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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Wish AND Work (Reposted)

I was looking through a box of old documents and nostalgic items in an effort to eliminate some clutter from my life. I unearthed a colorful sheet of paper covered in red, white and blue marker, made to look like a flag along with some adolescent writing.

Like most boys my age I had played "war" with other kids and at home on my own. Those who shared in this activity will recall you'd generally use toy or imaginary guns to hold off or defeat an invisible enemy. Sometimes they were Nazis, or British Redcoats from the revolution, sometimes aliens from an unfriendly planet (for me, a Bostonian, this was the era between Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark.) I'd make machine gun, or laser gun noises and toss sock hand grenades with great fanfare. Typically it was the family cat that bore the brunt of the assaults. I could always count on a solid victory right before dinner.

During one of my solitary battles I declared an early conquest and found myself with a little time before being called downstairs for pork chops and applesauce. I decided my triumph required the commission of a new flag and country motto. It was this sheet of paper that opened the floodgate of memories; however it was the scribbled motto that resonated with me all these years later. It read:

"Those who wish, dreams may come true.But those who wish and work will find their dreamsand riches too."

I thought that was pretty good insight for a twelve year old. Unfortunately, it applied perfectly, albeit painfully to a situation I was in at the time because of poor goal setting.

I had my eyes on a dream house in a dream neighborhood for years. I had driven past it, day and night and seen it in all seasons. I'd witnessed pumpkins and holiday lights, Easter eggs and Fourth of July banners. Each time I had passed by it, I was filled with longing. Oh, to raise my family in such a house. It was perfect, I thought and I would never have to move again, because it would accommodate all the milestones in my family’s life. I had wished myself inside it to the point of sleepless nights spent imagining what the floor plan looked like, how I'd furnish it. What type of music would fill its halls? I would wish, and wish and wish.

One day I drove by this dream house and to my surprise saw that it was for sale. What a terrific opportunity --if I had done more than just wish all these years. If I had wished and worked I'd have known the square footage, the age of the home, the property tax. I'd have gotten to know the neighbors. I might have been invited inside and determined if it truly was everything I had imagined. I would have spoken with a realtor and expressed my interest in it long ago. I would have networked. I would have paid other bills and watched my credit scores more closely. I would have saved and invested my money so that when the day had arrived… the day I had wished many years for, I could capitalize on it and then my dream would have come true. Alas, the wishing was vivid, but the work nonexistent. The rule applies to everything you want out of life and I knew it at twelve but had not practiced it.

"Those who wish, dreams may come true.But those who wish and work will find their dreams and riches too."
What are you dreaming about? How much work are you putting in to fulfill those dreams?

Saturday, December 01, 2007

A New Look

Bim Musings changed it's look. Now there's an interactive way of dealing with leadership and management issues. Here's a place for those new to leadership, or those looking for leadership renewal to share there thoughts, ideas, best practices with others.

You can still read articles written by Karl Bimshas by subscribing to "Reflections on Leadership" in the sidebar.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Need Help? Be Specific.

When I was working at a Fortune 500 company, my division was internally merging with a culturally different organization. It was essentially the Gen X crowd versus The Baby Boomer generation. One side would list major accomplishments as their wedding day, the birth of a child, or a trip abroad they had saved up for. The other, President’s Club, numbers they hit, problems they solved. Two different worlds – united in the fact that we all very much disliked our new boss. This boss did do one thing very right. He saw that the intergration was not smooth so he hired outside help to bring us together.

We escaped to an island and embarked on a number of team building exercises. They were mostly awkward, but occasionally fun. At the end of each one we would debrief and discuss what we learned – what went right, what went wrong. Inevitably, each one ended with the realization that we needed clearer communication and to be more helpful toward each other. One of our last exercises changed the dynamic of the team, my place on it and forever altered how I approach communication, particularly when asking for help.

We were paired up into several teams, deposited into a large field and instructed to use the compass each team was provided to race around key areas of the meadow. An orienteering on steroids. This brought up the competitive spirit unlike any of the other exercises. The person I was teamed with was a very nice guy, but an over accomidating follower with no innate leadership that I could tell. As the race began I instantly forgot my cub scout training on how to actually adjust and read a compass. I asked for help, but my coworkers, some of them very good friends, began to mock me. They were off and racing, and each time they passed by they would taunt us, but never offering assistance. It began to tick me off and strengthen my resolve. We eventually got instruction from the facilitator and after a five minute delay, my partner and I were able to surge up to a second place finish.

During our after action review I was uncharacteristically livid. “What had happened to the many hours we had already spent learning the value of team, and communication, and helpfulness? Were those other exercises just a waste of time, had we learned nothing,” I quizzed angrily. Many were shocked by my red faced outburst, but they understood the point and my passion that it had aroused. One colleague explained by way of a future solution. “You just said, someone help – you weren’t specific. What help did you need and who did you want it from? I’m competitive, and was so busy I didn’t even hear you. It’s like the tons of email I get everyday. When someone copies in the world looking for help, I tend to ignore it. I figure someone else on the distribution list will help. The fact is, everyone is busy and no one ever helps, because they don’t know how.”

He continued, “Be specific in what you want and who you want it from.” Poignant words, which I found to be immediately true. In the heat of the moment, when I approached the facilitator, I addressed him by name and specifically asked him if he could give me a quick refresher on how to set and read the compass. He did, and as a result I got exactly what I wanted.

The team came together fairly quickly after that weekend away. There were too many other influences that prevented up from becoming a truly high performing team, but we communicated with each other exceptionally well, and we were always able to get the help we needed from each other, because instead of standing in a field shouting to the heavens, we asked specific people what specific help we needed. The results were faster and much more satisfying.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Directors Direct

When I was a student at Emerson College, one of my sophomore courses had me direct a short video production. The college, with its strong, “learn by doing” approach, had two studios with cameras freshly donated from the local television station. This particular class was taught by an exceptionally chic PBS producer who always clutched a coffee filled Styrofoam cup in her hand.

I had completed many video projects in high school and during my freshman year at Emerson. Having had already written the script and storyboard the prior week, when it was my day to direct I was feeling very comfortable and was assured I had everything under control. I remember feeling jazzed as I ran back and forth between the control room and the studio, where I set up particular shots and helped move pieces of the set. I rolled a ladder into position under a spotlight and began to scramble up it when my sophisticated instructor called out to me, “Karl, what are you doing?”

“Adjusting the light,” I replied.

“Don’t you have a lighting director? She quizzed

“Yes,” I said.

“Then tell them what to do,” she said.

“But –,” I started to explain.

She looked up at me and motioned with her hand, “Look around – see all these people just standing? That’s you’re crew.”

“But, I was just trying to help,” I offered

“Their job is to help you – your job is to direct them. If they aren’t helping you they know they will fail this assignment. In real life, if they didn’t help you, they would be fired and not get paid,” she said.

I started to protest about how I was brought up, but she would have none of it. In surprising less than polite PBS language she told me, “Now get your (butt) off that (freaking) ladder and into the control room. Do not come out on the studio floor again until the shoot is over and you congratulate or reprimand your crew. Right now you have a (freaking) show to do, so use your headset, use your floor manager and use your assistant director. You are the director – (freaking) direct!”

In short order the control room and studio were buzzing with activity and it ended up being a great experience.

At first blush this may run counter to how many believe teams work. It may seem to challenge a culture of empowerment, or the servant leadership lifestyle. It doesn’t. In fact, it fits perfectly well into those contexts. It took me years to not so much learn, but confirm that early leadership lesson. There are different styles of directors that may emphasis one nuance over another, but the basic formula is the same. Set the vision; communicate the vision, repeatedly, wisely assign roles and delegate tasks to those who can best fulfill the vision. Then get out of their way, so they can do their job in a way that compliments your job. Give them feedback, but don’t do the work for them. At the end of the production, learn from any mistakes and celebrate success. We needn’t complicate things. Directors Direct. Leaders Lead.

Monday, May 01, 2006

New Book Now Available

I am pleased to announce the publication of
Pushing Back the Ocean: Tide Turning Leadership Lessons

Pushing Back the Ocean: Tide Turning Leadership Lessons
By Karl Bimshas
ISBN: 978-1-4116-9703-4

The short journey begins along a wintry and desolate Cape Cod beach where you’ll discover how to push back the ocean by discovering the magic of goals. Next you’ll learn how to think like a champion and help others find their own passion. Finally, you’ll realize how easy – and necessary, it is to change a piece of the world.

A wonderful gift for anyone who needs to focus on their goals
or make the time to reflect on how far they’ve come.

Immediately available online at

This book might be of interest to you and your friends. It demonstrates my drive to lead and inspire others to maximize their unique strengths and continuously improve themselves, their organization and society, by bringing the powers of vision, passion and action to each endeavor.

Give the Gift.
Help Turn the Tide!

Shortly Borders, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other fine online booksellers will carry this title. You can also ask your local bookstore to order it for you. Of course I would be delighted by your purchase and online review, but today I am more interested in getting the word out. If you think others would also be interested please forward this message to them.

Learn more at

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