Whale Done! The Power of Positive Relationships

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9780743250924: Whale Done! The Power of Positive Relationships

A compendium of straightforward techniques on how to accentuate the positive and redirect the negative, increasing productivity at work and at home.

What do your people at work and your spouse and kids at home have in common with a five-ton killer whale?

Probably a whole lot more than you think, according to top business consultant and mega-bestselling author Ken Blanchard and his coauthors from SeaWorld. In this moving and inspirational new book, Blanchard explains that both whales and people perform better when you accentuate the positive. He shows how using the techniques of animal trainers -- specifically those responsible for the killer whales of SeaWorld -- can supercharge your effectiveness at work and at home.

When gruff business manager and family man Wes Kingsley visited SeaWorld, he marveled at the ability of the trainers to get these huge killer whales, among the most feared predators in the ocean, to perform amazing acrobatic leaps and dives. Later, talking to the chief trainer, he learned their techniques of building trust, accentuating the positive, and redirecting negative behavior -- all of which make these extraordinary performances possible. Kingsley took a hard look at his own often accusatory management style and recognized how some of his shortcomings as a manager, spouse, and father actually diminish trust and damage relationships. He began to see the difference between "GOTcha" (catching people doing things wrong) and "Whale Done!" (catching people doing things right).

In Whale Done!, Ken Blanchard shows how to make accentuating the positive and redirecting the negative the best tools to increase productivity, instead of creating situations that demoralize people. These techniques are remarkably easy to master and can be applied equally well at home, allowing readers to become better parents and more committed spouses in their happier and more successful personal lives.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Jim Ballard has written a number of inspirational books, including Mind Like Water and What's the Rush? He has coauthored several popular books along with bestselling business guru Ken Blanchard. Teachings of the worldrenown author and yogi Paramahansa Yogananda inspired Jim to write this wave fable. Jim is a business consultant, hospice volunteer, and Big Brother. He lives in Amherst, Massachusetts. Please visit Jim's website at www.littlewave.org.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter One

How do they do that?

A collective gasp rose from a crowd of over three thousand spectators as they thrilled to the amazing performances of leaping killer whales. It was another show in Shamu Stadium at SeaWorld. All eyes in the grandstand were glued to the huge animals and their trainers, so no one noticed the wide range of emotions reflected in the face of a man in khakis and a blue shirt who sat in their midst. Each time the crowd exploded in applause and cheers as the animals performed one of their spectacular feats, the man's eyes would sparkle with surprise and delight. At other times his face would cloud over and his eyes assume a faraway look.

Wes Kingsley had come to Orlando to attend a business conference. Since the schedule left room for conferees to relax, play golf, or visit one of the area's attractions, he had decided that a visit to the world-famous marine zoological park would help him forget his troubles for a time.

He was glad he had made that decision. Earlier, along with throngs of other people eagerly crowding the huge stadium, he had taken his seat above the blue waters of the large main pool. Following a welcome and a review of safety rules by an animal trainer, a mysterious fog had begun to shroud the surface of the pool. From behind and above them, the crowd heard the scream of a fish eagle. The mighty bird suddenly swooped over their heads, dove toward the pool, and took a lure from the misty waters. As it flew away, huge black dorsal fins broke the surface, and onlookers caught their breath when they saw monstrous black shapes circling deep in the pool. A wet-suit-clad trainer came through the mists paddling a kayak, to be instantly surrounded by the fins of enormous killer whales.

Following this dramatic opening, the crowd witnessed a series of astonishing acrobatic leaps and dives by a trio of whales -- a 10,000-pound male and two 5,000-pound females. These marine mammals, among the most feared predators in the ocean, waved their pectoral fins to the audience, allowed trainers to "surf" the pool by balancing on their back, and with sweeps of their great tails splashed the first ten rows of spectators with cold water. The roars of laughter, the oohs and aahs, and the thunderous applause attested to the crowd's enjoyment.

Wes Kingsley also found himself entranced by the spectacle unfolding before him. By the finale, when the three finny costars hiked their gleaming black-backed and white-bellied bodies up onto a raised section of the pool to take some well-deserved bows, he had scribbled several entries in a small notebook.

As people exited the stadium, scores of them were still dripping from the soaking they'd happily received sitting in the "splash zone" of the first ten rows. Despite this -- or perhaps because of it -- their faces sparkled with smiles. Still in his seat in an upper row of the emptying stands, Wes Kingsley remained staring down into the pool. Its blue depths, recently awash with great waves but now still, seemed to echo his mood.

After the crowd had left and the place was quiet, an underwater gate opened and a giant black form moved into the pool and began circling it. A trainer came through a door and strolled out onto the lip of the pool, and the huge killer whale immediately swam over to him. "Nice going, big guy," he said, stroking its head. "Enjoy your playtime. You earned it." As the trainer rose and walked along the pool's edge, the whale moved with him. It seemed to be trying to stay as close to him as possible.

The blue-shirted man in the stands shook his head and thought to himself, You'd think that after doing a whole show that whale would hoard its free time. But what does it want to do? Play with the trainer! A question was forming in the man's mind, a need to know that had been building up in him ever since the start of the show. He had an impulse to go down there and ask the trainer that question, but fear of embarrassment held him back. Then suddenly he got up off the bench and quickly descended the stairs.

"Excuse me," Wes called as he reached the deck of the pool and started toward the trainer.

The trainer looked up in surprise. Then he gestured toward a door. "Sir, the exit is over there."

"I know. But I need to ask you something." As Wes approached, it was evident that he was not ready to take no for an answer.

"Sure," the trainer said. "What do you want to know?"

Pulling a wallet from his pocket, Wes offered two fifty-dollar bills to the trainer. "I'm willing to pay you for the information. What I want to know is probably what everyone who sees the show wonders: What's your secret? How do you trick these animals into performing for you? Do you starve them?"

The man in the wet suit controlled an impulse to react angrily to his visitor's impertinent attitude.

Patiently and quietly he said, "We don't trick them, and we don't starve them. And you can keep your money."

"Well then, what is it? What do you do?" Wes

demanded. But after a long silence from the other, Wes's manner softened. Realizing he had given offense, he put his money away. "Sorry," he said, holding out his hand. "I'm Wes Kingsley. I don't mean to bother you with this, but I really have to know how you get such a tremendous performance from these animals."

"Dave Yardley," said the trainer as they shook hands. "I'm in charge of the animal training here, so I guess you might say you've come to the right place. The answer to your question is that we have teachers. Would you like to meet one of them?"

Kingsley looked around to see if they were being joined by someone else. When he looked back, Yardley was pointing to the whale. "This is one of our teachers. His name's Shamu. He and all the other whales here at SeaWorld taught us all we know about working with these wonderful animals."

Wes squinted warily. "Come on. You mean to say you've been trained by an animal? I thought it was the other way around."

Dave shook his head. "Shamu is one of the world's largest killer whales living in a zoological park. As far as who trains whom, let me put it this way. When you're dealing with an eleven-thousand-pound animal who doesn't speak English, you do a lot of learning."

Wes glanced down at the rows of enormous, two-inch-long teeth in Shamu's enormous mouth. "I think the only thing he would teach me is to stay on his good side."

"There's plenty of data to back that up," Dave said. "Killer whales are the most feared predators in the ocean. They can kill and eat anything in sight."

"I guess if he's not learning his lessons, you don't make him go and stand in the corner," Wes ventured.

"That's exactly right. One thing we learned quickly was that it doesn't make much sense to punish a killer whale and then ask a trainer to get in the water with him."

"Not unless you want your career shortened!" Wes exclaimed. Then, recalling the prodigious leaps Shamu had performed in the show, he added, "It's hard to

believe a creature that size could get ten feet out of the water on its own. How do you get him to perform so well?"

"Let's just say it didn't happen overnight," said Dave. "Shamu taught us patience."

"How so?"

"Shamu wasn't about to do anything for me or any other trainer until he trusted us. As I worked with him, it became clear that I couldn't train him until he was convinced of my intentions. Whenever we get a new whale, we don't attempt to do any training for some time. All we do is make sure they're not hungry; then we jump in the water and play with them, until we convince them."

"Convince them of what?"

"That we mean them no harm."

Wes said, "You mean you want them to trust you."

"You're right. That's the key principle we use in working with all our animals."

Wes took out his notebook and pen and began to write.

"Are you writing an article?" Dave asked. "Or doing research?"

Wes Kingsley smiled grimly. "I guess you'd call it research of a personal nature. I've got to learn some new things myself or else..."

Dave Yardley waited and watched. It's hard for this guy to trust anybody, he thought. That's what his bluster act is about.

After a long pause, Wes spoke, avoiding eye contact with the trainer. "I live near Atlanta and work for a big industrial-supply outfit. I came to Florida to get away for a few days, using a business conference as the excuse. But over there at the hotel with my manager buddies, all I could think of was how I don't want to go back home to face the same old problems."

Dave was listening with evident interest.

"For a long time I've been having a hard time getting my people at work to perform well," Wes continued, then grinned. "Not to mention getting my kids at home to pitch in around the house and do better at school. When I was complaining to a friend of mine about it, he had a nice way of suggesting that since I was having management problems both at work and at home, we might look for the common denominator."

"What was that?" Dave asked.

"My friend said, 'Did you ever notice, when your life isn't working, who's always around?'"

Both men chuckled. "I know I'm not managing effectively," Wes went on, "and I might be about to lose my job. Frankly, I'm getting a little desperate."

Dave was aware of Wes's anxious, almost pleading tone of voice and said, "Let me take you on a little backstage tour. Then we can talk more about this."

Dave led Wes through a gate and over to a training pool where a few feet away the huge black backs and fins of two killer whales were gliding through the clear blue water. Their beautiful bodies exuded an air of calmness, and at the same time the promise of explosive power. As the two men walked from one holding pool to another, the trainer identified each whale by name and supplied interesting anecdotes about them.

"It takes a long time to build trust and friendship with each of the whales," Dave said. "That trust and friendship is the basis of everything you just saw in the show. These animals are not so different from people. They'll show you when they don't like how you're treating them. You're a businessman, so you know that the whole game these days is satisfying the customer -- and a key ingredient of that is satisfying your own people. When our killer whales completely lose their fear of us, the positive vibes between them and us are transferred to the audience."

"That's true," said Wes emphatically. "The show creates a lot of happiness in the audience. I could see it on people's faces when they left the stadium. Half of them were soaking wet, yet there were big smiles on their faces."

"You can see it in the whales, too," Dave said, "They all crowd up to the gate when the show is starting. It's plain they want to be in it. They know it's going to be a positive experience."

"Okay, I've got the principle. But what do you actually do with the whales to build that trust?"

"You might want to write this down." Dave smiled. "We...

Accentuate the positive.

"Hm," Wes mused. "I think there's an old song about that." He took out his notebook and began writing again. "So, it goes: Build trust...Accentuate the positive. Is that right?"

"Right. We accentuate the positive, not the negative. We pay a lot of attention when the animal does what we ask him to do and performs a task correctly."

"That sounds fine," Wes said insistently. "But what about when he doesn't do it, or does it incorrectly?"

"We ignore what he did wrong and immediately redirect his behavior elsewhere."

Wes stopped writing and looked up, obviously bothered. "What exactly do you mean by ignore?"

"I mean -- "

"If one of my people screws up," Wes interrupted, his voice agitated, "I can't afford to just look the other way. If one of my kids doesn't do her homework, or picks on her sister, my wife and I are certainly not going to ignore it!"

"Then I'm guessing," Dave said quietly, "that when people in your shop or your kids at home do something that displeases you, you pay lots of attention to it."

"Darn right I do."

"You probably tell them you didn't like what they did. And you warn them about doing it again."

"Hey," Wes exploded defensively. "Isn't that my job as a manager? Isn't that what any responsible parent does?"

The trainer shrugged. "You say it is. But I wonder, is that the way to build a trusting environment at the office or at home?"

That caught Wes by surprise. "Come to think of it," he said, "I guess not. That's more like accentuating the negative."

Dave nodded. "An important concept to remember is that the more attention you pay to a behavior, the more it will be repeated. We've learned from the killer whales that when we don't pay a lot of attention to what they do wrong, but instead give lots of attention to what they do right, they do the right thing more often."

"So you're saying it's what you focus on that is the key."

"Exactly. We don't accentuate the positive just to get the animals to perform, though. We do it because it's the right thing to do. We treat our animals as individuals, each of which has unlimited capacities for development and accomplishment. We make every effort to persuade the animals to see us as their friends. After friendship is established, we try to find out just where we and the particular animal can meet on a basis of mutual trust and understanding. We study its behavior patterns to find out what it likes. Then we make everything in the training into a game, injecting easy lessons that the animals learn almost without effort."

Wes was amazed. "You talk about these animals as if they're superintelligent, as if they want to be friendly and cooperate with humans."

"They do," Dave said. "But humans must do their part. One of the most harmful practices in animal education is the human habit of mentally limiting animals. What the human thinks about an animal, and expects from an animal, has a direct bearing on that animal's response or lack of response."

"I've never heard these ideas applied to animals before."

"That's because people in general look down on animals," Dave continued. "The conventional approach to animal training is one in which a 'superior' being compels an 'inferior' one to do what he or she wants done. Animals can sense expectations with astonishing accuracy. They can 'live down' to human expectations just like people can. But you should never be surprised when an animal does what you ask, even when you ask the first time. These killer whales have taught us to always expect the impossible. This helps us more than it does the animal. If there is no response, that's a sign that we need more educating ourselves. Not the animal."

"I think most people don't accord their fellow humans, let alone their pets and animals, the kind of respect and understanding you're describing," Wes said. "I certainly haven't. No wonder these whales do an outstanding job! It would make a huge turnaround in my career as a manager, and as a husband and father, if I could begin to apply such a thoughtful, respectful philosophy in my relationships. It's a tall order, though."

"You'd better believe it!" Dave said emphatically.

Wes wrote down some more notes. Then he said, "I understand that what you focus on is the key. I still don't get the part about ignoring bad behavior."

Dave nodded. "When I say we ignore undesirable behavior, I don't mean we do nothing. Y...

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