a better job. Many researchers are looking for ways to use QEEG technology to “change” brains so they are not ADHD. Some researchers are also trying to claim that since the brain has proven to have plasticity, my theory that conation is a constant isn’t accurate.

Yes. There is a way in which all human beings truly are equal. It is in the quantity of their conative abilities.

Yes. There is a part of all human beings that is consistent and sustainable throughout their lives. It is the conative modus operandi.

Yes. There is a renewable form of mental energy within all human beings that provides a natural resilience. It is a life-long, replenishable, conative drive.

Yes. I have discovered the patterns of a person’s M.O., and try to help individuals and organizations use this powerful resource for productive purposes.

Yes. I have found evidence that this resource emanates from a very deep region in the brain.

Yes. I can help individuals self-manage this resource to maximize their mental efficiency, reduce functional stress, and bring them the joy of accomplishment.

Yes. Ethical leaders have a responsibility to give those they lead the freedom to act, react, and interact according to each person’s M.O.

No. I absolutely, positively will not allow my work to be used to justify denying individuals the freedom to act according to their conative strengths.

No. I will not sit quietly and watch children and adults be medicated in an attempt to alter or dull their M.O.s – so that they “fit in” or act, react, and interact in a culturally more desirable way.

No. I will not assist faulty management systems that try to make human beings “more pliable” or force them to conform to work processes that denigrate their conative strengths.

No. I will not go along with brain researchers who, because of ignorance of conation, confuse the neuroplasticity among the three faculties of the brain with the absence of a need to protect the integrity of the brain’s M.O.

Bottom Line Conative Truths:

• Consistency of conative M.O.s assists an individuals’ Sustainability and Resilience and is compatible with theories of neuroplasticity.

• It is not only unethical to deny the free use of natural conative abilities, it is also unethical to try to alter the conative functioning of the brain.

• It is just plain stupid for any human being to think he or she is smart enough to create a better source of human power than the conative energy with which each person is endowed.


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Journalists vs. Today’s Media

Journalists dig behind the words.
Today’s media parse words.

Journalists interview subjects to get the story, not to be a part of the story.
Today’s media promote themselves on entertainment shows.

Journalists try to keep personal biases from being apparent.
Today’s media flaunts views in “panelist” roles.

Journalists seek unique angles and untold stories.
Today’s media repeat (and repeat) the story that is going around.

Journalists seek a wide variety of sources.
Today’s media interview people in the “Spin Room.”

Journalists don’t use the weird phrase, “Take a listen;” or begin a segment by issuing the command: “Look, what you have to know is…”
Today’s media believe it’s imperative that we pay attention to them.

Journalists don’t moonlight for the candidates or organizations in his/her stories.
Today’s media boast about insider connections with subjects in the news.

Journalists don’t confuse reporting the news with giving opinions about it.
Today’s media are confused about their role.

Journalists give the most important news at the top of the story.
Today’s media tease you to stay, but save the best part ‘til last.

(My bias: I am a long ago graduate of Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism)


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I’m not calling the following Pet Peeves, because the term is an oxymoron.

A pet is something you enjoy having around, that brings you pleasure and that you pamper.

A peeve is something that is annoying or irritating.

If Personal Peeves are brought out into the open will they become less irritating? I doubt it. There’s no really good reason for sharing these, but one of my Personal Peeves is my inclination to feel I need to write things that will make a difference in the world.

This list is probably not going to make any difference in anyone’s life. It’s way too personal, and it’s not a clearly focused statement about anybody or anything.

Some of Kathy Kolbe’s Personal Peeves

Calling Peeves “Pet Peeves”
Being told I should stay focused
Being told there is no such thing as multi-tasking
The phrase “Take a listen”
Airplane arm rest hogs
Stores purposely designed so I can’t find the exit
Menus that include cilantro on every offering
Using a conative MO as an excuse for not making an effort
Being called “young lady”
Tweets from a book of quotes
Dead spots on my iPhone at crucial moments in conversations
Waiters interrupting at crucial moments in conversations
Seeing people who resist Follow Thru routines called uncooperative
Calling chemically encased vegetables “fresh food”
Invitations that require RSVPs when I don’t even know the inviter
Being asked if I just woke up one morning knowing everything I’ve spent years studying
Hotel curtains with pesky spaces allowing early am light to hit my sleep-deprived eyes
Hearing conative actions referred to as preferences
Former friends who didn’t consider it an adventure when I got us lost
People who say they trust their instincts giving 35 reasons to prove it
Teachers whose homework assignments require parents to do the teaching
Claims that entrepreneurialism can be taught
Boring presenter reading boring PPTs expecting me to read along although it’s too small to read
Having to sit where there is no place to put my feet up
Things that look exactly alike but could kill me if I don’t know the difference
Phony praise
Phony laughs
Phony agreement
Professional sports teams assuming my years of being a season ticket holder means I’m always a fan
People who don’t know someone, yet referring to them as “my friend”
Innovation used to describe what’s been going on for years
Football risking the brains of players of all ages
Having to explain myself


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When a Fast-Forward Mind is Forced to Rewind

By my own reckoning, my instincts compel me to be future oriented and to resist living in the past. I’ve thrived by living according to my instincts, even when others have wished I could explain exactly when and where I had done what.

It’s not easy to avoid the past.

The Past is Omnipresent.

Everyone talks about it – a lot.
Most writers start with it.
Teachers tell you about it and test to see how much of it you recall.
Friendships are built on it.
Religions celebrate it.
Friends relive it.
Doctors dwell on it.
Politicians rewrite it.
Lawyers restate it.
Accountants refigure it.

How can the Past be avoided when:

Problems recur?
Events are relived?
Dialog is repeated?
People reappear?
Plans are reinvented?
Ideas are refreshed, reinvented, and reproduced?

What’s a person to do when redoing and remembering doesn’t come naturally?
Look stupid? Seem uncooperative? Satisfy requirements?

When I meet others with my conative MO, I often ask them about their survival tricks. They don’t want to talk about what has and hasn’t worked in the past. Worst of all is recalling times they had to justify steps they had previously taken.

Having to clean out a storage area in which I’ve dumped 3½ decades of my past efforts has made me realize there are 100s of products, programs and manuscripts that I could retrieve and reinvigorate.

I wouldn’t need another new idea as long as I live.


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Kids Who Know Their Conative Abilities Gain an Advantage in School

Parents and teachers have been confirming this headline for years. An exciting study with nearly 700 public school students in Kansas is being conducted this semester. Additional evidence will be gathered that shows the impact of students knowing and building on conative strengths. They will be tracked this semester as they learn their innate abilities by taking the Kolbe Y™ Index.

Outstanding educators in this top rated state system will work with Dr. Diane DeBacker, the Kansas Commissioner of Education, to assess the results. She has been a leader among Kolbe certified educators for over a decade.

A University of Kansas doctoral study, authored by the principal of the school, will report the conclusions. Objectives that will be analyzed include evidence of students showing improved classroom performance, self-confidence, study skills, attendance, and communication with teachers, parents, and classmates.

Twelve thousand additional Kansas students could soon benefit from using the Kolbe method based upon the outcomes of the study. Arizona State University is sponsoring a concurrent study at a special school for gifted students. It is also being led by an educator with whom I have worked for numerous years – the very wonderful Bret Loucks.

Think-ercise® books and games (with roots in my award winning, but dormant Resources for the Gifted enterprise) will provide activities for the students to practice individual methods of creative problem solving. My hope is that kids from the two programs will be inspired to challenge one another online. It will be a joy to disseminate the teachers’ ideas as well.

Headlines of the future:

Teachers Who Understand Conative Abilities Enable Students to Thrive

Kids Who Know Their Conative Abilities Lead School Reform


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Why I am so Obstinate – and you should be, too

Being Obstinate, according to one of my personal heroes, Peter Mark Roget, is akin to:

• Tenacity
• Perseverance
• Dogged resolution
• Having a ruling passion
• Being willful
• Acting with determination

Being Obstinate means:

Fighting for the freedom to be yourself
Firmly adhering to your purpose and principles
Not being controlled or manipulated
• Proving your personal resilience

If we don’t overcome the obstacles that keep us from having the
freedom to act on instinct, we will never live up to our potential.
That makes Being Obstinate an imperative.

You are practicing Strategic Obstinance when you:

• Go where everyone else wants to go – but do your own thing in the process.
• Play the game others are playing – but work to attain your personal best.
• Give the “right” answer – then, add your personal opinions.
• Wear what’s appropriate – with your personal touches added in.

When you are Being Obstinate:

• Your intractable defense of your own methods will be persuasive.
• Your unyielding pursuit of your personal freedom makes you invincible, even to the criticism of those with presumed power over you.
• Your instinctive powers come to the forefront.
• You don’t linger long after disappointments
• You are challenged by what otherwise might defeat you.
• You do the do-able– and even some things you may have believed were improbable.


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Yellow Pad to iPad – and Back

I love technology. My Think Pad, iPad and iPhone help me communicate with more people more often from more places.

But do they help me think as deeply as my theorist mind needs to go? That question kept coming to my mind while going thru 40 years of hand-written papers, some water soaked but partially saved after a fire in our office a year ago. (Actually, there’re only 30 yrs of papers…cuz there aren’t many hand-written papers from the last 10 yrs.)

What was I thinking?

There it was – the paper on which I scribbled a formula, crossed it out and tried again, then again. I could see where my mind had thought to go, then turned in a different direction, then settled on what has worked for decades. None of that process shows up when I work on my computer. I try to do what today’s tech experts recommend and erase most previous versions of docs. What do those show anyway?

In the boxes there are pages torn out of yellow pads with squiggles all over them. No stock photos or pics, just my hand-drawn icons for four things I called Powers, Creative Strengths, Positives…finally Action Modes. Version upon version of a concept. My arrows remind me how emphatic I was when I hit on a formula that resonated in my mind. Right there is the one that has been used for decades. I did a swirling circle around it. Lots of swirls.

Archiving the details isn’t the point. It’s my process of decision making that matters most – at least to me.

Now THAT’S the page where a concept fell into place. That drawing of the Kolbe Creative Process was in-tune with what felt like truth. Seeing it made me recall putting the pen down, resting my head on the back of the chair as if I were a composer listening to a symphony I’d just completed.

Several random yellow (or blue or pink or white) pads later I see the difference. And, I can hear the dissonance I sensed in my head when I moved an element to the wrong place. Computers may screech when they are misused. My mind does that when it senses errors. But it seems louder when I do it with a pen on paper.

Another stack of yellow pads. All with lists and lists and lists of words. Days and days, and weeks and months of searching for the right ones. Some pages all nouns. I can tell they were wrong because they were printed more formally. I was certainly being too cognitive. When I see the list of verbs, it’s as if trumpets blared. Yes! I remember my sweeping orchestra conductor movements in the middle of the night. That’s it! It’s all about the harmony of the four types of Action Verbs.

I had obviously scribbled furiously. The a’s and e’s were sometimes script and sometimes print – that’s when I am on a roll. (And it just doesn’t show up on my Word docs.)

Pads and pads and pads of lists. There were the ones from Roget. There were the ones from the physics books. There were the ones from cartoons.

There are the lists of names. Hundreds of names – mostly just first names of kids and adults – attached to various sets of words. Yes, I remember Bob defying me to predict what he would do with those tooth picks. There are the names of the gifted junior high kids who found the information fit them to a tee. There is the woman whose name I never got right, but who broke into tears with an MO I will never forget.

Hit “Save”

After the fire in our office I was told, and said to others: “We were able to save most of the important things. Our clients never lost a moment of access to scoring Kolbe Index results when our server room was destroyed.”

Some water soaked boxes were carried into the back corner of our undamaged warehouse next door. The IRS would need some of the financial information in the boxes over there. THEY were scanned, but no one rushed to save the boxes of my handwritten work.

The results of my thinking have gone into computer programs, formulas, books, and software applications. Thank goodness we’d backed up the damaged servers. There is no way to back up my memory of the process it took to discover conative truths.

It’s the conclusions my processes led to that matter to the world. No one but me would be able to interpret these tattered pages. They won’t stop those who believe ideas just pop out of my head. Or that my work must have been stolen from someone with a PhD.

As a resistant Fact Finder, I won’t spend much more time looking thru the old stuff. The smudged papers have served their purpose. They told me what I need to do.

I need to move forward using all of my techy toys. I also need to protect days for making – and fine tuning – music in my head. I need the process of putting pen to yellow pads.



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Kids & Sports: Time for Sharing Values

Something I did the least well in my school days, has helped me do what I care about most now. I was an Activities Major: student government VP, a newspaper editor, co-director of the original musical production – almost anything and everything, except for sports.

But I was an avid sports fan. I learned how to keep detailed baseball score cards before I learned Roberts Rules of Order.

Sports have acted as glue in our family, a source of shared fun and for sharing values with my parents, kids and grandkids. Even my seven in-town grandkids, with whom I spend lots of time, have yet to get a lecture from me about writing or putting on a musical, but they know exactly what I think about errors in baseball, the importance of assists in basketball, head-butting in youth soccer, and the plethora of medals in gymnastics.

They know I will watch them play any game they choose, but will be outspoken about the unmitigated dangers of football, and the silly sexist style of little girls’ “baseball.” I’ll cheer loudly for any team that’s playing hard and watch in the rain for the final play of a team that’s working to the bitter end. I’ve also been known to ask, “What made you feel really good about that game?” Win or lose.

Herein lies the beauty of sports with my kids and grandkids. It’s in the banter about the game, the plays and the players that we share values, perspectives and opinions that would bore them in any other arena. Watching sports together means they knew exactly how strongly I felt about drug use without my ever having lectured them on the subject.

No way, no how, should a drug user be admitted to a Hall of Fame. Period. Got that? Yep.

A loss with a bunch of errors is for losers who didn’t give it their best shot. No sympathy – and don’t ever blame it on the officiating.

Basketball is a team sport, so I’m done cheering for that pro who makes sure his stats look good in spite of the team losing games. “See how he took the shot but could have drawn the foul – which would have helped us more in the long run? I’d bench him. You wouldn’t!? Just cuz he’s a star? What’s the deal?”

“How much money is it costing the organization to have that guy sitting on the sidelines? Maybe we ought to just trade him? Fans love him. What if we divided his salary up among all the season tickets holders and gave them a refund? Oh yeah, math does matter.”

Sports has led us to natural discussions about work ethic, morality, trust, respect, team work, staying focused, following the rules, overcoming the odds, holding your ground, strategizing, non-verbal communications, dress codes, music as a manipulator of the masses, drugs, loyalty, economics, understanding the odds, persistence, fear (including of mascots), racial discrimination, sexism, self-confidence, embarrassment, punctuality, uses of customs and rituals, safety, abuse, celebrations, anger, duty, vendors who brand themselves, honesty, attitude vs. intelligence, luck, not burning bridges, parking strategically, practice, trusting your instincts and appreciation of individual differences.

Wow, I just got started, but will give it a break.

Some weeks my husband and I go to five or six grandkids’ sporting events, and/or with them to pro games. Bring’em on.

Today we’re celebrating our 26th anniversary by going to a Diamondback’s game with two grandsons in our blended family. I know both will be totally disgusted if there are a lot of errors, and will high-five us in recognition of a great bunt as well as a home run. Both have learned how to be team players in sports and within the family– and what to say to get a grin from Grandma.

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Why is it Good to Fail?

Failure can be informative, insightful, energizing, clarifying, character building, team building, equalizing – and very funny.

Lack of failure is a sign of an avoidance of creative efforts.

Fear of failure stunts innovation.

Overcoming failures fuels future success.

Not making an effort is a far more egregious error than making the wrong one.

Defining and assigning failures to those who caused them is an essential step in improving group processes – and individual performance.

Those who don’t own up to failure will not have many reasons to be singled out for success.

Those who are uncomfortable when failure is pointed out betray a desire to hide in the midst of mediocrity.

Failures in children can spawn humility.
(A good reason to sign kids up for activities that will be difficult for them)

Failures in arrogant adults are blamed on someone else.
(A good reason to find the actual culprit and not do group punishments)

Games of chance make failure the luck of the draw. They provide no chance to experience the benefits of failure.

Winning means less to those who have not suffered losses.

Conatively inclined risk takers (Quick Starts) are not authentic if they don’t fail fairly often.

If you want the benefits of failure you have to reward it. How are you doing that?


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A Family Business After All

Growing up in a family business started by my father, I saw my generation suffer from a misplaced use of abilities and stresses that negatively affected our personal relationships. I certainly never wanted to be involved in another family business.

More than a decade after I’d founded an award winning company, my newly married spouse, Will Rapp, became so passionate about what I was doing for US businesses, families and schools, that he wanted to help take it to international clients.

I told him he had to earn his own way into the business and start by working as one of our independent resellers, proving he could make a profit buying and selling through our standard pricing system. He earned the position of President of Kolbe International. Today we serve clients in 34 countries.

Will’s daughter, Amy Bruske, needed a place of refuge. A bright, hardworking, successful young career woman with a professional baseball player husband, she’d fought off a parking lot attack in LA and needed to be with us in Phoenix while her husband was on the road. She also needed to keep working, so I offered her the opportunity to do some things at Kolbe Corp for a few months. I made it clear it was not a family business, so this was just a short time deal. She made it clear that she intended to be her own person, and certainly wouldn’t be sticking around long. She immediately became irreplaceable.

That was 18 years ago. Through her efforts, she has earned a share of the company. Yesterday, I was a very proud Mom/co-owner, who was able to watch her receive the award for Business Owner of the Year from the Phoenix Chapter of NAWBO. She was nominated for her work with that organization and the leadership she provided the company during the last year; a year we not only survived a major fire and relocation of the business, but grew the business (36% in the last two years of a down economy) and created highly innovative, new products.

At a celebratory dinner with Amy’s kids and my son David’s kids last night, one of his kids said to me, “I thought Kolbe Corp was Daddy’s business.” I told her that he is the “deciderer” about many things, and owns part of the business too. Yesterday, he was out of town at meetings with senior level military leaders, discussing how Kolbe Corp could help our national defense and perhaps further our brain research.

I told David that he could never work in my business unless he had first proven himself on his own. He told me he would never want to work in a family business. He had seen what had happened among my siblings. Yet, 15 years ago he left a law firm to help us because he saw how much his combined Wharton Business School/legal training could contribute to Kolbe Corp’s mission, which he believed strongly in. Now, he is the CEO and General Counsel of Kolbe Corp.

A few months ago, one of our clients, who specializes in consulting with family businesses, commented to me that Kolbe was the best run family business he had ever seen. I, myself, work with lots of family businesses, trying to save them from the unfortunate misalignments that existed in the one I grew up in. One of the differences I point out between most of them and Kolbe Corp is that there has never been an expectation or requirement that the other five, highly successful, Kolbe/Rapp offspring would participate in the business. Another difference is that all four of us work within our Conative strengths and divide the responsibilities accordingly.

In the past, I have chosen to say that we are so different from most family businesses that Kolbe Corp is not a family business.

Today I realize Kolbe Corp is a family business.

David and Amy, as co-owners, lead a team of highly committed employees who are members of an extended family that helps us all make a difference to so many other families and businesses.

At Kolbe Corp everyone is a member of the family. Everyone is responsible for earning his or her own way, is respected for individual abilities, and has to prove a high level of commitment to a shared purpose.

I am very proud of the honor Amy won yesterday and what it says about the Kolbe Corp family.


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“Follow Your Passion” – with Lots of Effort

A father asked me recently to tell his son that he should “Follow his passion.” Not wanting to undermine fatherly advice, I hedged.

“You certainly need to do what you were meant to do,” I said, knowing that meant whatever either one of them wanted it to mean.

To me, that phrase is very specific – and very different from suggesting the guy should just do what he has a great desire – or passion – to do.

Passion is a high level of affect, and affect or emotions trigger creativity (which can also be defined as your problem solving process). I hoped this young man would do some creative problem solving to figure out what he should do with his life – and get on the job of living his life with purpose. Following his passion is just a starting point.

That’s all it is.

If everyone wanders around following a passion, there would be no symphonies, no cakes for weddings, no Triple Crown winners, no Hall of Famers, no great movies, no fun tech toys, no special brews, no beautiful gardens.

Passion is only 1/3 of the creativity formula. Whether the results are positive or negative, the equation includes equal parts of effort using emotional preferences, conative actions and cognitive skills.

The father thought that if his son acted according to advice on his Kolbe A™ Index he would do well chasing his passion. Yes, using your innate conative strengths to make something happen is lots easier than working against your conative grain. However, even if you lived alone on an island, survival would require working against your instinctive grain some of the time. You need to learn how to deal with such situations.

You also have to work to gain knowledge, evaluate and become persuasive about what you want to be doing.

Following a passion requires spending time and energy learning about it (and yourself), and persevering in doing it — including when you experience failures.

Following a passion requires sacrifice. It means giving up lots of other things you would enjoy doing, but that would consume too many of your mental resources.

What I wanted to say to the young man was:

Work hard to do things that you believe have value. Make an effort to learn as much about them as you can. When you find a passion that is worth your sacrificing the time and energy you could be putting into other endeavors, you will know it is a life passion, not a passing interest.

Instead, I turned to his father, who I knew lived a purposeful life, with a passion about what he does, and said, “Tell your son about the hard work and sacrifices you have made to follow your passion. He sees the result, and would benefit from understanding the great amount of effort you put into achieving your goals.”


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Curt Schilling: Losing the Mind Game

Pitching great, Curt Schilling, isn’t the first guy to find that power in one game doesn’t guarantee success in another. Michael Jordan couldn’t make it work going from NBA player to an owner, coach and general manager. Strengths in one position, even in the same game, don’t assure a good fit in another role. Schilling appears to have struck out big time as a wannabe entrepreneur.

I watched Schilling pitch lots of games for Arizona – and didn’t see a single sign of him having entrepreneurially minded moves at the mound. He relied on throwing the ball hard and fast past hitters, and later charted and logged each pitch in a diary. He was an expert in what he did well.

No surprise that he would hire like-minded experts to put together his dream of building a grandiose online video game, code named Copernicus. It seems like he assembled a cloned team of detail-oriented, statistically driven, strategic planners to do the job. The problem is, that never works.

Not only did Schilling lack the entrepreneurial instincts to have changed it up when the business was in trouble, it looks like he didn’t even bring in go-for-it innovators as relief. He stuck with his roster of high-priced power players with proven records, thinking the most experienced people in the video gaming industry would be just the right team for creating a more powerful version of, yet another, sword-and-sorcery game. No surprise, but apparently they are at least a year behind schedule and the game is unlikely to ever become a reality.

Nothing new here – including the predictable demise of Schilling’s company. Even the $75 million dollar investment by Rhode Island taxpayers and his own apparent $50 million hasn’t overcome the inertia. Without the synergy of different conative or instinctive strengths, teams do not achieve lofty goals or accomplish great things.

Schilling once demanded that the retractable roof at the Arizona Diamondback’s Chase field, paid for by Arizona taxpayers, be closed whenever he pitched. Stats had convinced him that the open air led to more home runs. Management, much like Rhode Island politicians, let him get away with it – until those tax-paying fans demanded the blue skies they had paid for.

Arizona won the World Series when they had a team working together with vastly differing natural, conative strengths. Losing that Synergy is another story.


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Power of Resistance

Natural resistances in the way you act, react and interact (in other words, the way you get “Get Conative”) are essential to your being at your best.

  • Trust a conative strength to resist and you will find yourself avoiding problems.
  • Resistances are as necessary to making good decisions as trusting your methods for taking the initiative.
  • Natural resistances have nothing to do with your personality.

A major detriment in our current Good-Job culture is that we over-reward taking initiatives that involve low levels of effort, and under-reward efforts that require a conative resistance. This happens even after a resistance has prevented a nonproductive, even potentially harmful initiative. Who noticed?

Our culture, which notices and praises emotions, often mistakes a constructive resistance with a negative attitude.

What happens when we don’t benefit from the natural counter-balance of our instincts to resist initiatives?

  • Academic programs have too much analysis/paralysis
  •  Large institutions have too much bureaucracy
  •  Innovators sell before they have a reliable product or service (think vaporware)
  •  Physical protectors construct solutions that come with too high a price to be realistic.

Pay attention to how you use your resistant strengths in your conative MO (modes of operation), and pat yourself on the back for having the gumption to do it. You’ll notice how unlikely it is in today’s world that you’ll get praise from others.

Also watch the outcomes. You’ll find they will payoff for you – and that others benefit, too.

If your Kolbe A ™ Index result finds you prevent in a Kolbe Action Mode, here are the possible ways you could prevent problems (you can complete it at kolbe.com/At):

Fact Finder Resist: You solve problems despite a lack of specific information, and cut into complex discussions to clarify issues.

Follow Thru Resist: You work well despite constant interruptions, and mix things up so systems aren’t too boring and repetitious.

Quick Start Resist: You stick with what’s working despite others’ desires for change, and avoid taking unnecessary risks.

Implementor Resist: You are able to make buying decisions despite not being able to see the thing in person, and can imagine what the results will be.

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True to Themselves to the End

I have observed over the years that people with illnesses that rob them of their physical strength remain true to their conative selves, yet often need assistance in fighting for the freedom to be themselves. They have a dimming of their mental energy – not a changing of the nature of it. They need people around them who understand and assist them in being their conative selves.

When individuals cannot do things the way they need to do them, they need assistance having things done as they would do them if they could. A case in point is a 9 in Follow Thru, in his last days and unable to speak, who became frustrated when nurses did not put his shaving equipment back in his nightstand according to his custom. Simply opening the drawer and placing the things in it as he would do it calmed him greatly. It was equally important to write his schedule for the week where he could see it, even when there was little to put on it but eating and sleeping.

What can seem a strange behavior in a very ill person, can be his or her fighting for an outlet for a conative need. A mentally active 9 in Quick Start who needed unique, colorful innovations in her life was bedridden for years with debilitating pain. Her doctors upped doses of medications when she showed signs of anger, anxiety and depression. It may have been her way of acting on her conative need that led her to shop for sparkling jewelry on TV. She was joyful when she was strong enough to put on several pieces of her colorful jewelry, which she switched around from day-to-day in innovative combinations.  “It’s one way I can still be me,” she said. 

An 8 in Implementor who was told she had only a couple of days to live, has survived for 18 months with the help of a daughter who enables her mother to interact with nature – to the best of her abilities. It is inspiring to watch the system her daughter helps her use despite being tied to an oxygen tank.  She collects leaves from her garden with Monarch eggs on them (from the special milk weed plants she grows close to the house), feeds them leaves as they go through the caterpillar stage, and finds joy in being able to release them when they transform into butterflies — from her finger to a flower in her garden.  Her sense of purposefulness is fully intact, though she knows each day could be her last. “I may be able to help, but if not, I’m teaching my great grandchildren and neighbors’ children,” she says, “Together, we could release a thousand Monarchs next year.“


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Validation by Fire

Validation is a word that comes up a lot in my life. I’m thrilled to be able to validate the power of individual differences, for instance.  My dyslexia is validated with most everything I say or do – or write. My faith in humankind is validated about 93% of the time. My body validates that there IS an aging process 100% of the time.

Validation comes after you already know something is true – yet it still feels good when it confirms you are right.

It didn’t take a fire that rendered the Kolbe executive office building uninhabitable for me to know what an amazing team we have at Kolbe Corp. But it sure feels terrific to have that validated through the actions taken by every single team member.

I was out of town when it happened, close enough to hurry back. What business owner doesn’t cut short her off-site writing time and get back to town when there’s a major fire? One who totally trusts her team to make the right decisions (and knows no one was injured).

Several of our top execs were on the road with clients when all of the exec and IT offices had to be moved into our ops building. None had to cancel or be on the phone giving directions. When all of your team members take responsibility for shared goals, sharing space and accommodating others’ needs is not a dire situation.

The fire rendered our IT center, fondly known as “the cave,” unusable. We’re an Internet-based company. If our servers or services go down, we’re out of business.  With proper back-up and wise planning, a local disaster shouldn’t be felt by your worldwide customers.  None noticed.

Best validation of all: I haven’t received a single note of condolence. Don’t need one. I have proof that the Kolbe team can and will pull together under fire.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to those in our state and others who have suffered serious loss due to fires.


Filed under Self-Help

Masking Success?

Does wearing a clown costume make you a clown?

Does being educated at an excellent clown school make you a better clown?

How many people who go to clown school actually have the conative instincts to be good clowns? (Yes, we’ve found there are some conative characteristics that are consistent with successful clowns).  If it’s not in your nature, but you wanna do it, can you learn to be a great clown?

Of course, we know that wearing a mask doesn’t change your reality.  So, it must be very sad to know what you need to do when you go out there dressed up like a clown, yet don’t have what it takes to do it well. 

Perhaps those clowns who seem so creepy are the conatively inauthentic clowns.

Being trained to act like a clown doesn’t make you any more a clown than being trained to act like a salesperson makes you a good salesperson. Maybe that’s why there are so many sales people who make us want to run away? And lawyers, and carpenters, and bosses.

I only dressed up in a clown outfit once. To entertain kids at a camp I ran. It totally embarrassed my son, David. Of course, I wasn’t an educated clown. I was just me being silly. Mom’s being silly always seem to embarrass their sons. Guess the costume wasn’t good enough.


Filed under Self-Help

Valentine’s by Instinct: Avoiding Conative Calamities

Valentine’s is a retailers’ day of hope and many individuals’ day of despair. What’s billed as a day for sharing signs of affection is actually a day that tests your conative IQ (how smart you are about another’s MO).

Valentine’s is a day when you’re assessed by how you act, react and interact – making it one of the most conatively stressful days of the year. Turn potential conative calamities into opportunities for extra points with these tips for how to play the day:

Do tell insist Fact Finders exactly why you love them. Words that lack specificity are mere fluff to them.

Don’t worry if resist Fact Finders don’t put sentiments in writing. You know their speaking from their natural instinct if they keep it simple.

Do use lots of superlatives with insist Quick Starts, they’re underwhelmed by anything less.

Do give insist Implementors cards/gifts you made my hand. Even if it doesn’t look pretty, be sure it’s obvious you put lots of time and touchables into it.

Do check out the quality of a hand-made gift from an insist Implementor. If it was thrown together the relationship is likely to be falling apart.

Don’t get the same thing you got last year for a resist Follow Thru – even it went over really well. They read repetition as your being bored with the relationship.

Do give the same thing to insist Follow Thrus – if you got kudos for it — or it seems you didn’t pay attention to what they really like.

Don’t ask insist Quick Starts what they want to do to celebrate Valentine’s. It’s the surprise that counts.

Do not surprise an insist Follow Thru with anything that might interrupt routines or plans. It could actually ruin their day. Ask ahead of time.

Do appreciate whatever original thing insist Quick Starts do for you. It means they tried to do something special even if it didn’t work out well.

Do ditch insist Quick Starts in new relationships who do nothing original for you. They’re showing a lack of involvement in the relationship.

Don’t give up on insist Quick Starts in long-term relationships for showing the same lack of originality on Valentine’s Day. They ought not to think they still need to “sell” you.

Do let insist Follow Thrus who give you whatever was at the check-out counter know that you’ll regift it. No gift from them is better than a clear afterthought.

Don’t be quite so hard on resist Follow Thrus who pick up something impersonal at the last minute. It’s an unfortunate part of their nature. Cut a win/win deal that lets you get your own gift next year.

Do give your Valentine’s the gift of a Kolbe A Index, so you can be sure you’re using the right conative tips. http://kolbe.com/A

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