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Connecting, Engaging and Communicating I was about six years old. Dad came in through the door after a day of work with a spring in his s...

Monday, 15 February 2016

Rick Somerton The Man Remembered

Rick Somerton
The man remembered

I first meet Rick during my final semester of college. I was bound and determined to have a job before graduation. I figured why wait to graduate and compete with all the other thousands of students who would be graduating at the same time. So, start now! So in December (I was going to complete the program in April – Graduate in Late June) I started researching who I wanted to work for upon graduation. I started to read and research who I might want to work with. I boldly drew up my list of  Top 100 companies I wanted to invest my time and efforts with.  It was by parts daunting, exciting, tiring, and exhilarating.

I booked some interviews. I interviewed people in HR and several in the sales and marketing, plus the owner of a very successful import firm who had a sales and marketing team.   After the interviews I went back and drafted up two types of resumes. One resumes for sales and one for marketing positions .  Then the hunt began in earnest. I started mailing out letters of introduction and my resume.

However, it does keep one humble when the rejections letters started coming back. Yes in my first go round of job search, companies sent back to me "Thanks but no Thanks" letters. I think I got about 12 of them for the 30 or so positions I applied for. However out of the first 33 applications sent out I got serious interest from 3 firms. I managed to get two interviews with each of them. One of them decided I was not the right fit, one I decided I was not a fit and the third one made me an offer.

However during this series of back and forth interviews I kept researching and looking for that first career position. I was deep into January when a very tiny ad appeared in the newspaper. Social Expression company looking for front line sales professional, slaes training provided.   Well I didn't know what a social expression company was. However I quickly got myself on the phone and it turned out to be a placement agency. I'd never worked with a placement agency before. However  I was not going to let that stop me.

I meet with the agency the next day. I had an appointment with the firm in under three days. Both appointments went very well. Then I went back to the agency we recapped the interview. I was called back to the company for a second interview and after that interview was asked to stay and meet Rick. This was a life affirming and game changing series of events.

I didn't know it at the time, however I found out later I was "competing" for this position in the beginning with over 200 other candidates. The Human Resources Department narrowed the field  down to the 12 of us.  The 12 of us each got interviewed and then HR narrowed the field down to eight. Then Rick interviewed the 8 of us, one at at time. Then just the 3 of us where back for another interview then just the two of us.  Unknown to me a very special professional in the industry had been invited to also apply.    I found out later I was competing against an industry professional from a competitor. I learned later they'd decided it was time to be more progressive and hire their first female sales professional. Yeah! Oh wait... I didn't get the position. I know I know my first reaction was Drats But wait: Rick made an offer I could not refuse that took not only took the sting out of it but offered me a change to develop, deepen and practise several valuable skill sets.

It seems I scored very high in my aptitude test on mechanical abilities. Would I consider starting off as a Retail Installation Coordinator or a RIC (I teased him about naming a job position after himself - a few months later). I learned I'd be in charge of new and renovated in-store fixturing set ups and on occasion merchandising as well. Exciting times.  Plus I'd lead teams of up to 12 on the set up crews and on the merchandising teams.

I held that position for 10 months and during that time we opened and renovated well over 32 stores across Ontario. Plus I was given the  opportunity to work in the interior of British Columbia and help renovate our department in a series of department stores. It was a busy time! During these months I drove over 80,000 miles and I lost track of how many miles in the air and car rental miles I racked up.

It was starting to get tiring towards the end of the 10 months between the miles, the hours and being away from home a change was wanted.. However there was also a very big sense of accomplishment to go along with it all. I enjoyed hiring, training each of the set up crews. Plus I was very pleased and proud of a exceptional perfect safety record. Zero accidents despite the urgency of the set ups and the less than ideal working conditions.

However being called into Rick's office for a meeting with a one week lead time left me time to wonder "What's up?" It was good news I was being promoted and moving from the Sales Support Team into the position of Sales Trainee. Better still of all the trainers in the firm I was going to be training with Mr. Trevor Hunt. He had a first rate track record having worked his way up the corporate ladder in the England and then come to Canada to work in the firm.  He had quite a bit of experience and was a very gifted trainer. That was a very good meeting.

So Rick then shared a life altering piece of insight that has helped me better understand myself and shape all of the consulting, training, coaching and mentoring I've done since. Rick shared with me a learning model that helped me better understand myself and all those I'm with ever since. It really was an Ah Ha! moment.


Rick introduced me to the: Four States of Awareness, also known as the Four States of Consciousness. They go something like this:

First State of Consciousness or Awareness
In this state of consciousness or awareness "We don't know-We don't know" So little stuff and big stuff keeps happening to us. Yet we are 100% unaware of the why.

Second State of Consciousness or Awareness
In this state of consciousness or awareness "We know-We don't know" So little stuff and big stuff keeps happening to us.  However now we understand there is a cause and effect. WE know we have some choices and some learning to do. It can be a time of great excitement and or a time of great anger and frustration. "Why didn't anyone tell me before?"

Third State or Consciousness or Awareness
In this state of consciousness or awareness "We know we know.
We are not yet 100% aware of the W5 (Who, what, where, when, why and how) Yet we are underway. Changing, learning, growing and expanding our awareness and skills. We are becoming competent.

In this state of consciousness we know we don't know it all yet, however we are learning, process, names, skills and expanding our awareness and looking for "What's next?"

Fourth State or Consciousness or Awareness
In this state of consciousness many would say we are  unconsciously competent, We have potentially forgotten the names, and process to doing things.We do them as a habit. Not consciously.  Yet, at one time we had to learn the process, names, skills and practise to be productive. Now it's a habit. Just happens.

These four types of consciousness helped me better understand exactly where I was when dealing with personal and professional issues as well as when consulting with business clients or volunteering.

So my question to you is: Where do you stand on something in life that is blocking you? Perhaps you're stuck in a state of Unconsciousness like the First State. I know I had a friend who refused to learn anything about managing a serious health issue. In turn they had an excessive amount of pain and suffering. They refused to move from the pain and discomfort they had physically and emotionally with their illness through the discomfort of learning some vital information rationally and then using it. I still don't fathom it. They suffered long and deep for 20 years. Instead of a few classes with a health educator "Imagine taking lessons at my age." they'd told me.

So it's not good or bad or right or wrong to be in any of these state of consciousness. However it's potentially expensive and painful to be in the first state, annoying and trying to be in the second on, and liberating and hard work as we learn in the third state and life is much easier as we have the courage and persistence to attain the fourth state of consciousness.

Years later I decided (quite boldly I'd suggest) that this model from the 12th or 13th century was amazing, yet could do with some states of awareness and conciseness. However more on that at in another column.

So until next time, Imagine Yourself with more Resiliency for life.

Monday, 1 February 2016

When and how will you declare Victory?

When will you declare Victory?
With Michael Ballard your tour guide through the land of Resiliency for Life


 "There comes a time when you have to declare your victory even though you may be losing the fight." Richard grabbed my attention! I'd never thought of it that way or said it even close to that way. Yet I'd thought along the same lines during several "fight for my life" moments during three very serious challenges with cancer and a daunting medical complication that cause me to have to have emergency surgery late one night. 




In such times, it is not just about strength. It is about faith. Faith in self, faith in others, perhaps faith in a higher being or power. Yes I’d pushed and fought while fighting my cancer. However I’d never said it so directly. I was going to win my battles with cancer. I had cancer. The cancer did NOT have me. First Battle Won! Then I will win emotionally I have cancer it does NOT have me. Oh don't get me wrong I cried big sobbing earth shattering sobbing tears. Down on my knees pounding the tiles in the shower room. However it was not all about PMA Positive Mental Attitude It was about feeling the pain acknowledging it ,then building a team to help me fight back!! In thought word and deed. In pray and play. In music and in praise, in family and friendships! Victory was declared. Yes I was quite ill death walked the hall ways and hovered in the door way Yet having learned at an early age that inner strength with faith and a team that would walk beside you makes for a very powerful combination. So I declared Victory every morning as I woke up and every evening as I lay my head on the pillow. Yes I had cancer. Yes I might die. However I was winning intellectually, emotionally and spiritually! Amen! Oh and 20+ years later it's safe to say I won physically.

When will you declare victory? Over what?
Richard Paa Kofi Botchwey 
 I owe a thank you to my friend Richard Paa Kofi Botcheway for causing this blog to fire off in my brain with this quote of his. Richard is a writer and rising star on the literary scene in Africa However increasingly I'm reading and hearing about him in Europe. I look forward to learning from him and cheering him on. One day we'll have to have a face to face. Coffee or tea Hmmm I wonder what he’ll chose.

So until next time Imagine Yourself with more Resiliency for life!



About Michael Ballard 
Michael specializes in helping people, families, organizations and community’s learn how to thrive with resiliency. Resilience is a process, a set of key assets, skills and beliefs that can change our lives. Resiliency can changes the quality of our journey and often the quality of the outcomes.


Michael Ballard specializes in helping people, schools, teams
organizations and communities learn how to become more resilient.


Hiring and Contacting Michael
To interview Michael, book him for your 
next event or to contact him you can do that at:
Inquiry@MichaelHBallard.com

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His upcoming book The Gift is due out late winter 2016.

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