Author Archives: Barb Phillips

LAST CHANCE to Lock In Course Rates Before January Price Increase!

Posted: December 17th, 2014 in Courses

Are you planning to take TapRooT® training in 2015? We wanted to let you know course rates will increase January 1, but you can still reserve your seat in a 2015 public course at 2014 rates if you register before midnight, December 31, 2014.

This recent public course in Calgary, Canada is looking good!

This recent public course in Calgary, Canada is looking good!

TapRooT® is not only valued by accident investigators, but is also a valued skill for those who:

  • need to solve quality-related issues
  • have equipment downtime problems
  • experience failure to achieve optimal operational success

Take a look at the course list, and save up to $300 per course by locking in on 2014 rates. Register now:

Career Development: Why Do You Do What You Do?

Posted: December 16th, 2014 in Career Development, Career Development Tips

Is not your resources that matter, it’s your resourcefulness. The decisions we make today about using (or not using) the skill of resourcefulness are shaping our destinies.

It’s Back! Early-bird Registration Drawing for the 2015 Global TapRooT® Summit!

Posted: December 15th, 2014 in Summit

early birdYou can win a great prize by REGISTERING EARLY for the 2015 Global TapRooT® Summit.

We are giving away an iPad Mini to the 2015 Global TapRooT® Summit early bird prize drawing winner.  An iPad Mini has all the great features of an iPad offering millions of ways to learn, work and play.

To enter the drawing, simply submit your paid Summit registration to our office before the end of February, 2015.

Here’s how you can get the most tickets to win – register for the Summit:

by December 31 and you’ll get 3 tickets plus two BONUS TICKETS for a total of 5 tickets in the drawing.

by January 31 and you’ll get 2 tickets in the drawing.

by February 28 and you’ll get 1 ticket in the drawing.

The early registration drawing will be held at the Kickoff Session, Wednesday, June 3, 2015 at 8:00 a.m. at The Flamingo Las Vegas Hotel (You must be present to win!). This drawing is in addition to the other prize giveaways we have planned for the 2015 Summit.

If you are planning to register for the Summit, don’t delay!  Increase your odds of winning an iPad Mini.

LEARN MORE about the Summit.

A Core Value for Leadership

Posted: December 10th, 2014 in Career Development, Career Development Tips

We’ve written about determining and living your core values so we thought you may be interested in this article along the same theme.

This article was submitted by “Captain George” J. Burk, a Vietnam veteran, plane crash & burn survivor and motivational speaker. Visit his website at or let him know what you think at:

Humility: Advantage for leaders originates from this unforeseen core value

Humility: “the absence of any feelings of being better than others; freedom from pride and arrogance; lack of false pride.”

It seems we live in a time where authoritarian power is questioned from the classroom to the boardroom and many places in-between, research seems conclusive—humility is a dramatically and more effective way to lead.

A study from the University of Washington Foster School of Business shows that humble people tend to make the most effective leaders(yep, that right, the most) and are more likely to be high performers in both individual and team settings. This is not a revelation to me because of some of the leaders I’ve worked for and was privileged to know. This reinforces my belief that there’s no room in the classroom or boardroom, onboard ship or wherever leadership is present, for the self-absorbed, over-indulgent, narcissist, know-it-all, loud mouth blowhard. Yes, I’ve known a few of them! The study found that employees who rated their leaders as humble said they felt more engaged and were less likely to quit. They also indicated they were more committed to a leader’s vision and trust them more and more receptive to the leaders’ ideas.

“If you want to hear God laugh, tell Him how much you know.” Dr. Kenneth Boa

The report called this “quieter leadership”—listening, being transparent, aware of their limitations and appreciating their staff strengths and contributions, is an effective way to engage and motivate employees. It’s hardly a secret that leaders are hired based in their specific skills and experience, but often fired based on their personality. A leader’s arrogance, narcissism and a belief that by any means necessary and however unscrupulous it may be, is justification to achieve power or success. Our country is replete with business owners, political and military leaders who were lionized by various publications and media as if their apparent over confidence was a good benchmark of paranormal abilities, super intelligence, infallible strategic vision and wonderful speech patterns and oratory skills. Yet, to a person, those leaders were credited as the cause their organizations and careers collapsed. Many tears ago, I learned that if leaders and others, regardless of their position or a status, find the need to continuously tell people they are transparent, aware of their limitations and so on, really aren’t that way at all. They merely parrot those values as a way to convince others and create an artificial perception of who they want others to believe they are. It’s a false narrative.

There are examples that suggests that there’s an inherent power in humility—for various reasons people associate humility with weakness and an inability or unwillingness to stand up for ourselves. However, the same research mentioned above, other studies…and my own observations…shows humility has “zilch” to do with weakness because it requires substantial inner strength i.e. “guts”…an a strong belief in self that not only welcomes feedback and constructive criticism but knows it’s one of the fundamental ways to grow. The ability and will to self-reflect and see our limitations along with our strengths, is essential to reap the benefits of humility.

“He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble His way.” Psalm 25:9

How to spot humility.

Like it or not, those around us can see our humility, or lack of it, far better than we can see it. Here are a few scenarios to consider when we evaluate our humility or the humility of others.

When they are celebrated. Are they (and us), boastful and take all the credit or conscious of the people and events that created the success? Deflect praise? Accept responsibility when the excrement hits the rotor blades?

“Pride makes us artificial and humility makes us real.” Thomas Merton

When they are criticized. Are they (and us) self-confident enough to accept feedback and learn from it while they (and us) honor themselves, or do they resist, defend their positions and rationale and react, often negatively?

“When pride comes, then comes disgrace but with the humble is wisdom.” Proverbs 11:12

When they are in competition. Respect their opponents, and see the opportunity to interact with them as a valuable teachable moment from which to grow or…are they (still) ruthless, disrespectful, loud and boorish?

When in a momentary or sustained position of increased strength or weakness? Are they respectful to those lower in the hierarchy and to those above them without the belief or attitude that either action somehow takes something from them?

In the above scenarios (and perhaps others) leader(s) will be prompted or even provoked to reveal their true level of humility when asked specific questions in various ways. One observation: how comfortable is the leader and how comfortable are you (us) with power in yourself and with others?

Leaders and people in general grow and mature in relationships with both sides of the humility coin—having it and not having it and are best illustrated in how and when they conduct themselves in response to it. A person’s true humility is best seen by a relaxed emotional attitude in relation to power, while arrogance and self-absorption betray a deep-seated immaturity, lack of self-confidence and self-awareness and awkwardness in the face of it. Humility allows us to objectively self-reflect and clearly see our limitations and our strengths and is vital to reap the benefits of humility. Humility is not a sign of weakness, oh contraire, but is an indicator of emotional strength because it demands an inner strength to accept feedback and criticisms. Humility is one of the most important core values we need so we can continue to grow as leaders and human beings.

John Ruskin said, “I believe that the first test of a truly great man is his humility. I don’t mean by humility to doubt of his power. But really great men have a curious feeling that the greatness is not of them but through them. And they see something divine in every other man and are endlessly, foolishly, incredibility merciful.”

I’ve known and know those I consider great leaders. They come in all genders, shapes, sizes, colors and ranks. I observe(d) how they respond(ed) to stress, professional and personal challenges, disappointments and loss and their successes, of which there were many. My conclusions: they live (lived) a strong and humble center of gravity and are (were) seen as more honest, trustworthy and quite capable. They also had a deep sense of their own spirituality. I learned from their thoughts, words and deeds they believed they were not alone in their walk through this life—they always sought to do the right thing(s). How do I know this? On a many occasions, especially after I was burned and injured in the plane crash in 1970, I and my family were the recipients of their humble, gracious, ethical and moral leadership, care and unseen humility. Without it, I believe my life and that of my wife and three young children would have taken a different and darker path. They gave us hope when I had none and all seemed lost!

Humility is a great anti-self focus and it allows leaders (and us) to develop a deeper perspective in their (and our)relationships with others. They’re not surprised or often fooled by the surface and can see behind the veil individuals create. They do not suffer fools wisely.

So, the takeaway from this: humility is inherent, and I believe, a learned treasure and core value that everyone can receive if and only if, they choose to take the journey into the true heart of who they really are.

I’ve often heard a phrase that captures humility: “A pseudo leader always leaves you with a feeling of their greatness, while an authentic and humble leader and person always leaves you with a feeling of your greatness.” My mother, Willa Catherine Burk epitomized that kind of leader and mother. She constantly filled me with positive affirmations; she always made me feel my greatness. I miss her…a lot!

Ever since my plane crash and all that occurred since that day, I’ve often ask myself, “Who are you really?” Where are you going? How will you get there? Who will be on your team?” Perhaps you’ve asked yourself similar questions, too.

“Oh Lord it’s hard to be humble, when you’re perfect in every way.” Lyrics from a Willie Nelson song.
His words, not mine!

Risk Assessments: Move Beyond Behavior Based Safety

Posted: December 9th, 2014 in Courses, Performance Improvement

Risk Assessments are necessary in all safety processes, particularly to move programs beyond Behavior Based Safety (BBS).

At least qualitative Risk Assessments (RA) need to be included during any safety-related discussions or interactions, conversations, and meetings. RA are needed every time any safety-related decision needs to be made; and therefore, to move safety programs beyond traditional BBS principles and practices.

RA in safety processes, including BBS – type programs, improve decision-making by making them less subjective, emotional and biased. Safety decision-making needs to be based on the comparative risk levels of the options under consideration. Any chosen safety decision needs to be the option for which the likelihood and quantum of benefit and gain outweighs the likelihood and quantum of loss and harm more than for any other option.

Which option provides the best chance of gain and benefit at both personal and corporate levels?

One such illustrative example is related to un-demonizing the term “shortcut”.

The original, best definition of a shortcut is very simple, positive and with no emotive undertones:

“a smarter, better way of doing a job”


“the method, procedure that best reduces the time / $ / energy needed to achieve business objectives.”

Can a shortcut ever be an appropriate, lower risk and authorized job method? And how?

In any safety discussions between managers, supervisors and workers, this definition can help clarify the troublesome distinction between “finding a shortcut,” and “taking a shortcut without an authorized risk assessment.” Finding is undeniably “smart.” Taking without RA is patently “dumb.”

Issues of workplace complexity and relationships between managers, supervisors and workers need to be addressed to be able to move safety programs and cultures beyond BBS principles and practices. Workplace relationships are based on trust, respect, credibility, encouragement, and valued appreciation of jointly-found solutions of challenges and issues. RA provides processes needed in relationship-based safety RBS.

Positive relationships include establishing and holding common beliefs that we want everyone to come to work with their brains as well as their brawn, (and hopefully their hearts), because we all recognize that it is in everyone’s interest for everyone to be always challenged to find smarter better ways of doing our jobs. That is what business is about! It is the never-ending goal of finding smarter, more efficient, more effective, more productive and safer (lower risk) ways of doing our work.

However, too often we tell our people we need and want their “shortcut” ideas for more efficiency and productivity, but as soon as they do give them we jump on them and label their suggestions with negative emotive labels such as “violations” or “breaches” of existing rules and describe them in meaningless, undefined terms such as “unsafe acts” or “at-risk behaviors”. Use of these negative, emotion-loaded terms actually discourages searching for the deep underlying root causes of an apparently stupid, careless, and lazy “violation.”

It is more appropriate to use non-emotive descriptors such as “variations,” “adaptations,” “departures,” or very simply “work-arounds.”

All day-to-day safety meetings, discussions, and personal risk taking behavioral choices involve BBS questions such as:

  • Which procedure or method is safer (lower risk) than another?
  • Which is the safer tool, plant, equipment for this job?
  • Which risk control option is better than the others?
  • Which route should be taken?
  • Which control panel design is less error-provoking than the other?
  • Which roster is best for managing fatigue?
  • What is the appropriate time that we need to allocate to this incident investigation?
  • What to say and how to interact / converse with my peers, supervisors and managers?

These real examples of safety optioneering processes make a compelling argument for doing at least a qualitative (but preferably a Semi – Quantitative) Risk Assessment.

In fact, Risk Assessments will be recognized as definitely needed every time any safety-related decision needs to be made and therefore can move safety programs beyond traditional BBS principles and practices often confused and undermined by subjective beliefs, biases and perceptions.

How can you improve your confidence in the accuracy, reliability, consistency of Risk Assessments?

Learn Best Practices in the training courses being offered as below.

Houston, Texas
May 20-21, (Weds-Thurs)

To register:

Calgary, Canada
May 27-28, (Wed-Thurs)
To register:

Las Vegas, Nevada
June 1-2 (Mon-Tues before the TapRooT® Summit)
To register:

IN-HOUSE Courses are also available. Contact us for a quote.

Jim WhitWhiting.Jiming, an international expert in risk management and root cause analysis will be conducting the courses detailed above. The courses are the updated versions of a highly successful course that he has been offering for a number of years to over 200 attendees at Pre-Summit courses at past TapRooT® Summits. Due to increasing requests for more offerings of the course, the TapRooT® folks and Jim have decided to offer three RAMBP PUBLIC Courses in North America in 2015.

Jim was on Committees developing the Risk Management Standard AS/ISO 31000 which has been adopted word for word by US standard bodies as ANSI Z690.2 and Canadian bodies as CAN/CSA/ISO 31000. He has developed Risk Assessment unique tools and processes for maximizing the confidence of the results of assessments need to make all safety-related decision-making such as – what is a tolerable risk ?

Remembering An Accident: The Halifax Explosion

Posted: December 6th, 2014 in Accidents

On December 6, 1917, a ship traveling to France that carried approximately 9,000 tons of wartime explosives caught fire after a collision in the Halifax Harbour. The fire quickly ignited the explosives. Approximately 1,800 were killed and 9,000 were injured by the fire, debris and collapsed buildings.

Here is an article on

And following is a video of the footage after the explosion, showing devastation and relief effort. 

We’ve all read the headlines about catastrophic events. Don’t let an accident of this magnitude devastate your city.  Learn root cause analysis techniques to investigate near-misses, and take proactive steps to avoid a major disaster. (Click here to find out more about TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis Training.)

What is the Root Cause of Happiness?

Posted: November 21st, 2014 in Career Development, Career Development Tips

What do you think is the root cause of happiness?



Good looks?



happyWell, many people think that any or all of the above are root causes of happiness, but research has indicated that those things really don’t provide a long-lasting feeling of contentment. In fact, one of the most important things you can possess to ensure a lifetime of happiness is a character trait that anyone can develop: gratefulness.

Since Thanksgiving is just around the corner, it’s a good time to think about what we are thankful for and enjoy the bonus of feeling happier.

What, exactly, does an attitude of gratitude do for our well-being that contributes to life-long happiness? So much!

Here are some of the benefits of practicing gratefulness:

  • reduced risk of heart disease and cancer;
  • a stronger immune system;
  • increased productivity;
  • improved decision making;
  • increased achievements;
  • better interpersonal relationships;
  • a better self-image;
  • more respect from others;
  • less stress;
  • reduced feelings of jealousy;
  • happier memories (research has indicated gratefulness helps us remember the good stuff in life and minimize the negative);
  • a feeling of well-being;
  • stronger resilience;
  • more energy;
  • better sleep; and
  • a longer life.

Want some ideas on how to cultivate an attitude of gratefulness? The University of California, Berkeley published 10 great tips by Robert Emmons including using visual reminders; watching your language; and thinking outside the box by seeking new things to be grateful for.

Here’s another tip: grateful people mindfully use social media in a positive way. So post an inspirational quote or this article on your social media, and you will not only grow in your practice of gratefulness but encourage others to take this meaningful path as well.

Remembering An Accident: San Juanico Disaster

Posted: November 19th, 2014 in Accidents

On November 19, 1984, a series of explosions caused one of the deadliest industrial accidents in the history of the world.  The explosions occurred at a storage and distribution facility for liquified petroleum gas belonging to Petroleos Mexicanos. It is believed that the explosion started with a gas leak which caused a plume that grew large enough to be transported by the wind and reach a flare pit where it ignited.

The explosions and fires demolished most of the town of San Juan Ixhuatepec, and it is estimated that up to 600 people died and 5,000 – 7,000 people suffered severe injuries. The fire created such an inferno that most corpses were reduced to ashes, making it hard to determine who perished.


Learn more about the disaster.

When something catastrophic happens, companies often discover a series of errors and process flaws that were present all along. Advanced root cause analysis skills can help you uncover these error and flaws.  Visit our training page to find a course near you:



Career Development: Five Quick Ways to Become a Better Speaker

Posted: October 28th, 2014 in Career Development, Career Development Tips

Surveys about fear have revealed that we fear public speaking more than death. That’s why there is a joke that goes something like, “If you are at a funeral, it’s better to be in the coffin than the one delivering the eulogy.”

However, there are many things we can learn about public speaking from the masters. Even better, there are many very simple techniques that will captivate the audience every single time.

Take, for example, the pause:

Pause for two or three seconds and the audience assumes you lost your place. Pause for five seconds and the audience begins to think the pause is intentional… and starts wondering why.

Pause for ten seconds and even the people who were busy tweeting can’t resist glancing up.

These days, if you can get someone to look up from his or her phone during your presentation, you’ve pretty much won at public speaking.

Learn four more ways to be a better speaker from Jeff Haden:

5 Ways to Become a Better Speaker Overnight

How Do We Stop the Ebola Blame Game?

Posted: October 27th, 2014 in Accidents, Medical/Healthcare

The media debate about Ebola is subtly shifting from how to stop the spread of this horrific disease to finger pointing. How do we stop the blame game?

A recent analysis & opinion column (, “Why Finger Pointing about Ebola Makes Americans Less Safe,” suggests:

With Ebola, root cause analysis is going to be key to avoid mistakes in the future, but this will require a culture where it is safe to admit to errors.

Read the opinion here:

And let us know what you think by commenting below. How can the healthcare community create a culture where workers are not afraid to self-report mistakes? Do you think root cause analysis is key to stopping Ebola?

6,600,000 Preventable Deaths

Posted: October 24th, 2014 in Current Events, Video

What is the key intervention for preventing 6,600,000 death? You may be surprised by this solution, which is also the key intervention for reducing Ebola outbreak. It is the simple act of handwashing with soap. Invest 12 minutes of your time viewing this video and learn about the power of handwashing.

Did you know that TapRooT® is recognized worldwide as a premier “knowledge broker”? Stay in the know with relevant root cause analysis tips by joining our weekly email list:

Some recent tips include:

Sentinel Event Matrix and Root Cause Analysis in the Healthcare industry: (View video.)

Missed Opportunities: (Read post.)

What Makes a World Class Root Cause Analysis System? (View video.)

Career Development: LinkedIn – 3 Tips to Optimize Your Personal Profile

Posted: October 15th, 2014 in Career Development, Career Development Tips

Do you wish you could use your LinkedIn profile to find a new job or network to get more business for your current job? Here are 3 tips that will optimize your personal profile and make these wishes more likely to come true.

1. Add a profile picture (it will make your profile 7 times more likely to get noticed). Don’t just upload any profile picture, choose a clear photo of your face that is appropriate for business networking.

2. Get recommendations. LinkedIn offers tools that make it so easy to request recommendations. Go to your profile and click the dropdown menu next to “Complete your profile.” Choose “Ask to be recommended,” and you will be guided through a series of prompts to complete your first recommendation request. Painless!

Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 2.25.51 PM


3. Customize your profile URL.  Customize your URL with your name to help search engines identify you. (Learn how).

Why not take ten minutes to invest in your career development? A few tweaks to your LinkedIn profile will help you become more visible and lend greater credibility to your professional image.

Career Development: How to Manage Overtime

Posted: October 7th, 2014 in Career Development, Career Development Tips

Is your company trying to reduce costs associated with excessive overtime? Circadian® 24/7 Workplace Solutions recently released an infographic with 5 shift work tips on how to manage overtime.

View the infographic here:

Remembering an Accident: Ajka Alumina Sludge Spill

Posted: October 4th, 2014 in Accidents, Video

On October 4, 2010, toxic sludge leaked from a metal refinery in Hungary. Over 100 people were injured, many suffering burns, and at least ten deaths were attributed to the disaster. The company was fined $647 million for environmental damage (Read article and view dramatic photos on The Guardian).

Learn how TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis can help you avoid injuries, deaths and costly fines. (Click here to learn more.)

Career Development: Is Getting “Caught Up” a Worthy Goal?

Posted: September 9th, 2014 in Career Development, Career Development Tips

A recent article in the The Washington Post listed some tips for getting caught up and I really liked it because the author pointed out:

“Rather than worrying about whether we have caught up, which can lead to feelings of inadequacy, we can try some of the following activities to restore ourselves and feel better about what we are accomplishing.”

Are we ever really caught up? Maybe it’s time to change the mindset to noticing what we are accomplishing instead of focusing on what we haven’t finished yet. It may be more motivating and more productive to think this way.

Feel better about what you are accomplishing and read 10 tips written by Joyce E. A. Russell here:

Career Coach: Tips for getting caught up

Remembering an Accident: Imperial Foods Processing Plant Fire

Posted: September 3rd, 2014 in Accidents, Video

On September 3, 1991, a fire broke out at Imperial Foods Processing Plant in Hamlet, North Carolina after a repaired hydraulic line burst.

Heating gas plumes from a cooking vat ignited hydraulic fluid spreading heavy black smoke throughout the plant within a couple of minutes. Twenty-five workers lost their lives including a route salesman who had been filling food machines in the break room. Fifty-four people were injured.

It was determined that the deaths were caused by smoke inhalation when the workers could not exit the building due to blocked or locked exits. According to the Fire & Rescue Journal, “Hydrocarbon-charged smoke, particularly as heavy as this, is extremely debilitating to the human body and can disable a person with one or two breaths.”

Imperial Food’s owner pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 19 years 11 months in prison. The victims received a $16.1 settlement. (New York Times.)

In the following video, a visitor films the memorial for all the workers whose lives were lost.

It’s devastating when a workplace becomes a memorial to workers who perished there. Learn best practices to find and fix root causes so this never happens at your facility:


To See the Best in Others Will Help Them Become the Best by George J. Burk

Posted: August 26th, 2014 in Career Development, Career Development Tips

“Treat people as if they were what they ought to be, and you help them to become what they are capable of being.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Imagine for a moment that we actually treated one another with such an unbiased respect and unconditional belief that we were able to elevate each other to be the best we can be. It’s not just a military slogan. It can and does happen. I’ve experienced this kind of respect, belief and positive reinforcement in my own life.

I’ve heard and witnessed many incredible stories of how people, given little chance to live or to walk again, overcame their physical and emotional injuries to lead positive, productive lives. They, in turn chose to “Pass the salt and make a difference in other people’s lives.” One particular story I read about recently, where a man who was barely able to read was given an assignment that required him to not only read, but to speak in public and exhibit leadership skills. (I know from personal experience that man’s greatest fear is NOT standing in front of a crowd and speaking. Man’s greatest fear IS walking (or crawling) through a wall of fire.) The man’s personal transformation was called miraculous.   He was told that GOD inspired his assignment, and he took it quite seriously. He became an eloquent speaker and leader and that helped him to prosper in other areas of his life and provided a better life for his family. How can this be done you ask? Glad you did and here are some tips:

Release the prejudice. The first step is we must relieve ourselves of the limitations we place on others. Eradicate (I like the word) negativity about ours and others limitations from our mind and memory; erase the mental models and phrases like, “She’s only” or “He’s always” or “They never,” or “He can’t.” We need to stretch our mind and our imaginations and visualize, “see”, them doing something great or being something great. Change our thought patterns from the negative to think “Just because he (or she) never did that before doesn’t mean that he (or she) can’t. It just means that he (or she) has never tried before because no one really believed he (or she) could.”

“None can be more negative on its impact than the limitation on human resource capacity.” Said Musa

Forget the past. Car windshields are larger than the rear view mirror because it’s far more important to see the ‘highway’ ahead than the ‘road’ travelled. Look where you’re headed, not where you’ve been. Whatever mistakes you and others have made and wherever you and they have failed before, or the horrible way you or they have been treated, leave it go! Those issues are totally irrelevant for today. The past is the past. It’s over! Everyone has a story. Choose to change your mental models. ‘See’ yourself and them as winners, not whiners and treat yourself and others that way. It’s sequential, inside out, not outside in. You and then others. Get your own ‘house’ in order first.

“Life is divided into three terms-that which was, which is and will be. Let us learn from the past to profit by the present, and from the present to live better in the future.” William Wordsworth

Remember your roots. We’ve developed and grown into the person we have become because someone, or in my case, many someone’s, believed in us. It was our parents, mentors, teachers, friends, God, all the above and many others. Along the way, there were (and are) people who believed in us and that belief helped us to believe in ourselves. When we stop, pause and reflect on where we began and where we are now and all those who’ve helped us and believed in us and then apply that same belief in others, the results can be (and are) amazing. Like all meaningful change, it has a beginning and middle but no end. It’s continuous.

“Believe in yourself and stop trying to convince others.” James De La Vega

Use words that encourage and inspire. Positive affirmations. A few examples like, “If I can, you can.” “You will succeed.” “You’re potential is endless.” “You’re more than capable.” “You’re smart and articulate.”

Assist them through the setbacks. I’ve discovered that few things in life have a trajectory that’s straight up. On the contrary, there are many issues from our choices that are often straight down. There are times when we ask, “What am I doing? Am I crazy for trying this? “What was I thinking?” “I should have asked for help?” Don’t let the negative thoughts get in the way. Bring them out. Talk about them with people you trust. Share your thoughts and then dismiss them. Vent! It’s healthy. Then continue with your encouragement and prayers. Caution: prayers work! Be careful for that which you pray. You might just receive it.

Encourage others to play it forward. Regardless of when and where I’m greeted by others, my reply is always, “I’m vertical, take nourishment and play it forward when God provides the opportunities.”

After a goal’s achieved, encourage others (and yourself) to establish and seek more goals and continue that pattern. I believe we have an obligation, or errand to help those around us; those who seek our help and are truly committed and enrolled in the process. What we don’t want to I do is become an enabler and weaken them emotionally, spiritually and physically. When we see others as better than they are or were and help them on their journey of self-realization and self-improvement it is one of the noblest things we can do for others. When they achieve success, it’s a win-win. Many, many others have done that for me and for you too, I suspect and often without us even knowing it. So…”Pass the salt and make a difference in all you choose to do. Make a person, place or thing a little better for your having been there.”

“Correction does much but encouragement does more.” Johan Wolfgang von Goethe

Becky Hammon was recently hired as the first female basketball coach in the National Basketball Association (NBA) by the San Antonio Spurs. She’s played professionally here in the U S and overseas for 17 years and begins her new position as an assistant coach next year.

In the Tuesday, August 12, 2014 edition of “USA Today Sports” an article written by Nancy Armour shares her exclusive interview with female basketball player Becky Hammon. “Even after all these years, Becky Hammon hears the voices in her ear,” she said. “The assistant coach at Colorado State University was constantly on Hammond telling her she was going to be the school’s first All-American. How she was going to do this. How she was going to do that,” she said. In the interview Becky Hammond said, “but when she started speaking all that, she started planting seeds. ’Yeah, maybe. Maybe I could do that if I worked really hard,’ Hammon said. “You have those people speaking really good things in your life and it grows and produces fruit later on,” she said. “But somebody had to initially plant those good seeds.”

”Hope and encouragement, especially hope, is probably one of the greatest things you can give another person,” Hammond said. “I mean, what a gift to allow that person to be able to dream, to be able to say, ‘Why not me?’ ‘Why couldn’t I be the first?’”

Hope is the thing that perches in the soul-and sings the tunes without the words-and never stops at all.”   Emily Dickinson

Life really IS like a roll of toilet paper. The closer to the end the faster it goes. When you leave this life, what will be your epitaph? What do you want others to say about you? How do you want to be remembered? When our time’s up, it’s up. No more make-ups or second chances. So…take time to be the person who others hear in their ears. Tell them how they’re going to do this and how they’re going to do that. Make the choice to become a planter of positive seeds then stand back and watch the ‘plant(s)’ grow. I know it works!!

This article was submitted by “Captain George”J Burk, USAF (Ret).Vietnam Veteran, Plane crash & burn survivor, motivational speaker, author & writer | |

Investigation Interviewing: 3 Tips to Improve Non-Verbal Communication

Posted: August 12th, 2014 in Career Development, Career Development Tips

InvestigationButton copyNon-verbal communication (body language) is significant because it reveals how we feel (sometimes in spite of what we say), and it also reveals how other people feel about us. Most of us are not formally trained in non-verbal behaviors but living in the world has taught us many non-verbal cues informally.

For example, have you ever met someone and felt like you didn’t like them but couldn’t pinpoint why? They may have thrown off negative non-verbal cues that you picked up subconsciously, and that is why you stepped away from the experience feeling like you didn’t like the person. You probably know more than you think you do about non-verbal communication from both positive and negative life experiences, and putting the pieces together will help you become a better communicator.

At the Global TapRooT® Summit we’ve shared best practices for decoding non-verbal behavior which is particularly helpful in incident investigation interviews.

When interviewing others after an accident or incident, it’s very important to gain the interviewee’s confidence and trust to put them at ease and help them remember important details. Today I’d like to share three quick tips on how to improve non-verbal communication that will improve your interviews.

1. Lower your eyebrows. When we relax tension in our faces, the rest of the body follows in relaxation. Close your eyes right now and release the tension in the forehead and brows. Notice how the rest of your body becomes more relaxed. Practice this before your interviewee arrives and your relaxed body language will help your interviewee relax as well.

2. Palms up. When we talk we often gesture with our hands. Palms up sends a message that we have nothing to hide in our agenda, and also conveys that we are open to receiving what the interviewee says. Palms down indicates that we have closed our thinking – it may send a message of conviction – that your mind has been made up about what caused the accident.

3. Don’t overdo it on eye contact. Many people think that constant eye contact is important to communicate effectively, but it can be very intimidating for an interviewee. Make good eye contact but don’t stare. Make eye contact for shorter periods of time releasing your gaze occasionally.

If you want to learn more about effective non-verbal communication, mark your calendar to attend our new 2-day Interviewing and Basic Investigation course, June 1-2, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada right before the 2015 Global TapRooT® Summit.

Remembering an Accident: Little Rock AFB – Titan Missile Silo Fire

Posted: August 9th, 2014 in Accidents

On August 9, 1965, 53 contract workers were killed during a fire at a Titan missile silo at Little Rock AFB in Searcy, Arkansas. The investigation indicated that the fire was caused by a ruptured hydraulic line spraying diesel fluid on a wire, igniting it.

One of the two workers who survived told his story after keeping it to himself and his close circle for 33 years. He was only 17 and had only been working in the silo for two days when the accident happened. He recalled seeing a sign at the site, “206 days without an accident.”

Click the link below to read his account:

Are you relying too much on your good record? Learn best practices in analyzing accidents, incidents, near-misses, equipment failures, operating issues or quality problems:

Remembering an Accident: Val di Stava Dam Collapse

Posted: July 19th, 2014 in Accidents, Video

The Val di Stava dam collapsed on July 19, 1985 when two tailings dams used for sedimenting the mud from a nearby mine failed. The subsequent mudflow caused one of Northern Italy’s worst disasters – 268 lives were lost and 63 buildings and eight bridges were destroyed.

What happened?

According to The History of Geology:

“An investigation into the disaster found that the dams were poorly maintained and the margin of safe operation was very small. As last trigger of the failure is considered a leak of water, caused by a pipe in the upper dam, used to drain water, which had been bent by the weight of sediments. The increasing water pressure of the bunged up dam, in combination with the water saturation weakening the sediments of the dam wall, caused probably the collapse.”

See more at:

National Hazards and Earth System Sciences published a report indicating that effective regulation may have prevented this disaster.

Read report:

What do you think? Leave your comments below.

Career Development: Become Indispensable at Work

Posted: July 16th, 2014 in Career Development, Career Development Tips

Chris Gaborit, Managing Director at The Learning Factor, created this video to inspire us to discover our passion and purpose and to achieve our greatest performance. Invest five minutes of your life to become inspired!

Career Development: Lost Respect at Work? by Captain George J Burk

Posted: July 9th, 2014 in Career Development, Career Development Tips

Lost respect at work? A few tips on how to regain it.

Many of us have experienced it. First, it’s the extended lunches. Then, you notice the late arrivals and unexcused tardiness. Next, are the assignments that aren’t finished, not completed to specifications or seem to take longer than usual to complete. When you confront the employee(s) all you hear are the excuses: “I can’t” or “That’s not my job.” That’s your first outward example of a “Wake-Up Call” that you’re a leader who’s losing credibility and respect … and you figure out you need to make some changes … and quick.

“He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.” Benjamin Franklin

In every situation of which I’m familiar, regardless of the type of organization, when employees respect and trust their leaders and feel that respect and trust in return, you have a highly motivated employee(s) who are more creative and energized people who actually look forward to come to work every day. Every employee I’ve known, myself included, places a high value on a leader they can trust and respect and from who they can learn. That respect and trust is an important, intangible asset. You can’t touch it or taste it but you CAN feel it and you know when it’s there and when it isn’t in the workplace and in the relationship.

“Leadership is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way.” John Maxwell

If you need to re-establish yourself as a true leader who your employees and your leadership trust and hold in high esteem, here a few tips to help you reestablish that trust:

Appearances matter. Sometimes dress codes are taken to the extreme. It does seems odd to wear business attire when the company’s culture is T-shirts and jeans. Upgrade you attire to gain respect at work. Develop an approachable presence and internally and externally polished image. Look good … feel good. Don’t over spray with cologne or perfume to mask ‘stuff.’ You know what I’m talkin’ about.

“Appearances rule the world.” Fredrich Schiller

Establish regular feedback sessions with your staff. Leaders who don’t communicate regularly and openly with their staffs miss the opportunity to discover what people really think. Regular feedback sessions not only demonstrate how much you value their opinions, but you’ll also receive an objective, real-time assessment of their strengths and those areas that may need to improve.

“Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction.” John C. Crosby

Trust demonstrated is trust earned. Empower your staff to own it. Encourage calculated risks and make sure they know you’ll have their back if things don’t turn out as expected. Trust them. Walk-The-Talk.

Watch your “pie hole.”   Words and actions have consequences! If you believe from your intuition and subtle feedback from your staff that you do receive less respect at work, it may because your actions don’t mirror your words and vice versa. Words we use must always be respectful and clean, most discreet when it comes to personal issues and never openly criticize your staff. Praise in public and provide constructive feedback in private … with the door ajar … and with another person in the room with you … it is what it is … lesson learned.

“Good actions give strength to ourselves and inspire good actions in others.” Plato

Know when to be quiet. Emotional tirades earn fear but no respect. Unless you’re one of those (all too many ‘leaders’) who ‘lead’ by fear, tirades may make you feel better but they do little to change the culture at work, except to make it even more toxic. Egg shells are designed to be broken at home, not walked on at work. Address sensitive work issues at a private, one-on-one level not letting your ego show and proudly exclaiming them at meetings and embarrassing the employee(s). The opposite philosophy is always true. When you praise and thank people for a job they’ve done well, always do that in public. Be generous and genuine.

“Nothing strengthens authority more than silence.” Leonardo da Vinci

Share your knowledge. As a leader, you have a great opportunity to be a teacher and mentor. The examples include work directly with a staff member to improve their written and/or oral communications or indirectly, when you lead by example. When you share your information and mentor others, you train and educate the organization’s future leaders.

“The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind.” Khalil Gibran

Suspend assumptions. Place any preconceived ideas you may have aside and really listen to an employee’s proposal with an unbiased perspective. If a conflict does arise, remain objective, stay fair, don’t show favoritism and provide the opportunity for everyone to succeed.

Remain involved. Said another way, get out from behind your desk and walk around the organization. Make the time and take the time to ask questions and then listen. Chat informally at company functions like an office party or get-togethers after work. Get to know your staff and encourage them get to know you. Leave your rank at work.

Be transparent. We’ve heard this many times of late. Change comes in many forms and many ways; some when not expected. When change is on the horizon, remain engaged with your employees and keep them in the loop as much as you can.

“One man’s transparency is another man’s humiliation.” Gerry Adams

Establish the limits (Boundaries). If after your efforts to change the dynamics and your team or staff remain disrespectful, or if one or two apples still spoil the barrel and rather increase their disdain, it’s time for more drastic action. Tell them their behavior is unacceptable and won’t be tolerated. Explain the importance to maintain a civil level or respect and trust in the workplace. Then … document, document, document.  This should be done as a routine practice, anyway. Then, at quarterly, semi-annual and annul performance reviews the behavior was documented and at your disposal.

“The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has limits.” Albert Einstein

It’s never easy to regain trust and respect at work and with your friends and your family once those values have been lost. A good start is to have a high regard and respect for you … to love yourself but not be in love with yourself. Have that same regard and trust for your team and employees. Want to gain or re-gain trust and respect? Be trustworthy and respectful first. It’s inside out, not outside in … radiate and project what you want and expect outwards. This will most often encourage them to reciprocate.

“Men are respectable only as they are respected.” Ralph Waldo Emerson


This article was submitted by “Captain George” J Burk, USAF (Ret), Scottsdale, Contact:

Career Development: Create!

Posted: July 2nd, 2014 in Career Development, Career Development Tips

“You should bring something into the world that wasn’t in the world before.

It doesn’t matter what that is. It doesn’t matter if it’s a table or a film or gardening – everyone should create.

You should do something, then sit back and say, I did that. ~ Ricky Gervais

Career Development: A Conference Call in Real Life

Posted: July 2nd, 2014 in Career Development, Career Development Tips, Video

This video is a hilarious because it highlights everything that can (and often does) go wrong on a conference call. Are conference calls productive? What do you think?

Career Development: Are You Addicted to Stress?

Posted: June 24th, 2014 in Career Development, Career Development Tips

We all know that stress is bad for us both physically (increasing our risk for disease), and mentally (that overwhelming feeling). But in spite of our knowledge, did you know that we can actually become addicted to stress?

Who is at risk?

Type A personalities – those who operate at a maximum speed and aspire to achieve large goals. (Learn more.)

Type D personalities – those who struggle with negativity, depression, anxiety, stress, anger, and loneliness. (Learn more.)

So, how do you know if you’re addicted to stress?

Research tells us that moderate amounts of stress are fine, even desirable, because it boosts our focus and energy. So don’t automatically label yourself. If you are effectively managing your life and thriving under stress, it does not qualify as an addiction. The problem is when we wake up an internal craving for it, just as an alcoholic or drug addict would crave a high. If your life feels out-of-control, and in spite of your best efforts, you are not getting things done, you may be addicted to stress.

Stress-reducing ideas

Whether you’re addicted or carrying a healthy load of stress, don’t forget to balance your days with stress reducing activities.  

Learn 40 Ways to Relax in Five Minutes or Less

And enjoy a happier, more productive lifestyle.

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